development
Swat scare
Swat is on the brink of an environmental crisis due to the exhaustion of natural resources, in turn leading to social and economic problems
By Rafiullah Khan and
Ihsanullah Khan
Swat is famous for the marvels of its landscape, especially its lush green water and medley of forests. Both these resources have been significant to the extent of life-giving effects.
Of course, till recently man had been in harmony with his environs in the Valley. However, the last few decades have seen this productive interaction as dissipated.

diplomacy
Rethinking Pak-US

aid relations Is there
something new for Pakistan in the new Obama administration?
By Dr. Noor Fatima
US President Obama’s re-election has started discussions regarding his foreign policy. What are the implications, particularly aid relations with Pakistan?
The political tradition explains US re-election of a president — continuity of the same legacy but it will mostly be free from domestic political constraints.

Up on the (corruption) ladder
It is an interesting pattern of inching up on the corruption list
By Alauddin Masood
Pakistan’s ranking on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) has gone up. Against 42nd position in 2011, it was perceived to be the 33rd     most corrupt country amongst 176 states in 2012, disclosed Transparency International Pakistan (TIP)’s Chairman, Advocate Sohail Muzaffar in a media briefing on December 5, 2012.
TIP has expressed concern over the growing corruption in the country, saying that the corruption of Rs. 12600 billion was reported in different sectors of Pakistan during the last five years.
The reason for the rise in corruption is lack of accountability in the country. Earlier, Pakistan had been declared as the 7th most corrupt country out of 97 in the rule of law index of 2012.

discrimination
Weak point

Violence against women can be tackled with increased awareness and economic
independence
By Mohammad Javed Pasha
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the dates November 25- International Day against Violence against Women- and December 10- International Human Rights Day- in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.
This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates, including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. This day was chosen to commemorate the death of the three Mirabel sisters who were detained, tortured and assassinated in 1960 during the dictatorship of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.

Not giving their due
Under-taxed sections of government’s machinery as
 well as businessmen need to be focused on
By Huzaima Bukhari and Dr. Ikramul Haq
Pakistan’s military-judiciary-civil complex, businessmen-turned-politicians and absentee land owners are suffering from many maladies: self-righteousness, self-praise, phobia of losing power and money and despair arising out of affluence.
Their problems are self-inflicted; they are captives of their own self-interests and victims of self-aggrandisement. The concentration of power and wealth in their hands, coupled with lust for control, is giving rise to perpetual institutional confrontations, civil commotion and economic collapse, risking the survival of the State.

The way forward
Persons with disabilities need a lot more attention than what they get
By Tahir Ali
International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on December 3, 2012. The day has been celebrated by the United Nations since 1992. The theme of this year is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.
Hasan Shah, 35, from Katlang Mardan, was born healthy but polio attack paralysed one of his legs in his childhood. Coming from a poor family, he couldn’t get treatment or education. He is still jobless.
Despite consistent efforts, he has failed to get any support from any poverty alleviation or disability rehabilitation programme, both public and private. A friend has bought him a calf. He is rearing it in the hope that it would grow into a cow and eventually earn him money after a few years.

tribute
Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Some memories

I still find an incredible depth of thought and strength in Sheikh sahib’s politics, despite his flaws
By Dr. Nyla Ali Khan
My Mother, Suraiya, like the rest of us, carries the burden of her own history. Her painful memories of her father Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s incarceration are deeply etched in her mind.
Although the Government of India vouchsafed permission to Sheikh saheb to attend my parents’ nikaah ceremony in 1970, the authorities did not display the same magnanimity in 1971, when he was disallowed from attending the rukhsati, which is the final sending off ceremony of the bride from her natal home to the home of her groom and his family.
The vacuum created then by the absence of her father at one of the most significant milestones of her life was deplored by my mother, Suraiya. Her once unspeakable grief at the helplessness that paralyses a person when the state machinery is deployed to clip his wings has now mellowed.

Hard facts about software
UNCTAD report suggests developing world to build economies through
software development
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed
The governments, policymakers, professionals, technologists, entrepreneurs, academics and others, around the world, had enough stuff to ponder upon towards the end of November and beyond. The focus of their deliberations was the International Economy Report 2012 (IER 2012), launched globally by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), on November 28.

 

 

 

development
Swat scare
Swat is on the brink of an environmental crisis due to the exhaustion of natural resources, in turn leading to social and economic problems
By Rafiullah Khan and
Ihsanullah Khan

Swat is famous for the marvels of its landscape, especially its lush green water and medley of forests. Both these resources have been significant to the extent of life-giving effects.

Of course, till recently man had been in harmony with his environs in the Valley. However, the last few decades have seen this productive interaction as dissipated.

In the former case, the protection of water and forest resources seems to have been of paramount importance; a fact which led to the development of civilisation in Swat. And it is clear from the achievements in different walks of life by the Buddhist community of the area in ancient times.

The management of forests and the irrigation system of Buddhist Swat pronounces the high public spirit and communal living of that bygone era. The Walis as well as the people of Swat State may rightly be termed as the inheritors of such lofty patterns.

In the later case, the forests and water have immensely suffered both in terms of purity and volume. Water is nowadays very scarce everywhere in Swat, especially in the side valleys. It is contaminated as well due to waste products and sewage of households and hotels, especially in case of Swat River.

The Swat River was once famous for its purity and, long before, obviously, for its sacredness. In the past few decades, this sacred river and important water resource of Swat, which also inundates the plains of Peshawar valley, has lost both its purity and sacredness.

The Environmental Protection Society, Swat has published a report, as told to this writer by Khurshed Khan, Assistant Professor, Government Degree College Mingawara, Swat about the present state of Swat River and it gives detailed data of the malpractices which cause the natural resource suffer immensely. The same is the case in relation to the forests of Swat.

Since the merger of Swat State into Pakistan the protection of forests has been a crucial issue. In contrast to the State era, this resource has been left at the mercy of the timber mafia.

The forests of the ex-State areas — Swat, Buner and Shangla-par — were once under strict surveillance during the State era. Its protection was included in the points of agreement between the first Wali of Swat and the British Indian government as is clear from the document of the recognition of the former by the later.

Similarly, this point was also included in the document of recognition of the Nawab of Dir by the British. The British interest in the matter was due largely to the fact that the protection of forests in these areas was but of phenomenal importance for the fertility and hydraulic system of the British controlled Peshawar valley.

