unlikely fall guy of Memogate
the cost of the poor
new political game
Old formulae will not work
The military and the judiciary appear to be impatient with the civilian government. The latter may survive just because constitutional deviance appears to be unfeasible
By Raza Rumi
Commenting on the melting
state of the economy, a reputed economic analyst stated how the “deplorable
state of governance” was responsible for the “mismanagement of public
goods”. Luckily, he also reiterated how such accountability was best
undertaken through an election. A common misnomer that plagues public
discourse relates to how “governance” is viewed as the job of an elected
government and that the state and the government are interchangeable entities.
It is important to note that the state of Pakistan — post-colonial,
encroached and bitten by its non-state offspring — remains the dominant
power centre and most elected governments have been at subordinate to these
The most glaring
manifestation of this reality came about when the federal government in the
memo-case (concerning the alleged treasonous act of authoring a memo addressed
to the US against Pakistan’s security establishment) submitted before the
Supreme Court that it had no control over the operations of the military and
the premier spy agency — the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). This has
been said before as well in other judicial proceedings but not so directly.
Everyone knew that but the government’s admission makes it clear that
‘constitutional governance’ is but a pipedream in the land of the pure.
Without prejudice to any institution, this has been the case for decades and
is not going to change overnight.
A new state within the state
may have emerged. During the hearing of the same case, an honourbale judge of
the Supreme Court remarked in his obiter dicta that the Judiciary was not
answerable to anyone but the ‘people’. This statement defies logic as
judges are not ‘elected’ by the people; and they are also servants of the
state, paid by the taxpayers who are represented by the Parliament. These
developments have prompted a beleaguered government and its Prime Minister to
announce that Parliament was supreme and that there ‘states within states’
cannot be tolerated.
Leaving aside the torrential
decade of 1970s, the evolution of an autonomous power centre within the state
apparatus in the form of the intelligence agencies is a well-recognised fact.
A martial state since 1950s has been a player in the global power games in the
region; and the redirection of state unlike India was almost inevitable. The
2008 elections were, therefore, a transitional moment and during transitions
from military to civilian rule, power is shared and not exercised by the
elected officials. The addition of another power-centre i.e. the Judiciary is
a recent and in its nascent stage of development. Its future course remains
unclear whether it can arrest the dominance of the military-intelligence
Pakistan’s changed demographics and the existence of an urban middle class (estimated between 30-60 million) also complicates the future of democracy. The urban Pakistan is not an avid supporter of constitutional democracy; and its formulae for ‘change’ (judges in 2007 and Imran Khan in 2011) border on authoritarian models of a messiah fixing all the problems. Luckily, this segment of the population has little appetite for direct military rule. Yet, its influence and outreach is tremendous. It is the recruiting ground for the civil-military bureaucrats and of late the major supplier of human resource to the growing media oligarchies. Electronic media also thrives through its urban middle class consumers. Hence, the media campaign in the recent times against the democratic process articulates and reinforces impatience with civilian rule in favour of a deliverer.
developments are taking place in a country where the majority of the
population rejects the US and West as ‘enemies’ of Pakistan and back the
emotional appeals to guard a militaristic conception of sovereignty and honour.
Thus, the capture of political discourse by Islamist groups is a sad reminder
that perhaps we are living in a new Pakistan where the old configurations and
alignment of political forces are becoming somewhat irrelevant.
It is also an established
fact that the civilian government has blundered on several counts and its
promotion of incompetent people to deal with the various issues of economy has
been far from satisfactory. Yet, its real watchdog is the Parliament and
ultimately the electoral process. Elections are not too far and can be as
early as next year. However, it remains to be seen if there is a ‘change’
effected through court orders or military diktat before the term of the
assemblies ends in due course. Such is the perilous nature of a 3-4 year old
democratic process that the media oligarchs and their employees are citing
prescriptions of a ‘coup’, a technocratic government, as ‘viable’ and
‘legitimate’. Dissent to this narrative is equivalent to being treasonous.
Journalists and commentators who are on the margins of the mainstream
discourse are either facing threats or being silenced.
The plain reality is the
unelected institutions – the military and the judiciary — backed by the
media appear to be impatient with the civilian government. The latter may
survive just because constitutional deviance appears to be unfeasible. But the
damage to the credibility of the electoral process has already been done.
The enduring problem with
Pakistan’s governance is that regardless of the government in power, the
‘state’ remains disconnected and disengaged with the citizens. The
argument on mis-governance by a coalition government is untenable when
unelected institutions of the state are unaccountable and unwilling to accept
the oversight of public representatives. This is why we are trapped in yet
another cycle of political instability.
The latest statements by the
Army Chief and the Chief Justice are heartening. A military coup has been
deleted from the available options. However, improved ‘governance’ will
not result from implementing the game plan — of dismissing the elected
government before its term is up. This fallacy, propagated by an unregulated
media and an establishment under tremendous international pressure, to install
improved “governance” without structural reform is a mirage. Any
non-democratic stint will further damage the federation. Pakistan is too
plural, diverse and factionalised to do without democracy.
Strange that we have not
learnt anything from the 1971 tragedy when Pakistan was dismembered and a
national humiliation was suffered. Forty years later, the script has changed
little. A civilian head of the state is an alleged ‘traitor’, ‘national
security’ equals nationalism and loyalty to the country; and the Baloch
leaders are saying that they will be happy to be ousted from Pakistan.
Where does the political
class stand in this morass? Frankly, their role has not been befitting of
responsible, transitional actors. They have tried to undermine each other,
squabbled over non-issues and despite the rhetoric have not touched the core
area: civil-military imbalance.
The victory of politicians
in drafting and approving the 18th amendment notwithstanding, they almost
without exception, have played their own bargaining game with the security
establishment. After all, the military establishment presented itself before
the Parliament at least notionally. The memogate petition was filed by a
‘civilian’ leader; and current President and Prime Minister cannot escape
some level of responsibility in building a consensus around structural reform.
