family planning religiously
a consensus on census
An ultra experience
A demographic surprise
Issues relating to family
planning and reproductive health services are complex and
intertwined. Solutions also need to be comprehensive and integrated
By Irfan Mufti
On July 11, the
world celebrates population day. In 1968 world leaders proclaimed that
individuals had a basic human right to determine the number and timing of
their children. About 44 years later, modern contraception remains out of
reach for millions of women and men.
decrease in mortality began to accelerate in the more developed parts of
the world in the nineteenth century and expanded to the entire world in
the twentieth century. By one estimate, life expectancy at birth increased
from 30 to 67 years between 1800 and 2005, leading to a rapid growth of
the population: from 1 billion in 1810 to over 7 billion in 2010. The
theme for this years’ Population Day will be the recognition of the
right of every person to attain universal access to reproductive health
For Pakistan July 11,
2012 will bring several questions to answer. Pakistan is one of the
fastest growing countries in the world. In early 1994, the population of
Pakistan was estimated to be 126 million. At that time, it was the ninth
most populous country of the world, however, land area wise ranked
thirty-second among nations.
Thus, Pakistan has about
2 percent of the world’s population living on less than 0.7 percent of
the world’s land. The population growth rate is among the world’s
highest, officially estimated at 3.1 percent per year, but privately
thought to be closer to 3.3 percent per year by planners involved in
with militancy, a fragile economy and natural disasters such as the 2010
and 2011 floods have often been discussed, but an even greater threat may
be posed by sheer number of people in the country.
According to official
figures, the projected population for 2015 is 191 million, up from the
current figure of 170 million, making it the sixth most populous nation on
earth. By 2050, it is expected to climb into fourth place. This is bad
news for a country that has struggled to provide its people with adequate
food, health care or education.
Malnutrition rates are
high and are linked to 50 percent of infant and child deaths; there is one
doctor for every 1,183 people; and the literacy rate of 57 percent is
among the lowest in South Asia.
There is now increasing
evidence that investments, among others, in education, health, including
reproductive health, women’s empowerment and slower population growth
contribute towards poverty reduction. In general, it has also been found
that where there is rapid population growth and high fertility rates,
poverty incidence is also highest. More people, of course, means a further
drain on resources that are already stretched to the limit.
The root cause of
overpopulation is the unbalanced growth rate. In third world countries,
basic awareness among the common people is lacking, which is the
fundamental reason of overpopulation.
in Pakistan have invested too little to educate the people about the
disadvantages of extra ordinary birth rate. In this way, majority of the
people remain uneducated regarding adequate methods of birth control.
According to the
Demographic Health Survey of Pakistan, conducted in 2006-07 by the
Ministry of Population Welfare, while 96 percent of women who have been
married are aware of at least one family planning method, fewer than half
have ever used one, and less than 30 percent of married women currently
use a contraceptive.
The survey also shows 25
percent of married couples would like to use contraception but are not
doing so, mainly because they lack access to advice or contraceptives.
Growth trend has also
serious implications on economic planning and development. A very common
trend for the people is to move towards cities from villages, in this way,
rural land remains unused and cities become overcrowded having high
density of people per square feet. This practice not only affects
efficient operation of the system in cities but it also neglects the rural
lands to develop.
The trend of rural-urban
migration in Pakistan has badly decreased the agricultural growth,
resulting in the drastic shits in economy of the country.
When the growth rate is
very high, it results in high child mortality, seventy infants out of one
thousand dies due to different reasons, which include inadequate
facilities, provided in hospitals due to load of too many delivery cases,
lack of proper food, and the most important is the weak health of the
Poverty highly increases
child mortality rate, an individual citizen’s poverty results in the
poverty of the whole country. In thickly populated countries life
expectancy ratio is very low. As per the latest statistics, Pakistan has
64.6 as life expectancy ratio of an individual, whereas Japan has 82.3,
the difference is very clear.
There are multiple
reasons for this lopsided and irrational population growth in Pakistan.
The first and foremost is attitudes of male members of family that is very
difficult to change. Many women would like to practice birth control, but
their husbands dislike the idea.
programmes for family planning and primary healthcare are offering advice
on contraception, but are confronted by misplaced religious propaganda or
women are too scared of their husbands to even consider these methods.
Family planning and
population control programmes were started in the 1950s and 1960s by
private and government institutions. For years these institutions focused
only on women as it was thought that family planning was the preserve of
women, therefore the audience was 100 percent female.
In 1947, the fertility
rate was 7.5 per women in Pakistan and the population growth rate 4.5
percent per year. In the 1990s these were reduced to 5.1 and 2.9,
respectively, but this reduction is negligible. Presently, 47 percent of
the total population in Pakistan is under the age of 15 years.
More than 50 years have
passed, millions of dollars have been spent, multiple resources have been
exhausted and Pakistan still adds four million people to its population
every year. Contraceptive use went up from 6 percent in 1969 to just 18
percent in 1995. Pakistan’s average of six children per family has
barely fallen since 1960s and the population density is 169/km.
Despite the grim
picture, we cannot afford to stop. Issues relating to family planning and
reproductive health services are complex and intertwined. Solutions also
need to be comprehensive and integrated.
The most important of
actions may include: expanding family planning concept beyond family
planning to reproductive health services, generating positive attitude
among public and political officials, organising an effective media
campaign, improve existing service quality, involving religious leaders to
endorse the programmes and the role of donor agencies to continue with
their responsibility to support a struggling economy and a young nation.
The writer is Deputy
Chief of South Asia Partnership Pakistan and Global Campaigner
Photo by Rahat Dar.
