TAPI: It’s getting real
Reading the young mind
It is the provinces and the districts of Pakistan after the 18th Amendment that need to involve youth in the planning and development process
By Raza Rumi
political discourse and policy debates are strikingly silent on the most
significant reality: a burgeoning youth population. According to somewhat
dated estimates, 65 percent of Pakistan’s population is under the age of
26 and by 2025, the overwhelming population of Pakistan will be
‘young’. In the forthcoming elections, nearly 35 percent of the voters
will be the youth. The ruling coalitions are waking up to this reality.
Imran Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) is perhaps the only
entity actively engaged with this segment of the population.
Sadly enough, there is a
genuine dearth of research and informed debate on this issue. Even though
much has been written about the survey carried out by the British Council
in 2009 and its results, despite their alarming implications, has been
ignored by policymakers and the mainstream media alike. If anything, the
mainstream media only glorifies the consumerist aspirations of the youth
or at worst, reinforces the common prejudices they have imbibed from an
extremely dangerous education system.
Almost half of the
population in the urban areas of each of the provinces is below 20, and
almost two-thirds below 30 years of age. Translated into the population
trends seen in the major urban centers of the country, 9 million of
Karachi’s 18 million people, 5 million of Lahore’s approximately 10
million denizens, 1.4 million of Faisalabad’s 2.8 million people, and
1.5 million of Rawalpindi’s 3 million people are aged 19 or below.
This tremendous fraction
of the population, which will soon emerge out of the dependence base, will
define the future of the country, and its rejuvenation is deemed urgent
and essential from the planning perspective of Pakistan as a nation.
The British Council’s
Next Generation survey indicates a highly unstable outlook for
nuclear-armed Pakistan, with a rapidly growing, youthful population
plagued by joblessness, lack of education and opportunity. “With
confidence at rock bottom, decisive action is needed to place Pakistan
back on a path towards a stable and prosperous future. Otherwise, the
consequences will be frightening,”
said the report.
Many Pakistanis aged 18
to 29 who were surveyed believe they do not have adequate skills for the
workplace and little anticipation of being able to compete fairly for
jobs. The report found that three-quarters of respondents identified
themselves foremost as Muslims, with just 14 per cent describing
themselves primarily as a citizen of Pakistan. Only 10 per cent have a
great deal of confidence in national or local government, the courts or
the police and just one-third advocate democracy for the country. Pakistan
is in the midst of a population explosion, which makes the problem of
Not inconsistent with
the finding of this survey, a small news report published in the national
newspapers caught my attention. Last year, a small group of students,
clearly inspired by what was happening in the Middle East and not fully
aware of ‘history’ of the region, demonstrated for the creation of a
Khilafat in Pakistan. The nebulous idea of a pan-Islamic Caliphate and
rejection of democracy and the constitution and all that Pakistanis have
struggled for, indicates that the state project of de-historicizing
Pakistan and creating a popular constituency for political Islam are
I am not suggesting that
the little rally in Lahore indicated a national trend nor that the
takeover of Pakistani state by Islamists is imminent. But it is clear that
extremists’ penetration into the Pakistani mind via the mosque, media
and the textbooks is effective and a reality to be reckoned with.
The force of demographic
transformations and the inability of Pakistani state to reform itself
spell out a clear doomsday scenario. ‘The current population in
workforce age category last year was estimated at 102.7 million, while
those employed were 50.79 million people. The labour force available will
increase to 154.4 million people by 2030 if the growth rate remains 2.05
This means that if all
males and females between the ages of 15-59 years were at work there
should be 154.4 million jobs available by 2030 as against 50.79 million as
of 2010. The gap between 2010 and 2030 for new jobs will be 28.66 million
jobs. Therefore, nearly 1.4 million jobs need to be created every year
from 2010 to 2030 (cited from Journey to Prosperity by 2030 – Lahore
Chamber of Commerce and Industry).
The Pakistan Labour
Force Survey for 2009-10 put unemployment at 5.6 percent, with
unemployment rising in Sindh and Punjab. However, there are other
estimates that put unemployment at 15 percent in 2010-11 or as suggested
by a former economic adviser for the finance ministry, the unemployment
rate is as high as 34 percent.
Let’s focus on the
youth employment. A government report ‘Pakistan Employment Trends
Youth’ of May 2008 says that the youth labour force participation rate,
after several years of increase, decreased in 2006-07 (by 1.7 percentage
points. In 2007, more than half of the unemployed (55.7 percent) were
searching for work for more than six months. In 2006-07, more than half of
the youth labor force (62.2%) had either less than one year of education
or just primary level education, and only 2.7% had a university degree.
Since 2011, Imran
Khan’s party in Pakistan’s urban centres has engaged with young men
and women. But there is a problem with the narratives being constructed.
There is inordinate emphasis on making peace with the Taliban and somehow
according them legitimacy as fighters against US presence in Afghanistan
and drone strikes in Pakistan’s border areas. While both of these
realities are disturbing, it is important not to lose sight of growing
radicalism in the country which gets some traction by such a worldview.
Thousands (and perhaps
more) of young people across the country
find themselves facing a society and economy that provides little
opportunity or hope for their future. What links the revolution in the
Middle East with such potential events in Pakistan is the sizeable chunk
of the youth population which stands discontented with the state of
affairs in the country. It was the power of the youth in Egypt which
formed the driving force of Tahrir Square.
If this segment of the
population is taken as a benchmark for propulsion, coupled with its
disillusionment with the state’s functioning, then an upheaval in
Pakistan would appear closer than expected. The similarities are quite
stark. More than half of young people in Arab countries are unemployed.
This is not so different from Pakistan except that the levels of political
freedoms are higher.
