insight
What is the threat? What is the way out?
This is the time for massive political mobilisation as an antidote to the tyranny of a few
By Raza Rumi
Not unlike good old Nero, who carried on with his self-involved pursuits while Rome burnt, our enlightened brigade from the Urdu and the English medium worlds have been quite busy with their hobbyhorses. With thousands of homes churning out a suicide bomber per minute, the national discourse or the flimsy excuse for it, has been truly remarkable. First came the minus one formula, backed by the 'be-ghairat' Kerry Lugar bill and now the centre of universe has shifted to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

comment
Empire lite
Obama is acutely aware of the deep irony in his selection as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar
Many weeks after the announcement that Barack Obama was to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the first black American president was formally honoured in an expectedly grand ceremony in Stockholm. There is very little that remains to be said about the tragi-comedy that is the awarding of the world's most conspicuous peace prize to a man who has just ordered the deployment of 30,000 additional combat troops to Afghanistan. What I cannot help but comment on are the remarks made by the ex-candidate of hope in his acceptance speech.

Copenhagen A lot is at stake
Should the developing world not enjoy the same freedom to grow as the developed world did in its economic infancy?
By Pradeep S Mehta
Copenhagen promises to be a departure from previous rounds of multilateral negotiations, both trade and climate, in many ways. Even before the curtain went up on these talks, the hosts, Denmark did away with any pretence of neutrality. In fact, it is leading the developed country charge on the emerging nations by asking them to accept binding cuts on emissions.

textile
Raw deal
Increase in the export of cotton yarn has created problems for the local textile industry
By Aoun Sahi
An increase in export of raw cotton this year has created panic in the local market. Resultantly, the textile sector has been unable to get cotton yarn at an affordable price; the price in the international market has increased as well.

Task ahead
Benefits of military operation will not be utilised until terror victims are given hope of a future
By Dr Noman Ahmed
The acts of terror have caused thousands of deaths, left thousands maimed and hundreds of thousands affected in many ways. The wave of terrorism has caused loss of bread earners in extended families, and has also resulted in the destruction of houses and many livelihoods.

Timely training
Vocational skills give the local women means to earn a livelihood
By Syed Kosar Naqvi
More than 700 women in the nine union councils of Abbottabad district have received vocational training to earn their livelihood during the last two years under Community Livelihood Rehabilitation Plan (CLRP). The training was funded by Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA). The project taught women innovative skills like shawls weaving, making of linen, quilts, embroidery, jewelry, zari work, and jute work, etc. The project is going to be completed in Abbottabad in a few weeks time.

issue
Water woes
Statistics show effective planning is required to make clean drinking water available to a large number of people
Beenish Kulsoom
World Water Development Report, issued by UNESCO, estimates say 1.1 billion people are without sufficient access to water, and 2.4 billion people have to live without adequate sanitation. The report says about 3 billion people of a population of 8.5 billion will suffer from water shortage by 2025. Eighty three percent of them will live in developing countries, mostly in rural areas, where some 20 percent of the population have access to sufficient water supply. The world over, only six percent of global freshwater is used by households, while 20 percent is utilised by industry and 70 percent by agriculture.

 

 

insight

What is the threat?

What is the way out?

This is the time for massive political mobilisation as an antidote to the tyranny of a few

By Raza Rumi

Not unlike good old Nero, who carried on with his self-involved pursuits while Rome burnt, our enlightened brigade from the Urdu and the English medium worlds have been quite busy with their hobbyhorses. With thousands of homes churning out a suicide bomber per minute, the national discourse or the flimsy excuse for it, has been truly remarkable. First came the minus one formula, backed by the 'be-ghairat' Kerry Lugar bill and now the centre of universe has shifted to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

If one were to follow the trails of verbosity and poisonous write-ups in the print and electronic media, the storyline is as simple as follows: one fine day, late Benazir Bhutto and her 'corrupt' husband sitting thousands of miles away from Pakistan issued the NRO to 'protect' their wealth. As if these political leaders in exile and wilderness had the legislative and executive authority to issue an Ordinance.

We cannot debate the Ordinance at this stage since the matter is now subjudice. However, even a child on a Pakistani street knows that a uniformed president and his khaki associates issued this Ordinance and participated in the 'reconciliation' dialogue between late Benazir Bhutto and the military establishment. Today the relentless, moralist media campaigns do not even mention these inconvenient truths. The issue at hand at one level is quite basic: a legitimate political leader with mass following was framed by the establishment twice over, then given a 'reconciliation' package and now after her death the perks have been withdrawn by the very same establishment.

This brings us to the larger question of the fundamental power imbalance that persists in Pakistan, i.e. between the unelected and elected institutions of the state. This time thanks to a robust civil society movement, the judiciary, hitherto a subordinate partner of the executive, has gained powers from the street and thus a redistribution of power has taken place since 2007. But this still does not augur well for a democratic future. For democracy remains a far, elusive goal despite all the rhetoric and hyped yearnings of our masses.

