thoughts
A broken record

Given the immediate spectre of violence and even civil war in the country, many are inclined to suggest that a 'deal' between 'moderate' forces is the only way out. But such an analysis is no less reactionary than the politics of the 'extremists' 
By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar
Following the Supreme Court's decision to end Javed Hashmi's long-standing detention by throwing out charges that he defamed the army -- supposedly considered a crime no less than sedition -- General Musharraf hurriedly went into a 'high-level' meeting with his Corps Commanders. That there has been a spate of high-level meetings in recent times speaks to the fact that the generals and their sidekicks are up to their necks and struggling desperately for survival.

Newswatch
New acronyms for old, Bush administration style

By Kaleem Omar
Wags say that the Bush administration, egged on by Washington's cabal of neo-con think tanks, is contemplating renaming major branches of the US federal government in the light of the new ground realities in the post-9/11, post-Patriot Act, post-Afghanistan invasion, post-Homeland Security Act, and post-Iraq invasion world.

issue
'The disappeared'

As the world commemorates August 30 as the International Day of the Disappeared, we too must remind the government of the hundreds of missing people in Balochistan and elsewhere
By Zia Ur Rehman
The Supreme Court of Pakistan, while hearing the disappeared or missing person case, called for the case-to-case details of each and every missing person from the Attorney General. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for first time after his re-instatement heard this missing persons' case. The AG made a plea that he wanted to meet the family members of the missing persons, for which, he be given time. 

The economic dimension
The second part of the series trying to trace the roots of extremism -- the political economy of militancy.
By R Khan

Ghulam Sarwar Mohmand, a well know industrialist from tribal areas, is of the view that economic compulsions are not responsible for extremism in the world and in Pakistan. "Extremism is a consequence of oppression. Osama Bin Laden was a filthy rich person and there have been many from the upper and middle classes who become militants. If poverty were a cause, there would have been declining extremism in Pakistan with rising foreign exchange reserves and significant economic growth in the recent years."

Instituting civil service reforms
By Nadeem Ul Haque & Idrees Khawaja
Organisational issues
Meritocracy?
A large majority -- 57 per cent respondents -- said that there are no written criteria of performance evaluation (Fig.9). The absence of well defined criteria not only creates room for nepotism but also adversely influences employee's efficiency.

rehabilitation
After the damage is done

Strategic measure to prepare and cope with a catastrophe like the recent floods in Balochistan
By Dr Noman Ahmed
Pre monsoon rains and flash floods in the entire country -- particularly Sindh and Balochistan -- have inflicted severe losses of life. A colossal damage has been done to the properties, livelihood assets, settlements and infrastructure. 


30 days after the disaster 
A report to analyse the disaster response and oversights from people's perspective
By Amjad Bhatti & Aamir Habib Somro

Background
On June 26, 2007 tens of thousands of people fled for safety as cyclone Yemyin and high tides hit major parts of Balochistan coast and Ormara before noon and caused havoc in Pasni and Gwadar before moving towards the Iranian coast at around midday on Tuesday. According to the latest NDMA figures 196 people in Balochistan and 127 in Sindh were reportedly died, while 2 million in Balochistan and 1,500,000 in Sindh were affected severely. In Balochistan 55,000 houses and in Sindh 22,344 houses were completely destroyed.



thoughts
A broken record
Given the immediate spectre of violence and even civil war in the country, many are inclined to suggest that a 'deal' between 'moderate' forces is the only way out. But such an analysis is no less reactionary than the politics of the 'extremists' 

By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

Following the Supreme Court's decision to end Javed Hashmi's long-standing detention by throwing out charges that he defamed the army -- supposedly considered a crime no less than sedition -- General Musharraf hurriedly went into a 'high-level' meeting with his Corps Commanders. That there has been a spate of high-level meetings in recent times speaks to the fact that the generals and their sidekicks are up to their necks and struggling desperately for survival.

But then what is new? One does not know whether to laugh or cry at just how familiar all this sounds. A triumphant general takes over from an elected government not allowed to complete its term, cheered on by a gallery including ordinary people and politicians in the opposition. He vows to clean up shop, banish the inept politicians from the country forever and have the unstained guardian of the nation -- the army -- put Pakistan back on track.

A decade or so later, the general stands discredited, increasingly isolated, yet still looking to cling onto power. One suspects the end would come a lot sooner but for the support that each of our esteemed military rulers has received from the state's imperial patron. That having been said, imperialism too knows when the writing is on the wall, and unfortunately for the generals, the Americans have been known to desert the army camp when everything is already falling apart.

In this case, the United States has not necessarily stranded the general, at least not yet. Just about everyone else has. Credit is due to those who opposed the coup of October 1999 from the very beginning, those who insisted that the worst elected government is infinitely preferable to the best military dictatorship, that so long as the military continued to act as arbiter in Pakistan's wretched political life, things could never get better. Eight years after the coup, things have gotten much, much worse, notwithstanding the government's continuing claims that it 'saved' Pakistan from the brink of disaster.   

Instead today Pakistan is teetering on the precipice, and the military is responsible. There are important differences between this episode of abject failure of military rule and those that preceded it. Specifically, the military's long-standing policy of creating 'strategic depth' in Afghanistan is in tatters, US imperialism now hell-bent on doing away with its erstwhile jihadi proteges, the very agents of Pakistani strategic policy. Perhaps more importantly, the army has never before been subject to the kind of unqualified criticism that it now faces, not just from columnists and opposition politicians, but from the vast majority of ordinary people.

