a child in Balochistan
phones in class, why not?
Lost in labour
From chaos to crisis
The political problem, which has started to brew after the April 26 verdict, could lead to a major upheavel if not handled with maturity and foresight
By Raza Rumi
On April 26, 2012, the
Supreme Court found Pakistan’s Prime Minister and chief executive Syed
Yousuf Raza Gilani of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) guilty of
contempt of court and sentenced him to a token ‘imprisonment till the
rising of the court’. This development has once again increased the
likelihood of political instability in the near-term. The Opposition
leaders have called on the PM to resign from his office.
The short order issued
by the Supreme Court on April 26, inter alia states: “For the reasons to
be recorded later, the accused Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Prime Minister of
Pakistan/Chief Executive of the federation, is found guilty of and
convicted for contempt of court, under Article 204 (2) of the Constitution
of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, read with Section 3 of the
Contempt of Court Ordinance (Ordinance 5 of 2003) for willful flouting,
disregard and disobedience of this court’s direction …After our
satisfaction that the contempt committed by him is substantially
detrimental to the administration of justice and tends to bring this court
and the judiciary of this country into ridicule.”
However, the court
stepped back and allowed for the constitutional process for
disqualification. The second portion of the order reads as below: “As
regards the sentence to be passed against the convict, we note that the
findings and the conviction for contempt of court recorded above are
likely to entail some serious consequences in terms of Article 63 (1) (g)
of the Constitution which may be treated as mitigating factors towards the
sentence to be passed against him. He is, therefore, punished under
Article 5 of the contempt of court ordinance (ordinance 5 of 2003) with
imprisonment till the rising of the court today.”
Article 63 (1) (g) is a
curious portion of the Constitution. It leads to disqualification of a
member of the parliament if he or she brings into ridicule the judiciary
or the armed forces of the country. The clause has an imprint of General
Zia’s legacy, which even the recent amendments to the Constitution have
not been able change as the state has created a particular narrative. The
clause says that a member of a parliament is liable to be disqualified if:
“... he has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for
propagating any opinion, or acting in any manner, prejudicial to the
ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of
Pakistan, or morality, or the maintenance of public order, or the
integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames
or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan,
unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release…”.
process entails the decision of Speaker to send a reference to the
Election Commission and this process can take up to four months. The Prime
Minister has reacted and his latest speech in the National Assembly
indicates that the people and their representatives, i.e., the Parliament
can only remove him. Therefore, the political battle is far from over. The
judiciary has given its verdict and it seems the ruling party intends to
fight it back for political mileage and gains.
Contempt is clear
The executive and
judicial branches of the Pakistani state have wrangled over the
implementation of a court direction to write a letter to the Swiss Court
to re-open graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari (co-chairman
PPP) in accordance with the reversal of the National Reconciliation
Ordinance (NRO) 2007. The government headed by the Prime Minister has
maintained that the letter could not be written because the President had
immunity from criminal legal proceedings under the Pakistani Constitution.
Such immunity, according to government, was internationally sanctioned
under the Vienna Convention.
After nearly two years
of NRO judgment, most of its directions were complied with except this
one. In purely technical terms, there has been a violation of the court
directive; and regardless of the government’s position an order by
Supreme Court has to be complied with.
Aitzaz Ahsan, the
counsel for the PM has also stated that Gilani’s conviction has not
disqualified him from holding public office. But the moral pressure on the
PM is now immense from the Court, media and the opposition parties. The
PPP government in legal and moral terms is on a weak wicket to employ an
overused cricket analogy.
PPP has a history with
the armed forces and the judiciary. Bhutto’s ‘judicial murder’ keeps
the party’s support-base charged with the cult of martyrdom. The
succeeding years of repression by the military and the latter’s
treatment of Benazir Bhutto during the 1990s is viewed by the PPP,
especially its Sindhi supporters as a tale of perpetual injustice. When
the two Benazir Bhutto governments were ousted in the 1990s, the Supreme
Court upheld the decision by respective Presidents. In the case of Mian
Nawaz Sharif, the Supreme Court reversed the Presidential decision to fire
him in 1993. Thus, the perception of ethnic or provincial discrimination
has also been a constant feature of PPP narrative. In purely objective
terms, such perceptions may not hold water but then cults and folklore
have a different way of evolving and deepening. Benazir’s murder in 2007
has fortified these perceptions. Ironically, she was killed in Rawalpindi,
a garrison town and the place of her murder was not too far from the
General Headquarters of Pakistan Army.
This is why a few weeks
before the Supreme Court’s conviction of Gilani the chairperson of PPP,
young Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari made a hard-hitting speech and addressed the
judges directly. The contents of that speech give a fair idea of how the
PPP ‘mind’, if it can be aggregated as such, views the current
The peculiar mindscape
Bilawal Bhutto made his
fiery speech, which must have been discussed within party circles. The
Supreme Court has taken notice of it but no action has been taken yet.
Bilawal’s words on the issue of contempt were:
“We cannot allow the
court to dig up my mother’s grave … Mr Prime Minister you will not
violate the Vienna Convention, you will not violate the Constitution of
Pakistan, you will not desecrate the graves of our martyrs ... There is
not only the Supreme Court, there is also the court of the people and the
court of history … Just as Shaheed Bhutto was vindicated, you too shall
be vindicated. They can threaten to send Yousuf Raza Gilani of Multan to
prison but he is a follower of Bhutto Shaheed. We do not fear prison
cells. We do not fear death cells.”
On the issue of
provincial discrimination, Bilawal reiterated the stance of his mother who
made similar remarks the day before she came back to Pakistan in October
“The Sharifs of Lahore
have had their trumped up charges squashed by the courts. I do not believe
there will be double standards. I do not believe that Shaheed Zulfikar Ali
Bhutto of Larkana is hanged but he does not get justice from these courts
while the Sharifs of Lahore are vindicated…Similarly, the Asghar Khan
case has finally been taken up by the Supreme Court. Shaheed Benazir
Bhutto fought for more than a decade for this case to be heard. It is a
positive development that following Imran Khan of Lahore’s demand the
case has finally been heard.”
The “Bhuttos of
Larkana” it was urged should get the same treatment. These slogans sell
in constituencies but have little bearing in formal courtrooms where law,
convention and procedures are used to determine the outcomes of any case.