The unelected executive comprising the military and the civilian bureaucracy, a powerful judiciary has now been joined by a third unelected partner -- the media. Leading media persons on a daily basis quote 'insiders', 'sources' and issue reports that are not contradicted by the 'powerful' elements of the civil-military establishment. At best, the servants of the state remain unaccountable and at the worst regurgitate the old script in vogue since the 1950s: that the politicians are incompetent, corrupt and security risks. The guardians of Pakistan ideology, therefore, have the moral right to get rid of them when they want. The list of NRO beneficiaries amply proves that -- out of a thousands-long list, only a handful in comparative terms are politicians. The rest are all minions and top or under-dogs of the unelected executive.

The army expenditure is still not audited and the drain on the budget cannot be questioned. For if you talk of peace with India and amicable settlement of Kashmir dispute you are bound to be a traitor.

In a similar fashion, while the subordinate judiciary is accountable to the superior judiciary, the mechanisms of holding the superior judiciary accountable such as the Supreme Judicial Council are ineffectual. Since the vindictive reference of General Musharraf against the incumbent Chief Justice, the issue of questioning judges has become intensely political.

The mala fide reference that was filed by General Musharraf was thrown out by the Court through a short order issued on July 20, 2007 and the Chief Justice was restored. Ideally, after March 2009, as a matter of national priority and transparency the detailed judgment should have been issued to set the parameters of the operations of the Supreme Judicial Council. No institution within the constitutional scheme can dare ask that question.

The recent judgment whereby the Supreme Court sent several PCO judges home was another peculiar instance. The decision was bold and historic in many ways; however, one of the aggrieved parties was the bench itself. This case opened up several legal issues, which the constitutionalists will ponder about for years to come, not to mention the fact that the key culprits -- General Musharraf, Shaukat Aziz and their legal eagles -- have been let off despite the fact that they violated the Constitution and incarcerated honourable judges.

In these times, when the country is burning and militancy is at its peak, the priorities of the unelected institutions are curiously different. Peshawar has been turned into ruins, Lahore is hostage to fear, Islamabad is barricaded and every corner is unsafe and guess what the loose alliance of civil-military-judicial-media establishment are concerned about. The focus is now, as they say, to hang the dog after giving it a bad name.

To the credit of the political class, despite its relative lack of experience and shortsightedness, it stands together. Well, at least for now. Pakistan's most popular leader, after the forced removal of Benazir Bhutto from the scene, stands firmly behind the democratic process and the regional political players are also not willing to play ball with the unelected state actors.

What is the threat? The non-state actors firmly entrenched in the country and its cultural ethos, are, also enemies of this legitimate political class. In fact, they want its physical elimination and they have started the process from the northwest. Take the case of hundreds of Awami National Party (ANP) workers and leaders who have been killed during the last two years. Or the Maliks and other tribesmen who have been completely eliminated from FATA?

All such power-revolutions in South Asia or Indus Valley have historically commenced from the Western frontiers. Sadly, insiders within Pakistan are abetting the current wave of medievalism and international power play. The non-state actors are defiant and waiting for a political vacuum. Their key financiers have been from the Middle East and the rhetorical Ummah but our spin doctors are keen to prove that this is the handiwork of Israel-US-India nexus.

So what is the way out, a rational mind would reflect. There is no option for the political parties but to get organised within and weed out the internal mess that they operate in. They need to be accountable to their constituents and immediately undertake measures to counter the torrent of disinformation and de-legitimisation. They must be clear on their objective: civilian ascendancy. Democracy is no magic bullet and the electoral and representative political frameworks cannot be compromised on any pretext.

The Charter of Democracy is a far-reaching framework that ought to be fully implemented and also widened in its ambit and ownership. All political parties must be brought within its fold. The provisions on army, judiciary and executive need to be operationalised at once. Of course, this requires a speedy passage of a constitutional bill that will undo the distortions inserted by the army and legitimised by the superior judiciary of yore.

Secondly, the parliament must also debate on media regulation. Its recent deliberations were helpful with respect to the coverage of terrorism. It must now refine and improve the PEMRA Ordinance and include a self-regulation mechanism that must be owned and managed by the media houses and journalists' associations themselves.

Thirdly, the credibility of civilian government in these times rests on delivery of rights, entitlements and services. This includes security as a paramount state obligation. A restructuring of the civil service and security services is something that the federal and provincial governments must do.

Our given political and security mess denotes that the economy will refuse to grow at a rate required to match the population explosion and employment expectations. Thus, a robust, effective social protection regime is essential. Benazir Income Support Programme is a step in the right direction. It needs to be made far more credible.

Finally, this is also the time for massive political mobilisation as an antidote to the tyranny of a few. Political cadres are dying out after the unions and workers' groups have been eliminated. The political parties need to counter the growing Talibanisation and extremism by getting down to the grassroots and reassuring that an inclusive, democratic Pakistan is the only way out for the survival of our fractured federation. Gilgit-Baltistan reform and Balcohistan package were great starters and now the Centre has to initiate a series of such legal, administrative, and financial packages for NWFP, FATA, PATA and other marginalised regions to establish that the civilian governments are responsive to the diversity of a federation and only they can keep such arrangements intact and workable.