If you asked a
hundred people in Pakistan what the most pressing issue of the country is,
you would get a litany of answers ranging from load-shedding, poverty,
un-employment, to law and order, health and education. It is unlikely that
anyone would say over-population. Yet that is really the root cause of all
the other problems mentioned. In simple terms, there are too many people
and not enough resources.
With our economy
struggling, it is difficult to cater to the existing number of people, but
if the population were to keep galloping ahead at the present exponential
rate, we’ll soon outstrip all our resources. Today we have the sixth
largest population in the world with 180 million people. If we continue at
this pace, we will be over 500 million by 2050. There will not be enough
electricity, water, gas, houses, schools or hospitals.
optimists, who insist on looking at the glass half full, will say I’m
missing the elephant in the room. We have people. Lots of them!
That surely can be our strength. And what’s more, the majority of
them are young. We are one of the youngest nations in the world, with over
60 percent of the population under thirty years of age.
In technical terms, this
is called the ‘youth bulge’ and it has the potential to give us a
‘demographic dividend’. In lay man terms, this means that
we have a lot of young people who if channelized properly can fire the
engine of growth and development and lead us out of our present morass.
However for this to happen we need to work fast as this opportunity does
not last forever.
We have a ‘demographic
window’ of a few years, after which our youthful population will grow
old and instead of potentially productive citizens, they will start adding
to the ranks of the dependent population needing others to take care of
So do the people in
charge know about this ‘bulge’ thing and the stealthily closing
‘window’? I doubt it. Doesn’t sound like it when you hear them talk
at least. Something called GLOCs seems really urgent.
Which forces me to join
ranks with those looking at the glass half empty. Consider the scenario.
Our prized possession, our human capital. How would one describe an
average specimen? Short, malnourished, illiterate, poor, unskilled,
probably un-employed, depressed, angry, frustrated.
While average height in
a country like China has dramatically increased over the past couple of
generations, ours is falling because of chronic malnutrition. According to
the UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report 2008, in Pakistan 6.5 million
children are out of school. Nigeria is number one with eight million and
we have second place.
Another survey showed us
to be among the unhappiest people on earth. So what options does this
short, illiterate, unhappy guy have? Not many and even less if he is a
woman! He could go join
the load shedding protests and break some public property, or blow himself
up and get a free pass to heaven, do a dacoity or two, or take the even
easier option and hit the nearest woman around. Or he could leave. Our PM
wondered why these people didn’t, if they were so unhappy. Well they
would if they could. But even countries looking for cheap, unskilled
labour, look for healthy, able workers. Moreover our main export having
become terrorism and now possibly the polio virus, people are
understandably a tad reluctant to welcome us. Not that that discourages
our frustrated young men. They valiantly keep trying and are sometimes
discovered smothered in containers or drowned with cargo ships or
suffering in jails in faraway lands of promised opportunity.
I’m taking a leaf from
the American book and using the shock and awe tactic here. I want people
to take notice. This is the real emergency. Not the load shedding, not the
war, not the terrorism, not the extremism. We need to bring our growth
Other countries, Muslim
countries like Iran, Bangladesh, Indonesia, have done it and development
has followed. It’s simply about the commitment to provide family
planning facilities to families. Once we get our numbers in control, our
women, men and children will be healthier, they’ll have schools,
electricity, water, they’ll get jobs and they’ll get busy living their
But to bring about this
change, there needs to be an acknowledgement of the issue. It needs to be
high up there on our priority list. A big international Family Planning
Summit is planned in London this month. An official delegation will be
attending from Pakistan. We hope it makes a strong case for us. We hope
the government takes positive steps. We
strongly urge it to. But equally importantly, change has to come from
within all of us. If you are married and reading this, how many children
do you have? If you are unmarried, how many do you plan to have? Think. Be
Pakhtunkhwa government has prepared quite a few documents which, if
implemented, could originate unprecedented economic development in the
province. However, these economic roadmaps are generally overlooked while
setting development priorities for different sectors.
According to the
Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS 2010-17), the province has strong
agricultural potentials, and offers a diverse climate and landscape for a
variety of tourism activities. “Located at the crossroads of important
international trading routes, the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have long
traditions of trade and travel. Hydroelectric power, forestry and minerals
offer resources for a modern economy,” it states.
The Economic Growth
Strategy (EGS) also envisions that acceleration of growth will be realized
by concentrating on natural resource endowments of KP in hydel power,
mining and minerals, Oil and Gas and agriculture value addition and
“With huge potential
for development there is a necessity to focus on growth. Unfortunately,
the resources’ investment strategy while following a much trodden path
for decades remained captive to an antiquated thinking; to invest more and
more in brick and mortar as a development solution to the problems of low
and slow growth; high rates of unemployment and underemployment; a
decadent infrastructure; inefficient, inadequate transportation
facilities; a non-competitive industrial sector and last but not the
least, stagnant human development indicators,” states the EGS.
to the Whitepaper for this and last year, the previous ADPs were skewed
towards brick and mortar projects and whereas the social sectors
(education and health etc) have consumed a sizeable chunk of the
development program, the socio-economic (food, agriculture, roads etc) and
productive sectors (energy, minerals etc) remained low in priorities.
The growth policy will
target the sectors with comparative advantages of indigenous raw materials
and natural resources like minerals, tourisms and agriculture with a
significant increase in total investment in productive sectors to attain
higher rate of growth, states the EGS and stipulates that foreign loans
would be sought for productive sectors if required and for the
socio-economic and social sectors only grants would be utilised.
The EGS, the CDS and the
budget whitepaper, said the KP finance minister Humayun Khan, have served
as the bases of the annual development programme (ADP) this year.