Courts must not be
By taking on the courts
before and after the verdict, the PPP may have appealed to its core
constituency but it cannot continue with this risky strategy. For
democratic evolution, it is important that the judiciary must not be
tested further. If PPP government does not want to write a letter to the
Swiss authorities and does not want to unseat the Prime Minister then it
must not take matters to a state of logjam. The political crisis, which
has started to brew after the April 26 verdict, could lead to a major
crisis if not handled with maturity and foresight.
Our history tells us
that when political forces do not find ways out of a deadlock the
permanent establishment, i.e, civil-military establishment, finds ways of
intervening, which are inimical to democratic development. This happened
in the 1950s, in 1970s as well as the 1990s. It should be conceded that
the process to oust Gilani from the Premiership will have to go through a
series of protracted legal procedure. The only silver lining is that PPP
and PMLN have practised the art of effecting negotiated settlements. They
could still agree on Gilani’s replacement or even the holding of general
While bye-elections are
not a real indicator of electoral trends, the narrow victory of PPP
candidate on a provincial assembly in the Multan district of Punjab
outlines the potential strength of its “Seraiki’ province politics,
the gains from incumbency in doling out patronage; and of course, the
Finally, a word on the
way media has played up the executive-judiciary tensions. It is most
unfortunate that certain sections of the media have gone many steps ahead
of the more nuanced and calibrated process of judicial scrutiny. By
fanning the confrontation[s] the media is not helping anyone. Governments
come and go. In any case, if there are journalists and editors who are
titled against the ruling party, they may wait for a few months when the
country moves towards general election. The primacy of the Constitution
must not be ignored. The Courts’ orders need to be obeyed; and
disqualification of members of parliament takes place through a process;
and the only way to change or remove governments is through a vote of no
confidence or election. Upholding democratic norms will be in the interest
of the media itself. It will not be free in unconstitutional or
Raza Rumi’s writings
are archived at www.razarumi.
com. Twitter: @razarumi
Each year around this time, the Bretton Woods institutions hold meetings with member countries to discuss a range of issues related to finance and economic development. Ideally, the meetings provide a forum for international cooperation, but for countries like Iran and Pakistan, it’s also an opportunity to smooth things out with the United States in sideline bilateral meetings.
That’s what Pakistan’s finance minister, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, attempted to achieve last week. The four-member delegation he led had almost 40 meetings with lending agencies, financial institutions, government departments, business organisations and other officials from different countries. Resultantly, the group gained renewed assurances — with same conditions.
The minister began the trip addressing an event hosted by a Washington-based think-tank, the Brookings Institution, where he said that the country is expecting a growth of about 4 per cent in the current fiscal year, even though it has to pay back $1.4 billion in loans. The axiomatic shortcomings of the government were sugarcoated with terms like unprecedented democratic reforms and vitality of civil society.
“A little more than 3.5 per cent is a sustained growth because of our robust agriculture sector,” water and agriculture expert Saeed A Rana tells TNS. “The country has seen more than 9 per cent growth in the past,” he says, adding that “the government needs to tap the potential in the Livestock sector.”
Rana characterises the delegation’s trip as partially successful, estimating that the meetings with the World Bank yielded better results than with the IMF.
The Monetary Fund has not been satisfied with the country’s performance, because of the standby loan taken in 2008. On the other hand, the World Bank allocated 1.8 billion dollars for the development projects, mainly in the energy sector. “This is a big sign of confidence in Pakistan’s ability to accomplish development for its people,” the minister said after a meeting with the World Bank. The finance minister also boasted about the reassurance from the World Bank and US to finance Diamer-Bhasha dam. “The Asian Development Bank has also reconfirmed its commitment to the project and the US will also provide $223 million for Mangla and Kurram-Tangi dam projects.”
He emphasised on this allocation throughout his tour in an attempt to impress the credit rating agencies. Dr Shaikh and his team also met with Moody’s and Standard and Poor to discuss Pakistan’s fiscal deficit, external accounts and other reforms. Moody’s Investors Services in its annual report last month reported that Pakistan’s B3 rating reflects the country’s low economic, institutional and government financial strengths.
The delegation during the trip cited that the “challenging economic situation in Pakistan” remains because of the rising petrol prices internationally and energy crisis domestically. Other reasons given included the non-payment of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), which stands around $2 billion. The minister did not comment on the issue, but said he believes that it will be resolved soon. The US halted disbursement of Coalition Support Funds last year as bilateral relations went into freefall. Experts link it to the blockade of the Nato supply line.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, the USAID suggested to cut its projects from 140 to around 40 by the end of this year. Even though the total civilian aid will remain the same, the agency administrator Rajiv Shah said that the focus areas will be energy, economic growth, heath, education and stabilisation of Afghan border areas. “That’s because the government failed to propose a budget for its needy projects,” commented Dr Samia Altaf, author of So Much Aid, So Little Development: Stories from Pakistan.
The break in the international assistance coupled with the crumbling manufacturing and services sectors compelled the government for internal borrowing which hit the maximum limit — almost 60 per cent of the GDP — advised by the debt limitation law, causing a double digit inflation. The finance ministry officials had defended the borrowing in the past claiming that, even though it fluctuates, borrowing is a normal business.
The delegation also highlighted Pakistan’s annual exports, which “surpassed $25 billion last year and continue the upward momentum,” Dr Shaikh said. In its meetings with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other financial agencies, the delegation took pride that an unprecedented 25 per cent increase in revenue has been achieved, claiming reforms (sales tax subsidies withdrew) initiated last year.
Flow of remittance has maintained a steady trend since 9/11 due to strict laws against informal channels. The delegation took credit of this increase pointing out that the current fiscal was experiencing 21 per cent raise in foreign remittances over the last fiscal. “Last year the remittances were at 11.2 billion dollars, but this fiscal year it amounts around 13.5 billion dollars,” Dr Shaikh told a media gathering before his departure back home.
“Why should remittances considered as an economic indicator?” argues Mossadaq F Chughtai, who heads a private company called Zima Inc., and has long been a part of the Pakistani business community in the U.S. Mr Chughtai calls it a number game. “Instead of relying on remittances, they should pitch projects to international partners that could create more jobs,” he said. “The investment in the country is sliding further down and hurting the local production and exports because of the energy crisis, while the circular debt in on the rise,” Chughtai said.
