foreigndebt
A deadly trap
The coming years are very tough for the economy as 
foreign debt is expected to increase further
By Shujauddin Qureshi
The parliament has taken seriously the accumulation of foreign debt as it has formed a committee to probe the foreign debt situation since 1985 when the first assembly was elected after General Ziaul Haq’s martial law. There are various factors as to why the country kept sinking into the deep waters of foreign debt. How can it come out of it seems to be a difficult question at the moment. 

planning
Returning to normalcy
A few development projects 
undertaken in Swat can make the difference for the local people
By Tahir Ali
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has undertaken several development initiatives in Swat and Malakand division (MD) with the support from local and foreign partners.
The Chief Planning Officer (CPO) of P&D KP, Usman Gul, said hundreds of projects worth around Rs145bn are being pursued there. “213 projects in line with the Post Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA) Strategy worth Rs114bn are being planned with allocation of Rs11.4bn this year’s ADP for the purpose. 
Similarly, 5 mega projects under Swat development package worth Rs1bn, funded by the federal government, have been completed in Swat. As far as normal ADP channel funded by KP is concerned, 111 projects worth Rs30bn are being planned in Malakand division of which Rs4.5bn are to be spent this FY. 44 projects of these are due for completion shortly,” said the official.

Mistrust among allies
Once again, the Pak-US relations are being revived in an atmosphere of mutual distrust
By S.M.Masud
In the attempt to abduct Osama Bin Laden from his house on May 2, 2011, at Abbottabad, one of the American helicopters crashed in his house from where its tail was later on found. America forced Pakistan to hand over even the broken tail of the damaged helicopter and it was taken back to the US. According to some reports, the American intelligence agencies feared that Pakistan may not hand over the same to China for further research made by the US of new technology.

chaos
Slow to solutions
Absence of the willingness to prevent a 
disaster has cost us immeasurable losses 
By Alauddin Masood
Some parts of the country are frequently inundated by floods, which inflict heavy losses as did the devastating floods in 2010 and 2011. However, if we make a comparative study about flood management in Pakistan and elsewhere, we find that before the advent of monsoons, Pakistani leaders make statements assuring the nation about preparations to control the likely damages by floods. 
However, when hit by floods, the response of our planners never goes beyond ad-hoc measures in the shape of relief and rehabilitation. Given the situation, one should not be surprised if the people have to brave floods intermittently since the country’s Independence in 1947.

Challenges ahead
The non-operationalisation of drug regulatory authority means investment worth billions of rupees would remain stuck for the unforeseeable future
By Zabir Saeed
Pharmaceutical industry constitutes a key factor of growth in any economy. The role and significance of this industry assumes even greater dimensions in the event of a national disaster, war, catastrophe or national natural calamity. 
Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry has also come of age. Far from being a fledgling industry dependent on raw material and input from abroad, the domestic pharmaceutical industry has grown by leaps and bounds during the last couple of decades. 

Fair share
Women in rural areas are making their mark in the local economy despite hurdles in the way 
By Kalim ur Rahman
Entrepreneurship development among rural women helps enhance their personal capabilities and increase decision-making status in the family and society as a whole. 
Women produce 75 to 90 percent of food crops in the world; they are responsible for the running of households. According to the United Nations, in no country in the world do men come anywhere close to women in the amount of time spent in housework.

damages
Right cause
The people affected by the construction of Mirani dam run from pillar 
to post demanding compensation
By Sharif Shambazi and 
Ahsan Kamal
The modern state has a peculiar way of dealing with its peripheral subjects. Marginalized peoples and communities are not a concern when the State, in collaboration with military establishment and the IFIs focuses on strategic interests and economic growth. The attempts of profiting from control over natural forces, particularly over water through the construction of dams and canals, excludes local peoples from economic gains and often leaves them more vulnerable to natural hazards.

The missing link
“The political will to subordinate the police or have a police reform was never there, this has to be created”
By Asif Akhtar
Amidst an increasingly volatile US-Pakistan relationship, a recent policy discussion hosted by the Asia Society to launch its report, Stabilizing Pakistan Through Police Reform in New York City and Washington DC is an attempt to ground the conversation back in the realities and challenges of counter-terrorism in Pakistan. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

foreigndebt
A deadly trap
The coming years are very tough for the economy as 
foreign debt is expected to increase further
By Shujauddin Qureshi

The parliament has taken seriously the accumulation of foreign debt as it has formed a committee to probe the foreign debt situation since 1985 when the first assembly was elected after General Ziaul Haq’s martial law. There are various factors as to why the country kept sinking into the deep waters of foreign debt. How can it come out of it seems to be a difficult question at the moment.

Apparently, at the moment, with the transfer of the blocked US $ 1.1 billion from the US under Coalition Support Fund, the government of Pakistan has heaved a sigh of relief for now as the growing budget deficit and dwindling foreign exchange reserves have already posed a great threat to economy and to its political survival in the days to come. This is the government’s last fiscal year ahead of fresh elections due in 2013.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan statistics the country’s foreign external debt and liabilities were US$ 45.8 billion by March 31, 2008, which have soared to US$ 60.3 billion by March 31, 2012.

Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves had hit a record high at $18.31 billion in July last year when in June 2011 the World Bank released $191.9 million and Asian Development Bank sanctioned a loan of $196.8 million for Pakistan but due to abrupt suspension of IMF loan the foreign exchange reserves could not sustain the new high levels for longer durations.

The worrisome economic indicators with growing trade deficit, relentless energy crisis and declining currency exchange rate have dimmed the chances of the government to claim some successes on economic front during its five year term or give a promise to the nation for the next term.

Pakistan’s economy has witnessed difficult times during the tenure of PPP-led coalition government, especially due to burgeoning energy crisis, heavy losses due to 2010 floods, followed by stoppage of foreign aid because of the growing tension between Pakistan and the US after attack on Salala Checkpost by the US led NATO forces in which about two dozen Pakistani soldiers were killed.

