family
A demographic surprise
Issues relating to family 
planning and reproductive health services are complex and 
intertwined. Solutions also need to be comprehensive and integrated
By Irfan Mufti  
On July 11, the world celebrates population day. In 1968 world leaders proclaimed that individuals had a basic human right to determine the number and timing of their children. About 44 years later, modern contraception remains out of reach for millions of women and men.  
The unprecedented decrease in mortality began to accelerate in the more developed parts of the world in the nineteenth century and expanded to the entire world in the twentieth century. By one estimate, life expectancy at birth increased from 30 to 67 years between 1800 and 2005, leading to a rapid growth of the population: from 1 billion in 1810 to over 7 billion in 2010. The theme for this years’ Population Day will be the recognition of the right of every person to attain universal access to reproductive health services.

Shock and awe
If you are unmarried, how many children do you plan to have? Think. Be the change
By Narmeen A Hamid  
If you asked a hundred people in Pakistan what the most pressing issue of the country is, you would get a litany of answers ranging from load-shedding, poverty, un-employment, to law and order, health and education. It is unlikely that anyone would say over-population. Yet that is really the root cause of all the other problems mentioned. In simple terms, there are too many people and not enough resources.  

planning
KP’s neglected economic roadmaps
The Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS) is an ambitious economic growth plan
By Tahir Ali  
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has prepared quite a few documents which, if implemented, could originate unprecedented economic development in the province. However, these economic roadmaps are generally overlooked while setting development priorities for different sectors.  

Taking family planning religiously
While the voice from the pulpit carries a lot of weight, they will need to be convinced, informed and educated before their help is sought
By Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam  
“What do you think Islam says about Family Planning (FP)?”, I asked an urban, educated friend. Her response was as expected. “Isn’t FP a complete no-no in Islam?” she replied, a mother of two, whose two children have a carefully planned age difference of four years and who has been using an Intra-Uterine Device (IUD) for a long time as a method of contraception. A staunch Muslim, she believes FP is not allowed in Islam, yet is practicing it for years, and has not bothered to delve into the subject, avoiding tricky subjects.  

cooperation
Concept or reality?
Regional and global organisations can be relevant forums for debating economic and social inequality
By Nadeem Ahmed  
The intensified globalisation process in early 1990s was a threat as well as challenge for many nation- states. On the contrary, a small group of nation-states viewed it as ‘window of opportunity’ and capitalize the advantages of globalization.  
These divergent and contradictory stances about globalisation process formed three types of scholarly classes. The first scholarly class belongs to architects of globalization process that strongly argued market-based solutions of all problems at local, national, regional and global levels. The second scholarly class viewed globalization as a tool of ‘hegemony’ and ‘new form of colonization’ by major powers of the world. They proposed alternatives of globalization within capitalist paradigm ensuring sovereignty of nation-states and increase welfare of the people.  

Build a consensus on census
Census taking is an important aspect for devising population planning strategies
By Mohammad Javed Pasha  
In order to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, in the context of overall development plans and programmes, 11 July is observed by the international community as World Population Day.  
According to the United Nations, the world‘s population reached 7 billion on October 31, 2011. This year, as the world population is expected to surpass 7 billion, UNFPA and partners are launching a campaign called 7 Billion Actions. It aims to engage people, spur commitment and spark actions related to the opportunities and challenges presented by a world of 7 billion people.  

Living through writing
Prof Waris Mir was awarded 
Hilal-e-Imtiaz posthumously for his struggle for truth, justice and 
liberty of thought
By Sana Mir  
“He spent all his life striving for truth, justice, democratic principles and liberty of thought and died with his boots on in July 1987 at the age of 48 while confronting Zia’s dictatorship. He fought the combat alone with the dictator of his times and set an example to follow. What Waris Mir wrote and how he wrote, makes him an icon par excellence who continues to live on through his writings...” the voice trailed off the microphone and the hall boomed with applause when the highest civil award of Pakistan, the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, was conferred posthumously upon Prof. Waris Mir this year (on March 23, 2012) for his undying and evergreen effort to voice his intellect for the sake of the people of Pakistan.  

first person
Against all odds
Peace negotiations is a process and shouldn’t be a deal
By Zia Ur Rehman
Shukria Barakzai is an Afghan politician and a member of parliament. She is a prominent women rights activist and also the founder of Aina-e Zan, a weekly publication that focuses on women’s issues. During the rule of the hard-line Taliban, Barakzai helped run underground schools for girls and women in Afghanistan. In 2003, she was appointed a member of Loya Jirga, a body of representatives from across Afghanistan that was nominated to discuss and pass the country’s new constitution after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. In 2004, she was elected a member of parliament or Wolesi Jirga. She also headed the parliamentary defence committee for two years. At her office in parliament building in Kabul, The News on Sunday got an opportunity to talk to her on issues relating to security situation, parliamentary development and women’s rights in Afghanistan and Pak-Afghan relations.

An ultra experience
The much awaited Ultrabook is finally out, with promises to set new standards of computing
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed
Talking to computers and interacting with them, as if they were humans, and getting the desired responses are no more subjects of science fiction films or television game shows. They are a reality today and time is not far away when computing devices with inbuilt cameras will be able to read gestures and even the movement of retina to read the mind of their users.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

family
A demographic surprise
Issues relating to family 
planning and reproductive health services are complex and 
intertwined. Solutions also need to be comprehensive and integrated
By Irfan Mufti

On July 11, the world celebrates population day. In 1968 world leaders proclaimed that individuals had a basic human right to determine the number and timing of their children. About 44 years later, modern contraception remains out of reach for millions of women and men.

The unprecedented decrease in mortality began to accelerate in the more developed parts of the world in the nineteenth century and expanded to the entire world in the twentieth century. By one estimate, life expectancy at birth increased from 30 to 67 years between 1800 and 2005, leading to a rapid growth of the population: from 1 billion in 1810 to over 7 billion in 2010. The theme for this years’ Population Day will be the recognition of the right of every person to attain universal access to reproductive health services.

For Pakistan July 11, 2012 will bring several questions to answer. Pakistan is one of the fastest growing countries in the world. In early 1994, the population of Pakistan was estimated to be 126 million. At that time, it was the ninth most populous country of the world, however, land area wise ranked thirty-second among nations.