These forests have now suffered badly. Dr. Sultan-i-Rome, Assistant Professor in History, Government Post Graduate Jehanzeb College, Saidu Sharif, Swat has worked on a project about this subject with the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research North-South.

The report is published in two volumes titled, “Forestry in the Princely State of Swat and Kalam (North-West Pakistan): A Historical Perspective on Norms and Practices (2005)” and “Forest Governance in Transition: From the Princely State of Swat, and Kalam to the State of Pakistan (2008).” They cane give good input to policy making regarding the management of forest resource of Swat.

The damage is deliberate as it is clear from the factors behind this callous activity. The major factors, in this respect, may be counted as the presence of all-pervading timber mafia and the colluding role of the concerned department of forest. Similarly, extreme ignorance of the people and the speedy process of development are also responsible for this destruction.

Providing the facilities to the unaware masses is not always without problems. And in Swat this phenomenon is greatly responsible for the damages of water and forest resources. Moreover, the economic strains and the problem of subsistence of the people of Swat is also one of the great reasons in this regard.

Lack of alternative economic opportunities has impacted a larger portion of the society but linked with timber transaction. Finally, the absence of communal spirit and the self-centeredness of the people is another important factor in the loss of these resources. Large-scale destruction does not matter if it brings individual benefits.

The threat is, no doubt, imminent. Swat is on the brink of environmental crisis and climate change due to the exhaustion of, primarily, the above mentioned natural resources. It will, in turn, lead to social and economic problems.

In order to cope with the situation, it is the need of the hour to have a prudent response. Here are some suggestions which may be divided into two categories, e.g., a comprehensive awareness programme and creating new economic opportunities.

The awareness programme would aim at telling people about environmental issues and climate change. The role of media comes as first and foremost in this respect. A variety of programmes vis-à-vis the importance of water and forest resources through electronic media is of utmost importance and will, surely, be result-oriented.

Similarly, the role of print media is by no means secondary. Relevant articles in local and provincial newspapers will make due contribution. Ironically, everyone likes to write about political and economic issues and, simultaneously, treats cultural and environmental themes even not of trivial importance.

Second, as the challenge is enduring a long-term successful response would come through the curricula of educational institutions. Thirdly, the role of hujra and jumat (mosque) is also significant as these institutions play a crucial role in the socialisation and upbringing of people of Swat.

In order to ameliorate the economic strains of the people of Swat a wise economic policy has long been due. Being bestowed by nature with a variety of riches, the valley can prosper very easily. Cultural tourism, handicrafts, horticulture, and traditional household economy make the major industries of Swat.

As stated many a times, tourism industry can benefit Swat to the extent of establishing its contacts with the developed Buddhist countries as it was one of the major centers of Buddhism.

The effects of tourism would be seen in the revival of such industries as handicrafts and horticulture. Both the handicrafts and horticulture of Swat has been playing a crucial role in the economic development of the Valley.

The high quality of the kambals (blankets) of Swat is famous since the Rigvedic times as this book has references in this regard.

The traditional household economy consists of household poultry, embroidery, honey-making and livestock. The encouragement of this traditional sector will help boast the economy of Swat.

Alarmingly, the water and forest resources of Swat have speedily extinguished over the last few decades. There is a need to devise a prudent policy in this regard.

 

Rafiullah Khan is lecturer at Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad

Ihsanullah Khan has got his Masters degree in Economics and his written his essay on the impacts of militancy on Swat economy as a requirement for the degree

caption

The many faces of Swat.

 

diplomacy
Rethinking Pak-US
aid relations Is there
something new for Pakistan in the new Obama administration?
By Dr. Noor Fatima

US President Obama’s re-election has started discussions regarding his foreign policy. What are the implications, particularly aid relations with Pakistan?

The political tradition explains US re-election of a president — continuity of the same legacy but it will mostly be free from domestic political constraints.

In this tenure, President Obama has no other prospect of a re-election in view, so it will make him act more boldly in foreign policy. Obama reflected “more flexibility” and leniency towards world issues, which was criticized as whether it will be the general layout of the American Policy.

The prospects of Obama in securing a major new domestic policy success are not very high as it is obvious from his narrower margin of victory. Washington has a weakening influence not only on friends but on its enemies.

In addition to challenges of foreign policy regarding Iran and the Middle East, one major challenge is the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. This is a complex political issue. It will be a bumpy road, and public opinion even inside the US will turn against US if the stay of forces is prolonged in Afghanistan.

Not only the withdrawal issue but the central objective of US foreign policy for reducing extremism in this region and relations with Pakistan will remain very crucial for Obama administration.

Already, Pak-Us ties in recent years have been a love-hate relationship. Nevertheless, the key issue will revolve around the US interest in the “war on terror”.

Perhaps most significant implication of Pak-US aid relation is the possible changes in the US administration in the second tenure. The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is likely to leave and possibly could be replaced with Susan Rice, the current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

As an Ambassador, Rice has been dealing with tough negotiations with Russia and China over issues ranging from sanctioning Iran, conferring the military force in Libya, and condemning Bashar al-Assad’s onslaught in Syria. She is a strong proponent of the present foreign policy of Obama in the Middle East presently.

Another strong contender includes Senator John Kerry, currently the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John Kerry has been enjoying the top position at the State Department.

He is also enjoying good relations with the Afghan President and also with Pakistani officials. He can be more helpful in US-Afghanistan relationship in the post-withdrawal period after 2014 and highlight Pakistan’s role in regional stability.

This will, of course, be encouraging for Pakistan US relationship, particularly aid related as he is aware of the ground realities of this region particularly of Pakistan, the political will, the capacity of fund utility, etc.

Hs is one of the senators along with Senator Richard Lugar who sponsored Kerry-Lugar aid package to Pakistan, which meant that Pakistan will get $ 1.5 (b) annually from 2010 to 2014, on account of economic assistance which was subject to different certifications.

Nevertheless, in history of aid relations with US the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act was considered to be a long lasting one. It was to increase the civilian aid given to the country as compared to previous aid.

Pakistan so far received just $2.8 billion instead of $ 4.5(b) under the arrangement of Enhanced Partnership during the last three years. The major chunk of the released budget has also gone to the civil society organisations and a very meager amount goes to the government fund disbursing agencies.