The erroneous illusion of Pakistan's civil society being a natural ally of democratic process is something to be questioned. Experience from authoritarian jurisdictions such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, amongst others, demonstrates that they prefer developmental civilian authoritarianism. In Pakistan, the clamouring for a strong man, a neo-Khomieni and a deliverer is an ever-present danger and 1999 coup and its allies within the civil society are recent history of our country.

Pakistan's survival is now dependent on its internal political situation. Contrary to the conspiracy theories, no foreign power wants a country with nuclear weapons and lashkars of jihadis and its state dismantled. By fuelling systemic instability, our unelected institutions are yet again creating uncertainty and hindering economic progress. About time that we recognised this imperative and moved on.

Raza Rumi is a development professional and a writer based in Lahore. He blogs at www.razarumi.com and edits Pak Tea House and Lahorenama e-zines

 

comment

Empire lite

Obama is acutely aware of the deep irony in his selection as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize

By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

Many weeks after the announcement that Barack Obama was to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the first black American president was formally honoured in an expectedly grand ceremony in Stockholm. There is very little that remains to be said about the tragi-comedy that is the awarding of the world's most conspicuous peace prize to a man who has just ordered the deployment of 30,000 additional combat troops to Afghanistan. What I cannot help but comment on are the remarks made by the ex-candidate of hope in his acceptance speech.

Obama is an intelligent man (quite unlike his predecessor) and is acutely aware of the deep irony in his selection as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize having done nothing for peace, and in fact being commander-in-chief of a military machine that is waging two of the costliest and bloodiest wars in the recent history of the world. He thus felt it necessary to explain in his acceptance speech why he was in fact presiding over these wars and how they were actually contributing to the public interest.

And therein lies the rub. Obama the intelligent and well-versed president must know that his eloquence is starting to get boring. He insisted that a case can be made for 'morally justified' wars; have a multitude of American presidents, British prime ministers, Mughal and Ottoman wazirs, Roman patriarchs, and many other rulers of the world, not argued in exactly the same way that the wars they waged were 'morally justifiable'?

Since time immemorial, imperialist adventures have been explained in epic, ideological terms. The Great Roman Empire claimed that it was acting on behalf of civilised peoples; in its later incarnation it was the deliverer of God's will on earth. Not much changed as humanity entered the modern epoch; the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French, and ultimately the British conquerors that shaped what is today's capitalist world-system were all convinced that they represented a higher level of civilisation, more or less explained by the refinement of their spiritual values.

The United States has followed in the glorious footsteps of all of these great empires. It too has consistently invoked binaries of civilised-uncivilised, good-evil and moral-immoral. It wouldn't reflect so badly on Barack Obama if his language was similar only to James Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, or even Woodrow Wilson. Unfortunately for the president, his rhetoric is scarcely distinguishable from that of George W. Bush.

Obama talked about how Iran and North Korea could not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons (while explicitly maintaining that none has a right to dispute America's right to keep nukes), how he would not tolerate any threat to the security of the American people. All said in much more flowery language than Bush was ever capable of doing, but fundamentally no different from Bush nonetheless. Most students of imperial history never expected too much to change with Obama's coming to power, and so it is coming to pass.

I think what is more insidious about 21st century Empire compared to those that preceded it is that men like Barack Obama are its point-men. While the fact that a black man has risen to the presidency of the United States is a major achievement for people of colour around the world, it should not be allowed to hide the reality that, in general, people of colour are discriminated against, their labour exploited, their resources looted and their children denied opportunities. While Barack Obama becoming president can be attributed to the struggle of black people, the way his image will be used to gloss over the widespread inequality in America is a testament to the sophistication of the ideologues of Empire and the global capitalist system.

Obama, of course, has never been a radical committed to the overhaul of capitalism or freedom of all peoples from imperialism. Figures such as Che Guevara have been completely co-opted by multinational corporations, an indicator of just how cynical profiteers can be (given that Che is a symbol of the international struggle against capitalism and imperialism). The point is simply to note that Obama is smart enough to know how mass propaganda distorts history and creates new myths. But his acceptance speech indicates that he is willing to play his part in reinforcing rather than debunking such myths.

Having said this it is important for outside observers to recognise just how much right-wing anti-Obama propaganda is doing the rounds within the US. Each of his appointments is scrutinised and faithful establishment outfits such as FOX News go out of their way to portray Obama as an atheistic communist. For those of us on the receiving end of the Empire it is amazing to think that Obama can be considered a threat by the American establishment. But this is perhaps why Obama (not unlike the Pakistan People's Party in our case) often feels that he must prove himself to be more loyal than the king.

In the final analysis, history will recount that a wartime president of the United States was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. For all of his attempts to counterbalance the interests of the pro-war lobby with those of his person and party by announcing withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in 2011, the wartime president will never be an advocate for genuine peace. The troops of his great United States of America continue to occupy more than 150 military bases around the world, and they will remain in Afghanistan long beyond 2011.