As a result of the friction, the US stopped all financial support, including holding back of all the due installments under the Coalition Support Fund, Kerry Lugar Bill and official military assistance. The fiscal year 2011 also witnessed difficulties after the monsoon rains and floods due to breaches in Left Bank Outfall drain many areas of Sindh.

The cancellation of US financial assistance for which the government had allocated provision in the budget in anticipation of release of funds under Coalition Support Fund and assistance under Kerry Lugar bill added to the problems. Since the amount was held back, it disturbed all the economic targets of 2011-12 budget.

These fresh remittances from the Bretton Woods institutions could not help much improve the foreign exchange reserves situation as the reserves started dwindling mainly because of the abrupt conclusion of the IMF’s Standby Arrangement (SBA) programme in September 2011.

Pakistan failed to draw the last two tranches of $US 3.4 billion from IMF because of non-fulfillment of the main conditions tagged with the loans including imposition of Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST). Most of ruling as well as opposition political parties in the parliament had opposed the RGST, which ultimately caused the disconnection of IMF.

Although the government is seriously considering to again request IMF for a fresh assistance but the fear of tougher conditionalities of IMF has barred the government from taking a risk due to ensuing general elections.

“The present government may be waiting for a caretaker government to take a tougher decision,” remarked Dr. Shahid Hasan Siddiqui, a senior economist and Chairman of Research Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance. “Pakistan will have to intensify military action against terrorist groups otherwise getting US assistance is almost impossible,” he added.

He said during the initial phase of war on terror, Pakistan was in a better position to negotiate its terms and it got more money, but as the time passed Pakistan is no more in the bargaining position.

The relationship between Pakistan and US had already started aggravating after May 2, 2011 Abbottabad operation in which the US mariners killed Osama Bin Laden by intruding into Pakistani borders. The Salala incident seemed to be the last nail in the coffin of Pak-US relations when Pakistan suspended the facility of NATO supplies through land routes via Karachi port and cancelled the lease of using Shamsi airbase in Balochistan.

Although the government has reopened the NATO route, the country suffered a substantial economic loss during the seven month impasse. Due to its weaker economic base Pakistan has always relied on foreign assistance for its budget financing.

The government’s foreign borrowings are mainly spent on debt repayment, which has resulted in further increase in its foreign debt liabilities. “Had the IMF Stand by arrangement continued, the foreign debt could have been much more than the present levels,” remarks Dr. Siddiqui.

The depreciation of Pakistani currency has further increased the amount of foreign debt in rupee terms. Increased level of debt has already plagued Pakistan’s economic growth because of declining expenditure on development and increasing spending on defence and debt services.

“Pakistan has been trapped in a vicious cycle and it has to get loans only to repay the loans,” says Khurram Shahzad an analyst at Investment Capital Securities.

“Over the period the foreign debt has increased substantially as there is no productivity in the country and rupee is depreciating. Pakistani economy has no repayment capability,” he adds.

Pakistan is facing difficulties to kick off its privatisation programme after its suspension during Musharraf government. On many occasions present government had tried to kick start it, but failed. It had tried to auction G-3 licenses to telecom industries to generate about Rs.75 billion or $833 million, but those auctions could not held in 2011-12.

Pakistan has to pay IMF a total US$8 billion under the Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) facility. About US$1.8 billion are due to be paid during 2012. Moreover, the real challenge would be for the next year when Pakistan would have to pay US$3.9 billion in 2013 and $2.1 billion in 2014. All these conditions have forced the government to resort of internal and external borrowing.

Not only external debt, Pakistan’s domestic debt has also increased manifold over the period, especially during the last four year tenure of the PPP-led coalition government. The domestic debt as well as external debt liabilities have almost doubled during this year. Domestic debt has increased from Rs 3226 billion in 2008 to Rs 6223 billion in 2011-12 and external debt from Rs 2778 billion to Rs 4773 billion.

Pakistani economy mostly depends on foreign assistance to bridge the budget deficit. The narrow tax base coupled with increased expenditure on maintenance of internal security have posed challenges to the economy

Pakistan’s main challenge is to contain growing trade deficit which is currently as high as US$ 21 billion,” says Dr. Shahid Hasan Siddiqui, a senior economist. He said last year the trade deficit was US$ 15 billion and it is continuously growing.

Similarly, the foreign direct investment (FDI) are also minimal at only US$ 1 billion. Dr. Siddiqui said that the repatriation of the profit from the FDI is much more than the FDI coming in Pakistan, which is a challenging situation.

Dr. Siddiqui expected that Pakistan may seek deferment of repayment from IMF because of its economic situation. “It would also depend on the relationship between Pakistan and USA that how much Pakistan receives in foreign exchange,” he says, adding, “although Pakistani economy suffered a lot because of General Pervez Musharraf’s privatization programme, the country received US$ 7 billion because of privatization especially because of two major utilities PTCL and Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC). We are now paying the prices of those privatization,” he said.

The coming years are very tough for Pakistani economy as the foreign debt is expected to increase further.

 

 

planning
Returning to normalcy
A few development projects 
undertaken in Swat can make the difference for the local people
By Tahir Ali

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has undertaken several development initiatives in Swat and Malakand division (MD) with the support from local and foreign partners.

The Chief Planning Officer (CPO) of P&D KP, Usman Gul, said hundreds of projects worth around Rs145bn are being pursued there. “213 projects in line with the Post Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA) Strategy worth Rs114bn are being planned with allocation of Rs11.4bn this year’s ADP for the purpose.

Similarly, 5 mega projects under Swat development package worth Rs1bn, funded by the federal government, have been completed in Swat. As far as normal ADP channel funded by KP is concerned, 111 projects worth Rs30bn are being planned in Malakand division of which Rs4.5bn are to be spent this FY. 44 projects of these are due for completion shortly,” said the official.

“There are two donors’ assisted projects underway in Malakand under the ADP: One is the UNDP-assisted for strengthening rule of law in Malakand worth Rs13.38bn with an allocation of 335mn for this year.

The other relates to the construction of three police stations and one police line in Swat (NAS Assisted) costing Rs622mn with an allocation of Rs203mn for this year,” he added.