In addition to the civilian aid commitment, a package of $2 billion military aid was also announced in October 2010, which also meant to have more military cooperation and buying US manufactured arms and related accessories from 2012 to 2016. It was considered that this will be helpful in combating terrorism and help in developing anti-insurgent efforts of Pakistan.

Unfortunately, the release of financial assistance has considerably been irregular; the Department of State suspended aid programmes under the plea that EPPA’s goal of providing $ 1.5 (b) of economic aid was met in 2010 but not for FY2011 and 2012.

On the one hand, there is a strong feeling about the US aid that it is too small for what Pakistan is performing and expected to deliver, and on the other side there is a strong view prevailing in US that military and civilian aid has failed to stop extremism and militancy or stabilize the civilian government. The national economy continues to suffer in Pakistan.

The critique urges the United States to apply conditions on military, but not civilian assistance and to give both the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its implementing partners more freedom to devise and prioritize their efforts in socio-economic conditions in Pakistan.

International Crisis Group Asia Report, June 2012, points out that the US has lopsided focus on the security concerns which has entrenched the military’s control over state institutions and policy, delaying reforms and aggravating Pakistani public perceptions that the U.S. is only interested in investing in a security client.

On the other hand, if Pakistan is unable to deliver expected results then why US should still invest funds in civilian and military aid in Pakistan? Why despite threatening statements the aid is not being stopped completely?

One thing is very obvious that if aid is stopped under the plea of not delivering goods it will take things to the worst scenario and it will be counterproductive. The suspended aid from US sends a wrong signal to other international investors.

This will further limit the government’s capacity to control terrorist activities, equally damaging the US economic and security interest in Pakistan. A short term strategic approach in security matters is a lapse in US foreign Policy approach towards Pakistan. This approach will never work in Pakistan.

Pakistan should not be seen just in the context of security perception of Afghanistan or even US post-withdrawal scenario of Afghanistan. Pakistan is facing a host of problems and extremism could be on top but it cannot be tackled with a short term security centric US assistance objective.

According to Economic Survey of Pakistan, the country spent $68 billion since 2001 whereas US assistance in this period was even less than one third of what was spent.

The Obama Administration has to be cognizant of the fact that Pakistan is neither unable nor unwilling to deliver, but the fact remains that Pakistan is a fragile state economically.

Pakistan’s estimated per capita GDP of $2,792 (at purchasing power parity) in 2011 ranks it 136th of 183 world countries. From 2008 to 2010 we are facing inflation of nearly 5 percent of our GDP growth; on education government spends less than 2 percent which is lowest even in the region with the lowest tax-to GDP ratio of 9 percent only.

The energy crises and power shortfall has taken Pakistan toward a doomed economy, we are lacking access to modern energy services and infrastructure, the available old infrastructure is overburdened which is one of the causes of the power wastage. Karachi goes without light more than 10 hours a day. There are internal security challenges for Pakistan which its institutions are not very capable to handle.

In such a situation, the pursuit for winning hearts and minds is an overly ambitious target of the US objective in Pakistan. The real change will come only when financial assistance is able to bring economic development to Pakistan and responsibility of aid utilisation is transferred to the government of Pakistan.

As far as the KLB assistance is concerned it is considered of vital importance to both US and Pakistan. The aid should be continued without any disruption and without reform related conditions as it will be development first which can assure any conditionality accomplishment requirement.

For reform purposes, US administration should give a more realistic timeline to achieve the targets rather than just counting the percentages of US aid dispensed to Pakistan.

In the present and coming aid assistance, there are two most noteable assistance programmes which need administration’s certificate or waivers. One is Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, and the second is the State and foreign operations appropriations provisions found in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012.

Nevertheless, recently when US aid transfer to Pakistan was threatened, Hillary and Obama took a stand on the commitment and said that Pakistan should get aid, and on September 13, very quietly a “national security” waiver for Pakistani military aid was issued.

The State Department quietly notified Congress of its intent, “consistent with U.S. national security interests,” to waive the certification requirements of the EPPA.

For the FY2013 on some temporary funding requests to US administration, there is some shifting away from its core assertion that aid was to support a partnership with Pakistan to its economic stability objectives also.

Now it states that “The United States seeks to foster economic and political stability in Pakistan through sustained assistance, which directly supports the core US national security objective to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaida, as well as to deny safe haven to it and its affiliates in the region”.

There is a debate inside the Congress about Pakistan as one of major US aid receiver and its effectiveness. Pakistan expect a modest approach from the Obama Administration with modification in its policies from just security-centric to development-centric

The writer is Chairperson of International Relations and Politics Department of International Islamic University, Islamabad



Up on the (corruption) ladder
It is an interesting pattern of inching up on the corruption list
By Alauddin Masood

Pakistan’s ranking on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) has gone up. Against 42nd position in 2011, it was perceived to be the 33rd     most corrupt country amongst 176 states in 2012, disclosed Transparency International Pakistan (TIP)’s Chairman, Advocate Sohail Muzaffar in a media briefing on December 5, 2012.

TIP has expressed concern over the growing corruption in the country, saying that the corruption of Rs. 12600 billion was reported in different sectors of Pakistan during the last five years.

The reason for the rise in corruption is lack of accountability in the country. Earlier, Pakistan had been declared as the 7th most corrupt country out of 97 in the rule of law index of 2012.

Pakistan is blesses with plentiful of resources so that the country could grow, prosper and emerge as a dignified State. But, due to corruption, once a rising middle-income state, it now figures amongst politically unstable poor nations.

How much the corrupt have stashed in foreign banks is any body’s guess. However, one can form a fair idea from the amount kept by these persons in the banks of just one country — Switzerland.

The amount is so huge that it prompted a Swiss banker, recently retired, to say: “Pakistan is a poor country but Pakistanis are not” because they have “28 trillion (28,000,000,000,000) of Pakistan rupees deposited in Swiss Banks.”

If our rulers bring back this money and invest it in Pakistan, we can have tax free budgets for almost 30 years. In addition, according to analysts, we can generate 60 million jobs; we can build four lane roads from any village to Islamabad; we can ensure forever free supply to more than 500 social projects, and so on.

If the entire money kept by Pakistanis abroad could be invested in this country, imagine the state of development and the antecedent rise in the socio-economic status of the citizens.

