life, no less!
in the field
Green is the solution
For a few drops of water
People lose their lives in search of water in a village
that has little or no drinking water facilities
By Aakash Santorai
Kachho, desert and hilly area of Dadu district of Sindh province, her
tears have dried up in the searing dry winds. Whether it’s dawn or
sizzling midday, the women of Kachho walk miles to fetch water. There
seems no end to their ordeal.
Kachho area lies in the
lap of Kirthar hills range and is spread over 0.342889 million acres.
There are only few water supply schemes in some villages but these remain
dysfunctional. If one has to observe the thirst of Kachho, one has to
travel in Kachho in the scorching summer season. You can see the desert
everywhere and each and every child, man or woman is spotted with a pot on
head or in their hands for fetching water that is running far from them.
The drinking water
quality is an alarming issue of this country. According to Water Aid
Pakistan, 40 per cent population of Pakistan has no access to safe
drinking water. Unsafe water and poor sanitation cause diseases which cost
the Pakistani economy 112 billion rupees per year in health expenses and
Climate change has
played havoc with this area due to drought and floods. The changing
pattern of raining in this region has made the Kachho area more
vulnerable. Some wells are drying up and the level of ground water is also
decreasing. “We will face huge shortage of drinking water in the coming
years due to the changing climate in this region,” says Abdul Jabbar
Bhatti, a climate change researcher.
A major part of these
women’s lives passes in walking in search of water. They have not seen
prosperity even in their dreams. Since their birth, children in Kachho
pass their childhood in thirst. They hold pots for water instead of toys
or books in their hands.
One child that was
thirsty and was sitting under the scorching sun on a mat, rushed and stuck
to the khali (a sack in which people of Kachho store water). When his
father gave him water from khali, the mother, who was sitting near him,
did not drink to spare water for her child.
Still, there are some
women among these who could not save the lives of their children who
either did not find drinking water or consumed contaminated water.
Dr Zubair Panhwar,
in-charge of the only Basic Health Unit of this area, while commenting on
the water-borne diseases in Kachho, says due to the consumption of
polluted water containing huge quantity of arsenic and fluoride there is
endemic prevalence of Hepatitis A, typhoid, and gastro-enteritis among the
Underground water in
Kachho is not fit for drinking. Wherever water is available, it contains
excessive arsenic and fluoride which is causing a host of water-borne
People of this remote
area blame the government for their woes, saying the government holds the
key to solve this problem. The government has launched some water supply
schemes, but they have become dysfunctional.
Sawan Fakeer, caretaker
of Dargah Bahleel Shah, says villagers are compelled to drink polluted
water which even animals cannot drink. He further says, “Our women
don’t allow us to take bath because they fetch water from faraway places
after walking long distances which is meant for drinking and cooking
Sawan points to a hard
reality, “Whenever people come to bury the dead from long distance in
the nearby graveyard and ask for water, we collect a glass of water from
each household for these people.”
Before entering village
Sawro, groups of women and children are seen walking with pots for
fetching water as the water supply scheme of the village is dysfunctional.
The women from this village have to walk two to three kilometers every day
to fetch water from an open Kacha well situated outside the village.
Even for this polluted
water from kachha well, women have to wait on a daily basis for this well
to fill. Sometimes the well remains empty. In such a case, the women
return with empty pots. Several people have lost their lives in the desert
of Pat Suleman due to thirst. Women from this area of Kachho sometimes
walk at midnight to bring water and get bitten by snakes. Women and
children implore the clouds to drop some water, but often the clouds cross
Kachho without dropping any water on the perched soil.
The writer is a
researcher on climate change and is based in Hyderabad
Somewhere in Dadu.
Fetching up a pale of
water. Photos by the author
kachha well in Kachho area in Taluka Johi is slippery due to dropping of
water during extraction. This usually results in women falling in the well
and getting seriously injured. Haleema, 53, is one of the women who fell
into the well. She fractured her legs and arms. The family of Haleema sold
their only property, a piece of land, and took Haleema to a private
hospital in Hyderabad where they spent Rs150,000 on her treatment. Haleema
is able to move with steel rods in her arms and legs. She cannot carry a
Sometime back another
woman, Zareena, 32, fell into the well and her poverty-stricken family
spent Rs100,000 on her treatment. Women of many parts of Kachho are
compelled to go to these wells in search of life.
Manganhar, 63, claims she lost her three family members to thirst.
Resident of village Dodo Birhamani near Wahi Pandhi town of Kachho, she
recalls in tears when her family members died due to thirst 40 years ago.
She belongs to the traditional folk singer community.
She says she, along with
her husband Dhani Bux, father Gul and mother Hanso, was returning from
village Rajo Gandho to their village after attending a marriage party. By
the time they reached Pat Suleman, they were very thirsty but they could
not find water to drink. After going here and there in search of water and
then waiting for a long time they eventually passed away. Dhajani says she
took her baby daughter on her shoulder and ran towards her village. The
villagers brought home the dead bodies.