There are no quick
solutions here. Empty rhetoric will not be enough. Pakistan has to follow
a multi-pronged strategy to address this quagmire. First, the national and
now provincial planners need to frame policies, which handle educational
and employability skills needs of young women and men. The gender
dimension of these policies cannot be underplayed anymore given that a
majority of students in public sector universities happens to be women.
Secondly, there can be
no further delay in getting the curricula revised at the schools and
colleges. There are umpteen proposals eating dust for the lack of
political will or the fear of extremist backlash. It is time that the
media and civil society debate this issue and pressurize the political
parties to take some action on this front. Thirdly, there is a wider need
for public awareness campaigns in the absence of long term measures. The
political parties once again have a vital role in this respect. Their
grassroots cadres have to be mobilized and used.
Fourthly, providing the
youth with opportunities in not only the formal sector but the informal
sector as well is crucial. Entrepreneurial opportunities through access to
easy credit, technical guidance, capital as well as a conducive
environment for the germination of business ideas have become relevant
policy issues. A massive skills’ development programme is required and
cannot be delayed any longer.
Fifthly, the majority of
urban centers in Pakistan have been plagued by cyclical violence, crime,
poverty and political instability. Given this situation, the provision of
political as well as personal space to the youth becomes essential for the
protection of our future generations. Community centers, sports and
recreational facilities, parks, stadiums and other such spaces provide a
shell for the youth, protecting them from the volatile dynamics of regular
urban life in Pakistan. However, instead of this being the case, what we
have seen is that already existent facilities have either been shut down,
or taken over forcibly. The conversion of parks into mosque complexes by
land grabbers and encroachers in most urban centers of Pakistan has
deprived the youth of important spaces for physical and mental
Finally, it is the
provinces and the districts of Pakistan after the 18thAmendment that need
to involve youth in the planning and development process and steer the
future and ensure that development investments target this segment.
In the immediate term,
the political parties must focus on these issues and include youth
development and engagement as central planks of their policy framework. As
the number of young voters increases they must be engaged in the
mainstream political process. The PTI has made a beginning and other
parties need to follow suit. Otherwise, we are only paving the way for
further discontent and perhaps violence. In Pakistan, any major upheaval
along the lines of Arab Spring will benefit the unelected institutions in
the short term. But it is the militants who are going to be the
beneficiaries in the long run thus reducing the chances of the country to
evolve into a stable, progressive and democratic polity.
The writer is Director,
Policy and Programmes, Jinnah Institute. The views expressed are his own.
His writings are archived at
Photos by Rahat Dar.
Incidents of revenue frauds by revenue collectors are on the increase as are crimes by the policemen. On July 8, 2012, a report in The News, titled ‘NAB checks FBR, saves Rs 47 billion, FBR says it planned no waiver’, revealed a bizarre episode.
It claimed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was on the verge of signing off on a massive waiver of Rs. 47 billion on outstanding taxes for five cellular service providers, but the move was intercepted and foiled by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) — the country’s highest anti-corruption watchdog.
According to Press reports, based on media briefing by the spokesperson of NAB, Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, FBR’s Chairman was summoned and interrogated for over two hours at the headquarters of NAB and was allowed to leave the premises only after “he agreed not to issue a notification waiving billions outstanding against the companies”. However, FBR’s sources denied that there was any plan for giving a waiver.
Contrary to the claim of FBR, Dr. Ayesha claimed that the Chairman of FBR tried to convince NAB that the waiver was in line with law, but he had to retreat “after confronted with relevant evidence and supporting documents”. The Chairman, when contacted by media, denied the fact of being summoned by NAB.
But his statement was contested by Dr. Ayesha who confirmed that he met NAB’s Chairman Admiral (retd), Fasih Bokhari, on Friday night (July 6, 2012). She added that Chairman FBR initially refused to appear but agreed after the NAB showed intention of issuing an arrest warrant.
Dr. Ayesha said that NAB was committed to taking action against those involved in the case, as the waiver could have resulted in a huge loss to the national exchequer. She said FBR officials had been warned against making such move earlier, too, but to no avail.
The background, as cited in the report, revealed that the cellular companies unsuccessfully contested the tax liability before the Commissioner Inland Revenue, Commissioner of Appeals the Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue. The companies, it is alleged in the reports, remained adamant not to pay the amount.
After losing the case, the companies approached the Chief Commissioner, Large Taxpayers’ Unit (LTU), showing willingness to pay interconnect charges from July 2012, “provided the FBR waives off past liabilities worth Rs. 47 billion”. It is alleged that the Chairman FBR agreed to this offer.
The Press report said that NAB’s Chairman constituted a fact-finding committee comprising Director General (Operations), Director (Special Operations) and a senior banking officer of NAB to probe the matter. The reports went on to say that “NAB presently had no grounds to assert the FBR was illegally waving off taxes.”
In the wake of action by the NAB, the FBR ordered internal inquiry against the officials who failed to recover sales tax since 2010 and promised to take remedial measures as well action against the defaulting persons.
The timely action by NAB saved the country from loss of Rs. 47 billion. It confirms criminal negligence of officials towards recovering taxes due since 2010. It is heartening that NAB has decided to play a proactive role stopping any revenue losses to the national exchequer due to corruption, fiscal crimes and frauds.
The failure of FBR as an organisation is evident from above episode and ever-growing underground economy. The political masters of handpicked-top-echelons of FBR protect them as they “serve them well”. This results in massive loss to national exchequer and concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.
The enormous untaxed money in the hands of the corrupt makes them invincible. All pervasive corruption and unprecedented tolerance towards black money has made Pakistan a State where the very survival of public institutions is at stake at the hands of ruthless forces representing money power.