The situation is ripe for a selfless honest soul, like Jinnah, to motivate Pakistanis to bring back their money to their motherland so that this nation could march towards progress, prosperity and glory.

In literate nations, the role of awakening is usually played by men of letters. As far as Pakistan is concerned, let us see who wakes-up this nation from its deep slumber. However, the elite consider the present situation right for continuing to skim national resources and amass wealth.

Consequently, the government has its hands full in scandals of graft and kickbacks, but we have not seen even a single resignation or head rolling as yet.

In India, Textile Minister Dayanidhi Maran resigned on July 7, 2011 after being named in a police court case report that suggested that he abused his power in the 2006 sale of second-generation (2G) mobile phone licences when he was the telecom minister.

Earlier, his successor at the telecom ministry, A. Raja resigned last year over the alleged fraudulent sale of new 2G telecom spectrum in 2008. Against this, in Pakistan, the attitude of the executive-administration combine to prosecute mega scams appears to be lukewarm whether it is the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) or Haj scam.

Pakistan’s economic planners admit that the country’s economy is riddled with rules and regulations that may once have addressed a real economic or social issue, but now too often they only serve to create arbitrary obstructions to doing business.

In its annual report for the year 2005, the NAB also identified lengthy and cumbersome procedures in the executive system, lack of transparency in government decision-making process, betrayal of public trust, weakness in the country’s judicial system and flagrant abuse of power by public office holders, amongst the major causes of corruption. NAB put the blame for the sorry state of affairs on the successive governments.

Corruption inhibits good governance, undermines economic development, stunts growth, fuels poverty and creates political instability. No nation can develop to its full capacity or progress or realize its full potential if its social system is plagued by corruption and inefficiency.

Corruption not only causes a severe drain on the national economy, it also acts as a major disincentive to serious foreign investment. Imagine, if the corrupt continue to lead and the country’s police and paramilitary units keep getting sub-standard equipment.

If authorities are serious about rectifying the situation, they need to make a beginning by eliminating the culture of favouritism, underhand deals and lack of transparency. Until that is done, Pakistan’s development and progress will continue to remain tardy and the big fish caught with their fingers in the pie continue to walk away with their misdeeds.

The writer is a freelance columnist based at Islamabad

[email protected]

 

 
discrimination
Weak point
Violence against women can be tackled with increased awareness and economic
independence
By Mohammad Javed Pasha

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the dates November 25- International Day against Violence against Women- and December 10- International Human Rights Day- in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.

This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates, including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. This day was chosen to commemorate the death of the three Mirabel sisters who were detained, tortured and assassinated in 1960 during the dictatorship of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.

The situation in our part of the world is also quite bad. Let me give you an example. It was about mid-night but I was supposed to resolve the family issue of one of my friends whose father and mother were annoyed with his behaviour he has been showing towards his wife, i.e. loving and caring one.

On another occasion, coming to my office, I saw some ladies aggressively arguing with a Rickshaw Wala and he was also responding in the same tone. It was a routine matter of over-charging. I asked him to cool down. According to the Rickshaw Wala, the lady had given him a threat to inform police. Finally he said, “never mind, I am not wearing bangles….”

Government and non-government organisations have been making efforts since long. These efforts have not yet resulted in success as women issues are discussed and resolved within women groups. The main culprit, the men, have yet not been engaged as potential partners to address this issue.

The 16 Days Campaign for 2012 under the main theme ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World’ has been used as an organising strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:

n raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels

n strengthening local work around violence against women

n establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women

n providing a forum in which organisers can develop and share new and effective strategies

n demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women

n creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women.

This is very encouraging that the Senate of Pakistan on December 12, 2011 unanimously passed the Women Protection Bill and Anti-Acid Throwing Bill, which envisage heavy penalties for offenders.

Later, the same has also been signed by the President of Pakistan accordingly. It is a historical moment for women and women NGOs and a landmark to check violence against women in the country.

The bills criminalise forced marriages and abuses like throwing acid, physical violence and sexual torture against women, and stipulate 14 years jail term with a fine of Rs1 million for offenders. The offences covered by these bills will be non-bail-able and non-compoundable.

It is no doubt a great achievement and a solid protection to women against violence at domestic, community and state levels, giving them a legal protection and severe punishment to the criminals. However, it necessitates holding regular monitoring to ensure effective implementation to get benefits of these legislations including:

n Dissemination of a copy of the Bill in the form of Directive, both in Urdu and English to all Police Stations at rural and urban levels for firm implementation.

n Inclusion of the Bill in the course of police training programs at all Police Training Institutions.

n Launching of a monitoring and accountability mechanism to check the proper implementation of the legislations.

n The restoration and reinstatement of local government system in all four provinces.

n Advocacy through media for mass awareness on these legislations and firm implementation.

As part of its continuous efforts to highlight the issue of violence against women (VAW) and its different manifestations in Pakistani society, the Aurat Foundation launched the fourth Annual Statistics of Violence against Women in Pakistan.

The report shows that 8539 women became victims of violence in 2011 and there was an overall 6.74 percent increase in reported cases of VAW in the country as compared to year 2010. The types of violence included Vanni/swara, custodial violence, torture, trafficking, child marriages, incest, threat to violence, sexual harassment, attempted murder, land encroaching, harassment at workplace, attempted cases of suicide, rape and killing.

In some forms of violence there has been notable increase, for instance, sexual assault increased by 48.65 percent, acid throwing increased by 37.5 percent, ‘honour’ killings by 26.57 percent and domestic violence increased by 25.51 percent. The report shows that in large number of incidents, the FIRs were not lodged which reflects lack of confidence among citizens to approach police in case of such incidents.

Among the total 8539 incidents, FIR was registered in 6745 cases whereas no FIR was registered in 911 cases and there was no information available in 883 cases. The biggest number of unregistered cases was noted in Sindh province where FIRs were not registered in 605 cases and no information was available in 75 incidents among the total1316 reported cases.

 

 

Not giving their due
Under-taxed sections of government’s machinery as
 well as businessmen need to be focused on
By Huzaima Bukhari and Dr. Ikramul Haq

Pakistan’s military-judiciary-civil complex, businessmen-turned-politicians and absentee land owners are suffering from many maladies: self-righteousness, self-praise, phobia of losing power and money and despair arising out of affluence.