But while in the Rs303bn
budget, ADP, with an outlay of Rs97.4bn, including foreign component of
Rs23bn, has a share of 35 per cent against 65 percent for current budget
which is in line with the EGS recommendations, most of the budget targets
and allocations don’t match with these official strategies.
While the EGS recommends
70 ADP funds for ongoing and 30 per cent for new schemes, they have been
allocated 62.5 per cent (Rs46bn) and 37.5 per cent (Rs27.8bn) funds
respectively in the core provincial ADP of Rs74.2bn.
The province has
abundant potential in water, oil and gas and precious stones like marbles
and other minerals. Around 6.76 per cent area of KP is under exploration
for oil and gas reserves with a one billion barrel of oil and four
trillion cubic feet of gas. Investment in these sectors can offer a base
for developing a flourishing industry.
While the EGS says
productive sectors and socio-economic sectors would be given top priority
in funds allocation and the expenditure on social sectors would be capped
at current level, allocations to the sectors speak otherwise.
Against the avowed 70
per cent, 30 per cent and 20 per cent share in the ADP for the productive,
socio-economic and social sectors respectively as per the EGS, the 9
productive and 7 socio-economic sectors have been allocated just 12 per
cent (Rs11.6bn) and 23 per cent (Rs22.6bn) respectively in the ADP while
the social sectors have got 39 per cent (Rs37.9bn).
While education and
roads have got over Rs22bn and over Rs14bn respectively, energy and
mineral sectors got only Rs1.8bn and Rs0.5bn in that order. Allocations
for minerals and minerals stand around only 0.9 per cent and at less than
two per cent each for energy, power and agriculture sectors.
In the FY 2010/11 too,
out of 972 projects funded through ADP, mines and minerals had only 11
projects with an allocation of Rs255mn at 0.42 percent of ADP.
By the end of 2012, the
CDS stipulates an additional Rs14.6bn for the agriculture sector which
obviously is far higher than the existing new ADP allocation of Rs1.4bn In
the outgoing year too, the productive sectors were allocated
Rs10.8billion, the socio-economic Rs21.3bn and the social sectors Rs36.8bn
in the total core ADP of Rs69bn.
The CDS is a pretty
ambitious economic growth roadmap. Its total seven years’ financial cost
above the 2010 level expenditure is Rs960 of which Rs648bn would be for
development expenditure and the rest for current expenditure. Rs516bn of
these would be met through local resources and Rs444bn from external
It recognises increased
insecurity, financial mismanagement, food inflation, inconsistency and
duplication for increased donor funding, climatic hazards such as flooding
etc as main risks to the implementation of CDS, and has suggested remedial
But the CDS ironically
has failed to point alternative resources in case the expectation of
increased domestic revenue and foreign assistance fail to materialise
while the current expenditure increases beyond the estimates.
Under the annual
strategy review (ASR), a detailed analysis of the ADP 2010-11 and 2011-12
was carried out to know whether development allocations in different
sectors matched the above strategies and with the short term allocations
for those sectors in CDS. As per the ASR, Rs126bn out of the total ADP for
2010-12 were allocated against the CDS recommendations/allocations of
“The province is far
from eradicating poverty by 2015, and is unlikely to be able to effect a
reduction in poverty incidence to 20 percent, as articulated in the
CDS,” states the CDS paper. The white paper and EGS eye reduction in
throw forward liability — the money required to complete all the ADP
projects-by allocating more resources to ongoing project i.e. 70 percent
But as the government
usually misses the development targets for several departments come up
with attractive projects that they could not execute, the throw forward
liability is on the rise and is expected to be Rs343bn by end of this
The government could
utilise Rs79bn off Rs85bn last fiscal, Rs61bn off Rs69bn in 2010 and
Rs46bn off Rs51 in 2009. If it cannot ensure full utilization of funds,
what is the justification of increasing development outlays that results
in throw forward liability for the
And if this government
which, besides phenomenal increase in its federal receipts, has been
getting Rs25bn in net hydro profit arrears could not bring down the number
of in-complete development projects, how would the incoming governments do
when the money would cease to come from 2013-14 onwards.
The foreign component
projections at Rs23bn also seems unrealistic as the revised estimates for
this head in last year stood at just Rs7.5 against Rs16bn of budget
KP has given top
priority to energy and power sector. In this regard substantial amount of
net hydel profit arrears has been transferred to Hydel Development Fund
(with assets of Rs24bn) and various schemes are under pre-feasibility,
feasibility and implementation stages in the province.
The KP government has
prepared a 10-year hydro power generation action plan worth Rs330 billion
according to which 24 projects would be initiated in KP to generate 2100
megawatts of electricity. But there is a perception that had this
government started these projects when it was installed, the province
would have no problem of loadshedding now.
According to a 2004
survey, industrialists and traders in KP identified policy uncertainty,
tax administration, access to electricity supply, corruption, access to
finance, insecurity and transportation as major hindrances to growth.
There is some good news
in the budget too. While the foreign project assistance was just Rs4.61bn
in 2008 with 83 per cent of it comprising loan component, it has increased
to Rs23bn this year with 84 per cent of it to be in shape of grants and
only 16 per cent as loans.
schemes have been allocated Rs5.7bn against Rs4.5bn in last fiscal.