One of the most vilified men of the 20th century, Fidel Castro, has noted that Bolivian President Evo Morales a poor, non-white cocoa farmer in one of the most unequal and racist societies in the world who, after becoming president, has taken on the Bolivian ruling class and truly advanced the cause of peace will never be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize because he is not the president of the United States. And he is right. Morales will never wage morally justified wars, or enforce sanctions against Iran or North Korea. Morales does not defend the Empire, he chooses to fight against it. If I had a peace prize to hand out, I, like Fidel, would give it to Morales.

 

Copenhagen

A lot is at stake

Should the developing world not enjoy the same freedom to grow as the developed world did in its economic infancy?

By Pradeep S Mehta

Copenhagen promises to be a departure from previous rounds of multilateral negotiations, both trade and climate, in many ways. Even before the curtain went up on these talks, the hosts, Denmark did away with any pretence of neutrality. In fact, it is leading the developed country charge on the emerging nations by asking them to accept binding cuts on emissions.

Second, in a certain sense, the talks are retrogressive. Many developed nations, including Denmark, have not kept the promises made at Kyoto and are using these climate talks to dilute their promises even further. While in Kyoto the developed countries took up the right moral stand of bearing the burden of global emission cuts, in Copenhagen they are in a hurry to lighten their load and transfer it to the recently enhanced muscles of China and India and to a lesser extent others such as Brazil and South Africa (BASIC countries).

As mentioned above, the Danes have led the Western charge on the developing world, coming out with a totally partisan draft which they apparently hope to get ratified by all countries. This is a clever exercise in overstating the position of developed countries so as to eventually broker an agreement which is advantageous to the West.

Other strategies are also being used. The small island economies, which are potentially the worst sufferers from climate change, are being employed by rich countries to squeal long and hard so as to trigger disagreement within the G-77 and evoke a panic reaction from leading lights such as China and India. But negotiations are not for the fainthearted and these emerging nations show no signs of acquiescing to the demands of these tiny nations.

Both India and China, the fastest growers among all the emerging economies, are in no mood to agree to binding or even voluntary emission cuts. These countries are dangling a carrot of emission intensity cuts a reduction in emissions per unit of GDP which are entirely consistent with approximate doubling of emissions of both countries by 2025, given their current rates of economic growth.

These countries still hold the per capita principle dear, i.e. developing countries may keep on increasing their emissions and developed countries reducing theirs till the per capita emissions of developed and developing countries are equalised. Till then, any cuts by developing countries in any sector of the economy should be purely voluntary and not subject to monitoring.

If that principle actually comes into play, India should be allowed to increase its total emissions by a factor of ten and China by a factor of three ---- a case of suicidal arithmetic with the playing out of these dreams driving the human race to extinction. This is because of the masses of population concentrated in these countries India alone has a population which is greater than the sum of Europe and North American populations and China's population still outnumbers even India's by a good 150 million.

Moreover, in the Indian case, economic growth has yet not proved to be the contraceptive that it promises to be. As the country adds an Australia to its population every year, such growth alone would be the source of a large unavoidable increase in emissions.

Clearly, no party is entirely right and no side entirely wrong! There are also weighty value judgements and dilemmas involved: Should the developing world not enjoy the same freedom to grow as the developed world did in its economic infancy? Should a citizen of the developing world not have the same emitting rights as that of her Western counterpart? Do these rights actually gain precedence over human rights of survival?

These questions and counter questions will be played over and over again in a blinding display of rhetoric that Copenhagen is sure to witness. The stakes are huge each country would try to minimise its contribution to global efforts to save the world. The challenge is to arrive at an outcome which eventually does save it. This is a classic case of cooperation in conflict so poignantly captured by Amartya Sen the World can be likened to a household in which husband, wife and children come into conflict over the sharing of privileges within it and yet are unified by the objective of protecting its safety and security and enhancing its economic and social status.

A betting man would not gamble over the outcomes at Copenhagen. Writing an article which makes guesses about the final outcomes of these talks is bereft of such monetary risk, though not of error. It is inconceivable that the rich countries, using Denmark as their mouthpiece, will get the emerging nations to accept the burden of 20 percent of global emission cuts. But both China and India might have to walk away with emission intensity cuts which are even higher than the self envisaged reductions of 40-45 percent and 20-25 percent respectively.

Moreover, in doing so economic growth might take a beating in the immediate run. This is both good and bad as emissions would decrease on two counts a reduction in intensity and a deceleration in growth. However, it is likely that in return for this sacrifice, the dragon and the elephant would be able to force the developed world to relinquish its exclusive hold over the green technologies that it has so far kept close to its chest. The optimist in the writer visualises a win-win scenario in which such transfer of green technologies would reverse the Sino-Indian departure from the path of rapid growth.

In this way, the world would move over the next 50 years to an equilibrium of higher per capita incomes, lower pollution and averted climate change in welfare terms to a much higher state of bliss. Of course, things can go horribly wrong the eventual fate would rest on negotiating expertise in optimising the pressure on the accelerators and brakes driving the parleys at Copenhagen. One wrong move and the entire talks might head to a meaningless stalemate which might drive the negotiating nations, and by a leap of imagination, the world to a point of no return.

 

The author is the Secretary General of CUTS International, a leading policy research and advocacy group with headquarters in Jaipur, India. Siddartha Mitra and Shruti Mittal of CUTS contributed to this article.