Thus, Pakistan has about 2 percent of the world’s population living on less than 0.7 percent of the world’s land. The population growth rate is among the world’s highest, officially estimated at 3.1 percent per year, but privately thought to be closer to 3.3 percent per year by planners involved in population programs.

Pakistan’s problems with militancy, a fragile economy and natural disasters such as the 2010 and 2011 floods have often been discussed, but an even greater threat may be posed by sheer number of people in the country.

According to official figures, the projected population for 2015 is 191 million, up from the current figure of 170 million, making it the sixth most populous nation on earth. By 2050, it is expected to climb into fourth place. This is bad news for a country that has struggled to provide its people with adequate food, health care or education.

Malnutrition rates are high and are linked to 50 percent of infant and child deaths; there is one doctor for every 1,183 people; and the literacy rate of 57 percent is among the lowest in South Asia.

There is now increasing evidence that investments, among others, in education, health, including reproductive health, women’s empowerment and slower population growth contribute towards poverty reduction. In general, it has also been found that where there is rapid population growth and high fertility rates, poverty incidence is also highest. More people, of course, means a further drain on resources that are already stretched to the limit.

The root cause of overpopulation is the unbalanced growth rate. In third world countries, basic awareness among the common people is lacking, which is the fundamental reason of overpopulation.

Successive governments in Pakistan have invested too little to educate the people about the disadvantages of extra ordinary birth rate. In this way, majority of the people remain uneducated regarding adequate methods of birth control.

According to the Demographic Health Survey of Pakistan, conducted in 2006-07 by the Ministry of Population Welfare, while 96 percent of women who have been married are aware of at least one family planning method, fewer than half have ever used one, and less than 30 percent of married women currently use a contraceptive.

The survey also shows 25 percent of married couples would like to use contraception but are not doing so, mainly because they lack access to advice or contraceptives.

Growth trend has also serious implications on economic planning and development. A very common trend for the people is to move towards cities from villages, in this way, rural land remains unused and cities become overcrowded having high density of people per square feet. This practice not only affects efficient operation of the system in cities but it also neglects the rural lands to develop.

The trend of rural-urban migration in Pakistan has badly decreased the agricultural growth, resulting in the drastic shits in economy of the country.

When the growth rate is very high, it results in high child mortality, seventy infants out of one thousand dies due to different reasons, which include inadequate facilities, provided in hospitals due to load of too many delivery cases, lack of proper food, and the most important is the weak health of the mother.

Poverty highly increases child mortality rate, an individual citizen’s poverty results in the poverty of the whole country. In thickly populated countries life expectancy ratio is very low. As per the latest statistics, Pakistan has 64.6 as life expectancy ratio of an individual, whereas Japan has 82.3, the difference is very clear.

There are multiple reasons for this lopsided and irrational population growth in Pakistan. The first and foremost is attitudes of male members of family that is very difficult to change. Many women would like to practice birth control, but their husbands dislike the idea.

Government’s programmes for family planning and primary healthcare are offering advice on contraception, but are confronted by misplaced religious propaganda or women are too scared of their husbands to even consider these methods.

Family planning and population control programmes were started in the 1950s and 1960s by private and government institutions. For years these institutions focused only on women as it was thought that family planning was the preserve of women, therefore the audience was 100 percent female.

In 1947, the fertility rate was 7.5 per women in Pakistan and the population growth rate 4.5 percent per year. In the 1990s these were reduced to 5.1 and 2.9, respectively, but this reduction is negligible. Presently, 47 percent of the total population in Pakistan is under the age of 15 years.

More than 50 years have passed, millions of dollars have been spent, multiple resources have been exhausted and Pakistan still adds four million people to its population every year. Contraceptive use went up from 6 percent in 1969 to just 18 percent in 1995. Pakistan’s average of six children per family has barely fallen since 1960s and the population density is 169/km.

Despite the grim picture, we cannot afford to stop. Issues relating to family planning and reproductive health services are complex and intertwined. Solutions also need to be comprehensive and integrated.

The most important of actions may include: expanding family planning concept beyond family planning to reproductive health services, generating positive attitude among public and political officials, organising an effective media campaign, improve existing service quality, involving religious leaders to endorse the programmes and the role of donor agencies to continue with their responsibility to support a struggling economy and a young nation.

The writer is Deputy Chief of South Asia Partnership Pakistan and Global Campaigner

[email protected]

caption

Photo by Rahat Dar.

 

 

Shock and awe
If you are unmarried, how many children do you plan to have? Think. Be the change
By Narmeen A Hamid

If you asked a hundred people in Pakistan what the most pressing issue of the country is, you would get a litany of answers ranging from load-shedding, poverty, un-employment, to law and order, health and education. It is unlikely that anyone would say over-population. Yet that is really the root cause of all the other problems mentioned. In simple terms, there are too many people and not enough resources.

With our economy struggling, it is difficult to cater to the existing number of people, but if the population were to keep galloping ahead at the present exponential rate, we’ll soon outstrip all our resources. Today we have the sixth largest population in the world with 180 million people. If we continue at this pace, we will be over 500 million by 2050. There will not be enough electricity, water, gas, houses, schools or hospitals.

Some foolhardy optimists, who insist on looking at the glass half full, will say I’m missing the elephant in the room. We have people. Lots of them! That surely can be our strength. And what’s more, the majority of them are young. We are one of the youngest nations in the world, with over 60 percent of the population under thirty years of age.

In technical terms, this is called the ‘youth bulge’ and it has the potential to give us a ‘demographic dividend’.       In lay man terms, this means that we have a lot of young people who if channelized properly can fire the engine of growth and development and lead us out of our present morass. However for this to happen we need to work fast as this opportunity does not last forever.

We have a ‘demographic window’ of a few years, after which our youthful population will grow old and instead of potentially productive citizens, they will start adding to the ranks of the dependent population needing others to take care of them.

So do the people in charge know about this ‘bulge’ thing and the stealthily closing ‘window’? I doubt it. Doesn’t sound like it when you hear them talk at least. Something called GLOCs seems really urgent.

Which forces me to join ranks with those looking at the glass half empty. Consider the scenario. Our prized possession, our human capital. How would one describe an average specimen? Short, malnourished, illiterate, poor, unskilled, probably un-employed, depressed, angry, frustrated.