Ranging from students’ related scholarship scheme to laptop distribution
schemes to schemes in health, IT and agriculture sector etc, these also
have a scheme for long term financing schemes for industrialists.
family planning religiously
“What do you
think Islam says about Family Planning (FP)?”, I asked an urban,
educated friend. Her response was as expected. “Isn’t FP a complete
no-no in Islam?” she replied, a mother of two, whose two children have a
carefully planned age difference of four years and who has been using an
Intra-Uterine Device (IUD) for a long time as a method of contraception. A
staunch Muslim, she believes FP is not allowed in Islam, yet is practicing
it for years, and has not bothered to delve into the subject, avoiding
As we approach the World
Population Day on the 11th of July, the topic of understanding FP via
religious rulings remains taboo. A fatalistic approach and a misfounded
assumption that Islam is categorically against FP remains a key reason why
Pakistan is sitting on a ticking time bomb of a population explosion. It
also remains an under-discussed area in both print and electronic media.
population is five times as large as it was in 1950 and about 4 million
people are added to it every year,” said Dr John Bongaarts of the
Population Council, New York, at a recent seminar arranged by the
Population Council in Pakistan. “By 2050, the population in the country
is expected to reach 300 million.” If it hits that number, Pakistan
would become the fourth largest country in the world. It has already
replaced Brazil as the world’s fifth largest nation.
Generally, world over, a
reduction in fertility rates and population growth has been seen, but
Pakistan’s has increased. Pakistan’s total fertility rate (TFR: the
number of live births the average woman has in her lifetime) is reported
by the UN to be 3.2, the highest of any of the populous countries.
Pakistan Demographic and
Health Survey 2007 (PDHS) reveals that only 24 percent of married women of
rural Pakistan use contraception. Could religion have something to do with
This July, world leaders
gather in London for a Family Planning Summit, co-hosted by the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. Department for International
Development, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development
and the U.N. Fund for Population Action. Will the role of religious and
cultural sensibilities be discussed there, one wonders.
faith-oriented societies such as Pakistan, unless something is endorsed by
the clergy, meeting the development goals may be too far-fetched. As the
bigwigs of family planning rack their brains over how to control
Pakistan’s population, an important point might be being missed. The
implications of an absence of national consensus-building with religious
leaders on board may be a key reason. Indonesia, the world’s fourth most
populous nation, also THE most populous Muslim country in the world, seems
to have discovered this key and unlocked the answers. The result:
Indonesia today is known as the “poster child” among countries aiming
to slow down their growth rate. This is an incredible achievement,
considering that Indonesia is a country with an almost 90 percent Muslim
population, accounting for 13 percent of the world’s Muslim population.
Studies show that Indonesia’s fertility rate at the 1965 level was
averagely 5.6 children per woman. By incorporating a community-based
family planning and reproductive health program, Indonesia has been able
to slow down the TFR to an exemplary 2.6. How has Indonesia managed this?
The answer could lie in
the fact BkkbN, Indonesia’s population and family planning board,
employed the ingenious method of approaching the leaders of the two
largest Muslim welfare groups in Indonesia: Muhammadiyah and the Nahdlatul
Ulama, who have millions of followers. Both are traditionalist Islamic
groups, yet with the government have achieved a consensus that they will
work hand-in-hand for the welfare of the country. In line with true
Islamic teachings, they work towards spiritual, emotional, physical and
material well-being of their people. Taking health and education into
their loop, it was but logical that reproductive health and FP are
included in their program.
Dr. Atikah Zaki, the
health and social coordinator of Asyiyah, the women’s branch of
Muhammadiyah, adorns a hijaab. She is a practicing Muslim woman,
unapologetic about her faith and evangelism. Simultaneously, she is also
unapologetic about the fact that her organization promotes family
well-being and family planning. Asyiyah promotes family planning through a
network of 86 hospitals, hundreds of clinics, 87 universities and over
4,000 schools. Their local leaders counsel people about reproductive
health issues, mediate disputes between couples and even address sensitive
subjects like domestic violence. “We are just obeying the Prophet
Mohammed,” said Zaki with a smile, explaining the concept of FP in
Islam, quoting from the Quran and ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
at the recent Women’s Edition Seminar for female journalists, held at
Islam, and other
religions for that matter, are not against contraception in totality. If
the Quranic injunction on breastfeeding the child for two years is adhered
to, it would automatically result in “lactational amenorrhea” which
would result in spacing between children.
A major body of Islamic
scholars, globally, agrees that in Islam, temporary and reversible methods
of contraception are allowed. But contraception practiced with an aim to
have a permanently childless marriage would not be permissible. Abortion
is not permissible, and especially after a 120 days period has lapsed in
the pregnancy, it is categorically forbidden because life is sacred.
Temporary contraceptive methods that do not harm the health of the mother,
and natural methods like Coitus Interruptus (withdrawal) and the Rhythm
method that relies on knowledge of a woman’s ovulation cycle in order to
avoid pregnancy, are preferred and allowed.
Relaying public health
messages across to the population of Pakistan would become easier if they
came through Imams of local mosques. But the religious leadership, human
rights’ activists and health experts should work unanimously towards
this goal. This requires dialogue and an understanding of each other’s
Talking about the
Pakistani society and involving clergy in realisation of the FP goals,
journalist Zofeen Ebrahim says, “While the voice from the pulpit carries
a lot of weight, they will need to be convinced, informed and educated
before their help is sought, otherwise all the work towards it will come
to naught. Not much time and we have to make up for the lost time.
Therefore, everyone needs to be involved and taken on board.”
globalisation process in early 1990s was a threat as well as challenge for
many nation- states. On the contrary, a small group of nation-states
viewed it as ‘window of opportunity’
and capitalize the advantages of globalization.
