Round at crossroads
terror with a new approach
aman ki asha
Let us discover each
By Alauddin Masood
The final decision seems to have been taken for the supply of gas to Pakistan from Iran. After holding negotiations that spread over 15 years, Pakistan and Iran signed the agreement on March 16 in Istanbul for supplying 750 million cubic feet (mmcfd) of Iranian gas to Pakistan by the middle of 2015.
One could try reading between the lines and offering hypotheses about the reasons for the PML-N's rather abrupt announcement
By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar
If nothing else, the last-minute Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) about-face on the constitutional amendments package provides politics junkies writing in newspapers yet another opportunity to pontificate about the messy affair that is Pakistani democracy. And it is not just the writers who revel in the intrigue; readers greedily gobble up comment after comment, never seeming to tire of the same old characters and their predictable antics.
Perhaps we Pakistanis like sensationalism; maybe the media and commentators are responsible for making the serious into the trivial and vice versa. In the final analysis, it matters little how we choose to explain it: the fact of the matter is that Pakistani politics is an inherently unpredictable business. And even though most of us insist that we want to have nothing to do with the political, in actual fact Pakistanis are amongst the most political people one will find.
So, the latest act has Nawaz Sharif & co. engaging in gamesmanship, thereby ensuring that we will all have to wait a little bit longer for a constitution that enjoys the broad consent of mainstream political parties. One could try reading between the lines and offering hypotheses about the reasons for the PML-N's rather abrupt announcement that more time will be needed to iron out the creases. But too many 'experts' are already doing this, and will continue to do so over the next few days. I will, instead, undertake an exercise in the imagination, which will hopefully also make clear the tremendous obstacles to the building of a genuinely democratic political-economic-cultural system.
A new -- or at the very least revised -- social contract in this country must start off without the Objectives Resolution. To be sure, the Pakistani state -- and more so the people that inhabit it -- will forever be burdened with the history of its inception. Ultimately, however, it is impossible to avoid conflict between those who claim that Pakistan is to be governed by Islamic dictates and those who claim that religion must be divorced from the affairs of the state. There can be no justification for the existence of a clause within the constitution of a modern state that pronounces a particular sect as outside the pale of Islam or the stipulation that a non-Muslim cannot hold the highest offices in the land.
The second and related point is that the constitution must recognise that Pakistan is a multi-national state. The establishment and mainstream political parties, whatever the contradictions between them, both remain committed to the anomalous concept of the Muslim nation. No number of Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan packages or even the renaming of the NWFP will convince oppressed and underrepresented ethnic-national groups in Pakistan that the two-nation theory is legitimate and a basis for state-building.
The Muslim League is, of course, the champion of the two-nation theory. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that it does not want to concede (further ground) to the ethnic-nationalists by agreeing to the name Pakhtoonkhwa. The chances are that the PML-N will eventually accede to the name change but its reticence is just an indicator of how some or all of the mainstream parties will resist the recognition of Pakistan multi-national character even though this is the only way to resolve this country's increasingly intractable crisis of identity.
This is not to suggest that this is a straightforward matter. Aside from any ideological principle, the PML-N is wary of supporting NWFP's name change because it is the dominant party in the non-Pakhtun-Hazara belt. The PML-N's rather instrumental concerns aside, the fact that there is such a big non-Pakhtun minority in the province is indicative of just how complex the national question really is. In any case, dealing with this complexity is impossible without first enshrining the multi-national character of the state in the constitution.
Third, the institutional legacies of colonialism must be acknowledged, and then undone. Many of our statute books have survived from the colonial period, which means that the law often treats people like subjects, rather than protect their rights as citizens. The operation of the administrative and judicial apparatus, all the way from the lowest level to the very top, is cumbersome and again reflects an official attitude of contempt towards the very people that the state is supposed to serve. Finally, the cantonment culture is also a clear carryover from the British period: is the state supposed to function like a military garrison in which ordinary people are subject to virtual apartheid because some commandos suffering from delusions of grandeur are hell-bent on pursuing their 'strategic interests'?