The problem of tax evasion and black money in Pakistan has always been a serious challenge to the State. Facing with this grim challenge, successive governments — military and civilian alike — have always pursued the policy of appeasing tax evaders through various amnesty schemes, yet failed in achieving any success in widening the tax net. The latest ones given in May and June 2012 did not help FBR to meet the target of Rs. 1952 billion. All such schemes have failed miserably and black economy is continuing to thrive and tax evasion is rampant and unchecked.
Tax managers have miserably failed in tapping untaxed resources. At the time of announcement of 2011 budget, Dr. Hafeez Shaikh claimed that FBR with ‘honest officers’ at the top would raise at least Rs.100 billion by unearthing untaxed incomes/assets.
In 2012 budget, he did not provide any figures for such efforts and admitted failure by approving all kinds of amnesty schemes and waivers during the last two months of fiscal year 2011-12 that even included immunity for criminal acts. The fact is that all such moves have proved counterproductive as billions of rupees were transferred abroad by the people and revenue collection in real terms showed negative trends.
The persistent failure of our financial managers and tax collectors in overcoming fiscal deficit and removing fiscal imbalances has created a situation where the very financial survival of the country is at stake. The artificial boom in stock market in the wake of tax immunity till 30 June 2014 exemplifies how the corrupt are prospering and the poor are being further crushed and forced to bear the burden of regressive taxes like 16 percent General Sales Tax (GST).
The recurrent introduction of amnesty schemes and money whitening modes shows that the State has conceded failure of its tax machinery in performing its main function of collection of taxes. This nation has become addicted to easy money and such schemes/instruments have become a routine matter for them.
The people being hooked on ill-gotten wealth/income for the last many years know for certain that after every two or three years, there would be an amnesty scheme giving them a chance to get their income/assets whitened by paying far less an amount than what was required to be paid under normal income tax/wealth tax regime.
It is a tragic situation where the entire State apparatus is subservient to those who blatantly manage to hide their income and wealth and then use it for securing political positions and influence. It is an ugly joke with those who pay their taxes honestly at much higher rates than those offered to tax evaders (ranging between 5 to 10 percent) under such Schemes,
One of the worst consequences of black money and tax evasion is their pernicious effect on the moral fabric of society. They put integrity at a discount and place a premium on vulgar and ostentatious display of wealth. This shatters the faith of the common man in respect of dignity of honest labour and virtuous living.
It is, therefore, no exaggeration to say that ill-gotten wealth is like a cancerous growth in the country’s economy, which if not checked in time, is certain to culminate in its death. What makes the situation more precarious is the fact that the organisation (FBR) that is to check this malady finds itself involved in spreading its poisonous growth.
The writers, tax lawyers
and authors of many books, research papers and articles, are Visiting
Professors at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)
It’s a sad
story to begin with. Sindh, the second largest agricultural province in
the country, is dotted with skewed land holding patterns. The phenomenon
of large landholdings has given the landed elite with access to the power
echelons and made them maintain their unyielding hold over all segments of
This reality with which
people of the country in general and of Sindh in particular have been
living for last sixty five years, have kept them poverty ridden, turned
them into serfs and devoid them of all fundamental and constitutional
in Sindh at the time of inception, eight per cent of land owners owned 55
per cent of total farm land. Currently, among other provinces, Sindh has
the highest incidence of absolute landlessness, with 26 per cent or two
million households have no land whereas 26 per cent of 700,000 households
possess the lowest share in the land.
It is in this condition
that peasants are pushed into the quagmire of marginalisation where they
do not receive fair wages (Rs. 30 per day in some areas), face sexual
harassment, lack of access to shelter and dearth of crop insurance, have
no record keeping, no right to unionization, and are slapped with the
According to the
Pakistan Labour Force Survey 2009-10, “Sindh employs 13.46 million
people with 7.74 million as rural and 5.72 urban workforce”. But for the
majority, working arrangements in agriculture — wage work, tenant
farming, share cropping — are exploitative and yield little earnings.
It is also important to
see that the level of poverty and marginalisation has been quite intensive
and persistent in Sindh for many years. The two successive catastrophes of
floods and heavy monsoon rains in 2010 and 2011 exposed the
vulnerabilities of rural population, particularly the working class and
the level of the poverty they were living in.
Prior to the disasters
that struck Sindh, people were living in harsh conditions, where they did
not have access to proper health, education, safe drinking water, shelter
facilities, and were victims of debt-bondage. This thesis is supplemented
by statistics of various government departments’ reports.
Sindh Department of
Health’s statistics indicates that Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate
of 21.2-23.1 per cent is found in children aged between 6-59 months in the
flood-affected areas of Sindh. This rate is well above the World Health
Organization’s (WHO) 15 per cent emergency threshold level.
Record from Northern
Sindh reveal a Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rate of 6.1. The Sindh
government estimates that there are about 90,000 children aged 6-59 months
who are malnourished. Also, the National Nutrition Survey 2011 has
revealed that seventy two per cent households in Sindh are food insecure
compared other three provinces. In rural Sindh, 9 out of every 10 newborns
are delivered without proper medical supervision. 73 percent girls and 63
percent boys in the province remain out of school.
In this backdrop,
eighteen leading civil society organisations working on the issues of
labour, particularly the agriculture workers (peasants) of Sindh, held
extensive sessions of meetings in Karachi and Hyderabad. Meetings debated
extensively the need of land reforms in the province and were of the
common view to organise the movement for land reforms from a joint
As a result of the
continued meetings and consultations the need was felt to form a new
network (Sindh land Reforms Movement) of peasant organisations to take the
demand forward and make it part of the wider movement. It has been
realised by the broader section of peasant-based civil society
organisations that without true land reforms plight of the landless will
Sindh Land Reforms
movement is a network to carry forward the demands which call upon the
government to introduce structural changes in the legislation to make way
for land distribution among landless peasants, including free bonded
labourers and women.
