the unemployment gap
and rule of law
Get ready, it’s monsoon
Fuel for thought
Replacement of CNG with LPG as vehicle fuel is talk of the day. Will the
government stick to this plan or undo it like many
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed
you leap,” is an old saying and who else than the Pakistan government
can be a better recipient of this advice? There are several examples where
it has taken decisions without much contemplation and homework and
reversed the same years later at the cost of hapless stakeholders.
The latest decision has
been the one about phasing out of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations in
three years and replacing this fuel with “more viable” LPG. Keeping
the government’s track record in mind, it is quite likely that it might
revert once again to CNG sector after a couple of years.
The rationale behind
this change of heart is that the CNG sector is eating away a major share
of country’s natural gas reserves and other sectors like textile and
general industry, power producers and fertilizer units have to pay for
this through reduced gas supplies they get.
The difference between
the two is that CNG is the same gas-methane-we use at homes but in
compressed form at high pressures while the LPG comprises gases like
butane and propane and liquefies at low temperatures. While CNG is
delivered is gaseous form through gas pipes LPG can be transported in
containers on vehicles in liquid form. It can be imported with ease and is
very popular in areas where natural gas has not reached via networks of
gas distribution companies.
The CNG sector defends
itself saying CNG is the fuel of the less-privileged and the failure of
the government to make breakthroughs in oil and gas exploration is no
valid excuse in this regard. They also ignore the government statement
that the existing natural gas reserves will deplete in 20 years, if the
usage patterns are not changed. It’s nothing more than a feeble attempt
to convince those associated with the CNG sector to part with their
livelihood, they claim.
Another fear is that
overwhelming dependence on imports, especially when millions of CNG-run
vehicles convert to it, will keep on haunting this sector if it’s not
ensured that imports are regular and also match the demand.
Ghayas Paracha, Chairman
All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) has no clue of the methodology the
government has in mind for this switch over. He is hoping to have a
meeting with the decision-makers soon.
However, he has no
objection to setting up of LPG stations but he wants the people to decide
whether they should go for LPG or CNG. “Whichever is cheaper, safer,
efficient and readily available would be preferred. So, my suggestion is
that LPG stations should be set up without disturbing the CNG ones.” The
closure of CNG stations would ultimately lead to bank defaults as 70
percent financing has come from the local banking sector which will be
unable to recover this amount, he adds.
Paracha says it is not
easy to convert around 4 million CNG vehicles to LPG and it would take 8
to 10 years even if these conversions are done round the clock. “How can
one expect to undo something in a flash which took decades to develop?”
He fears the country’s
dependence on LPG imports will make the situation unpredictable as
supplies may get delayed as it happens every other day. He also questions
the logic about why the government is looking for an import-based solution
when it has expressed resolve to cut down import bill due to petrol and
furnace oil import.
Fortunately, he enjoys
support of his rivals. Abdul Hadi Khan, Patron-in-Chief and former
chairman of LPG Association Pakistan thinks it is unjustifiable to prosper
at the cost of others. Though conversion of CNG filling stations to LPG
stations is a practical solution, his point is the CNG sector’s
investment worth billions should not go down the drain. “And why should
they suffer for a blunder made by the so-called economic managers and
energy experts of the country,” he questions
Hadi wishes the CNG and
LPG sectors should exist side by side or in other case, benefit equally
from any policy decision taken in this regard.
He shares with TNS that
like CNG sector, LPG marketing companies are also a victim of faulty
government policies. Going ahead with the latest plan would create certain
issues if executed without proper planning.
Hadi recounts that out
of the 91 companies that were issued license by Oil and Gas Regulatory
Authority (OGRA), only 25 are working while others are in a deep fix. The
allocation of locally produced LPG, he says, is the prerogative of hardly
8 to 10 companies that have close connections with those in power, and
have become a strong mafia.
The remaining companies
have no option but to import LPG which is a bit expensive. Once the
imported LPG reaches Pakistani ports, the local LPG cartel, or mafia as
you may call it, brings down the prices just to harm the importers. The
prices are increased as soon as the imported LPG is sold off and there is
shortage in the market.
Hadi contests the claim
that LPG is more expensive than petrol. “Yes, it is a bit expensive than
CNG but cheaper when compared with petrol in terms of mileage achieved,”
he says adding as compared to 11 kilometers traveled by a car on petrol,
one kilogram of LPG gives a mileage of 22 kilometers for the same car.
On prices, he says at
the moment, one tonne of imported LPG costs Rs 85,000 at Karachi seaport.
Add the upcountry transportation charges and other related costs, the
price comes around Rs 100 to Rs 105 per kg. The variance in price, he
says, is mainly due to the distance and terrain involved during
transportation. Prices keep on varying due to the imbalance in demand and
supply for the fuel. For example, the prices increased by Rs 5 per kg on
the first of Ramzan.
Hadi stresses the need
for increasing local production of LPG which is between 800 to 900 tonnes
per day. The industry sources claim if this capacity is not brought to
somewhere around 1700 tonnes per day, the sudden surge due to its
increasing use in transport vehicles will create acute shortage in the
market. This goal cannot be achieved without carrying out ambitious
exploration facilities and luring foreign investors to invest in this
high-tech and capital intensive field.
Contrary to the general
perception, Hadi terms the LPG safe for use. “It’s true butane gas is
heavier than air and its presence in LPG makes it settle near the ground
in case of leakage. For this very reason, propane — a gas much lighter
than air — is added to it so that in such case it rises in the air.”
The government’s offer
to facilitate conversions to LPG does not make sense to Paracha. He thinks
it is not as easy as portrayed and conditions laid out are so tough that
hardly 200 to 300 of the 3300 CNG stations in the country could be
One of the conditions is
to share ownership of land with LPG marketing companies if they install
dispensers there. What will people do with CNG kits if they become useless
is another question which perturbs Paracha.