Perhaps consolidating power was the key goal, which, as it turns out, is no
substitute for performance in the limited sphere of ‘civilian’ action.
It is fervently hoped that
that an unconstitutional regime change will be avoided. The odds are against
this but then this is not the Pakistan of 1990s. The country has moved on; and
so have the power-players. Old formulas are proving to be difficult remedies
of an old, festering governance crisis.
As things stand, there are two pieces of evidence placed before the Supreme Court — the first is against Husain Haqqani while the other one is against the ISI chief himself. And both pieces of evidence have been provided by the same person — Mansoor Ijaz
By Amir Mir
The much trumpeted Memogate
scam, authored by an American national, investigated by the Pakistani military
establishment and taken up with the Supreme Court by a so-called anti
establishment politician has had an unlikely fall guy: ISI chief, Lt Gen Shuja
Pasha. A belated rebuttal that the ISI chief didn’t tour the Arab countries
after the May 2 Abbottabad raid to discuss a coup against President Asif
Zardari, has clearly put him in a tight corner as the allegation was actually
levelled by none other than his own source in the Memogate scam — Mansoor
Ijaz — and reported by a British newspaper, The Independent, on December 13,
The Inter Services Public
Relations (ISPR) took eight days to rebuff the report, especially after one
Engineer Jameel Ahmed had approached the Supreme Court of Pakistan and sought
Shuja Pasha’s removal and a subsequent court martial under the Pakistan Army
Act, 1952, pleading that the ISI chief had lost the right to remain in the
military service for conspiring against a democratically elected government.
Engineer Jameel pointed out
in his petition that media reports about Mr Pasha have neither been denied by
the ISPR nor by himself. In the ‘Benazir Bhutto versus President of
Pakistan’ case (PLD 1998 SC 388), the apex court had decided that “facts
given in newspapers, having not been denied, would be considered undisputed
fact”, Engineer Jamil has maintained in his petition.
Jameel’s petition was
based on The Independent report which quoted Mansoor Ijaz, the whistleblower
behind Memogate scam, as having said, “Their (US intelligence agencies)
information was that Lt Pasha had travelled to Arab countries to talk about
what the necessary line of action would be in the event they had to remove
Asif Zardari from power...”
However, the press release
issued by the ISPR on December 21 stated: “It is clarified that director
general, ISI, did not meet any Arab leader between May 1 and 9 as alleged. His
other visits to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and UAE only, prior to or after this
period, were part of routine intelligence sharing activity, during which he
interacted with his counterparts only”.
The ISPR clarification
added: “An article was published in daily The Independent on 13 December
2011, in which Omar Waraich has made false assertions regarding DG ISI’s
visits to Arab countries. It has been said that the DG ISI met senior Arab
leaders and asked permission for a military coup in Pakistan. The story has
been published without verification at any level and a legal notice is being
served to the newspaper to retract the story and apologise”.
Significantly, the ISPR
denial came following remarks by Asma Jahangir, counsel for Haqqani, during
proceedings of the Memogate scam in the apex court on December 19 that Pasha
should have resigned immediately after the May 2 raid, much as Husain Haqqani
did after the US confirmed the existence of Mansoor Ijaz’s memo. According
to Ijaz, Haqqani only began plotting against the military after the latter
considered removing President Zardari. Interestingly, ISPR clarification
denied ‘false assertions’ by Omar Warraich, but it was conspicuously
silent on what Mansoor Ijaz had said in his interview with Warraich whose
quotes were reproduced in the blog posting. Omar Warraich is a senior
Pakistani journalist based in Islamabad and covering Pakistan for TIME
Magazine and The Independent.
In his interview with Omar
Warraich, Mansoor Ijaz had claimed that a senior intelligence source had told
him that his information was that Ahmed Shuja Pasha had travelled to a few of
the Arab countries to talk about what would be necessary to do in the event
they had to remove Zardari from power and so forth. Mansoor Ijaz had made a
similar claim during his BlackBerry message exchange with Husain Haqqani which
has already been placed before the Supreme Court by Ijaz.
Despite repeated attempts,
ISPR director general Major General Athar Abbas did not respond to a query,
asking “Why didn’t the ISPR’s contradiction of December 19, 2011 mention
Mansoor Ijaz who was the actual sources of The Independent story, accusing Mr
Pasha of conspiring against President Zardari. Also, why did Lt Gen Pasha
decide to serve a legal notice on the British newspaper alone instead of
proceeding against the sources of the allegation — Mansoor Ijaz?”
In fact, the dilemma with Lt
Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha is that if he refutes the allegation [of conspiring
against President Zardari] by naming Mansoor Ijaz, it would put a huge
question mark over the credibility of his own statement in Memogate scam which
has been submitted with the Supreme Court of Pakistan and which is primarily
based on claims made and evidence provided by Mansoor Ijaz.
Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha has
stated in his reply with the apex court that Mansoor Ijaz had enough
corroborative material to prove his version of the memo scam. “Mansoor Ijaz
should be summoned to appear before the honourable court as he alone holds the
real evidence as claimed by him. He has already, on a number of occasions,
indicated his willingness to do so, through the print and electronic media”,
Pasha further stated in his reply. The ISI chief has given an insight into how
he got in touch with Mansoor Ijaz through an unnamed source and that the
meeting was set up in London on October 22 following the publication of
Ijaz’s article in Financial Times.
In its reply to the apex
court, the federation has also taken up Mansoor Ijaz’s allegation in the
British daily against Lt Gen Pasha. As things stand, there are two pieces of
evidence in the Memogate scam which have already been placed before the
Supreme Court — the first is against Husain Haqqani [which has been
‘investigated’ by the ISI chief and was found to be genuine by him] while
the other one is against the ISI chief himself which has not yet been
investigated by the federal government. And both the pieces of evidence have
been provided by the same person — Mansoor Ijaz.
