thirst
For a few drops of water
People lose their lives in search of water in a village 
that has little or no drinking water facilities
By Aakash Santorai  
Wandering in Kachho, desert and hilly area of Dadu district of Sindh province, her tears have dried up in the searing dry winds. Whether it’s dawn or sizzling midday, the women of Kachho walk miles to fetch water. There seems no end to their ordeal.  

Unbearable pain  
Open kachha well in Kachho area in Taluka Johi is slippery due to dropping of water during extraction. This usually results in women falling in the well and getting seriously injured. Haleema, 53, is one of the women who fell into the well. She fractured her legs and arms. The family of Haleema sold their only property, a piece of land, and took Haleema to a private hospital in Hyderabad where they spent Rs150,000 on her treatment. Haleema is able to move with steel rods in her arms and legs. She cannot carry a heavy load.  

Risking life, no less!  
Dhajani Manganhar, 63, claims she lost her three family members to thirst. Resident of village Dodo Birhamani near Wahi Pandhi town of Kachho, she recalls in tears when her family members died due to thirst 40 years ago. She belongs to the traditional folk singer community.  

strategy
The way out
The US as well as the Taliban will have to take a step back and think 
realistically
By Prof Dr Azmat Hayat Khan  
The March 15 talks between the Taliban and US failed because the US’s position in the deal was not clear. The US’s stance was that Taliban should cut all ties with Al Qaeda, recognise the Afghan government and the Constitution, lay down arms and accept a considerable US military presence until at least 2024.  

Count me in!
Industrial census, conducted in 1996, needs to be conducted again to get better economic results 
By Khurram Aftab Dar  
Industrial census can be viewed from two different angles. It provides an instantaneous photographic picture of an industry, which is valid at a particular moment of time.  
This is called the static aspect of the census. Secondly, it provides the trends in industrial characteristics, the “dynamic aspect” of the current capacity. Each census can be compared to an individual film strip in the series of a movie film. Only from a succession of censuses of a community it is possible to assess the magnitude and direction of the various demographic trends.  

crisis
Complicated matter
The situation in Karachi cannot be ignored any further
By Dr Noman Ahmed  
May 22, 2012 was a high point in the ongoing targeted and non-targeted killings. More than a dozen innocent lives were lost within hours in the afternoon of this sad day.  
While common folks were haplessly running for cover in the affected streets of the old city areas — reported by news channels — law enforcement agencies only arrived after the perpetrators had disappeared or moved towards newer destinations.  

Unrealised potential
Using agriculture as base to raise an economy does not imply a primitive economy; it only means that this sector will provide dynamism to the activity
By Bilal Hussain  
Economic progress is at a standstill, precipitating instability and placing Pakistan in the throes of a crisis of governance. What was and is still disregarded by the policymakers is Pakistan’s history.  

Out in the field
Farmers in Swat need a helping hand to revive their fields and plant new crops
By Tahir Ali  
Farmers in Swat — known as the fruit and vegetable paradise of the country — say the potential of the area’s agriculture and its related sectors remain unutilised even after the areas have been cleared by the security forces.  

review
Missing the targets
The details of the Economic Survey put ample light on how badly we have fared on the economic front
By Huzaima Bukhari and Dr. Ikramul Haq
The release of Economic Survey on May 31, 2012 — a day before announcement of budget for fiscal year 2012-13 — was not a mere ritual but re-telling the story of failures. The list is long. 
Missing revenue targets by 31 billion or more, failure to keep fiscal deficit within the projected limit, fast depletion of foreign reserves, widening of current account gap, slow growth rate, acute shortage of energy in coming days and insurmountable inflation — everything portraying a bleak economic scenario. 

Green is the solution
Rio+20 will be held in Brazil to focus on green economy for sustainable development and poverty eradication
By Mohammad Niaz
A few head of nations met at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to frame policy for environmental and bio-ecological resource management. Since then, efforts to protect the environment and natural resources have attained momentum. Because less investment was made in the conservation of ecosystem, biodiversity; water, and energy, socio-economic development has been fostered at the expense of natural capital deterioration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

thirst
For a few drops of water
People lose their lives in search of water in a village 
that has little or no drinking water facilities
By Aakash Santorai

Wandering in Kachho, desert and hilly area of Dadu district of Sindh province, her tears have dried up in the searing dry winds. Whether it’s dawn or sizzling midday, the women of Kachho walk miles to fetch water. There seems no end to their ordeal.

Kachho area lies in the lap of Kirthar hills range and is spread over 0.342889 million acres. There are only few water supply schemes in some villages but these remain dysfunctional. If one has to observe the thirst of Kachho, one has to travel in Kachho in the scorching summer season. You can see the desert everywhere and each and every child, man or woman is spotted with a pot on head or in their hands for fetching water that is running far from them.

The drinking water quality is an alarming issue of this country. According to Water Aid Pakistan, 40 per cent population of Pakistan has no access to safe drinking water. Unsafe water and poor sanitation cause diseases which cost the Pakistani economy 112 billion rupees per year in health expenses and lost earnings.

Climate change has played havoc with this area due to drought and floods. The changing pattern of raining in this region has made the Kachho area more vulnerable. Some wells are drying up and the level of ground water is also decreasing. “We will face huge shortage of drinking water in the coming years due to the changing climate in this region,” says Abdul Jabbar Bhatti, a climate change researcher.

A major part of these women’s lives passes in walking in search of water. They have not seen prosperity even in their dreams. Since their birth, children in Kachho pass their childhood in thirst. They hold pots for water instead of toys or books in their hands.