Irfan Khokhar, spokesman
of LPG distributors’ association claims of having a unique solution for
owners of CNG vehicles and an answer for Paracha. He tells TNS they are
importing Italian LPG kits which will be available for Rs 12,000 in the
country and the cylinders would have the capacity to store enough gas to
travel 650 kilometers without refilling. “This is in contrast to CNG-run
vehicles whose owners have to look out for filling stations after every 70
to 80 kilometers and stand in queues for hours to get the refill.
The CNG kits bought back
from people will be exported to countries where they are in demand and CNG
is easily available. “This will save people from the loss on investments
they once made on CNG kits.”
Irfan terms it a waste
of time to talk about the viability of LPG use in vehicles, as he believes
“it is a known and proven thing. Such debates are irrelevant as
developments are now in a much advanced stage”, he says adding: “Four
LPG stations are operational in different cities and in total 44 licences
have been issued to set up LPG filling stations in the country so far”.
It simply takes
installation of a dispenser and little modification to convert a CNG
filling station into an LPG one, he says adding: “We must focus on
moving on, instead of sticking to old rhetoric. The CNG sector needs to be
convinced that it’s going to be a win-win situation for its members, as
“A major concern for
CNG sector is that the industry has also opposed quota of gas granted to
it. This is not for the reason that CNG sector is eating up the share,”
he says alleging they simply want more cheap gas this way.
“We are getting
natural gas at 60 per cent price of petrol and the industry is getting it
at mere 18 per cent of oil price. I suggest the government to increase the
industry’s tariff to 40 per cent of oil price. The additional amount
earned this way can be spent on importing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in
quantities large enough to fulfill industry’s needs.”
On the way out. Photos
by Rahat Dar
decision to reopen the Nato supplies has opened up a debate in the
country. Several religious and militant organisations have reacted by
organising street agitations while others criticised it on economic and
Undeniably, the decision
will have far reaching effects on Pakistan; both negative and positive.
Nevertheless, before jumping to any conclusions or another round of
meaningless rhetoric the issue needs to be analysed dispassionately and
The decision was
important for guarding Pakistan’s sovereignty in many ways, whether they
are military, economical, political or societal. If we look at the
benefits that this decision brings to Pakistan, the first and foremost
would be avoiding isolation in the comity of nations.
Pakistan is already
facing international pressure on the issue of terrorism. Keeping the ban
on Nato supplies would be provoking the 49 nations that are part of Nato
to turn hostile towards Pakistan. And for Americans to smoothly complete
its military withdrawal from Afghanistan before the end of 2014 the routes
need to be opened from all sides. Any rigidity in keeping these routes
blocked would have invited backlash from Americans and its allies.
Pakistan is greatly
dependent on the US for its economy as most of its export money comes from
textile exports to Nato countries and US. If Pakistan had continued to
refuse to reopen the Nato supplies, the US might have put a ban on
Pakistani exports and also might have persuaded other European countries
to do so as well, crippling Pakistan’s economy to a great extent. Other
than that, the US has a strong position in the UN, they can persuade the
UN to impose sanctions on Pakistan that would further bruise our economy.
Furthermore, the Indus
Water Treaty might have also turned out to be a threat to Pakistan as the
World Bank has a complete hold of the issue and being US dominated, can
easily turn against Pakistan in ways that can cripple our agriculture. By
re-opening the Nato supply we have to some extent averted these
consequences for the time being.
in the Afghan war refer to the efforts of the
(ISAF) to deliver vital fuel, food, hardware and other logistic
supplies to in support of the
ar. Delivery of supplies is done using a combination of air transport and
a series of overland supply routes.
There are two routes
which pass through , and several other routes which pass through
and the states. The
routes were closed since November 2011 as a consequence of NATO attack on
Pakistan’s border post. The seven-month deadlock irked Americans and
There are two routes
from to Afghanistan and both
start from . From there, one route crosses the , enters Afghanistan at ,
and ends at , supplying to northern Afghanistan. This route is
approximately 1,000 miles long. The other passes through , crosses the
border at , and ends at , in the south of Afghanistan.
Nato uses these routes
to transport fuel and other supplies, but not for weapons. Before the
suspension, at least 70 per cent of the supplies to Afghanistan and 40 per
cent of its fuel needs were met through these routes.
In 2007, the Allied
forces in Afghanistan were burning 575,000 gallons of fuel per day, and 80
percent of this fuel came from Pakistani refineries. The fuel storage
capacity for forces at Bagram and Kabul air bases was less than 3 million
gallons, making Nato efforts highly dependent on the Pakistani supply
lines. This ratio decreased to some extent as US opened up other options
for its fuel supply and storage inside Afghanistan and using other
Other than these two
strategic routes from Pakistan there are several different routes included
in the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) including , Uzbekistan and .
After the closure of the Pakistan routes in 2011, these routes became the
primary means of moving fuel into Afghanistan. By February 2012, 85
percent of the coalition’s fuel supplies were transported by means of
this route. It is also used for moving equipment out of Afghanistan as
part of the Nato drawdown. However, the use of this line is expensive,
costing $87 million per month more than when the Pakistan routes were in
projected that using the Northern route for the Nato withdrawal in 2013
and 2014 would cost up to five times as much as using the Pakistan routes.
The Pakistan Economy
Watch reported that suspending Nato supplies hurt the economy and the
clogging at seaports and piled up supplies are impeding commercial
activities which is resulting in losses to all the stakeholders. For seven
months closure Pakistan also paid a heavy economic cost in the shape of
lesser revenue, higher cost of dumping Nato material and other negative
effects on transport and other sectors.