The officials also met with other delegates from friendly countries, including Iran, Afghanistan, China and Saudi Arabia. Some members also met with the Indian members separately. The details were not available about these get-togethers but the World Bank officials confirmed to TNS that the Bank has agreed to fund the infrastructure needed for trade in electricity between India and Pakistan. This includes a 40-km and 220 KV transmission line. Pakistan intends to import 500 MW from India. The official also confirmed another project aimed to cut down gas losses. The initial paperwork for the project is underway. “Trade aside, Pakistan does not need to import any energy from abroad because the shortages are not a question of resources but of financial management of the sector,” argues Bilal Qureshi, who writes for Foreign Policy Blogs.
“Pakistan is a great destination for investment” the finance minister pitched at every meeting he had, in the backdrop of high oil prices, Afghan war unrest, care for millions of Afghan refugees, global contraction and the high economic cost the country has paid since joining the fight against terror. “Pakistan has most liberal investment regime which allows foreign businesses to investment as much as they want and take out as much capital as they like,” he said adding that the country is open to foreign investment in all fields.
The finance minister and his team ended their week-long visit to the US with more hopes and more promises. The delegation painted a rosy picture for the international community in their various meetings whereas the word goes that the US asked the delegation to pursue its government to commit to political decisions first. It’s a tit-for-tat scenario.
a child in Balochistan
There is a debate in the country about how to bring Balochistan back into the mainstream. Different opposition leaders are giving their plans for responding to Balochistan’s grievances and are in touch with various Baloch leaders.
The government, on the other side, has introduced much talked about ‘Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan’ package and commitments on different forums by the President and the Prime Minister about addressing Balochistan’s concerns.
No one, however, has a clear agenda and vision about how will they resolve Balochistan’s issues. How will the state of human rights be improved in Balochistan? How will the Baloch youth and children be ensured a safe and healthy future within the federation of Pakistan?
The provincial government should immediately take steps to establish an autonomous, impartial and powerful provincial human rights commission through an Act of the Assembly for the protection of human rights in the province. The commission should have representation from local media, bar, judiciary, etc., and should have enough human and financial resources at its disposal to be able to respond to the human rights violations in the province in an effective way. A retired High Court or Supreme Court judge from Balochistan should be acceptable to all sections of society for effectively addressing human rights related grievances such as missing persons, target killings, kidnappings, sectarian killings, etc. The civil society of Pakistan will be more than willing to support the provincial government in drafting a bill for the establishment of such an institution.
Education is the basic right of every child and this has been reiterated by the present Parliament by making education a fundamental right for children from 5 to 16 years of age under the 18th constitutional amendment. In Balochistan, a huge number of children from 5 to 16 years are not going to schools or drop out following primary as there are only 586 high schools both for girls and boys to cater to students of more than 12,000 primary and middle schools in the province. There is huge difference between the number of children and those getting education. Similarly, those enrolled in schools have a huge gender disparity.
According to the education department Balochistan, an estimated 6000 schools are needed to ensure education to all children of Balochistan in accordance with Article 25-A of the Constitution about the right to free and compulsory education for children from 5 and 16 years of age.
The federal government should respond to this call of the Balochistan education department and allocate funds for this purpose from the ‘Huqooq-e-Balochistan package’ so that the people of Balochistan believe that this package is not just a political gimmick and ensures Baloch children’s right to education.
This will lead to a healthy atmosphere for the children of Balochistan and will be helpful in bringing them into the mainstream. This will also create job opportunities of the educated youth and will prevent them from indulging in anti state activities. That will also remove their sense of deprivation. Likewise, the provincial assembly should take responsibility of introducing the Balochistan Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill on a priority basis to start with.
Balochistan is the only province of Pakistan where there is simply no legislation about child rights. What are the provincial assembly members doing? In the past one year, provincial assemblies in the rest of the three provinces introduced legislation related to children such as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Welfare and Protection Act 2010 and the Sindh Child Protection Authority Act 2011. Why is the provincial assembly of Balochistan unable to legislate about child rights?
The Balochistan Child Welfare and Protection Bill is in the pipeline for quite some time now. It’s high time that the provincial government showed its willingness and commitment by adopting this bill to be able to put in place an effective child protection system in the province.
Violence against children in schools, in madrassahs, at homes and at workplace is common in the province which is leading to violent behaviour among children.
A Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill is in the pipeline for quite some time, again with no signs of its immediate adoption by the provincial assembly. This is another area where the provincial assembly should come forward and play its role for the protection of children of Balochistan from violence.
Child labour is quite common in the province and a large number of children are working in various hazardous sectors, including mining, deep sea fishing, and brick kilns sectors with no response from the government. Besides introducing free and compulsory education laws the government should also build the capacity of the labour department to respond to the situation and ensure effective implementation of labour laws not only about child labour but also about bonded labour and minimum wages. This will be helpful in minimizing labour’s issues and checking exploitation of children working in hazardous sectors.
Despite the fact that the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) was adopted way back in 2000, which abolishes death penalty for children below 18 years of age, recently, a civil society organisation reported cases of four persons below the age of eighteen years who were awarded death sentence in violation of the JJSO. Their appeals are in process.
There is lack of awareness about children related laws among the stakeholders responsible for their implementation. This is also because of poor or no budgetary allocation for the implementation of children-related laws in the province. The government of Balochistan, besides introducing children-related laws, should allocate sufficient funds for their implementation, besides training of the stakeholders, including police, probation officers, prison officials and teachers, etc.
The writer is a development practitioner and tweets at @amahmood72
phones in class, why not?
A couple of weeks back, in biology class, a student took her mobile phone and started clicking it from various angles. Standing at a distance, I remained a bit surprised.
Cell phones are banned in the college where I work, so needless to say that everyone has them in her bag and a rare courage is required to display them openly. How comes the girl student is using it so boldly in my class?
I approached her and found her to be taking pictures of the dissected frog lying in front of her from varying angles and sending them to others who were a bit less daring to do it in front of the teacher. I smiled at her and she regained her confidence.
“Madam it is helpful. When I get home, I will show it to my brother who is not ready to believe that I can hold a live frog let alone dissect it, and I will save the pictures in my computer to get help during my exams.” No doubt, I was impressed.
A couple of days afterwards, my sister sent me a lot of photographs of her only daughter studying in Dubai, from her classroom, where she was seen involved in various sort of activities. Well! How did you manage to take them, do they allow you to visit the class room so frequently?
No, its just that the teachers of the junior classes take pictures quite on regular basis with their cell phones and they send pictures to the parents to keep them informed about the activities of their wards in the class room and administration keep observing that a child should not be seen timid, shocked, frightened, untidy, etc, etc.