 “Agriculture, minority affairs, drinking water and sanitation, elementary and secondary education, energy and power, food, forestry, Industries, law and justice, mines and minerals, population welfare, regional development, roads, sports, tourism, archaeology, etc are major focus of all these projects,” he informs.

“Energy and power sector is one of the top priority sectors, therefore, 55 per cent of the ADP alone in energy and power sector is being managed through our indigenous resources,” he said.

According to Gul, there is no foreign aided hydro power project (HPP) in Malakand but as most of the hydro power potential was located there, the government was spending 50 percent of the funds there. “13 out of 15 ongoing projects and Rs600mn of Rs1.137bn total allocated for the sector this year are for Malakand division. And off the total cost of Rs23bn of these schemes, Rs16bn have been allocated for the area,” he added. 

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister, Amir Haider Khan Hoti, recently inaugurated the Matiltan and Daral Khwar (Bahrain) hydro power projects. Both projects would earn billions for the province besides considerably mitigating loadshedding.

The residents of Matiltan and Kalam would receive Rs260mn from the Matiltan HPP and 250 persons from the area would get jobs. Similarly, the Daral Khwar HPP would generate Rs100 million as royalty for the residents.

The Chief Planning Officer agreed that KP and Swat has great hydropower potential which should be utilised but said that the government had to see institutional capacity of the implementing agencies before assigning any project to them.

The CPO identified sites identification, acquisition of land, funding issue and security constraints as the main problems in implementation of projects and meeting of targets.

The army has been in the forefront in development work in the area. Colonel Arif, In-charge of the Inter Services Public Relations in Swat, said the army also sought help from the NGOs and sensitised and requested the international donors for assistance to rebuild the area. “By activating all these channels, we have been able to restore 100 per cent all the 1625 schools that were partially or totally destroyed by floods or militancy.

The army engineers ensured that the Kalam-Bahrain road remained open for traffic for the first time round the year. So far, the reconstruction of road and bridges has been done on self-help basis by the army and no government funds have been used for them,” he said.

“We had also worked with the local and international NGOs to revive the agriculture and to rebuild the devastated trout fish hatcheries,” he added. According to another official, the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), a subsidiary of the Pakistan army, has been given around $70mn for water sanitation, construction of schools and road infrastructure development etc by donors.

For the total post floods reconstruction estimates of $1.1bn, work plans for Rs34bn have been prepared but only Rs18bn have been committed by last year. For the total post militancy reconstruction needs of $0.86bn, only $0.4bn have been committed by the same period. 

The European Union (EU) has been working through a multi-donor trust fund in various fields, which has set aside $114mn for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Malakand. EU was spending 300 million Euros on the reconstruction of schools and other development projects in Swat and Malakand. The USAID has provided $25mn for reconstructing about 110 militancy-destroyed schools in MD.

KP also hopes to receive $200 million for reconstruction activities from the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Fund for Development which would be utilised for construction of Swat Expressway, university in Swat, besides reconstructing damaged schools and colleges. Negotiations are also underway with the Korean government for the Malakand tunnel project of $78 million.

Many areas still have no bridges and chairlifts are the only means of communications across the noisy Swat River. On the way to Kalam, one can see that several micro power stations and the biggest Madyan grid station have been swept away by floods. As none of the hydro power stations and the Madyan grid station has been rebuilt, the entire Swat is provided power by the Khwazakhela grid-station which is beyond its capacity.

“There is no electricity. The only exchange in Kalam is closed since last two years. The health units, schools and other entities have no facilities. Swat airport is still not open for flights,” said Zahid Khan, a local hotel industry leader.

Humayun Khan from Bahrain lost his house and agriculture lands worth millions of rupees in the flash floods of 2010. “Several NGOs helped reconstruct the houses of the affected people. But as I lost my land too, my house wasn’t built by any NGO,” he says. Humayun still lives in a tent with his family which interestingly has solar-lamps and a solar-cooker provided by an NGO.

The army is reported to have helped women and girls to learn skills such as knitting, sewing, machine embroidery, etc, by establishing training centres which were later handed over to the Sarhad Rural Support Programme. Over 800 girls and women had completed training and were now running their own businesses.

Lasting stability depends on several other factors and not restoration of peace alone. Sluggish economic recovery, perpetuation of faulty governance and failure to reach out to the distant areas and the poor most and lack of a speedy judicial system in Malakand could undo military gains.

According to the World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security and Development, the Taliban gained support in Swat valley by building their case on local grievances, weaknesses in administration and justice system. Unless the region has a sound and speedy justice system, the problem would not be solved.

 

 

 

   

Mistrust among allies
Once again, the Pak-US relations are being revived in an atmosphere of mutual distrust
By S.M.Masud

In the attempt to abduct Osama Bin Laden from his house on May 2, 2011, at Abbottabad, one of the American helicopters crashed in his house from where its tail was later on found. America forced Pakistan to hand over even the broken tail of the damaged helicopter and it was taken back to the US. According to some reports, the American intelligence agencies feared that Pakistan may not hand over the same to China for further research made by the US of new technology.

 Such was the level of trust between the two allies who were partners in conflict against terrorism in which thousands of people lost their lives.

It was considered that the Chinese were not in possession of stealth technology which is currently being used by the US. They never made any such request to Pakistan. However, American satellites remained monitoring the movement in and around Abbottabad.

Now again Pak-US relations are being revived in an atmosphere of mutual distrust. Americans have declared the Haqqani network as a terrorist organisation. This group is fighting against the Americans within Afghanistan borders but has peaceful relations with Pakistan authorities. The US considers that after its exit in 2014, Afghanistan can look after its affairs well and retain its sovereignty only if there is no interference from Pakistan. The Pakistan authorities are not prepared to open another front within the tribal areas where they have thousands of their soldiers and millions of civilians and still the area is not returning to normalcy.