Their problems are self-inflicted; they are captives of their own self-interests and victims of self-aggrandisement. The concentration of power and wealth in their hands, coupled with lust for control, is giving rise to perpetual institutional confrontations, civil commotion and economic collapse, risking the survival of the State.

The most unforgivable crime of the ruling elite is grabbing of public property and non-payment of taxes. They get State lands as awards or at throwaway prices and a host of free benefits but do not pay due taxes on them even when the law so requires.

Adding insult to injury, the taxes collected from the masses are shamelessly wasted on their luxuries: palatial bungalows, fleets of cars, army of servants, foreign tours and what not.

The corrupt and inefficient government servants faithfully serve the elite and in the process also make a “fortune” for themselves — all at the expense of the general public. Take the example of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) where billions are lost annually due to incompetence and corruption. This is even after the six-year long foreign-funded reform programme.

In fiscal year 2011-2012, FBR, against the assigned target of Rs. 1952 billion, collected Rs. 738.8 billion as direct taxes, Rs. 804.8 billion as sales tax, Rs 122.5 billion as federal excise duty and only Rs. 216.9 billion as custom duties. Total tax collection of Rs. 1883 billion was very low against real tax potential of Pakistan, which is not less than Rs 8500 billion [Taxing targets, The News, August 26, 2012].

Tragically, the poor whose income falls below taxable limits under the income tax law are criminally taxed—funds extorted from their hard-earned money are plundered and wasted by the ruling elite. The civil-military-bureaucracy complex, ministers, state ministers, advisers, MNAs and MPAs together squandered Rs. 1800 billion in fiscal year 2011-12 on perks and perquisites alone.

Not only this, the powerful military-judiciary-civil complex—the real rulers of Pakistan—did not pay a single penny as tax on plots and benefits they received in utter violation of section 13(11) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 [“the Ordinance”], which says:

“Where, in a tax year, property is transferred or services are provided by an employer to an employee, the amount chargeable to tax to the employee under the head “salary” for that year shall include the fair market value of the property or services determined at the time the property is transferred or the services are provided, as reduced by any payment made by the employee for the property or services”.

Section 14(b) of the Ordinance defines “services” to include the provision of any facility” and the concept of “fair market” is defined in section 68 as under:

“68. Fair market value.– (1) For the purposes of this Ordinance, the fair market value of any property or rent, asset, service, benefit or perquisite at a particular time shall be the price which the property or rent, asset, service, benefit or perquisite would ordinarily fetch on sale or supply in the open market at that time.

(2) The fair market value of any property or rent, asset, service, benefit or perquisite shall be determined without regard to any restriction on transfer or to the fact that it is not otherwise convertible to cash.

(3) Where the price referred to in sub-section (1) is not ordinarily ascertainable, such price may be determined by the Commissioner”.

Section 39(1)(j) of the Ordinance is also attracted which declares the following as income chargeable to tax:

“The fair market value of any benefit, whether convertible to money or not, received in connection with the provision, use or exploitation of property”.

A few months back, an ex-Member Income Tax of FBR wrote a letter to the Finance Minister that massive tax evasion/loss of revenue had occurred due to non-taxation of government property given to the high-ranking officials as above provisions were not invoked.

It is sad to note that government servants blatantly violated tax provisions and did not pay any tax on receipt of lands from the State — without cost or at less than fair market value.

The civil-military bureaucrats also receive many facilities that are covered under the expression “services” as used in section 13(11) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, but FBR is not at all interested to recover tax from them. Their top notches are also beneficiaries of free services. Ruling elites want to tax the weaker sections of society, but not ready to pay taxes on their unprecedented and exorbitant perquisites and benefits.

The new Chairman of FBR, according to Press reports, is enthusiastically working on a new “Provisional Tax Assessment Model” to determine the tax liability of 3.8 million “un-documented persons” on the basis of their expenditures prior to launching the tax amnesty schemes.

It is, indeed, a laudable move, but it is not understandable why no effort is made to recover money from mighty civil and military officers and other beneficiaries for getting State’s property while section 13(11) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 is unambiguous on this point.

Recouping of lost revenue of billions of rupees from them will certainly convey a loud message to tax evaders that FBR means business and nobody is above law.

As the mighty sections of society are not paying taxes due from them, the common people rightly argue why they should discharge their tax obligations, especially when the State has failed to protect their life and property, what to talk of providing basic facilities of education, health, housing and transportation.

 

The writers, tax lawyers and authors of many books, are Adjunct Professors at Lahore University of management Sciences (LUMS)

 

The way forward
Persons with disabilities need a lot more attention than what they get
By Tahir Ali

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on December 3, 2012. The day has been celebrated by the United Nations since 1992. The theme of this year is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.

Hasan Shah, 35, from Katlang Mardan, was born healthy but polio attack paralysed one of his legs in his childhood. Coming from a poor family, he couldn’t get treatment or education. He is still jobless.

Despite consistent efforts, he has failed to get any support from any poverty alleviation or disability rehabilitation programme, both public and private. A friend has bought him a calf. He is rearing it in the hope that it would grow into a cow and eventually earn him money after a few years.

There are an estimated one billion PWDs worldwide. Unfortunately, the number is increasing rapidly due to terrorist attacks, road accidents, diseases and natural disasters.

The 1998 census recorded a prevalence rate of 2.49 per cent for PWDs. It comes to around 4.5mn PWDs out of the estimated 180mn population of the country at present.

The World Health Organization, however, estimates that 10 percent of global population comprise PWDs. Ihsanullah Daudzai, General Secretary of the Special Persons Development Association (SPDA) said the number of PWDs is increasing by the day.

“No reliable survey has so far been made. So there is no authentic data on disability in the country. The government thinks PWDs form around 2.5 per cent of the country’s population. But we think disability prevalence is around 15 per cent in the country,” he says.

Of the total PWDs in Pakistan, the physically disabled comprise 40 percent, visually impaired 20 percent, hearing impaired 10 percent, mentally disabled 20 percent and around 10 percent are overlapping ones.

“The national data base and registration authority is issuing special computerised identity cards to the PWDs and can thus be instrumental in collecting an authentic data but that will take time,” Daudzai says.