A controversy, regarding the use of mobile phones in teaching institutions is going on all over the world.
A few days back, in an examination centre a shawl-clad student was constantly moving her fingers inside her shawl. Invigilator was confused but could not catch her without an obvious proof, but eventually a mobile phone was found that was used for texting questions to the helper sitting outside the examination hall. During college functions parents complained that photographs of their daughters in improper drama costumes were taken by fellow students and pasted on facebook.
The breach of privacy is another woe of mobile phone users as teachers are reluctant to give their phone numbers to every student fearful of their misuse.
It is not at all surprising that mobiles remained banned in secondary and higher secondary schools in most countries of the world as technology is an unlucky maid and seldom accepted immediately. But In 2009, certain research based studies were carried out to find out the practical applications of mobile devices, particularly mobile phones, as most students have them.
A project, TACCLE PROJECT, particularly studied the use of mobiles as a learning tool in classrooms for the students of secondary and intermediate classes. What distinguishes their work is that they went for the practical research, observed and interviewed teachers and students in the institutions where mobiles are allowed.
We can even suggest some ways of computer use in certain Pakistani schools for the purpose of study. We consider those mobile phones only with camera, camcorder and internet access. I-phones, tablets, and blackberries, etc, have been deliberately excluded as these devices are not affordable for a big number.
The use of mobile phones will be cost effective for schools.
Mobile phones with simple devices such as camera and recorders can be very useful in the life science classes used for field trips, botanical and zoological gardens, simple lab experiments related to growth and development.
Mobile phones can also be used to enhance creativity of the young minds by formulating best SMSs, twitter messages, text blogs and picture blogs.
Students can build their confidence by asking those questions which they find difficult or they are embarrassed to ask in the class publicly.Through SMS polling, students can send immediate message to teachers for formative assessment.
Can be used as a dictionary; spell checker, thesaurus and encyclopedic in linguistics.A teacher can ask students to take a picture with their phone around a particular theme or can send everyone in the class a picture she wants them to study/talk about.
Students can make up jingles for a particular topic, key dates for a history test, a poem to be learned for a literature test, a foreign language phrase and lists of chemical elements in a particular group in the Periodic Table!
Use sites like gabcast or evoca to make ‘instant’ podcasts straight from a mobile that can be accessed from a mobile (and you only have to be over 13 to use them) without having to use podcasting software.
Creating mini-documentaries using the camera in their phone. Recording field trips using photos or voices or texting back observations to other pupils.Working on the same project while being at different places and talking via instant-messaging.
Recording science experiments and including the pictures/video with their written reports.Using twitter. If students are properly guided and monitored, mobile phones can also be used as a learning tool and that will also reduce the distraction problem. They can be taught the ways of avoiding the abuse of mobile devices such as net safety, phony identities, cyber crimes and protocols.
The writer is a lecturer
Pakistan has been facing economic slump for quite a long time, especially since 2007, when the country faced a political turmoil after the assassination of PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi.
The economic situation did not improve after the February 2008 general elections. Poor governance, worsening law and order situation, and growing energy crisis were the main reasons behind sluggish economic growth. Growing inflation and unemployment were the main causes of concern for the general public.
“The energy crisis can be cited as the main contributor to the sluggish economic growth of Pakistan,” says Mohammad Sohail, a senior research analyst and Chief Executive Officer of Topline Securities.
This worrisome state of economy has not only negatively affected macroeconomic indicators of Pakistan — with GDP growth rate hovering around 3-4 percent — it has also caused slowing down the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country.
According to a recent report of the State Bank of Pakistan, the net FDI fell by 66.5 percent during the nine months of the current fiscal year till March (2011-12), from 1,333 million dollars to 466.5 million dollar during the corresponding period of 2010-11.
FDI is gradually declining since 2007 when foreign investment was worth 8,423 million dollar in Pakistan, followed by FDI of 5,475 million dollars in fiscal year 2007-08, 2,665 million dollars in 2008-09, 2,086 million dollars in 2009-2010 and 1,916 million dollars in 2010-11.
“Last fiscal year’s FDIs were the lowest in 37 year history of Pakistan, but it has further declined during the current fiscal year which indicates a very serious economic situation in the country,” says Dr. Shahid Hasan Siddiqui, a senior economist and Chairman Research Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance, Karachi.
He believes the main cause of concern is the growing outflows of profits mostly from the previous FDIs abroad. Total repatriation of the profit /dividend only from FDI subhead was 481.6 million dollars during July-March 2012 as against total inflow of 466.5 million dollars. The outflow during the corresponding period of last fiscal year was 391 million dollars.
The perpetuating economic crisis in the country due to both political and economic reasons has marred the GDP growth for many years, thus discouraging foreign investors to look at Pakistan as a potential option for investment.
Despite the fact that American and European economies have witnessed a slump during the last 3 to 4 years, their investors have chosen other Asian developing countries for investments.
Most developing countries, including Pakistan, have been trying hard to attract foreign investment by increasing productivity, transferring advanced technology, employment creation and enhancing competition. The economic benefits have compelled the developing countries to adopt liberal policies to attract FDI inflows. Pakistan started the process of deregulation, privatisation and liberalisation policy in 1988.
The country has been facing energy crisis since early 1990s. The Energy Policy 1994 gave incentives to the international investors to invest in power sector. This resulted in manifold increase in generation capacity of electricity from 5,229 MW to 19,522 MW.
But the following Nawaz Sharif government got stuck in a dispute with Independent Power Producers (IPPs), which, according to some experts, resulted in halting of the international investment inflow in the country. Since then, no power generation capacity was increased, which aggravated the situation.
One of the main reasons of the shortage can be attributed to the failure of successive governments to anticipate growth and the delay in implementation of the projects to increase power production. There is also power theft and lack of investment in the existing power grid.
The energy crisis has gradually aggravated with the passage of time because of unresolved circular debt. Demand of gas also increased manifold during that period. Most of the IPPs as well as WAPDA have converted their thermal power units on gas, whereas domestic demand of gas has also increased as connections are mostly given on political considerations.
Conversion of motor vehicles on CNG has also increased the gas demand. Increase in demand of natural gas has resulted in shortage of gas for industries. The load management of Sui gas in northern parts of the country, when natural gas is often not available for two to three days a week for industries, has hampered business activities in urban centres.