In the first case, the
alleged culprit, Husain Haqqani has already been compelled to resign, while in
the second case, the accused, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, is still in office,
amidst calls by parliamentarians for his dismissal on charges of misconduct.
The rhetoric against Pasha has increased in recent days. “If Husain Haqqani
could resign based on mere allegations, why shouldn’t Pasha”, Awami
National Party MNA Bushra Gohar stated last week on the floor of the National
Assembly. The call was subsequently supported in principle by Leader of the
Opposition in National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Asma Jahangir.
Speaking to the media after
the Memogate case hearing on December 19, Asma said she did not understand why
the DG ISI felt the need to travel abroad in order to investigate the matter.
Asma said that she was baffled by Shuja Pasha’s meeting with Mansoor Ijaz.
“I don’t understand his interest in the Memogate scam. Even otherwise, let
me ask under whose authority did he travel abroad to see Mansoor Ijaz?”
Amidst heightened civil-military tensions, Asma Jahangir is set to raise all
these questions in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
It is difficult to ward away
the feeling that Pakistan is on the brink of yet another major political
upheaval. More than the ongoing Memogate trial or the suddenness with which
Imran Khan and then Nawaz Sharif have started their mass contact campaigns,
the gathering of the right-wing religious establishment on Sunday at Minar-e-Pakistan
indicates that something serious is afoot.
It is instructive that
anyone who wants to make a political splash these days is choosing to do so at
the Pakistan Monument in Lahore. The implications are unambiguous; there is an
epic struggle underway to define what Pakistan is and the right-wing — both
moderate and radical — is both resorting to familiar symbols and invoking
the age-old slogan of ‘Pakistan (read: Islam) in danger’.
To be sure, the
‘Difa-e-Pakistan’ rally on 18 December has established beyond a shadow of
a doubt that the usual suspects are up to their usual tricks. Other than the
religious parties, Ejaz-ul-Haq and Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed were notable
participants, with the latter indicating in his typically cryptic manner that
he had been ‘won over’ to Hafiz Saeed’s cause in recent times, thereby
suggesting that the security establishment continues to hedge its bets on
jihad as a foreign policy tool.
Maulana Fazlur Rahman was a
conspicuous absentee, illustrating that cynical political interests often
trump ideological affinities for even the most prominent of right-wing
ideologues. Importantly, the Maulana has been accepted as a de facto ally by
those who still consider themselves left-of-centre such as the Pakistan
People’s Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP) which suggests that
pragmatism triumphs over principles on the other side of the political
spectrum as well.
In any case, the Maulana’s
exclusion notwithstanding, the Difa-e-Pakistan shebang is conclusive evidence
for anyone who still doubted it that the religious right is structurally
enmeshed into the power structure in Punjab and all the military operations in
the world will not reduce its influence. Only a fundamental shift in the
balance of power away from the permanent state apparatus and a bifurcation of
Punjab as it is currently constituted is sufficient to cut the right down to
It is worth bearing in mind
that it was only a few months ago that south Punjab was being decried as the
hotbed of militancy and calls were being made for a military operation to
eliminate the ‘terrorist’ threat. Much has changed in the intervening
period, and it is now the calls for a Siraiki province that are dominating the
discourse in south Punjab. Even the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is tripping
over itself backwards to play what it considers a popular card in the region
— on Friday the MQM arranged a rally in Multan during which it reiterated
its claim that it was the first party to explicitly support the Siraiki Suba
Needless to say, the visions
of the Difa-e-Pakistan folks and the principled political forces calling for
the division of Punjab — as opposed to those like the MQM that are only
playing populist politics — are diametrically opposed. It appears that the
epic struggle for Pakistan that I referred to earlier is based largely in
Punjab. To the chagrin of the security establishment and right-wing political
forces, the Siraiki Suba cat is now out of the bag and the once almost
unchallenged ability of a monolithically constructed Punjab to be both the
defender of the unitary state and the heartland of the state’s Islamic
ideology has given way to a much more fragmented reality in which the status
of Punjab itself, let alone Pakistan, is up for grabs.
Lest we get ahead of
ourselves however, weakness typically precipitates reaction. In the case of
already reactionary forces such as the religious right, this means even more
reaction than is usually the case. In this reaction, the right will be
patronised in some measure by the security establishment, which is also
feeling a little more insecure these days than it was some years ago before
the Musharraf dictatorship started to collapse under the weight of its own
contradictions and the growing pressure of its imperial patron.
Thus the increased suspicion
amongst many observers that we might have another Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI)
on the cards. For the time being, it does not appear as if the religious
forces are going to be propped up by a major party as did the Pakistan Muslim
League in the case of the IJI. However, there are likely to be many twists and
turns in the coming days, weeks and months and the Difa-e-Pakistan crowd now
actually has more than one possible ally with Imran Khan’s Pakistan
Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) emerging to challenge the Sharif brothers’ Punjab
All in all, the
polarizations that run rife through the polity appear to be growing more and
more acute. The problem, as ever, is to conceive of a way out rather than
assume despairingly that things are going to go from bad to worse. I fear that
the liberals in our midst will dwell on the Difa-e-Pakistan gathering and will
look again to some mythical liberators on horseback to ‘fix’ the
‘mullahs’, rather than taking advantage of the growing space to counter
the structural presence of the right within the state. This means that the
leadership of the Siraiki Suba movement, for example, will remain with the
dominant classes within mainstream parties such as the PPP.