These divergent and
contradictory stances about globalisation process formed three types of
scholarly classes. The first scholarly class belongs to architects of
globalization process that strongly argued market-based solutions of all
problems at local, national, regional and global levels. The second
scholarly class viewed globalization as a tool of ‘hegemony’ and
‘new form of colonization’ by major powers of the world. They proposed
alternatives of globalization within capitalist paradigm ensuring
sovereignty of nation-states and increase welfare of the people.
The third scholarly
class neither irrevocably dismissed globalisation as a process nor
compromised on nation-state sovereignty. They embrace all those
alternatives (with and without capitalist system of production and
distribution) that promised a decent living standard for nearly seven
billion people of the world.
They believed in
collectivism and innovative strategies for most pressing global problems
such as global recession, security, climate justice and reforms in global
institutions. The premise of this scholarly class is how to manage global
governance in a multi-stakeholder world where besides nation-states other
players are equally important.
It is no denying fact
that many global issues need collaborative deliberations and actions
because no nation-state alone has capacity to confront those problems. For
instance, the issue of global warming is compelling nation-states to adopt
consensual global policy and actions (failure of Kyoto Protocol) to
mitigate the adverse impact of climatic variability.
financial architecture is in perpetual threat of complete collapse since
Asian financial crisis of 1997. The integration of global financial
markets was carried on economic philosophy of “free markets” rather
than realising the financial strength or weakness of the economies that
resulted in offering more triggers of breakdown.
However, the need of the
hour is to address these global issues through multi-stakeholder dialogue
in which nation-states, global institutions (UN, World Bank, etc), civil
society organisations, media, representatives of academia could freely
express their interests. This may be termed as global governance
The need of institutions
for global governance mechanisms obviously cannot be ruled out. However,
currently certain global institutions are functioning to fill the global
order vacuum for peace and development in the world. The creation of
United Nations after the Second World War in 1945 was to promote peace and
harmony among nation-states.
It is debatable whether
UN has fulfilled its objectives of creation or not but undoubtedly the
greater objectives of global governance can be achieved through
strengthening and reforming of current UN systems.
institutions such as European Union (EU) could help in framing and
contextualizing the most pressing global issues for deliberations and
agreements. The example of EU is particularly important in this regard
because it has evolved from European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in
1958 to a Custom Union in 1993 and achieved tremendous milestones of
European commission, European parliament, European central bank, single
currency, etc. in 51 years.
The Asian perspective of
global governance is starkly different from rest of the world in terms of
history, diverse cultures, religious beliefs, tribal systems, level of
development, work ethos, social behaviors and production and distribution
of wealth. Global governance mechanisms require institutional strength
that is relatively weak in most of the Asian countries.
multilateral initiatives such as Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) have made reasonable progress in 44 years from its inception in
1967, in trade and commerce, political alliance, environmental agreements
and nuclear non-proliferation. ASEAN is still far away from developing
into custom union.
Other major initiative
in South Asia is South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
that could become instrumental in global governance mechanisms in economic
and social development, poverty alleviation, environmental protection and
The mandate of SAARC is
not only economic cooperation and trade relations among countries but
people-to-people contact that is essential ingredient for managing global
issues through participation of all stakeholders.
of ASEAN and SAARC are the building blocks of global governance mechanisms
that could provide impetus to global consensus building process through
It is important to
distinguish different roles of stakeholders in global governance
mechanisms. The participatory nature of global governance shed additional
responsibilities on every actor of the society. Think Tanks in policy
formulation and analysis has increased substantially in the last two
decades even in developing countries.
In the context of
Pakistan, better comprehension of global governance would unlock those
opportunities that ceased to exist at the end of Cold War in 1989. The
economic and political vulnerabilities in Pakistan have paved the way of
foreign intervention that used ‘soft power’ to quail the path of
adjustment programs (SAPs) of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and
US-Pakistan foreign relations are the examples of ‘undermined
sovereignty’ of 180 million people country.
The first and formidable
option in this regard is the strengthening of SAARC. Pakistan is one of
the most important countries in SAARC and could gain substantial advantage
in regional issues such as poverty reduction, security, environment, etc.
committees of SAARC should take part in international forums to present
and protect regional interests without providing due benefits to big
countries in alliance. SAARC technical committees on environment and
forestry and agriculture and rural development can represent regional
The participation of
SAARC technical committees in international forums along with member
States would enhance the stature of regional alliance and further augment
confidence building process between Pakistan and India.
The other option for
Pakistan is the membership in ASEAN. The expansion and improvement of ties
with other Asian alliances would open new avenues for Pakistan in trade
and commerce, environmental planning, cultural exchanges and social sector
Organisation of Islamic
Conference (OIC) and Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) could be
other options for Pakistan to fulfill its developmental needs through
inward looking instead of reliance on distant partners.
The essence of global
governance concept is the production of knowledge, exchange of divergent
views and development of new theories. Global governance marked the end of
knowledge hegemony and embraces new ideas, innovative solutions and
learning from cultures and people.
There are various
questions that are still unexplored in the context of global governance.
Some of them are directly related to global participation of citizens,
legitimacy or authority of non-state actors, the benefits of global
democracy to common people, and who has authority to penalise the
There are no easy
answers of these complex questions but one can hope to achieve the destiny
of harmonious world by devoting best of abilities and capacities for
The decline of global
value system must be stopped in order to reorganize societies without
prejudices, racism, discrimination, nepotism, inequality and
The writer is a
Principal Economist at the Social Policy and Development Centre, Karachi.
In order to
focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, in the
context of overall development plans and programmes, 11 July is observed
by the international community as World Population Day.
According to the United
Nations, the world‘s population reached 7 billion on October 31, 2011.