Easing of tension with
Nato and US will open new vistas for Pakistan. During the negotiation
phase Pakistan put forward several proposals, including new price tags on
containers and supplies and similar other demands that would have provided
higher revenue. While Nato has been paying a fee of around $250 for every
shipment, Pakistan wanted an increase in the fee upto $5,000 per shipment.
Besides the renewal of
military and civilian aid, Americans have agreed to invest in rebuilding
damaged and constructing new highways. National Highway Authority
confirmed that Pakistan suffered Rs 100 billion losses due to Nato
supplies to Afghanistan via Pakistan but not a single penny was paid to it
for repairing the damaged highways.
Pakistan suffered loss
of Rs 5000 billion in war on terror confirmed by the Finance Ministry in a
recently released document. The highest cost is on trade and business
activities which suffered colossal damages. Unlike Afghanistan, Pakistan
received paltry amounts from Western allies that too under tight controls,
scrutiny and suspended several times under different pretext. These costs
have serious repercussions on Pakistan’s economy and on its already
fragile democratic system.
There are other plans
where Americans are willing to help Pakistan in overcoming energy crisis
and reduction in load shedding of electricity and gas will boost GDP
growth rate. These targets cannot be achieved without comprehensive
revamping of transmission and distribution network and controlling blatant
electricity thefts and recovery of outstanding dues.
Opening of supply routes
will help payment of around US$1.2 billion under CSF over the next seven
months and another US$2 billion in the meantime under different heads. To
some experts, the amount looks reasonable to contain erosion of
country’s foreign exchange reserves. But at the same time, Pakistan has
to pay around US$3.8 billion to the IMF during FY13.
therefore, remains far from satisfactory. Sooner or later Pakistan will
have to approach the IMF for another standby programme. Therefore,
improvement in the relationship with America will save Pakistan from
imposition of stringent conditions from the IMF.
These interim benefits
will not help much in improving ailing economic condition. There is a need
to negotiate much larger trade and investment packages. Pakistan can
demand better trade relationship with Nato countries in return of its role
and sacrifices in the war.
If this demand is agreed
it will help resumption of foreign direct investment (FDI) and inflow of
portfolio investment. Such demands are not detached from ground realities
because Nato and Americans have given similar incentives to other partners
in central Asia and Afghanistan.
The decision has already
made a positive impact on local stock and equities markets which have
witnessed higher profits because of improvement in US-Pakistan
in Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves supported by receipts under CSF
and the remittances received will also pave way for the issue of Letter of
Comfort by the IMF, which in turn can lead to fresh disbursements by other
multilateral financial institutions i.e., World Bank, Asian Development
Bank and IFC.
Nations do not take such
decisions on emotions or rhetoric. Demanding compensation, economic gains
and costs for services are legitimate given the nature of war and its
consequences. Pakistan can also develop strategic partnership on the basis
of long-term benefits and mutually beneficial terms, failing which the
decision may turn negative and will provide opportunity to anti-American
lobby to use it for their interests.
The writer is Deputy
Chief of South Asia Partnership Pakistan and Global Campaigner
institutions work to provide quality teaching in order to enhance
employment skills (Hénard, 2008). Nevertheless, these institutions
contribute to students’ employability through providing various training
and skills programmes in their curricula (Garcia, 2009).
enrollment has increased in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs),
employment rates have not increased at the same rate. There is lack of
right skills for the job required.
educated youth may be caused by a variety of factors which means that the
number of educated unemployed may rise due to a mismatch between knowledge
and skills that are imparted by the educational institutions on the one
hand and what is required by industry on the other.
Now this comes under the
responsibility of HEIs to take skill development initiatives in order to
bridge the skill gap and to empower all individuals through improved
skills, knowledge and internationally recognised qualifications to enable
them access to decent employment and to promote inclusive national growth.
The institutions have to
develop the courses as per the requirements of the employers, the
competencies have to be mapped, and evaluation systems have to respond to
the requirements of the assessment of competencies which have been
acquired by the learner and not simply knowledge domain.
The HEIs must take care
of the revision of curricula to identify skills, the assessment of
non-cognitive skills, the incorporation of work experience and the use of
‘live projects’, in which students work closely with employers to
address a ‘real-life’ concern.
Personal attributes are
attitudes and abilities, including intellect, knowledge (in some cases)
willingness and ability to learn and continue learning, ability to find
things out, willingness to take risks and show initiative, flexibility and
adaptability to respond, pre-empt and ultimately lead change and
‘self-skills’ such as self-motivation, self-confidence,
self-management and self-promotion.
attributes are important to allow graduates to fit into the work culture,
do the job, develop ideas, take initiative and responsibility and
ultimately help organisations deal with change (Harvey et al. 1997).
Another factor of poor
quality graduates is that there is less quantity of teachers which means
that higher student teacher ratio while the teachers with higher skills
move abroad for higher earnings. Other causes are outdated curricula,
shortages of learning resources, bad governance, deficient inputs,
increasing class size and inadequate financing.
As Employers are looking
for something more than a degree, and are becoming more sophisticated in
identifying this in their recruitment procedures, HEIs can enhance
employability through new courses and qualifications, enhanced/modified
curricula, creative developments in work experience, personal career
planning, integrating knowledge, work experience, and technical and
interactive skills development and reflecting on how these can meet the
needs of a flexible organization.
It has also been
observed that inadequate technical knowledge, deficient English
proficiency and lack of critical thinking on the part of graduate
employees coupled with high technological drive of most organisations in
response to tougher competition in the competitive markets are the factors
responsible for unemployment.