As such therefore, to the extent that it is possible to think about things in this way, the present state of affairs presents a unique opportunity. The higher judiciary has already indicated its willingness to finally be party to democracy (although one wonders how long the honeymoon period will last). There is thus a window -- which importantly could be shut sooner than one might think -- to banish the military once and for all from the political sphere.    

Predictably however, there are many reasons why this most desirable of all outcomes may not be realised. First there is the ever reliable United States. While it may appear that the United States is no longer willing to trust the Pakistan army to faithfully do its bidding as it has done in the past, how can one ever trust the most powerful and destructive empire in human history to ever consistently take a stand for an open political process in Pakistan? Washington likes to harp on about democracy, but one which does not necessarily throw up the results it wants? The Americans want their interests in the region served, and will privilege those political actors that can best do the job. This has nothing to do with what is right or what Pakistan needs.

Second there is the possibility that some amongst those hankering for the restoration of democracy succumb to opportunism. One is not pointing to the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) necessarily, which, to be fair, has historically been the only mainstream party in Pakistan to struggle consistently against military dictatorship, at least at the rank-and-file level. In any case, one of the major reasons for the military's overwhelming dominance in Pakistan's political life has been the complicity of those political forces that have acquiesced to being the military's junior partners.

Third and perhaps most crucially, there is the perceived polarisation between 'extremist' and 'liberal' segments of society. This binary has been played up to no end in recent weeks, and forms the basis of the current military junta's last stand. The Musharraf regime has consistently portrayed itself as the answer to 'religious obscurantism', and while its claims have repeatedly been exposed, it is now making one last attempt to forge a common front with forces that belong to the 'liberal' camp so as to retain a share in power.    

That there is polarisation in Pakistan goes without saying. But the real polarisation is between those who remain committed to oligarchic rule and the dictates of imperialism and those who want government to be responsive to people and willing and able to stand up to the world bully. Naturally where mainstream political forces do not represent the people's aspirations, the tendency towards reactionary ideologies will become more acute. This does not mean, however, that one should side with one reactionary force (read: the army) to crush another.

The fact of the matter is that the story of army generals coming triumphantly into power and eventually leaving with their tails between their legs is being re-run like a broken record. But what one fears the most is that this will be followed by yet another such story, namely that of the discrediting of politicians (and politics itself) for not coming up with and then implementing a people's agenda. And this is bound to happen if the army continues to pull the strings from backstage. If after another eight years of dictatorship, 'democracy' is restored only to be hamstrung, a glorious opportunity will have been lost.

Given the immediate spectre of violence and even civil war in the country, it is not surprising that many are inclined to suggest that a 'deal' between 'moderate' forces is the only way out. But such an analysis is no less reactionary than the politics of the 'extremists'. Ultimately 60 years of the army's domination has gotten us to this point. Any arrangement which absolves the army of responsibility for the mess that is Pakistani politics while allowing it to continue exercising a political role, is not only buying into the hype but condemning the long-suffering people of this country to even more hardship in the future.

 


Newswatch
New acronyms for old, Bush administration style

By Kaleem Omar

Wags say that the Bush administration, egged on by Washington's cabal of neo-con think tanks, is contemplating renaming major branches of the US federal government in the light of the new ground realities in the post-9/11, post-Patriot Act, post-Afghanistan invasion, post-Homeland Security Act, and post-Iraq invasion world.

The Department of Defence may be renamed the Department of War, changing the acronym for the Pentagon from DOD to DOW. DOW rhymes with wow - as in: "Wow! We sure creamed those Eyeraqis!"

DOW also rhymes with COW, the Bush administration's so-called "Coalition of the Willing." It is another matter that most of the nations in the US-led COW occupation force in Iraq have opted out of the coalition, like rats abandoning a sinking ship. 

The word 'war' has long been a favourite of American administrations. The Johnson administration had its "War on Poverty" (WOP). The Reagan administration had its "War on Drugs" (WOD). And the Bush administration has its "War on Terrorism" (WOT). Rumour has it that President George W. Bush is now thinking of launching a "War on Peace" (WOP, not to be confused with the other WOP). War, in short, has become as American as mom and apple pie.

So not only would the Department of War be a more appropriate name for the Department of Defence, it would revive an old tradition. War Department is what the DOD was called until well into the twentieth century. Its head was called the Secretary of War (SOW).

'Defence' has connotations of restraint that the Bushistas simply can't abide. Secretary of War, on the other hand, is a title any Bush-appointed SOW would love to have on the door of his office in the Pentagon as he goes about marshalling his forces for more military adventures in the Middle East, such as the Bush administration's contemplated strike against Iran.

The US Defence Department often engages in turf battles with the State Department. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, in many of the areas where the State Department is weak, the Defence Department is exceptionally strong, making it a powerful force in foreign-policymaking. "Daisy Cutter" bombs and cruise missiles are two such areas.

For another, with nearly a million individuals employed by US defence-related industries, the Defence Department has many people with a vested interest in its financial well-being. That's why the Bush administration's budget for fiscal 2008 (beginning this October 1) has allocated $ 500 billion for military spending. That's more money than the rest of the world put together spends on the military. You can't get much more vested an interest than that.

A cut in defence spending (of which there's no danger while the Bush administration is in office) can mean the loss of a job for a bomb-maker in Lubbock, Texas, while a new air force base can turn a ghost town into a boom town. Thus, the Defence Department is an integral part of American social, political and economic life. It has an impact in both the domestic and international spheres, which the State Department, with its exclusively global orientation, lacks. The Defence Department is also much larger than the State Department, with around three million military and civilian employees.