This year, as the world population is expected to surpass 7 billion, UNFPA
and partners are launching a campaign called 7 Billion Actions. It aims to
engage people, spur commitment and spark actions related to the
opportunities and challenges presented by a world of 7 billion people.
including growth rates, age structure, fertility and mortality, migration
and more, influence every aspect of human, social and economic
development. Other core areas including reproductive health and women’s
empowerment powerfully influence population trends.
In Pakistan, the issues
of population include poverty, high birth rate, health, education,
joblessness, power resource generation, regional migration and IDPs issues
that have resulted in political, social and economic problems.
The government needs to
be able to gather information and analyse population trends in order to
create and manage sound policies and generate the political will to
appropriately address both current and future needs. Holding of sixth
census which is already delayed by four years is the base of all our
profile 2012 reveals an estimated population 187,342,721 with a growth
rate of 1.57 percent whereas the urban population growth rate is 3.1
percent. The estimates disclose total fertility rate as 3.17 showing a
decreasing trends and literacy has shown a rate of 50 percent.
These all figures are
based on estimates whereas the actual facts and figures only National
Census would provide in a comprehensive picture of the social and living
conditions of the people.
The census provides
benchmark data for socio economic development plans, administrative
activities, basis for political representation, equitable distribution of
public funds to the federating units and fixation of quota to all civil
posts in federal government as per constitutional requirement.
The holding of
population census has always been equally important for any country as the
general election is. In a country like Pakistan, where democracy is always
in danger, the issue of holding of population census has also become
established after the upcoming election will have to face a great
challenge in conducting national population census as the future census
has become a number game for political and ethnic groups.
The statements from
major political, ethical, religious and social groups seem both visible
and invisible threat to the census whenever it takes place.
There is lot of
reservations at political, social, ethnic and tribal levels which are a
serious threat to this exercise to undertake realistically. Even some
places of Karachi and Northern Areas have been marked a no-go area for the
census teams by anti-peace elements.
In fact, the society as
a whole does not seem to be satisfied on a fair, free and transparent
census in the present political disturbance, and law and order situation
prevailing in the country.
The situation of
disputes over census in Sindh is equally worse as that of Balochistan and
KP. Pashtun and Sindhi ethnic groups fear that the MQM, representing Urdu
speaking or Mohajir population of urban Sindh has taken over the census
machinery in Karachi and Hyderabad and is making efforts to show more than
the actual number of Mohajir population
to get larger share of funds and representation.
The present wave of
demand for setting up new provinces in the country is also a serious issue
that may highjack the whole programme in that areas to prove a large
number of population demanding for new province as a strong justification
for their demand, either on administrative or ethnic bases.
All minority groups,
linguistic, ethnic or religious segments have raised objections because
they fear being undercounted. They say that there was 3.5 percent of
population at the time of independence which means there must be at least
10 million Christians in Pakistan today but authorities believe their
number is less than 5 million. Similarly, Ahmadi community is not properly
counted as it is not easy for them to announce themselves in public.
An addition to the
above, some fears prevail that various segments of population may not be
included in the census in the areas where political situation is bad, like
KP, Balochistan and Karachi, people living in difficult areas, migrants of
flood and earthquake areas in Punjab, KP and Sindh. Militant groups is
another serious threat.
All economic planning is
based on the numbers, the people and the resources with fair distribution.
We are still depending on the figures of 1998 census or looking for the
estimations of 2012. Both are undependable in the present time when
general elections are round the corner.
Holding of national
population census should be taken seriously. We expect that at the time of
announcement of election in the country. This is the core message of the
World Population Day-2012, for Pakistan, the year of both general election
and population census.
The writer is a
“He spent all
his life striving for truth, justice, democratic principles and liberty of
thought and died with his boots on in July 1987 at the age of 48 while
confronting Zia’s dictatorship. He fought the combat alone with the
dictator of his times and set an example to follow. What Waris Mir wrote
and how he wrote, makes him an icon par excellence who continues to live
on through his writings...” the voice trailed off the microphone and the
hall boomed with applause when the highest civil award of Pakistan, the
Hilal-e-Imtiaz, was conferred posthumously upon Prof. Waris Mir this year
(on March 23, 2012) for his undying and evergreen effort to voice his
intellect for the sake of the people of Pakistan.
Like all great writers
of yester years whose personalities and mental cog-works are revealed to
their readers via their writings instead of all the publicity humdrum in
the rage these days, the avid readers of Mir know his intellectualism, his
area of interests and his persona refracted in his writings. He is
unmistakably logical even when he gets emotional at times. For instance,
when the dictator of his era General Ziaul Haq finger pointed at him as
his personal enemy and in a televised address to the nation, Zia
paralleled the progressive writers the ‘water logging causing damage to
the fabric of the society’. The rebuttal to this televised address was
Waris Mir’s last write up in which he wrote his heart out. A dying man
has no fear, they say. This phrase comes alive and sets an example in his
last column titled, “Is progressive thinking salinity and water
“If any one thinks
that Ziaul Haq in his speech has labelled writers having orthodox and a
backward approach towards shaping the future of Pakistan, they must
correct themselves. For a dictator and power usurper can only blame and
play the name-game with intellectuals who think progressively and
liberally. Such people are the direct and personal adversaries of the
martial law administrator.”
Waris Mir was made of
all of these components that Zia, or any other military dictator in
general, could not simply understand. When students of literature sit down
to study a poetic bard or a dramatist, they read through the writings over
and over again, try to decipher the mental processes through which the
writer passes while churning out a magical sheet filled with words.