 

textile

Raw deal

Increase in the export of cotton yarn has created problems for the local textile industry

By Aoun Sahi

An increase in export of raw cotton this year has created panic in the local market. Resultantly, the textile sector has been unable to get cotton yarn at an affordable price; the price in the international market has increased as well.

"We have exported 284,000 tonnes of cotton yarn in the first four months of current fiscal year. Last year, we exported about 500,000 tonnes of cotton yarn," says Ibrahim Mehmood, Secretary Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers Association (PRGMA). "During the first quarter of 2009-10 export of raw cotton has observed an increase of 39 percent while cotton yarn has seen an increase of 4.5 percent. On the other hand, export volume of value-added products has fallen around 7 percent," he adds.

Mehmood believes that decline in export of value-added textiles in the first quarter of the year was directly linked to rising levels of export of cotton yarn. "Value-added textile sector is converting one pound raw cotton worth of 67 cent into value-added finished goods worth USD5 to USD7 a piece, earning valuable foreign exchange for the country."

So, he says, cotton yarn produced by 250 spinning mills in the country is not more than the country's requirement -- "The textile sector employs 60 percent of the total labour force in the country, out of which 94 percent is employed by value-added sector while the spinning sector employs six percent. The value addition sector has been facing real problems to keep their commitments to foreign buyers due to high prices and non-availability of cotton yarn in the market. The price of yarn has increased by 40 percent only during the month of October. World cotton production has fallen by around 4.2 percent this year while consumption is likely to increase by 2 percent."

Mehmood maintains that even under the WTO regime Pakistan can restrict its cotton and yarn exports as its two members -- India and China -- have already done that. "WTO rules for restriction on exports also state that export restrictions are permissible for raw materials in order to protect or promote a domestic fabricating industry," he says.

Under the Textile Policy 2009, the government has put the export target of textile items at USD25 billion by 2013, which is not impossible to achieve. But in the given circumstances it seems impossible. "During 2008-09 Pakistan exported textile items worth USD9.60 billion. The target for this year has been put on USD12 billion. We will never achieve the target if the momentum of exports of raw cotton and yarn continues. We will also have to import yarn in April 2010; which is likely to collapse the whole value-added chain," he says.

The official data of the ministry of textile reveals that 80 percent of cotton yarn was consumed domestically and only 20 percent yarn was exported in 2008-09. The textile sector wants the government to intervene as many units and factories working in the value-addition field have been closed down because of either high prices or unavailability of raw material in the local market. "We have around 0.2 million cotton power looms in Faisalabad alone, out of which more than 50,000 have been closed down while the rest have been partially shut down. Consequently thousands of workers have been rendered jobless," Rana Akhlaq Ahmed, Chairman All Pakistan Cotton Power Looms Association, tells TNS.

Rana says Pakistan can earn USD2 billion only by the export of cotton yarn surplus to local needs while value-added textile sector can earn USD10 billion from exports besides providing jobs to hundreds of thousands of people, "High price of cotton yarn is not the main issue, in fact, it is not available enough to the local markets. We have recent example of Bangladesh that has imposed ban on raw jute export. Raw cotton export should be banned immediately until the next season, otherwise the whole value-addition industry will be destroyed," he warns.

The government is trying to intervene but has failed to resolve the problem. It has made it mandatory for cotton yarn exporters to get their export orders registered with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association's Punjab Chapter Chairman, Gohar Ejaz, says any restriction on the exports of cotton yarn will not only be harmful to the spinners and farmers but also to the value-added manufacturers. "The textile sector is running short of three million bales and the orders from the import market are likely to stop because of the law and order situation and government's interference."

Gohar dispels the impression that the country is facing shortage of cotton yarn for the textile industry. "So far as the price of cotton yarn is concerned, the local exporters of value addition textile sector get it for 15 percent less. The spinning industry is facing shortage of raw cotton but has never demanded ban on the export of cotton. It is expected that about 1 million bales or 8.5 percent of total estimated production of cotton will be exported this year. This is a free market, and if the spinning industry can compete in the international market after importing its requirement of raw materials why can't the textile sector do the same, which is already enjoying a number of facilities."

Gohar says the government "has also earmarked more than 90 percent out of the Rs 40 billion incentive package to the Textile Policy for the textile sector". He advises the textile sector to purchase yarn at export price and try to pass on the same to their international buyer. "This year 84 textile mills have resumed production because of the favourable international market. If the government keeps on creating problems for spinners, I fear over 100 factories will be shut down again before the next season," he warns.

Rana Farooq Saeed Khan, Federal Minister for Textile Industry, tells TNS that the government is trying its best to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders of the industry. "We have been trying to convince spinners to offer yarn at affordable rates at the local market. It is right that we cannot disturb the open market mechanism under WTO regime but this does not mean we will allow anybody to destroy the local industry. We have also told the value addition sector of textile industry to revise their rates at the international market as textile goods have observed a visible increase at the global level."