Independent economists believe reinitiating the privatisation process can attract foreign investment for Pakistan. But, unfortunately, privatisation is not under process for couple of years, which is also a cause of decline in foreign investment. During the current fiscal year, the government expected to receive the halted PTCL privatisation proceeds, inflows on account of 3G licence fees, however, these inflows have not materialised during nine months of the current fiscal year, thus foreign investment has further declined.
The situation is not improving despite the federal and provincial governments’ measures to attract foreign investment. Besides power sector, Pakistan has been attracting FDIs in telecommunication sector since 2005. But decline in telecommunication investment after 2008 has put a big dent in Pakistan’s overall foreign investment scenario. Privatization of PTCL and issuance of licenses to new cellular players were dominant factors behind sharp rise in FDIs during the fiscal years between 2005 and 2008.
Foreign investment in five telecom companies stood at 95 percent of FDI in telecom sector during Fiscal year 2003-2004 to 2009-2010. Similarly, the share of companies providing broadband Internet services also increased in FY11. But after the boom, there is a declining trend in the telecom sector as well.
The government had sold 26 percent shares of PTCL with management rights to Etisalat, which initially paid 1.4 billion dollar to Pakistan. However, the new owner has still not paid 800 million dollar due to a dispute with the government of Pakistan over transfer of land and property titles. The government was quite optimistic at the time of budget last year to receive that money during the current fiscal year, but till today this issue is unresolved.
After the passage of the 18th Amendment provinces have become more independent to make their decisions on many economic matters. Sindh and Punjab have set up their own boards of investments to attract investment in their respective provinces.
Sindh offers investment opportunities in power sector, especially generation through coal, which is abundantly available in the province. According to an estimate, coal reserves of 175 billion tons are lying underneath in Thar desert in an area spread over 9,000 sq km, which are enough for generating power for centuries. At the Coal Energy Conference in October 2011 the Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said coal reserves could produce 100,000 MW electricity for the next 300 years.
Sindh is also offering investment opportunities in renewable energy generation projects, including power generation through wind and solar sources. The government has leased land to many companies for establishing wind turbines to make electricity. A 5MW wind power plant established by Zorlu energy Pakistan has already started producing electricity. A Saudi company is also in the process of establishing pilot wind power plant at Port Qasim. Other sectors for investment in Sindh include agriculture, livestock and fisheries, mines and mineral, energy, tourism, construction and housing, services and urban development.
After the amendment
The 18th Amendment has provided opportunity to the provincial governments to develop their required regulatory framework for seeking foreign investment in areas such as setting up power projects of any capacity through public or private sector. Shortage of electricity is a major challenge for the Punjab province.
“We are working on a war-footing to install power projects to overcome the energy crisis,” says Dr. Miftah Ismail, Vice Chairman, Punjab Board of Investment & Trade.
Talking to The News on Sunday he says Punjab is hit hard by energy crisis and is resultantly facing economic challenges due to power shortage. “Punjab’s demand to have a uniform load shedding schedule in the entire Pakistan was accepted at the Energy Conference in Lahore, but load shedding in WAPDA’s system is much more than load shedding in Karachi.”
Miftah points out that “Karachi industries are exempted from load shedding whereas they are receiving gas uninterrupted because of availability of Sui gas in the province, but industries in Punjab are facing three days closure of gas and longer duration load shedding of electricity, which has hampered the economic growth.”
He informs that “Presently, work is in progress on a 120 mega watt (MW) hydel power plant at Taunsa Barrage, Dera Ghazi Khan with a total investment of 180 million dollars. Moreover, work on a 200 MW power plant in D. G. Khan is underway for sustainable supply of coal from Chamalang (Balochistan) for a total capital outlay of 350 million dollars. The Punjab government is also working on conversion of furnace oil generating units into coal-fired power generation units.”
Miftah explains that besides attracting investment in the power sector, the Board is offering investors other sectors like agriculture, livestock, textile manufacturing, mining, education, health, transport, construction and urban development, etc.
“We can see investment opportunities after opening up other routes of trade with India,” he says, adding “religious tourism is an area of investment, where religious sites of Sikhs can be developed and investment can done in providing facilities to tourists.”
Miftah informs “Turkish companies are keen to invest in Punjab in many sectors after the recent visit of a Turkish delegation in which Turkey has also donated 100 buses to the Punjab government.” He claims “Punjab has a potential to invest in agriculture and livestock sectors in which local as well as foreign investors are offered attractive opportunities.”
According to statistics, over 1.7 million hectares of arable land is available in the province for investment in agriculture production, out of a total arable area of over 16.5 million hectares.
“Under the Traceable Pakistan policy, Punjab is offering food traceability for all exportable food items to trace and follow a food, feed, food-producing animal or substance intended to be, or expected to be incorporated into a food or feed, through all stages of production, processing and distribution. The Punjab government is bearing all the cost of coding on each food product,” he says.
Recent moves by the government to integrate in regional economy and revisiting the trade policy with India through MFN, underscores the company’s new manufacturing math. The changing economics of manufacturing is already showing up some trade imbalances.
The new analysis will spell out the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector of Pakistan. A fair question which this region of the world is facing is that whether there is a clear correlation between a country’s development and wellbeing or not? Obviously, it depends upon what you measure as ‘development’ — if its money, wealth, cars, etc, then evidence says no.
At this point of history this element is the decisive factor behind any country’s achievement for a greater influence and responsibility in the international system. This has interesting insights for today’s economies with regard to the effects of government taxation, borrowing, savings behaviour and wealth accumulation and productive capacity where capitalism remained a bad word in a system that directs resources to problems and the problems are opportunities.
For too long, we have been denying the fact that the engine of capitalism is a resource that belongs to all of us, not just to the financial elite and it is not the free market that will decide economic future but for Pakistan it is productive capacity and capitalisation of relation with South and East Asian Economic Renaissance.
Though investment aspect in regional integration is just one economic imperative, what is more often overlooked is the robust manufacturing sector of any country to get into integration economically.
Our Industrial Policy of 2011 is based on the belief “turn Pakistan into a factory rather than a shop for the world”. Though one can seriously question the qualification of this motto of the industrial policy, where the industrial growth has gone down to 5pc which was 10pc four decades earlier when the modern technology and information revolution was not even witnessed.
The first step is imagination of an alternative South Asia through a manufacturing renaissance. A willingness to experiment and adopt policies to the changing circumstances, which was also a key of East Asian Miracle and even more significant was the trend towards regionalisation of economic expansion with market-driven measures but with something different then only diversification of the trade.