Meanwhile the political
vacuum vis a vis class issues will remain a glaring one. It is this vacuum
that new populists such as Imran Khan seek to benefit from. They can employ
exceedingly vague language and propose no meaningful solutions yet can get
away with it because everyone else is not even doing that much. In sum, the
Difa-e-Pakistan get-together does surely prove that the right is alive and
kicking, but it also makes clear that all is not well within its ranks. How
things proceed is a question of how organized a front is put up by progressive
forces to forge a new equilibrium.
Under the landmark 1997
Kyoto Protocol, it was obligatory for the developed countries to cut down
carbon emissions to levels agreed by them by 2012. Well before the deadline,
the developed nations have managed to get a big breather — at least five
years extension under an accord adopted by a marathon 194-nation conference,
on December 11 in Durban (South Africa).
the Durban package — as did many developing countries during the 13 days of
hectic talks — for failing to move faster and deeper in cutting carbon
emissions. Logically, the time to act is now, scientists maintain. They say
that unless carbon emissions, chiefly carbon dioxide (CO2) from power
generation and industry, level out and reverse within a few years, the earth
will be set on a possibly irreversible path of rising temperatures that lead
to ever greater climate catastrophes.
Some states argued that the
developing countries have less responsibility than industrial nations that
caused the global warming problem through 200 years of pollution. Therefore,
the Durban package does not seem equitable, especially for developing
countries that account for a minute fraction of global warming but have to pay
the heaviest costs in the face of erratic weather in Asia and Africa.
there are too many loopholes in the ‘Durban Platform’ to ensure a uniform
regulatory policy. Furthermore, domestic political constraints make it
unlikely that pledges in Durban for more green projects in the developed world
and stepped up aid for developing countries will come to fruition given
problems for government funding in Europe, USA and Japan.
The apprehension of the
scientists seems to be quite weighty, as following the Durban conference
Canada became the first country to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol,
saying the pact was preventing the world from effectively tackling climate
Minister, Peter Kent said, “We believe that a new agreement with legally
binding commitments for all major emitters that allows us as a country to
generate jobs and economic growth represents the path forward.” Under the
Kyoto agreement, curbs apply only to rich countries, excluding the United
States, which has refused to ratify the accord.
Canada had agreed under the
Kyoto Protocol to reduce CO2 emissions to 6.0 percent below 1990 levels by
2012, but its emissions of the gases blamed for damaging Earth’s fragile
climate system have instead increased sharply. Pulling out of Kyoto now allows
Canada to avoid paying penalties of up to CAN$ 14 billion (US$ 13.6 billion)
for missing its targets.
According to Kent, Canada
produces barely two percent of global emissions. “To meet the targets under
Kyoto for 2012 would be equivalent of either removing every car, truck,
tractor, ambulance, etc, from Canadian roads or closing down the entire
farming and agricultural sector and cutting heat to every home, office,
hospital, factory, and building in Canada.”
Furthermore, “It is an
agreement that covers fewer than 30 percent of global emissions, by some
estimates 15 percent or less,” Kent said. For Kyoto supporters, Canadian
pullout can badly damage the UN climate process already weakened by divisions.
For instance, it can encourage other industrial countries to follow suit and
thus negatively impact the Green Climate Fund that the Durban conference had
decided to establish to provide US$ 100 billion dollar, every year, by 2020
for projects, programmes, policies and other activities in the developing
countries using thematic funding windows.
Amongst its other uses, the
Green Climate Fund could help identify climate friendly technologies,
facilitate their deployment and adaptation to the needs of the developing
countries, build national/regional technology management capacity, and support
the research, development and demonstration of new climate friendly
It goes without saying that
the global warming poses grave threats to human civilisation. Concentration of
greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere have reached new heights and are
very rapidly contributing to an average rise of 2 to 2.4 Celsius (C) in global
temperatures. Scientists believe any rise above 2.0 C threshold could trigger
far-reaching and irreversible changes on Earth — both over land and in the
The earth can cope with
maximum global warming of 1.5 to 2 degree C. Global warming at 3 degree can
result in the crossing of many “tipping points,” including
near-disappearance of the Arctic summer sea-ice, degradation of the Amazon
rain forest, and instability in the South Asian summer monsoon, rendering any
remedial action ineffective. In case global warming reaches 4 degree C,
climate scientists warn, only one-tenth of the global population will survive.
The rapid rise in GHGs is
not only reducing mankind’s ability to limit warming to safe levels, lending
credence to apprehensions that the prospects of limiting the warming may close
in this very decade. Furthermore, 13 of the warmest years recorded have
occurred within the last decade-and-a-half and the year 2011 caps a decade
that ties the record as the hottest ever measured since 1850 when accurate
Across the world over
710,000 people died from 1991 to 2010 from 14,000 extreme weather events,
incurring economic losses in today’s terms of over 2.3 trillion dollars.
When seen across this 20 year period, not a single developed country features
in the top 10 for climate risk. Only one — Russia — featured in the top 20
as a result of July 2010 heat wave, but that was an exception. The results
underscore the vulnerability of poor countries to climate risks.
According to scientists,
floods in Pakistan, forest fires in Russia, mudslides in China and droughts in
Sub-Sahara Africa are manifestation of scenarios which they had been
predicting since long due to the impact of greenhouse gases, like CO2, methane
and nitrous oxide. These climate changes, scientists warn, can contribute to
disasters like 2010 floods in Pakistan, happening more frequently and more
intense in future.
The greenhouse gases
build-up in the upper atmosphere and lead to climate change or global warming.
In other words, when CO2 rises into atmosphere, it screens the sunlight,
allowing the sunlight in but preventing the heat to leave. By the year 2040,
environmentalists forecast, due to greenhouse gases the global temperature
will increase by 3 C and by the end of the century by 5-6 C, triggering
sand/dust storms, micro cloudbursts, cyclones and tsunamis.