Khan further tells TNS that the draft of new textile act has been prepared which is likely to allow the ministry to intervene in matters of market. He admits that value addition sector at present is facing problems due to cotton yarn crisis. "There is no data available even about the exact number of textile mills with the ministry. The new act will empower the ministry to some extent. We have asked spinners to ensure the availability of cotton yarn in the local market."

 

 

Task ahead

Benefits of military operation will not be utilised until terror victims are given hope of a future

By Dr Noman Ahmed

The acts of terror have caused thousands of deaths, left thousands maimed and hundreds of thousands affected in many ways. The wave of terrorism has caused loss of bread earners in extended families, and has also resulted in the destruction of houses and many livelihoods.

Many school-going children have been forced to discontinue their education due to high costs. Several people had to abandon their house as they could not afford house rent. Those who suffered serious injuries or lost a limb are also at the receiving end. In this situation, an effective policy and response is needed to rehabilitate the affected communities socially, economically and psychologically. The districts and frontier regions that have taken the brunt of the war on terror in the NWFP can become priority locations followed by other affected areas. Many initiatives are needed to evolve a potent and effective programme with a worthwhile outreach.

The foremost requirement is the preparation of an accurate database of affected population. A review of media reports on damages caused by terrorism can be a starting point. Thanks to the multiple sources of print and electronic media, an effective premise for baseline information can be prepared to devise a crash strategy for swift documentation of individuals. The assignment shall demand creation of multiple layers of information around major variables, including household characteristics, minors, original places of residence, changes in the family status and related vulnerabilities.

This baseline information must be made a basis for developing need-based incentives for the target population. For instance, in places where widows and orphans are in large numbers, emphasis must be laid on skill development amongst womenfolk to earn a decent living. The contours of the rehabilitation programme need to take into account cultural and religious sensitivities associated with various contexts. Orphans can be supported in a number of ways. Concepts of gender-based orphanages under the supervision of trained managers may be promoted. There are many non-governmental organisations and welfare agencies that have significant experience.

Creation of opportunities for quality education and people's protection is a foremost requirement. Incidents have shown that terrorists consider modern education as their biggest enemy. Hundreds of school buildings have been partly or completely destroyed whereas many school teachers have been murdered in cold blood. It is obvious that the spread of modern education makes the most tenacious defense-line against terrorism. A multi-pronged strategy is desired in the prevailing circumstances.

Educational institutions must become recipients of generous governmental subsidy. Public schools and colleges must be reconstructed after fulfilling the security pre-requisites. Educational activities may be revived with assistance from the local communities and reinforcement from governmental institutions. There are many non-governmental outfits that have credible record and experience in managing formal education. The Citizens Foundation (TCF) is one example. It has begun its operations in NWFP during 2008. It will be most useful if TCF and similar well initiated institutions are assisted to take up the task of setting up schools in terror hit locations.

These networks can also be entrusted with the responsibility of teachers training. For involving local communities, endowments may be created under the trusteeship of area elders after careful scrutiny. The allies in the war on terror can be called in for help on this count. Exclusive institutions can be setup with active assistance and collaboration of United States Educational Foundation, British Council and similar bodies after proper preparation and effective negotiation for collaboration. Friendly Muslim countries may also be invited to contribute in this social rebuilding task.

It may be noted that the benefits of military operation will not be fully utilised until and unless the affectees of terror are given hope of a bright future. This feat cannot be achieved without imparting quality education.

Threats and consequences of terrorism can be turned into opportunities of action in some sectors. Healthcare is an example. Public sector healthcare facilities have performed exceptionally well in minimising the agonies and trauma of such heinous acts, their meager resources and capacities notwithstanding. However, many projects can be launched. Monetary and insurance incentives must be extended to those medical practitioners and paramedical staff who have served under most adverse circumstances.

Certain units and fields of specialisation must be bolstered. Burns units and trauma care are two assorted mentions. Blast victims suffer from burn injuries of very serious nature. In many cases, other complications evolve due to limited facilities. Public healthcare institutions must be bolstered to develop and equip such facilities on an emergency basis. A district wise strategy must be worked out to consolidate the district headquarters hospitals in terror affected areas.

Charsadda, Mardan, Nowshehra, Dera Ismail Khan and other districts in NWFP can be considered for immediate action. Psychological assistance to mitigate the effects of trauma is also an important domain of action. Needless to say, disillusioned youth and unattended destitute can become instant fodder for the nefarious designs of terror planners.

There are many social and economic options that are already available. Nationwide initiatives such as Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) and micro finance institutions have many support options that can extend help to different sub-groups in the target locations. It will increase efficiency and reduce the possibilities of duplication of efforts. It is time to act and minimise the sufferings of those who bore them to the maximum.

 

Timely training

Vocational skills give the local women means to earn a livelihood

By Syed Kosar Naqvi

More than 700 women in the nine union councils of Abbottabad district have received vocational training to earn their livelihood during the last two years under Community Livelihood Rehabilitation Plan (CLRP). The training was funded by Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA). The project taught women innovative skills like shawls weaving, making of linen, quilts, embroidery, jewelry, zari work, and jute work, etc. The project is going to be completed in Abbottabad in a few weeks time.