The March 15
talks between the Taliban and US failed because the US’s position in the
deal was not clear. The US’s stance was that Taliban should cut all ties
with Al Qaeda, recognise the Afghan government and the Constitution, lay
down arms and accept a considerable US military presence until at least
These demands have
further complicated the already uphill task of negotiating with the
Taliban compounded by the fact about whom to represent whom in talks.
According to Karen Armstrong “the war in Afghanistan is not religious,
it’s a war of national liberation”. The surge in troops by the
Americans in Afghanistan has failed by and large as is evident from the
fact that the internal resistance could not be subdued in ten years by a
force of almost half a million troops. It indicates that war is not the
way forward in restoring peace in Afghanistan.
There is no
popular support for the war in Afghanistan, US or among its allies. An ABC
poll found that 69 percent of Americans want the war to end and according
to financial time’s polls 54pc of the British want them to withdraw
by US to accept and support the Afghan Constitution is impractical. Why
should a defeated opposition that sees an enemy in disarray and looking at
2014 withdrawal agrees to be dominated?
As the 2014
withdrawal date looms, US options are narrowing. If the US holds to its
plan of keeping a quarter of their present troops in Afghanistan, they
should know that Taliban would fight them and the only ally they will have
would be India, a country that can deliver nothing towards peace in the
war affected country.
States is encouraging India, distancing Pakistan and wooing it to
challenge China and Asia. One view is that the US has completely shelved
the Kashmir issue and ignored India`s violation of nuclear
non-proliferation treaty by allowing it to buy uranium in the world
market. The attack on Pakistan border and killing of 30 soldiers has
further alienated Pakistanis from the US.
The World Bank estimates
that 97pc of Afghanistan`s economy is war related. The war is drawing to
an end and there are no plans of either the US or NATO to sustain it.
Europe is in the middle of an economic crisis and the US economy is also
Presently, NATO provides
about 11 billion dollars a year to support the Afghan army. This would
drop to around 4 to 5 billion after 2014. There are already plans to
reduce the Afghan army to a manageable and less experienced force of two
hundred thirty thousand. How will this be handled for a considerable
period of time and what could be the future scenario is a big question
mark. The worst case scenario the Afghan war can bring is creating the
possibility of a civil war owing to fears of ethnic divisions for the past
Local Afghans think
Taliban and Al Qaeda are just an excuse and the US is after the natural
resources and other larger plans for the region. They are using
Afghanistan as a base for future plans. They also think that the Taliban
are indirectly aided by the US to prolong their stay in Afghanistan. How
come a handful of unorganised small groups cannot be defeated in ten
years? They argue.
Since 2001, the US has
relied on warlords to bring stability and fight the Taliban. They
themselves encourage instability in order to benefit from the corruption
and weakness of the government structure. This encourages warlordism that
themselves run a parallel government and then indulge in land grabbing and
other illegal activities.
Massive corruption has
been witnessed in the distribution of aid not just from Afghans but the
foreigners who control it. Funds are given to sub contractors who then
give it to the locals which eventually end up being in the hands of
government officials and influential people. In a way, the US is
encouraging corruption and creating a class with which their interests
converge and this is how they want to rule Afghans.
If the war continues
radicalisation among the youth would intensify and lead to more violence
by splinter groups using Al Qaeda or any other Islamic name. The private
security firms are manning check posts and barriers in cities which have
created resentment among the people.
Most of the private
security personnel do not have proper public relations training and are
rude which irritates the public. The general impression among the Afghans
is that the US is against Islam and they want to eliminate all the
Among the US and NATO
allies there is a strong belief that the Afghans could never have a proper
government. They say corruption is an in evitable part of their culture
and warlordism is an accepted way of life.
The US spends 48 billion
dollars on war and the expenditure is rising day by day. The cost of the
war exceeds the cost of development as more spending needs to be done on
the infrastructure than on war in Afghanistan.
The lesson of Vietnam
must not be ignored by the United States as well. Afghanistan is almost
the same size as Vietnam and a complex country to dominate militarily.
Like Vietnam, Afghanistan needs economic development not war.
Through war, the people
whom the US claims to be helping are being annihilated. Further
militarisation of Afghanistan will only prolong the conflict after a
failed strategy of ten years and prolong the suffering of the Afghan
nation. Strong opposition to the war with a flawed military strategy,
forcing soldiers to fight presumes that few in the next generation would
be willing to fight when called upon.
One analysis says most
Afghans want the US military and foreign forces to leave despite the
risks. The US forces is neither helping the Afghans in bringing peace nor
building the infrastructure. Withdrawal will soften the Taliban attitude
and all attention would be on economic development and infrastructure.
Public opinion in the US
says war in Afghanistan is a futile effort. Billions of dollars are being
spent with no hope in sight and only prolonging the miseries of the Afghan
Resources are being
taken away from the real problems like economic security and institutional
development. Unless there is confidence building and trust development,
the war in Afghanistan will be lost by both sides. The US will never be
able to control Afghanistan and the Afghans would not attain peace and
The writer is former
Director of Area Study Centre and Vice Chancellor University of Peshawar
census can be viewed from two different angles. It provides an
instantaneous photographic picture of an industry, which is valid at a
particular moment of time.
