an emerging gateway to Central Asia
For their sport
The impending displacement of four hundred thousand people from the sites of Lahore Sports City and Lake City projects is something totally ignored by the planners
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed
For Abdul Hameed, 68, it would simply be a repeat of the partition (of 1947). At that time he crossed over the newly-drawn borderline, along his family members, and settled down near Baseen village, situated a couple of miles away from the border. Now, 60 years down the road, he gets a warning message from the village patwari who is trying to prepare him for an official notice. Once he receives it, he will have no other option but to accept the 'market price' for his land and vacate it at the earliest. Only it would be different this time; unlike 1947 this he won't know where the destination lies.
Abdul Hameed is not the only person going through this phase. There are hundreds of thousands living in several border villages falling within the territorial jurisdiction of Wahga Town. Many of them are having sleepless nights as the government has issued notices to relevant authorities to acquire around 32,000 acres of land from people living in this area. The notices issued under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 are meant for residents of 40 villages. Of these 22 villages fall in Lahore district whereas the remaining 18 are located in the neighbouring Sheikhupura district.
The land in question is being acquired by the government for setting up of a 3,000 acre Lahore Sports City with the help of UAE-based investor Abdur Rehman Bukhatir and a huge lake that, according to the government, can help Lahore city's groundwater level from falling further.
Under this Rs 120 billion plan, The Lahore Sports City will have stadiums and related facilities for major sports like football, hockey, cricket, tennis and golf. Besides, it will have around 10,000 world-class modern homes and flats sufficient to accommodate 200,000 people. There will be shopping malls, hotels, high-rises, recreational spots and what not. There will also be a network of roads like the Lahore Ring Road and the Lahore-Sialkot motorway to link with the posh areas of the Lahore and other major cities like Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Sheikhupura etc.
Chief Secretary, Punjab, Salman Siddique along with Secretary Housing and Urban Development, Punjab, Khalid Sultan Chairman Planning and Development Board Punjab, Suleman Ghani, and others was in Sharjah in the first week of this month to attend a workshop on the project. The delegation also studied the Dubai Sports City project and discussed ways to replicate it in Lahore, on a vast tract of highly fertile agricultural land that once was bed of the River Ravi. While every other thing was discussed at length, no concern was shown for the likely affectees of the project.
Hardly three weeks back, on March 12, 2007, hundreds of people facing displacement due to this ambitious plan had held a protest demonstration outside the Lahore Press Club. They had condemned the government for carrying out a project that would displace so many people and destroy such a high yielding agricultural land. Their point was that the government could have used some other tract of barren land situated anywhere in the country or bought it from handful of feudals who own thousands of acres of land. Selecting, rather targeting, such a densely populated and high crop yielding area is an unjustifiable act on part of the government, they said. The protestors also warned that if the project was not rolled back soon, they would block all the three bridges on the River Ravi at an hour's notice.
However, the Punjab government has so far ignored all such warnings and asked its functionaries to expedite the land acquisition process. In a letter dated January 31, 2007, the District Officer (Revenue)/Collector Lahore addressing the Extra Assistant Settlement Officer, Lahore Cantt says: "It is, therefore, requested to please cause the service of the enclosed Notice u/s 4(1) of the Act 1894, on the affected land owners/interested persons as well as displaying it at the conscious places in the locality/vicinity of the proposed land and supply the 'Rapat Roznamcha Waqiati' after their compliance along with the (required)... information."
The same letter carries the names of those 22 villages of Lahore whose land (21,147 acres approximately) will be acquired by the government under this plan. They are Nutt, Malik Pur Ghatki, Taij Garh, Eino Bhatti, Saghia Waisopur, Arazi Talwara War, Arazi Janju, Marlwar, Talwar War, Jandiala, Bhini Dhilwan, Karolwal, Ganja Sindhu, Mari, Dogaij, Baseen, Lakho Dair, Awan Dhaiwala, Waghrian, Hardo Jabbo, Handoo and Mehmood Booti.
"The people of these villages did not retreat even during the Indo-Pak wars. How can a bunch of government officials uproot them from here," Sardar Liaquat, a resident of Ganja Sindhu village says while talking to TNS. He says the people of this area did not sell their land even to those who came here after selling their agricultural lands to the Defence Housing Authority (DHA). They had stacks of cash with them but none could convince the residents of these villages, he adds.
Liaquat also blasts the government for offering ridiculously low price to land owners and calling it market price. He says the very formula of working out market price is wrong. "How can you base it on the sale transactions effected during the period starting from January 12, 2006 and ending on January 11, 2007. There were hardly any sales. First, for the reason that people hardly sell their lands in this area and secondly because buyers were reluctant to invest here after the government made its development plans public."
Liaquat says it's an open secret that the transaction amount mentioned on sale deeds is always much below the actual amount. No one will accept the 'market price' determined through this formula, he says.
An official of the Revenue Department, Lahore Cantt circle refutes these charges. He tells TNS on conditions of anonymity that there are clear directions from high-ups that the prices offered to landowners should be reasonable. "The government does not want to enter into litigation with landowners. This can only be minimised by offering good land price to people. And you know, the government wants to hand over the land to the foreign developers as early as possible," he says.
The official says there are clear directions to the revenue department officials not to talk to media over this issue. He tells TNS that the average sale prices worked out for Lakho Dair, Hando and Taij Garh villages are Rs 3,72,165, Rs 3,82,973 and Rs 2,80,975 per kanal respectively. These are well above the scheduled rates fixed by the government and have nothing to do with the amounts mentioned in sale deeds, he adds.
Khalid Ghurki, Town Nazim, Wahga town tells TNS that the rates offered to landowners are ridiculously low in most of the cases. An example or two cannot turn things in government's favour, he says adding: "There are villages where they have offered amount as low as Rs 96,000 for an acre of land." Ghurki says only God knows why the government is bent upon destroying this land which does not even have a single square yard of infertile land.