So far, it has spent Rs 66 million through the local community in the field of agriculture, livestock, infrastructure, and enterprise development. 7.5 million rupees were allocated for each union council. The project was technically supported by the Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) while different NGOs were selected for the implementation of these projects. Integrated Development, Empowerment and Advocacy for Livelihood Support (IDEALS) is one of the major implementing partners of ERRA in five out of nine union councils of District Abbottabad.

Abbottabad, where rehabilitation process was started in January 2008, is the only district in all nine affected districts where the pace of work is quite fast -- 70 out of total 90 projects have been completed. Nagina, a young girl, who comes from Nakheter, a remote village, terms it a blessing. She was given a three-months training in bed quilting in 2008. She is now working with an international NGO as master trainer, "I am now capable of not only making bed quilts on my own but can impart training. I have developed confidence and have worked with different national as well as international NGOs as master trainer," she tells The News on Sunday (TNS).

Salma and Rashida were given training in cutting, stitching, and machine embroidery in village Malkote and then got a job in the same training centre. Kaleema, a poor girl residing in village Nummal, is one of the trainees who graduated in different skills. She says she has benefited from training and now has a source of income. She is working as a master trainer in Skill Training Centre Nummal, earning bread and butter for her family.

Fozia Ihsan, a Master Trainer, says as many as 35 Master Trainers, mostly females, have benefited from this project. She says they have gained good experience by working in remote areas. Gulnaz Bibi, another Master Trainer also has similar feelings to share. She has been working with different organisations as Master Trainer. "I was with left no option but to go to work after the death of my husband and managed to provide education to my children," she tells TNS.

IDEALS, an NGO consortium of Hazara and Malakand regions, is the only organisation which has completed 48 CLRP projects in Abbottabad. No other organisation in the earthquake affected districts has been able to meet the targets. The projects introduced and designed by this organisation, like shawls weaving and quilting, are worth-seeing and have a good market value. The shawl-weaving activity in village Majuhan has evoked interest as the objective of this enterprise development project is to empower the community and making them competent enough to become successful entrepreneurs, leading the industry in future. This will bring them economic freedom and end their dependency and enable the community, especially women, to strive for self-sufficiency to improving their standard of living.

Efforts were made to implement the project in its true spirit by ensuring complete transfer of technology from Swat to Mujhan. The Master Trainers did their job well and were quite convinced with learning abilities of the participants. A linkage has been developed with manufacturers for the purchase of raw material and any kind of technical assistance/support in future. The community members appreciate the valuable income generation project.

The trainees were provided marketing linkages, with display centres and art galleries at a central business location for marketing of these high quality hand-made products to enable the concerned community members to continue their production activities on sustainable basis. The products that trainees produced during the three months training are in high demand in the local market. The community was provided the required machinery and equipment. The availability of equipment and professional trainers enabled the community to earn a livelihood.

The project offers income generation opportunity for ordinary family of five to seven individuals and there is a greater potential of project expansion in terms of registration of more trainees and manufacturing of more refined and high quality marketable products. Banaras Khan, livelihood Coordinator Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) tells TNS that it is a unique project as local communities were involved.

It was a platform where local communities could plan, implement, and monitor projects according to their own needs and priorities. "This has given the opportunity to the local people to organise themselves for a collective cause and work in a more transparent way. The negative aspect of the project was its slow pace at some levels," he says. Khan further says there are other factors which should also be given preference in future planning of such projects. "They must be demand-driven, the time period must be at least five years with emphasis on marketing and value chain development. This will compliment efforts being taken in planning and implementation phase and will further enhance the capacity of local communities at grass root level."

Maria Daud, Livelihood Officer FAO, was of the view that a platform of 700 trained workers has been provided which can be converted into a big cottage industry. She invites the industrial department to come forward to exploit the situation.

 

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Water woes

Statistics show effective planning is required to make clean drinking water available to a large number of people

Beenish Kulsoom

World Water Development Report, issued by UNESCO, estimates say 1.1 billion people are without sufficient access to water, and 2.4 billion people have to live without adequate sanitation. The report says about 3 billion people of a population of 8.5 billion will suffer from water shortage by 2025. Eighty three percent of them will live in developing countries, mostly in rural areas, where some 20 percent of the population have access to sufficient water supply. The world over, only six percent of global freshwater is used by households, while 20 percent is utilised by industry and 70 percent by agriculture.

It is estimated that 2.4 billion people suffer from water related diseases, and the World Health Organisation estimates that 80 percent of all infections are traceable to poor water conditions. About 5,483 people die daily of water-caused diarrhoea 90 percent are children under five. The world picture is dismal, and amidst such a scenario one wonders that how does Pakistan fare in providing drinking water to its people? Below is the discussion on current drinking water scenario in the country, its regulation and management; and finally a look at the current National Drinking Water Policy which is approved in September, 2009.

Pakistan is dangerously water stressed. The World Bank in its special report in 2006 stated that Pakistan is falling down from 'water scarce' to becoming a 'water stressed' country and within a decade it shall be a 'water famine' country! Water scarcity threshold is defined as below 1,000 m3/person/year. Whereas water threshold is defined as renewable water resources below 1,700 m3/person/year. World Water Development Report states 'total actual renewable water resources in Pakistan [have] decreased from 2,961 cubic meters per capita in 2000 to 1,420 cubic meters in 2005'.