While average height in a country like China has dramatically increased over the past couple of generations, ours is falling because of chronic malnutrition. According to the UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report 2008, in Pakistan 6.5 million children are out of school. Nigeria is number one with eight million and we have second place. 

Another survey showed us to be among the unhappiest people on earth. So what options does this short, illiterate, unhappy guy have? Not many and even less if he is a woman!   He could go join the load shedding protests and break some public property, or blow himself up and get a free pass to heaven, do a dacoity or two, or take the even easier option and hit the nearest woman around. Or he could leave. Our PM wondered why these people didn’t, if they were so unhappy. Well they would if they could. But even countries looking for cheap, unskilled labour, look for healthy, able workers. Moreover our main export having become terrorism and now possibly the polio virus, people are understandably a tad reluctant to welcome us. Not that that discourages our frustrated young men. They valiantly keep trying and are sometimes discovered smothered in containers or drowned with cargo ships or suffering in jails in faraway lands of promised opportunity.

I’m taking a leaf from the American book and using the shock and awe tactic here. I want people to take notice. This is the real emergency. Not the load shedding, not the war, not the terrorism, not the extremism. We need to bring our growth rate down.

Other countries, Muslim countries like Iran, Bangladesh, Indonesia, have done it and development has followed. It’s simply about the commitment to provide family planning facilities to families. Once we get our numbers in control, our women, men and children will be healthier, they’ll have schools, electricity, water, they’ll get jobs and they’ll get busy living their lives.

But to bring about this change, there needs to be an acknowledgement of the issue. It needs to be high up there on our priority list. A big international Family Planning Summit is planned in London this month. An official delegation will be attending from Pakistan. We hope it makes a strong case for us. We hope the government takes positive steps. We strongly urge it to. But equally importantly, change has to come from within all of us. If you are married and reading this, how many children do you have? If you are unmarried, how many do you plan to have? Think. Be the change.

 

 

 

 

 

   

planning
KP’s neglected economic roadmaps
The Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS) is an ambitious economic growth plan
By Tahir Ali

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has prepared quite a few documents which, if implemented, could originate unprecedented economic development in the province. However, these economic roadmaps are generally overlooked while setting development priorities for different sectors.

According to the Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS 2010-17), the province has strong agricultural potentials, and offers a diverse climate and landscape for a variety of tourism activities. “Located at the crossroads of important international trading routes, the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have long traditions of trade and travel. Hydroelectric power, forestry and minerals offer resources for a modern economy,” it states.

The Economic Growth Strategy (EGS) also envisions that acceleration of growth will be realized by concentrating on natural resource endowments of KP in hydel power, mining and minerals, Oil and Gas and agriculture value addition and agro-processing industries.

“With huge potential for development there is a necessity to focus on growth. Unfortunately, the resources’ investment strategy while following a much trodden path for decades remained captive to an antiquated thinking; to invest more and more in brick and mortar as a development solution to the problems of low and slow growth; high rates of unemployment and underemployment; a decadent infrastructure; inefficient, inadequate transportation facilities; a non-competitive industrial sector and last but not the least, stagnant human development indicators,” states the EGS.

According to the Whitepaper for this and last year, the previous ADPs were skewed towards brick and mortar projects and whereas the social sectors (education and health etc) have consumed a sizeable chunk of the development program, the socio-economic (food, agriculture, roads etc) and productive sectors (energy, minerals etc) remained low in priorities.

The growth policy will target the sectors with comparative advantages of indigenous raw materials and natural resources like minerals, tourisms and agriculture with a significant increase in total investment in productive sectors to attain higher rate of growth, states the EGS and stipulates that foreign loans would be sought for productive sectors if required and for the socio-economic and social sectors only grants would be utilised.

The EGS, the CDS and the budget whitepaper, said the KP finance minister Humayun Khan, have served as the bases of the annual development programme (ADP) this year.

But while in the Rs303bn budget, ADP, with an outlay of Rs97.4bn, including foreign component of Rs23bn, has a share of 35 per cent against 65 percent for current budget which is in line with the EGS recommendations, most of the budget targets and allocations don’t match with these official strategies.

While the EGS recommends 70 ADP funds for ongoing and 30 per cent for new schemes, they have been allocated 62.5 per cent (Rs46bn) and 37.5 per cent (Rs27.8bn) funds respectively in the core provincial ADP of Rs74.2bn.

The province has abundant potential in water, oil and gas and precious stones like marbles and other minerals. Around 6.76 per cent area of KP is under exploration for oil and gas reserves with a one billion barrel of oil and four trillion cubic feet of gas. Investment in these sectors can offer a base for developing a flourishing industry.

While the EGS says productive sectors and socio-economic sectors would be given top priority in funds allocation and the expenditure on social sectors would be capped at current level, allocations to the sectors speak otherwise.

Against the avowed 70 per cent, 30 per cent and 20 per cent share in the ADP for the productive, socio-economic and social sectors respectively as per the EGS, the 9 productive and 7 socio-economic sectors have been allocated just 12 per cent (Rs11.6bn) and 23 per cent (Rs22.6bn) respectively in the ADP while the social sectors have got 39 per cent (Rs37.9bn).

While education and roads have got over Rs22bn and over Rs14bn respectively, energy and mineral sectors got only Rs1.8bn and Rs0.5bn in that order. Allocations for minerals and minerals stand around only 0.9 per cent and at less than two per cent each for energy, power and agriculture sectors.

In the FY 2010/11 too, out of 972 projects funded through ADP, mines and minerals had only 11 projects with an allocation of Rs255mn at 0.42 percent of ADP.

By the end of 2012, the CDS stipulates an additional Rs14.6bn for the agriculture sector which obviously is far higher than the existing new ADP allocation of Rs1.4bn In the outgoing year too, the productive sectors were allocated Rs10.8billion, the socio-economic Rs21.3bn and the social sectors Rs36.8bn in the total core ADP of Rs69bn.

The CDS is a pretty ambitious economic growth roadmap. Its total seven years’ financial cost above the 2010 level expenditure is Rs960 of which Rs648bn would be for development expenditure and the rest for current expenditure. Rs516bn of these would be met through local resources and Rs444bn from external assistance.

