for agrarian restructuring
cost of political gains
Fighting the existential battle
What is the real, existential cause for
concern — the imagined enemy, or a real, functional terror network in the shape of the TTP?
By Raza Rumi
attacks of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) across the country indicate
the exasperation of this anti-state network trying to re-assert its
strength in the face of Pakistan Army’s operations as well as the drone
strikes by the U.S., which have now turned into a major political plank
for most political parties.
The illegal drone
strikes have targeted Al Qaeda leadership as well as the TTP stalwarts,
leading to the dispersal of militants’ leadership and the relocation of
Al Qaeda, reportedly to several urban centers of Pakistan.
The ‘popular’ Imran
Khan led his march to Waziristan (without being able to set foot in the
tribal agency) and created a kind-of media consensus that Pakistan needed
to pull out of “America’s war” and make peace with the Taliban or,
more fantastically, enable the threatened tribals to take on the Taliban
This fanciful and
simplistic narrative omitted a vital segment of reality: the TTP is pitted
not just against the United States’ “imperial designs” — it also
considers the state of Pakistan as its enemy. These Kharijites of the 21st
century use religious appeal to justify and rationalise extremely violent
and barbaric acts, and consider the existence of pluralism within the fold
of Islam as an anathema. They consider women’s education to be
un-Islamic and consider a constitutional democracy as an infidel
imposition on the faithful.
Unlike other insurgent
groups in Pakistan, TTP wants to demolish the state of Pakistan and its
constitutional basis in line with Al Qaeda ideology. Readers doubtful of
this polemic should refer to Al Zawahiri’s famous treatise called “The
Morning And The Lamp”, freely available on the Internet. If they are
further interested, they could refer to any bookshop where such materials
are widely available. This is how we have allowed anti-state doctrines to
penetrate our public life.
The most brazen act of
targeting a 14-year old girl, Malala Yousafzai, immediately after Khan’s
march came as a game-changer. The “public opinion” shaped by Taliban
apologists faced the biggest jolt, the biggest after Benazir Bhutto’s
assassination in 2007. Even the conservative and religious sections of
Pakistani society could not help condemn this barbarity, and for a day or
two, it appeared as if there was a major consensus emerging in the country
that put homegrown terrorist networks such as TTP before the imagined
enemies such as India or the United States.
However, this consensus
was breached by the usual suspects such as the Jamaat-e-Islami, which
termed the Taliban as their brothers, obfuscating the real issue of a girl
child not being allowed to go to school. The JI also went ahead and, on
various social media platforms, released pictures of Malala and her father
meeting the late Richard Holbrooke, thereby suggesting that Malala’s
family were CIA agents and “legitimate targets” of the TTP. This came
as a shocking reminder to the country on the lack of clarity and
deliberate confusion spread by the apologists for brutal groups such as
The second source of
public confusion came through none other than
once-a-Westernized-liberal-cricketer Imran Khan, who – while condemning
the attack on Malala – refused to name the TTP and created a spurious
link between the ongoing drone strikes and the attack on Malala.
Imran Khan’s shocking
positions may well be cynical political ploys to gain power in the coming
years by positioning the issue of Taliban in a traditional “strategic
depth” framework that views the Taliban as pro-Pakistan assets capable
of establishing a Pakistan-friendly government in Kabul. No one has
commented on this situation better than my friend Feisal Naqvi in his
brutally honest article (entitled “Shame on you Mr. Khan”):
between the TTP and the Afghan Talibs is not the same as saying that drone
attacks are justified: that is an entirely different debate… And if you,
Mr Khan, cannot understand that logic, then you are unfit to lead this
The third source of
confusion and evident cowardice came from the ruling parties and the
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, who shed many a tear on Malala’s plight
but refused to name the TTP out of fear as well as political expediency,
given that nobody wants to cede any ground to the Taliban-savvy Imran
The Chairperson of the
Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, was brave enough to
name the TTP and also reminded everyone that this mindset was responsible
for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. He, however, gave this statement
from a position of comfort and relative insularity, sitting in London and
not directly responsible for Pakistan’s governance.
The same could be said
of Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s exiled leader Altaf Hussain, who perhaps
gave the boldest statement in the case of Malala Yousafzai, the butchery
of TTP, and the unprecedented rise of extremism and its widespread
acceptance, even among the educated segments of Pakistan. Nevertheless, it
needs to be recognised that Altaf bhai’s statement was aired in Karachi
amidst thousands of people, and the MQM has emerged as a bulwark of
resistance against bigotry and extremism.
The MQM realises that
its support base, i.e., the middle classes, women, and upwardly-mobile
social classes, will not accept TTP’s vision for Pakistan. This is why
Altaf Hussain has been repeatedly citing Mr. Jinnah’s August 11 speech.
The clearest denunciation of the attack on Malala came in these words:
“Malala Yousufzai is
the symbol of knowledge which the Taliban want to suppress. The cowardly
attack on Malala and her classmates was the attack on Islam, the teachings
of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), and the humanity.”
More importantly, Mr
Hussain asked Pakistanis if they wanted Pakistan to survive and progress,
or if they would allow it to be wiped out from the map of the world. To
save the country, he added, the entire nation would have to rise against
these heartless killers. “We have to decide if we want a Pakistan of
Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah or we want a Pakistan of the Taliban. You
are either with the Taliban or you are against them. There is no third
Altaf Hussain, in his
address last week, also challenged the religious scholars who were
reticent when condemning the Taliban’s dastardly acts. As he rightly
pointed out, the lines were clearly drawn in today’s Pakistan. Referring
to the slain Governor of the Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, Mr Hussain reminded
that no cleric was ready to lead his funeral prayers. When the killer
Mumtaz Qadri was presented in a court, a group of lawyers had showered
flower petals on him. For the first time, a politician questioned the
Chief Justice’s silence and inaction against his “constituency” –
the lawyers – who celebrated Qadri’s ghastly act.