Institutions of higher
education should thoroughly take into account trends in the job market and
in the scientific, technological and economic sectors. In order to respond
to the work necessities, higher education systems and the market should
jointly develop and assess learning processes, connecting programmes and
prior learning assessment programmes, which incorporate theory and
training on the job.
institutions (HEIs) could contribute to the creation of new jobs, although
that is not their only function. They should give the opportunity to
students to fully develop their own abilities with a sense of social
responsibility, educating them to become full participants in
Further Memorandums of
Understanding (MoUs) must be signed with different industries and
International Organisations in order to maximize the effectiveness of
links with the employer. They should provide opportunity to students to
interact with practitioners, and to have membership in technical and
In this regard, the
industries must conduct training sessions and workshops in institutions to
make students aware about their demands and requirements and their online
job portals. They should make it clear what job market requires from the
students, what sort of courses they should take to meet their
Short term skill
development courses and job oriented trainings in liaison with industries,
which include problem solving, communication skills, leadership and
research are essential for employment.
Industry leaders should
ensure that public debates on graduate employability are informed by
up-to-date and accurate data both on the actual requirements of employers
and on the attributes offered by graduates.
Higher education and its
stakeholders need to engage in a wider debate about employability and the
respective roles of higher education institutions, employers, the
government and other parties in enhancing graduate employability among an
increasingly diverse student population.
There is a need for more
relevant, accessible and better-targeted career education, information and
guidance, based on an appreciation of the diversity of graduate
employment, self-employment and graduate
A student led conference
would be helpful in this regard. It shows the reflection of students on
the learning experience, the use of a student led conference as a way of
engaging with students and the perception of students’ employability
skills which developed as a result. The purpose of a student led
conference is a way of engaging with students and the perception of
students’ employability skills which developed as a result.
The writer works in
Quality Enhancement Cell, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi
With the euro
zone in crises and even emerging powers like China witnessing slowdown in
economic growth, the question remains what kind of institutions matter for
On the other side,
examples point to the country like Bangladesh, growing fast. It is
expected to be included in the middle income countries by 2016 if she can
maintain 7.5 percent GDP.
What kind of economic
stimulus worked or does not work? Though generally economic research has
found strong co-relation between governance, institutional support and
growth as this gives boost to per capita income but economic growth is not
all dependent on the institutions and this can be considered this
definition in narrow traditional way.
economists have taken effects of physical endowment, human capital
accumulation, Total Factor Productivity, technological capacity of
production, and volume of knowledge economy and opening up of the economy
for the international integration into consideration for economic growth
with key support of the institutions of the country.
Experts have found the
most important institutional impact of property rights and rule of law on
the economic performance. The issue of governance reforms has come into
prominence since the last two decades when the World Bank and IMF’s most
controversial reforms put great emphasis under Structural Adjustment
Programme. Since 1980s in Pakistan all economic reforms under SAP have
been on the demand of the World Bank or IMF.
Though there have always
been efforts by economists for a useful economic model in the third wave
of globalisation and the very 10 tenets of economic policies and fiscal
management, in Washington consensus was figured out as a sound economic
policy road to the financial integration since 1990s.
But the most omitted
element of the Washington consensus is the absence of institutional
reforms. The boundaries of the policies are as such not separated from the
institutions and as a matter of fact World Bank and IMF should withdraw
their aid if a country does not go for institutional development.
Now after failure of
such neo-liberal reforms for the last 20 years, the IFIs are arguing that
these policies will take time to give real positive effect as there is
nothing wrong with their policies but it is the dysfunctional institutions
of respective countries that are not able to produce result. As a matter
of fact, institutional argument is being used to protect the failure of
economic reforms under SAPs.
One of the difficulties
in analysing institutional significance of economic reforms is that there
is no widely accepted definition or model of the institution.
The orthodox literature
agrees that the primary function of the economic institutions is to
promote learning and innovation, supporting income distribution as well
encouraging foreign investment through certain supporting laws and
In order to prioritise
economic institutional reform, rule of law and protection of private
property and contractual rights is emphasized for attracting foreign
investment but it can be managed alternatively through strong financial
institution which can provide capital.
The institution related
to labour and productivity can also enhance country’s capital and public
investment in case private investment is not available. These are the
functions which need different and at the same time overlapping functions
of the institution for the purpose of economic development.
protection, for instance, need a vast system of laws and regulation, not
just an independent judicial system or independent competition commission,
but it needs a wide range of reforms dealing with intellectual property
rights, tax regulations, contractual law, companies business law, culture
and social order to create confidence in both individual and institutions
and for that matter strong informal institutions matters.
The one size fit-all
institutional arrangement is imposed by the IFIs and dominant
international agencies to the developing world which is constrained by
many process and lack of governance, which defines how the authority is to
be used through these institutions.
through a social contract between citizens and state, which cannot be
imposed or imported as they are enjoying quite higher standard of
political democracy, social development, economic freedom, more
independent central bank than what we have in our country.
The formal rules of any
of the institutions can be changed overnight but it does not guarantee
changes institutionally for the growth performance, as that will come
Institutions provide a
support system but just bringing the Western institutions to the
developing world won’t help. Latin America has developed institutions on
the basis of American Institutions but their economy could not develop on
the same pace.
The mostly misconceived
assumption of institutional set up is linked to the privatization process.
It was not a panacea for economic crises in the developing world. Such
institutional arrangement has adopted a very narrow property-rights
perspective, focusing on the transactions between rulers, asset-holders
It created structural
and political conditions for grow that included credibility and commitment
of the political leadership which was missing elements in case of
Pakistan, as is evident from privatisation of the power sector in
There were two very
important institutional elements in the economic growth of East Asian
economies, first they were able secure the trust of their economic elites
for growth led policies’ implementation and secondly they initiated a
wealth sharing mechanism to eliminate the elites to distribute the outcome
of the economic growth. This was not possible only through just
introducing the same laws and regulation of property rights through
certain institutions but it signified the politics of accumulation and
redistribution where the institutions gives the support in exhibiting the
credible commitment of the government.
simplistic approach implies that institutions do matter in the sphere of
development but not exclusively. The element of good governance has not
been part of the formulation of Washington Consensus which has
disappointed most of the developing economies through their first
generation market oriented reforms without the linkages of the governance.