He says the area is known for its high yield of vegetables, fruits, crops and animal fodder. It feeds a large part of Lahore's population and its animals as well. He says, being a river bed for long, the said land does not have the strength to hold high-rise buildings. "I would suggest that the government should first conduct a soil analysis here and end its mad pursuit in the area." He says the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, allows for occupation of private lands in public interest. But the government is misusing the law and jeopardising the interest of at least four hundred thousand residents of the area.
"When the government needed land for construction of Ring Road people gave it happily as it was in their interest. Now they won't. I contest elections from this area and know my voters best. They very well know where their interest lies and need not be told by the government about it," he says.
Karamat Malik, a resident of Ganja Sindu, says it is unfair to give people price of their land and and ask them to leave for unknown destinations. An overwhelming majority of these people live in collective houses built on agricultural lands, he says. Karamat says the dynamics of the village economy are totally different from urban lifestyle. "How can a family of twenty that owns an acre in this area buy a house in the city even if it gets Rs 2 million for the land. Besides, all of them will lose their source of income. Therefore, I suggest the best way is to give them land against land in a similar rural setting and nothing else."
Rana Shaukat, Deputy District Officer (Revenue) Lahore Cantt tells TNS that so far no land owner has received an eviction notice. Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act only relates to the identification of the land required for a public project. The issuance of notices to interested parties, hearing of objections, marking and measurement of land and determination and payment of prices are steps that will be taken later.
He tells TNS that Punjab Chief Secretary is expected to visit the area in a day or two. There he will review the situation and pass on further instructions on the project. About the price determination issue, he says it's a complex issue. "We are considering average sale prices while determining the prices but at the same time considering other factors as well. In some cases we have to even consider the market price of a piece of land that may have risen drastically for various reasons," he says. Shaukat, however, rules out charges that the government is offering prices for lands much below their market value.
Time for trickle up
There is a reciprocal relationship between poverty and human development. It is for the government to break this vicious cycle of poverty and lack of human development
By Hussain H. Zaidi
"The problem of development must be defined as a selective attack on the worst forms of poverty. Development goals must be defined in terms of progressive reduction and eventual elimination of malnutrition, disease, illiteracy, squalor, unemployment and inequalities. We were taught to take care of our GNP because it would take care of poverty. Let us reverse this and take care of poverty because it will take care of the GNP. In other words, let us worry about the content of GNP even more than its rate of increase."
(Dr Mahbub-ul Haq, former commerce minister and deputy chairman planning commission, writing in 1971 for Pakistan Economic and Social Review).
There are two approaches to development. Trickle down and trickle up. The trickle down approach defines development goals essentially in terms of accelerating GDP growth through a policy of laissez-faire. Government regulations, such as minimum wages, and taxes increase the cost of doing business and thus hinder investment and economic growth. Hence, government regulations and taxes have to be minimum. "The best government is the least government." The development process, it is argued, should be geared towards increasing the efficiency of the economy without any regard for equity or distribution of income.
Since capital has a strong tendency towards concentration, the fruits of economic growth based on a laissez-faire policy tend to be concentrated in just a few hands. But this is no cause for worry for the advocates of the trickle down approach. Rather the concentration of wealth is good for the economy, because it gives impetus to the economic activity. The acceleration of the economic activity creates jobs and increases incomes of the middle and lower classes. The benefits of economic growth are thus believed to trickle down from the affluent to the rest of the society.
The trickle down approach is based on some key assumptions: First, it does not regard development as incompatible with large scale poverty, inequality and unemployment. Secondly, it has faith in market forces to effect unrestricted or at least large scale transfers among income groups. Thirdly, it does not consider distribution of income as an important part of the development problem.
The trickle up approach questions these very assumptions. To begin with, development is regarded as incompatible with large scale poverty, inequality and unemployment. In the second place, it rejects the ability of market forces to themselves bring about unrestricted or at least large scale transfers among income groups. In the third place, distribution of income is considered to be an important part of the development problem.
That is why the trickle up approach lays emphasis on the need to benefit the poor directly by investing in their health and education to increase their productivity. The idea is that people who are sick, illiterate or unskilled make little contribution to the development process. Economic growth, instead of being treated as an end in itself, is regarded as a means towards diminishing poverty and inequality. The approach thus comprehends substantial investment in the development of human capital. This may require some sacrifice of output in the short run, because returns on human capital investment take longer to realise than investment in physical assets. However, in the long run, there are gains to the economy from enhanced productivity and purchasing power of lower income groups.
This concept of economic development regards growth in GDP or aggregate output as a necessary but not a sufficient condition for development. The development process must include, in addition to expansion of aggregate output, human resource development (HRD).
HRD is a broad concept encompassing moral, economic, political and cultural rights. It is about giving people access to the resources essential for a decent standard of living and participating in communal life. It aims at creating an environment in which people can realise their potentials to the best and become more productive. The main indicators of human development are a high literacy level, decline in poverty, access to safe drinking water and sanitation, a high life expectancy level and ability to make decisions that affect oneself.
Developed countries have by and large a high level of HRD, whereas developing countries are in most cases characterised by a low level of HRD. This is corroborated by the human development index (HDI) ranking of the UNDP a most credible reflection of HRD across the globe. According to UNDP's Human Development Report 2006 (HRD 2006), top 20 countries on HDI ranking are Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Australia, Ireland, Sweden, Canada, Japan, the United States, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Finland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, France, Italy, the UK, Spain and New Zealand all developed countries.
Among developing countries, the trickle up approach has been used with success by East Asian economies where robust GDP growth has been accompanied by rapid reduction in poverty and income disparities. Hence, East Asian economies like Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea have a higher HDI ranking: For instance, Hong Kong is at No. 22, while Singapore and South Korea are at No.25 and 26 respectively (according to HRD 2006). In contrast, all countries of South Asia have a low HDI ranking: For instance, the HDI ranking of India, the largest and the fastest growing economy in South Asia, is 126.