The highlands, in
particular, are vulnerable to Glacier Lake Outburst Floods as overall glaciers
retreat and additional snow melt can increase the amount of water dammed in
the vicinity of a glacier, and the added pressure enhances the likelihood of
disastrous outburst flooding.
Pakistan has some 5,218
glaciers, over 13,680 square kilometres or 13 percent of mountains in the
Upper Indus Basin, and 2,420 lakes of which 50 are reportedly to be highly
dangerous and may cause flooding in the plains in Punjab and Sindh.
Pakistan’s Indus delta also remains exposed to sea rise and sea intrusion,
causing an upward shift of almost 400 metres in the coastline.
Amongst other damages of
global warming, Pakistan is experiencing biodiversity loss, shifts in weather
patterns and changes in fresh water supply. The phenomenon of global warming
might impact the snow and rain patterns and the availability of snow melting
during summer. Normally, Pakistani rivers receive almost 70 percent of their
flow from snow melting.
These changes, particularly
in patterns of rainfall, glacial retreat and snowmelt, could cause unexpected
floods in rain-deficient regions and create drought like conditions in fertile
areas. These changes could accentuate after 2050 when, scientists forecast,
presently shrinking Himalayan glaciers could disappear.
The global warming, which
has been caused by greenhouse gases, is the price of development that the
human-being is paying. But the fruits of development have been harvested by
the rich developed countries where development activities, factory emissions,
modern techniques of agriculture and life styles are contributing in a big way
to global warming. But developing countries like Pakistan with least
contribution to this phenomenon have to bear the brunt of ravages that have
been accentuated by the activities of rich counties.
writer is a freelance columnist based in Islamabad
The Malakand Division,
according to one estimate, accounts for roughly 95 percent of Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa’s walnut yield. Walnut of different sizes, quality, and colour
are produced here which are marketed in whole form or its flesh taken out and
packed, and is sold in the market. What is being done to increase the yield of
dry fruits after the militancy days are over?
In Dir, these days per
kilogramme prices of different qualities of walnuts range between Rs100-250
for whole and Rs400-700 for walnut flesh, of pistachio between Rs600-800, of
almond Rs150-400 and chilghoza being the costliest of all with Rs1400,
according to Saeedur Rehman, a dry fruit dealer in Dir.
Rehman says chilghoza
(pine-nut) prices have surged to over Rs70,000 per 50kg (Rs1400) in the whole
sale market and it may be sold around for Rs1500-1800 in the open market after
adding the transportation charges, dealers’ commission, shopkeepers’
profit and imposition of various taxes.”
Contrary to the general
impression, he says, militancy hadn’t badly impacted on the dry fruit
production and businesses and opined that prices have come down as compared to
“Prices of whole walnut
were around Rs13-14000-50kg last year but this year these have come down to
Rs11-12000. It is because there was bumper production this year. While we
still have last year’s stock, the produce for this year has arrived in the
market.” He believes, “There is no hope for the price-surge as the market
is sluggish at the moment. The government needs to make arrangements for
purchasing and exporting the commodity. I am sure the country would earn a lot
of money in the global dry fruit market by exporting this quality
He says, “The price of
walnut, a Dir speciality, ranges between Rs5000-12000 per 50kg while that of
its pure flesh ranges between Rs22000-35000-50kg. Walnut from Barawal and
Bamboret are liked for their big size and taste. The brighter the fleshy part,
the higher the price. And the cooler the area where it is produced, the better
the taste and quality of the walnut,” he adds.
The sale of the walnut flesh
fetches more income for the dealers. That is why people in Dir, rather than
selling standing walnut trees or the whole fruit with cover, have started
taking out its flesh and packing and selling it. A 50kg sac of whole walnut
produces around 22-25kg pure fruit which fetches around Rs22000-35000 in the
market, much higher than the whole fruit prices.
The importance of the
walnuts cannot be overstated. Dry fruits and winters go hand in hand. While
watching movies, reading books or newspapers or partying with friends, dry
fruits help warm the body. Dry fruit are not only health-friendly but are also
taken as gifts to friends and officials in beautiful packing. But skyrocketing
prices are making them an unaffordable luxury for the majority.
Hundreds of tonnes of
walnut, pine-nut and other dry fruit are produced in Dir and surrounding
districts. Barawal, Dir Kohistan and Garam Chashma, Bamboret and Bony valleys
in Chitral produce the best walnut and pine nut. The walnut from Nooristan
Afghanistan also reaches the local market.” Experts say walnut helps improve
memory, is useful for treating stomach, liver and kidney diseases, for
cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure. It helps control cholesterol
level, strengthens the walls of blood vessels and prevents diabetes and
supports immune system.
Lack of official support,
negligence of the concerned departments, continuous deforestation of the
existing trees for getting ‘Dandansa’ and other purposes, and
non-cultivation of new ones have badly affected the produce.
The government should
provide technical advice and support to grow more walnut trees as these are
depleting and about 90 per cent of the potential in the area is yet to be
Rehman was particularly
unhappy over cutting walnut trees for getting “dandansa”. “The problem
is for dandansa you have to cut down the younger trees whose stem-cover and
roots are the best.
Shah Abdar, a Swat-based
grower of walnut, says hundreds of tons of walnuts are grown in Bahrain, Kalam
and other valleys of Swat, adding that the potential of walnut in the area is
not being explored.
Swat is the ideal place for
walnut. It usually grows on mountain ridges, in the gorges and river-banks and
thus doesn’t impact the already less cultivable land. Walnut could be the
greatest source of income for the area people. But despite being the main
asset along with fruit, vegetable and livestock, the number of walnut trees
has been on the decline and only about 5 to 10 percent of the area in Swat
suitable for walnut is utilised..