The truth is that the
Pakistani state remains hostage to its own ideological confusion, grown
out of its policy of adopting extremism as a hedge against India. While
this paradigm is currently being shifted by affecting a thaw with the
traditional enemy, Pakistani society itself is now a victim of the
misplaced emphasis on using proxies to wage a low-intensity yet lethal
battle against India.
ideological confusion is further compounded by state incapacity to tackle
extremism and guerrilla groups such as the TTP and its affiliates across
the country. A critical factor impacting the fight against terrorism is
the inability of the Pakistani state to reform its police force. Built
around a 19th
century framework, the police is understaffed, undertrained, and
lacks a coherent approach to counter terrorism.
A recent study by the
Asia Society entitled, “Stabilizing Pakistan Through Police Reform”
argues that the agility of criminal networks and terrorist organisations
has rendered the Pakistani police force incapable to fulfil its functions.
This report also highlights how insufficient and outmoded equipment, lack
of merit in recruitment, and overall resource constraint, is a crisis of
In a similar fashion,
prosecution services across the country are unable to keep pace with the
sophisticated investigation and preparation of cases for the courts, which
adjudicate on instances of terrorism. This is why nearly 95pc of
terrorists are acquitted from Pakistani courts. Insecure judges are
unwilling to risk their lives as they face powerful groups operating with
impunity, and often with tacit support of elements within the intelligence
The Lal Masjid case was
a national epitome of this syndrome; where a children’s library, illegal
occupied, was turned into a terrorist nursery, and despite the military
operation under General Musharraf, the ideological confusion permeating
media organisations delegitimized its results.
Today, the Supreme Court
of Pakistan, the executive authorities, and the country’s well-known
tycoon, Malik Riaz, have all joined hands to rehabilitate the Lal Masjid,
and have gone to the extent of providing land and shelter to the violent
activists of the Lal Masjid. When a state capitulates in such a manner,
Malalas of Pakistan will continue to remain unsafe and vulnerable to
A three-pronged approach
is desperately needed. First is to unite on the issue on terrorism and
identify the common enemy. The recent division on the North Waziristan
operation is dangerous and shows how all parties treat anti-Americanism as
an electoral goldmine. Second, the capacity of civilian institutions to
fight terror remains an unattended issue. More investments are required on
an emergency basis.
Lastly, the Pakistan
military will have to reassess its ‘threat perception’. What is the
real, existential cause for concern — the imagined enemy, or a real,
functional terror network in the shape of the TTP? Let’s hope that Gen
Kayani’s August 14 speech and the recent ISPR statement on Malala are
indicators of a shifting policy.
The writer is Director,
Jinnah Institute, Islamabad. The views expressed are his own. His writings
are archived at
www.razarumi.com. Follow him on Twitter: @razarumi
labour inspections have traditionally focused on protection of workers
working under formal contracts of employment in both public and private
sectors. But that makes only 26 percent of the total labour force in
Pakistan. One fundamental principle is to include women.
Whatever the area of
inspection for which evidence is being gathered, it must be made sure that
women are represented in the data collection process, ideally in
proportion to the number of women in the establishment under inspection.
Any data that is
collected, is sex disaggregated. Most simply, when recording the total
number of employees, list women and men, at all levels, separately. If the
number of complaints lodged is being recorded, for instance, try to
register the number of complaints lodged by women and men separately.
Such information is
crucial in understanding gender dimensions of work and the labour force
and can provide important evidence for policy and programme interventions.
According to the
Pakistan Employment Trends Report 2011, the male participation rate in
labour force increased 0.2 percentage points in 2010-2011 from the
previous year. The female participation rate on the other hand has
continued to rise since the beginning of the decade, with an increase of
5.0 percentage points in the period 1999-2000 to 2006-2007, and the same
trend has been observed with an increase of 3.1 percentage points in
2006-2007 to 2010-2011.
The report also shows
that the share of labour vulnerability across all sectors decreased by 2.5
percentage points between 1999-2000 and 2006-2007, and in the case of
males by 5.2 percentage points. However, vulnerability across all sectors
increases by 1.0 percentage point between 2006-2007 and 2010-2011.
At the same time,
vulnerable employment of females increased by 11.6 percentage points since
1999-2000, mainly due to a large number of women, who newly entered the
labour market to work primarily as contributing family workers in the
agricultural sector, which provides the vast majority of jobs to them.
In 2010-2011, 7 out of
10 women (74.2 percent) worked in agriculture, predominantly in
subsistence-level farming under harsh conditions and with little or no
The proportion of women
in the status group of wage and salaried workers decreased in the recent
survey years. “Less than a quarter of all women are now in a salaried
position, as compared to a third at the beginning of the decade”, reads
It has been noticed that
though working conditions for both male and female are not exemplary in
Pakistan in general but women in Pakistan, who want to work, often have no
other choice than accepting vulnerable working conditions.
Some of the major
problems women workers face are unequal payment of wages for equal value
of work, harassment; this does not only include psychological or sexual
harassment but also abuse of power and bullying, absence of transport
facility and day care centre, no provision of maternity leaves and women
membership in the trade unions.
Nusrat Bano, a 22-year
old, works in a sports manufacturing factory in Sialkot for 10 hours a day
and gets Rs5,000 salary. “There are more than 200 women workers in the
factory but none of them gets a reasonable salary as compared to male
counterparts. None of them has a letter of appointment. They do not have
separate washroom and kitchen in the factory, leave alone a day care
There is no concept of
leave with pay even for a single day while maternity leave is out of
question. Pregnancy means removal from job. “We have the facility of
pick and drop but there is only one bus for 200 women, so we are packed in
bus like animals,” she says that workplace harassment is common in the
factory and there is no forum where they can discuss the issues related to
women workers of the factory.
inspectors do come to our factory and talk to trade union representatives
about the issues but they all are men who are least interested in issues
being faced by women workers”, she says, adding, “ It is important for
labour inspectors to talk independently with women as well and look at
specific issues that are related to women. “
Another challenge is the
cultural barrier women face while talking to men. If women can be in
traffic police, why can they not be hired as labour inspectors to come and
talk to women folks at a workplace”, she asks.