One child that was thirsty and was sitting under the scorching sun on a mat, rushed and stuck to the khali (a sack in which people of Kachho store water). When his father gave him water from khali, the mother, who was sitting near him, did not drink to spare water for her child.

Still, there are some women among these who could not save the lives of their children who either did not find drinking water or consumed contaminated water.

Dr Zubair Panhwar, in-charge of the only Basic Health Unit of this area, while commenting on the water-borne diseases in Kachho, says due to the consumption of polluted water containing huge quantity of arsenic and fluoride there is endemic prevalence of Hepatitis A, typhoid, and gastro-enteritis among the people.

Underground water in Kachho is not fit for drinking. Wherever water is available, it contains excessive arsenic and fluoride which is causing a host of water-borne diseases.

People of this remote area blame the government for their woes, saying the government holds the key to solve this problem. The government has launched some water supply schemes, but they have become dysfunctional.

Sawan Fakeer, caretaker of Dargah Bahleel Shah, says villagers are compelled to drink polluted water which even animals cannot drink. He further says, “Our women don’t allow us to take bath because they fetch water from faraway places after walking long distances which is meant for drinking and cooking purposes only.”

Sawan points to a hard reality, “Whenever people come to bury the dead from long distance in the nearby graveyard and ask for water, we collect a glass of water from each household for these people.”

Before entering village Sawro, groups of women and children are seen walking with pots for fetching water as the water supply scheme of the village is dysfunctional. The women from this village have to walk two to three kilometers every day to fetch water from an open Kacha well situated outside the village.

Even for this polluted water from kachha well, women have to wait on a daily basis for this well to fill. Sometimes the well remains empty. In such a case, the women return with empty pots. Several people have lost their lives in the desert of Pat Suleman due to thirst. Women from this area of Kachho sometimes walk at midnight to bring water and get bitten by snakes. Women and children implore the clouds to drop some water, but often the clouds cross Kachho without dropping any water on the perched soil.

The writer is a researcher on climate change and is based in Hyderabad

caption1

Scarce commodity: Somewhere in Dadu.

caption2

Fetching up a pale of water. Photos by the author

 

 

Unbearable pain

Open kachha well in Kachho area in Taluka Johi is slippery due to dropping of water during extraction. This usually results in women falling in the well and getting seriously injured. Haleema, 53, is one of the women who fell into the well. She fractured her legs and arms. The family of Haleema sold their only property, a piece of land, and took Haleema to a private hospital in Hyderabad where they spent Rs150,000 on her treatment. Haleema is able to move with steel rods in her arms and legs. She cannot carry a heavy load.

Sometime back another woman, Zareena, 32, fell into the well and her poverty-stricken family spent Rs100,000 on her treatment. Women of many parts of Kachho are compelled to go to these wells in search of life.

[email protected]

 

 

 

   

Risking life, no less!

Dhajani Manganhar, 63, claims she lost her three family members to thirst. Resident of village Dodo Birhamani near Wahi Pandhi town of Kachho, she recalls in tears when her family members died due to thirst 40 years ago. She belongs to the traditional folk singer community.

She says she, along with her husband Dhani Bux, father Gul and mother Hanso, was returning from village Rajo Gandho to their village after attending a marriage party. By the time they reached Pat Suleman, they were very thirsty but they could not find water to drink. After going here and there in search of water and then waiting for a long time they eventually passed away. Dhajani says she took her baby daughter on her shoulder and ran towards her village. The villagers brought home the dead bodies.

 

 

 

 

strategy
The way out
The US as well as the Taliban will have to take a step back and think 
realistically
By Prof Dr Azmat Hayat Khan

The March 15 talks between the Taliban and US failed because the US’s position in the deal was not clear. The US’s stance was that Taliban should cut all ties with Al Qaeda, recognise the Afghan government and the Constitution, lay down arms and accept a considerable US military presence until at least 2024.

These demands have further complicated the already uphill task of negotiating with the Taliban compounded by the fact about whom to represent whom in talks. According to Karen Armstrong “the war in Afghanistan is not religious, it’s a war of national liberation”. The surge in troops by the Americans in Afghanistan has failed by and large as is evident from the fact that the internal resistance could not be subdued in ten years by a force of almost half a million troops. It indicates that war is not the way forward in restoring peace in Afghanistan.

There is no popular support for the war in Afghanistan, US or among its allies. An ABC poll found that 69 percent of Americans want the war to end and according to financial time’s polls 54pc of the British want them to withdraw immediately.

The demand by US to accept and support the Afghan Constitution is impractical. Why should a defeated opposition that sees an enemy in disarray and looking at 2014 withdrawal agrees to be dominated?

As the 2014 withdrawal date looms, US options are narrowing. If the US holds to its plan of keeping a quarter of their present troops in Afghanistan, they should know that Taliban would fight them and the only ally they will have would be India, a country that can deliver nothing towards peace in the war affected country.

The United States is encouraging India, distancing Pakistan and wooing it to challenge China and Asia. One view is that the US has completely shelved the Kashmir issue and ignored India`s violation of nuclear non-proliferation treaty by allowing it to buy uranium in the world market. The attack on Pakistan border and killing of 30 soldiers has further alienated Pakistanis from the US.

The World Bank estimates that 97pc of Afghanistan`s economy is war related. The war is drawing to an end and there are no plans of either the US or NATO to sustain it. Europe is in the middle of an economic crisis and the US economy is also going down.