This is called the
static aspect of the census. Secondly, it provides the trends in
industrial characteristics, the “dynamic aspect” of the current
capacity. Each census can be compared to an individual film strip in the
series of a movie film. Only from a succession of censuses of a community
it is possible to assess the magnitude and direction of the various
The census data has many
important uses for individuals and institutions in business and industry.
It is very difficult to make a full assessment of the multiplicity of ways
in which trade and business make use of the census data.
A few uses of the census
data can be mentioned. Reliable estimates of consumer demand for variety
of goods and services depend on accurate information on the size of the
population and its distribution at least by age and sex, since these
characteristics heavily influence the demand for housing, furnishing,
clothing, recreational facilities, medical supplies and so forth.
Since the local
availability of labour for production and distribution of commodities is
important in determining the location and organisation of enterprises,
this calls for the need of the census data.
Census data is
indispensable for social and economic planning of the country. In
developed countries, the Planning Commission utilises the census data on
the distribution of population by age, sex classified by rural and urban
regions, cities, town areas, social groups and donors to analyse the
growth of consumer demand and savings in the process of development.
The census data also
proves useful in national income estimates and estimates on differential
personal incomes in rural and urban areas and the composition of rural and
urban consumption of groups of goods and services and income elasticity
An analysis of areas of
different population size with different characteristics certainly serves
as a basis for government plans and investigations in basic social
capital. The data on economic activity and educational levels of the
individual as collected in the census is very important for manpower
The household and
cottage industries needs can also be accurately estimated by using the
census data on population. Besides all these, the census data can prove
very useful in the formulation of policies on education, health,
agriculture, food and development of road, rail transport, etc. In a
nutshell, it can be said that the census data is extremely useful for all
types of planning.
The work one is going to
do has a direct impact on service delivery for our people at the
grassroots level. Statistics are important for planning and for budgeting.
How can one address poverty without statistics? How can we address
unemployment without statistics? How can you address housing and
infrastructure development without facts? We must make sure that the
government actually uses statistics and does not plan in a vacuum, without
setting specific targets that are based on statistics.
The industrial census
gives a clear picture of the industrial establishments operating in the
country including number, employment, wages and salaries, value of input
and output, value addition, value of fixed assets and the average output
to input ratio, among others.
If accuracy cannot be
measured then fair distribution of resources and delivery of services
cannot be measured. Particularly in a province like the Punjab this is
crucial because we have a history of competition for scarce resources
amongst the small entrepreneurs. To address poverty effectively we must
use targeted interventions that can be measured and consult the small
entrepreneurs about their own development.
It is, therefore,
crucial that government mobilise the whole population of industrialists,
clusters and scattered market based in towns and villages to come forward
and be counted, so that the results of census can be used as a tool to
improve service delivery.
Leading up to the
census, unfortunately, only one department of the Punjab government,
Punjab Small Industries Corporation, has to keep reminding every person
that resides in the province that their inclusion is absolutely crucial
for government and, indeed, for their own well-being.
The federal government
conducted industrial census in 1996 which cannot be utilised today. The
government must use all the time and resources available to embark on a
massive publicity campaign to encourage entrepreneur to participate in the
People who belong to the
cottage or household industries that normally exclude themselves from the
count must also be educated about the value and the importance of an
accurate census for all citizens of the province.
The Punjab government
should strive to change the position as the second most undercounted
province. This undercounting in province leads to the Punjab government
receiving far less resources than are actually needed to develop our
The more accurate this
census is the more better equipped we will be to bridge the urban-rural
divide. After the census the government will have accurate data for the
formulation of industrial policy as well as implementation, monitoring and
May 22, 2012 was
a high point in the ongoing targeted and non-targeted killings. More than
a dozen innocent lives were lost within hours in the afternoon of this sad
While common folks were
haplessly running for cover in the affected streets of the old city areas
— reported by news channels — law enforcement agencies only arrived
after the perpetrators had disappeared or moved towards newer
The political leaders of
sorts came out with the old state rhetoric, either finger pointing towards
each other or shifting the blame to their own chosen foes. This was not an
A chain of violent
crimes was visible in the entire month of May, giving warning to the
government to respond. But no attention was paid to the gravity of the
situation which went from bad to worse. As one objectively analyses the
episodes from an ordinary citizen’s stand point, few realities emerge
neutrality of law enforcement apparatus has eroded down to a dangerous
low. Hirings, recruitments, postings and transfers on the basis of self
serving interests of provincial regime, absolute lenience and negligence
towards spread and flow of firearms, growing disconnect between the masses
and local police and delay in prosecuting culprits are some obvious
indicators in this state of affairs.
A visit to Baldia,
Orangi, Korangi, Lines area, Pak Colony, Azam Basti, Qayyumabad or any
other place reveals that people prefer to seek protection and other
services from clandestine groups of major political parties.