For readers of
philosophy, ideas so nakedly apparent to the eyes are just understood once
again from a new perspective with such a moment of eureka that a single
sentence or the composition of an idea can be life altering. For those
studying psychology, human behaviour, the human mind and the human heart
are so altering and so different in each person, that the curiosity to
study the functionality of the human psychology can never be fulfilled and
it encourages the student to probe more. Reading Waris Mir, is like being
a student of all of these subjects – literature, philosophy, psychology
– and even more – history, sociology, political science.
Those who have read
Waris Mir, and still do, through his writings in a three-volumed book
“Waris Mir ka Fikri Asasa”, admire him for not just being a good
expressionist but also for being a hardworking researcher. His columns are
more like research papers — thoroughly investigated and interpreted for
all and sundry to contemplate and comprehend.
Waris Mir was read in
the intellectual groups, the chai-wala dhhaba groups, students, women et
al. He was a teacher at the University of Punjab, Lahore. He taught
journalism and if one really takes a hard look at it, Waris Mir was not
preaching the ethics of journalism to his students just not to practice
them himself. He was simply being honest to his work. When one reads
through his work, understands his life, being honest, however, does seem
like an insanely enormous characteristic.
When the Hilial-e-Imtiaz
was conferred upon Waris Mir this year, even though it was posthumously
done, those who know what and who Waris Mir was, they understand, he lives
on and shall continue to do so.
The death Anniversary of
Prof Waris Mir falls on 9th July.
is an Afghan politician and a member of parliament. She is a prominent
women rights activist and also the founder of Aina-e Zan, a weekly
publication that focuses on women’s issues. During the rule of the
hard-line Taliban, Barakzai helped run underground schools for girls and
women in Afghanistan. In 2003, she was appointed a member of Loya Jirga, a
body of representatives from across Afghanistan that was nominated to
discuss and pass the country’s new constitution after the fall of the
Taliban in 2001. In 2004, she was elected a member of parliament or Wolesi
Jirga. She also headed the parliamentary defence committee for two years.
At her office in parliament building in Kabul, The News on Sunday got an
opportunity to talk to her on issues relating to security situation,
parliamentary development and women’s rights in Afghanistan and
The News on Sunday: What
brought you into politics?
Shukria Barakzai: For
the last three decades, Afghans have suffered from civil war, terrorism,
and bloodshed. From the intervention of the Soviet Union to civil war
between the warring mujahideen groups and atrocities of Taliban, every
single Afghan has been affected badly. I am also one among them. I grew up
in a totally different society: a society of peace, respect, human dignity
and love. But, unfortunately, three decades of war culture have divided
the Afghan community in ethnic, sectarian and fractions. Sixty five
thousand civilians were killed only in Kabul in civil war between
mujahideen groups while the Taliban were the worst forces.
Violence against women
was very high in those days. Taliban forbade women from working outside
the home, forced women to wear burqas, punished them with public whipping
for “immodest” appearance and forbade girls from attending school. I
still remember the incident of Kabul during Taliban rule when ‘Punjabi
Taliban’ were beating a young Afghan severely just because of listening
We were astonished at
that time seeing how clerics and students of religious seminaries were
driving tanks and using sophisticated guns. The atrocities of warring
mujahideen groups and Taliban politically and socially motivated me much.
When Taliban imposed ban on girls’ education, I secretly headed a
network of underground schools for girls and women and this network also
helped me to form a group of social activists. Because of support of
activists of my group, I was elected first as representative of Loya Jirga
in 2003 and then a member of parliament in 2004. Street campaigning was
key reason of my success in the election whereas my husband, despite
spending millions of dollars, lost the elections.
TNS: What do you think
is the solution for a peaceful Afghanistan and what role Pakistan, as
neighbouring country, should play in this regard?
SB: This issue is very
complicated. In the past, we, the Afghans, have defeated powerful forces
like Britain and USSR but presently, we are very confused to curb
terrorism in our country. We have solid proofs of involvement of Pakistan
in supporting groups that are involved in spreading unrest in Afghanistan
but we can’t do anything. Today, Pakistan is also suffering from the
same terrorism and unrest. People in mosques and public places are not
safe from suicide attackers who have killed thousands of Pakistani
civilians. We, the Afghans, want to see our neighbours prosperous and
democratic. But Pakistan also needs to stop anti-peace elements to use
their land against Afghanistan.
TNS: What challenges
women MPs are facing in Afghanistan’s parliament?
parliament features a percentage of female representation at 27.3 percent
which is constitutionally secured. MPs have played a great role in
legislation and raising national issues, especially women issues. Some
women think that the parliament is not their house but I think totally
differently. A woman MP in parliament can easily and courageously ask,
shout, demand and complain about rights of people, especially women and
children. All women MPs have their own views and different viewpoints but
they become united in pursuit of a common cause. We did it very recently
on the issue of gender budget. I think parliament is an appropriate forum
to fight against violence against women and child marriages. There are
many issues, not just two or three. We, the women MPs, are not working for
ourselves but for the future generation who will hold responsibilities of
ruling the country.
TNS: There is a view
that the current parliament is full of former mujahideen and warlords who
were involved in killing thousands of Afghans during the civil war. What
is your opinion on this?
BS: It is a different
judgment. The parliament is a democratic institution of the community
where people from different background and with different political
ideologies present their opinion. But it doesn’t mean that the
parliament is full of former warlords and mujahideen. I am also against
these people but think it is also a great success that today women MPs are
sitting in parliament with former mujahideen.
TNS: How do you see the
ongoing peace negotiations with the Taliban?
BS: Our doors are always
open for ‘good Afghans’ for peace negotiations, but not for the
foreigners. We have closed doors for those who don’t belong to us, who
don’t approve democracy and constitution of the country and don’t pay
respect to Afghan people. Peace negotiation is a process and shouldn’t
be a deal and this process will come from the grassroots.