It recognises increased insecurity, financial mismanagement, food inflation, inconsistency and duplication for increased donor funding, climatic hazards such as flooding etc as main risks to the implementation of CDS, and has suggested remedial measures.

But the CDS ironically has failed to point alternative resources in case the expectation of increased domestic revenue and foreign assistance fail to materialise while the current expenditure increases beyond the estimates.

Under the annual strategy review (ASR), a detailed analysis of the ADP 2010-11 and 2011-12 was carried out to know whether development allocations in different sectors matched the above strategies and with the short term allocations for those sectors in CDS. As per the ASR, Rs126bn out of the total ADP for 2010-12 were allocated against the CDS recommendations/allocations of 201bn.

“The province is far from eradicating poverty by 2015, and is unlikely to be able to effect a reduction in poverty incidence to 20 percent, as articulated in the CDS,” states the CDS paper. The white paper and EGS eye reduction in throw forward liability — the money required to complete all the ADP projects-by allocating more resources to ongoing project i.e. 70 percent of ADP.

But as the government usually misses the development targets for several departments come up with attractive projects that they could not execute, the throw forward liability is on the rise and is expected to be Rs343bn by end of this fiscal.

The government could utilise Rs79bn off Rs85bn last fiscal, Rs61bn off Rs69bn in 2010 and Rs46bn off Rs51 in 2009. If it cannot ensure full utilization of funds, what is the justification of increasing development outlays that results in throw forward liability for the
coming governments?

And if this government which, besides phenomenal increase in its federal receipts, has been getting Rs25bn in net hydro profit arrears could not bring down the number of in-complete development projects, how would the incoming governments do when the money would cease to come from 2013-14 onwards.

The foreign component projections at Rs23bn also seems unrealistic as the revised estimates for this head in last year stood at just Rs7.5 against Rs16bn of budget estimates.

KP has given top priority to energy and power sector. In this regard substantial amount of net hydel profit arrears has been transferred to Hydel Development Fund (with assets of Rs24bn) and various schemes are under pre-feasibility, feasibility and implementation stages in the province.

The KP government has prepared a 10-year hydro power generation action plan worth Rs330 billion according to which 24 projects would be initiated in KP to generate 2100 megawatts of electricity. But there is a perception that had this government started these projects when it was installed, the province would have no problem of loadshedding now.

According to a 2004 survey, industrialists and traders in KP identified policy uncertainty, tax administration, access to electricity supply, corruption, access to finance, insecurity and transportation as major hindrances to growth.

There is some good news in the budget too. While the foreign project assistance was just Rs4.61bn in 2008 with 83 per cent of it comprising loan component, it has increased to Rs23bn this year with 84 per cent of it to be in shape of grants and only 16 per cent as loans.

Numerous pro-poor schemes have been allocated Rs5.7bn against Rs4.5bn in last fiscal. Ranging from students’ related scholarship scheme to laptop distribution schemes to schemes in health, IT and agriculture sector etc, these also have a scheme for long term financing schemes for industrialists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking family planning religiously
While the voice from the pulpit carries a lot of weight, they will need to be convinced, informed and educated before their help is sought
By Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam

“What do you think Islam says about Family Planning (FP)?”, I asked an urban, educated friend. Her response was as expected. “Isn’t FP a complete no-no in Islam?” she replied, a mother of two, whose two children have a carefully planned age difference of four years and who has been using an Intra-Uterine Device (IUD) for a long time as a method of contraception. A staunch Muslim, she believes FP is not allowed in Islam, yet is practicing it for years, and has not bothered to delve into the subject, avoiding tricky subjects.

As we approach the World Population Day on the 11th of July, the topic of understanding FP via religious rulings remains taboo. A fatalistic approach and a misfounded assumption that Islam is categorically against FP remains a key reason why Pakistan is sitting on a ticking time bomb of a population explosion. It also remains an under-discussed area in both print and electronic media.

“Today Pakistani population is five times as large as it was in 1950 and about 4 million people are added to it every year,” said Dr John Bongaarts of the Population Council, New York, at a recent seminar arranged by the Population Council in Pakistan. “By 2050, the population in the country is expected to reach 300 million.” If it hits that number, Pakistan would become the fourth largest country in the world. It has already replaced Brazil as the world’s fifth largest nation.

Generally, world over, a reduction in fertility rates and population growth has been seen, but Pakistan’s has increased. Pakistan’s total fertility rate (TFR: the number of live births the average woman has in her lifetime) is reported by the UN to be 3.2, the highest of any of the populous countries.

Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2007 (PDHS) reveals that only 24 percent of married women of rural Pakistan use contraception. Could religion have something to do with it?

This July, world leaders gather in London for a Family Planning Summit, co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. Department for International Development, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.N. Fund for Population Action. Will the role of religious and cultural sensibilities be discussed there, one wonders.

In strongly faith-oriented societies such as Pakistan, unless something is endorsed by the clergy, meeting the development goals may be too far-fetched. As the bigwigs of family planning rack their brains over how to control Pakistan’s population, an important point might be being missed. The implications of an absence of national consensus-building with religious leaders on board may be a key reason. Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, also THE most populous Muslim country in the world, seems to have discovered this key and unlocked the answers. The result: Indonesia today is known as the “poster child” among countries aiming to slow down their growth rate. This is an incredible achievement, considering that Indonesia is a country with an almost 90 percent Muslim population, accounting for 13 percent of the world’s Muslim population. Studies show that Indonesia’s fertility rate at the 1965 level was averagely 5.6 children per woman. By incorporating a community-based family planning and reproductive health program, Indonesia has been able to slow down the TFR to an exemplary 2.6. How has Indonesia managed this?

The answer could lie in the fact BkkbN, Indonesia’s population and family planning board, employed the ingenious method of approaching the leaders of the two largest Muslim welfare groups in Indonesia: Muhammadiyah and the Nahdlatul Ulama, who have millions of followers. Both are traditionalist Islamic groups, yet with the government have achieved a consensus that they will work hand-in-hand for the welfare of the country. In line with true Islamic teachings, they work towards spiritual, emotional, physical and material well-being of their people. Taking health and education into their loop, it was but logical that reproductive health and FP are included in their program.