“The reason for this is
absence of personal ownership. The trees so cultivated are often destroyed by
the people as there is no sufficient care and security for them. The
government and non-governmental organisations need to provide expert advice,
walnut plantlets /seeds, and insecticides to farmers to grow more trees. It is
only then that the problem will be solved once and for all. In the hope of
huge returns, they will do whatever is possible to keep it safe and
healthy,” Shah argues.
It can have great financial
benefits for the poverty, militancy, and floods-stricken farmers. “Around 5
big walnut trees grow in one canal of land. Farming families usually own less
cultivable but much more non-cultivable lands in Swat. If we take the average
land per family at 50 canals and the family grows walnut trees on it, it can
become millionaire within no time. Just leave the 300kg yield per tree, even
if the per tree yield is just 50kg, it will earn the family around
Rs2.5million at the current market rate.”
“Though main roads in the
area have been repaired to some extent, the link roads to far flung areas are
still inaccessible. It leaves the poor people with no choice but to sell their
standing walnut trees to dealers on meagre prices, thus incurring losses,”
according to him.
In any society,
administration and dispensation of justice should be the top most priority, as
without it ‘representative democracy’ cannot be established. A society
without a trustworthy and speedy judicial system, which does not ensure
effective dispensation of justice cannot progress or survive for long.
Administration and dispensation of justice in Pakistan needs serious
attention. There are serious concerns amongst Pakistani citizens about
“justice”, “rule of law”, “fairness”, “equity” and
independence of judiciary.
The right of access to
justice to all is a well-recognised inviolable right enshrined in the
Constitution of Pakistan, but it is still a distant dream for the poor and
weaker sections of society. Justice can only be done if there is reliable,
competent and independent judicial apparatus. Goals, announced through the
National Judicial Policy 2009 remain unfulfilled. The following short-term and
long-term measures for early disposal of cases were announced under this
All pre/post-arrest bail
applications are to be decided within seven days. Criminal cases, punishable
with imprisonment up to seven years registered after January 1, 2009, would be
decided in the shortest period, which should not exceed six months and cases
punishable with imprisonment exceeding seven years, including punishment of
death, should be decided within one year.
Provincial governments to
establish new jails at district level or enhance the capacity of existing
jails by constructing new barracks. A High Court judge, along with District
and Sessions judge, must carry out inspection of prisons periodically for
ensuring compliance within prison rules and giving on the spot remedy/relief
to prisoners according to the law.
In civil matters, all writ
petitions under Article 199 of the Constitution should be fixed for
preliminary hearing on the next date of its institution and disposed of as
quickly as possible. Writ petitions involving service matters, including
promotion, transfer and admission of students in professional colleges and
allied matters, should be decided within 60 days. All stay matters under Order
39 Rule 1 & 2 read with section 151 CPC should be decided within 15 days
of grant of interim injunction and in case of delay the reasons should be
furnished to the high court.
Rent cases should be decided
within four months in trial courts and appeals should be decided within two
months. Family cases, including custody of minors, succession certificate,
letter of administration, insolvency and maintenance, should be decided within
six months. Civil appeals arising out of family cases, custody of minors and
against interim order should be decided within 30 days.
Cases filed under Order 37
of CPC regarding suits upon bill of exchange, hundies or promissory notes
shall be decided through summary procedure within 90 days.
Cases relating to banking
and different taxes and duties such as income tax, property tax, etc., should
be decided within six months.
Labour and environmental
cases should also be decided through fast track system. Judges of labour
courts and tribunals should be appointed from amongst the lawyers qualified
for appointment as district and sessions judge.
Priority should be given to
quick disposal of women cases, juvenile cases, rent cases, stay orders, bail
matters, small claims and minor offences under the Small Claims and Minor
Offences Courts Ordinance 2002. The power of small claims and minor offences
court may be conferred to all civil judges.
For clearing backlog under
different categories, special benches are to be constituted for each category
on the principal seat and branch registry of the Supreme Court and High
Courts. There will be commitment of judges to decide the old civil and
criminal cases up to 2008 within one year. District judges will also adopt
such measures that ensure handling of 50 percent of cases from backlog (filed
on or before Dec 31, 2008) and 50 percent from current cases.
For conducting elections,
the services of judiciary in future will not be available. The focus of
judiciary would be on disposal of cases to redress grievances of the people by
dispensation of justice. If the government feels that the election should be
held under the supervision of the judiciary, then a request may come and the
NJPMC would decide as to what extent and in what form help can be extended in
the conduct of elections.
Most of the goals set in
Judicial Policy have not been implemented within the last two years. The huge
back log still persists. There are no visible signs of improvement in the
working of court system. Unless causes of litigation are removed, the system
will remain choked. More and more judges will be required for coping with the
ever increasing number of cases at all levels.
Everybody is totally
dissatisfied with the existing socio-economic structure, which is the main
root-cause of litigation. Those imparting justice complain of lack of
facilities and huge number of cases with the complainants crying for early
orders but having to wait for years (sometimes decades), and the government
keeps on worrying about the blockade of colossal amount of money because of
slow litigation process.
The first and foremost need
is ensuring socio-economic justice. Justice system cannot be improved in
isolation. It is part and parcel of an ailing system. The slogan of
“independence” of judiciary is meaningless if divorced from empowering the
weak and less privileged.
The costly litigation
process works against the poor and favours the rich. Separation of judiciary
from administration is Constitutional command, but enforcement of Article 10A
requires providing justice to all without any hindrance. The present system
where vested interest dominates appointment of judges destroys the very
independence of the system. People’s court is the only answer to ensure true
implementation of Article 10A of the Constitution.
The right of access to
justice to all is a well-recognized inviolable privilege — now re-emphasised
under Article 10A inserted by the 18th Constitutional Amendment — enshrined
in the Constitution of Pakistan. It concludes “the right to be treated
according to law, the right to have a fair and proper trial and the right to
have an impartial court or tribunal.”