Presently, NATO provides about 11 billion dollars a year to support the Afghan army. This would drop to around 4 to 5 billion after 2014. There are already plans to reduce the Afghan army to a manageable and less experienced force of two hundred thirty thousand. How will this be handled for a considerable period of time and what could be the future scenario is a big question mark. The worst case scenario the Afghan war can bring is creating the possibility of a civil war owing to fears of ethnic divisions for the past three decades.

Local Afghans think Taliban and Al Qaeda are just an excuse and the US is after the natural resources and other larger plans for the region. They are using Afghanistan as a base for future plans. They also think that the Taliban are indirectly aided by the US to prolong their stay in Afghanistan. How come a handful of unorganised small groups cannot be defeated in ten years? They argue.

Since 2001, the US has relied on warlords to bring stability and fight the Taliban. They themselves encourage instability in order to benefit from the corruption and weakness of the government structure. This encourages warlordism that themselves run a parallel government and then indulge in land grabbing and other illegal activities.

Massive corruption has been witnessed in the distribution of aid not just from Afghans but the foreigners who control it. Funds are given to sub contractors who then give it to the locals which eventually end up being in the hands of government officials and influential people. In a way, the US is encouraging corruption and creating a class with which their interests converge and this is how they want to rule Afghans.

If the war continues radicalisation among the youth would intensify and lead to more violence by splinter groups using Al Qaeda or any other Islamic name. The private security firms are manning check posts and barriers in cities which have created resentment among the people.

Most of the private security personnel do not have proper public relations training and are rude which irritates the public. The general impression among the Afghans is that the US is against Islam and they want to eliminate all the Muslims.

Among the US and NATO allies there is a strong belief that the Afghans could never have a proper government. They say corruption is an in evitable part of their culture and warlordism is an accepted way of life.

The US spends 48 billion dollars on war and the expenditure is rising day by day. The cost of the war exceeds the cost of development as more spending needs to be done on the infrastructure than on war in Afghanistan.

The lesson of Vietnam must not be ignored by the United States as well. Afghanistan is almost the same size as Vietnam and a complex country to dominate militarily. Like Vietnam, Afghanistan needs economic development not war.

Through war, the people whom the US claims to be helping are being annihilated. Further militarisation of Afghanistan will only prolong the conflict after a failed strategy of ten years and prolong the suffering of the Afghan nation. Strong opposition to the war with a flawed military strategy, forcing soldiers to fight presumes that few in the next generation would be willing to fight when called upon.

One analysis says most Afghans want the US military and foreign forces to leave despite the risks. The US forces is neither helping the Afghans in bringing peace nor building the infrastructure. Withdrawal will soften the Taliban attitude and all attention would be on economic development and infrastructure.

Public opinion in the US says war in Afghanistan is a futile effort. Billions of dollars are being spent with no hope in sight and only prolonging the miseries of the Afghan people.

Resources are being taken away from the real problems like economic security and institutional development. Unless there is confidence building and trust development, the war in Afghanistan will be lost by both sides. The US will never be able to control Afghanistan and the Afghans would not attain peace and stability.

The writer is former Director of Area Study Centre and Vice Chancellor University of Peshawar

 

 

 

 

Count me in!
Industrial census, conducted in 1996, needs to be conducted again to get better economic results 
By Khurram Aftab Dar

Industrial census can be viewed from two different angles. It provides an instantaneous photographic picture of an industry, which is valid at a particular moment of time.

This is called the static aspect of the census. Secondly, it provides the trends in industrial characteristics, the “dynamic aspect” of the current capacity. Each census can be compared to an individual film strip in the series of a movie film. Only from a succession of censuses of a community it is possible to assess the magnitude and direction of the various demographic trends.

The census data has many important uses for individuals and institutions in business and industry. It is very difficult to make a full assessment of the multiplicity of ways in which trade and business make use of the census data.

A few uses of the census data can be mentioned. Reliable estimates of consumer demand for variety of goods and services depend on accurate information on the size of the population and its distribution at least by age and sex, since these characteristics heavily influence the demand for housing, furnishing, clothing, recreational facilities, medical supplies and so forth.

Since the local availability of labour for production and distribution of commodities is important in determining the location and organisation of enterprises, this calls for the need of the census data.

Census data is indispensable for social and economic planning of the country. In developed countries, the Planning Commission utilises the census data on the distribution of population by age, sex classified by rural and urban regions, cities, town areas, social groups and donors to analyse the growth of consumer demand and savings in the process of development.

The census data also proves useful in national income estimates and estimates on differential personal incomes in rural and urban areas and the composition of rural and urban consumption of groups of goods and services and income elasticity co-efficient.

An analysis of areas of different population size with different characteristics certainly serves as a basis for government plans and investigations in basic social capital. The data on economic activity and educational levels of the individual as collected in the census is very important for manpower planning.

The household and cottage industries needs can also be accurately estimated by using the census data on population. Besides all these, the census data can prove very useful in the formulation of policies on education, health, agriculture, food and development of road, rail transport, etc. In a nutshell, it can be said that the census data is extremely useful for all types of planning.

The work one is going to do has a direct impact on service delivery for our people at the grassroots level. Statistics are important for planning and for budgeting. How can one address poverty without statistics? How can we address unemployment without statistics? How can you address housing and infrastructure development without facts? We must make sure that the government actually uses statistics and does not plan in a vacuum, without setting specific targets that are based on statistics.