Dr. Atikah Zaki, the health and social coordinator of Asyiyah, the women’s branch of Muhammadiyah, adorns a hijaab. She is a practicing Muslim woman, unapologetic about her faith and evangelism. Simultaneously, she is also unapologetic about the fact that her organization promotes family well-being and family planning. Asyiyah promotes family planning through a network of 86 hospitals, hundreds of clinics, 87 universities and over 4,000 schools. Their local leaders counsel people about reproductive health issues, mediate disputes between couples and even address sensitive subjects like domestic violence. “We are just obeying the Prophet Mohammed,” said Zaki with a smile, explaining the concept of FP in Islam, quoting from the Quran and ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at the recent Women’s Edition Seminar for female journalists, held at Jakarta.

Islam, and other religions for that matter, are not against contraception in totality. If the Quranic injunction on breastfeeding the child for two years is adhered to, it would automatically result in “lactational amenorrhea” which would result in spacing between children.

A major body of Islamic scholars, globally, agrees that in Islam, temporary and reversible methods of contraception are allowed. But contraception practiced with an aim to have a permanently childless marriage would not be permissible. Abortion is not permissible, and especially after a 120 days period has lapsed in the pregnancy, it is categorically forbidden because life is sacred. Temporary contraceptive methods that do not harm the health of the mother, and natural methods like Coitus Interruptus (withdrawal) and the Rhythm method that relies on knowledge of a woman’s ovulation cycle in order to avoid pregnancy, are preferred and allowed.

Relaying public health messages across to the population of Pakistan would become easier if they came through Imams of local mosques. But the religious leadership, human rights’ activists and health experts should work unanimously towards this goal. This requires dialogue and an understanding of each other’s view points.

Talking about the Pakistani society and involving clergy in realisation of the FP goals, journalist Zofeen Ebrahim says, “While the voice from the pulpit carries a lot of weight, they will need to be convinced, informed and educated before their help is sought, otherwise all the work towards it will come to naught. Not much time and we have to make up for the lost time. Therefore, everyone needs to be involved and taken on board.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

cooperation
Concept or reality?
Regional and global organisations can be relevant forums for debating economic and social inequality
By Nadeem Ahmed

The intensified globalisation process in early 1990s was a threat as well as challenge for many nation- states. On the contrary, a small group of nation-states viewed it as ‘window of opportunity’          and capitalize the advantages of globalization.

These divergent and contradictory stances about globalisation process formed three types of scholarly classes. The first scholarly class belongs to architects of globalization process that strongly argued market-based solutions of all problems at local, national, regional and global levels. The second scholarly class viewed globalization as a tool of ‘hegemony’ and ‘new form of colonization’ by major powers of the world. They proposed alternatives of globalization within capitalist paradigm ensuring sovereignty of nation-states and increase welfare of the people.

The third scholarly class neither irrevocably dismissed globalisation as a process nor compromised on nation-state sovereignty. They embrace all those alternatives (with and without capitalist system of production and distribution) that promised a decent living standard for nearly seven billion people of the world.

They believed in collectivism and innovative strategies for most pressing global problems such as global recession, security, climate justice and reforms in global institutions. The premise of this scholarly class is how to manage global governance in a multi-stakeholder world where besides nation-states other players are equally important.

It is no denying fact that many global issues need collaborative deliberations and actions because no nation-state alone has capacity to confront those problems. For instance, the issue of global warming is compelling nation-states to adopt consensual global policy and actions (failure of Kyoto Protocol) to mitigate the adverse impact of climatic variability.

Similarly, global financial architecture is in perpetual threat of complete collapse since Asian financial crisis of 1997. The integration of global financial markets was carried on economic philosophy of “free markets” rather than realising the financial strength or weakness of the economies that resulted in offering more triggers of breakdown.

However, the need of the hour is to address these global issues through multi-stakeholder dialogue in which nation-states, global institutions (UN, World Bank, etc), civil society organisations, media, representatives of academia could freely express their interests. This may be termed as global governance mechanism.

The need of institutions for global governance mechanisms obviously cannot be ruled out. However, currently certain global institutions are functioning to fill the global order vacuum for peace and development in the world. The creation of United Nations after the Second World War in 1945 was to promote peace and harmony among nation-states.

It is debatable whether UN has fulfilled its objectives of creation or not but undoubtedly the greater objectives of global governance can be achieved through strengthening and reforming of current UN systems.

Other supranational institutions such as European Union (EU) could help in framing and contextualizing the most pressing global issues for deliberations and agreements. The example of EU is particularly important in this regard because it has evolved from European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1958 to a Custom Union in 1993 and achieved tremendous milestones of European commission, European parliament, European central bank, single currency, etc. in 51 years.

The Asian perspective of global governance is starkly different from rest of the world in terms of history, diverse cultures, religious beliefs, tribal systems, level of development, work ethos, social behaviors and production and distribution of wealth. Global governance mechanisms require institutional strength that is relatively weak in most of the Asian countries.

However, some multilateral initiatives such as Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have made reasonable progress in 44 years from its inception in 1967, in trade and commerce, political alliance, environmental agreements and nuclear non-proliferation. ASEAN is still far away from developing into custom union.

Other major initiative in South Asia is South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) that could become instrumental in global governance mechanisms in economic and social development, poverty alleviation, environmental protection and nuclear security.

The mandate of SAARC is not only economic cooperation and trade relations among countries but people-to-people contact that is essential ingredient for managing global issues through participation of all stakeholders.

Regional co-operations of ASEAN and SAARC are the building blocks of global governance mechanisms that could provide impetus to global consensus building process through multi-stakeholder participation.

It is important to distinguish different roles of stakeholders in global governance mechanisms. The participatory nature of global governance shed additional responsibilities on every actor of the society. Think Tanks in policy formulation and analysis has increased substantially in the last two decades even in developing countries.

In the context of Pakistan, better comprehension of global governance would unlock those opportunities that ceased to exist at the end of Cold War in 1989. The economic and political vulnerabilities in Pakistan have paved the way of foreign intervention that used ‘soft power’ to quail the path of self-reliance.

The structural adjustment programs (SAPs) of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and US-Pakistan foreign relations are the examples of ‘undermined sovereignty’ of 180 million people country.