Ironically, in Punjab
province, there are only two women labour inspectors. The Situation in
Sindh is even worse where there is only one woman labour inspector while
KP has hired its first batch of five women labour inspectors in the last
two years. Women also have little or no presence in trade unions, the ILO
data shows women make two percent of total membership of trade unions in
Interestingly, in 1998,
total representation of women in trade unions was 1.0 percent.
Pakistan’s overall score on gender equality is also not good. It stands
at 115th position out of 146 countries on global level Gender Inequality
ILO organised a two-day
consultation session on October 10-11 under the Gender Equality for Decent
Employment (GE4DE) programme, an ILO project funded by the Canadian
International Development Agency (CIDA) where all five provincial
departments of labour demonstrated their commitment to promoting gender
equality, through affirmative action for women’s empowerment and decent
work for all.
The consultation began
with the sharing of findings from gender assessment of the current status
of gender mainstreaming in Departments of Labour (DoL). It was noted that
gender blind policies, procedures and practices result in inadvertent
discrimination against women.
Among priority areas
identified to promote gender equality are gender sensitisation training
for the department of labour officials, gender responsive budgeting and
gender responsive labour inspection.
“The government has
already started taking positive steps to address this through recruitment
quotas for women and the addition of gender analysis in the government’s
monitoring and evaluation framework for projects,” says Hamayum Mazhar
Sheikh, Director General, Department of Labour, Punjab.
A Gender Responsive
Labour Inspection Toolkit was also launched at the event. “The
government of Pakistan has ratified C81 which outlines the functions and
scope of labour administration. This toolkit will help labour inspectors
perform their functions in line with best practices in Gender Responsive
Labour Inspection” says Farida Khan, National Project Coordinator,
Tahir Manzoor Hotiana,
focal person Punjab labour department, who takes active part to design
toolkit says there are 70 labour laws and over 100 rules. This is the
first time a checklist has been developed that has references to all the
relevant laws and specific articles. “All these laws are gender neutral
while many are gender blind. To amend all these laws according to gender
needs would be a lengthy process as it involves parliament. So, after a
lot of consultation, we decided to make inspection procedures gender
responsive”, he says.
He says there are areas
where they have decided to concentrate more. “Like difference in wages,
working hours and freedom of association etc.”
According to him, in a
factory in Karachi where 90 percent of the total labour force was women
the stewards of all four departments were men. “We have been conducting
training workshops of officials of labour departments of all provinces. It
will take some time to bring the required change”, he says.
chairperson of Women Committee of Pakistan Welfare Federation, says GRLI
would be an effective way of reaching out to women who are usually
voiceless because of lack of information and representation in workers’
bodies such as trade unions.
In the absence of a
formal mechanism, PWF in collaboration with the ILO, had started a
training programme to develop women’s leadership capacities. “We have
started lobbying for childcare, transport facilities, and committees
against sexual harassment and three out of five organisations have
included provision of day care facilities and mechanisms for addressing
sexual harassment in their charter of demand”, she says, adding that
gender responsive labour inspection can ensure more and more women’s
participation in labour force.
It was during
the floods of 2010 when a group of relief workers reached the
badly-affected districts of Charsadda, Nowshera and Swabi. They had
brought ration, medicine, clothing, tents and other relief items to be
distributed among relief victims.
Soon after reaching the
place, they realised several other relief workers were also on their way.
Quite understandably, they were brining similar items along with them.
Most of the items ultimately found their way to godowns. The stocks were
enough to cater to some specific needs of the affected population many
times, but there were other needs like access to medical facilities,
shelters for the homeless which were yet to be met.
The relief workers would
stay in those areas for a couple of days and would move on once they
realise the affectees were no more visiting the relief camps. The only
option they had was to hand over the custody of their stocks to the local
authorities. Though it did not happen everywhere, in many cases the stocks
were sold in the market by their custodians.
This experience was an
eye-opener for the people mentioned in the opening paragraph. Working
under the umbrella of Naim-un-Naseer Welfare Trust, they realised the need
for bringing all the welfare organisations at a single platform and
streamlining their disaster management and social service policies.
“It took a lot of
convincing, brainstorming and interaction with the managements of a large
number of welfare organisations to get them together at an All Pakistan
Welfare Trusts Convention held in Lahore towards the end of 2010,” says
Abrar Ahmed Khan, Chairman of Naim-un-Naseer Welfare Trust. Over 70
organisations attended the event which concluded with nine organisations
agreeing to the idea and joining the initiative on the spot.
Almost two years down
the road, the figure has swelled to above 50 with more willing to join in
days to follow. The organisations gathered at a star-studded event at
Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) earlier this week at the
launch of their umbrella organisations-TABA Foundation. These stars came
from the real life who had dedicated their lives to the service of
The word TABA means:
“Help each other in good deeds and righteousness,” says Khalid Mehmood
Butt, Lead Member, Disaster Management Committee, TABA Foundation, while
talking to TNS. He says it will be a forum for everyone regardless of
religion, cast and creed as service of humanity is the noblest off agendas
in the world.
Khalid adds it is not a
fundraising forum and there would be no sharing of funds available with
member organisations. The purpose is simply to create an environment where
they can share their core activities and expertise only. “Similarly,
there are no issues like who controls the affairs..”