The industrial census gives a clear picture of the industrial establishments operating in the country including number, employment, wages and salaries, value of input and output, value addition, value of fixed assets and the average output to input ratio, among others.

If accuracy cannot be measured then fair distribution of resources and delivery of services cannot be measured. Particularly in a province like the Punjab this is crucial because we have a history of competition for scarce resources amongst the small entrepreneurs. To address poverty effectively we must use targeted interventions that can be measured and consult the small entrepreneurs about their own development.

It is, therefore, crucial that government mobilise the whole population of industrialists, clusters and scattered market based in towns and villages to come forward and be counted, so that the results of census can be used as a tool to improve service delivery.

Leading up to the census, unfortunately, only one department of the Punjab government, Punjab Small Industries Corporation, has to keep reminding every person that resides in the province that their inclusion is absolutely crucial for government and, indeed, for their own well-being.

The federal government conducted industrial census in 1996 which cannot be utilised today. The government must use all the time and resources available to embark on a massive publicity campaign to encourage entrepreneur to participate in the census.

People who belong to the cottage or household industries that normally exclude themselves from the count must also be educated about the value and the importance of an accurate census for all citizens of the province.

The Punjab government should strive to change the position as the second most undercounted province. This undercounting in province leads to the Punjab government receiving far less resources than are actually needed to develop our province.

The more accurate this census is the more better equipped we will be to bridge the urban-rural divide. After the census the government will have accurate data for the formulation of industrial policy as well as implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

 

 

 

 

   

crisis
Complicated matter
The situation in Karachi cannot be ignored any further
By Dr Noman Ahmed

May 22, 2012 was a high point in the ongoing targeted and non-targeted killings. More than a dozen innocent lives were lost within hours in the afternoon of this sad day.

While common folks were haplessly running for cover in the affected streets of the old city areas — reported by news channels — law enforcement agencies only arrived after the perpetrators had disappeared or moved towards newer destinations.

The political leaders of sorts came out with the old state rhetoric, either finger pointing towards each other or shifting the blame to their own chosen foes. This was not an isolated incidence.

A chain of violent crimes was visible in the entire month of May, giving warning to the government to respond. But no attention was paid to the gravity of the situation which went from bad to worse. As one objectively analyses the episodes from an ordinary citizen’s stand point, few realities emerge clear.

Capability and neutrality of law enforcement apparatus has eroded down to a dangerous low. Hirings, recruitments, postings and transfers on the basis of self serving interests of provincial regime, absolute lenience and negligence towards spread and flow of firearms, growing disconnect between the masses and local police and delay in prosecuting culprits are some obvious indicators in this state of affairs.

A visit to Baldia, Orangi, Korangi, Lines area, Pak Colony, Azam Basti, Qayyumabad or any other place reveals that people prefer to seek protection and other services from clandestine groups of major political parties.

Instead of resorting to police assistance in the wake of crimes or conflicts, residents settle the matters with the power wielders, acting as arbitrators. Starting a new business or running an old one, operating a cable service, plying transport, conducting vending activities of various kinds, renting or transacting properties or even inviting guests for a large family festival cannot be materialised without a favourable nod from the area office bearers or their agents belonging to a dominating political outfit.

Turf wars are common scenes where territories and informal jurisdictions coincide. It is also painful to note that people are scared as they leave certain localities in order to create room for other families of an accepted ethnicity and background. Areas of Kati Pahari and Pahar Gunj in North Nazimabad/Qasba Colony edges are cases in point.

It is common observation that in an environment of turmoil, frictions and violence, peaceful transition of power remains a remote possibility. The breakdown of basic governance leaves very little hope for a situation to change for the better. A schism is also visible between political parties and common people. A political equation of adjustment is observed where folks try to co-exist with political interest groups to carry on with their daily life routines.

Present realities call for a new type of social organisation to evolve. Civil society groups, academia, media organisations, business and trade organisations need to come together on a platform to chalk out a core agenda for the common good.

An effective check on use of arms and ammunition, devising mutually beneficial procedures for safety and security, community policing, watch and ward against crime and violence, conflict resolution amongst opposing political and religious factions and protection of enterprises and livelihoods of ordinary people can be a starting points. Such a coalition can offer very useful choices and solutions for the benefit of ordinary people.

For example, specific locations and spaces can be identified for rallies, processions and corner meetings. Karachi is a sprawling city where several accessible grounds are available for safe conduct of political contacts. Creation of gun-free zones is the other vital consideration. Mosques, administrative zones, office complexes and other enclaves can be chosen for initial enforcement.

Regulation of wall-chalking and graffiti is another important but doable task. This step alone can help defuse tensions. Such attempts may help make peace a public good again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unrealised potential
Using agriculture as base to raise an economy does not imply a primitive economy; it only means that this sector will provide dynamism to the activity
By Bilal Hussain

Economic progress is at a standstill, precipitating instability and placing Pakistan in the throes of a crisis of governance. What was and is still disregarded by the policymakers is Pakistan’s history.

Upon independence, Pakistan inherited a strong agricultural economy. With a rich and vast natural resource base, covering various ecological and climatic zones; the country is blessed with great potential for producing all types of food commodities.

The significance of this sector is that it provides food to consumers and fibers for domestic industry; it is a source of foreign exchange earnings; and, it provides a market for industrial goods.

Since independence, except for investment in the Indus Basin Irrigation System, agriculture has been left largely alone with output almost stagnated. The broad outlines of government policies involve squeezing the peasants and workers to finance industrial development.