The first and formidable option in this regard is the strengthening of SAARC. Pakistan is one of the most important countries in SAARC and could gain substantial advantage in regional issues such as poverty reduction, security, environment, etc.

Various technical committees of SAARC should take part in international forums to present and protect regional interests without providing due benefits to big countries in alliance. SAARC technical committees on environment and forestry and agriculture and rural development can represent regional voice.

The participation of SAARC technical committees in international forums along with member States would enhance the stature of regional alliance and further augment confidence building process between Pakistan and India.

The other option for Pakistan is the membership in ASEAN. The expansion and improvement of ties with other Asian alliances would open new avenues for Pakistan in trade and commerce, environmental planning, cultural exchanges and social sector development.

Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) could be other options for Pakistan to fulfill its developmental needs through inward looking instead of reliance on distant partners.

The essence of global governance concept is the production of knowledge, exchange of divergent views and development of new theories. Global governance marked the end of knowledge hegemony and embraces new ideas, innovative solutions and learning from cultures and people.

There are various questions that are still unexplored in the context of global governance. Some of them are directly related to global participation of citizens, legitimacy or authority of non-state actors, the benefits of global democracy to common people, and who has authority to penalise the non-compliance States?

There are no easy answers of these complex questions but one can hope to achieve the destiny of harmonious world by devoting best of abilities and capacities for future generations.

The decline of global value system must be stopped in order to reorganize societies without prejudices, racism, discrimination, nepotism, inequality and intolerance.   

The writer is a Principal Economist at the Social Policy and Development Centre, Karachi.

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Build a consensus on census 
Census taking is an important aspect for devising population planning strategies
By Mohammad Javed Pasha

In order to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, in the context of overall development plans and programmes, 11 July is observed by the international community as World Population Day.

According to the United Nations, the world‘s population reached 7 billion on October 31, 2011. This year, as the world population is expected to surpass 7 billion, UNFPA and partners are launching a campaign called 7 Billion Actions. It aims to engage people, spur commitment and spark actions related to the opportunities and challenges presented by a world of 7 billion people.

Population dynamics, including growth rates, age structure, fertility and mortality, migration and more, influence every aspect of human, social and economic development. Other core areas including reproductive health and women’s empowerment powerfully influence population trends.

In Pakistan, the issues of population include poverty, high birth rate, health, education, joblessness, power resource generation, regional migration and IDPs issues that have resulted in political, social and economic problems.

The government needs to be able to gather information and analyse population trends in order to create and manage sound policies and generate the political will to appropriately address both current and future needs. Holding of sixth census which is already delayed by four years is the base of all our development goals.

Pakistan demographics profile 2012 reveals an estimated population 187,342,721 with a growth rate of 1.57 percent whereas the urban population growth rate is 3.1 percent. The estimates disclose total fertility rate as 3.17 showing a decreasing trends and literacy has shown a rate of 50 percent.

These all figures are based on estimates whereas the actual facts and figures only National Census would provide in a comprehensive picture of the social and living conditions of the people.

The census provides benchmark data for socio economic development plans, administrative activities, basis for political representation, equitable distribution of public funds to the federating units and fixation of quota to all civil posts in federal government as per constitutional requirement.

The holding of population census has always been equally important for any country as the general election is. In a country like Pakistan, where democracy is always in danger, the issue of holding of population census has also become crucial.

Any government established after the upcoming election will have to face a great challenge in conducting national population census as the future census has become a number game for political and ethnic groups.

The statements from major political, ethical, religious and social groups seem both visible and invisible threat to the census whenever it takes place.

There is lot of reservations at political, social, ethnic and tribal levels which are a serious threat to this exercise to undertake realistically. Even some places of Karachi and Northern Areas have been marked a no-go area for the census teams by anti-peace elements.

In fact, the society as a whole does not seem to be satisfied on a fair, free and transparent census in the present political disturbance, and law and order situation prevailing in the country.

The situation of disputes over census in Sindh is equally worse as that of Balochistan and KP. Pashtun and Sindhi ethnic groups fear that the MQM, representing Urdu speaking or Mohajir population of urban Sindh has taken over the census machinery in Karachi and Hyderabad and is making efforts to show more than the actual number of Mohajir population  to get larger share of funds and representation.

The present wave of demand for setting up new provinces in the country is also a serious issue that may highjack the whole programme in that areas to prove a large number of population demanding for new province as a strong justification for their demand, either on administrative or ethnic bases.

All minority groups, linguistic, ethnic or religious segments have raised objections because they fear being undercounted. They say that there was 3.5 percent of population at the time of independence which means there must be at least 10 million Christians in Pakistan today but authorities believe their number is less than 5 million. Similarly, Ahmadi community is not properly counted as it is not easy for them to announce themselves in public.

An addition to the above, some fears prevail that various segments of population may not be included in the census in the areas where political situation is bad, like KP, Balochistan and Karachi, people living in difficult areas, migrants of flood and earthquake areas in Punjab, KP and Sindh. Militant groups is another serious threat.

All economic planning is based on the numbers, the people and the resources with fair distribution. We are still depending on the figures of 1998 census or looking for the estimations of 2012. Both are undependable in the present time when general elections are round the corner.

Holding of national population census should be taken seriously. We expect that at the time of announcement of election in the country. This is the core message of the World Population Day-2012, for Pakistan, the year of both general election and population census.

The writer is a freelancer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living through writing
Prof Waris Mir was awarded 
Hilal-e-Imtiaz posthumously for his struggle for truth, justice and 
liberty of thought
By Sana Mir

“He spent all his life striving for truth, justice, democratic principles and liberty of thought and died with his boots on in July 1987 at the age of 48 while confronting Zia’s dictatorship. He fought the combat alone with the dictator of his times and set an example to follow. What Waris Mir wrote and how he wrote, makes him an icon par excellence who continues to live on through his writings...” the voice trailed off the microphone and the hall boomed with applause when the highest civil award of Pakistan, the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, was conferred posthumously upon Prof. Waris Mir this year (on March 23, 2012) for his undying and evergreen effort to voice his intellect for the sake of the people of Pakistan.