Instead of resorting to
police assistance in the wake of crimes or conflicts, residents settle the
matters with the power wielders, acting as arbitrators. Starting a new
business or running an old one, operating a cable service, plying
transport, conducting vending activities of various kinds, renting or
transacting properties or even inviting guests for a large family festival
cannot be materialised without a favourable nod from the area office
bearers or their agents belonging to a dominating political outfit.
Turf wars are common
scenes where territories and informal jurisdictions coincide. It is also
painful to note that people are scared as they leave certain localities in
order to create room for other families of an accepted ethnicity and
background. Areas of Kati Pahari and Pahar Gunj in North Nazimabad/Qasba
Colony edges are cases in point.
It is common observation
that in an environment of turmoil, frictions and violence, peaceful
transition of power remains a remote possibility. The breakdown of basic
governance leaves very little hope for a situation to change for the
better. A schism is also visible between political parties and common
people. A political equation of adjustment is observed where folks try to
co-exist with political interest groups to carry on with their daily life
Present realities call
for a new type of social organisation to evolve. Civil society groups,
academia, media organisations, business and trade organisations need to
come together on a platform to chalk out a core agenda for the common
An effective check on
use of arms and ammunition, devising mutually beneficial procedures for
safety and security, community policing, watch and ward against crime and
violence, conflict resolution amongst opposing political and religious
factions and protection of enterprises and livelihoods of ordinary people
can be a starting points. Such a coalition can offer very useful choices
and solutions for the benefit of ordinary people.
For example, specific
locations and spaces can be identified for rallies, processions and corner
meetings. Karachi is a sprawling city where several accessible grounds are
available for safe conduct of political contacts. Creation of gun-free
zones is the other vital consideration. Mosques, administrative zones,
office complexes and other enclaves can be chosen for initial enforcement.
wall-chalking and graffiti is another important but doable task. This step
alone can help defuse tensions. Such attempts may help make peace a public
progress is at a standstill, precipitating instability and placing
Pakistan in the throes of a crisis of governance. What was and is still
disregarded by the policymakers is Pakistan’s history.
Pakistan inherited a strong agricultural economy. With a rich and vast
natural resource base, covering various ecological and climatic zones; the
country is blessed with great potential for producing all types of food
The significance of this
sector is that it provides food to consumers and fibers for domestic
industry; it is a source of foreign exchange earnings; and, it provides a
market for industrial goods.
except for investment in the Indus Basin Irrigation System, agriculture
has been left largely alone with output almost stagnated. The broad
outlines of government policies involve squeezing the peasants and workers
to finance industrial development.
The desertion of
development in the agriculture sector has increased so much over decades
that the sector that was contributing almost 50 percent to the National
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the 1950s is now only contributing almost
The root cause of the
problem includes little investment on research — Pakistan is hardly
investing 0.25 percent of its agriculture GDP on research and development,
whereas India is investing 0.4 percent, Bangladesh 0.35 percent, China 0.6
percent and Japan 2.5 percent, respectively.
During the British reign
over the sub-continent, heavy investments were made in agriculture,
irrigation, farm to market roads, transport including the railways and the
development of local administration. Regrettably, today the railway system
has deteriorated to the point where it does not adequately serve either
the people or the economy. Successive governments have undermined the
system of district administration and have experimented with several
different models of local governance allowing none to evolve properly.
The Indus Basin
Irrigation System is the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world
but it lacks an affluent disposal system giving rise to the problems of
water logging and salinity. The archaic method of flood irrigation in
practice wastes almost 50 to 60 percent of water.
We never cared to
provide the missing surface and sub-surface tile a drainage system to
physically remove salts. We never cared that the flow of water in canals
designed for regime stability (Non-silting non-scouring) no longer holds
good because of the changed cropping pattern and the higher intensity of
Lack of modern
irrigation techniques and agricultural practices is further adding to the
wastage of irrigation water. The raison d’être is that no real focus is
made by the government in educating the farmers, as they are not aware of
various processes and perceptional measures. The only way of communication
in rural areas is television or radio which is not that effective. The
communication gap between well qualified experts and simple farmers has
not been bridged as experts are reluctant to go to rural areas.
The reluctance of
experts to visit rural areas is in turn making farmers use old and
traditional means of cultivation and harvesting which is reducing
efficiency in the process and ultimately decreasing per acre yield while
other countries like Nepal, India and Bangladesh are using modern
techniques resulting in high productivity.
Most of the food
production is not even fully utilised and after domestic consumption a
major part is wasted due to lack of infrastructure, limited storage and
processing facilities. What is needed is the streamlining and regulation
of the system, as well as establishment modern plants but is anyone
willing to do so?
For decades Pakistan’s
annual budget is manufacturer and business-oriented. The government’s
policy is to give more importance to industry than agriculture. Withdrawal
of subsidy on pesticides and electricity on the conditions of the
International Monetary Fund has done serious damage to agriculture. It is
ironic that unlike Pakistan, America and European Union are giving huge
amount of subsidy to their farmers thereby increasing their productivity
in this sector.