The other major demands
the Sindh Land Reforms Movement has decided to put forward include: the
right of housing to the landless peasants who are either living on
agriculture lands or old villages but do not own their homes. Therefore,
the demand this network would put is to issue ownership documents to these
The Movement demands
that Sindh Tenancy Act 1950 should be reviewed, updated and amended to
bring it in line with prevailing conditions and requirements necessary to
the interest of peasants including registration peasants should be made
It says that agriculture
workers must have the right to form associations and have the right to
collective bargaining, which are fundamental constitutional rights for all
Other relevant laws and
privileges include registration with EOBI and ESSI, applicable to workers
must be extended to agricultural workers. Sindh Assembly should
immediately re-enact Bonded labour Abolition Act (1992) and provincial
government should also adopt National Policy and Plan of Action (2001) to
eradicate bonded labour from the province. Moreover, agriculture land
being allotted for corporate farming to the multi-nationals should be
The network also
supports explicitly the petition filed in the Supreme Court by a group of
civil society representatives for the reversal of the Federal Shariat
Court judgment to allow for a more equitable land distribution across the
country. It demands of the provincial governments to adopt the Land
Reforms Bill of 1977 and implement it.
new social contract between the state and the citizens is need of the hour
which could ensure the basic rights including the constitutional rights to
the citizens”, says Karamat Ali, Executive Director of Pakistan
Institute of Labour Education and Research. He says that the ruling elite
should not think of the people as source of vote only but they should be
treated in accordance to the rights given to them by the international
conventions and the constitution of Pakistan.
“Radical land reforms
are needed in Sindh given the level of marginalisation of the people whose
main source is agriculture”, observes, Punhal Sario, a peasants’
rights activist who is also part of this network.
Suleman G Abro, the
Executive Director of Sindh Agriculture Workers Coordinating Organization,
SAFWCO, says that “record of government land should be made public”,
it will help in establishing the fact that powerful landed elite has
occupied government land illicitly. “That land should be distributed
among poor and downtrodden people”, he maintains.
Representative of South
Asia Partnership Pakistan, SAP-PK, Ms Shahnaz says that land ownership
pattern in Sindh remains a major stumbling block in the way of
development. She says sustainable development in Sindh would largely hinge
on the fact that land reforms should be introduced and landless be given
The initiative taken by
the civil society is commendable given the situation of marginalisation of
the people in rural Sindh. People are looking around for a change. This
effort of the civil society organizations could go a long way in making
that change possible.
Down to earth.
For those who
have covered and followed the 2010 and 2011 floods in the wake of
torrential rains on this land, one thing was eminent which could have been
avoided. It was discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, ethnicity and
The number of groups
that have been for decades known as vulnerable is rising with rampant
fundamentalism and hatred in the society. Women, children and elders have
now been joined by religious minorities, and those having a difference of
We have observed
discrimination against the scheduled castes in parts of Sindh, and other
minorities in different parts of Pakistan, especially during the time of
relief and rehabilitation in the wake of floods and rains.
organisations remained busy in the distribution of relief goods and some
of the banned groups also started their operations in 2010 and 2011 floods
which were overlooked owing to the intensity of the disaster.
The discrimination from
their side should not have gone unnoticed but in reality it went
unaccounted for. Women and children are a big part of these vulnerable
groups who require special care, attention and measures in times of floods
and rains because it leads to displacement from their existing homes and
on the basis of religious identity is not acceptable. The situation
requires policies so that these vulnerable groups do not fall into trouble
The authorities and
policy makers avoid taking account of the practice of discriminating
against minorities. In this particular case, their understanding of the
issue is very limited.
Recently, I had a chance
to meet some officials who have been busy in the process of relief and
rehabilitation. This bitter truth was completely ignored on their part
because according to them this leaves a negative impact on the country
once viewed by the rest of the world.
They are of the view
that though this type of discrimination exists but this should not be
brought into the limelight because it would leave a bad impact of the
country on other countries.
Policy makers would like
to take refuge in the habit of denial because this challenges the lobbies
of hatred who play down the spread of this discrimination with the support
of some authorities because even in difficult situations, it is not
possible to work without the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which
have been put in place by the government and its implementing departments.
These vulnerable groups
exist because of ignorance in our society and the growing hold of
influential groups that interpret everything as per their intentions and
choices. We as a society should try to address the issue and make efforts
for reducing the number of these groups.
Women and children
deserve special attention and care during times of a catastrophe and later
rehabilitation so that their living becomes easy through organizing
adequate facilities in relief camps.
Minorities, in our case
‘scheduled castes’, require careful handling during difficult times,
for instance, their eating habits are sometimes different as some of them
don’t eat meat so chicken biryanis are not the answer to their need.
Some groups of
minorities have been facing cleansing in different parts of the country.
They should be protected, especially in situations such as floods from any
possible act of discrimination because of their religious beliefs which is
their fundamental right as per our national constitution and international
The authorities in
liaison with civil society groups who have been busy in devising
strategies to give special attention to these vulnerable groups and
providing support should have coordination.
But at the same time
there is an urgent need to take stock of the situation. We all are aware
of incidents that spread hatred in the name of religion in our society.
Getting out of ignorant
attitude is the only way forward provided we are willing to provide relief
to those who suffer during difficult situations like floods and heavy
rainfall. Just beating the drum of good or bad image is not going to help
but would further shaken our image internationally.
The writer is former
staff member currently working as Acting Manager Operations in Rozan
Islamabad can be reached at email@example.com
“It would be a
gross violation of the universalist principle if we were to be obsessed
about intergenerational equity without at the same time seizing the
problem of intragenerational equity.” A wise advice to public action, by
South Asian Amartya Sen.