Coming to Pakistan, during the last three years the economy has grown on average at 7.5 per cent (pc) per annum making it one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. And this is not the first time that Pakistan has attained a high growth rate. During 1960s, and 1980s, the economy of Pakistan had grown on average at 6.8 pc and 6.5 pc per annum respectively. But these healthy growth rates in the past, like the current growth rate, were based on trickle down approach. According to Dr Ishrat Hussain (Pakistan the Economy of an Elitist State), the decade of 1960 was characterised by a "paradoxical combination of biggest growth rates in Pakistani history and large increases in income inequality, inter-regional differences, and the concentration of economic power."
This paradoxical situation persists to date. Despite high growth rate during last three years, Pakistan's HDI ranking remains low. The ranking was 142 in 2004 and 135 in 2005. In the latest HDI ranking (HRD 2006), Pakistan is placed at 134. This is not surprising. Life expectancy in Pakistan is 64 years, which is even less than the world average of 67 years. Infant mortality rate is 77 (per 1000 births), higher than the world average of 55. Under-5 mortality rate is 101 again higher than the world average of 81.
Judged by the international standard of poverty, which is earning less than $1 a day, at least one-third of the population is poor. Poverty is a serious obstacle to economic development: Poverty means low incomes, low savings or even dis-savings, high birth rates, and low literacy level, which hamper development efforts.
Literacy level is as low as 53 per cent. A major cause of low literacy level is meager expenditure on education, which is only 2 per cent of GDP. Besides, there is a strong link between education and income level as only 25 per cent of the poorest individuals are literate. The total public expenditure on health is only 0.5 per cent of GDP. According to the World Health Report, Pakistan has the lowest health expenditure in South Asia both as percentage of GDP and as percentage of total public expenditure. Not only that per capita government expenditure on health is also the lowest in the region (See State Bank of Pakistan Report for FY06).
Not only does Pakistan spend less on health and education, the major beneficiary of the expenditure on these two sectors have been the more affluent section of society. That is why literacy is associated with high income. This is confirmed by Pakistan Integrated Household Survey (PIHS) 2001-02 conducted by the Statistics Division, Government of Pakistan. The relevant findings of the PIHS are as follows:
Only 25 per cent of the poorest individuals are literate.
The gross enrollment primary level rate in 1998-99 was 71 per cent, while in 2001-02 it increased by only 1 per cent to 72 per cent. The net enrollment rate remained stagnant at 42 per cent from 1998-99 to 2001-02. For the richest 20 per cent of the population, the rate of gross primary enrollment is 106, while that for the poorest 20 per cent of the population is 56.
In case of gross middle level enrollment, the share of the richest 20 per cent of the population is 75, while that of the poorest 20 per cent of the population is 23.
In case of gross matriculation level enrollment, the share of the richest 20 per cent of the population is 87, while that of the poorest 20 per cent of the population is 17.
Primary dropout rate is 13 per cent, which shot up to 28 per cent in case of class 6. Here too the income factor plays an important role. For instance, in rural areas, 53 per cent of the poorest section of society drops out before completing class 6 compared with only 23 per cent of the richest segment.
Of the people who have ever attended school 70.5 per cent belong to the richest 20 per cent of the population, with 56 per cent belong to the poorest 20 per cent of the population.
There is also a sharp rural-urban divide. For instance, net primary enrollment in case of rural and urban areas is 38 and 56 per cent respectively. The percentage of people (age 10 or more) who have ever attended a school in case of rural and urban areas is 43 and 65 respectively.
Pakistan is a signatory to the UN Millennium Declaration 2000, which commits it to making all-out efforts to promote human dignity and eradicate poverty both of which are linked to human development. However, as the above data show, Pakistan is way behind fulfilling its commitment. Though the country has achieved a very healthy economic growth rate, the same has not been pro-poor. This is evident from high unemployment and poverty levels. According to The Economic Survey of Pakistan, the unemployment rate has increased from 5.37 per cent in 1995 to 7.7 per cent in 2005-06. On the other hand, countries having a much smaller GDP size than Pakistan's are far ahead of it in literacy and other HD related indicators. For instance, Sri Lanka's GDP is three times smaller than Pakistan's but its literacy level is more than 95 per cent.
There is a reciprocal relationship between poverty and human development. Lack of health and education reduces people's productive capacity, which curtails their employability and earning power thus perpetuating their poverty. On the other hand, poverty makes it difficult for the people to have access to health and education and thus restricts their development not only as economic agents but also as responsible citizens. It is for the government to break this vicious cycle of poverty and lack of human development by pursuing a trickle up growth strategy.
A failure story
The dream of a new South Asia is of realisation of freedom free from want, freedom from fear, and freedom to live with dignity. But is SAARC the right platform to realise it?
By Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri
Delhi declaration passed during the 14th SAARC summit concluded last month is not very different from one that was approved during 13th SAARC summit two years ago. To be precise, all 14 declarations so far are quite good on paper, and quite consistent too as they keep on talking of resolving the challenges facing people of South Asia.
It is much easy to say 'Issues facing people of South Asia' than to imagine them. South Asia is world's poorest region that houses 40 per cent of world's poor, over 500 million live below poverty line (governments underestimated poverty line). It is worlds' most illiterate region, actually home to world's half of all illiterates. The region where more children are out of school than the rest of the world, combined; two-thirds of these are female!
South Asia is worlds' most deprived region too. 260 million inhabitants lack basic health facilities in South Asia; 337 million lack safe drinking water; 830 million are without rudimentary sanitation and 400 million go hungry every day. This is not all; SAARC is world's most militarised place on earth too where two declared nuclear states Pakistan and India are annually spending around US$ 30 billion on their defense expenses. One of its newly joined members, Afghanistan is facing war for last three decades.
These are some of the challenges facing South Asia and our leaders are rightly committed to resolve them. Without realising that terrorism takes its roots from tyranny and social injustice, our leaders are also committed to launch a joint battle against terrorism. In their efforts to curb terrorism all they are doing is symptomatic treatment. Killing of terrorists is much easy a job than eradicating the factors that turn innocent and deprived people 'terrorists'.