Though the initiative is
in its initial stage, member organisations have worked together on some
projects which shows the potential that exists in this type of
collaboration. For example, Kawish Welfare Organisation referred some
cases of burn to TABA Foundation which forwarded them to Depilex Smile
Again Foundation which excels in treating them.
Similarly, the case of a
third-year student at King Edward Medical University (KEMU), Lahore, was
brought to the notice of TABA Foundation which referred it to
Naim-un-Naseer Trust. The student was finding it hard to continue his
education due to financial constraints. The trust took the responsibility
as it is in its mandate to pay for educational expenses of deserving
In the same way, there
is a Khoon-e-Jigar Foundation, based in Peshawar, which can be accessed by
any of the members in case they need blood donations on an emergency
“This is exactly the
purpose of getting together,” says Khalid adding, all the member
organisations have submitted their data to be placed on a common website.
This data will be sorted according to the strength, capacities and field
of every member’s social development work and will hopefully serve as
one-stop solution to the needs of deserving people,” he adds.
A major issue with
welfare organisations working at the local level is that despite their
meritorious services they cannot organise and get themselves recognised at
the national and international levels.
Fortunately, they now
have the support of Waseela Foundation,-another member organisation
primarily having chartered accountants and financial experts on its board.
It equips them with financial reporting skills, etc, which is essential
for all organisations using and seeking donations for welfare work. The
same organisation has helped TABA foundation prepare its strategic plan
and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Chairman, Mustafa Ahmed Khan, is a Chartered Accountant and Chief
Financial Officer (CFO) in a private telecom company. He, along with LUMS
faculty members, has also imparted free trainings to representatives of
TABA Foundation’s member organisations. The topics have been
capacity-building: concept and application in Pakistan scenario for
non-profit sector and how they can get recognition as national NGOs and
enjoy tax benefits.
Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Zafar Iqbal Qadir, who was chief
guest at the ceremony, said like all other sectors there was an urgent
need for public private partnerships in disaster management as well as
social sector development in the country. The chairman who also heads
Taleem Foundation believes the state cannot reach each and every place
immediately and is always in need of support local from communities, NGOs,
trusts and welfare organisations who often have prior presence at places
hit by disaster.
Timely sharing of
information, such as the scale of disaster, need of the affected
communities, availability of required goods and services, etc, is a great
service. “I am glad to see the progress of this initiative and hope its
scope will expand it with every passing day,” he concludes.
Board of Revenue (FBR), in a meeting of Board-in-Council held on September
26, 2012, approved two amnesty schemes, namely, ‘Tax Registration’ and
‘Tax Amnesty Scheme’ aimed at facilitating tax evaders and plunderers
of national wealth. According to Press reports, Prime Minister Raja
Pervaiz Ashraf, on October 4, 2012, directed the FBR “to fine-tune the
schemes” to allow legalising of untaxed assets, both local and foreign.
On October 5, 2012, the
FBR claimed that the “Prime Minister has approved in principle both the
schemes and it has been decided they would be introduced after
parliament’s approval.” Later, FBR submitted the proposed schemes to
the finance ministry for approval to allow whitening of undeclared/untaxed
assets offering the tax evaders yet another chance to get their local and
foreign assets legalised by 31 December 2012.
Mehtab Haider, [‘FBR
plans to tax cuts if amnesty works well’, The News, October 12, 2012]
revealed that “the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)
will target those who do not avail of the proposed tax amnesty schemes and
block their Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC), freeze their bank
accounts and put their names on the Exit Control List (ECL).”
developments, the FBR’s Senior Member Inland Revenue Service (IRS),
Asrar Raouf, said a new system would be introduced which was going to
ensure integration of all major taxes, including direct taxes, sales tax,
federal excise duty and customs duty.
Mr. Asrar Raouf is
quoted to have said: “The FBR will launch its customs-related initiative
for a computerised clearance system by November 2012 while the software
for integrating sales tax and income tax under the IRS will be launched by
March 2013”. It is encouraging that FBR has ultimately decided to
integrate all taxes and used modern tools to bridge bourgeoning tax gap.
Mr. Asrar Raouf is
confident that “unlike past schemes, the proposed ones will succeed
because of the new systems ensuring swift action against those who do not
come forward”. He disclosed that “FBR will reduce tax rates
substantially, bring down the rate of sales tax from 16 percent to 10
percent and that of income tax for individual taxpayers from 20 percent to
15 percent if schemes succeed”.
The FBR has already
submitted a bill related to amnesty schemes to the government, which may
either present the same before the Parliament or promulgate it as
Presidential Ordinance. On October 7, 2012, in a report titled ‘Amnesty
schemes are a new ‘black money NRO’, Mr. Mehtab Haider wrote: “The
government’s efforts to launch lucrative amnesty schemes just weeks
before completion of its term has raised many questions, and some quarters
even within the tax bureaucracy are describing it as a “financial NRO”.
The present Chairman of
FBR, considered to be a loyal appointee of the President, soon after
taking charge, enthusiastically pleaded for amnesty schemes claiming to
raise Rs. 172 billion and bringing nearly 3.8 million people in the tax
net. Experts say these are irrational and illogical targets as
historically, all tax amnesty schemes in Pakistan have failed miserably.
The main reason is
existence of a permanent tax amnesty scheme in the form of section 111(4)
of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 which says no question would be asked
for any amount of money remitted from abroad through normal banking
channels if encashed in Pakistani rupees by a scheduled bank.