Like all great writers of yester years whose personalities and mental cog-works are revealed to their readers via their writings instead of all the publicity humdrum in the rage these days, the avid readers of Mir know his intellectualism, his area of interests and his persona refracted in his writings. He is unmistakably logical even when he gets emotional at times. For instance, when the dictator of his era General Ziaul Haq finger pointed at him as his personal enemy and in a televised address to the nation, Zia paralleled the progressive writers the ‘water logging causing damage to the fabric of the society’. The rebuttal to this televised address was Waris Mir’s last write up in which he wrote his heart out. A dying man has no fear, they say. This phrase comes alive and sets an example in his last column titled, “Is progressive thinking salinity and water logging?”

“If any one thinks that Ziaul Haq in his speech has labelled writers having orthodox and a backward approach towards shaping the future of Pakistan, they must correct themselves. For a dictator and power usurper can only blame and play the name-game with intellectuals who think progressively and liberally. Such people are the direct and personal adversaries of the martial law administrator.”

Waris Mir was made of all of these components that Zia, or any other military dictator in general, could not simply understand. When students of literature sit down to study a poetic bard or a dramatist, they read through the writings over and over again, try to decipher the mental processes through which the writer passes while churning out a magical sheet filled with words.

For readers of philosophy, ideas so nakedly apparent to the eyes are just understood once again from a new perspective with such a moment of eureka that a single sentence or the composition of an idea can be life altering. For those studying psychology, human behaviour, the human mind and the human heart are so altering and so different in each person, that the curiosity to study the functionality of the human psychology can never be fulfilled and it encourages the student to probe more. Reading Waris Mir, is like being a student of all of these subjects – literature, philosophy, psychology – and even more – history, sociology, political science.

Those who have read Waris Mir, and still do, through his writings in a three-volumed book “Waris Mir ka Fikri Asasa”, admire him for not just being a good expressionist but also for being a hardworking researcher. His columns are more like research papers — thoroughly investigated and interpreted for all and sundry to contemplate and comprehend.

Waris Mir was read in the intellectual groups, the chai-wala dhhaba groups, students, women et al. He was a teacher at the University of Punjab, Lahore. He taught journalism and if one really takes a hard look at it, Waris Mir was not preaching the ethics of journalism to his students just not to practice them himself. He was simply being honest to his work. When one reads through his work, understands his life, being honest, however, does seem like an insanely enormous characteristic.

When the Hilial-e-Imtiaz was conferred upon Waris Mir this year, even though it was posthumously done, those who know what and who Waris Mir was, they understand, he lives on and shall continue to do so.

The death Anniversary of Prof Waris Mir falls on 9th July.

 

 

 

first person
Against all odds
Peace negotiations is a process and shouldn’t be a deal
By Zia Ur Rehman

Shukria Barakzai is an Afghan politician and a member of parliament. She is a prominent women rights activist and also the founder of Aina-e Zan, a weekly publication that focuses on women’s issues. During the rule of the hard-line Taliban, Barakzai helped run underground schools for girls and women in Afghanistan. In 2003, she was appointed a member of Loya Jirga, a body of representatives from across Afghanistan that was nominated to discuss and pass the country’s new constitution after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. In 2004, she was elected a member of parliament or Wolesi Jirga. She also headed the parliamentary defence committee for two years. At her office in parliament building in Kabul, The News on Sunday got an opportunity to talk to her on issues relating to security situation, parliamentary development and women’s rights in Afghanistan and Pak-Afghan relations.

The News on Sunday: What brought you into politics?

Shukria Barakzai: For the last three decades, Afghans have suffered from civil war, terrorism, and bloodshed. From the intervention of the Soviet Union to civil war between the warring mujahideen groups and atrocities of Taliban, every single Afghan has been affected badly. I am also one among them. I grew up in a totally different society: a society of peace, respect, human dignity and love. But, unfortunately, three decades of war culture have divided the Afghan community in ethnic, sectarian and fractions. Sixty five thousand civilians were killed only in Kabul in civil war between mujahideen groups while the Taliban were the worst forces.

Violence against women was very high in those days. Taliban forbade women from working outside the home, forced women to wear burqas, punished them with public whipping for “immodest” appearance and forbade girls from attending school. I still remember the incident of Kabul during Taliban rule when ‘Punjabi Taliban’ were beating a young Afghan severely just because of listening music.

We were astonished at that time seeing how clerics and students of religious seminaries were driving tanks and using sophisticated guns. The atrocities of warring mujahideen groups and Taliban politically and socially motivated me much. When Taliban imposed ban on girls’ education, I secretly headed a network of underground schools for girls and women and this network also helped me to form a group of social activists. Because of support of activists of my group, I was elected first as representative of Loya Jirga in 2003 and then a member of parliament in 2004. Street campaigning was key reason of my success in the election whereas my husband, despite spending millions of dollars, lost the elections.

TNS: What do you think is the solution for a peaceful Afghanistan and what role Pakistan, as neighbouring country, should play in this regard?

SB: This issue is very complicated. In the past, we, the Afghans, have defeated powerful forces like Britain and USSR but presently, we are very confused to curb terrorism in our country. We have solid proofs of involvement of Pakistan in supporting groups that are involved in spreading unrest in Afghanistan but we can’t do anything. Today, Pakistan is also suffering from the same terrorism and unrest. People in mosques and public places are not safe from suicide attackers who have killed thousands of Pakistani civilians. We, the Afghans, want to see our neighbours prosperous and democratic. But Pakistan also needs to stop anti-peace elements to use their land against Afghanistan.

TNS: What challenges women MPs are facing in Afghanistan’s parliament?

BS: Afghanistan’s parliament features a percentage of female representation at 27.3 percent which is constitutionally secured. MPs have played a great role in legislation and raising national issues, especially women issues. Some women think that the parliament is not their house but I think totally differently. A woman MP in parliament can easily and courageously ask, shout, demand and complain about rights of people, especially women and children. All women MPs have their own views and different viewpoints but they become united in pursuit of a common cause. We did it very recently on the issue of gender budget. I think parliament is an appropriate forum to fight against violence against women and child marriages. There are many issues, not just two or three. We, the women MPs, are not working for ourselves but for the future generation who will hold responsibilities of ruling the country.