Rationalising the security costs of insecurity is an extremely difficult task. For the cost of one battle tank (US$ 4 million) four million children can be immunised. For the cost of 10 Mirage fighters (US$ 90 million) three million children can get primary education and for the cost of a modern submarine (US$ 300 million) sixty million people can have access to safe drinking water. Our governments want to resole the issues facing South Asian people without realising that government actions are part of the problem and not the solution. Insecurity within societies that leads to social restlessness and conflict is created by the social injustice in the name of national security measures.
Pakistan bought three Agosta 90B submarines from France for $ 1 Billion. For this amount (for one year): Primary Education for all 17 million children now unenrolled; and safe drinking water for 67 million people without clean water; and family planning services for 9 million couples could have been assured.
Likewise India bought modern jet fighters worth $ 4.5 Billion: For this amount (for one year): Primary Education for all 45 million children now unenrolled; and safe drinking water for 226 million people without clean water; and essential medicines for 135 million people with no health facilities could have been ensured.
At a global level, the world spent approximately $956 billion on the military in 2003. This was 10 times more than it spent on development assistance in 2001. Adding the cost of the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. has spent $500 billion on direct military purchases. That means the U.S. is spending more on the military than the combined total that the rest of the world spent in 2003.
Ask any sensible person to compare the total number of death tolls in Pak-India wars so far with the number of deaths in these countries due to lack of immunisation, lack of safe drinking water, lack of medical care, poverty related deaths, deaths due to road accidents and intrastate violence. It does not require rocket science knowledge to guess that our people are most insecure from internal factors. I have consciously excluded the number of deaths due to so called natural calamities like earthquake or tsunami. It is a fact that natural calamities cannot be avoided, however, right policies and planning can stop natural calamities turning into human tragedies. I would invite the readers to pause and think who is threatening our national security and what should be the focus of expenditures to ensure national security. Most of you would agree that it can be anything but defence expenditures.
People of South Asia have been the victims of the past for last many decades. Lack of trust, solidarity, peace and stability among South Asian neighbours remained the stumbling blocks for a meaningful SAARC. However, a socially responsible, empowered, and responsive generation of South Asians has emerged. This generation wants to build the future based on mutual trust while denying carrying the baggage of the past. To them, politics of South Asia would have to be of the people's and development would have to be people centered.
This generation is not confined to any country, age group, religion or ethnicity. While SAARC conference was taking place, thousands have gathered in Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square Kathmandu, as well as in New Delhi (main venue of SAARC summit) to hold parallel people SAARC Summits, and South Asia Social Policy Forums.
Eminent policymakers, parliamentarians, academics and activists from across South Asian countries ranging from former prime minister of India Mr. I.K.Gujral, to former foreign secretaries from Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, along with many parliamentarians and representatives of civil society jointly pressed for the SAARC member-countries to fight the regional and global challenges together and to go beyond enabling nationalism by creating a regional union.
Stating that SAARC has failed to address the people's agendas, they urged the lawmakers to work with the civil society to meet the common agendas of rule of law, constitutional supremacy, inclusion, human rights and other issues of livelihood and dignity of the people of the region. They demanded for social justice, peace and democracy; vision of alternative political, social, economic and cultural system; elimination of distinction, discrimination and gender, caste, religion, language, and ethnicity; and new South Asia free from exploitation and oppression among others.
This seems to be a dream. However, one has to have a dream to make it reality. The dream of a new South Asia is of realisation of freedom free from want, freedom from fear, and freedom to live with dignity. This is premised on the axiom that every single individual on earth has both the potential and the right to live a decent life. This is exactly what our governments have ratified in Human Rights and Socio-Economic rights conventions.
The dream of a new South Asia is of attainment of prosperity, free from the clutches of hunger, poverty and despair. The dream of a South Asia where growing GDP would directly translate into improved human development. This dream is of celebration of diversity, the home of most diverse and colourful human society in the world. This is an opportunity to shun the tainted practice of hegemony and oppression in the name of religions, ethnicity, caste and culture. The dream is also of unleashing of pluralistic democracy. This is a call for a 'functional democratic', decentralised, political system, for enjoying essence of citizenship amidst diversity.
The dream is also of redefining our national security priorities and the only way forward, otherwise we would remain the poorest, most illiterate, most deprived, and most militarised region of the world.
Ten years for each, the generals
and the Islamists
Time has come to turn to 'purity', to give all three systems the democracy, the martial law and the Shariah a fair and absolute chance. Ten years for each should suffice... whichever among them succeeds should stay for all times to come
By Muhammad Ahsan Yatu
Since the past sixty years we have been experimenting mainly with two governing systems democracy and martial laws. However, we did not use these systems in their entirety. We mixed them with each other and also added to them a bit of the Shariah (Islamic law). The amalgam did not work; rather it did the reverse, and added to the political, economic and social uncertainties. Time has come to turn to 'purity', to give all three systems the democracy, the martial law and the Shariah a fair and absolute chance, time and action wise, separately without mixing them with each other. Ten years for each should suffice. Whichever among them succeeds should stay for all times to come or till such times we survive!
With which one of these systems should we take a start? It must not be democracy. If we do so we will stall or fall at the gates. We will fail before we begin. Our constitution does not allow man made laws; whereas the democracy is by definition and by dynamics people centric and secular. Democracy is not an election activity only. It is a process through which people make their own laws and change them if they fail to deliver. No one and no party can dare act democratically while following the present constitution. If some one thinks it can be done, he or she is either innocent or befooling the nation. Moreover we do not have effective secular political parties around. The nationalists of Balochistan, Sindh and the NWFP are no doubt the secularists and perhaps the only available real political stuff, but they have no nationwide support. They are rather taken as anti-Pakistan, and as such are on the hit list.