The tussle between Defence and State predates the Bush administration by many years. In his farewell address in 1961, then-US President Dwight D. Eisenhower (also known as "Ike") warned of the growing power and influence resulting from the "conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry." Eisenhower called this phenomenon "the military-industrial complex." Its development, he said, meant that "the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

With the advent of the Bush administration, Ike's warning seems to have come true in spades. This administration has already fought two wars, and talk of more wars to come and more contemplated military strikes is a refrain heard frequently in Washington these days. Indeed, it could be said that talk of war - the "war without end against terrorism," for instance - has become the central theme of the Bush presidency.

Catchy acronyms are all the rage on Wall Street and Madison Avenue. So why shouldn't the Bushites and their cohorts have their fun, as they go about thinking up new horrors to unleash on a bleeding and battered world, including not just foreign countries but their own country too?

As part of this philosophy, another department that may be relabeled is the Justice Department. The word 'justice' has liberal connotations that are entirely antithetical to the approach assumed by the Justice Department under the Bush administration. Wags say that one of the new names being considered for the department is the National Agency for Zealous Investigations (NAZI).

The State Department, too, may be renamed and subdivided into two distinct branches. The first, the Organisation for International Leadership (OIL), would be responsible for ensuring that the future government of Iraq stays in the hands of the Iraqi people, with American companies retaining the oil rights.

The second, the Geopolitical Agency for Security (GAS), would function as the diplomatic arm, with help from such Bush administration stalwarts as Condoleezza Rice (the Secretary of State, not the Chevron oil supertanker), Vice-President Dick Cheney (the ex-Halliburton CEO who is also known in some circles as Darth Vader), and US Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad.

Khalilzad is a former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, a former US Ambassador to Iraq and a former consultant to UNOCAL, an American energy company that back in 1996-97 had entered into negotiations with the Taliban regime in Kabul for transit rights through Afghanistan for a gas pipeline from the Daulatabad field in Turkmenistan to Pakistan.

The term 'State Department' says nothing about the real nature of the Bush administration's foreign policy. However, by splitting the department into two branches named OIL and GAS, the administration would leave no one in any doubt about the true basis of America's international relations.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan, while hearing the disappeared or missing person case, called for the case-to-case details of each and every missing person from the Attorney General. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for first time after his re-instatement heard this missing persons' case. The AG made a plea that he wanted to meet the family members of the missing persons, for which, he be given time. The Court adjourned the hearing of the case until August 20 and directed the AG to submit case-to-case details of each and every missing person in the next hearing. (The News, Aug 7, 2007)

In Balochistan, the military has been conducting operation since the year 2000. Since then hundreds of people have gone missing, according to the reports of human rights organisations and Baloch nationalist parties. The current rise of tensions flows from long-standing grievances felt by the local population in relation to severe economic underdevelopment and failures to receive the benefits of large-scale exploitation of the province's natural resources.

Dr Jahanzaib Jamaldini, Acting Vice-President of Balochistan National Party (BNP) told this writer in Noshki that "We have a list of more than 3000 thousands people who have been arrested by the intelligence agencies from different parts of Balochistan.The agencies picked up the Baloch youths from different parts of Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab and tortured them severely." Aftab Sherpao, the federal interior minister had revealed when talking to media persons in December 2005 in Turbat that nearly 4000 people had been arrested from Balochistan but after a few days, official sources claimed that the federal minister had only referred to those illegal immigrants who had trespassed the Pak-Iran border in 2005.

Similarly a list of missing people was released by Ghulam Muhammad Baloch, central president, Baloch National Movement (BNM) in a seminar on June 19, 2006 organised by Labour Education Foundation (LEF) in Karachi. Few days later, he was picked up by plain clothed officers of unknown law enforcing agencies and till today, no one knows about his whereabouts. Ghulam Muhammad Baloch, a vocal speaker and former chairperson of Baloch Students Organisation (BSO), was very popular amongst Baloch youth and students and disappointed with parliamentary politics.

A list of missing Baloch activists and citizens are also quoted in a pamphlet entitled 'Waiting for Truth and Justice' published by Balochistan National Party (BNP).

On the other hand, IG Police, Balochistan ,Chaudhry Muhammad Yaqoob said , "Those who are quoting 3000 or 4000 people as missing are in fact exploiting the figure in view of the present circumstances." He challenged them to produce the names and addresses of all those 3000 people. Baloch nationalist parties refer to HRCP reports claiming that 3000 people are missing. However, according to the data collected by HRCP, 600 people have 'disappeared' in the country over the past five years. There is a very contradiction in figure of missing people in Balochistan.

The reports of HRCP, Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and Amnesty International (AI) highlighted many cases of torture on Baloch activists under the custody of law enforcing agencies. Dr. Imdad Baloch, chairman of BSO, was detained in a military torture cell for 6 months, when he was finally released; he re-counted his ordeal to Zahoor Shahwani, representative of HRCP Balochistan and media in Karachi in November 2005. Details included how he and his colleagues were detained in an unknown location, where they were blind folded and only in absolute emergencies, they were allowed to take their blind folds off. They were beaten severely and were burned with cigarettes. One of Imdad Baloch's legs was broken during the torture. When nothing was extracted from him, he was thrown to Dera Ghazi Khan, Punjab.

Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, another leader of BSO, who was also arrested, was not only severely tortured but during his unlawful detention, he was forced to consume poison which has resulted in him not being able to recognise people properly an he has been permanently paralysed. Saleem Baloch, a leader of Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) and a political activist of Karachi, also narrated his story of illegal detention and suffering at the office of HRCP, Karachi after release but sadly he was again picked up by law enforcing agencies from Lyari, Karachi. Ustad Sattar Baloch, a school teacher, was given electric shocks in the torture cell. HRCP's annual reports and publications are full of similar stories of Baloch political activists and citizens.  

Munir Mengal, missing Managing Director of the proposed Balochi TV channel, 'Baloch Voice' has surfaced after more than one year. He has been arrested at Karachi Airport on his return from Bahrain but his whereabouts could not be known for months. Munir had applied to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (PEMRA) for the license of TV channel.

Disappearances work on two levels: not only do they effectively silence those opposition members who have disappeared, they also sow uncertainty and terror in the wider community in general, thus silencing other opposition voices, current and potential alike. Disappearances entail the violation of a series of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. For the disappeared person, these include the right to liberty, the right to personal security and humane treatment, the right to a fair trial, to legal counsel, and to equal protection under the law, the right of presumption of innocence, etc. The families, who often spend the rest of their lives in searches for remains of the disappeared, also become victims of the disappearance's effects.

Aug 30, as the International Day of the Disappeared is an annual commemoration day created to draw attention to the fate of individuals imprisoned at places and under poor conditions unknown to their relatives and/or legal representatives. The impulse for the day came from the Federation of Associations for Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared (Federacien Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos, or FEDEFAM), a NGO founded in 1981 in Costa Rica as an association of local and regional groups actively working against secret imprisonment and forced disappearances in a number of Latin-American countries.

This Day is an opportunity to highlight these institutions' work, increase public awareness, and to call for donations and volunteers. Amnesty International (AI), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) are main international bodies and organisations who are the important concerned organisations. In Pakistan, HRCP is the body taking up this issue aggressively.

The human rights organisations, civil society and political parties demand that list of missing people should be made public, an independent tribunal consisting of Supreme Court, members of Parliament and representatives of Human Rights organisations should be formed and The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance to be ratified by the government.

 

The writer is social researcher and political analyst.

Email:[email protected]


The economic dimension
The second part of the series trying to trace the roots of extremism -- the political economy of militancy

By R Khan

Ghulam Sarwar Mohmand, a well know industrialist from tribal areas, is of the view that economic compulsions are not responsible for extremism in the world and in Pakistan. "Extremism is a consequence of oppression. Osama Bin Laden was a filthy rich person and there have been many from the upper and middle classes who become militants. If poverty were a cause, there would have been declining extremism in Pakistan with rising foreign exchange reserves and significant economic growth in the recent years."

He argued that suicide attacks started by the Japanese at Pearl Harbour in the US during WWII while Pakistan armymen blew their bodies in the 1965 war to destroy Indian tanks. In both cases extreme steps were taken as an answer to oppression. However, Mohmand argued, economy is a contributing factor in fuelling extremism.

It is not only rural poverty which drove hundreds of people towards militant groups but also urban poverty, whose impact is rather severe than rural poverty. Due to inability of the state institutions and agencies to provide economic opportunities in cities like Karachi, Faisalabad, Multan, Jhang along with civic amenities to the swelling populations, more and more people feel deprived. One option for them was to join madrasas and militant wings of banned militant organisations, especially those of sectarian nature. This is perhaps why organisations like Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Sipah-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, thrived in these areas.

Unemployment has made youth join the ranks of militants in two ways. One, by joining militancy teaching madrasas and the other through directly joining the militants without going through the rigours of seminary training.

Due to the almost non-existent economic infrastructure in Frontier and Balochistan -- where there is no industrial base or extensive agriculture partly due to undeveloped irrigation structures -- unemployment has been rampant. With no prospects of economic gains or social mobility there are very few options left. The society in NWFP has reached a point of economic collapse. However, with the migration of a large workforce from Frontier during 1970s and 80s to the Gulf countries and earlier to Karachi, which is the largest Pashtoon population city in the World, the situation remained calm as remittances from abroad and money transfer from Karachi kept things going. However, after ever decreasing opportunities in Gulf and redundancy in economy of Karachi, the options for youth are not there anymore.

The economic deprivation of Frontier is basically due to the over-centralised finance of the country. For instance, despite having substantial resources NWFP, even in 2007, is relying on 90 per cent of its finances from federal government. While FATA is directly under federal government. Instead of giving it a share in the National Finance Commission (NFC) the territories have always been used for generation of ill-gotten money -- taking advantage of politico-administrative vacuum in FATA to fund illegal activities of the government as well as to enrich the handpicked officials.

To effectively counter extremism economically, financial centralisation has to be done away with and provincial and territorial economic rights have to be given on emergency basis. The case of NWFP is particularly interesting which has a claim of Rs 500 billion outstanding towards the federal government only in terms of unpaid net hydel profits. If this outstanding amount is paid to NWFP, it would go a long way in rebuilding the collapsed provincial economy and create lot of employment opportunities there besides eliminating large-scale poverty.

During the last two decades petro-dollars, patronage from Pakistani government and monopoly on non-taxed border trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan have economically strengthened religious fundamentalist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These fundamentalist forces have whitened their black-money by investing it in real estate business and other trades. Religious fundamentalists, especially in Frontier and Balochistan, have diversified their investments. They control a portion of real estate, transportation, retail and wholesale businesses in these areas. Thus the military power of Taliban might be destroyed in Afghanistan but the economic wealth of their sympathisers is totally intact in Pakistan.