Thus, any tax evader can
get untaxed money whitened by just paying 1 percent to 2 percent to any
money exchange dealer to get remittance arranged in his name. FBR’s
spokesman, Mr. Asrar Raouf, however, contends that previous schemes had
failed because of higher rates and exclusion of foreign assets but the
proposed schemes cater to both and “provide an opportunity to pay a
meagre amount of Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 60,000 to whiten money up to Rs 10
Mr. Asrar Raouf also
claimed that since foreign countries were approving laws against absentee
account holders, it would become difficult for Pakistanis to keep their
billions abroad. “We are thus giving them a chance to legalise this
money.” He claimed that “it is wrong to call it an amnesty scheme as
it is basically a voluntary tax registration scheme aimed to broaden the
tax base”. This is a strange argument which is simply shocking. FBR is
admitting its failures and then trying to justify the same on lame
While the FBR is
struggling hard to portray the proposed amnesty schemes as “best
practices” (sic), there is widespread criticism from many quarters. The
Convener of Economic Advisory Council (EAC), Dr. Hafeez A Pasha, according
to a report in The News, “severely criticised the amnesty schemes saying
that it could be termed as the NRO of the taxation system”.
The proposed amnesty, he
said, would destroy the taxation system because it would send wrong
signals to honest taxpayers. “Why should they pay when every four years
such schemes are introduced to whiten black money?” he asked. In his
opinion, it would result in the same consequences as in 2008 when this
scheme disappointed everyone. “Such schemes are not a good policy
because they discourage honest taxpayers.”
According to Mr. Adil
Gilani of Transparency International Pakistan (TIP), this scheme is meant
“to whiten corruption money”. Referring to the letter written by TIP
to the Prime Minister, he said that they had sternly opposed amnesty
schemes and proposed certain steps that could broaden the tax base as well
as bring extra revenues.
According to TIP, many
unscrupulous elements availed the 2008 Tax Amnesty Scheme by just paying 2
percent and today they have thriving businesses — giving them further
leverage to take billions as loans from the banks, avoiding duties and
taxes and then enjoying write-offs using political pressure. TIP in its
letter to the Prime Minister stressed the need “to devise a mechanism to
collect 19.5 percent GST/Excise Duty and 10pc withholding tax on prepaid
cards for cellular phone companies, internet service providers and WLL
phone services, prior to their sale in the market, which would result in
additional revenue of over Rs. 250 billion”.
For justifying the
forthcoming amnesty schemes, the FBR claimed that there were “about 2.3
million elite of the country that do not even have National Tax Numbers (NTNs)”.
At present, there are 3.2 million NTN holders in the country of whom only
1.4 million file tax returns or statements.
What about FBR’s
modern automated systems and tax reforms during the last many years? What
prevented it to tax these people? Why
should national exchequer suffer by getting peanuts from these rich tax
cheats due to failure of FBR? Why should they not be penalised for not
availing tax amnesty scheme of 2008?
What is the rationale of
absolving them from criminal proceedings under special laws related to
corrupt practices and money laundering? Perpetual amnesty schemes have
shattered the faith of the common man in the entire system. We need a
comprehensive asset-seizure legislation providing for confiscation of all
un-taxed assets, and having provisions to seek international assistance to
bring back looted and/or undeclared wealth parked outside. This is what
the rest of the world.
Once too often,
clad in sherwani or khakis, fawning provincial elites echo Islamabad’s
proclamation: the end of mass poverty in the Indus Basin. Bunkum, rebuffs
the last Household Integrated Economic Survey 2010-11 [HIES]. For almost
the bottom one-third of rural Sindh population, monthly food expenditure
provides less than half of an active adult’s daily requirement even if
average nourishment was magically achieved by all. Another one-fourth of
population consumed only an additional 600 calories or so.
Protein deficiency is no
better and could be worse, even among fisherfolk. Stuck with low catch
level because of overfishing led by industrial and commercial fishing,
high export-led prices lead perversely to harvesters being unable to
afford consumption of own catch, more nutritious than cheaper chicken. It
is of no comfort that UAE, EU and ASEAN consumers are deservingly better
off, resulting in larger foreign exchange reserves for the state.
The National Nutrition
Survey 2011 warns that “Sindh appeared as the poorest and food deprived
province: 72pc households were found to be food insecure … and 17pc were
food insecure with severe hunger.” If the countrywide differential of
rural-urban is present in Sindh then rural households are “more food
insecure.” Tragically, “over the past 20 years there has been little
change in the prevalence of malnutrition.”
It is of course regional
deprivation, as witnessed in the Global Hunger Index 2012 (International
Food Policy Research Institute) which places South Asia as worse than the
middle among 80 countries, excepting Sri Lanka.
More or less, millions
of young and old in rural Sindh suffer from undernourishment and
malnutrition. Included are children placed at risk of becoming mentally
deprived adults, a criminal negligence by society. It is reckless
self-indulgence of a minority in a Pakistan that generated annual income
per capita in excess of $1000 (Economic Survey).
Migration to decent
urban employment and residence is not feasible for the existing scale of
deprived rural population. Nothing but extensive agrarian restructuring
embracing land, water and forests will work, enabling people to take care
of themselves better. Communitarian arrangements are essential to replace
a predatory state and the inherently uncaring market.
Does rural Sindh have a
serious capability problem of income and prices (i.e. assets and returns)
that deny affordability of nutritional standards to vast numbers? Indeed,
yes. HIES reports average monthly food budget of the bottom 30pc as under
Rs 1000 per capita. An additional 25pc of the population indicate
incremental food expenditure of merely Rs 300 per capita.
In a cruel echo, the
Labour Force Survey 2010-11 [LFS] indicates that many of our citizens go
hungry because of indecently paid wage labour. Nearly one-third of male
employees in rural Sindh were unable to provide more than Rs 5,000 to
support a month’s family subsistence. Scandalously for an Islamic
similarly exploitative wages were the lot of over twice as many
Failure to comply with a
decent minimum wage without discrimination remains a terrible blot upon
Sindh society. The bottom three-fourth of rural Sindh could claim only
half as much in agriculture income. Other sources of income did not
improve the inequity. There is a ‘black’ economy, yes. However, one
cannot but feel that the numbers of impoverished remain sizable despite
incomes that escape, and enrich, official notice.