The recent recession has hit Western world more than the South Asian Economy, as it has still been performing largely. Hence, it will not be helpful unless we are successful in our chosen market against any other competition regardless of size; it only means matching competitor on quality, flexibility, cost and above all innovation capability.
One cannot change the system of production without first changing ideologies. Thinking a new thought is probably more liberating. Development is a transformation of society, a movement from traditional relations, traditional ways of thinking, and traditional ways of dealing with development mechanism, traditional methods of production to more scientific ways of thinking that affect outcomes.
Progressive manufacturing demands people who not only understand processes that drive manufacturing but are also willing to be innovative with new technologies. Manufacturing is the most capital-intensive and productive sector of the economy, and is the key to develop an economy. Manufacturing also has the largest employment and spill over to the other sectors of the economy, creating many indirect jobs and making it a key catalyst of broad economic growth and the ability to reduce persistent trade deficit of Pakistan.
There is a need to understand the time-space compression and its relationship with the material world. In economic terms, it refers to cores and peripheries productive relationships, core develops when industries take advantage of technology and social capital to reduce cost. Manufacturing units can attract new investment to the core through supply of components and services; first this attraction of investment will create an upward spiral of economic growth. Then profits will have to be re-invested into infrastructure developments which further improved the competitive advantage of the core relative to other areas.
Pakistan presents itself as peripheral production for the international manufacturing units because they receive more from the peripheral place than they return back that’s reason why despite all raw materials Pakistan is growing less than 5pc annually in industrial growth. The core can develop through raw material, skilled worker, which can bring flow of capital from periphery to the core. This will turn Pakistan into an industry for the world and not just a shop for the rest of the world, which is actually true for China that has overtaken Japan in manufacturing and threatening the largest economy — the United States.
Nothing will change if the government does a rubber-stamping exercise on industrial policies to legitimise to ‘pre-cooked’ plans and policies of the IFIs. The government requires in-house technical expertise to handle trade policy formulation that can share the policy and intentions with the business community as ‘secret’ trade policy document is not shared with industrialists prior to finalisation of the policy.
Industrialists have to follow a blind document. Already, Pakistan is not much diversified in its manufacturing. There are few goods such as textile, knitwear, bed ware and other readymade garments, etc, which contribute 60pc of the export earning and it could produce much more foreign exchange if production is more diversified.
That is simply not possible. The production is heavily burdened with taxes, higher power rates, shortage of electricity, ineffective method of refund of sales taxes of exporters, higher prices of raw material and higher mark up by the state Bank etc.
This will ultimately raise the cost of doing business. Resultantly, the manufacturing sector works for less value addition, which does not generate demand even for semi manufacturer of goods in the world market.
Now core and peripheral relations are mostly based on the use of information technology where Pakistan industrial sector has been ineffective to make use of this revolution. Naturally, it contributes towards falling quality of the product that too on the higher rates if the technological capacity is not developed.
The low score for Pakistan in manufacturing reflects in low technology products, and within these on products that are in the low commodity end of the sophistication spectrum.
Nevertheless, a technological capability does not mean ‘reinventing the wheel’ but to adopt and learn the technologies effectively which are already available in the world. It will involve investment and effort in the beginning but with predictable costs and outcomes.
In Pakistan, the manufacturing sector is often unaware of how to make use of imported technologies. Knowledge economy is still in its infancy. They do not understand what kind of skill, knowledge and technology is required. Ineffective learning of technologies brings market failure, which again points towards a need of corrective policies. The experience of the New Institutional Economies (NIEs) indicates that well-coordinated and carefully-crafted policies can accelerate competitiveness in the manufacturing sector and can bring about a renaissance of development for Pakistan and the region.
Shoaib Sultan Khan is honorary chairperson of the board of directors of Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN). The network comprises 11 RSPs, including Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), Baluchistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP), National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), Thardeep Rural Development Programme (TRDP), Ghazi Barotha Taraqqiati Idara (GBTI) and Sindh Rural Support Organization (SRSO).
A career civil servant with a desire to empower the poor, Khan is recognised as pioneer of rural development in Pakistan. One of the founders of AKRSP in northern areas, he believes the secret of rural development lies in unleashing the power and potential of the poor. This he believes can only be done by organising the poor under honest leadership from within themselves. Khan is recipient of numerous awards, including the distinguished United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global 500 Award in 1989, Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1990, the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1992, the WWF Conservation Medal in 1994 and Sitara-e-Eisaar and Hilal-i-Imtiaz by the President of Pakistan in 2006. In 2009, he was elected as Senior Ashoka Fellow. The same year, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize which was ultimately awarded to US President Barack Obama.
Khan resides in London and was in Pakistan recently. He had a brief stopover here on his return from India where he was a guest of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, which adopted and implemented the RSPs model in India. The News on Sunday interviewed him while he was in Pakistan. Excerpts follow:
The News on Sunday (TNS): What inspired you to dedicate your life to rural development and organising communities for their uplift?
Shoaib Sultan Khan (SSK): It was back in 1957-58 when I was posted in Comilla district of East Pakistan as assistant commissioner. There, in 1959, I came across a gentleman by the name of Akhtar Hameed Khan who was running the Pakistan Rural Development Academy, set up with the support of the Ford Foundation and USAID. This person had chosen my sub-division for development work. A former member of the prestigious Indian Civil Service, Akhtar had resigned several years before to lead the life of a poor man and work whole-heartedly for poverty reduction in deprived communities. He strongly believed in the principles enunciated by Raiffeisen, who was mayor of a small municipality in Germany in 1849. Raiffeisen strongly felt for the poor and identified three giants who exploited them. They were the landlord, the moneylender and the shopkeeper. What Raiffeisen said at that time still holds true. He stressed that as an individual one may be helpless but when people organise they become powerful.
I was inspired by Akhtar’s thoughts and his approach about poverty reduction. He also believed communities can prosper only if they are led by honest and committed leadership selected from amongst them. The concept of self-sacrificing leaders does not fit into this scheme. A person willing to sacrifice his interest will take no time to sacrifice the interest of others. In addition to community organisation and honest leadership, Akhtar stressed on capital generation by rural communities through savings which he thought was a must for their progress. In short, it were Akhtar’s work and philosophy which inspired me a lot and prompted me to keep looking for an opportunity to switch to the development sector.