The PPP the most popular political party is thoroughly religious due to its affluent feudal leadership, though at peoples' level the reason for its strength is its liberal and socialist image. Its leaders did use to wear a liberal-leftist mask, but that is a thing of the past. Today they repeatedly pronounce that they are not secular and will make laws in accordance with the Shariah.
The second most popular party the PML-N is led by the undisciplined affluent sections of the nation. It is openly in favour of an Islamic rule based society. However, its popularity has major reason in the sanctity of the 'Punjabi pug'.
The ruling party the PML-Q and its allies are flexible in all areas. Most of its leaders are rich stalwarts. They will side sincerely with a thoroughly secular system provided they get a share in power. The MQM in its outlook is a liberal and non-religious party. Factually it is sitting on the other extremity. It is so far a race based pressure group that pressurises the rich and the middle income groups alike, and also the state when needed. It will remain by composition anti-democratic. However, if its present efforts to expand its support base through out Pakistan succeed, and if it is supported by a tiny disciplined rich class that we have, it may emerge as a democratic force.
So in the absence of strong democratic political parties, it is better to give the army or the politico-religious parties a chance first. It is also necessary because no political party can dare to divert national wealth from defence to development and change policies on Kashmir and Afghanistan. The military and the religious parties will allow no one to do so.
Given the numerical, material, technical, disciplinary and dynamic skills that the military claims it has, it would be best if it is given first ten years of test rule. No doubt the Islamists too are equally loaded with all types of skills, but they are not still as powerful and rich as the military is. They do have resources; the Pakistani, the Arab and the American rich and the agencies and the mafias do support them financially, but not to the extent that would help them match the wealth of the corporate military of Pakistan. So if they are given a chance first, the powerful army will not let them 'succeed'. For another experiment with the destiny of Pakistan, they are the second option.
During the test period of ten years, the army should begin with the law of necessity. It should be declared as the mother of all laws. Next it should concentrate on taking over total control of the state machine. The joint chief of staff should act as the president, the chief of army staff as the prime minister, the chief of naval staff as the chief minister of the NWFP, the chief of air force as the chief minister of Punjab, and the corps commanders based in Quetta and Karachi as the chief ministers of Balochistan and Sindh respectively. The rest of the top political and bureaucratic and managerial posts in the secretariat and other national organisations should be distributed among the remaining corps commanders, lieutenant generals, major generals, the brigadiers and the colonels. Even for many tasks the suitable persons from the retired military cadre can be engaged.
The lieutenant colonels, the majors, the captains and the lieutenants can replace the deputy secretaries, the directors and the section officers. The rest of the posts can be taken over by the other ranks and the jawans. The military accounts directorate can run the financial institutions including the CBR, State Bank etc. The NAB has already replaced most of the FIA. It can take over the entire control. The police services should not be touched. The people out there are the brothers in uniform. Moreover, if removed they will do much more than what they are doing now, and that will create a situation which even the all-powerful army would watch helplessly.
Having acquired control on every thing that matters in Pakistan, there will be no hindrance to the military in implementing its reformative agendas. It can do any thing it likes. It may even go through a metamorphosis and change its image of the army in business to the army in barracks; and revise its policies on Kashmir and Afghanistan, and also on defence allocations. It would be in the interest of the political leaders or whatever they are and wherever they are to sit quietly and watch the grand military show from outside.
Let us hope the military would succeed. We the people of Pakistan should support wholeheartedly whatever the military would do. If the military succeeds, the experiment would stop. Onwards the military will rule smoothly and the people will live happily. The politico-religious leaders would return to the mosques, and the democrats would join their leaders in exile.
If military does not succeed, which is likely, then the next is the Taliban's turn to do the rest. The Taliban have every thing, the divine laws and the will to implement them, their own army of male and female soldiers and hundreds of thousands of ulema who can take charge of everything from the on ground secretariat to the planes flying in the skies. They would deliver. Even if they would not deliver anything else, they would certainly deliver the 'peace'. They did it in Afghanistan, and this is what our army, intellectuals, political leaders and the media tell us. If peace comes to Pakistan, no matter what kind of peace, the political certainty will follow. What else will follow is anybody's guess.
Should the political parties be given a chance after the Taliban's ten-year test rule over Pakistan? No, if they remain without meaningful, well-defined and workable manifestoes. No, if they are not ready to change the fiscal equation in favour of the people. No, if they are not able to give financial autonomy to the provinces. No, if they are not powerful enough to change Pakistan's disastrous policies on Kashmir and Afghanistan. No, if they are not ready to turn to social democracy to provide food, shelter, healthcare, education and an intellect enhancing environment to every Pakistani. No, if they are not able to secularise the constitution. No, if they are not capable of saying 'no' to America on the matters of peoples' interests. No, because not much of any worth would be left to renovate after the twenty-year trial rule of the military and the Taliban.
If the Quaid's Pakistan is destined to decay and degenerate, why should it happen through the peoples' votes?
Gwadar: an emerging gateway to Central Asia
By Kaleem Omar
Gwadar's bid to become the gateway port for China's vast western region and the landlocked Central Asian Republics received a boost on Tuesday with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Pakistan and China for Chinese assistance for the construction of an international airport at Gwadar.
The MoU was one of 27 agreements signed by the two countries during Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's five-day official visit to China.
Talking to journalists at the signing ceremony in Beijing, Aziz said that Islamabad expects trade between the two countries to grow from the current level of $ 5 billion a year to $ 15 billion a year over the next few years.
At present the trade between the two countries is heavily skewed in China's favour, with imports from China accounting for nearly 80 per cent of the total and exports from Pakistan accounting for only about 20 per cent. But this imbalance is expected to be reduced over the next five years as more Pakistani goods and commodities find markets in China.
Goods exported to western China via the Karakoram Highway land route will have a huge price advantage in terms of reduced transportation costs. Goods sent by sea have to travel more than 10,000 miles to reach Chinese ports on the country's eastern seaboard, and then have to be transported 3,000 miles overland across China to reach markets in western China. Goods sent via the KKH land route have to travel only a few hundred miles to reach markets in western China.