The desertion of development in the agriculture sector has increased so much over decades that the sector that was contributing almost 50 percent to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the 1950s is now only contributing almost 20 percent.

The root cause of the problem includes little investment on research — Pakistan is hardly investing 0.25 percent of its agriculture GDP on research and development, whereas India is investing 0.4 percent, Bangladesh 0.35 percent, China 0.6 percent and Japan 2.5 percent, respectively.

During the British reign over the sub-continent, heavy investments were made in agriculture, irrigation, farm to market roads, transport including the railways and the development of local administration. Regrettably, today the railway system has deteriorated to the point where it does not adequately serve either the people or the economy. Successive governments have undermined the system of district administration and have experimented with several different models of local governance allowing none to evolve properly.

The Indus Basin Irrigation System is the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world but it lacks an affluent disposal system giving rise to the problems of water logging and salinity. The archaic method of flood irrigation in practice wastes almost 50 to 60 percent of water.

We never cared to provide the missing surface and sub-surface tile a drainage system to physically remove salts. We never cared that the flow of water in canals designed for regime stability (Non-silting non-scouring) no longer holds good because of the changed cropping pattern and the higher intensity of irrigation.

Lack of modern irrigation techniques and agricultural practices is further adding to the wastage of irrigation water. The raison d’être is that no real focus is made by the government in educating the farmers, as they are not aware of various processes and perceptional measures. The only way of communication in rural areas is television or radio which is not that effective. The communication gap between well qualified experts and simple farmers has not been bridged as experts are reluctant to go to rural areas.

The reluctance of experts to visit rural areas is in turn making farmers use old and traditional means of cultivation and harvesting which is reducing efficiency in the process and ultimately decreasing per acre yield while other countries like Nepal, India and Bangladesh are using modern techniques resulting in high productivity.

Most of the food production is not even fully utilised and after domestic consumption a major part is wasted due to lack of infrastructure, limited storage and processing facilities. What is needed is the streamlining and regulation of the system, as well as establishment modern plants but is anyone willing to do so?

For decades Pakistan’s annual budget is manufacturer and business-oriented. The government’s policy is to give more importance to industry than agriculture. Withdrawal of subsidy on pesticides and electricity on the conditions of the International Monetary Fund has done serious damage to agriculture. It is ironic that unlike Pakistan, America and European Union are giving huge amount of subsidy to their farmers thereby increasing their productivity in this sector.

The rural society of Pakistan is chained by feudalism, giving birth to an evil land-tenure system with a high degree of land concentration, absentee landlordism, insecurity of tenure for share-croppers and low agricultural productivity.

This uncertain situation of occupancy neither creates incentive of work nor does it attract capital investment. The dilemma is that agriculture will continue to under perform unless viable land reforms like India are introduced and feudalism is checked once and for all.

Had the agricultural potential been fully appreciated and had it been the driver of growth and development, the shape of the Pakistani economy would have been very different from what it is today. Using agriculture as the base to raise an economy does not imply a primitive economy; it only means that this sector will provide dynamism to the economy. Countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands are now the richest states in Europe with agriculture as the main driver of their economies.

Pakistan needs a major correction of the course it has pursued since independence. Instead of rapid industrialization, the planners need to devise policies to build on the economy’s many strengths while finding ways to overcome the weaknesses. 

 

 

Out in the field
Farmers in Swat need a helping hand to revive their fields and plant new crops
By Tahir Ali

Farmers in Swat — known as the fruit and vegetable paradise of the country — say the potential of the area’s agriculture and its related sectors remain unutilised even after the areas have been cleared by the security forces.

The area is a natural hub of high quality walnut, honey, soybean cultivation, trout fish and seasonal and off-season fruits and vegetables. The government has not focused on the potential sectors the way they should have been.

Swat farmers have not benefited from the resources for lack of money, expertise and marketing linkages, including substandard packaging, absence of value addition and processing plants.

Ihsanullah Khan, a farmer and social activist from Swat, says agriculture in general and the horticulture sector in particular has been made hostage to high prices of agriculture inputs, lack of cold storages and processing facilities, transportation and marketing blues and the use of substandard pesticides and fertiliser that renders export impossible. “The smaller farmers find it difficult to meet their basic needs. They don’t get good returns on their crops. They take advance loans from commission agents and enter into contracts with them for the sale of their fruit earlier. Thus, they are compelled to sell their produce at pre-determined prices which are usually far below the market price at the harvesting seasons. The government needs to help them find new markets for their products by creating linkages and liaison between them and local and multinational companies.”

The Khan adds, “The government and various local and international NGOs have done a commendable work for agriculture uplift in the area. The Italian government has supported the local farmers. The Sarhad Rural Support Programme has formed many community organisations, trained farmers and established link-roads to facilitate transportation of their produce to markets. But I think while there were thousands of NGOs in the early relief and recovery phases, hardly a few are working these days.”

According to Tariq Khan, a farmer from Miandam Swat and the president of a local community organisation, Roshan Saba, agriculture in Swat has been hit by the poverty and illiteracy of local farmers and indifference of the government.

“The people could enormously benefit if the government and NGOs helped the locals plant walnut trees there, establish orchards, provide support and free or subsidised inputs for the potato, peas and red beans crops, construct link roads to far-off villages and improve the capacity of farmers by providing them modern training and help establish cold storages and regulate markets in the area,” he says, adding, “the local farmers need support for mechanised farming for cementing the Katcha water channel, and construction of small dams for harvesting rain water,” he says.