The CRPD and its Optional Protocol was adopted by the United Nations on December 13, 2006, and was opened for signature on March 30, 2007.

As of late, there have been 154 signatories to the convention, 90 signatories to the Optional Protocol, 126 ratifications and accessions to the Convention and 76 ratifications and accessions of the Protocol.

Pakistan signed the convention on September 25, 2008 and ratified it on November 5, 2011. However, it has not yet signed or ratified the protocol like India and China, etc. Israel and the US, etc, have only signed the convention in 2007 but neither ratified it nor signed and ratified the protocol as yet.

Disabled Persons’ (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981 calls on the government of Pakistan to work for prevention of disabilities, protection of rights of PWDs and provision of medical care, education, training, employment, and rehabilitation to them.

The ordinance is implemented through the ‘National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons’ in collaboration with its provincial counterparts. But critics say the councils have remained dormant for years and failed to lead from the front.

The government has also announced that PWDs can receive Rs1000/month while those with severe disabilities can get Rs2000 to avail personal attendant services. They can have free wheelchair, hearing-aid or white cane etc. If a family has two or more than two PWDs, it will be declared a Special Respected Family. The Pakistan Baitulmal (PBM) has introduced a policy of providing Rs. 25000/- to such families.

“All public sector departments and private establishments are bound to reserve 2 per cent quota of their employees for the PWDs. But it is only partially implemented. The quota is also much less than needed. The SPDA demands that a minimum of 5 per cent job quota be reserved for the PWDs,” he adds.

“Three steps are must for the financial empowerment of the PWDs. One, their treatment and rehabilitation should be the first priority. Two, all the PWDs, especially the female ones, should be provided free and market oriented technical and professional education at their doorsteps. Three, the infrastructure of the special education centres should be used for the purpose after normal schooling hours. Four, the centres should have hostels in them to accommodate the PWDs from far flung areas,” he pleaded.

The need for zero tolerance against discrimination on the basis of disability, building the capacity of PWDs and making them an integral part of national programmes both in policy development and programme implementation cannot be exaggerated.

Economic empowerment of PWDs is essential for an inclusive society for them. Local and multinational companies and philanthropists should come forward for the purpose.

All MDGs affect the lives of PWDs. But there are no references to PWDs either in the MDGs themselves or in the accompanying body of guidelines, policies and programmes. Also, PWDs are out of the ongoing revisions of the MDGs. However, the MDGs can hardly be achieved if PWDs are not included in its policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation. An authentic census of PWDs is also long overdue.

The Rio +20 Outcome Document, “The future we want” urges States to enhance the welfare of PWDs; promote inclusive housing and social services and a safe and healthy living environment for all, particularly, PWDs and to ensure equal access to education for PWDs.

There is a need for a barrier-free city planning in future. The cities and towns must conform to the Universal Design for Independent Living to make it suitable for all citizens, including elders, the youth and disabled.

Sport is a global tool for inclusion, tolerance and diversity. Though Paralympics are held every two years, PWDs need to be provided opportunities of sports and tourism at local level.

The political parties should also make their manifestoes more relevant and inclusive for PWDs.

Committed and qualified teachers are a prerequisite for proper education and training of special children. Therefore due attention should be paid to the training of teachers.

In 2007, China had employed 4.3mn PWDs. Pakistan should itself take the lead to train and offer gainful employment to such persons. IBM is a role model for employment to PWDs. It has employed many PWDs who are doing fine research and production work.

The worker says at least one percent seats of parliament and provincial assemblies should be allocated for PWDs.

 

tribute
Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Some memories
I still find an incredible depth of thought and strength in Sheikh sahib’s politics, despite his flaws
By Dr. Nyla Ali Khan

My Mother, Suraiya, like the rest of us, carries the burden of her own history. Her painful memories of her father Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s incarceration are deeply etched in her mind.

Although the Government of India vouchsafed permission to Sheikh saheb to attend my parents’ nikaah ceremony in 1970, the authorities did not display the same magnanimity in 1971, when he was disallowed from attending the rukhsati, which is the final sending off ceremony of the bride from her natal home to the home of her groom and his family.

The vacuum created then by the absence of her father at one of the most significant milestones of her life was deplored by my mother, Suraiya. Her once unspeakable grief at the helplessness that paralyses a person when the state machinery is deployed to clip his wings has now mellowed.

She remembers, with an incurable ache, that the political stalwarts who sought to assume paternal duties at the rukhsati were Maulana Mohammad Sayeed Masoodi, Ghulam Mohiuddin Karra, and Kashyap Bandhu, all of whom had fought shoulder to shoulder with her father in the creation of a political and socio-economic space for the people of the state in the despotic environment of the thirties and fourties.

My parents, Suraiya and Mohammad Ali Matto, tell me that Begum Akbar Jehan did not allow the void created by the absence of the Sheikh at their wedding to put a dampener on the ceremony. In distressing circumstances, she performed the role of matriarch with alacrity and zest and ensured that the ceremony solemnizing her younger daughter’s transition, an anxious moment for any woman, from her natal home to the traditional home of her in-laws, was conducted in accordance with long-cherished tradition.

Six years subsequent to my parents’ wedding and five years subsequent to my birth, the historic, enthusiasm rousing, and largely inclusive assembly elections of 1977 in J & K saw a mammoth participation of the Kashmiri people.

Grandfather had suffered a cardiac arrest and had to be confined to his high-ceilinged, sparse room, which was permanently furnished with a beige arm chair, a teak board armoire, a teak board bed, a prayer rug, a rosary (Tasbih), and windows, which looked out onto the trees on the lush lawn.

The lawn of grandmother and grandfather’s house was flooded with throngs of people who would wait hours to catch a glimpse of their ailing leader. Grandfather would hobble to the porch every couple of hours, supported by his cardiologist, Dr. Jalaluddin, to spend a few minutes with the people assembled there.

While grandfather recuperated, grandmother carried the onus of the election campaign on her shoulders. I vividly remember that the first election result to come in was from Pattan town in the Kashmir Valley. The NC candidate in that constituency, Abdul Rashid Shaheen, had been declared victorious.