In fact, official income
surveys may seriously underestimate destitution in a population made
invisible by self-interested blindness.
As matters stand, land
remains a crucial asset for distinguishing the hungry from the obese. Vast
numbers in Sindh have no land whatsoever. Many others own too little,
alongside the very few who have too much; some of the landless manage to
rent land but often do so on terms that deny a decent livelihood.
That is what the
Agriculture Census 2011 illustrates. For the nearly
11 million acres
in Sindh, land ownership was restricted to less than one million
households, constituting less than half of all counted as agricultural
households (livestock and farm).
Among the vast majority
excluded, fewer than 300,000 landless households gained access as tenant
farms; the vast majority of their farms were less than 5 acres. Such
asymmetry in economic power is surely one reason
that most tenant
families can expect
improverishment at best, destitution at worst.
Will matters soon
improve through expanding education? Yes, but not soon enough if inclusion
in schooling improves at the current pace and the quality of public
schooling declines more rapidly. Consider: three-fourth of tenant
report primary schooling at best, with half of tenant families
having no member with any formal education whatsoever.
Undeniable injustice is
the fact that wage employment has not been the escape route for
malnourishment in rural Sindh. HIES
also does not suggest that
self-employment could have been
a boon for many. Across the bottom
75 percent, self employment
less than 5 percent of total income.
The Census indicates
that millions are likely to suffer indignity. Oddly, the higher judiciary
in Sindh remains largely absent from forceful application
even national law, let alone
constitution and international commitments.
With an average farm
household of nearly 8 persons, landless tenants provide subsistence to
million persons in Sindh. Among
landless tenant farms of Sindh, around 80 thousand households were found
indebted in the Census. Of these, the vast majority were especially
vulnerable to accumulating debt being
small tenant farms of less than
acres. Reflecting an uncaring state, and market greed, almost all
indebted tenants were stuck with creditors described as ‘commission
agents, friends, and relatives.’
are also likely among poorly paid ‘permanent’ employees, especially
those living on the employer’s land. The
Census estimates Sindh farms to have over 250,000
employees, which would imply well over 2 million persons
Who would deny that the
above data reinforce urgent democratic demands for labour and tenancy
reforms immediately, and soon thereafter for land redistribution in favour
of other landless
and near-landless? A fair basis of redistribution may favour those
who are currently occupied in farming but fail to achieve a decent income.
If enough land can be wrested from the land-obese then near landless
families could also regain their rights to a decent livelihood and, hence,
to a life with dignity, for their children if not for themselves.
Our approach to required
land begins with that needed to meet a nourishment standard in (daily)
calories (as 3000 per adult, used by the Asian Floor Wage Campaign) via
average Sindh wheat yield (of 1500 kgs per acre, reported in Agricultural
Statistics of Pakistan). A simple alternative is derived from average
rural Sindh consumption expenditure (of just over Rs 3000 per month per
capita, documented in
HIES), enabling the nourishment standard to be met through average
patterns of food and nonfood consumption. Among several reasons for
crudity is locational variation in wheat yields. Until disaggregated data
is officially available we must use the provincial averages.
suggests a range of at least 0.50, and upto 2 acres per adult as land
needed for owner farming to achieve a minimal nutritional standard. For a
beneficiary family of 4 adults and 4 children where a child needs half as
much as an adult, the range would be 3 to 12 acres for this recipient
family – or about a third to 1.5 acres per capita. We would like to
emphasise the crucial importance of a per person entitlement to protect
children as well as women.
Where would the land
come from? Obviously, public land is the preferred option. One day soon,
we hope, the right to information may achieve full disclosure, even of
land granted to the armed forces but diverted to commercial gains.
Let us then look only at
private landownership in Sindh. The Census reports less than 5 thousand
ownership titles to 150 acres and more with over a million acres.
Including less wealthy landowners in the 100-150 acre category adds nearly
5 thousand owners and half a million acres for redistribution targeting.
Suppose, liberally, an
average of 10 persons per holding. Rather arbitrarily, let us consider 5
acres per capita as ‘justified’ to remain with such landowning
families, or a total of nearly half a million acres. Hence ‘surplus’
could well be over a million acres of cultivable land. This would
transform over 2 million landless persons to landowner with around 0.5
acres per capita.
Increasing land size and
broadening ownership to other landless households and marginal owners is a
wise objective of social justice. This would require land resumption from
additional landowners. For example, the 50-100 ownership category can
yield a surplus for an additional half a million persons.
More responsive and
responsible economy managers would build upon the NREGA scheme in India,
offering guaranteed employment at a decent wage for a minimum number of
days to all men and women. By securing non-farm income, the land
redistribution scheme could then benefit more of the landless with smaller
land ownership entitlements.
No land redistribution
can achieve its objective unless former landless
in production. Failure would also result if beneficiaries used land
for non-farm enterprise. A collective
arrangement in the form of
land held in a cooperative
be the most effective organisation for realizing sustainability
with equity. We may refer to this as satisfying the objective of food
sovereignty. This goes beyond the neo-liberal goal of food availability
markets which result in exports of food as well as land grabs
amidst mass hunger.
Renewal of democratic
elections for local bodies will strengthen demands for local
responsiveness, minimizing irrelevant distractions of provincial elites.
We see no reasons to
appreciate federal and provincial policy for special economic zones and
similar land grabs to aid corporate investors. Instead, we renew calls for
redistribution of natural assets on the basis of fairness and justice.