Tariq Khan says his organisation has planted pine trees on 500 acres with the help of watershed project. “We also planted Deodar trees at 60 acres, apple orchards at 20 acres and persimmon trees at 30 acres with the support of Italian funded and Early Recovery of Agriculture and Livelihood Project (ERALP).

With the support of Hujra project, Roshan Saba planted fruit plants in 100 aces. For paucity of funds, we cemented 20 per cent water channels in some but only 5-15 per cent in other areas. The IRC and ERALP also provided with inputs which increased potato yields manifold. In our village, before the intervention, potatoes worth Rs10mn were sold but following it potato worth Rs25mn was sold last year,” he says.

“We would like the NGOs, the government and foreign countries to help revive the agriculture sector to its good days and realise its full potential. We would welcome them. We also request the Italian government not to discontinue the ERALP programme as it has helped us a lot,” he adds.

Another farmer, Izzat Mand, was all praise for ERALP and wanted its continuation as it helped farmers in Swat to increase their incomes through various interventions in agriculture and livestock.

Farmers and residents in the cooler parts of Swat still go without wheat growing as the ordinary wheat seeds can’t mature there and research scientists have so far failed to develop any specific early-maturing and cold-resistant seed for the area.

Swat accounts for around 50 percent of the provincial walnut population but the potential of walnut in the area is far from being utilised for lack of official support, continuous deforestation of the existing trees, non-cultivation of new ones and some ailments.

Shah Abdar, a farmer, says walnut could be the greatest source of income. “There are around 5 big walnut trees in one canal of land. If we take the average land per family at 50 canals (around 6 acres) and the family grows walnut trees on it, it can become a millionaire within no time. Just leave the 300kg yield per tree, even if the per tree yield is just 50kg, it will earn the family around Rs2.5million at the current market rate. The tree usually grows on mountain ridges and thus won’t impact cereal crops,” he says.

He says there is also a vast potential for growing potato but there is a lack of potato-processing units, one that could produce potato chips.

“Large size and good taste and quality are the hallmarks of Swat’s potatoes. Average yield per hectare is 12 and 17 metric tons in KP and the country respectively but is around 20MT in Swat. Still, farmers avoid the crop for flawed marketing” he adds.

Before the 2010 floods, Swat produced approximately 60 tons of trout fish from its 22 farms, which was mostly consumed locally. Last July’s floods ravaged most of these hatcheries. However, Provincial Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority (PaRRSA), with assistance from a USAID project worth $1.2mn, is helping repair these hatcheries.

According to an official whitepaper published last year in June, besides ERALP being implemented by PaRRSA, the USAID is financing several projects worth billions of rupees to help revive and develop agriculture, restore trout fish farms, the honey sector, medicinal and aromatic plants and the agricultural inputs, livestock and poultry tools, etc.

Funding is apparently the main problem. According to the official white-paper, out of total $860mn reconstruction needs for post militancy needs, KP still has no commitments for over $526mn.

As per the white paper, out of the total $1065mn damages in floods, the agriculture and its related sectors received loss of $396mn. For post militancy floods, reconstruction needs requiring $218mn in agriculture sector, the government still requires $217mn as only Italian government had committed $10mn for the agriculture sector.

The USAID, UNDP and several countries like China and the UAE, are providing support in sectors like roads, education, health, housing, etc, worth billions of rupees, it is but lamentable that agriculture has not received the required attention.

A robust crop insurance system and a subsidised easy-credit scheme and financial support for the expansion of agricultural engineering networks in the area, promotion of off season vegetables through ‘tunnel farming’ and training and support for small household businesses are also needed.

 

 

review
Missing the targets
The details of the Economic Survey put ample light on how badly we have fared on the economic front
By Huzaima Bukhari and Dr. Ikramul Haq

The release of Economic Survey on May 31, 2012 — a day before announcement of budget for fiscal year 2012-13 — was not a mere ritual but re-telling the story of failures. The list is long.

Missing revenue targets by 31 billion or more, failure to keep fiscal deficit within the projected limit, fast depletion of foreign reserves, widening of current account gap, slow growth rate, acute shortage of energy in coming days and insurmountable inflation — everything portraying a bleak economic scenario.

One of the most popular TV channels of Pakistan showed a copy of Economic Survey in its evening news bulletin on 30 May 2012, reporting that “all the growth targets of agriculture, industry and services sectors have been missed”.

The economic growth remained at 3.7 percent despite a set target of 4.2pc. The biggest admission of failure in the budget paper is that half of the industrial capacity remains idle, primarily due to the energy crisis. The trade deficit surged exponentially, the survey conceded.

It says imports have escalated to $37 billion against the total exports of $19 billion. The economic managers confessed that they have failed to manage subsidies, resulting into a higher budget deficit.

The survey states that excluding Rs. 391 billion circular debt payments, budget deficit has crossed 4.3pc of gross domestic product (GDP) and the revised target will be difficult to achieve. Total public debt surged to Rs. 12.1 trillion, or 58.2pc of GDP, a net increase of Rs. 1.3 trillion. Foreign investment plunged by over 75pc.

Last year, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, in his budget speech, while admitting that Pakistan was facing very difficult conditions, emphasised the need to stabilise the economy but ironically, the jargon and story for this year remained the same. The process of recovery failed miserably.