Barack Obama is suffering from low popularity for the upcoming elections which are to be announced within 100 days. It is a big threat, hence a mistrust in which all kinds of allegations against Pakistan are being levied and even monetary grants announced under Kerry-Luger Bill have been withheld. Dr Shakeel Afridi’s issue is a clear example of it. It is generally argued that in case Pakistan is disintegrated, Pakistan’s nuclear programme can fall into unsafe hands.

In such atmosphere, an article was published in the Washington Post of July 7, 2011, alleging “Pakistan nuclear bomb maker says North Korea paid bribes for knowhow” which was written by one R. Jeffrey Smith based in Islamabad.  His article appeared when Pakistan was under extreme internal turmoil. Karachi was under worst conditions of target killing. Quetta’s law and order was absolutely beyond control. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab were all under constant bomb blasts.

In this article, it was alleged that North Korea bribed top military officials in Islamabad to obtain access in sensitive nuclear technology in the late 1990s.  Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan made the documents available to North Korea that transferred more than million dollars to him. Khan also released a copy of a North Korean official’s letter written in 1998. It confirmed US allegations about the shipment of centrifuges and sophisticated drawings. This letter was allegedly written by North Korean Worker’s Party Secretary Jon Byong Ho. The other Pakistani Military officials, also like Gen. Jehangir Karamat and Lt. Gen. Zulfiqar Khan, received such a low amount that it looked ridiculous for assistance of such a mega project. The amount allegedly received came to around 3 crore of Pakistani rupees in those days. Both the gentlemen have denied it as a fabrication. It is not on any official letterhead and bears no seal. The Washington Post claimed to have received it from Dr. Khan through a British journalist Simon Henderson.

It is also mentioned that the then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf accused Khan of profiting directly from nuclear-related commerce.  Some of his private bank accounts in Dubai and United Arab Emirate were also disclosed with millions of dollars in it.  His standard of living was also highlighted irrespective of the fact that Musharraf arranged a $50,000 in lump sum in 2007 at his retirement and a pension of roughly $2,500 per month was sanctioned.

Generally, it was regarded that Pakistan was aware of the presence of Osama Bin Laden and there was a tacit approval. Pervez Musharraf had all along denied it but has recently come out with an explanation that it can be a human error. An American writer Peter Bergen in his recent book titled “Man Hunt” gave a complete account of what was going inside the US administration especially President Obama who was firm that Bin Laden must be captured inspite of major risks involved in the operation.

It is interesting to note that one of Bin Laden’s wives travelled to Abbottabad to join her husband after her release from Iranian detention in 2010 (refer page 108, the Herald July 2012).

Anyhow, all these fabricated stories of kickbacks appeared when the US, on July 29, 2011, ended its nuclear arms talk with North Korea. The talks were held in the United States’ mission to United Nations in New York. Neither gave any indication of a breakthrough. It may be recalled that North Korea staged atomic weapons tests in 2006 and 2009 when it is said that North Korea agreed to scrap its atomic weapons programme in return for economic aid and better relations on the assurances from US, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. But North Korea pulled out of the talks in late 2008 and exploded its second nuclear blast in 2009.  It was also in December 2009 that the US special representative went to Pyongyang as President Obama was keen to bring North Korea back to talks.

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, invited North Korea to talks when she was in Indonesia. They wanted to have business like talks. The Washington Post writer failed to explain that if North Korea had exploded successfully its first blast in 2006 so why should it give money to Pakistan’s military general in 2007.  Was it a balance in which North Koreans Worker’s Party Secretary General, a powerful official was keeping a business account. The US put pressure on both Pakistan and North Korea for different objectives. North Korea is a potential power capable to eliminate South Korea and Japan. Similarly, she wants to vacate Afghanistan but wants its ally Pakistan to play it role which is under pressure due to large number of militants present in North and South Waziristan estimated to be almost 42 thousand which, according to Adm. Mike Mullen, is a safe haven for them and if Pakistan’s military does not fulfill their desire, they will continue to blame it for corruption and underhand deals.

They want their ally to do more under their directions. The military assistance has been stopped and economic aid is also being delayed. The pressure will continue till Pakistan yields.

The writer is a former federal law minister

 

 

 

 

 

 

chaos
Slow to solutions
Absence of the willingness to prevent a 
disaster has cost us immeasurable losses 
By Alauddin Masood

Some parts of the country are frequently inundated by floods, which inflict heavy losses as did the devastating floods in 2010 and 2011. However, if we make a comparative study about flood management in Pakistan and elsewhere, we find that before the advent of monsoons, Pakistani leaders make statements assuring the nation about preparations to control the likely damages by floods.

However, when hit by floods, the response of our planners never goes beyond ad-hoc measures in the shape of relief and rehabilitation. Given the situation, one should not be surprised if the people have to brave floods intermittently since the country’s Independence in 1947.

Against this, let us see how the French managed floods when their capital city — Paris — witnessed the worst floods in the country’s history on 21st January, 1910.

Due to unprecedented heavy rains, the river Seine inundated over 1200 acres of land, affecting 200,000 people, damaging 20,000 buildings and inflicting losses estimated at 400 million Francs (approximately US$ 1.5 billion).

But, this was the last flood to inflict damages and losses in France. Thereafter, France has been hit by floods dozens of times but the flood water has never spilled over banks of the river Seine. Why? The French authorities have changed the course of the river by many times. Now, it meanders through a number of cities and towns before falling into the sea.

Earlier, the entire course of the Seine was 150 kilometres, but the French have extended it to over one thousand kilometre with the result that when hit by floods the water gushes forward and its ferocity decreases gradually after traversing a few hundred kilometres.

While increasing the river course, the French also built lakes in cities and towns through which the river meandered. While reducing ferocity of flood waters, these lakes have become big tourist attractions.

The French also banned transportation of heavy goods and machinery by road, making it mandatory that these should be ferried by ships. The step not only considerably lessened pressure on roads it has also rid the cities of environmental pollution.

Now, let us have a look at the menace of terrorism. On 11th          September, 2001, terrorists hit the twin towers with two aircrafts and dropped their third plane over the Pentagon building in Washington. This was the worst incident in the American history.