Indicative numbers have
been shared, not as incontrovertible policy action but primarily to
suggest issues for extensive public debate on matters of fundamental
rights. Many of our rural citizens do depend directly upon urban
employment, but we postpone discussion of linkages with land
redistribution. Foreign worker remittances could dilute or even break the
link of livelihood to land, and hence make agrarian reforms less than
urgent. Such income inflows are likely, however, to remain restricted to a
tiny minority of small farms in rural Sindh, where currently less than
3,000 report foreign remittances in the
That our concerns are
universal can be defended by the repeated emphasis laid by international
analysts such as the UN(RISD) upon redressing inequality to eradicate mass
poverty, rejecting those who would prolong suffering for generations.
Another illustration is the Social Protection Recommendation ratified by
ILO members this year, whose objectives of secure and decent livelihoods
can be rapidly attained through land redistribution. Calls for food
sovereignty by international activists such as in Via Campesina and
Jubilee South underscore our demand for agrarian restructuring.
The writers work for
Peoples Movements through PFF and PILER, and would welcome critical
comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Almost half of
the people in Pakistan are food insecure. This is informed by different
studies conducted by various organisations using different datasets and
methodologies. Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and World
Food Program’s report released in 2010 suggests that 48.6 percent
population in Pakistan is food insecure.
Mahboob ul Haq
Development Foundation’s Human Development report 2011 says that food
was inaccessible for more than one third of Pakistanis. It also reveals
that food consumption in terms of Kcal/day is much below other developing
countries. National Nutrition Survey commissioned by UNICEF in 2011
mentions that 58 percent population in Pakistan is facing food insecurity
and moderate to severe hunger. Global Hunger Index by FAO places Pakistan
food insecurity level as alarming.
Let us take a pause
here, and look at poverty statistics. Planning Commission, during Shaukat
Aziz government, revealed that 17 percent people of Pakistan were living
below the poverty line. This claim was challenged by coalition
government’s finance minister Ishaq Dar in 2008, who was of the opinion
that 44 percent people in Pakistan were living below poverty line.
Since then, there is no
official disclosure of poverty figures in Pakistan. Last year, a report
was prepared by the Planning Commission, which on the basis of Pakistan
Standard for Social and Living Measurement survey (PSLM), reflected that
12 percent people in Pakistan were living below poverty line.
However, the poverty
figure was so unrealistic that the government never officially released
that report. Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) has spent millions of
rupees on poverty score card exercise. They have available data for 27
million households. Unfortunately, instead of strengthening Pakistan
Bureau of Statistics and getting this data collected through it, BISP
policy makers preferred to collect data through Chartered Accountant firms
and National Rural Support Programme.
There is nothing wrong
with these organisations, but they were never specialised in collecting
data at such a huge scale. Thus, we have no analysis of mini poverty
census conducted by BISP and cannot use that data to determine state of
poverty in Pakistan either.
Last month, SDPI came up
with its multi-dimensional poverty index (MPI), an international measure
of acute poverty developed by Oxford Poverty and Human Development
Initiative. The MPI uses 10 indicators to measure poverty in three
dimensions: education, health, assets and living standards.
The study reveals that
among the worst 20 districts in Pakistan with acute poverty incidence, 16
were located in the province of Balochistan and four in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The report also revealed that “Balochistan is the poorest of all
provinces with 52 per cent population living below poverty line, followed
by Sindh with 33 per cent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 32 per cent and Punjab
with 19 per cent”. In absolute numbers, 58.7 million people are living
below the poverty line in Pakistan out of the total population of
estimated 180 million.
Here it is worth
mentioning that MPI study of SDPI did not use the data for SDPI’s food
security analysis. However, one thing common in both the reports is state
of affairs in Balochistan. According to food insecurity report, 10
districts of Balochistan are included among the 20 worst food insecure
districts of Pakistan.
According to MPI, the
number of Balochistan district among 20 worst poverty districts of
Pakistan has gone up to 16. One can only understand immediate need for
finding a political solution for permanent peace in Baloshistan if above
mentioned statistics are given serious attention.
Coming back to food
insecurity and poverty, we should realise that food insecurity, hunger,
and poverty are three distinct phenomena but are interlinked and their
cumulative effect is much worse than the effect of original problem. In my
opinion, the major triggers for extremism, violence, and lawlessness in
society are poverty, hunger, marginalisation, social exclusion, and class
People targeting public
and private property, smashing vehicles, and burning cinemas, banks, and
restaurants were not reflecting their religious sentiments. Most of them
were challenging the class divide, and in their opinion were taking
revenge from those who “have”. It was an opportunity for them to show
their anger on the system which has created two classes, a minority that
“have” and a majority that “don’t have anything”.
What matters here is the
governmental and societal response to tackle these problems which are
eroding the very basis of social fabric. First things first, we need to
know the exact number of people who are victims of poverty and food
insecurity. The government needs not to shy away from facts. It should
recognise the existence of problems to come up with a strategy to resolve
it. We are using projections based on 1998 Census, have not released the
official poverty figure for the last five years, and claim that Pakistan
produces bumper wheat crop, it exports rice and a major producer of milk
so is not a food insecure country.
mindset among policymakers sabotaged the
“Zero Hunger Pakistan” programme which was launched in March
2012 by the then Prime Minister. The programme could have been one of the
flagship programmes of the PPP government which was designed to take care
of hunger and malnutrition among children, breast feeding mothers, and
expecting mothers. Despite Premier Gilani’s announcement, the ministry
of finance never allocated money for this programme.
This is the mindset
which does not allow our decision makers to recognise that poverty score
card used by BISP as poverty estimation tool has certain flaws and can be
improved. Poverty score card merely captures asset poverty. It is not
catered for capturing multi-dimensional poverty that has trapped every
third Pakistani today. Rs 1000 per moth given to selected households can
be a temporary relief for few (if at all) but cannot address poverty until
health, education, clean drinking water, and sanitation services are
ensured and livelihood opportunities are created.