Whether land or water,
our country follows reckless consumption — not merely by ignorance or
temperament. Inequity in access and hence grossly unjust inequality in
livelihoods play a major role.
The many that are
impoverished in South Asia cannot be asked to wait for their turn in
“development” that will yet again disinherit grandchildren
ecologically. Imagine ourselves as colonisers of nature – an imperialism
that is suicidal. Why deny that our faith includes commands for
conservation and protection? Obesity and piety go together but should not
for any reason other than rhyme.
Rio+20 gatherings have
led many towards thought, if not action, in constructing a sustainable
world. Disgustingly, the recipe for a ‘green economy’ through ‘green
capitalism’ is a compact amongst the profligate.
But there are saner and
humane alternatives rooted in equitable change. UNDP’s contribution
through the Human Development Report 2011 is worth much reflection —
yes, economic growth must be curtailed globally but it is feasible to
rapidly reduce inequality and hence eliminate impoverishment.
The monograph begins
with critiquing the neoliberal paradigm— poverty eradication dependent
on rapid economic growth, which in turn requires intensifying exploitation
of natural resources; and if the correct markets function well then
efficiency will lead to conservation.
The intervening three
chapters elaborate upon the ecological limits to consumption levels and
production processes, and a necessary vision of change rooted in equity.
“Environmental sustainability and equity are fundamentally similar in
their concern for distributive justice. Yet today many debates about
sustainability neglect equality, treating it as a separate and unrelated
concern. This perspective is incomplete and counterproductive.”
Debates over what
environmental sustainability means often focus on whether human-made
capital can substitute for natural resources. Whether this will be
possible in the future is unknown and, coupled with the risk of
catastrophe, favours the position of preserving basic natural assets and
the associated flow of ecological services.
Pathways to change from
each chapter are brought together in the concluding chapter. “Several
key principles could bring broader equity concerns into policy-making
through stakeholder involvement in analysis that considers non-income
dimensions of well-being; compensation mechanisms for adversely affected
people; risk of extreme weather events that, however unlikely, could prove
An advice for our
elected representatives to Parliament, and perhaps even for the Supreme
Court, is that “constitutionally recognising equal rights to a healthy
environment promotes equity by no longer limiting access to those who can
afford it. Democracy is important, but beyond that, national institutions
need to be accountable and inclusive— especially with respect to
affected groups, including women— to enable civil society and foster
popular access to information.
emerge from our financing analysis. Investment needs are large, but they
do not exceed current spending on other sectors such as the military;
public efforts can catalyse private investment; data constraints make it
hard to monitor private and domestic public sector spending on
environmental sustainability; funding architecture is complex and
fragmented, reducing its effectiveness and making spending hard to
The funding gap could be
substantially narrowed by taking advantage of new opportunities. The prime
candidate is a currency transaction tax, which could yield additional
annual revenues of about $40 billion. A broader financial transaction tax
promises an estimated $600–$700 billion.
“The Report proposes
an emphasis on four country-level sets of tools to take this agenda
forward. Low-emission, climate-resilient strategies; public-private
partnerships; climate deal-flow facilities; coordinated implementation and
monitoring, reporting and verification systems”
A local illustration can
be given from what we understand best, i.e. marine fisheries. In brief,
fish harvests of most species are getting smaller by the year. The
capitalist “solution” is simple: mimic industrial fishing. Which is to
say, increase capacity of boats to fish in more and more distant waters;
increase frequency and duration of trips; use larger and longer nets,
reducing labour and introducing winches; devote storage to premium fish
and discard ‘bycatch,’ and so on. In essence, intensify ecological
degradation. This is impossible for most fishing communities whose
majority are small-scale fishers. It is a suicidal solution to fund their
transition towards large scale commercial fishing.
It is obvious that our
ocean needs a breathing space. No detail should be necessary to point out
that human development and ecological integrity call for rearrangements
through adjustments centred upon equity.
consultations with fishing communities provide the “pathway” for fair
adjustments. Fisherfolk communities in general and subsistence fishers in
particular should bear the least burden. Correspondingly, industrial
fishing by corporate interests will be severely curtailed, perhaps even
banned because of their misbehavior.
Adjustments for vertical
inequity and coastal protections as ‘no-no’ are easier to prescribe
than are those called for by horizontal equity. The vexing issues include
allocations of boat licenses and catch quotas. Are they to be
transferable? Are current boat owners to be the only recipients? More
generally, what rights belong to crew labour generally and to women per
se? It would be a shame to search for solutions on the basis of current
cultural practices of patriarchy and capitalism. We lean towards equality
of all those born into fishing communities.
Marine fisheries suffer
tremendously by external actions. Equity demands that fresh water flows be
increased substantially away from upstream agriculture, especially that
farming which destroys soils and water. All provinces will have to
cooperate but Sindh must take the lead. Hopefully, the future Seraiki
province will translate solidarity with Sindh in such ways.
flows into the rivers and sea have to be reduced considerably by not just
farming in the entire Indus basin, but also by commerce and industry.
Karachi is simply obscene in this regard, guzzling tens of millions of
dollars in marine exports but excreting all its waste into the sea.
Mohammad Ali Shah is
Chairperson of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and A Ercelan is Senior
Fellow/Research at Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER).
In summer, many
people are on the look out to visit the most common places. However, some
like to go to places that are least known to people — such places are
indeed wilderness areas in our country.
wilderness represent a spectrum of life and an integral component on this
planet earth. Around the world, special areas have been set aside to
ensure conservation, preservation, and protection of the prime places
through establishment of a network of protected areas in different
ecosystems to safeguard biological resources. Their multi-dimensional role
and significance in a number of sectors can not be overlooked.