Justice, therefore, can only
be done if there is economic equality. Replacing existing courts with
people’s courts is the need of the hour. All judicial and quasi-judicial
authorities should be appointed and supervised by a People’s Judicial
Commission, elected by voters. This is the only way to ensure dispensation of
justice in its true substance and constitutional requirement.
writers, tax lawyers and authors of many books, are Visiting Professors at
Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)
The world tends to associate
India with the spirituality of Gandhi. But it was the less heralded Nehru who
imbued the nation with a sense of pragmatism. He dreamed of legions of Indian
scientists and engineers slaving away in cutting-edge laboratories and seeding
the innovation needed to build a proud and robust country. No surprise then
that he fathered the birth of the famed Indian Institutes of Technology and
prestigious government programmes to boost space travel and nuclear power.
“Geek Nation” is about
how science and technology seem to be integrated into the modern Indian DNA.
The products of Indian science and technology education may have been parodied
in pop culture from, “The Simpsons”, to “The Big Bang Theory”. But
they are a force to reckon with at leading institutions of higher learning
around the world.
The writer of the book,
Angela Saini, is able to offer an insider’s account given that she is from a
family groomed on a culture of science in India herself. While she has since
moved abroad, she has journeyed back to India to chronicle the story of the
place of science in its social and economic development.
If you have not had a chance
to visit India, you’ll enjoy the travelogue with vivid descriptions of the
cosmopolitan cities, the agrarian heartland and the inconspicuous research
laboratories that seem to abound in the countryside. You’ll be treated to a
graphic depiction of life in the Indian Institutes of Technology eerily
similar to that shown in “3 Idiots” with their star students but dubious
quality of infrastructure and teaching methods. A key suggestion from Sinai is
that the current university entrance examination system is too formulaic and
tending to produce drones rather than the innovators that Nehru envisioned.
Sinai also sketches
vignettes of the burgeoning Indian technology sector. She visits major IT hubs
around the country and interviews the heads of major firms like Infosys and
Wipro to understand the role of innovation in Indian industry. The most
impressive of her findings is how the luminaries of the Indian technology
industry refuse to rest on their economic laurels. They are keen to be
involved in government and policy to leverage their knowledge to build a more
efficient and robust economy.
The impact of technology on
developing nations with swathes of their populations still mired in ancient
culture is not well documented in literature. Sinai’s book has a strong
anthropological quotient and deals with the conflict between modern technology
and centuries of tradition. For example, many farmers are not keen to adopt
genetically modified seeds despite their tangible benefits.
Saini raises concern over
how the benefits of technology within India are not distributed equally. She
illustrates how some communities are being destroyed at the expense of growing
technological utopias and highlights an issue that may grow in significance as
the national drive towards modernisation continues.
We learn about how Indian
government is relentlessly promoting the use of technology to streamline
governance and cut through the notorious red tape around the government
machinery. We are made to ponder over the many common diseases that afflict
the population at large and are being ignored by major pharmaceutical firms
who see profits by catering to the demands of more affluent Western markets.
This scenario has forced
India to innovate within its own limited resources to seek home-grown
solutions. Most intriguingly, we are given insights into India’s long term
energy policy revolving around thorium based nuclear plants that may just
emerge as a major factor in the global race to power voracious populations.
The picture that emerges
from “Geek Nation” is that of an ambitious country with far-sighted
leadership that has invested a great deal of effort in grooming students of
science to tackle the most pressing problems facing the country. The
limitations of this model too are explored: it is accepted that the country
does not invest nearly as much in research and development as it should and
some negative ramifications of the technology juggernaut need more attention,
but the overall tone remains sanguine.
There are lessons for
scientists, economist and policy-makers from Pakistan who dream of emulating
some of these models in our educational and economic systems but are not yet
at the stage where they have to grapple with the myriad issues raised. Those
well-versed with the state of technology in Pakistan will agree that while
there are silver linings, the impact of Pakistani science lags far behind the
clout across the border. And competing here will pay richer dividends than all
the World Cup trophies and disputed territories in the world. To cite the
words of Churchill that serve as a parting note for the book, “The empires
of the future are going to be the empires of the mind.”
These days prospects of
‘political change’ are being discussed in Pakistan. The political pundits
are foreseeing a caretaker setup. Despite the fact that the president is back
in an environment flooded with rumors, it is believed that the game is not
over. There is no good news for those who think that the memo issue has died
out after the return of President Zardari or after meeting between Prime
minister and the army chief.
Secondly, the ISPR’s
statement and clarification note about the issue of conversation between
Zardari and army chief also shows the gap between civilian and military
Actually, the People of
Pakistan are living in an environment of rumors. The main cause behind it is
surely those who are called anti-government but it is also unfortunate to
notice the unreasonable and immature party leaders who left no stone unturned
in making the situation even worse.
Even the Prime Minster in
his address to the Senate showed his concerns and said if the political system
fails elections will not be held in our life time. Such a statement gives a
clear indication that the party is almost ready to face ‘change’ that
seems ready to take place.
In case President Zardari
goes back to London or Dubai after addressing the public meeting of Garhi
Khuda Bux on the 27th of this month, the fears of ‘change’ will resurface.
That is why Nawaz Sharif,
Imran Khan, Maulana Fazalur Rehman and Munawar Hassan, including the PPP
leadership, have taken this apprehension seriously and said any such attempt
towards ‘change’ will be declared great conspiracy against democracy.
Nawaz Sharif has vowed
resistance against any unconstitutional step. He said in his constitutional
petition before the apex court that he will accept no unconstitutional change.
It seems the PMLN has taken
a step back from the go-Zardari-go campaign and is striving to provide a
safeguard to the political system. Nawaz Sharif is fully conscious that the
agenda of ‘change’ entails a caretaker setup and does not provide an
opportunity to go for fresh general polls and that such a setup will be
disastrous not only for President Zardari but for PMLN also.