The rural society of
Pakistan is chained by feudalism, giving birth to an evil land-tenure
system with a high degree of land concentration, absentee landlordism,
insecurity of tenure for share-croppers and low agricultural productivity.
This uncertain situation
of occupancy neither creates incentive of work nor does it attract capital
investment. The dilemma is that agriculture will continue to under perform
unless viable land reforms like India are introduced and feudalism is
checked once and for all.
Had the agricultural
potential been fully appreciated and had it been the driver of growth and
development, the shape of the Pakistani economy would have been very
different from what it is today. Using agriculture as the base to raise an
economy does not imply a primitive economy; it only means that this sector
will provide dynamism to the economy. Countries such as Denmark and the
Netherlands are now the richest states in Europe with agriculture as the
main driver of their economies.
Pakistan needs a major
correction of the course it has pursued since independence. Instead of
rapid industrialization, the planners need to devise policies to build on
the economy’s many strengths while finding ways to overcome the
Farmers in Swat
— known as the fruit and vegetable paradise of the country — say the
potential of the area’s agriculture and its related sectors remain
unutilised even after the areas have been cleared by the security forces.
The area is a natural
hub of high quality walnut, honey, soybean cultivation, trout fish and
seasonal and off-season fruits and vegetables. The government has not
focused on the potential sectors the way they should have been.
Swat farmers have not
benefited from the resources for lack of money, expertise and marketing
linkages, including substandard packaging, absence of value addition and
Ihsanullah Khan, a
farmer and social activist from Swat, says agriculture in general and the
horticulture sector in particular has been made hostage to high prices of
agriculture inputs, lack of cold storages and processing facilities,
transportation and marketing blues and the use of substandard pesticides
and fertiliser that renders export impossible. “The smaller farmers find
it difficult to meet their basic needs. They don’t get good returns on
their crops. They take advance loans from commission agents and enter into
contracts with them for the sale of their fruit earlier. Thus, they are
compelled to sell their produce at pre-determined prices which are usually
far below the market price at the harvesting seasons. The government needs
to help them find new markets for their products by creating linkages and
liaison between them and local and multinational companies.”
The Khan adds, “The
government and various local and international NGOs have done a
commendable work for agriculture uplift in the area. The Italian
government has supported the local farmers. The Sarhad Rural Support
Programme has formed many community organisations, trained farmers and
established link-roads to facilitate transportation of their produce to
markets. But I think while there were thousands of NGOs in the early
relief and recovery phases, hardly a few are working these days.”
According to Tariq Khan,
a farmer from Miandam Swat and the president of a local community
organisation, Roshan Saba, agriculture in Swat has been hit by the poverty
and illiteracy of local farmers and indifference of the government.
“The people could
enormously benefit if the government and NGOs helped the locals plant
walnut trees there, establish orchards, provide support and free or
subsidised inputs for the potato, peas and red beans crops, construct link
roads to far-off villages and improve the capacity of farmers by providing
them modern training and help establish cold storages and regulate markets
in the area,” he says, adding, “the local farmers need support for
mechanised farming for cementing the Katcha water channel, and
construction of small dams for harvesting rain water,” he says.
Tariq Khan says his
organisation has planted pine trees on 500 acres with the help of
watershed project. “We also planted Deodar trees at 60 acres, apple
orchards at 20 acres and persimmon trees at 30 acres with the support of
Italian funded and Early Recovery of Agriculture and Livelihood Project (ERALP).
With the support of
Hujra project, Roshan Saba planted fruit plants in 100 aces. For paucity
of funds, we cemented 20 per cent water channels in some but only 5-15 per
cent in other areas. The IRC and ERALP also provided with inputs which
increased potato yields manifold. In our village, before the intervention,
potatoes worth Rs10mn were sold but following it potato worth Rs25mn was
sold last year,” he says.
“We would like the
NGOs, the government and foreign countries to help revive the agriculture
sector to its good days and realise its full potential. We would welcome
them. We also request the Italian government not to discontinue the ERALP
programme as it has helped us a lot,” he adds.
Another farmer, Izzat
Mand, was all praise for ERALP and wanted its continuation as it helped
farmers in Swat to increase their incomes through various interventions in
agriculture and livestock.
Farmers and residents in
the cooler parts of Swat still go without wheat growing as the ordinary
wheat seeds can’t mature there and research scientists have so far
failed to develop any specific early-maturing and cold-resistant seed for
Swat accounts for around
50 percent of the provincial walnut population but the potential of walnut
in the area is far from being utilised for lack of official support,
continuous deforestation of the existing trees, non-cultivation of new
ones and some ailments.
Shah Abdar, a farmer,
says walnut could be the greatest source of income. “There are around 5
big walnut trees in one canal of land. If we take the average land per
family at 50 canals (around 6 acres) and the family grows walnut trees on
it, it can become a millionaire within no time. Just leave the 300kg yield
per tree, even if the per tree yield is just 50kg, it will earn the family
around Rs2.5million at the current market rate. The tree usually grows on
mountain ridges and thus won’t impact cereal crops,” he says.