The element of
corruption is also one of the hindrances of the institutional performance.
But the fact remains that if an economy is not performing, institutions
are not to be blamed for every thing because they explain the level of
development of a country and their resource endowment.
Fortunately, Pakistan is
in the category of countries which are well placed geographically, have
social capital advantage and institutional setup is also in place for the
market economy, but it still has low income and development.
assure economic freedom which does not guarantee economic growth without
the process of innovation. Innovation needs private sector development,
through good protection of private property and contractual rights but the
efficiency of the public sector is also critical for innovation.
thinking does not imply the sequences of the reforms and as technocratic
toolkit but it should be sought through “to do first” in order which
is necessary to help in defining clear objective of the economic reforms.
The first thing is
political preconditioning for growth. When sequencing economic and
political reform there are different opinions which should come first, but
entry point reforms matter most. Institutional imitation on the basis of
success stories of the West is not enough. Institutional innovation is
essential for a failing economy to recover.
Sometimes change in
existing property rights is essential for economic growth. There will be
no pro-developmental institutions; instead they might prove
anti-developmental without governance and political will.
Keeping all this in
view, the question of Bangladeshi economic growth points to a puzzle
vis-a-vis an institutional growth or “enough governance” and whether
it will be sustainable or short term bubble economy.
One can take a lead from
the arguments that political leadership ignites economic growth first
without s necessary strong support of the institutional high performance.
It is ‘sustaining’ which needs good institutions for maintaining the
productive dynamics against any shocks. Will there be any sustainability
without ignition of economic growth?
circles’ opposition to the dual nationality bill stems from the
apprehension that its adoption could trigger colonization of another kind.
If the dual nationality bill becomes a law it could provide opportunities
to the dual nationals – persons who have taken oath of allegiance to a
foreign country, to get elected to the legislature and grab important
We know that to protect
and promote their business interests, some industrialists have been
fielding their nominees in the general elections. When General Ziaul Haq
opted to have a civilian façade for his rule and announced elections for
the Majlis-e-Shoora, one of the major industrial houses fielded one of
their employees for a slot. That fellow not only got elected to the
Majlis-e-Shoora, he became a Federal Minister and was later elected to the
top slot in the Majlis.
Some arguments are as
far-fetched as it can get. If the holders of dual nationality are
permitted to contest the elections what is the guarantee that the
opportunity would not be grabbed by some foreign powers to gain control
over the affairs in Pakistan by getting their lackeys elected to the
public offices of their choice?
Our region, due to its
strategic geopolitical location, has already become the epicentre of
“great game.” Currently, there are many contestants and some of them
are even involved in proxy wars on our soil through their hirelings, who
often indulge in ethnic and sectarian killings or commit acts of terror.
The country has already suffered a lot due to the machinations of foreign
elements or their hirelings.
We can divide expatriate
Pakistanis into two categories: Overseas Pakistanis, and holders of dual
nationality. The Pakistanis in the first category are mostly working in
the Middle East, where no foreigner can acquire citizenship. These
overseas Pakistanis are poor workers, who contribute lion’s share –
almost 70 percent – to the total annual remittances of our country.
In contrast, the
contribution of overseas workers of Pakistani origin living in the West is
only 30 percent to the overall remittances received in the country.
However, a majority of them do not hold dual nationality. In the past,
some governments did hire overseas Pakistanis residing in the West. But,
as soon as their term expired, experience tells, that their passion to
serve the country also dissipated and they left for greener pastures.
However, as per law,
there is no bar on the expatriates having only Pakistani nationality to
contest election and hold any public office. Even overseas Pakistanis
holding dual nationality can come to Pakistan and enjoy all rights
admissible to the other citizens of the country. However, they cannot
become Members of the Parliament unless they surrender their foreign
nationality and loyalty to the adopted country.
Of course, no one can be
loyal to two States, like as one cannot ride on two ships simultaneously.
The framers of Pakistan’s constitution were clear about this and
obviously for that very reason they inserted Article 5(1) in the
Constitution which, under the heading ‘Loyalty to State and Obedience to
Constitution and Law, asserts that “loyalty to the State is the basic
duty of every citizen.”
In our day to day
interaction, we find that most of the dual nationality holders,
particularly those residing in the USA and UK, support the line of their
country of adoption and oppose the stance of Pakistan – their country of
origin, whatever it is.
The last thing Pakistan
needs is leaders who, while accepting the citizenship of their present
country of domicile, have taken the oath to “renounce all allegiance to
any foreign state,” including their country of origin. If confronted
with a choice between the country of their origin and their new homeland,
will they be in a position to say we cannot do so because it is in
conflict with the interests of my country of origin?
Of course, they would
find it difficult to do so because that would be considered as going back
on their oath and pledge of citizenship and thus an act of treason.
As regards holders of
dual nationality presently holding seats in the legislature, they have
filed papers to the Election Commission of Pakistan pretending to be
Pakistani citizens. They have cheated and made a mockery of Pakistan’s
laws. They should be tried on these counts rather than facilitating them
to retain their seats.
If the ruling coalition
wants democracy to grow and flourish, they need to keep the long-term
consequences of their actions in view rather than gamble for short-term
gains. If decisions in the larger national interest are avoided, citizens
will be constrained to think that politics in the country has been reduced
to a farce to protect and promote the interests of the privileged few and
to keep the weaker segments of the society in their place. A thinking of
this nature may greatly harm the political process and, ultimately, the
country as a whole.
The writer is a
freelance columnist based in Islamabad.
In the 4th
Century B.C., when Aristotle penned his famous Politics, he synthesised
two ideals: i) a government derives its powers from the consent of those
governed, and ii) those powers must be subject to prescribed limitations.