Some critics give importance
to meetings of Imran Khan with US government officials and inclusion of ‘new
faces’ in PTI. On the other hand, Imran Khan is looking not ready to be a
part of such game. He is asking for transparent elections and threatening to
launch a mass campaign against sham polls.
In this context, it is quite
early to speculate how long President Zardari may or may not reside in the
presidency. Some voices are suggesting that ‘power players’ have managed
some sort of reconciliation between the president and the ‘establishment
Will it work or not? We can
get an answer from the speeches to be made by Peoples Party leaders in the
meeting of 27th of December. There are critics who say that the President’s
position will be weak in decision-making. The question is whether the
political forces will accept the doctrine of necessity or go for mass
It seems the PPP and PMLN
will never accept such a change. The Peoples Party is blessed with the quality
to consolidate itself against the manoeuvers of the establishment. It has got
a number of cards that can be shown on time. Similarly, we cannot eliminate
the possibility of major political parties coming together to stop such a
It is the need of the hour
that all political partiers get together on a single point agenda and develop
consensus at a time of crisis. It is worth noting here that track records of
some of our political forces have been notorious for joining hands with the
establishment. But that seems to be a thing of the past now.
Another question is whether
the ‘secret forces’ are able and capable of packing up this political
system and setting up a new system of their own choice?
There is no doubt that
military establishment is avoiding any direct intervention against the
government, but if it is planning to transfer power to its handpicked faces by
sitting behind the curtain the same will be considered as its direct
At the same time, political
pundits are of the opinion that the establishment is bent upon creating
trouble for the government. In fact, non-political actors are sure that
immediate election will not produce any big change and crisis on the internal
and external fronts will continue to exist. Some politicians are foreseeing
that in case of ‘change’ there is no chance of elections coming up.
If the people aspiring for
‘change’ against the present government take a course of any illegal or
unconstitutional step it will bring harm to both government and our political
process. It is advisable that the present government is allowed to complete
its term and the election process is held on its fixed time. The political
leadership is justified in criticising the role of the establishment in the
politics of Pakistan.
writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at [email protected])
Much of the talk about
the role of women in formal accounts of economic development is
aspirational rather than factual. While gender equality is a human right,
gender gaps are visible in health, education, wages, and work related
Income, property and
work levels are quite disproportionate. For example, women work two-third
of the worlds’ working hours but they earn only 10 percent of the
world’s income while own less than 1 percent of the world’s property.
International Labour Organization, the gender gaps in wages averages
between 10 percent to 30 percent which widens with increase in education
and experience. The story does not stop here.
Decent employment and
working environment, access to land and credit is also limited, putting
serious pressure on capabilities to live a full life. For example, in
Southern and Western Asia, and in North Africa only 20 percent of those
employed outside agriculture are women.
Such losses of primary
opportunities and a sheer lack of enabling environment for women put them
in a disadvantaged position to benefit from increase in businesses and
trade. It can be argued that if trade between Pakistan and India is
increased, the country which provides more formal economic opportunities
to women is positioned better gain social development benefits of flow of
goods and services.
It is interesting that
much of the mainstream economic policy analysis put a lot of emphasis on
‘binding constraints on economic growth’ does not really factor in the
constraints on women as limiting factor on economic development.
UNWOMEN’s recent report argues that, “When women have equal access to
economic assets, decent livelihoods and leadership opportunities — the
building blocks of economic endowment economic well-being increases’.
However, most of women
workforce is disproportionately over-represented in informal economy as
well as unpaid care-related work. Globally, more than half of working
women (53 percent) are in vulnerable jobs while around 80 percent of
working women in Asia and Africa are in this category.
Using economics, one may
say that these types of social and economic capsules keep women away from
commercial activities and do not generate enough returns on investment in
girl education and access to better healthcare.
It makes them a victim
of low level equilibrium in market-based exchange of goods and services as
well. In fact, these fundamental structural inequalities of society, makes
the experience of poverty and wealth different for men and women.
owing to the impact of family life, childcare responsibilities, and a
general lack of high profile role models women tend not to identify
themselves as ‘enterprises’.
It may be a surprise for
many that only 13 of the world’s 500 largest corporations had a women
CEO in 2009. It is interesting to note that even in countries such as
Ireland, women are relatively reluctant than men to become entrepreneurs
or start a business owing to the fear of failure.
Around 15-18 percent
entrepreneurs are women in Ireland. Households make such mistakes and the
whole nation suffers. Irish government has identified three main reason of
business failure of women. These are perhaps relevant for Pakistan as
The first one is a lack
of proper financing, the second is a 0lack of proper experience, and the
third is a lack of training. These gaps play a significant role in keeping
women entrepreneurship potential stunted. However, the public sector in
Ireland has started a strategic intervention which imparts training to
identified women and strives for improving access to childcare facilities
as well as flexible working arrangements and increased parental leave.
Male-dominance is market
place is not unique for Pakistan or South Asia. It is almost everywhere.
The difference is how serious national governments are to promote gender
equality and women entrepreneurship.
In Lebanon, for example,
there are 1350 cooperatives. Men-dominated cooperatives are in farming
sector while food-processing cooperatives have more women memberships.
Recently, the Ministry of agriculture has started policy dialogues to
design strategies in which such cooperatives are to be provided support
who provide sustainable market access for rural women with focus on
rational use of natural resources. There are gender-sensitive sustainable
social development lessons for our governments as well.
entrepreneurship development is so important that according to Food and
Agriculture Organization, by gender equalizing access to land and
agriculture inputs, this world can reduce the number of people living in
hunger by 100m-150m.
What is perhaps needed
is that labour, credit, and goods and services market are regulated in
ways that provide decent work and equal opportunities while maintaining
macro-economic stability and economic growth potentials.