As the bleak scenario persists, the Governor State Bank warned that “Pakistan may have to return to the IMF for financial assistance this year amid an unstable macroeconomic situation. We see reserves going down quite aggressively”.

Seven objectives that budget 2011-12 entailed were: (1) reduction in fiscal deficit through revenue generation and expenditure control; (2) lowering of inflation; (3) self-reliance through better domestic resource mobilization; (4) rapid poverty alleviation; (5) improving efficiency of public sector; (6) employment generation and (7) make the country fertile for investment. None of these was attained. In almost all areas, the situation turned from bad to worse.

The finance minister very aptly observed in his last year’s budget speech, “I would like to place the budget in the perspective of economic management. In today’s world, economic management of a modern internationally open economy is a continuous year-long task. The budget is but one important instrument of economic management. However, the importance of this once a year ritual should not be overly exaggerated. There are important linkages between the budget and other instruments of government policies, including monetary; trade; pricing of agriculture, electricity, gas and petroleum products as well as various economic packages. We need to sharpen our understanding of the government’s role and its interventions and make them more effective. Ultimately results depend on the impact of a combination of these policies. This is what economic management is all about”.

Where has been economic management since 3 June 2011? For example, take the implementation of tax measures announced by Mr. Hafeez Shaikh. Massive corruption in customs duties bypassed all past records — the mystery of missing containers is still daunting. The apex court asked National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to initiate investigation and punish the culprits. The response was as expected, “there is no incriminate evidence”. It is simply shocking.

Reduction in duty on import of crude palm oil from Rs. 9,000 per metric ton to Rs. 8,000 per metric ton did not bring down the price of vegetable oil, widely consumed in cooking despite big claims. Many made billions in this reduction by increasing the prices. Amnesty for stock exchanges and evaders of taxes bypassing the Parliament was what our Minister called good economic management.

There was incentive of 5pc concessionary rate of import duty to encourage use of renewable energy resources, but progress remained negligible. Energy crisis has become so acute that it has led to violent public protests. To encourage enhanced equity financing, and to provide relief to new corporate industrial undertakings, established on or after 1st July 2011, with 100pc equity financing, a tax credit equal to 100pc of tax payable was announced but nobody opted to invest. Foreign direct investment drained all together.

The finance minister emphasised that structural reforms were a key to sound economic management. Last year’s budget sought austerity, efficiency and self-reliant economy. After one year, all these dreams remain a distant reality.

The fact is that the ruling elite — comprising politicians, military complex, absentee landlords and rich businessmen — kept on plundering national wealth besides successfully avoided paying taxes. It is openly admitted by technocrats like Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who has failed to bring any meaningful structural change in the existing system. As a result, neither fiscal deficit has receded — it rather increased to a dangerous level — nor has growth target been achieved.

Not a single progressive tax has been imposed by the PPP government in all the budgets. On the contrary, various amnesty schemes have been introduced aimed at whitening money plundered by the ruling elite and unscrupulous businessmen.

No effort whatsoever has been made to correct the imbalance between direct and indirect taxes to give relief to the poor. The rich are not paying income tax on their colossal incomes and wealth. Amazingly, the total number of people showing income more than one million rupees is below 500,000.

Tax-to-GDP ratio of Pakistan is one of the lowest in the world — below 10pc for the last five years. Last year, the Member Inland Revenue claimed that FBR would collect revised target of Rs. 1588 billion giving tax-to-GDP ratio of 9.1pc. The actual collection was Rs.1530 billion causing a further decline in tax-to-GDP ratio — it went to 8.2pc. The original revenue target was Rs. 1680 billion.

This year’s story is not different. Target of Rs. 1952 billion will be missed by billions—the ffigure-fudging continues as actual collection is much less if undisputed refunds are subtracted and advance payments are excluded.

What makes things even more painful is the fact that 75pc collection by FBR constitutes indirect taxes — the burden of which is more on the poor and almost negligible on the rich.

The revenue target of current fiscal year of Rs.1952 billion, even if achieved through jugglery of figures will remain below the 10pc of total GDP. Due to corruption and inefficiencies, FBR is facing revenue shortfall of billions of rupees each year.

Last year FBR was to collect Rs. 1680 billion. Later, the target was revised downwards to Rs. 1588 billion, yet FBR missed it by Rs. 30 billion. This year’s target of Rs. 1952 billion, tacitly reduced to Rs. 1920 billion, confirms window dressing to maneuver over all fiscal deficit that is much higher than is projected in the Economic Survey 2012.

The real revenue potential of the country is not less than Rs. 6 trillion provided taxes are levied on the rich and properly enforced. Since the rich do not pay personal taxes and are guilty of illegally remitting untaxed money abroad,

Pakistan has become indebted to the extent that now 70pc of tax revenues are going towards debt servicing alone — in budget 2011-12, the allocation for debt servicing was Rs. 1.07 trillion against revenue target of Rs. 1.952 trillion. This year it has to be increased by 25pc.

The writers, tax lawyers and authors of many books on Pakistani tax laws, are Adjunct Professors at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

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Left in the lurch: The common people.

 

Green is the solution
Rio+20 will be held in Brazil to focus on green economy for sustainable development and poverty eradication
By Mohammad Niaz

A few head of nations met at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to frame policy for environmental and bio-ecological resource management. Since then, efforts to protect the environment and natural resources have attained momentum. Because less investment was made in the conservation of ecosystem, biodiversity; water, and energy, socio-economic development has been fostered at the expense of natural capital deterioration.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit held at Rio in 1992, Rio+20 will be held in June this year at the same Brazilian city to focus on green economy for sustainable development and poverty eradication. Of course, the city will be the same but the environmental scenario is not the same as what was back in 1992.