I watched, safely ensconced in a corner of grandfather’s room, when Shaheen walked in to be greeted by proudly smiling grandmother and grandfather, who garlanded him with undiluted happiness. The unmistakable euphoria of that period could enliven and energize the most jaded observer, let alone an innocent child whose vision of the world was paradisiacal and who had the naivety to believe that the ecstatic reception of victorious NC candidates at Sheikh saheb’s residence was seen with delight by one and all.

Whatever one’s ideological leanings and political affiliations, it would be difficult to deny that in that day and age Sheikh saheb had the charisma and magnetism to sway public opinion in his favour, and he exercised an uncanny clout on the masses.

September 8, 1982, is a date that is indelibly etched in my mind for several reasons, some of which I have reassessed over the years. Grandfather’s illness had been causing a lot of concern to my mother, Suraiya, and her older sister, Khalida, who with the solicitude of dutiful daughters wanted to be by their father’s side at all hours of the day.

So, a couple of months before he died, I would go to his house everyday after school where I would find my mother taking care of household chores, supervising the servants, and administering medications to her father. I would spend my time in the living room adjacent to grandfather’s bedroom, where I would assiduously do my home work and study the Koran with Maulana sahib.

One afternoon, exhausted and disheveled after a particularly tedious day at school, I limped into the living room to see Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, sitting there with grandmother and my aunt, Khalida. Mother, who has carefully and very deliberately avoided hobnobbing with political bigwigs for most of her life, was hovering outside the living room.

I, a ten-year-old glamour struck child, was overwhelmed to see the Indian premier exchanging pleasantries with members of the family and sitting close enough for me to touch her. I followed my aunt Khalida, who gingerly tiptoed into grandfather’s bedroom and gently whispered in his ear that Indira Gandhi had flown from New Delhi to Srinagar just to call on him and inquire after his health.

Grandfather turned away with a melancholic smile and cynically said that she was there to see how much life he still had left in him and to make sure that he, indeed, was on his last legs. His cynical response, however, did not deter the rest of the family from escorting Indira Gandhi into his room, where she tactfully expressed her concern for the stalwart leader against whom she and her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, had deployed every stratagem in the book and whose youth, idealism, passion, and courage had been undermined by the unbridled power of the Indian state.

The air was thick with tension, and grandfather was guarded in his responses to the Indian premier, suspicion writ large on his face. Grandmother was a gracious hostess and made small talk, all the while giving cryptic answers to questions asked by Indira Gandhi about grandfather’s health and prognosis.

Grandmother had the discernment to receive visitors with the utmost charm and civility, while keeping an adversary at arm’s length. Little did anyone know that the Indian premier was already orchestrating the rift within the NC and the irreparable division of the family, which she engineered not long after grandfather’s death.

Subsequent to her visit, grandfather, while breathing intermittently, asked mother about the slogans that were being incessantly raised by people outside his gate. He inquired, “What are they saying?” Mother replied that they were praying for his well-being. He replied, in a broken voice, “I wasn’t able to do anything for them.”

A few days after that much publicized and impeccably diplomatic visit, I was taking math tuitions one afternoon in the tiny and sparsely furnished room just above grandfather’s bedroom, which didn’t do much to rid me of my math dyslexia. I could hear an audible rattle through the window. I didn’t realise that the audible rattling sound was grandfather’s beleaguered breathing.

Much to the chagrin of my tutor, I lost interest in my home work and looked through the window only to see everyone running helter skelter. Mother’s cousin, Freddy, came bounding up the stairs to tell her that “Papa” was asking for her. The newspaper that mother had been reading flew out of her hands, and she ran downstairs in disarray.

I, not being able to navigate my way through the agitated crowd that had gathered outside grandfather’s bedroom, made my way to grandmother’s younger brother’s house, which was a stone’s throw away. I pushed, shoved, and elbowed to make my way through the main gate, which was thronged by a multitude of people.

The evening air was laden with the stifling heaviness of slogans, lamentations, dirges; the piercing keening of women; and the swishing sounds of young boys flagellating themselves (Marsea), marking their bodies with visible signs of bereavement.

The frightening roar of vehicles, chaotic screams, unbearably loud sounds of mourning, and the frantic patter of running feet around grandmother’s brother’s house shook me into a startled wakefulness at first light, only to learn that grandfather had breathed his last on the evening of September 8, and that his body, subsequent to the ritual cleansing (Ghusal), had surreptitiously been taken to Polo Ground in the wee hours of the morning.

Members of the family and the top brass of the NC feared that taking grandfather’s body to the Polo Ground in full view of the already overwrought and emotionally agitated people thronging the gate would make it difficult to rein in sentiments and could further destabilize the already fragile situation.

I recall spending that entire day in a disoriented daze, running between the women’s pavilion, where grandmother, mother, and mother’s older sister, who although distraught and utterly devastated, were forbearingly listening to the entreaties of the mourners to remain calm, and grandfather’s bedroom, which was denuded of his pain-filled eyes that told thousands of stories of brutally crushed aspirations; bitter experiences of deceit; long periods of soul wrenching incarceration; insidious attempts to discredit his politics; his enchanting but dispirited smile; and his temperate presence.

The defining presence of my childhood, much loved and just as much vilified, was no more! Death, the ever vigilant and cruel overseer, had, once more, established its inevitability! There is no God but God! From God we come, and to Him we return! Ina Lilah wa Ina Ilaehi Rajun!

The flags that flew at half mast that day were symbolic of the diminution of the ideological underpinnings of Sheikh Sahib’s politics, and of the denigration and mourning for an abraded Kashmiri identity.

In that distressing, heartbreaking, and passionate atmosphere, grandmother stood with her shoulders squared and reminded the mourners in the front lawn of her house that even the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) could not escape the clutches of death, let alone an ordinary mortal. In a strong voice, she implored them to be patient and told them that the greatest tribute they could pay Sheikh sahib was to show the world that they were an evolving nation, capable of maintaining an enviable calm in an atmosphere that threatened to become fragmented, otherwise.

I sat behind her on bended knees while she importuned the crowd of mourners to remain stoic, wondering, with the befuddlement of an eight year old child, how a sense of orientation, order, and clarity would ever follow the fluster and tumult of those few days!

The turbulence and turmoil that has haunted Kashmir for the past twenty-three years holds all of us, as a people, accountable for the degeneration of our politics and society. While it is important for us to condemn, question, and seek redressal for the human rights violations in Kashmir, it is also important for us to construct a politics that would enable the rebuilding of our pluralistic polity and society.