He says there is also a
vast potential for growing potato but there is a lack of potato-processing
units, one that could produce potato chips.
“Large size and good
taste and quality are the hallmarks of Swat’s potatoes. Average yield
per hectare is 12 and 17 metric tons in KP and the country respectively
but is around 20MT in Swat. Still, farmers avoid the crop for flawed
marketing” he adds.
Before the 2010 floods,
Swat produced approximately 60 tons of trout fish from its 22 farms, which
was mostly consumed locally. Last July’s floods ravaged most of these
hatcheries. However, Provincial Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and
Resettlement Authority (PaRRSA), with assistance from a USAID project
worth $1.2mn, is helping repair these hatcheries.
According to an official
whitepaper published last year in June, besides ERALP being implemented by
PaRRSA, the USAID is financing several projects worth billions of rupees
to help revive and develop agriculture, restore trout fish farms, the
honey sector, medicinal and aromatic plants and the agricultural inputs,
livestock and poultry tools, etc.
Funding is apparently
the main problem. According to the official white-paper, out of total
$860mn reconstruction needs for post militancy needs, KP still has no
commitments for over $526mn.
As per the white paper,
out of the total $1065mn damages in floods, the agriculture and its
related sectors received loss of $396mn. For post militancy floods,
reconstruction needs requiring $218mn in agriculture sector, the
government still requires $217mn as only Italian government had committed
$10mn for the agriculture sector.
The USAID, UNDP and
several countries like China and the UAE, are providing support in sectors
like roads, education, health, housing, etc, worth billions of rupees, it
is but lamentable that agriculture has not received the required
A robust crop insurance
system and a subsidised easy-credit scheme and financial support for the
expansion of agricultural engineering networks in the area, promotion of
off season vegetables through ‘tunnel farming’ and training and
support for small household businesses are also needed.
The release of
Economic Survey on May 31, 2012 — a day before announcement of budget
for fiscal year 2012-13 — was not a mere ritual but re-telling the story
of failures. The list is long.
Missing revenue targets
by 31 billion or more, failure to keep fiscal deficit within the projected
limit, fast depletion of foreign reserves, widening of current account
gap, slow growth rate, acute shortage of energy in coming days and
insurmountable inflation — everything portraying a bleak economic
One of the most popular
TV channels of Pakistan showed a copy of Economic Survey in its evening
news bulletin on 30 May 2012, reporting that “all the growth targets of
agriculture, industry and services sectors have been missed”.
The economic growth
remained at 3.7 percent despite a set target of 4.2pc. The biggest
admission of failure in the budget paper is that half of the industrial
capacity remains idle, primarily due to the energy crisis. The trade
deficit surged exponentially, the survey conceded.
It says imports have
escalated to $37 billion against the total exports of $19 billion. The
economic managers confessed that they have failed to manage subsidies,
resulting into a higher budget deficit.
The survey states that
excluding Rs. 391 billion circular debt payments, budget deficit has
crossed 4.3pc of gross domestic product (GDP) and the revised target will
be difficult to achieve. Total public debt surged to Rs. 12.1 trillion, or
58.2pc of GDP, a net increase of Rs. 1.3 trillion. Foreign investment
plunged by over 75pc.
Last year, Dr. Abdul
Hafeez Shaikh, in his budget speech, while admitting that Pakistan was
facing very difficult conditions, emphasised the need to stabilise the
economy but ironically, the jargon and story for this year remained the
same. The process of recovery failed miserably.
As the bleak scenario
persists, the Governor State Bank warned that “Pakistan may have to
return to the IMF for financial assistance this year amid an unstable
macroeconomic situation. We see reserves going down quite aggressively”.
Seven objectives that
budget 2011-12 entailed were: (1) reduction in fiscal deficit through
revenue generation and expenditure control; (2) lowering of inflation; (3)
self-reliance through better domestic resource mobilization; (4) rapid
poverty alleviation; (5) improving efficiency of public sector; (6)
employment generation and (7) make the country fertile for investment.
None of these was attained. In almost all areas, the situation turned from
bad to worse.
The finance minister
very aptly observed in his last year’s budget speech, “I would like to
place the budget in the perspective of economic management. In today’s
world, economic management of a modern internationally open economy is a
continuous year-long task. The budget is but one important instrument of
economic management. However, the importance of this once a year ritual
should not be overly exaggerated. There are important linkages between the
budget and other instruments of government policies, including monetary;
trade; pricing of agriculture, electricity, gas and petroleum products as
well as various economic packages. We need to sharpen our understanding of
the government’s role and its interventions and make them more
effective. Ultimately results depend on the impact of a combination of
these policies. This is what economic management is all about”.