For these very reasons these fundamentalist mafia groups have been fully financing Talibanisation in Pakistan as under Taliban or clerical infrastructure as was witnessed in Taliban era in Afghanistan these greatly benefited from illegal economic activities. Now they have a vested interest in Talibanisation and lack of administration. These elements need to be identified and curbs on their sources of income have to be placed to limit their capacity to fund extremism.

De-Talibanisation of Frontier economy needs to take place. This will require a commitment by the Pakistani government -- to stop the exploitation of religion for resource accumulation by clerical groups. It will also require a commitment from Western governments and aid agencies to help the government of Pakistan in providing business and employment opportunities to its people especially in the backward areas. In this regard Pakistan should also immediately sign the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.

It is also high time for Pakistan to fulfill its pledge -- to reform the madrasa system as part of its anti-terrorism actions in ulfillment of UN Security Council Resolution 1373. In this connection there is need to bring more stringent laws under which registration of madrasas, identification of financers, change in curricula should be made compulsory instead of laws like the Deeni Madaris (Voluntary Registration and Regulation) Ordinance 2002.

Dr. Ijaz Khan, a professor at the International Relations Department, University of Peshawar told TNS: "Economic injustice is one of the main reasons for rising extremism. It may take any form: religious, sectarian or ethnic. It is not absolutely religious like in Balochistan where the people resorted to violence for their economic and cultural rights. The example of Balochistan is very interesting because it is also next to Pashtoon areas, which are considered as grounds for religious extremism. People rally behind those who challenge authority whether mullah, nationalist or the chief justice whom they hope could give them their rights and economic justice."

"The level of extremism is higher where there is large-scale poverty and the areas are out of the mainstream -- politically and economically. This is very much evident in the mountainous and remote regions of Pakistan especially the Frontier," Dr Ijaz said.

Particularly speaking about FATA, Dr Ijaz said, "In tribal areas the economy has not change the socio-economic conditions of the people. The tribal system was like it was kept in a deep-freezer while the society crumbled due to inevitable social changes and likewise the colonial administrative systems have also gave in because of the more demanding times and their incapacity to deliver."

About industrialisation as panacea to contain extremism Dr. Ijaz said, "Industrialisation should have started much earlier and they could have changed these areas a great deal. Now the tribesmen would resist industrialisation as they would feel it is American sponsored. Nevertheless, industrialisation could bring a great change. However, this change is going to be gradual and not immediate but it would be a great leap forward to bring about political, social and economic change. Again industrialisation can contribute but it cannot wholly solve the issue. The problem of extremism is a full scale socio-economic and political one and needs to be understood in this very context and therefore, approached accordingly."

(The writer is a journalist/political analyst and researcher:

email: [email protected])

 


Instituting civil service reforms
By Nadeem Ul Haque & Idrees Khawaja

Organisational issues

Meritocracy?

A large majority -- 57 per cent respondents -- said that there are no written criteria of performance evaluation (Fig.9). The absence of well defined criteria not only creates room for nepotism but also adversely influences employee's efficiency.

Most international evidence points to professional markets which operate like tournaments requiring clear rules for competition with the winner being handsomely rewarded. In the civil service it seems non-market competition has led to the development of a fear of nepotism and other malpractices. We saw this how training is allocated and postings and transfers are done. Now this is further highlighted in that the majority of our respondents prefer a seniority-based system of promotion (Fig.10). Clearly such a rule is preferable to complete arbitrariness. This result also points to the lack of faith among the respondents in the reward system of the civil service. 

Flatter Service

Majority of the civil servants favour a flat organisation that is lesser hierarchy (Fig.11). Balu, 1969 and Lipsky, 1980 argue that if an order runs counter to the interest of lower-level bureaucrats, the opposition will rarely be overt rather it will express itself in the form absenteeism, attitude and other subversive tactics. Given the pervasive red-tapism one feels reduced hierarchy will have a positive impact on efficiency.

Incentives

Should perks be monetised?

Majority of the civil servants have favoured monetisation of perks (Fig. 12). Government housing and allotment of land to government officers at subsidised rates constitutes the two most important perks. Government housing is legacy of the colonial past when expatriate were provided housing facility. Employment in civil service promises the best of housing in every city (Haque, 2006), besides this has created an artificial demand for large and spacious houses. Allotment of land to government officers at well below the market price is yet another form of perk and the civil servants continue to devise schemes to avail the benefit. Haque (2006) argues that when perks constitute a major part of the compensation package then the protection of perks/rent-seeking game becomes a priority of the officers.

The monetisation of perks would relieve the officers of the need to indulge in rent-seeking game and thereby release their energies for more productive official work. Besides the compensation package would become transparent and understandable. This would facilitate mobility in and out of civil service that in turn should improve efficiency. 

 

Pensions

It is well recognised that job mobility enhances efficiency. Non-portability of pension increases the cost of job-change and therefore constrains job mobility. Majority of the civil servants favour pension portability (Fig.13).

Non-portability not only hinders the efficient allocation of resources because the private sector fails to get the right person but the government also ends up with retaining a frustrated employee who is busy in count-down to the length of service required for pension-eligibility.

What do they think of their service?

Public perceptions have deteriorated

Ninety three of the respondents share the perception that performance of the civil service has deteriorated over the years (Fig.14). To investigate the deterioration issue further, we explored the extent of deterioration, a sizable percentage of respondents, thirty eight, to be exact, think that the extent of deterioration is 'extreme' (Fig.15), while another 39 percent have rated the degree of deterioration to be 'moderate'.