These twin doctrines have survived in political thought since then. The
doctrine of popular consent, since its emergence, never stipulated a
government without checks.
The great English
legalist of the 17th Century, Sir Edward Coke, maintained that even
popular government must be confined within prescribed limits by the rule
of law. However, Britain
simultaneously (and gradually) nurtured the doctrine of the supremacy of
Parliament and by the 18th Century this concept became firmly established.
environment in terms of the “trichotomy of state power” necessitates a
re-visit to these long established rules of governance; particularly in
the backdrop of some recent comments made by our Chief Justice.
On 7 July, in a speech in Karachi, the Chief Justice is reported to
have said: “Even in the United Kingdom, which follows the principle of
parliamentary sovereignty, the highest court has also declared that the
doctrine of supremacy of the parliament can now be seen to be out of place
in this modern era.” Earlier, while addressing a delegation of the mock Youth
Parliament on 22 June, he observed: “The judicial institution of the
state with the Supreme Court as the final arbiter acts as the ultimate
protector of citizens’ rights and upholder of constitutional supremacy.
The Supreme Court enjoys original, appellate and advisory
Earlier, on 11 May,
2012, as reported in the national print media, while hearing the case of
missing persons of Balochistan the Chief Justice had observed: “No
institution is bigger than the Supreme Court.”
As these are public
observations, an analysis in terms of political thought and constitutional
history will not be out of place. The first question which needs to be
flagged is; what factors necessitate such public comments from the Chief
Justice of Pakistan?
So far, as repugnancy of
laws to Islamic injunctions, fundamental rights or the Constitution, these
are all well-established constitutional principles. The text of Articles
8, 203-D and 227 is explicit. The principle of nullity of a law being
ultra vires the Constitution is also non-controversial.
However, do the original, the appellate and advisory jurisdictions
of the Supreme Court lend it supremacy (or sovereignty) over the
Parliament? If so, how and to what an extent?
Article 175 (1) of our
Constitution states: “There shall be a Supreme Court of Pakistan, a High
Court for each Province [and a High Court for the Islamabad Capital
Territory] and such other courts as may be established by law.” Article
175 (2) provides: “No court shall have any jurisdiction save as is or
may be conferred on it by the Constitution or by or under any law.”
As per text of the
Constitution, the original, appellate and advisory jurisdictions of the
Supreme Court have prescribed limits. Article 184 (1) states that the
Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of any other court, have original
jurisdiction in any dispute between any two or more Governments (disputes
involving any non-Government entity are excluded).
Article 184 (2) binds
the Supreme Court further; the court can “pronounce declaratory
judgments only” (in disputes between governments). Article 184 (3) is
also specific in its text; original jurisdiction exists only if the
Supreme Court considers that a question of public importance is involved
with reference to enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred
by Chapter I of Part II of the Constitution. A legal question, thus,
arises; can the Supreme Court invoke its original jurisdiction regarding
the contents of the remaining 10 Parts of the Constitution i.e. Part III
to Part XII?
jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is given in Article 185 (1) (2) (3),
Article 203-F (1) (2-A), Article 212 (3), etc. which mention its
boundaries. It can be safely
(and legally) presumed that the Supreme Court cannot take onto itself any
appellate jurisdiction which is not specified in the Constitution or in
any other Law of Pakistan. So
far, as the Advisory jurisdiction, Article 186 (1) states that only the
President can refer a question of law to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court, being
the apex Court, is itself subject to the Constitution and the rule of law.
Even as the final interpreter of the Constitution, an apex court
cannot be visualized without jurisdictional limits.
We find our country at a
very critical junction in terms of trichotomy of State institutions. There
is a growing impression that these institutions are, perhaps, moving
towards a confrontation. These days one tries to remember a great Chief
Justice that America had from 1801 to 1835; Mr. Justice John Marshall, who
gave the cause of nationalism powerful impetus through his
the famous case of McCulloch V. Maryland (1819) Justice Marshall
constitutionally settled the question of the enumerated powers of American
Congress and, in doing so, he practically rejected the “strict
constructionist” view of Thomas Jefferson. Justice Marshall held that
American Congress was licensed to enact any legislation which was
“convenient and appropriate” to carry out its delegated authority.
His ruling still holds ground in his country.
The doctrine of judicial
review is non-controversial. The judiciary, and ultimately the Supreme
Court, must have power to determine whether a law passed by the Parliament
or an act performed by the Executive is in conformity with the
Constitution. But should this power be without limits? All over the world,
the term “judicial activism” co-exists alongwith the term “judicial
Talking of supremacy and
sovereignty, power belongs to Almighty Allah alone.
The authority to be exercised on earth is a sacred trust and is
exercised by the people through their elected representatives. That is the
origin of the phrase “we the people.”
No written constitution of any country has a preamble which states:
“we the Judges give this Constitution to our country.” The preamble to
Pakistan’s Constitution declares: “……… And whereas it is the
will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order ……… Now,
therefore, we, the people of Pakistan, ……. do hereby, through our
elected representatives in the National Assembly, adopt, enact and give to
ourselves, this Constitution.”
In United Kingdom, their
present Supreme Court with twelve professional Judges (a successor to
“12 Law Lords” of House of Lords) has come into being through a law of
Parliament; “The Constitutional Reforms Act, 2005.”
Section 33 of this Act can be of interest for so many and is
reproduced verbatim: “Section 33. Tenure. A judge of the Supreme Court
holds that office during good behaviour, but may be removed from it on the
address of both Houses of Parliament.”
should not be fighting for supremacy. The people of Pakistan should be
recognised as the supreme body and their will and voice should be
sovereign! Our beloved
country came into being in 1947. By 1971 we lost half of it.