Water withdrawals for agriculture is the hightest; of 169.384 billion m3 of water withdrawn in 2000, the proportion of withdrawals by agriculture was 96 percent followed by industry and domestic used at 2 percent each. Roughly, about 90 percent of water resources are used for agriculture purposes, whereas some 36 percent of groundwater resources are classified as highly saline.

Withdrawals by agriculture is also mired with ineffeincy in crop yeilds. For instance, sugarcane cultivation consumes greater amount of water in comparison to other cash crops such as wheat and rice, on the contrary sugarcance yeild and sugar production is dismal.

UNESCO ranks Pakistan's water quality at 80th out of 122 nations. A 2009 report by Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: Asia Programme, notes 'around 40 to 55 million Pakistanis about a quarter to a third of the country's total population do not have access to safe drinking water. In much of urban Pakistan, water is contaminated and waterborne disease is rife. Media reports suggest that nationwide, 630 children die each day from the waterborne illness of diarrohea; most of the diseases in Pakistan are water-borne. The Pakistan Council of Research and Water Resources (PCRWR) assesses that 40 percent of all reported illnesses are water-related. Water-borne infections and parasitic diseases account for 60 percent of infant deaths in our country.

On the contrary, estimates regarding expenditures for water and sanitation differ between 0.14 and 0.16 percent. For instance, at the federal level during the fiscal year 2003-2004, Rs 491 million were spent, whereas the provincial governments spent Rs 4.176 billion for water supply and sanitation. This is less than 0.5 percent of all expenditures during that fiscal year, and compared with Rs 180.5 billion or a 20.8 percent share for the military budget.

The Human Development Report 2006 'Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis' reasons that low performance in human development in many developing countries owes much to unfavourable expenditure in human development programmes, and life-saving investments in water and sanitation are dwarfed by military spending.

In Pakistan, there is no independent regulator to manage water resources. There are various government departments involved in creating, managing and planning water resources. However, coordination and linkages between these various departments is problematic.

Water is used for manifold purposes, from power-generation, agricultural production, and to industrial and domestic consumption. For each level of water usage, various government bodies under respective statutory roles are assigned specific duties to perform.

The Ministry of Health plays an important role in setting water quality standards, in monitoring and controlling drinking water quality in urban and rural areas. The PCWR on the other hand is an 'apex autonomous body established with the objective to conduct, organise, coordinate and promote research in all aspects of water resources (source: www.pcrwr.gov.pk).

Amongst other functions of PCWR; it is also mandated to advise the government and submit policy recommendations regarding quality, development, management, conservation and utilisation of water resources; design, develop and evaluate water conservation technologies for irrigation, drinking and industrial water; and initiate national water quality monitoring programme, in the urban and rural areas of Pakistan, and develop technologies for providing safe drinking water to the public.

Rural drinking water supply schemes are one example where rural areas of the country have little access to drinking water; though, the situation is also not very encouraging in the urban areas. However, one must not forget that the fragile balance between rural and urban areas ensures stability and harmony in the country; while also checks mass population movements towards urban areas.

A sub-divisional officer from PHED, District Khushab, tells TNS on the condition of anonymity that drinking water schemes are invariably 'politically motivated', and in most of the cases, the department has to fulfil its statuary responsibility; to "enact and construct drinking water supply scheme(s) announced by the elected leaders."

Elected government representatives use their political influence favourably in their respective constituencies and in favour of people who voted for them. And, on the contrary, people belonging to other groups seldom get access to public services.

This phenomenon is ubiquitous across the country; and to top this skewed scheme of affair is the declaration of development schemes by federal and provincial governments based on the population density. The federal government decides provincial share, and accordingly each province decides upon the development schemes amongst various rural and urban areas.

The government of Pakistan has approved National Drinking Water Policy in September, 2009. The policy "recognises access to safe drinking water as a basic human right of every citizen, placing responsibility on the state to ensure its provision". One of the specific targets includes safe drinking water to 93 percent of the population by 2015. The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that population should have access to drinking water at a distance of one kilometer from the place of their dwelling.

Our progress on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) shows that only 90 percent of population has improved access to water source, however, this does not reflect on the quality of water source. To make mockery of affairs, one is left perplexed upon finding the state of district and tehsil level water filtration plants.

Report by Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars chronicles that in 2007 Rawalpindi's Water and Sanitation Agency announced that 64 percent of the city drinking water supply contained human waste and used water -- and that 70 percent of the city's water supply lines carry sewage water to consumers. In 2008, the Pakistan Council for Scientific Research determined that more than two million people in Peshawar drink contaminated water. In 2006, the World Bank estimated that only 3 out of 100 industries using hazardous chemicals in Lahore treat their wastewater adequately.

Looking at specific targets of the National Drinking Water Policy, one wonders as to how will the state implement programmes to achieve these targets. There are departments, and agencies formed one after another, but no detailed plan is developed for creating linkages, coordination and cooperation amongst the various stakeholders.

 

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