The whole story revolves around two factors, i.e., the developmental approaches and the natural capital being one of the main pillars of socio-economic uplift.

Both aspects are essential but to strike a balance between the two is the colossal task the nations have to address to ensure environmental quality amid the concrete jungle (jungle of buildings).

Given this picture, about 60 percent of the major ecosystems of the world have been degraded due to increased biotic pressure and ecological footprints. That is why greening the economy is one of the options to supplement sustainable development without subtracting the benefits that the natural capital provide over a period of time through generations.

Green economy by virtue of green investment focuses on bettering human livelihood and environmental conditions through low carbon emissions and resource efficiency.

It spans around a number of sectors which accumulatively attains desirable outcome on sustainable basis such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, transport, waste, manufacturing industries, energy sector, and buildings play crucial role in environmental conditions.

There is a great potential for development of these sectors with environmentally sound approaches in our country. However, inadequate green investment has been a hurdle to achieve sustainable development indicators of the sectors. Greening of agriculture sector would ensure food security, contribute to improved nutrition and health as well as eradicate poverty.

In addition to this it will create rural jobs. Reduced chemicals, pesticides, diversified crop rotation, improved harvesting and storage techniques, and efficient water use will contribute to more socio-economic and environmentally desirable outcomes.

Fisheries sector is not only vital in sustaining aquatic and marine ecosystem but has also socio-economic significance. Therefore, greening of this sector is essential to contribute to survival and health of millions of people around the world that support their livelihood which can be achieved through sustainable fish harvest, and habitat management for improved fish yield.

At the same time, it will ensure green jobs for communities dependent on this vital sector with socio-economic activities contributing to their uplift. In a nutshell, it ensures sustainable fish consumption for the present as well as future generation. Unfortunately, little investment has been poured into our country to ensure sustainable fisheries development.

Water being the prime element of life has been managed unsustainably around the world. According to estimates, about one billion people lack access to clean drinking water while 2.6 billion people lack access to improved sanitation services.

Water scarcity has also been one of the major contributing factors for degradation of ecosystems over the last half century. For its wide range of benefits, water conservation can be ensured through wise use, and green investment in ecosystems and watershed management that are the prime water sources.

The role of forest in environment is indispensable at large. Proactive conservation measures ensure provision of goods and services with broader implications of supporting livelihood of over one billion humans. Green investment in the forestry sectors will not only contribute to uplift of the local people but will also improve tourism, energy, water management, carbon trading and forest-based products by maintaining the flow of benefits.

Given proactive management practices, green investment initiatives such as sustainable forest management, growth of protected areas, incentives to forest dependent communities, rehabilitation of habitats, afforestation and reforestation would contribute to prosperous future in the long run with socio-economic and ecological benefits. One of the major breaking achievements in forest conservation is to invest for reducing deforestation and provision of alternatives.

Appropriate renewable energy technologies can ensure greening the energy sectors through energy efficiency. Modern energy services are required to contribute not only to greening the energy sector but will meet development needs due to increase in human needs and population.

It will help to achieve the millennium development goals with cross cutting sectoral implications. Solar power generation, windmills installation, hydal power units, etc are some of the important green investment initiatives.

With implication of additional initiatives more jobs generations would benefit cross section of the society. Such green investment initiative will not only meet the growing demand of energy in face of the increased human population but will also considerably contribute to reduction of green house gases.

Industrial sector is one of the mainstream contributors to environmental conditions. Textile, cement, steel, chemicals, electronics, pulp and paper, and sugar are the main industries that significantly effect the environment. Improved resources and technologies and energy efficiency are the key indicators to ensure growth of green economy.

The waste generated in wake of the economic growth has phenomenal environmental impact with wide range of other associated problems. Recycling of waste has extensive potential to generate employment opportunities through appropriate institutional arrangement and policy which helps to alleviate poverty. The reduce-reuse-and-recycle approach has both environmental and social implications than incineration and land filling. Investment in the waste sector is increasingly essential due to rapid growth in urbanization.

Being the main requirements, infrastructure and buildings are the key physical features where more time is spent indoor due to which more impacts are registered on the environment in several manifestations.

It is estimated that about buildings are responsible to contribute about 40 per cent of the global energy use and add up to 39 per cent of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere along with other greenhouse gases.

Investment in green and environmentally friendly buildings will play essential role in minimizing and halting environmental degradation in the long run. There is large scale potential in our country to mobilize investment in the building sector for its wide range of benefits. A shift from orthodox buildings and architecture is needed towards improved eco-friendly and energy efficient buildings and infrastructural designs.

Transport sector consuming fossil fuels is one of the major contributors to environmental degradation with impacts on human health at large. In developing countries this is a growing issue with less investment in the transport sector. On the war-footing grounds improved vehicles, shift in modes of transports, shift from conventional fuel type, equal distribution of market delivering public goods than concentrated ones will help contribute towards better environmental and socio-economic conditions.

By ensuring green investment in the key sectors there is great likelihood that our national resources would not only be conserved effectively but eco-friendly environment will prevail at different levels thus fulfilling our national and international obligations under Multilateral Environmental Agreements. For this purpose multi-pronged approaches and mega initiatives are needed to arrest environmental degradation in time.

The writer is Deputy Conservator Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department

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Environmental change: It’s real.

 

 

 

 

 

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