Among the several role
and functions they perform educational and recreational aspects remain
obvious. Such areas attract a large number of people by virtue of their
sheer natural beauty and aesthetic value especially in summer to beat
Protected areas largely
signifying wilderness offer recreational resources in several
manifestation. They range from pristine habitats and awesome landscape to
wetlands and abundance of wonderful faunal and floral species. Our country
is blessed with breathtaking natural beauty. There are places that have
distinctive features as hot spots for recreation and eco-tourism.
The types of wetland in
Pakistan range from the high alpine lakes down to the wetlands in the
alluvial plains of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, River Indus, small
storage dams, and the coastal wetlands.
Besides the wetlands
that have been designated as Ramsar Sites in Pakistan such as Haleji Lake,
Kinjar Lake, Astola Island, etc, there are also more water bodies that
have the potential to attract tourists across the country.
Established in 1980, the
Margalla Hills National Park is located at the foothills of the Himalaya
in Islamabad which is spread over an area of 17,386 hectares. It not only
serves as a safe haven to the wildlife but also contributes to protection
of indigenous natural resources and recreational resources.
There is the Shaker-Parian
Park, and there are also several hiking trails meandering through the
vegetative cover of the forest. It is an experience of its own kind to
walk on the tracks in the park with the stir of the wind and the
whispering wind through the trees. The nature enthusiasts may also have an
opportunity to see the pug marks of leopard and listen to the serene birds
call amid the far off trees.
Deosai National Park in
Gilgit-Baltistan is famous for its meadows and breathtaking landscapes
which harbour unique biodiversity, including brown bear and marmot.
Situated about 4000 meters height, a jeep track provides access to the
great plains of Deosai.
Besides the interior of
these areas, the apparent views are merely enthralling. The walk through
woods from Dunga Gali to Ayubia via Pipeline track passing through the
Ayubia National Park in district Abbottabad renders an unforgettable
experience by providing an opportunity to behold nature from the nearest.
That is why hundreds of
tourists throng these places not only in summer but also in winter for
sight seeing due to snow clad landscape.
Lalazar is a new
addition to the attractions of Ayubia National Park which houses a number
of faunal species whom hardly any tourist can see in nature and wilderness
due to their shy behaviour.
Lake Saif-ul-Maluk which
is famous as a fairy tale lake serves as a jewel in upland alpine pastures
of Naran. It has not only historical significance but also promotes
eco-tourism as a livelihood support sector for the local communities. It
has been declared as a National Park by the Wildlife Department Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa to safeguard its biological and recreational resources on
Tanda Dam in district
Kohat where a Wildlife Park has been established has become not only hot
spot for tourists but also a place to promote rehabilitation of endangered
wildlife species housed in the park. In winter, migratory waterfowl
specially ducks and other water birds use the dam as staging and stop over
site. Its landscape is merely gorgeous as the dam/reservoir begins to fill
in the monsoon rains in summer.
Dhodial Pheasantry in
district Mansehra has the distinction to house 38 species out of the 52
species found in the world. It has not only been instrumental in
multiplying population of pheasants in captivity but has also contributed
significantly in promoting conservation education and recreation. It is
visited equally by kids, young, and old people belonging to different
walks of life.
The writer is Deputy
Conservator Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department
supposed to launch The National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS)
during UN conference of sustainable development (also known as Rio+20)
held on June20-22 at Rio de Janerio, Brazil. But, it could only succeed in
launching an unapproved draft of NSDS on June 22 on the sideline of the
According to sources in
Pakistani delegation at UN conference, despite several attempts officials
of Climate Change Ministry could not convince the minister to present the
strategy to federal cabinet for approval.
It was quite
embarrassing that Pakistan was among the first countries to prepare and
present National Conservation Strategy (NCS) in 1992, at the first Earth
Summit but was unable to launch its official NSDS 20 years down the road.
The NSDS is now
established in more than 106 countries of the world and in almost all
countries of south Asia. The NSDS has been in the policy pipeline in
Pakistan for a number of years now and the rolling draft has been revised
twice before in 2006 and then in 2009 without getting through the approval
process. It got delayed due to a host of logistical and administrative
reasons which can often work to block such initiatives.
The NSDS by its very
nature is a document which endeavours to shift the traditional development
pathway. Officials say it is also an attempt to define sustainable
development and the pathway to a ‘green economy’ in Pakistan’s
“NSDS has more than
120 clearly defined goals spread across a wide range of priority sectors.
It lays out an adaptive system and approach that can be continuously
improved, through regular updates, to respond to evolving challenges. The
focus has been on integrating not only across the three overall dimensions
of economic, social and environment, but also integrating the goals with
the existing development paradigm with the aim of shifting it on to a more
sustainable pathway,” Jawed Ali Khan, director general (environment),
Ministry of Climate Change tells TNS.
The drafted strategy
emphasises on the adoption of sustainable development and green economy
for Pakistan. According to ‘Pakistan: Strategic Country Environment
Assessment’ prepared by the World Bank in 2007, environmental
degradation cost Pakistan six percent of GDP per annum.
Experts say the economic
growth and development in Pakistan over the last decade has faced certain
unique and unprecedented challenges such as a string of mega-natural
disasters, most of them climate change triggered, and including two
devastating floods in 2010 and 2011, two major droughts of 1999 and 2002,
three big cyclones hitting the southern coast and the horrific earthquake,
which shook the Northern Areas and parts of KPK and AJK in 2005.