Now, 41 years down the history lane, are threats to the existence
of Pakistan abated? Perhaps all the three State Institutions need to
undergo an introspection and make national cohesion and promotion of rule
of law their avowed objective. We all must remember the famous question once posed by
President Abraham Lincoln of America: what is to happen if a choice must
be made between preserving the Constitution on the one hand and preserving
the nation on the other?
The author is a
Dr. Zeeshan ul
Hassan Usmani is a Fulbright Scholar. He holds a PhD and MS in Computer
Science from the Florida Institute of Technology. As part of his
Master’s thesis, he has developed a simulation of supermarkets to
observe and quantify the effects of herd behaviour on impulse shopping by
customers. His PhD work focuses on simulation and modeling of blast waves
in open and confined spaces. His work has featured in the Wall Street
Journal, Wired Magazine, NPR, MIT’s Technology Review, Florida Today,
and The Economist. He has authored and edited dozens of research papers,
articles, and twelve books. His research strengths include real-world
simulation, programming human emergent behaviours, and modeling of
catastrophic events. He has worked in Citi Bank New York, Discover
Financials, Illinois, Fulbright Academy of Science and Technology in
Maine, and at the department of computer science at GIK Institute, Topi
(Khyber Pakhunkhwa), Pakistan. Currently, he is working as a Chief of
Research at Interactive Group in Islamabad, looking after projects on
public safety and security. Recently, The News on Sunday had an
opportunity to have a detailed discussions about the use of technology for
development, counterterrorism and politics in Pakistan. Following are
excerpts of the interview:
The News on Sunday: Your
basic interest is in developing Information and Communication Technologies
(ICTs) for Counterterrorism purposes. How could these technologies be used
Zeeshan ul Hassan : I
was always fascinated by understanding and modelling of human and emergent
behaviour. When I see the happenings of horrific acts of terrorism almost
regularly in my country, I ask myself what as a computer scientist I can
do to save my countrymen? I termed it as “Code for Life”, whatever
advances we make in science and technology, they should have a direct
impact on the lives of a common man. I find it very difficult to work on a
project or research that has no impact on the general public, their
quality of life, or socio-economic state of the country.
We can learn quite a few
lessons from the developed countries to use Science and Technology in
counter terrorism. For example, ICT based tools and software can be used
for risk mitigation and planning in case of a possible suicide bombing
attack, a drone strike, an IED explosion, gun-battle, gang-fights, planned
stock market crash, cyber warfare, crime hot-maps, and crime and bombing
forecasts and predictions. Another example would be to use fingerprint
identification based technologies for individual authentication. USA and
other advance countries have been using such technologies for decades.
TNS: How successful have
you been in developing ICTs in Pakistan for the purpose of
ZH: I have been working
for the last eight years in these technologies. I have developed a
simulation and modelling platform for the risk planning and mitigation of
a suicide bombing attack. This programme (called BlastSim) serves three
Firstly, it provides
pre-emptive measures to be taken before hand to reduce the number of
injuries and deaths. For example, if we place the crowd in row-wise
formation instead of random or circular, we will have 12 percent less
casualties and upto 27 percent less injuries. Due to the fact, that there
will be less number of people in direct line-of-sight with the bomber and
other individuals can serve as a human shield for others.
Secondly, Triage of
Patients: The software can provide a complete list of what kinds of
injuries one should expect if the blast happens, how many people will be
killed on the spot, how many will be injured with minute details of their
injuries, e.g. lung rupture, ear drum rupture, laceration, abrasion,
burns, shrapnel cuts, etc. So hospitals and paramedics would know in
advance what to expect, how many ambulances, staff, blood bottles and
medicine they would need if something like this happens.
analysis: the software can also help in post-blast forensics analysis by
matching the blast signature with previous data set of similar instances
and help in narrowing down the responsible terrorist organisation and
outfit. It can also help police determine type and weight of the explosive
I am also developing few
intelligent tools based on artificial intelligence and machine learning
techniques that can use statistical inferences to predict the next crime
with certain probability with time and location. Recently, my focus has
been shifting on identity management solutions and how we can use it for
improved authentication and to restrict the unauthorised use.
TNS: You also have some
basic training in conflict management. How would you explain the conflict
situation in Pakistan which is multidimensional?
ZH: I am not an expert
in this area. For me, conflict management starts with understanding and
listening needs of all parties. As humans, we all share the same basic set
of needs, like food, shelter, and security. Once these needs met, we go on
with respect, justice, honesty, professionalism, rights and all that. We
need to make sure the set of needs and privileges that someone is enjoying
in the country should be the same for every single citizen of Pakistan.
Once we achieve this, I believe, 99 percent of the problems of our country
will be solved.
TNS: In the age of
modern technology, how the traditional concept of state security has
ZH: State security is
now not just restricted to physical assault or threats. With so much
dependence on ICT, we are at severe risk if we do not plan our national
and strategic assets according to best practices and standards. For
example, internet sea cables have been cut couple of times, disrupting the
flow of internet and its related services all over Pakistan. We need to
have a backup and contingency plan, at least for national assets.
TNS: How could we
increase the application of technologies in Pakistan for good governance
and social services delivery?
ZH: This is a very
promising area where ICT can play a significant role. Pakistan has an
estimated 100 million mobile users. According to one survey, we have more
people using mobile phones than the ones who brush their teeth. We can use
cellular phone for the delivery of vital information, for example to
report a crime, terrorist activity, or find a medical doctor or generic
medicine in the vicinity. Similarly, ICT based technologies can be used
for fair and transparent elections.
TNS: In which specific
areas Pakistan could best utilize modern technologies for rapid
ZH: Mobile health, tele-medicine,
cyber warfare, identity management, and programming for mobile platforms.
TNS: With people like
you teaching at different universities in Pakistan has the situation of
knowledge transfer and research improved or not?
ZH: Yes, indeed.