TNS: Are Afghan security
forces capable of overseeing the law and order situation in the country
after the withdrawal of NATO forces from the country? What is your view?
BS: The Afghan National
Army was one among the world’s top armies without any help of foreign
countries before it broke up into regional militias during the fierce
civil war in the 1990s. Now, it is again set to secure and stabilise its
country by itself. For two years, I headed the parliamentary defence
committee and I believe that today Afghan security forces are
well-equipped, well-trained and capable of launching special operations
against anti-peace elements in the country.
TNS: Do you think the
international forces should leave Afghanistan?
BS: We don’t want our
neighbours should dictate us in this regard. If there is a joint effort on
both sides (the international community and Afghanistan), we will welcome
it. We are part of the international community and we are struggling
together against terrorism and extremism for the last three decades. We
don’t want a country to stay forever in Afghanistan. The International
community should rebuild the country and stay until they finish. This is
payback time for the international community. We have learned much from
Selected for a
Pak-Afghan Media Exchange Program, the writer contributed this interview
computers and interacting with them, as if they were humans, and getting
the desired responses are no more subjects of science fiction films or
television game shows. They are a reality today and time is not far away
when computing devices with inbuilt cameras will be able to read gestures
and even the movement of retina to read the mind of their users.
This change has been
gradual and it is expected that innovation will continue in the coming
years to raise the bar for personal computing experiences, evolving to
more natural and intuitive interactions.
One can recall how
mobility and internet connectivity, powered by wireless devices, has
changed the lifestyle of people who are always connected, informed and
never away from work. The oversized desktop computers have given way to
hand held devices and the reduction in size has increased their sales
But this is not the end;
the computing industry is working hard to scale new heights and in the
words of Asma Aziz, Manager Marketing at Intel Pakistan, personal
computing as we know it today will suddenly seem old fashioned. The
revolution, she says, will bank on the introduction of 3rd generation
processors by the company. Whatever is the brand of notebooks, desktops or
smart phones the ultra-efficient processors will come from Intel.
The most awaited launch
has been that of Ultrabook — a notebook which is ultra thin, ultra
light, highly efficient on speed, responsiveness and productivity and
consumes minimal power. The battery life can be up to 10 to 12 hours
depending on usage pattern and backup will be for days.
The concept is to
revolutionise the field of mobile internet connectivity where the concept
of chargers, wires and cables is almost non-existent and a notebook is as
easy to carry, handle and operate as a handheld device. As Intel’s
in-house social anthropologists put it, Ultrabook is the reflection of
one’s self. As one always longs for perfection, this machine is a bid to
achieve the goal of near perfection.
The best part of the
story is that the global launch has been followed shortly by that in
Pakistan. The reason is simple; Pakistanis love gadgets and can go to any
extent to buy them and therefore here is always a ready market for new
products. For example, in 2000 the first Pentium 4 processor based system
in Asia Pacific was sold in Lahore.
No doubt the processing
speed of computing devices has got a lot to do with the lifestyles and
stress level, says Naveed Siraj, Country Manager at Intel. Recalling his
past experiences, he says he would easily smoke cigarettes while his
system booted and one each during the time it took to load the computer
programme he wanted to use. This cannot be the case now, as it takes the
system just two seconds to wake up from sleep mode and less than seven
seconds to go from a very deep sleep state to full use (keyboard
interaction), he adds.
Ultrabook devices must
be 18 millimeters or less in thickness for systems less than 14 inches in
display and 21 millimeters or less for systems with displays 14 inches or
more, some current systems are much thinner. (There are 25.4 millimeters
in an inch).
reduction in size has not come without a cost. The company had to
establish a $300 million fund for development of ultra-slim components and
work with several manufacturers to produce the small sized components.
Some Ultrabook models are so thin that they have limited external ports
like those for USBs and vendors are parting with the provision of using
optical discs like CDs, DVDs etc.
The purpose behind going
for such a capital-intensive product development exercise was mainly to
support the slumping personal computer market against the rising
competition from tablet computers such as iPad, says Ijaz Ahmed, a
Pakistani IT professional based in the Los Angeles, California, USA.
But the results, he
thinks, have been far more encouraging and the new technology can be
benefited from to make systems efficient. For example, the new processors
which are the smallest and the fastest processors developed so far can
help improve database manage systems.
Screening of database
systems like those maintained for security purpose would also be extremely
fast, resulting in reduction in wait times. The new processors also
enhance the 3-D effects of the computer providing the users with 3-D
visual effects they had never experienced before.
feature is that Ultrabook systems come enabled with Intel Identity
Protection technology to provide a more secure online experience for
activities such as shopping, banking or gaming online. It uses chip-level
authentication similar to hardware tokens and is widely regarded by
security experts as a more secure approach than software-only
authentication. This feature can help promote the culture of online
transactions and payments in Pakistan, which could not develop so far due
to the overall sense of financial insecurity associated with this
When asked about
availability and price in price, Asma replies that currently in Pakistan,
Ultrabooks are being offered by various Original Equipment Manufacturers
(OEMs); also sample designs have been introduced by local vendors such as
Viper and One Apple.
“Both of these brands
will be selling their Ultrabooks in the next few weeks. The system prices
vary based on product features. As the category of Ultrabook devices
evolves and new features are added over time, we expect shipments to
increase and volume economics will kick in and help drive system cost
down. We expect to see Ultrabooks at mainstream price points by the end of
Ideally, the price of
Ultrabook envisaged by the company is less than $1000. Though some of its
models are available for this price, the company is trying to bring that
of others down considerably.