The more we allow the depoliticisation of our society, the more subservient we become to forces that do not have Kashmir’s best interests at heart. At this point in time, mainstream as well as separatist politicians in J & K have been discredited. The alternative is not the dismantling of our political structures and institutions of governance but the creation of a viable political structure, one in which, as my colleague, historian David Ludden points out, “a popular politics of mass mobilisation is merged with institutional politics of governance promoting demilitarization and democracy”.

We cannot afford to lose yet another generation! Reader, you are free to disagree with me, but I still find an incredible depth of thought and strength in Sheikh sahib’s politics, despite his flaws. I say this not as a granddaughter, but as a student of his life and politics. Sheikh saheb’s politics shouldn’t be conflated with the politics of the current NC. It wouldn’t hurt any of us to introspect a little and see how we can play a constructive role in our society!

 

The writer is granddaughter of Sher-e-Kashmir late Sheikh Mohd Abdullah, and Visiting Professor, Department of English, Gittinger Hall 113, University of     Oklahoma, USA). She has written this article on her grandfather’s birth anniversary, that falls on Dec 5.


Hard facts about software
UNCTAD report suggests developing world to build economies through
software development
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

The governments, policymakers, professionals, technologists, entrepreneurs, academics and others, around the world, had enough stuff to ponder upon towards the end of November and beyond. The focus of their deliberations was the International Economy Report 2012 (IER 2012), launched globally by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), on November 28.

This flagship report can be defined as one of the few annual reports that monitor global trends related to information and communication technologies (ICTs) from a development perspective. In short, it is a highly valuable reference source for stakeholders. It also urges governments to adopt policies that can help build domestic software capabilities. Developing such software locally increases the chances that it will fit the context, culture, and language where it is used.

In Pakistan, The Centre for Public Policy and Governance (CPPG) at Forman Christian College (A Chartered University) was selected as the venue of the launch and in fact the report was launched here four hours earlier than it was in Geneva. Fouad Bajwa, a student at CPPG and an IT professional cum academic, had worked as a consultant for Pakistan for this report — was the official presenter on the occasion.

Subtitled, “The Software Industry and Developing Countries,” the report focuses specifically on software — general-purpose technology of growing importance. It shows there is room for developing countries to make better use of the potential offered by software. The report highlights that as much as four fifths of the world’s expenditure on computer software and services is accounted for by the developed countries. In Pakistan, the share is too low and the limited use of software may in turn slow down the passage to the information society.

In words of CPPG Director, Dr Saeed Shafqat, the report is highly relevant for Pakistan and the timing is also important as the Government of Pakistan has announced its Science and Technology Policy 2012 hardly a week ago. Why relevant? “It is… because (here) the government, telecom industry and courts battle on how to deal with not only terrorists, improve modes of governance and develop a regulatory framework to deal with YouTube and Facebook—while some are invoking religion and morality rather than law to respond to innovation and technology,” he explains.

In the light of report’s findings, Saeed points out six musts for a successful information economy in a country. First, the government is a critical player-as facilitator, coordinator and also for presenting a vision, second, the universities/academia—where policy analysts and technology experts can band together, third, the business community—that is willing to invest and reap the benefits and in the process help in delivering services to the consumers, fourth, the telecom/internet providers (cell phones and broadband), fifth, a platform for “IT geeks,” and finally the youth, who can be imparted software development skills.

The report does leave some questions in the minds of readers. For example, the CPPG director is curious why some of the developing countries like Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Costa Rica, South Korea, Malaysia and India have done extremely well in software development and why are we (Pakistanis) lagging behind? What can we learn from others and jump start software development in Pakistan? What can we do to build and promote Free and Open Software Source (FOSS)? etc, etc.

After going through the draft, one finds it to be incisive and focused on highlighting what role governments can play in designing and envisioning software development programmes in their respective countries. Thus, asking stakeholders to think about developing a link between regulation and policy prescription.

Unfortunately, Pakistan’s software industry is suffering from the most ills defined in the report. For example, the most frequently mentioned barriers to the growth and development of software and IT services include a lack of venture capital (VC), shortages of qualified human resources and too little government procurement. In the Asia-Pacific, a shortage of skilled human resources is the most often mentioned barrier which has also been aggravated due to brain drain from these countries. Pakistan has also suffered a lot due to this.

A software developer present at the launch lamented the fact that in order to sell his products to the government of Pakistan, he had to set up an office in the United Kingdom (UK). The government was least interested in procurement of goods and services from a local company so the said developer had to resort to this tactic.

Fouad shares it with TNS that in Pakistan, by contrast, software production is more oriented towards the domestic market. This is in contrast to what is happening in many developing countries that are struggling to become exporters of software and IT services.

In value terms, he adds, India is the developing world’s top exporter of computer and information services, ahead of China, Singapore and the Philippines. In Malaysia and Sri Lanka, software exports also represent a high share of all exports. He goes for a balancing between the two as “focusing too heavily on exports implies a risk of software production becoming an ‘enclave,’ insulated from other domestic sectors.

An important aspect highlighted in the report is that the expanding IT infrastructures and improved Internet performance have generated opportunities for many to find work. As Fouad mentions it, people’s better access to high-speed Internet has rapidly made online work (also referred to as crowd-sourcing or remote, contract, or freelance work) a prominent feature in global software development.

Many software writers in developing countries are already involved in such activities. For example, Elance.com, one of the main platforms for online work, engages workers from over 150 countries. In Bangladesh, some 10,000 freelance programmers are reportedly earning some $15 million per year–an amount that is equivalent to a quarter of the country’s software exports. This venue has not been properly explored in Pakistan, he adds.

A thing worth appreciating is that though the report identifies problems and hurdles, it gives hope to the world, especially the developing countries, and tells them they can support their economies with the help of software and other IT-related business. This aspect is also highlighted in the concluding paragraph that follows. It sums up a major chapter of the report.

“Market opportunities are growing for those who create software in developing countries. Public procurement related to “e-government” solutions is one important source of domestic demand. The market is also expanding for mobile applications aimed at improving access to domestic news and entertainment, government services, patient care, market information services, and “mobile money”. The mobile apps industry is estimated to have generated worldwide revenue of $15–20 billion in 2011, and that may rise to $38 billion by 2014.

 

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