TNS: You were a career civil servant. When did the opportunity you were looking for knock at your door?
SSK: Being a civil servant, it was not possible for me to immediately practise what I had learnt from Akhtar Hameed Khan. It was only 13 years later, in 1972, that I got an opportunity to work in this field. At that time, I was serving as Commissioner of Karachi which was no doubt a very powerful post. I was also Chairman of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and managing a police force comprising of 10,000 personnel. In addition, I was the allotting authority in the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP). The position, a highly patronising one, was not liked by the political leadership and was abolished on its demand. This was a blessing in disguise for me and an opportunity for me to reset my direction. On my request, I was appointed director of the Pakistan Academy for Rural Development (PARD) in Peshawar. This was the opportunity which I was looking for so long.
TNS: How successful were you in this capacity and did you succeed in putting to practice what you had learnt?
SSK: Soon after my takeover, I got a chance to put my learning into practice. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government had launched pilot projects under the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) all over the country. In the capacity of PARD director, I was supposed to head a pilot project in NWFP (now KPK). This was a golden opportunity for me to take up Akhtar Hameed Khan’s idea of developing the Comilla formula as a model for Pakistan. I selected Daudzai district for this purpose and along with my team members visited villages and clearly told people we could not give them money and false hopes. We told them if they follow certain tested principles, they would overcome their handicaps and their economic status will improve. These people would start working according to these principles.
Though informal, there were all the characteristics of an organisation. People would maintain registers of attendance, records of meetings, and accounts of all the savings the communities had made. Wherever I went, people asked me what exactly I did. My answer would be simple. I used to say, “I do nothing else than unleashing the potential”. It’s quite similar to what Michelangelo said about the sculpture named David, his masterpiece. He said it had always been there and he had only removed the superficial material. In the same way, I tried to unleash the potential of the poor by motivating them and helping them overcome their difficulties.
But soon, the government saw the project as a threat; the area belonged to National Awami Party (NAP). The project was closed and I was removed and inquiries on charges of trying to destabilise the government were launched against me. Even the FIA questioned me but no charge was proved. Soon afterwards, I went to Japan on an assignment and during my stay there wrote my book, “Rural Development in Pakistan.”
TNS: The model you introduced under AKRSP has been followed everywhere. How did the project materialise and what were the secrets of its success?
SSK: It was 1982 and I was in Sri Lanka on a Unicef assignment when I was approached by Sir Aga Khan. He wanted to expand rural development programmes in the Northern Areas of Pakistan to new areas and people from different sects and faiths and wanted me to execute the plan. In fact, I was looking after the Mahaveli Ganga Project in Sri Lanka under which affectees of this project were to be accommodated and it was Akhtar Hameed Khan who had suggested my name. I simply asked His Highness two questions: Why did he want me and for how long would he be funding the project? His answers were he wanted me to expand the base of his projects as “you cannot build islands of prosperity and expect them to survive and, secondly, if the programme is effective and people support it he is willing to fund it for 25 years.”
I was a bit careful in accepting the offer but joined when His Highness wrote directly to Unicef to send me on deputation. He offered me a princely amount of $700,000 per year at that time. He set conditions under which the programme would be introduced to new areas. The local administration had to be informed, political leaders should have made the request themselves and religious leaders of the area should have no problems with it. I think it was the clarity of vision and the continuous support from His Highness which made the programme a roaring success.
TNS: What exactly was the philosophy that governed your working under AKRSP?
SSK: It was the same that I mentioned earlier. We did not impose anything on the people and persuaded them to organise at the community level, identify natural and honest leadership, and explain what exactly they needed. They were not given money right away but taught how to manage and generate it. We were there to provide them solutions. For example, we helped people of a village build a road that would connect their locality to a bridge. There was the concept of the community contributing a share to the project in the form of free labour. We rejected this practice, terming it exploitation of the poor as it was only they who had to do labour. The better-off would never work. People were too enthusiastic and the project was completed in 15 days against the estimated period of three months. We paid them the whole amount decided upon in the start: this proved to be a good gesture and the news spread like wildfire.
Communities from all over swarmed with their requests and there was no looking back. To cite a few examples, we helped people build capacity to dry and preserve apricots as per FDA standards and sell them in the international market, urged His Highness to transport 30,000 plants of French Cherry from France and gave it to 30,000 households to make their living, constructed water channels to promote agriculture, and created a cadre of service providers, including accountants, engineers and social organisers from amongst them. After 10 years, the World Bank came and was surprised by the indicators, such as 100 per cent enrolment among children, doubling or more of household incomes and so on.
The project was declared successful and highly replicable. There was no dearth of donors as they rushed there from all over the world to join the success bandwagon.
TNS: You have just mentioned the word replicable. How widely has the model been replicated and what have been the results?
SSK: It took a good ten years for the model to fully develop. The first replication was done when Rocky Staples of USAID asked whether similar work could be done in any other province. I had been Deputy Commissioner, Kohat in 1963, so I suggested the name of NWFP. He promised to release $5 million. The government functionaries were desperate to have control over that money but, fortunately, I knew some senior bureaucrats personally who supported me. Later, Aftab Sherpao, the Chief Minister, also rejected the objections and gave his approval. Unfortunately, we could withdraw only $5 million as the Pressler Amendment was passed against Pakistan shortly afterwards.
Then in 1992, I was awarded the Raman Magsaysay Award by the Philippines President and was invited by Nawaz Sharif. He wanted replication all over the country and asked me to take responsibility. I said I could but only if I stay out of the government. I presented a one-page proposal and it was decided that the Social Action Plan will be executed through communities. Finance Minister Sartaj Aziz released the first instalment of Rs500 million of the promised Rs10 billion, which proved to be the last as Nawaz Sharif’s government ended. NRSP was formed with this money. As usual, I had sought advice of my mentor Akhtar Hameed Khan who had suggested me to set up an endowment with this money. I deposited this money as 18 per cent return was being offered on fixed deposits. In fact, it was this endowment that saved NRSP. Today, its turnover is Rs25 billion and there is an NRSP Bank as well.
Then in 1995, Wapda and the World Bank asked me to develop a model for the affectees (19,000 households whose land had been acquired) of the Ghazi Barotha Dam Project. In 1998, there was a major development. A Vice President of the World Bank, Miko Nichimizo, advised the government to form a poverty alleviation fund. This she suggested should be passed as a grant. All managers of the bank opposed the fund saying it would not be successful. This lady asked me to come over to Washington DC to convince these 50 to 60 managers. I went there with my team and we were successful in getting the proposal approved by the board. The first tranche of $91 million was also approved. This was a major development as the development programme had suffered heavily due to sporadic and irregular flow of foreign aid for this purpose.