Following this incident, the Americans motivated the global community to join the US in an anti-terror war. In brief, the Americans took precautionary and safety steps that ensured that an incident of this nature never took place in America again.

In London, 52 people lost their lives and 700 were injured in bomb blasts on 7th July, 2005. However, due to the precautionary and security steps taken by the British, no act of terror has taken place in England after that. Earlier, on 11th March, 2004, bomb blasts on four railway trains took the lives of 191 people and injured 1800 in Madrid (Spain). After that incident, the Spaniards have ensured that an incident of that nature did not take place again.

Against this what is the situation in Pakistan? How are we facing terrorism, Balochistan issue, energy shortfall, etc? We have not been able to wipe out terrorism despite making tremendous sacrifices in men and material, erecting barricades in major cities, deploying 150,000 troops along Pak-Afghan border and maintaining 1,000 security posts along the porous Durand Line.

In Balochistan, according to the apex court, there was absolute constitutional breakdown and the government’s writ was completely missing. Even on this crucial issue, it seems, we have been high on rhetoric and low in delivering. Former Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani promised to make Balochistan a ‘priority issue.’ His successor seems to be echoing the same promises and has formed yet another committee on the law and order situation.

 Such cosmetic moves have not delivered in the past. Any hope of their delivering in the future is also bleak. If the status quo persists, so will violence and all else that ails the province. As things stand, Pakistan can ignore Balochistan now only at its own peril.

The energy issue has impacted the economy in a big way. It has not only affected the industrial production, Pakistan has also suffered a colossal loss of US$ 18 billion in investments in the last three years, according to the Board of Investment.

With electric wires out of current for as long as 16-18 hours a day and water taps going dry, the sizzling heat in many cities and towns is forcing people to hold violent protest demonstrations. Power theft, non-payment of dues and amazingly high line losses are some of the major reasons for the circular debt and ever-worsening power crisis. Years have passed, but we have not been able to resolve this issue.

Why do issues remain unresolved in this country? What are the causes for constant deterioration and degeneration all-around? The answer is simple. We do not ponder and deliberate upon issues in a bid to find out how these would impact our lives in future, and then endeavour to seek logical and rational solutions to those problems.

In the West, events likely to have a bearing on the future are scientifically analysed and rational forecasts are made about the likely scenarios or possibilities in the given circumstances.

As a discipline, having a bearing on all walks of life and areas of human activity, Futuristic has emerged as a vital, integral and essential ingredient of planning, particularly in countries having more developed economies. There we find a stream of trained, intelligent and committed people providing guidance and advice to the State and other organisations about the likely shape that events can assume in various situations. In other words, these specialists analyse each and every aspect of a future event and then provide guidance to their organizations.

However, our progress, rather the very survival in the 21st          century, depends upon reviving the futuristic foresight principle and visioning quality.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Islamabad.

E-mail:

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challenges ahead
The non-operationalisation of drug regulatory authority means investment worth billions of rupees would remain stuck for the unforeseeable future
By Zabir Saeed

Pharmaceutical industry constitutes a key factor of growth in any economy. The role and significance of this industry assumes even greater dimensions in the event of a national disaster, war, catastrophe or national natural calamity.

Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry has also come of age. Far from being a fledgling industry dependent on raw material and input from abroad, the domestic pharmaceutical industry has grown by leaps and bounds during the last couple of decades.

As of today, the industry contributes nearly US $ 2 billion to the economy and generates livelihood for an estimated 4 million homes. Not only that, almost 90 per cent of the domestic requirement of medicines is being met by this industry.

It has recently been credited by the Planning Commission of Pakistan with being the third largest national industry and it is still growing at a robust pace, recording an impressive 28 per cent growth rate last year.

In Pakistan, over 500 pharmaceutical units and factories are manufacturing a vast range of medicines and 70 per cent of these units are fully owned by Pakistani companies with only 30 per cent held by foreign multinationals. Last year, the overall volume of export of Pakistani medicines stood at US $ 180 million which was likely to grow to US $ 200 million in the current year. 

While the industry in Pakistan has made giant strides over the years, some recent developments led by inter-state trade agreements have also impacted upon the overall health of the industry, spawning consequences which could have far-reaching effects on the industry in the long run. Among them, the government’s decision to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India has thrown up various challenges, some of them difficult to surmount, for the industry.

While one appreciates the growth in the two-way trade between Pakistan and India as a result of the MFN status conferred on India which finds it quite easy now to explore the vast Pakistani market to promote its products, one industry that stands to lose massively in the wake of the Indian products gaining more ground in Pakistan, is the pharmaceutical industry which faces clouds of uncertainty and threat less for an expectedly increasing competition with the Indian medicines and more for the cheap and substandard Indian medicines that may find favours with the general Pakistani.

Estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) reveal that of all the spurious drugs produced over the world, 60 per cent of them are produced alone in India which is known in the healthcare industry for its preparation of three types of drugs which cater in the first category to the markets of advanced countries, then to the markets of the developing countries and finally to the domestic markets.

In Pakistan, the quality control is ensured by a central authority directly under the administrative purview of the federal government which makes it possible to retain a high degree of quality and control in the preparation of drugs produced in Pakistan.

There is also a false notion that has gained currency regarding the Indian medicines being cheap as compared to the Pakistani drugs. The difference in price or tariff is not contributed by the inputs or ingredients but by the cheap and uninterrupted electricity and cheap and better-equipped workforce available to the Indian companies.

If these problems are tackled and addressed in Pakistan, there is every reason to believe that the cost of Pakistani medicines would also come down, making them more affordable for the masses. 

Under the circumstances, if the government indeed allows the import of Indian drugs into Pakistan, then it should be made sure that only those drugs properly certified by the FDA, European Union and the World Health Organisation are preferred and allowed into the Pakistani market.

Besides the competition posed by the Indian drugs, the national pharmaceutical industry is also paying a heavy price for an inactive drug regularity authority that was supposed to come into force and get operational soon after the transfer of the health ministry to the provinces following the promulgation of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.