“During the last three
years, Pakistan has been going through a difficult phase with economic
growth averaging a meager 2.6 percent against 5.3 percent in the last
eight years,” says Jawed Ali Khan. “The cost of environmental
degradation in Pakistan is one billion rupees daily. For us the foremost
step towards greening of economy is to minimize this cost. If we would
have been able to decrease this cost by 50 percent in next 10 years, it
would be a good achievement”, he says.
The strategy, according
to him, is an attempt to define sustainable development and the pathway to
a ‘green economy’ in Pakistan’s context. “The focus has been on
integrating not only across the three overall dimensions of economic,
social and environment, but also integrating the goals with the existing
development paradigm with the aim of shifting it on to a more sustainable
Khan tells TNS that
Pakistan’s economic progress is marred with a number of inefficiencies
in the water, energy and agricultural sectors. “Overall, it is
challenged by the exponentially high population growth, rapid urbanisation,
weak enforcement of environmental regulations and move towards unbridled
consumerism all of which further drain an already strained economy.”
To ensure an effective
implementation of the NSDS the enlisted strategic goals are translated
into a focused agenda encompassing three levels of national governance —
federal, provincial and local - along with an accountability structure. In
this regard, the NSDS has identified ten core programme areas under a
“Green Action Agenda” within the three globally accepted development
according to NSDS, directly and very strongly impinges upon future
planning for sustainable development in Pakistan. It poses a major threat
to food, water and energy security in the country.
The estimated cost for
adapting to future climate impacts ranges from $6 billion to $14 billion
annually for Pakistan over the next 40 years— the number of which is
likely to escalate. “These figures re-enforce the inescapable linkage
between climate impacts and sustaining future development in the
country,” it reads.
The concept of the
“green economy” is still a vague one and the Rio+20 meeting failed to
deliver the expected clarity. It has only formulated a plan and time frame
for countries to collectively define it in the coming year.
In Pakistan, the NSDS
exercise was also used to try to define this concept within our own
country driven context and our domestically defined priorities. “It is
believed that the confusion and lack of clarity at the international level
provided Pakistan the flexibility and freedom to carve out our own version
of a future “green economy” which was free from any global biases.”
These array of goals
have been further prioritized into a “green action agenda” comprising
10 core objectives. “Most of the defined goals and objectives make
perfect economic and political sense providing opportunities even if the
promises of global funds and technology transfer are not delivered.
However, conducive and specialised financing and an access to appropriate
technologies, whenever it materializes at the international level, will
certainly aid this process towards sustainability in Pakistan”, says
Malik Amin Aslam, ex-environment minister of Pakistan and senior Climate
Policy Adviser to UNDP who has prepared the latest draft of NSDS.
The crux of the NSDS
draft that was launched at Rio+20 is to define a future development
pathway for Pakistan which can balance the needs for social
responsibility, economically inclusive growth while addressing the rising
environmental challenges faced by Pakistan. The reduction of poverty,
provision of jobs through an alternate green economic growth and the
positive utilisation of the huge youth bulge of the country remain the key
“And definitely we
have tried to ensure its relevance to the ground realities. That is
precisely the reason why the previous version of the NSDS has been
updated. The objective being to ensure that it reflects the social,
economic and environmental challenges currently faced by Pakistan
including, very importantly, the issue of climate change which has now
been given additional focus. Also, on the administrative side, the post
18th amendment changes in respective responsibilities between the Federal
and provincial levels has been duly reflected in the implementation arm of
the strategy”, Malik Amin Aslam tells TNS.
The political changes
back home is one of the major reasons which delayed its approval although
it had gone through a very extensive consultation process involving a
diverse array of stakeholders. “
“I was very impressed
by the rigour and commitment shown by various stakeholders in providing
inputs for improvement of the NSDS which were incorporated through the
updating process. Thus, as the NSDS was in its final shape a decision was
taken to go ahead with its international launch at Rio+20 as a final draft
policy document. Hopefully the Ministry of Climate Change will try to get
it approved from the Cabinet as soon as possible”, he says.
Experts doubt that NSDS
would change anything on the ground in Pakistan as it has taken a number
of decisions on sustainable development like adoption of the Economic
Growth Strategy 2011, approval of plans of action on maximising energy
efficiency and developing renewable source of energy, the approval of a
Climate Change Policy and the creation of a Ministry of Climate Change and
launching of an ambitious programme of hydropower generation.
Like all other policy
initiatives, implementation of the stated goals of the NSDS certainly
remains one of the key challenges if not the biggest one. “NSDS is a
good document but the main issue remains what would be the institutional
framework to implement it.
The bigger question is
how different ministries and provincial government would establish liaison
and who would provide finances to implement it. It is also needed that
NSDS should be made a living document which can easily be changed
according to the changing ground realities”, Dr Abid Qayyum Suleri,
executive director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute tells TNS.
The strategy has tried
to define practical timeline for implementation along with predefined
“triggers” to propel and sustain the process of implementation. All of
this, according to officials, has been done to ensure that, once approved,
the NSDS does not become another “dustbin” strategy that withers away
on an office stack.
triggers include the enactment of appropriate legislation in the
Parliament within a specified timeframe, the empowerment of a National
Sustainable Development Council along with similar bodies at the
provincial and local levels, creation of a specialised sustainable
development fund and the establishment of Standing Committees of
Parliament on Sustainable Development which can periodically monitor and
guide the process of implementation.
“So far, we have
failed to see any political interest in NSDS. It took us six months to
prepare to take part in Rio+20 but only after two weeks of the conference
government transferred the secretary of climate change ministry while new
secretary is going to be retired in November and has least interest in
NSDS. We were hoping that developed world would make promises to provide
funds and transfer green technology to developing countries at Rio+20 but
both things have not happened there. Now, we once again are going to
restart a consultation process to review NSDS according to the latest
situation. It can take several months now on to prepare final draft of
NSDS and then several more to get approval of cabinet to declare it as
official strategy of country”, says an official of ministry of climate
change on the condition of anonymity.