From then onwards, we have had a stable source of resources in the form of PPAF. Then there is the Union Council Based Power Reduction Programme running in the country. Internationally, the model has been replicated all over South Asia at the behest of the UN, including in India. There, the former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao allowed me as a Pakistani to come for development work while “wearing a UN hat.”
TNS: How do you define the scope and work of RSPN?
SSK: The aim of RSPN, which was formed in the year 2000, is simply to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of the rural poor. Its programmes are based on direct participation of households through community organisations. We believe in organising the rural people through social mobilisation that enables these people to improve their community infrastructure. This way they are able to develop human and natural resources and also establish links with public and private sector agencies. Due to the trust in its working models, RSPN is often approached by the government when it is in need to reach the rural communities through the outreach of the RSPs. Recently, the RSPs have worked with various government and donor organisations during the time of floods. Responding to the 2010 floods alone, the RSPs collectively provided 1,633,829 households with food, 164,868 households with shelter and 1,286,131 individuals with medical treatment across Pakistan.
As the 1st of May, 2012 approaches, workers in Pakistan, like other parts of the world, are preparing to ‘celebrate’ the May Day, which glorifies the struggle of workers three centuries ago in America. Of course, the struggle changed the world of work in a larger part of the globe and it deserves celebration.
However, for a majority of workers in Pakistan, May Day celebrations have lost meaning. For them, the conditions are similar to those of eighteenth century when people were compelled to work in inhuman conditions.
Labour literature and trade union activists link the 18th century struggle of the industrial workers to the restoration of dignity of labour in the world.
Labour experts believe that emergence of International Labour Organization (ILO) in 1919 was the result of workers’ struggle. The ILO in its preliminary years recognised 8 hours’ work day as back as in 1919. Later, a series of ILO conventions not only recognised workers’ rights but provided a framework to the nation states to ensure labour rights.
Pakistan is amongst the countries which have signed and ratified 36 ILO Conventions, including eight core conventions. In addition, Pakistan has also ratified UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which also included labour rights and human rights.
Under the UN mechanism, ratifying countries are obliged to bring their legislations, policies and actions in compliance with the requirements of the international instruments. A number of basic rights mentioned in the ILO conventions are already guaranteed in Pakistan’s Constitution. H
However, the situation on the ground is quite different. Labour laws, policies, and practices on the ground are in clear violation of the guarantees Pakistan has provided by ratifying ILO Conventions.
Of the 36 ILO Conventions ratified by Pakistan, eight are core conventions with universal applicability. States have to implement these core standards regardless of their socio-economic and political conditions.
Ironically, Pakistani laws as well as government actions are in contradiction to even these core conventions, leave alone other conventions.
ILO conventions 87 and 98, ratified by Pakistan in 1951 and 52 respectively, are core conventions and provide right to organisation and freedom of association and right to bargain collectively. Right to freedom of association and formation of unions without any restrictions is also fully guaranteed under Article 17 of the constitution of Pakistan.
The basic right of freedom of association and of collective bargaining is governed under Industrial Relations Laws. Ironically, the post partition industrial relations legislation, including the Musharraf regime’s notorious Industrial Relations Ordinance 2002 and PPP government’s Industrial Relations Act-2008 and Industrial Relations Acts adopted by provincial assemblies in the post 18th Amendment scenario in 2010 and 2011 deprive 80 percent of the labour force to form unions.
The agricultural sector, which constitutes 45 percent of 57 million labour force in Pakistan as well as informal sector which accounts for over 73 percent of non-agricultural labour force are denied the benefits provided under successive industrial relations legislations. Similarly, the armed forces and police, including its civilian staff, Pakistan Security Printing Corporation, government hospitals, educational institutions, and self-employed workers are excluded from all industrial relations laws.
Pakistan has also ratified ILO Convention 29 and 105 in 1957 and 1960, two other important core conventions prohibiting forced labour. Both the conventions as well as Article 11 of the Constitution make binding on the states to make appropriate legislation, announce policies and take actions to combat slavery and forced labour.
Bonded Labour (Systems) Abolition Act adopted in 1992 under international pressure and as a follow-up to a Supreme Court verdict in 1989, remains inoperative even after 18 years till its demise in June 2010 with transfer of labour to province.
A National Policy and Plan of Action to combat bonded labour in 2001 remained an utter failure. Rs100 million funds announced for the rehabilitation of bonded labourers remained underutilized.
After the 18th Amendment none of the provinces have come up either with any piece of legislation or a policy and plan of action to combat bonded labour and fulfill constitutional and international commitments. In 2001 and 2006, Pakistan ratified two Core Conventions 182 and 138 committing to eliminate worst forms of child labour and ensure implementation on minimum age requirements for entry in work.
Before the 18th Amendments, The Employment of Children Act 1991 was the major piece of legislation governing the issue of child labour. However, the law was full of flaws and despite demands from rights activists and organisations, the government neither amended the law nor brought in any new legislation. A Child Protection Bill covering all issues faced by future generation of Pakistan remained pending in parliament till this subject was transferred to the provinces as result of 18th Amendment. No province has yet made any legislation of child labour.
The government failed to take appropriate actions to combat child labour and government policies made it impossible to put a check on the practice of child labour even in occupations where it is legally banned. A case in point is ban on labour inspections in Punjab and Sindh provinces. Punjab has recently lifted the ban but without any proper mechanism of effective inspections.
Resultantly, at a time when latest global report of ILO “Accelerating Action Against Child Labour” recognises decline in child labour world over, Pakistan is amongst the top countries where child labour is increasing. The government has also not made its commitment of conducting any fresh survey after the 1996 survey to ascertain the number of children in work. The estimated number of child labourers in Pakistan is over 10 million.
Another set of two core conventions are conventions 100 and 111 regarding equal remuneration and discrimination in employment and occupation ratified by Pakistan in 2001 and 1961 respectively. In addition to the ILO Conventions, Article 25, 26, and 27 clearly outlaw discrimination on any basis. However, there is no law that punishes discrimination in general; the provisions against discrimination in labour laws are inadequate.
Female workers are especially discriminated against in the provision of employment and wages. It is time for the state of Pakistan to act beyond mere words.