However, the non-operationalisation of the drug regulatory authority means that investment worth billions of rupees would remain stuck for the unf0oreseeable future, resulting in a retarded growth and lost revenue in duties and taxes.

As the situation stands, there are over 90 units and factories where the work is yet to start because of lack of mandatory inspection to be carried out by the relevant government ministry. A lack of administrative framework has also resulted in an increasing backlog of company licences waiting to be renewed by the authorities.

Yet another problem that hinders the growth of the industry is the government ban slapped on the renewal of quota for the import of ingredients used in the production of psychotropic medicines which are already in short supply in the local market, creating problems for the patients suffering from psychiatric problems but dependent on these drugs for their treatment.

It is important that the government review this ban in force for the last four months to allow the companies to purchase the inputs and ingredients used in such drugs. In case, there are individuals or companies that have misused this quota and benefited massively through the unchecked import of banned drug inputs, they should be rounded up and brought to the book to set an example for others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Fair share
Women in rural areas are making their mark in the local economy despite hurdles in the way 
By Kalim ur Rahman

Entrepreneurship development among rural women helps enhance their personal capabilities and increase decision-making status in the family and society as a whole.

Women produce 75 to 90 percent of food crops in the world; they are responsible for the running of households. According to the United Nations, in no country in the world do men come anywhere close to women in the amount of time spent in housework.

Furthermore, despite the efforts of feminist movements, women in the core (wealthiest, Western countries) still suffer disproportionately, leading to what sociologists refer to as the “feminization of poverty,” where two out of every three poor adults are women. The informal slogan of the Decade of Women became “Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production.”

The status of women in religion is one of the crucial topics and dominant themes in modern era, which theologians have been studying. Our religion regards men and women as being of the same essence created from a single soul.

Our religion considers both men and women equally human and grants them equal rights, though their tasks and functions may sometimes differ. A woman has no obligation to prepare food and drink, wash and clean for her husband or his family. Of course, husbands and wives who form a family should share and care to maintain family life with mutual understanding.

Women comprise half of human resource. They have been identified as key agents of sustainable development and women’s equality is as central to a more holistic approach towards stabilizing new patterns and process of development that are sustainable.

The contribution of women and their role in the family as well as in the economic development and social transformation are pivotal. Women constitute 90 per cent of total marginal workers of the country. Rural women who are engaged in agriculture form 78 per cent of all women in regular work.

Now-a-days economic development is one of the factors that have changed the entire scenario of social and cultural environment within the country especially for the women.

The rural women are engaged in small-scale entrepreneurship programme with the help of self help groups. Through that they were economically empowered and attaining status in family and community.

Rural women play a vital role in farm and home system. She contributes substantially in the physical aspect of farming, livestock management, post harvest and allied activities.

Her direct and indirect contribution at the farm and home along with livestock management operation has not only help to save their assets but also led to increase the family income. She performs various farm, livestock, post harvest and allied activities and possesses skills and indigenous knowledge in these areas.

Empowering women particularly rural women is a challenge. Micro enterprises in rural area can help meet these challenges. Micro – enterprises not only enhance national productivity, generate employment but also help develop economic independence, personal and social capabilities among rural women. Following are some of the personal and social capabilities, which were developed as a result of taking up enterprise among rural women.

Economic empowerment of women by micro entrepreneurship led to the empowerment of women in many things such as socio-economic opportunity, property rights, political representation, social equality, family development, and market development.

UN Women is partnering with the UN Global Compact to promote the Women’s Empowerment Principles which offer a seven-step blueprint to empower women in the workplace and the community. This initiative is bringing to business the strong case of how much women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses contribute to the economy — reinforcing the realisation among leading firms that empowering women is essential to their growth, competitiveness and profits.

One particular concern is the unequal distribution between women and men of paid and unpaid work. Recognizing this the MDG Summit outcome committed to investing in infrastructure and labour-saving technologies, especially in rural areas, reducing women’s burden of domestic activities, enabling girls to attend school and women to pursue paid work opportunities.

Currently, 2.7 billion people rely on open fires and traditional cooking stoves to provide food and earn a living. Some of you here have already partnered with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves to create a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. The Alliance’s 100 by ’20 goal calls for 100 million homes to adopt clean and efficient cooking stoves and fuels by 2020.

Finally, while women have an increasing presence in public life, they remain significantly underrepresented in decision-making position, particularly in economic decision-making. It is widely recognized that women bring critical perspectives and priorities, and a diversity of skills and competencies, which makes policy and budgetary decision-making more responsive to the needs and priorities of all groups. Together we can ways to significantly increase women’s leadership and participation in economic decision-making bodies at the highest levels.

UN Women stands ready to carry forward your recommendations to accelerate women’s economic empowerment, and to transform the words on paper into bold action to make gender equality a shared and living reality.

No scholar can condone women being forced to remove themselves from public life altogether, anymore than we can condone violence against women, the denial of women’s right to work and own property, or the refusal to allow women a voice in government.

The writer is Communication Officer, Women’s Empowerment Group

 

 

damages
Right cause
The people affected by the construction of Mirani dam run from pillar 
to post demanding compensation
By Sharif Shambazi and 
Ahsan Kamal

The modern state has a peculiar way of dealing with its peripheral subjects. Marginalized peoples and communities are not a concern when the State, in collaboration with military establishment and the IFIs focuses on strategic interests and economic growth. The attempts of profiting from control over natural forces, particularly over water through the construction of dams and canals, excludes local peoples from economic gains and often leaves them more vulnerable to natural hazards.

The case of the Mirani Dam disaster of 2007 illustrates this phenomenon. Construction on the Mirani Dam started in 2002 and was completed in 2007 with a cost of almost 6 billion rupees — commissioned by Wapda, designed by Nespak, constructed by a consortium led by Descon Engineering. This mega project aims to provide agricultural irrigation and water supply for the strategically important Gawadar port.