Pakistan has improved a lot when it comes to knowledge transfer and
research in the last few years. There is a lot to do to improve the
quality, but at least now we have people in universities who understand
the importance of research and can link it back with national interests.
TNS: Pakistan is going
to have general and local government elections in the next few months how
could computer technologies be used to increase the people’s
participation in voting, ensuring transparency of the electoral process,
ZH: Elections in
Pakistan should be entirely based on fingerprints. NADRA already has the
database of fingerprints of all adult Pakistani who can vote. By doing
this, we can make sure that one person can only vote once (until he like
to sacrifice of his fingers and vote again using the other, even then he
cannot vote more than 10 times). It would also relax the need to vote in a
particular location, a Pakistani can vote anywhere he wants throughout the
country and the vote can go back to his/her polling station based on his
location of residence or constituency.
TNS: Is there any
foolproof system of electronic voting that could be used in Pakistan and
which is acceptable to all political parties?
ZH: We should go step by
step, let’s do the voting based on fingerprints first, then in the next
election or so, we can talk about electronic voting over the internet,
According to the
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the coming monsoon,
starting from July, would bring more rain than the country had experienced
during the last two consecutive catastrophic years, i.e. 2010 and 2011. It
suggests that monsoon 2012 may trigger floods and affect some 29 million
people across the country.
The NDMA also issued
specific flood warning to Sindh provincial authorities. The risk of floods
would increase manifold, especially due to the fact that despite spending
Rs17 billion on the repair of dykes and canal banks in Sindh after the
floods of 2010 and 2011 the irrigation infrastructure is still in bad
shape. Moreover, many of the displaced persons in Sindh are still shelter
less or settled in flood prone riverine beds.
High intensity rains
over a short period of time would not only affect Sindh, but other parts
of the country, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. There would be a greater
risk of seasonal watercourses getting flooded, threatening parts of
Peshawar, Swat, Nowshera, and Mardan districts.
Delayed monsoon is not a
good omen for the agriculture sector of KP. It will have a negative effect
on winter crops in several parts of the province. Besides the above
mentioned four districts, the NDMA has identified Charsadda and Dera
Ismail Khan as prone to natural calamity in next monsoon.
After the tragic
earthquake and devastating floods of 2010, one was expecting that our
institutions and authorities would be prepared for any other uncertainty.
However, the way Sindh suffered during 2011 monsoon reflects that we as a
nation are determined not to learn any lesson from our mistakes.
After 2010 floods, a
team of Chinese experts suggested that the narrow span of Khairpur-Larkana
bridge was the main cause in unduly holding water between Gudu and Sukkur
barrage which inundated half of Sindh and almost the entire rice growing
It is pity that despite
the passage of two years the authorities have failed to redesign and widen
this bridge. No one is able to answer where the excess water, which will
again be trapped between Gudu and Sukkur barrage this year, would be
Old natural drains are
still non functional and faulty outfall drain networks might again cause
widespread damages after the rains. Despite the promulgation of “Sindh
Irrigation (Amendment) Act 2011” to declare encroachments on waterways a
crime, heavy encroachment on drains in Sindh is yet another reason to get
worried about the miseries of people who would be trapped in water after
the massive rains. On top of it, the politically motivated decisions to
save the lands of influential people by breaching the dykes of river Indus
at wrong places may create havoc.
It is predicted that if
heavy rains struck, Umerkot, Jhuddo, Naukot, Digri, Pangrio, Mirpurkhas
and Sanghar would suffer a great deal and Badin and catchement area of
LBOD would be devastated.
As far as the KP is
concerned, after the 2010 floods, a contingency plan was approved and it
was recommended that the Met Department should enhance capacity of weather
forecasting station in Peshawar, install radar system at Cherat in
Nowshera district, improve all observatories, establish flash flood
forecasting centre for Kalpani in Mardan district and other vulnerable
areas and increase capacity of line departments.
Instead of installation
of latest forecasting system all future plans have been dumped in files.
Due to unavailability of latest forecasting system in the province the
Peshawar centre would depend on Lahore and Islamabad centres or some
friendly countries for obtaining weather data.
The situation in Punjab,
especially in Southern Punjab is not ideal either. Irrigation
infrastructure is extremely vulnerable, canals and barrages are silted
reducing their maximum water carrying capacity, and elites who pressurised
the authorities to breach the canal banks to save their lands are as
powerful as they were in 2010.
Let us admit that
natural calamities are unavoidable. Rising temperature, seasonal extremes,
global warming, and abundance or scarcity of water is a global phenomenon
and we are not an exception to it. What matters the most is how we respond
to different natural phenomenon. In the absence of right set of policies
and practices, the natural calamities turn into human disasters and this
is what we have been observing in Pakistan.
Besides the above
mentioned challenges, the issues that still remain to be addressed is
institutionalisation of disaster preparedness. After the 18th Amendment,
disaster preparedness is the responsibility of provincial governments.
We have provincial
disaster management authorities which are inadequately equipped. We have
NDMA which is not clear about its mandate. We have Federal Flood
Commission which is non functional. We have provincial irrigation
departments which are marred by corruption charges and we don’t have
local government institutions to facilitate the decision making at
includes plans ready beforehand; bringing all the involved stakeholders on
board; ensuring the proper operation and maintenance of irrigation
structures, creating but also operating and maintaining organisations for
disaster preparedness — all these are facets of governance.
While government refers
to planning and decision-making by the state and its institutions, the
notion of “governance” takes a different look. How are decisions made
within a certain society or nation? Who is involved in these
decision-making processes? And who has which powers to decide; on which
evidence is planning based and which planning are taken as basis for
We ought to remember
that nature is not against the people of Pakistan. We are facing the
consequences of flawed policies and weak actions and we would keep on
getting hurt until at a societal level we are mature enough to discuss the
real reasons behind our state of affairs openly and candidly.
The writer is executive
director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute. He is contactable at