TNS: There is a view that the current parliament is full of former mujahideen and warlords who were involved in killing thousands of Afghans during the civil war. What is your opinion on this?

BS: It is a different judgment. The parliament is a democratic institution of the community where people from different background and with different political ideologies present their opinion. But it doesn’t mean that the parliament is full of former warlords and mujahideen. I am also against these people but think it is also a great success that today women MPs are sitting in parliament with former mujahideen.

TNS: How do you see the ongoing peace negotiations with the Taliban?

BS: Our doors are always open for ‘good Afghans’ for peace negotiations, but not for the foreigners. We have closed doors for those who don’t belong to us, who don’t approve democracy and constitution of the country and don’t pay respect to Afghan people. Peace negotiation is a process and shouldn’t be a deal and this process will come from the grassroots.

TNS: Are Afghan security forces capable of overseeing the law and order situation in the country after the withdrawal of NATO forces from the country? What is your view?

BS: The Afghan National Army was one among the world’s top armies without any help of foreign countries before it broke up into regional militias during the fierce civil war in the 1990s. Now, it is again set to secure and stabilise its country by itself. For two years, I headed the parliamentary defence committee and I believe that today Afghan security forces are well-equipped, well-trained and capable of launching special operations against anti-peace elements in the country.

TNS: Do you think the international forces should leave Afghanistan?

BS: We don’t want our neighbours should dictate us in this regard. If there is a joint effort on both sides (the international community and Afghanistan), we will welcome it. We are part of the international community and we are struggling together against terrorism and extremism for the last three decades. We don’t want a country to stay forever in Afghanistan. The International community should rebuild the country and stay until they finish. This is payback time for the international community. We have learned much from our neighbours.

 

Selected for a Pak-Afghan Media Exchange Program, the writer contributed this interview from Kabul.

[email protected]

 

 

 

An ultra experience
The much awaited Ultrabook is finally out, with promises to set new standards of computing
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

Talking to computers and interacting with them, as if they were humans, and getting the desired responses are no more subjects of science fiction films or television game shows. They are a reality today and time is not far away when computing devices with inbuilt cameras will be able to read gestures and even the movement of retina to read the mind of their users.

This change has been gradual and it is expected that innovation will continue in the coming years to raise the bar for personal computing experiences, evolving to more natural and intuitive interactions.

One can recall how mobility and internet connectivity, powered by wireless devices, has changed the lifestyle of people who are always connected, informed and never away from work. The oversized desktop computers have given way to hand held devices and the reduction in size has increased their sales manifold.

But this is not the end; the computing industry is working hard to scale new heights and in the words of Asma Aziz, Manager Marketing at Intel Pakistan, personal computing as we know it today will suddenly seem old fashioned. The revolution, she says, will bank on the introduction of 3rd generation processors by the company. Whatever is the brand of notebooks, desktops or smart phones the ultra-efficient processors will come from Intel.

The most awaited launch has been that of Ultrabook — a notebook which is ultra thin, ultra light, highly efficient on speed, responsiveness and productivity and consumes minimal power. The battery life can be up to 10 to 12 hours depending on usage pattern and backup will be for days.

The concept is to revolutionise the field of mobile internet connectivity where the concept of chargers, wires and cables is almost non-existent and a notebook is as easy to carry, handle and operate as a handheld device. As Intel’s in-house social anthropologists put it, Ultrabook is the reflection of one’s self. As one always longs for perfection, this machine is a bid to achieve the goal of near perfection.

The best part of the story is that the global launch has been followed shortly by that in Pakistan. The reason is simple; Pakistanis love gadgets and can go to any extent to buy them and therefore here is always a ready market for new products. For example, in 2000 the first Pentium 4 processor based system in Asia Pacific was sold in Lahore.

No doubt the processing speed of computing devices has got a lot to do with the lifestyles and stress level, says Naveed Siraj, Country Manager at Intel. Recalling his past experiences, he says he would easily smoke cigarettes while his system booted and one each during the time it took to load the computer programme he wanted to use. This cannot be the case now, as it takes the system just two seconds to wake up from sleep mode and less than seven seconds to go from a very deep sleep state to full use (keyboard interaction), he adds.

Ultrabook devices must be 18 millimeters or less in thickness for systems less than 14 inches in display and 21 millimeters or less for systems with displays 14 inches or more, some current systems are much thinner. (There are 25.4 millimeters in an inch).

The extraordinary reduction in size has not come without a cost. The company had to establish a $300 million fund for development of ultra-slim components and work with several manufacturers to produce the small sized components. Some Ultrabook models are so thin that they have limited external ports like those for USBs and vendors are parting with the provision of using optical discs like CDs, DVDs etc.

The purpose behind going for such a capital-intensive product development exercise was mainly to support the slumping personal computer market against the rising competition from tablet computers such as iPad, says Ijaz Ahmed, a Pakistani IT professional based in the Los Angeles, California, USA.

But the results, he thinks, have been far more encouraging and the new technology can be benefited from to make systems efficient. For example, the new processors which are the smallest and the fastest processors developed so far can help improve database manage systems.

Screening of database systems like those maintained for security purpose would also be extremely fast, resulting in reduction in wait times. The new processors also enhance the 3-D effects of the computer providing the users with 3-D visual effects they had never experienced before.

Another important feature is that Ultrabook systems come enabled with Intel Identity Protection technology to provide a more secure online experience for activities such as shopping, banking or gaming online. It uses chip-level authentication similar to hardware tokens and is widely regarded by security experts as a more secure approach than software-only authentication. This feature can help promote the culture of online transactions and payments in Pakistan, which could not develop so far due to the overall sense of financial insecurity associated with this practice.

When asked about availability and price in price, Asma replies that currently in Pakistan, Ultrabooks are being offered by various Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs); also sample designs have been introduced by local vendors such as Viper and One Apple.

“Both of these brands will be selling their Ultrabooks in the next few weeks. The system prices vary based on product features. As the category of Ultrabook devices evolves and new features are added over time, we expect shipments to increase and volume economics will kick in and help drive system cost down. We expect to see Ultrabooks at mainstream price points by the end of 2012.”

Ideally, the price of Ultrabook envisaged by the company is less than $1000. Though some of its models are available for this price, the company is trying to bring that of others down considerably.

 

 

 

 

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