In 2007, Cyclon Yemyin hit the Makran coast. The artificial meddling with natural forces exaggerated the damage. We observed unprecedented levels of flash floods caused due to the backflows from the Mirani dam. The designers and engineers had anticipated maximum flooding of 244 feet Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL). But as the dam blocked natural drainage pathways, water reached 271.4 feet AMSL.

The government took three years to revise its ‘technical’ data and agreed in principle to compensate people for damages to houses and date trees up to 264 feet AMSL. Less than half of that money has been released so far. Furthermore, those living between 265 and 271.4 feet AMSL are yet to be included.

The oppression of the power structures has been met with local resistance. For the last five years, the people from Nasirabad and Nodez of Kech district have been waging a peaceful battle. In March 2012, they set up a hunger-strike camp in front of the Wapda office in Lahore. This prompted Wapda and the Planning Commission to send an investigation team to the affected region.

Following is a partial account of the three day visit of the team told by Sharif Shambazi, an activist from district Kech, southern Balochistan. “We landed at the Turbat Airport on the morning of June 18, 2012 and by 9.30am our group had joined the large number of affectees from Nasirabad and Nodiz who had gathered outside the office of District Commissioner (DC) Kech. After a discussion amongst ourselves that lasted one and half hour, we decided that we had to give a detailed account of our struggle of five years to the new DC and the members of the Planning Commission (PC). This will give them an idea of our extreme and harsh living conditions.

The DC met us at 11.30am and agreed to cooperate with us. We had a very brief introductory meeting with the PC team, who also promised to resolve our issue. We then asked the DC to schedule another more detailed meeting with the PC team. The DC told us to meet him at his residence that evening, but when we went to his place later he was not there.

In the morning meeting, we had informed the DC that several destroyed houses and trees were not recorded [in the 2010 survey conducted by the district officials]. The DC formed an inspection committee headed by the tehsildar, who asked us to join the team as mediators in case there were any confrontations with the locals when the team would visit the affected areas. We refused to become official members of the committee but agreed to help in case there were any problems.”

Sharif and his colleague Wahid Baksh visited the PC team at the rest house that same evening. After hearing the details, the PC officials agreed that the survey lists were incorrect. These so-called experts also displayed their ignorance regarding the damaging effects of the backflow flood. The local activists gave them simple and convincing arguments.

“The Planning Commission official asked how it was possible that the floods that lasted only two to three days could destroy all these houses and date trees. He also asked about the date trees that were left standing. I [Sharif] said that two days were enough. A backflow lasting only a couple of hours was enough to destroy kaccha houses and three to four hours were sufficient to destroy even pakka houses. Historically, water supply to the date gardens was based on underground water tunnel system (karezat) — these were completely destroyed. Some trees might still be standing but these were not fertile. Only very few trees bore fruits, but the owners of these trees are wealthy and are spending hundreds of thousands of rupees on private irrigation.”

On the second day, the activists accompanied the tehsildar’s team to visit the affected areas. Several people came forward to register their complaints. Sharif and his colleagues demanded transparency in conducting the survey and said that the original survey was unacceptable. On their return to Turbat city, these activists once again met a member of the PC team to give him further documentary proof. The official pledged his full support, promised to submit a favorable report within a week. He also attempted to co-opt these activists by telling them to focus on the compensation and not on other broader ecological, economic, and social problems due to the construction of big dams.

“The Commission member has now fully understood our situation, gave us assurances, and accepted that mistakes were made by the rulers and bureaucrats. He acknowledged that before this day he had been unaware of the devastation caused by Mirani dam.

Addressing me [Sharif] specifically, he said that I should not oppose dams in general, because I give the impression that I am against big dams. He said that a lot of money had been spent on the construction of this dam ‘Benefit from it. Live in harmony. We are all Muslims and if one Muslim is hurt this is felt by all Muslims.’

The Commission members have asked for a week’s time. They have given us a lot of assurances. We don’t know about their true intentions – only Allah knows how sincere they are.”

On the next day, June 20, 2012, the activists were informed that the DC had gone to visit the affected areas with the Planning commission team. However, the team did not even leave their vehicles during this inspection due to security concerns. Sharif and his colleagues called people from the affected areas and asked them to come to Turbat city, so that they could give their personal accounts to the investigating team.

“By 1pm about seventy to eighty people from the affected areas had reached Turbat. We were already present outside the DC’s office. When the team had returned, these affectees sat in an open session (khuli kachehri) with the DC and the Planning Commission team.

The discussion went on for an hour. People asked the DC and the PC team now that they had visited the affected areas themselves, don’t they think that this was continuing injustice to the people.    The officials apologized and accepted that they had made a grave mistake. The scale of the disaster was huge.  They will try their best [to remedy the situation] and also informed us about a development package that was being prepared.

We thanked the DC Kech and the Planning Commission team for working resolutely for three days.”

This narrative ends at a positive note. Sadly, one month has passed and no progress has been made. No report has been released. No compensation has been given. The people continue to suffer.

The story also demonstrates how the state officials ‘see’ these mega projects and the marginal people. At an inter-personal level the officials show sympathy and give assurances. The wretched condition of the people is evident; their explanations of the causes and extend of damage are sound. But unless these grievances are presented in a language that the state understands, the language of ‘X feet AMSL’ and ‘Y number of affectees’, there is no hope for the people. This isn’t the first time an investigation team has visited and has recognized the right of these peoples in principle.

In a province that has seen a lot of violence in recent years this peaceful struggle of the Mirani Dam affectees is worth supporting. The delaying tactics by the state officials, Wapda, Planning Commission, local and provincial government, all seem to be pushing the affectees in to a corner.

In a more recent conversation, Sharif says with a hint of despair, “We are working peacefully for the past four years. We haven’t done anything illegal and haven’t damaged even a single leaf.  We want to continue on this path of non-violence. But dealing with Wapda and other official is frustrating—they are torturing us over and over again. It is difficult to convince the frustrated people to stick to non-violent means when Wapda and PC keep ignoring us, but we try.”

Sharif Shambazi is an activist from Kech, Balochistan. He has been active on the issue of Mirani Dam affectees since 2007 ([email protected]). Ahsan Kamal teaches at Quaid-i-Azam University and is part of an activist-researcher collective ([email protected]).