Where has been economic
management since 3 June 2011? For example, take the implementation of tax
measures announced by Mr. Hafeez Shaikh. Massive corruption in customs
duties bypassed all past records — the mystery of missing containers is
still daunting. The apex court asked National Accountability Bureau (NAB)
to initiate investigation and punish the culprits. The response was as
expected, “there is no incriminate evidence”. It is simply shocking.
Reduction in duty on
import of crude palm oil from Rs. 9,000 per metric ton to Rs. 8,000 per
metric ton did not bring down the price of vegetable oil, widely consumed
in cooking despite big claims. Many made billions in this reduction by
increasing the prices. Amnesty for stock exchanges and evaders of taxes
bypassing the Parliament was what our Minister called good economic
There was incentive of
5pc concessionary rate of import duty to encourage use of renewable energy
resources, but progress remained negligible. Energy crisis has become so
acute that it has led to violent public protests. To encourage enhanced
equity financing, and to provide relief to new corporate industrial
undertakings, established on or after 1st July 2011, with 100pc equity
financing, a tax credit equal to 100pc of tax payable was announced but
nobody opted to invest. Foreign direct investment drained all together.
The finance minister
emphasised that structural reforms were a key to sound economic
management. Last year’s budget sought austerity, efficiency and
self-reliant economy. After one year, all these dreams remain a distant
The fact is that the
ruling elite — comprising politicians, military complex, absentee
landlords and rich businessmen — kept on plundering national wealth
besides successfully avoided paying taxes. It is openly admitted by
technocrats like Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who has failed to bring any
meaningful structural change in the existing system. As a result, neither
fiscal deficit has receded — it rather increased to a dangerous level
— nor has growth target been achieved.
Not a single progressive
tax has been imposed by the PPP government in all the budgets. On the
contrary, various amnesty schemes have been introduced aimed at whitening
money plundered by the ruling elite and unscrupulous businessmen.
No effort whatsoever has
been made to correct the imbalance between direct and indirect taxes to
give relief to the poor. The rich are not paying income tax on their
colossal incomes and wealth. Amazingly, the total number of people showing
income more than one million rupees is below 500,000.
Tax-to-GDP ratio of
Pakistan is one of the lowest in the world — below 10pc for the last
five years. Last year, the Member Inland Revenue claimed that FBR would
collect revised target of Rs. 1588 billion giving tax-to-GDP ratio of
9.1pc. The actual collection was Rs.1530 billion causing a further decline
in tax-to-GDP ratio — it went to 8.2pc. The original revenue target was
Rs. 1680 billion.
This year’s story is
not different. Target of Rs. 1952 billion will be missed by billions—the
ffigure-fudging continues as actual collection is much less if undisputed
refunds are subtracted and advance payments are excluded.
What makes things even
more painful is the fact that 75pc collection by FBR constitutes indirect
taxes — the burden of which is more on the poor and almost negligible on
The revenue target of
current fiscal year of Rs.1952 billion, even if achieved through jugglery
of figures will remain below the 10pc of total GDP. Due to corruption and
inefficiencies, FBR is facing revenue shortfall of billions of rupees each
Last year FBR was to
collect Rs. 1680 billion. Later, the target was revised downwards to Rs.
1588 billion, yet FBR missed it by Rs. 30 billion. This year’s target of
Rs. 1952 billion, tacitly reduced to Rs. 1920 billion, confirms window
dressing to maneuver over all fiscal deficit that is much higher than is
projected in the Economic Survey 2012.
The real revenue
potential of the country is not less than Rs. 6 trillion provided taxes
are levied on the rich and properly enforced. Since the rich do not pay
personal taxes and are guilty of illegally remitting untaxed money abroad,
Pakistan has become
indebted to the extent that now 70pc of tax revenues are going towards
debt servicing alone — in budget 2011-12, the allocation for debt
servicing was Rs. 1.07 trillion against revenue target of Rs. 1.952
trillion. This year it has to be increased by 25pc.
The writers, tax lawyers
and authors of many books on Pakistani tax laws, are Adjunct Professors at
Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)
Left in the lurch: The
A few head of
nations met at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to frame policy for environmental
and bio-ecological resource management. Since then, efforts to protect the
environment and natural resources have attained momentum. Because less
investment was made in the conservation of ecosystem, biodiversity; water,
and energy, socio-economic development has been fostered at the expense of
natural capital deterioration.
Celebrating the 20th
anniversary of the Earth Summit held at Rio in 1992, Rio+20 will be held
in June this year at the same Brazilian city to focus on green economy for
sustainable development and poverty eradication. Of course, the city will
be the same but the environmental scenario is not the same as what was
back in 1992.
The whole story revolves
around two factors, i.e., the developmental approaches and the natural
capital being one of the main pillars of socio-economic uplift.
Both aspects are
essential but to strike a balance between the two is the colossal task the
nations have to address to ensure environmental quality amid the concrete
jungle (jungle of buildings).
Given this picture,
about 60 percent of the major ecosystems of the world have been degraded
due to increased biotic pressure and ecological footprints. That is why
greening the economy is one of the options to supplement sustainable
development without subtracting the benefits that the natural capital
provide over a period of time through generations.