Yet they are satisfied with their jobs!

Majority of the civil servants are satisfied with their civil service job (Fig.16). With salaries that have been declining in real terms, why?

Given the difference in incentive structure of various service groups we investigated the level of satisfaction according to service groups. Percentage of satisfied workers in police group is much higher than others (Fig. 17). The result is not surprising, given the perks and authority that the officers from police group enjoy, over and above, what employees from other service groups have access to. This leads us to conclude, that perks and power, rather than salary, determines the level of satisfaction. Could it be that perks and power translate into higher accumulations of wealth over time? Satisfaction is also high among the Foreign Service and Commerce and Trade groups both areas where there is a significant opportunity for an overseas assignment.

Why do they stay in service?

Mobility?

Majority of the civil servants have expressed their intention to remain in service, at least for the next two years (Fig.18). This again supports the contention that, by and large, civil servants are satisfied with their job. However, besides the satisfaction, other possible reasons for the civil servants' preference to continue in their current occupation include, one, civil service experience may not be very valuable in the market. And two, non-portability of pension increase the cost leaving government.

Yet a surprisingly large number of civil servants want to go overseas. They seem to prefer to either work for the private sector or other public sector organizations. Interestingly the demand for private sector jobs is very small possibly because the private sector in Pakistan has not yet taken the leap from a family firm stage to corporate organisational structure. 

 

Power and privilege

Given the officers' clear preference to remain in civil service, it is worthwhile to find out the causes of this preference. In this context we asked them, what influenced your decision to pursue civil service? They were required to rate characteristics like job security, social status and perks etc. Job security is the foremost reason indicated by as much as 59 percent of the respondents. Money, which is considered to be the strongest motivator in Psychological literature has been indicated by only 7 percent as the main reason for joining the civil service.

Financial reward figures very low in the incentives for joining government. Power and status are at a premium (Figure 19). When combined with the rating developed by the Transparency International, this finding suggests that the power and status are easy routes to rents. It is not surprising then that they prefer a closed system along with security of tenure. It is then a matter of protecting the rents of the system for the club.

In a any case the 'clubby' nature (closed system, tenure, non, merit promotions) of the system seeks to select and maintain those who a have proclivity towards the preservation of rent. The entry of a professional in this system could upset this rent-seeking.

Prestige seems to be also an important consideration for civil servants. It is easy to see how in an elite system like Pakistan prestige, power and social status all go together. And membership to the elite has its advantages in a rent seeking society. Not surprising then that prestige should be desired. (Fig.20).

Civil Service and Society

Public perceptions

Civil servants are almost equally divided over the issue as to how the general public thinks of them (Fig.21). 51 percent of the civil servants feel that general public carries a disapproving attitude. This is a large number and worth further investigation. 

The finding indicated in figure 21 is despite the civil servants perception that their authoritative attitude has changed for the better over the years (Fig. 22). Of course this question needs some corroboration from a public survey about civil servants. Otherwise it should be interpreted bearing the self serving nature of the answer.

Political Interference in Civil Service

Majority of the respondents have confirmed the general perception that political interference in the affairs is common (Fig.23).

Policy Formulation: Consultation with Stakeholders

Majority of the civil servants responded that the private sector is consulted while framing policies that affect the sector (Figure 24). However, the fact that a sizable percentage of civil servants think otherwise perhaps implies that consultation rather being a principle is left to the discretion of the civil servant.

Corruption

Are they Corrupt?

Majority of the civil servants hold the opinion that bribes have to be offered in civil service to get things done (Fig. 25). This being the general perception as well, the finding would not surprise anyone. However, the fact that this comes from the beneficiaries of corruption reinforces popular perception.

What about accountability?

Majority of the respondent servants share the perception that civil servants are not held accountable in cases of corruption reported against them.(Fig.26).

Conclusion

What have we learnt from the survey?

Civil servants are demoralised; they acknowledge that the service is corrupt and that their public approval rating is low. There is also awareness among the civil servants that corruption may be a serious problem. In addition there seems to be no trust in the accountability process, i.e., corruption is not penalised. Interestingly the civil service appears to have little faith in their human resource management. While acknowledging the benefits of meritocracy, they continue to prefer seniority-based promotion and reward system. Written job descriptions as well as criteria for performance evaluation are generally not used. Similarly 'connections' are perceived to be the major determinant of nominations for training especially foreign training. Background and abilities are not regarded as important for assignments and training.  

The survey also confirms that the civil servants fears that their independence has been curbed through repeated political interference. Fear of competition is clearly evident even when they recognise that merit and professional competence are important. While the grade 22 respondents with no more promotions to look forward want to open out recruitment, the junior grades wish to restrict the entry of professionals to the grade 17 a clearly incredible proposal. 

The motivation for joining the civil service is clearly not money. Power prestige and status are cited as the main reasons for joining the service. This does not quite gel with what we learnt earlier that the service is held in low esteem by the public and it is perceived to be corrupt. Moreover, the low ranking of money for joining the service appears to be quite incredulous given the low real monetary salaries. The only interpretation that lends it self to explaining these responses is that power and money may be highly correlated and the main motivation for joining the service. This would also explain why they value job security and a closed civil service system. 

Despite low salaries, the majority is satisfied with their civil service job. Police-probably because of the power-- Foreign Service and Commerce & Trade - probably because of choice foreign postings - record relatively higher level of satisfaction.  Majority of the officers would like to stay in civil service.