 

 

 

The missing link
“The political will to subordinate the police or have a police reform was never there, this has to be created”
By Asif Akhtar

Amidst an increasingly volatile US-Pakistan relationship, a recent policy discussion hosted by the Asia Society to launch its report, Stabilizing Pakistan Through Police Reform in New York City and Washington DC is an attempt to ground the conversation back in the realities and challenges of counter-terrorism in Pakistan.

The report compiling the findings of independent commission composed of twenty policy experts on Pakistani policy is said to be the first of its kind as a definitive study into Pakistan’s policing policy. Most notably, this report includes insights and recommendations from several high-ranking Pakistani police officers whose concerns on the matter of police reforms have yet to be voiced to an international audience of policymakers.

The panel at the event included the report’s editor and project director, Hassan Abbas, a former a policy advisor at US Department of Homeland Security, Arif Alikhan, and Pakistani senator and noted barrister at law, Aitzaz Ahsan. The discussion revolved around the institutional importance of the police reforms in strengthening democracy by maintaining the rule of law in Pakistan.

“The military should step aside and local security should be handled by police institutions,” said Abbas, arguing that the long upheld notion of terrorism as a strictly military issue needs to be jettisoned while giving more importance to the role of the police in localized law enforcement strategy.

While pointing out the discrepancy of foreign aid funds between the military and policing institutions, Abbas added that “the money that came in for counter-terrorism was important for fighting terrorists in the tribal areas but no investment has been made in local law enforcement infrastructure.” Abbas also outlined significant challenges faced by the police such as major loopholes in the criminal justice system allowing terrorists to go scot-free and the lack of any functioning witness protection system in the country.

Greater coordination between US and Pakistan on policing was stressed, especially in the area of training personnel. Abbas said that there was only one Pakistani police officer currently enrolled at the FBI’s training academy. He also said he tried to contact the New York Police Department to inquire about coordination with Pakistani police but they never returned his calls.

Drawing on lessons from US experience of instituting police reforms over the past few decades, Arif Alikhan who has worked closely with Homeland Security and the Los Angeles Police Department noted that the US policing model has gone through different phases of its own. Before the 1960s police departments in US cities were significantly meshed in with the communities, after a change in policing methodology they became much more distanced from the localities they policed which had adverse effects on the relationship of the police with various minority communities.

Presently, Alikhan said, the US police departments were trying to follow a middle ground strategy forming a balance between local knowledge and professionalism. Alikhan agreed that “the legitimacy of the police is the keystone to the legitimacy of any country,” while noting that the police acts as the public face of the state apparatus because it comes in daily contact with civil society.

Adding to the insights of the two US based analysts, Aitzaz Ahsan provided some background to why the issue of police reform had been a significant stumbling block for policymakers in the past. Ahsan outlined three aspects of this problem as social, structural and technological. He described the current policing culture in Pakistan was plagued by a particular type of mentality. “The best police officer in Pakistan is a friend of friends who will twist the rules to help his friends” said Ahsan while elaborating that the primary source of power for an average high ranking police official is the ability to abuse that power.

To change this mentality, Ahsan suggested, needed more than a simple redrafting of laws akin to the Police Order of 2002 and was more a question of social values. Within the structural aspects, Ahsan highlighted that the political will to change policing techniques in Pakistan had been absent due to longstanding historical reasons such as the development of the state structure in Pakistani territories independent of the emergence of the bourgeoisie during the 19th century British Raj era. “The political will to subordinate the police or have a police reform was never there, this has to be created,” Ahsan noted while suggesting that this may be more of a possibility now than before.

In relation to the technology aspect, Ahsan related the emergence of the suicide bomber as a weapon targeted specifically at security infrastructure such as police check-posts as a technological innovation akin to the anti-aircraft guns during the Second World War. “The great challenge is to determine a counter to the suicide bomber,” said Ahsan while adding that the solution to this problem would also entail a societal approach, “what needs to be done is to isolate the [terrorist] mindset and make it redundant.”

Some of the questions raised during the discussion pertained to the state of US funding to Pakistan and what the US should be doing to direct aid, especially in the context of the recent motion in the US Congress to cut funding to Pakistan. In response to this, Ahsan pointed out that the US-Pakistan relationship has always been focused on issues having to do with visible threats and once these issues become insignificant the funding tends to evaporate as well. He cited the example of Pakistan’s uneasy alliance with the US during the Cold War to counter the Soviet threat and its resulting repercussions in the 1990s.

Coming to more contemporary times, Ahsan said that while the recent Kerry Lugar Bill was driven by the best of intentions to separate civilian aid from military funding, there was no effective implementation of this idea. Abbas added that the US needs to frame its concerns differently and not always as initiatives of counter-terrorism, “because then Pakistanis think all the US is interested in is terrorism, instead they should frame issues more in terms of safeguarding the security of average Pakistanis.”

A final question put forward by former US Ambassador to Pakistan, Nicholas Platt, who was in the audience was concerned with how this report was going to be made known so that it can have a positive impact on policy. Abbas’s reply signaled that figures like Ahsan and Alikhan who happen to be somewhat influential in policy circles in Islamabad and Washington DC would help with his own efforts in circulating the report. Given the nature of the discussion, however, it seemed that this was a conversation that should have taken place over five years ago.

The current state of the US-Pakistan relationship has undergone so many tumultuous upheavals that the familiar line of how the US can help its longstanding ally seems to carry less and less weight in both countries. Moreover, the lack of cohesion in the panelists’ remarks and their difficulty in drawing practicable lessons for policing in Pakistan out of their experiences appeared somewhat symptomatic of the nature of diplomatic ties between the US and Pakistan.

In order to rekindle analysts’ and policymakers’ interest in funding reforms, experts from Pakistan would have to do much more than simply allude to Pakistan’s Cold War woes and its British Raj baggage. To gain any effective currency in policy circles would require a significantly more incisive discussion of on-the-ground issues and critical flash-points.

 

 

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