Back to the basics.
long-negotiated and much-awaited Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and
India (TAPI) gas pipeline received a shot in the arm after the last three
stakeholders of the project signed the transit fee deal in Islamabad.
Disagreements on transit
fee have proved to be significant stumbling blocks in the physical
initiation of the agreement. According to the agreed upon formula,
Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, the transit and recipients states of the
TAPI gas, finalised the deal at 49. 5 percent per MMBTU. According to
Federal Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Dr. Asim Hussain,
“India will pay 49.5 percent per MMBTU as transit fee each to
Afghanistan and Pakistan. And Pakistan will pay the same to Afghanistan
TAPI gas pipeline is a
mega project to be completed at the estimated cost of $ 7.6 billion and
would pump gas from Turkmenistan gas fields through 1640 kilometers long
pipeline passing through Afghanistan, Pakistan and ending up in India. The
gas pipeline would carry an estimated 3.2 billion cubic fee of natural gas
per day (bcfd). Pakistan’s share in the TAPI gas would be 1.365 bcfd
while India would also get 1.365 bcfd and Afghanistan would receive 0.5
bcfd from the pipeline.
After the agreement on
the gas fee by the stakeholders it is expected that work on the TAPI
pipeline would be initiated soon. Already, India has finalised and signed
the gas sale-purchase agreement with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan is all
set to sign the gas price deal with Ashgabat.
It was later in 2010
that the four countries ultimately signed the agreement for the
commencement of the gas pipeline. It took the stakeholders almost 15 years
to sign the TAPI project agreement.
TAPI project is of
colossal economic significance for all the countries concerned. Presently,
Pakistan is facing acute shortage of not only electricity but gas. In
particular after the conversion of a large number of industries and
transport vehicles on natural gas energy the situation is not ideal.
Pakistan’s economy is
worst-hit by continued substantial power crisis due to which already a
large number of industrial units have been shut down while numerous are
working below their capacity. Pakistan has seen rise in demand for natural
gas by nearly 10 percent between the years 2000 to 2008. It reached 3200
million cubic feet per day in 2008.
As mentioned earlier,
energy deficiency has significantly reduced the Gross Domestic Production
(GDP) of Pakistan and economic growth in real terms. Therefore, if
Pakistan has to make a positive economic turnaround it would be in dire
need of new gas projects, particularly TAPI.
For India, gas from TAPI
gas pipeline is equally important. Unlike Pakistan, there is not a crisis
situation of energy in India still the latter is an energy-deficient
The Indian economy has
had made substantial economic growth in the last two decades maintaining a
nearly 9-10 percent economic growth in the preceding years. If India has
to sustain this level of economic growth it has to get natural gas from
new projects like TAPI.
The fact of he matter is
that India, which has long-cherished to have a substantial share in the
gas and oil resources of Central Asia, could not do so because of its
uneasy relations with Pakistan and above all due to adverse security
situation in Afghanistan. Therefore, TAPI is perhaps the only project
through which India could expect to have some energy. Because the other
alternative route through which India could get Central Asian gas and oil
through an under the sea pipeline between Iran and India is extremely
The benefits of TAPI for
Afghanistan are no fewer than other stakeholders. Afghanistan in terms of
gas would get little from the project but would receive huge sums in
transit fees from both Pakistan and India. Kabul would get only half a
million bcfd gas from the project rather it may not be able to consume its
stipulated share of the project because of lack of capacity.
There are reports that
Afghanistan has declined to receive gas from TAPI gas pipeline. The
reluctance of Afghanistan is not due to its reservations regarding the
project but due to absence of infrastructure and gas network in that
Still, Afghanistan would
reap huge dividends in the form of transit fees. Hopefully by the time the
project is ready to pump gas Afghanistan would have developed
infrastructure to consume at least a part of its share of gas. The
reconstruction, rehabilitation and, most importantly, the developmental
process in Afghanistan is far from making a significant headway.
Therefore, the process would be propelled by Central Asian gas and oil
Dr. Azmat Hayat, a
well-known Pakistani expert on Central Asia and Afghanistan, tells TNS:
“TAPI will boost the regional economy of South Asia and will fulfill the
growing energy requirements of both India and Pakistan. Pakistan is going
to get 700 million dollars as royalty as result of the pipeline passing
through Pakistan to India which is good for our economy. It will generate
employment in Pakistan, especially and new cities might develop because of
the pipeline passing from various remote and uninhabited points in the
TAPI will also enable
the cash-strapped economy of Turkmenistan to generate finances by pumping
and selling gas to Pakistan and India. Turkmenistan has colossal gas
reserves which are far beyond its domestic and industrial needs,
particularly at a time when there is no worthwhile developmental and
industrial activities going on in the area.
Apart from regional
economics, TAPI project will have good effects on the regional politics.
The project would only play its role in linking the countries economies to
each other, increasing their dependence on each other.
integration of countries naturally leads to peaceful conflict resolution
between and among the concerned states. Against this backdrop many
political disputes between Pakistan and India and Afghanistan and Pakistan
will have more prospects of resolution if TAPI sees the light of the day.
By agreeing on the fee
structure, the stakeholders have removed a key obstacle in the way of
initiation and ultimate completion of the TAPI but still there are
impediments that have to be removed. These include foremost ensuring
fool-proof security of the pipeline particularly in Afghanistan. However,
after the US led international security forces promised withdrawal from
Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and the presently stalled US-Taliban
negotiations ultimately result in a broad-based government in Afghanistan.
This would automatically result in security for the project in
(The author is a
researcher and political analyst