On their benefits, a majority favours portability of pensions and monetisation of perks. Portable pensions cut down the cost of switching jobs and hence encourage mobility. However, we also see that because of job security and power, civil servants do not show a preference for mobility.  

The preference for monetisation is interesting in that while the survey shows a preference for it, when it is proposed it is always rejected as it was recently by provincial administrations. Perhaps this is because perks are mostly a non-transparent method of payment; entrepreneurial and well-networked individuals seek to maximise them. If this is true perks will be quite unequally distributed among the public servants with the more well-connected and aggressive individuals being able to collect more perks. Given this it would be hard to find a value at which monetization would be acceptable to all in place of perks. This may explain why a majority prefer monetisation but yet in reality it may not happen!

 

Data Collection

For the collection of primary data from civil servants all over Pakistan, as a first round, the survey questionnaires were sent to all the civil servants through courier service. This was followed up by phone calls and faxes to get an early response. The survey team did its level best to ensure maximum response.

It was the outcome of these efforts that the responses were mainly received through postal service, however, visits were also arranged to capture realistic reflection from the civil servants in one-to-one interviews. Postal responses constitute around 70 per cent of the total responses.

(concluded)

 


rehabilitation
After the damage is done
Strategic measure to prepare and cope with a catastrophe like the recent floods in Balochistan

By Dr Noman Ahmed

Pre monsoon rains and flash floods in the entire country -- particularly Sindh and Balochistan -- have inflicted severe losses of life. A colossal damage has been done to the properties, livelihood assets, settlements and infrastructure. The government has come up with haywire response to the situation which is not at all commensurate with the nature of situation. Announcement of ambiguous relief packages is one such action that is steered by federal and provincial governments. The call of the hour is to prioritise the actions according to the pressing needs of the people.

If one goes by the scientific principles of disaster management planning, the repair and rehabilitation of highways, rail roads, link roads and access roads constitute the top priority. After the instant measures for controlling flash floods such as reinforcement of protection walls are completed, a comprehensive assessment of damage losses has to be undertaken. This approach, which makes the logical pre-requisite for any short and long term investment towards rehabilitation, is normally composed of several integrated steps.

Mapping and categorising damages is the first step. In this stage, reconnaissance surveys are carried out by IT tools such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Land Information System (LIS) and other cartographical aids that can be mobilised and put to use. As satellite images from the past are easily available from relevant softwares, a simple 'before' and 'after' comparison can help put the disaster scenario in accurate perspective. The detailed analysis of strategic damages (and their causes) is also a serious necessity.

This must be carefully done to rehabilitate or reconstruct such components at the initial period that cannot be deferred. The analysis also points out the basic design and execution faults that may have caused the damages. For instance, the irrigation engineers in certain parts of Balochistan were of the view that many local dams were very poorly built. Therefore they were washed out without standing up to their usual function. Similarly, several embankments were shoddily bolstered which caused gushes of water to penetrate inwards without any tangible obstruction.

The level difference between the settlements and the surrounding roads/highways was another major reason for inundation of hamlets, villages and even towns. In many cases, there was no provision of land/surface drainage to safeguard the settlements. Inappropriate infrastructure development also caused a great deal of destruction. The city of Turbat is an example. Not only was it marooned due to complete sinking of link roads, the in-pouring of high flood outlets from the surroundings entirely enwhorled the hapless residents in the town. All of these spots and concurrently running features require careful planning and engineering analysis to understand the root causes of damages. Thereafter the long term remedies can be carefully planned and sequentially implemented.

The next step is to examine the performance of pre-warning systems, mobilisation of people for moving to safer locations and safeguard of assets. It was found that the Meteorological Department was prompt and efficient in flashing the warning signals and relevant information to common people and concerned authorities. However the initiative on the part of local institutions was very slow to come. In some cases, it was only after the high damages that the rescue efforts could be mobilised. It is normally observed that the relief work is expected from federal agencies such as army and navy contingents. It is true that the role played by these agencies is extremely useful, they only come into action after the state of emergency is reached.

In any disaster situation, the first few days -- even hours -- are important. If warnings and red signals are received, the task of the administration is to transfer the people and their moveable assets to safe locations. Prior demarcation of high points, access roads and provision of basic infrastructure in these rescue nests are some vital tasks that should be undertaken as a routine municipal assignment.

Field evidences from the outskirts of Shahdad Kot, Kech and Turbat showed that haphazard and disorganised response of masses was due to lack of education and awareness. Many communities resisted evacuation, waiting for a last minute miracle. In certain cases, unnecessary loss of life was experienced. This can be avoided. By communicating the real hazards of impending disasters in an effective manner, the people can be motivated to make tactical move in their own interest. The local government officials, pesh imams in mosques and schools teachers are the useful cadres who can act as a catalyst in this respect. Besides, parallel efforts must be made to include studies related to disasters as well as options of prevention and safety from damages. This is a norm which is practiced in most of the disaster prone areas such as Japan. Unless personal actions do not synchronise with the strategic demands of respective situations, damages would not be controlled.

A vital issue is the local capacity of facing and dealing with disasters. At the level of Union Council, Tehsil and Taluka, it is important that staff strength is trained to perform emergency duties. This may comprise routine civil defence training, labour supervision skills, elementary construction and engineering awareness, operation and usage of basic machinery such as bull dozers, excavators, tractors and dumpers. It is equally vital that the localities at the level of tehsil, taluka, town possess the essential equipment for dealing with eventualities of this kind. It must be noted that a materially deficient but organised management can deal with challenges far better than a less trained but better equipped lot. Finally the damage effects of floods and rains must be removed without delay at the appropriate time. Repatriation of people to their homes must be effectively handled. We already have a sizable population dislocated due to the previous instances of natural disasters and other man made upheavals.