To facilitate the transportation of goods via the land route, China has agreed to help Pakistan to upgrade and widen the Karakoram Highway to make it an all-weather road suitable for heavy truck traffic.
China has also agreed in principle to give Pakistan $ 500 million worth of financial assistance to meet the cost of building Phase II of the new port at Gwadar. The first phase, which cost $ 250 million, was built with $ 198 million worth of Chinese financial assistance, with the rest of the money coming from the Pakistan government.
Phase I is now operational, and the contract for the management of the port has been given to a Singapore company under a 40-year agreement. Work on Phase II is expected to begin this year.
In August 2003, the heads of delegations from Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan signed a protocol at the Asian Development Bank's headquarters in Manila to benefit from the North-South Corridor connecting their respective countries with Pakistan's ports, including Karachi, Port Qasim and the new deep-sea port at Gwadar.
The four countries also supported the idea of an East-West Corridor through Iran. To facilitate the movement of trade goods, they also identified improvements required at Pakistani ports in customs and transit procedures, cargo checking, telecommunication links and logistic services.
The ADB has agreed to finance feasibility studies for building highway links between Gwadar and Central Asia.
The idea of Gwadar serving as a gateway port for the region also got a boost with the inauguration of the revitalised Saindak project four years ago. The project, which is being run by the China Metallurgical Construction Company under an initial 10-year lease signed in September 2002, is now operating at full capacity, producing 15,800 tons of copper a year, 1.47 tons of gold a year and 2.7 tons of silver a year.
Gwadar can serve as the port for the export of the copper to markets around the world. This will require the building of a road link between Saindak and Gwadar. Due to growing demand in China's rapidly expanding economy, the copper market is booming and prices have registered a steep rise in recent years.
An Australian company is building a project to mine and process copper deposits at nearby Rekidik, which contains much bigger reserves of ore than Saindak. The company is spending $ 100 million on the project's first phase, with eventual investment going up to $ 1 billion. According to the company's CEO, Balochistan has the potential to become a 'world-class mining centre'.
Copper from Rekidik can also be exported to foreign markets from the new port at Gwadar, using the same proposed highway link as Saindak.
Meanwhile, a 33-kilometre rail link has been built to connect Saindak to Taftan near the Pakistan-Iran border. Taftan is already connected to the rest of Pakistan with rail and road links.
China is the world's fastest growing major economy. It has been growing at a blistering 9 per cent a year for the last 20 years and is expected to overtake the United States as the world's biggest economy in purchasing power parity terms by 2016.
Of particular interest to Pakistan is the fact that Beijing has now announced a massive plan for the economic development of western China, the region that borders Pakistan and is connected to it by the Karakoram Highway.
Beijing's plan calls for the investment of $ 500 billion in western China over the next five years, with half the money to be spent on infrastructure projects and the other half on setting up industries and other commercial enterprises.
Huge quantities of machinery, construction materials and other goods will have to be imported for these schemes. Also, after the industries have been set up, huge quantities of products manufactured by them will be exported to foreign markets.
Gwadar is the logical choice to serve as the gateway port for all these imports and exports, because it is much closer to western China than ports along China's eastern seaboard. It therefore makes eminent economic sense for China to use Gwadar as the gateway port for western China. This explains Beijing's interest in helping Pakistan to build a deep-sea port at Gwadar and highway links connecting the port to Kashgar, via the KKH.
Central Asia is strategically placed at the crossroads between Europe and China, Russia and Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan and the Gulf states.
In economic terms, the collapse of the Soviet Union was a disaster for the Central Asian Republics. After independence, GDP throughout the region plummeted and has yet to recover to its pre-independence level, except in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
As the London Economist noted in a survey of Central Asia, "One of the reasons for the region's uneven economic fortunes is the skewed distribution of natural resources across it. Whereas Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have significant oil and gas reserves, Tajikistan and Kirgizstan are small, mountainous countries with little more than a sprinkling of gold and lots of water. Uzbekistan has enough gas for its own consumption, as well as reasonable mineral wealth."
Governments throughout the region are keen to diversify the economy and give exports a boost. The new port at Gwadar can play a role in this, since it can help cut shipping costs for the region's exports, which currently have to be shipped to foreign markets from far-off Black Sea ports.
Gwadar is also the closest port to southern Afghanistan, a region that includes the country's second-biggest city, Kandahar. A highway linking Gwadar to Chaman on the Pak-Afghan border would help facilitate the flow of imports into southern and central Afghanistan by cutting road transportation costs.
The Pakistan government needs to press ahead at full speed not only with the building of Phase II of the deep-sea port at Gwadar but also with the building of all the related infrastructure, including highway links, water and electricity supply schemes. Work should also proceed at full speed to implement the master plan prepared by Nespak for the development of Gwadar town.
Protesting farmers in Lahore share their views...
By Aoun Sahi
The 31st ministerial meeting of Cairns Group was held in Lahore last week. Ever since Pakistan decided to join it in December 2005, small farmers associations and civil society organisations of country have been showing great concerns over this step of government. They think that instead of joining this group, Pakistan should follow G-33's stance of which it is a member on WTO agricultural negotiations. G-33 is a group of developing agricultural countries.
No wonder the recent ministerial meeting faced a great resistance from small farmers' associations and civil society organisations. The Sustainable Agriculture Action Group (SAAG) organised a 'Peasant's Resistance Convention' as a parallel event to Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Lahore. Over 100 small farmers' organisations and representatives of many other NGOs and research organisations from all provinces of the country participated in the convention.
According to organisers the objective of this parallel event is to resist anti-farmer policies of the WTO and to assert that civil society has many apprehensions with regards to Pakistan's position in WTO agricultural negotiations, which ignore protection of peasants and small farmers in the country.
They also held a protest rally against the Cairns Group meeting. A participant of the protest procession Anwer Baloch, a small farmer from Balochistan, while talking to TNS said that this is wheat harvest season and no farmer can afford to leave his field for even a single day "but we are in Lahore for the last three days just to registered our protest against anti-peasant policies of Pakistan government and Cairns Group."