Green economy by virtue
of green investment focuses on bettering human livelihood and
environmental conditions through low carbon emissions and resource
It spans around a number
of sectors which accumulatively attains desirable outcome on sustainable
basis such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, transport, waste,
manufacturing industries, energy sector, and buildings play crucial role
in environmental conditions.
There is a great
potential for development of these sectors with environmentally sound
approaches in our country. However, inadequate green investment has been a
hurdle to achieve sustainable development indicators of the sectors.
Greening of agriculture sector would ensure food security, contribute to
improved nutrition and health as well as eradicate poverty.
In addition to this it
will create rural jobs. Reduced chemicals, pesticides, diversified crop
rotation, improved harvesting and storage techniques, and efficient water
use will contribute to more socio-economic and environmentally desirable
Fisheries sector is not
only vital in sustaining aquatic and marine ecosystem but has also
socio-economic significance. Therefore, greening of this sector is
essential to contribute to survival and health of millions of people
around the world that support their livelihood which can be achieved
through sustainable fish harvest, and habitat management for improved fish
At the same time, it
will ensure green jobs for communities dependent on this vital sector with
socio-economic activities contributing to their uplift. In a nutshell, it
ensures sustainable fish consumption for the present as well as future
generation. Unfortunately, little investment has been poured into our
country to ensure sustainable fisheries development.
Water being the prime
element of life has been managed unsustainably around the world. According
to estimates, about one billion people lack access to clean drinking water
while 2.6 billion people lack access to improved sanitation services.
Water scarcity has also
been one of the major contributing factors for degradation of ecosystems
over the last half century. For its wide range of benefits, water
conservation can be ensured through wise use, and green investment in
ecosystems and watershed management that are the prime water sources.
The role of forest in
environment is indispensable at large. Proactive conservation measures
ensure provision of goods and services with broader implications of
supporting livelihood of over one billion humans. Green investment in the
forestry sectors will not only contribute to uplift of the local people
but will also improve tourism, energy, water management, carbon trading
and forest-based products by maintaining the flow of benefits.
management practices, green investment initiatives such as sustainable
forest management, growth of protected areas, incentives to forest
dependent communities, rehabilitation of habitats, afforestation and
reforestation would contribute to prosperous future in the long run with
socio-economic and ecological benefits. One of the major breaking
achievements in forest conservation is to invest for reducing
deforestation and provision of alternatives.
energy technologies can ensure greening the energy sectors through energy
efficiency. Modern energy services are required to contribute not only to
greening the energy sector but will meet development needs due to increase
in human needs and population.
It will help to achieve
the millennium development goals with cross cutting sectoral implications.
Solar power generation, windmills installation, hydal power units, etc are
some of the important green investment initiatives.
With implication of
additional initiatives more jobs generations would benefit cross section
of the society. Such green investment initiative will not only meet the
growing demand of energy in face of the increased human population but
will also considerably contribute to reduction of green house gases.
Industrial sector is one
of the mainstream contributors to environmental conditions. Textile,
cement, steel, chemicals, electronics, pulp and paper, and sugar are the
main industries that significantly effect the environment. Improved
resources and technologies and energy efficiency are the key indicators to
ensure growth of green economy.
The waste generated in
wake of the economic growth has phenomenal environmental impact with wide
range of other associated problems. Recycling of waste has extensive
potential to generate employment opportunities through appropriate
institutional arrangement and policy which helps to alleviate poverty. The
reduce-reuse-and-recycle approach has both environmental and social
implications than incineration and land filling. Investment in the waste
sector is increasingly essential due to rapid growth in urbanization.
Being the main
requirements, infrastructure and buildings are the key physical features
where more time is spent indoor due to which more impacts are registered
on the environment in several manifestations.
It is estimated that
about buildings are responsible to contribute about 40 per cent of the
global energy use and add up to 39 per cent of carbon dioxide into the
atmosphere along with other greenhouse gases.
Investment in green and
environmentally friendly buildings will play essential role in minimizing
and halting environmental degradation in the long run. There is large
scale potential in our country to mobilize investment in the building
sector for its wide range of benefits. A shift from orthodox buildings and
architecture is needed towards improved eco-friendly and energy efficient
buildings and infrastructural designs.
consuming fossil fuels is one of the major contributors to environmental
degradation with impacts on human health at large. In developing countries
this is a growing issue with less investment in the transport sector. On
the war-footing grounds improved vehicles, shift in modes of transports,
shift from conventional fuel type, equal distribution of market delivering
public goods than concentrated ones will help contribute towards better
environmental and socio-economic conditions.
By ensuring green
investment in the key sectors there is great likelihood that our national
resources would not only be conserved effectively but eco-friendly
environment will prevail at different levels thus fulfilling our national
and international obligations under Multilateral Environmental Agreements.
For this purpose multi-pronged approaches and mega initiatives are needed
to arrest environmental degradation in time.
The writer is Deputy
Conservator Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department