Living away from the native habitat makes people frustrated and inflicts a painful feel of trauma and despair. If this feeling transforms into helplessness, it can become potentially dangerous. The only way to deal with these affected communities is to continuously engage with them, involve and apprise them about the actions taken by the government as well as helping them help themselves. Rehabilitation of livelihoods assets through revitalisation of land, infrastructure and monetary assistance are also tried and tested alternatives.


30 days after the disaster 
A report to analyse the disaster response and oversights from people's perspective

By Amjad Bhatti & Aamir Habib Somro

Background

On June 26, 2007 tens of thousands of people fled for safety as cyclone Yemyin and high tides hit major parts of Balochistan coast and Ormara before noon and caused havoc in Pasni and Gwadar before moving towards the Iranian coast at around midday on Tuesday. According to the latest NDMA figures 196 people in Balochistan and 127 in Sindh were reportedly died, while 2 million in Balochistan and 1,500,000 in Sindh were affected severely. In Balochistan 55,000 houses and in Sindh 22,344 houses were completely destroyed.

 

Objectives

The core objective of this report is to initiate and strengthen accountability and oversight of disaster response and relief by tracking the performance of the government and non-government bodies including UN.  This initiative is an attempt to analyse the disaster response from peoples perspective and provide stakeholders with independent feed-back on the pace, scope and needs of disaster response mechanism in calamity-hit areas of Sindh and Balochistan.

 

Research Methodology

First, official data released by NDMA (National Disaster Management Agency) on July 25 and 26 2007 was used as baseline for this analysis. The data was disaggregated at provincial level with a focus on the total affected, displaced and covered population (covered by relief activities).

Second, the contents of published news items, TV reports, UN situations reports, and NGOs reports were analysed to verify the findings of data analysis drawn on official data. 

 

Reporting Period

June 26 2007 to July 26 2007

Main Findings

1. For the recent tropical cyclone Yemyin that formed in the Arabian sea on June 22, a weather advisory was issued. It forecast widespread rains with very heavy precipitation in Sindh, especially the south, and coastal areas including Karachi. It also said the weather system would likely move towards the coast of Balochistan, bringing heavy rainfall and even flash floods in hilly areas. Fishermen were advised to halt their activities for three days due to rough seas. Four days after the warning, the cyclone made landfall in the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan.

Despite the time the authorities had to mobilise their disaster response mechanism, it was not done. Later, the chief minister of Sindh, Arbab Ghulam Rahim, was reported to have criticised the 'weather authorities' for failing to issue timely warnings about the storm. This clearly reflects the poor level of coordination among state bodies responsible for the security and safety of citizens in crisis situations.

2. According to NDMA figures 115 relief camps were set-up by the government, seven in Balochistan and 108 in Sindh. This reflects a massive disparity in the number of potential affectees per relief camp in both provinces. In Sindh, the number of affectees per relief camp amounts to 4,629, while affectees.

3. The required quantity of three priority items-shelter, rations and blankets-has not yet equitably reached the affected and shelterless populations of the disaster-hit areas. Initially, supplying shelter, food/potable water and medicine were identified as the priority areas for relief efforts, while no information is available on the supply of potable water and medicine from official sources as of 26th July 2007.

4. When the total amount of ration delivered, 4,635 tones, is divided amongst the affected and displaced population, the share per person for a thirty-day period comes to 1.3 kg in Balochistan and 4.6 kg in Sindh.

On the other hand, the NDMA stated in a report issued on July 26: "From Sunday onwards rations being supplied will be stopped as the situation has stabilised."

The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) also subscribes to the official claim. According to an OCHA report, also released on July 26, "the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator, after a two-day assessment of flood affected areas, noted good progress made with the ongoing relief activities in Sindh and Balochistan".

5. According to official data, 60,300 blankets were distributed in both provinces. When this figure is divided between the total affected populations in respective provinces, one blanket covers 60 people in Balochistan and 19 in Sindh.

Province           Total Population affected          Total Shelter less population          Total # of Blanket distribution          Blankets/ Affected population           Percentage people who got blankets

6. In terms of shelter provision, the disaggregated data indicates that the 45,600 tents delivered by relief agencies could cover only 65 per cent of affected households in Balochistan and 45 per cent in Sindh. Therefore, the shelter needs of 35 per cent of affected households in Balochistan and 55 per cent in Sindh had not been met so far.

7. According to official data, Kharan, Jaffarabad, Turbat and Gwadar had no need of tents while 5000 tents to Kharan, 2000 to Jaffarabad, 2500 to Turbat and 2500 tents to Gawadar have been dispatched till now. On the other hand the tents required were 200 in Sibi, 500 in Bolan, 300 in Washuk, 300 in Kalat, 200 in Noshki, 300 in Chaghi, 500 in Nasirabad, 500 in Awaran and 300 in Khuzdar, but no dispatch is recorded in the official report. This status of tent distribution, on district level, is showing more disparity in terms of supply and demand.

8. UN flash appeal remains under-funded; consequently most of the earlier identified clusters of support would be slashed. In a meeting of the heads of UN agencies, chaired by the NDMA chairman, it was decided, "in view of inadequate funding as a response to UN's flash appeal, the number of UN clusters shall be reviewed by UNRC".

This article is extracted from the 'Relief Audit Report' compiled by the Rural Development Policy Institute (RDPI), Islamabad 

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