Tahir Hasnain Executive Director Economic Justice and Development Organisation (EJAD) Pakistan says that Pakistan is a member of G-33 that demands provision of Special Products (SPs) and Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) in agriculture to protect agriculture; and G-20 which challenges Northern agriculture subsidies and other protection measures. "But later Pakistan joined the Cairns Group that strives for market access to export agricultural products."
Tahir says that at the Doha Ministerial Summit in 2001, Pakistan presented the idea of 'Development Box' for seeking high protection for agriculture in developing countries to safeguard food security, livelihood and rural development concerns, and taking the same agenda it became an active member of G-33 and G-20. "However, after Doha, Pakistan changed its position radically against the interest of the farmers due to certain international and national pressures."
According to him it is evident that Pakistan has totally changed its position, for instance, policy decision for corporate farming, Pakistan joining the Cairns Group, and its soft position on SPs and SSM. "All this was done with the claim to end the stalemate in the Doha Round negotiations while ignoring the interest of the 91 per cent of poor farming community at the national level."
Some have their strong reservations on Pakistan's dual stance over agricultural issues on different international forums. Wali Haider, research and publication coordinator of Roots for Equity Karachi tells TNS that Pakistan has recently submitted 'Modalities for the Selection and Treatment of Special Product' in the WTO. According to him many G-33 members were surprised and disappointed both by the content and the procedure of Pakistan's proposal. The position in the paper is in contradiction with much of the group's stance. "Pakistan proposes that all SPs have to have tariff cuts which is contrary to the G-33 position which proposes at least 50 per cent of tariff lines exempted from tariff cuts."
He tells TNS that Pakistan's statement in the recent G-33 meeting was taken as an effort to divide the group. "Venezuela pointed out right way that in future Pakistan must make sure that the proposal is not interpreted as a G-33 proposal."
Shujaat Ali Khan Secretary SAAG thinks that agriculture in Pakistan is already deteriorating and needs protection while government is talking about liberalising and free access to market. "Because of irrational and liberal exports of citrus to China and other countries this year, the prices were high in Pakistan and national market also witnessed its shortage." According to him if Cairns Group's stance of free market access is approved we may have to face similar situation for all agricultural products.
He says that during the Cairns group meeting farmer leaders from member countries met on April 16. From Pakistan only few influential farmers participated and none of the small farmers or their organisations is allowed to attend the meeting. "Pakistan being the host country should chair the meeting but instead it was Australia that chaired the three day meeting, which clearly shows Pakistan position in the group."
Shujaat says that in the backdrop of this we reject Pakistan's membership with the Cairns Group. He believes by doing so, Pakistan is representing certain minority interest groups by ignoring majority peasants and small farmers. "Pakistan needs mostly the defensive stance in agriculture negotiations but since peasants and small farmers in country are marginalised and unorganised, Pakistan does not have priority in defending agriculture. On the other hand, Pakistan is moving towards offensive stance because of influence of few landlord feudal farmers and commerce influential groups who have great interest in exporting agricultural products no matter if the local consumer suffer food insecurity."
Pakistan should not liberalise agriculture till it develops to a level at which it can compete in the open market. A civil society perspective after the recently concluded Cairns Group meeting
By Tahir Hasnain
Agriculture is the central sector to economies of many poor member countries of the WTO and currently, these countries are resisting its further liberalisation without getting tangible market access in developed countries. At the moment, the challenge for poor countries in WTO negotiations on agriculture is to attain larger market access in rich countries and at the same time protect domestic agriculture from competition.
As of the Doha Ministerial Summit (named as Doha Development Round) during 2001, agriculture appeared to be the key to any progress in the stalled WTO negotiations.
The framework of the Agreement on Agriculture agreed on during 2004 has several flaws related to its three pillars i.e. market access, domestic support and export subsidies. The framework does not seem friendly to the farmers in developing countries. It expands mechanism of massive subsidisation that Northern countries give to its agriculture sector under the 'Green Box' and the 'Blue Box' and demands additional market access to Southern countries. The question of rich countries' agricultural support and its potential impacts on rural poverty in poor countries was one of the major concerns throughout the Doha Round negotiations.
Between the Doha Ministerial Summit and now, developed countries used a range of unfair tactics (mini-Ministerial meetings, bilateral pressures and incentives, formation of G5 and now G4) to divide poor member countries. As a result, these countries were forced to form different political groups within the WTO G-20 (contesting Northern agricultural subsidies and other protection measures), G-33 (demanding provision of special products (SPs) and special safeguard mechanism (SSM) in agriculture) and G-90 (who effectively opposed attempts by the US and EU to include Singapore issues like investment, competition policy, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation during the Cancun negotiations in 2003) formed after the Doha Summit.
During June 2006, WTO members met at the ministerial level in Geneva to try to reach an agreement. The negotiations, however, did not achieve any results. The negotiations had reached an impasse on the issues of market access for agriculture and non-agricultural products and agricultural domestic support. On July 27 2006, Director General of WTO, Pascal Lamy made a formal recommendation to the General Council to suspend the WTO Doha Round until further notice. After the Davos meeting, the negotiation has been recently re-launched as of January 2007.
About Cairns Group
Formed in 1986, the Cairns Group is an interest group of 19 countries that export agricultural products, which aims at eliminating trade barriers in the agricultural sector. Cairns Groups members include Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand and Uruguay. While members of the group focused on the expansion of agricultural trade, they also tackled the resumption of stalled global trade talks.
The Cairns Group's objective is to bring about liberalisation of global trade in agricultural products. In particular, its members aim to abolish export subsidies and trade-distorting 'Amber Box' (domestic support measures for agricultural products) and seek to improve market access for exported agricultural goods. The coalition also attempts to present a common front in multilateral trade negotiations at the WTO, tabling joint proposals and occasionally working with like-minded groups such as the G20 group of developing nations.