For this to happen,
uninterrupted supply of energy at affordable prices is a must. Ad-hoc
measures, like BISP, even if it is increased to rupees 10,000 per month
cannot be a substitute to state’s responsibility of addressing factors
which are turning every 2nd Pakistani food insecure and every 3rd
Addressing poverty and
food insecurity requires a paradigm shift, a shift towards human
development and individual security for which governments would have to
empower people, hear their voice, and be accountable to them for pursuing
the policies which have turned rich more rich, fast eliminating the middle
class, and pushing the poor in abject poverty.
The writer is executive
director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute and can be contacted
As the country
is heading towards elections expected by early next year, the ruling
political parties have speeded up their efforts to show some
‘performance’ in order to attract voters.
On an average, the
performance of economic managers of the federal government remained quite
dismal as trade deficits have increased to an all time high levels and GDP
growth remained low. This is in addition to below-the-target tax
collection during the four years of the PPP led coalition government.
Despite poor economic
performance during the last four- and-a-half year rule and the failure to
provide adequate relief to the common man, the ruling political parties
have tried to show their performance by inaugurating as many public sector
development schemes as possible because the tenure of the present assembly
is going to expire in February next year.
Although the government
claims reduction in inflation rate to a single digit (8.79 percent in
September 2012), it has failed to control the overall prices of consumer
Escalating prices of
food and petroleum products, which have now hit an all-time high level,
have directly affected the people eroding their purchasing power.
Similarly, the overall cost of living has also multiplied during the
tenure of the present government.
The ruling political
parties, finding it hard to justify their economic policies, have resorted
to a few development schemes in their constituencies to ensure their vote
bank is intact.
Besides completing the
on-going projects, the government is also expected to divert funds from
other welfare schemes like Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) for
initiation of new development schemes aimed at earning some political
For example, the schemes
to be carries out in the constituency of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz
Ashraf, which were earlier not included in the Public Sector Development
Programme (PSDP), have been approved in a short time.
To show increased
budgetary allocations for pro-poor projects included in the 2012-13 annual
budget, the provincial governments have also increased allocations for
development projects under their respective Annual Development Plans.
Allocations for members of parliament were also increased to make them
able to go in their constituencies during an election campaign.
The federal government
had made the commitment to provide Rs. 350 billion as its share in the
total outlay of the Rs. 873 billion of PSDP for the fiscal year 2012-13.
The contribution of the provincial governments was kept at even higher
rate at Rs. 513 billion.
Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) was provided Rs. 10
billion for its development projects in the earthquake-hit areas of Azad
Jammu and Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The federal government
through its Planning Commission on October 12 released an amount of Rs
64.7 billion from the PSDP to expedite the development schemes. During the
first quarter of the current fiscal year ending on September 30th the
government had already released Rs 61 billion. This makes the total
released funds to Rs. 125 billion.
Some economists estimate
that PSDP allocations for the fiscal year would be released during the
third quarter as elections are expected to be held in March or April 2013.
This urgency to spend PSDP before the elections and without any economic
justification would further increase the budget deficit, which was about
8.50 percent last year.
If this trend continues
the budget deficit may reach 9 percent, which would be highest in the
history and disastrous for the economy, opines Dr. Shahid Hasan Siddiqui,
Chairman Research Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance.
He says “the
government is already borrowing heavily from the banks, mainly in the
private sector, because no foreign assistance is available to fund the
growing budget deficit. The government has already made provisions in the
budget based on foreign assistance, which is uncertain due to political
government is also in negotiations with the International Monitory Fund (IMF)
to seek assistance to reduce its budget deficit and it is still unclear
because the political government would not be in a position to adopt
tougher conditionalities of IMF at this juncture.
“The spending on
public sector development schemes in this way would not benefit the public
much, but it would certainly benefit contractors and politicians, who
would earn commissions,” believes Dr. Siddiqui.
The government seems to
be in a predicament as little room is left for more spending on public
development schemes because of tight financial situation. Dr. Siddiqui
fears the government would somehow divert funds from Benazir Income
Support Programme to short term development project schemes.
Similar is the case with
the provincial governments, which have also beefed up their efforts for
spending more on their development schemes under their respective ADPs.
Punjab government’s Planning and Development Department has recently
released Rs 49.59 billion from its total Annual Development Programme
2012-13 worth Rs. 210 billion.
The Punjab government is
facing multi-pronged political challenges from PML-Q, Tahrik-e-Insaf and
the PPP. The PML-N in Punjab is facing criticism from the opposition
political parties on lavish spending on schemes like the Laptop one and
Launched in July, the
tractor scheme aims at giving farmers a one time grant of Rs200,000 on the
purchase of a tractor. Under the scheme, a total of 10,000 tractors will
be given this year to farmers through computerised balloting.
In the case of Sindh,
the provincial government had allocated a development budget of Rs 231
billion for fiscal year 2012-13. This amount was much more than the
revised estimate of Rs155.8 billion for the previous fiscal year 2011-12.
ADP size for the year was at Rs 181 billion against Rs 133 billion in the
last fiscal year.
Sindh is divided into
rural and urban areas. Karachi, with almost half of the population of the
province is consuming most of the funds and due to political pressure from
the Karachi-based MQM, the government had to divert its development
funding to Karachi alone.
When MQM gave a
three-day ultimatum to the government to accept its demands, including
local government system, the provincial government released an amount of
Rs. 1 billion under the Karachi Development Package which is Rs. 4 billion
for the entire year.
Sindh finds itself amid
a political crisis after the introduction of Sindh Peoples Local
Government Ordinance 2012, which is opposed by nationalists as well as
some coalition parties like Pakistan Muslim League (Functional), ANP and
NPP. The Sindh government has so far released Rs. 15 billion in the first
quarter for development schemes.