The Cairns Group successfully forced agriculture onto the agenda of the Uruguay Round. This eventually led to the Agreement on Agriculture.
In the ongoing Doha Round of trade negotiations, they are mainly opposed by WTO members seeking to uphold their high level of agricultural protection on grounds of public policy, such as the EU, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland and United States of America.
The Group Demands:
1. Doha Round should deliver significant benefits to their farmers.
2. Export subsidies should be phased out over three years for developed countries and six years for developing countries
3. On market access, the group links tariffs cuts that deliver new trade opportunities for all agricultural products.
4. The Group demands substantial cuts in current subsidies given by the developed countries.
Pakistan joined the Cairns Group in December 2005 to meet its offensive interests and fight for market access to export agricultural products.
Pakistan's Position on Agriculture
Pakistan has both defensive and offensive interests in agriculture. Pakistan is member of G-33 who demand provision of SPs and SSMs to protect agriculture. To achieve its ambitious results, Pakistan joined G-20 and more recently the Cairns Group who strive for market access to export agricultural products.
On SPs, Pakistan feels that there should be some balancing proposal in order to have some progress on this issue. Pakistan also has offensive interests in the future as it expects to have surplus production in several agricultural products such as milk and horticultural products (citrus fruits, potatoes, tomatoes and onions etc) and Pakistan does not want that because of an excessive application of SPs by other countries. Hence, Pakistan does not support G-33's stance that 20 per cent of the agricultural tariff lines be exempted from sharp tariff reductions that are crucial from country's food security, rural development and livelihood security point of view. Rather Pakistan would like to have a limited number of agricultural products designated as SPs.
Pakistan has recently submitted 'Modalities for the Selection and Treatment of Special Products, April 2007' in the WTO. Pakistan suggests that SPs be ranked according to a scoring system based on the data and percentage of any product under a specific indicator. Members may agree on a benchmark score; therefore all products scoring more than the benchmark would be eligible for designation as SPs. Pakistan proposes to offer incentives to those developing countries who decide to limit the number of SPs.
On the issue of tariff reduction, Pakistan believes that as far as its defensive interests are concerned, since bound rates for agricultural products in Pakistan are rather high (average 101 per cent), it is not likely that the applied rates in Pakistan would be touched after applying the current G-20 formula (maximum cut in tariff of 40 per cent).
A Critique of Pakistan's Position on Agriculture
At the Doha Ministerial Summit in 2001, Pakistan presented the idea of Development Box for seeking high protection for agriculture in developing countries to safeguard food security, livelihood and rural development concerns. Taking the same agenda forward, Pakistan became an active member in G-33. However after Doha, pressure mounted on Pakistan both internally and externally. Asian Development Bank, Pakistan enhanced ties with US that played a major role in Pakistan's change of position on protection of agriculture.
It is thus widely argued that Pakistan has been serving the interests of vicious international lobbies and influential countries who would like to divide and cheat poor countries. It is proved by the fact that Pakistan's recent proposal on SPs was discussed among selected countries of the Cairns Group. Pakistan's statement in the recent G-33 meeting was taken as an effort to divide G-33. Venezuela at once pointed out that in the future Pakistan must make sure that the proposal is not interpreted as a G-33 proposal, especially because the coalition has a well-defined process of arriving at positions. Indonesia also stressed the importance of appearing united as a group and ensuring that all concerns are processed internally.
In the entire scenario, we don't see a positive role by our government in protecting our agriculture and the farmers at large.
Pakistan and the Cairns Group: Concerns and Recommendations
The civil society (small farmers, peasants and civil society organisations) in Pakistan are surprised at Pakistan's joining the Cairns Group and its distancing policies from the G-33. From the civil society perspective, Pakistan should protect a majority of its agricultural products as well as farming communities. It should not liberalise agriculture till it develops to a level at which it can compete in the open market. Pakistan's positions in the WTO and the domestic agricultural policies clearly favour a few landlords, feudal farmers and other trade and commerce influential groups. The majority farmers, however, are small (including landless peasants) and need protection.
In this backdrop, farmers and the civil society organisations reject Pakistan's membership of the Cairns group. Pakistan needs a defensive stance in agriculture negotiations but since peasants and small farmers do not have any political clout, the government's priority is not to defend agriculture. There are a number of arguments that further strengthen this belief. Some are as under:
Pakistan's agriculture (including area, yield, quality, diversity, research & development, investment, post harvest losses, prices, etc.) is already deteriorating and needs protection.
Pakistan's export markets are shrinking due to the high cost of agricultural production, low yields, inadequate storage facilities, poor trade facilitation, exploitative and faulty agricultural domestic policies, lack of quality standards, lack of market related R & D, lack of grading packaging and treatment service, inconsistent production trends, lack of supportive policies and infrastructure, shortage of water, etc.
Food import is increasing. Many farmers have shifted their focus due to lack of policy support and hence, there are fewer chances that Pakistan will start growing huge surpluses in the near future. For instance, we are now importing pulses and in the last budget government announced a subsidy on imports of pulses. If instead of giving import subsidy, the farmers had been provided some support (subsidy), the situation could have been different.
Because of irrational exports to China this year, citrus prices were very high in Pakistan and citrus was short in the national market. Due to lack of coherent policies and proper checks and balances in the country, few benefit and many others suffer.
We lack transparency in policy making, especially in agriculture. Farmers are not usually consulted in policy decisions despite the fact that fall out of those policies is more direct and severe on farming and rural communities.
During the recent Cairns Group meeting, farmer leaders from member countries of the Cairns Group met on April 16, 2007. When civil society organisations recently requested the government to include one or two small farmer leaders for this meeting, the request was turned down.
Similarly, civil society representatives are not being given the chance to speak and share their concerns during the Cairns Group meeting in Lahore.
(The writer is Executive director Economic Justice and Development Organisation EJAD, an Islamabad based NGO. He can be reached at email@example.com)