Needless to say, these realities will not change because we want them to; it is no mean task to deconstruct deeply entrenched institutions and then rebuild new ones. But at the very least our constitution should recognise the impossibility of a meaningful social contract when the actually existing state is essentially colonial in form and spirit. The constitution could highlight the need for gradual transformation of these colonial structures, and indeed note that the best possible approach is for people to become more and more involved in allocating resources, resolving disputes and making decisions about various other aspects of social life. In short, we need a constitution that asserts the need for the state's overarching influence to be slowly reduced.
The PML-N's banter about superior judges and judicial commissions does not even begin to scratch the surface of what is required to actually make the judicial system accessible and a guarantor of justice. Again the PML-N is not alone in being relatively unconcerned with the broader structural questions that have been posed above, even if it is one of the parties (alongwith the Jamaa't-e-Islami) that is most opposed to challenges to the prevailing structures.
As it turns out, the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto led Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government that framed the constitution did at least raise some of these questions, even as it buckled on others. For example, Mr. Bhutto called bureaucrats colonial mandarins and undertook civil service reforms to undo the vestiges of the colonial bureaucracy. It is another matter that this attempt was flawed and ended with the bureaucracy weakened in relation to the military and also severely politicised.
Mr. Bhutto did not take on the bureaucracy of his own will, but was pushed in this direction by a mobilised society. Today's mainstream parties are confronted with a society that is less mobilised and more politicised along parochial and cynical lines. My exercise in imagination is as much a call to those who want to move beyond the shenanigans of our mainstream parties and build a social contract that will mark a break from our first 60 years. For this society needs to be mobilised beyond slogans and petty interests and on the basis of clear progressive principles.
One might argue that, to some extent, the present constitutional amendments, whatever their final form, will mark some progress for our hapless democracy. Even if this is true, much more is required. Rather than pontificate about the Nawaz Sharifs and Asif Zardaris of the world, or sit around and watch the Pentagon and GHQ run circles around us, we need visionaries to step up to the plate. We need to broaden our horizons.
Multilateralism has to prevail over knee-jerk protectionism if the world has to achieve sustained economic progress
By Pradeep S Mehta
"The Doha Round is not an island in a sea of alternative opportunities -- failure on Doha would spill over into other present and future cooperation efforts, and not only in the trade policy domain. In our joined-up world, countries simply cannot go their own way and disregard the costs of neglecting international cooperation," remarked the WTO Director General, Pascal Lamy in a recent meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica. The imperative of concluding the Doha Round could not have been captured better.
2010 is a make or break year for the Doha Round. The initial euphoria of many members was dampened as far back as August 2003 when the US and the EU brought forward a small package on agriculture to take to Cancun. It has further waned since the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in 2005 and the stalemate after the July 2008 package. Countries need to put in significant political capital to conclude it even if the gains at the end are modest. The negotiations have clearly waned in ambition since the Hong Kong meeting and are still in 'intensive care', being watched carefully and with great anxiety.
However, despite the anxiety of nations about the sustainability of negotiations, some significant technical work has been accomplished in the last few years. 'Geographical indications' is an example on which there has been forward movement. In the area of non-tariff barriers, which will be the major agenda in the future, there is a good hope of progress with the Chairman of the Negotiating Group on Market Access for industrial goods, identifying several common (or horizontal) issues across proposals regarding non-tariff barriers on the table.
In the same vein, scheduling of agricultural tariffs is progressing while even on the extremely contentious issues of 'cotton' and special safeguard mechanisms in agriculture there are forward movements. A similar story of dynamism emerges in the matter of service sector negotiations.
Such progress on technical issues could not have been possible without the investment of significant political capital by nations and the leveraging of collaborative synergies. This spirit of cooperation has again been captured well by Lamy through his remarks on the occasion of the Trade Negotiations Committee meeting on March 22, 2010: "We will be able to send a strong signal to the outside world and focus the political energy that is needed to move the Round into the concluding phase."
The moot question is why countries have not been able to utilise this readiness to invest political capital to conclude the Doha Round and take the world economy to higher levels of well-being and productivity. Prima facie it may appear puzzling as studies have revealed that the overall expected gains from the Doha Round will result in a much bigger stimulus package than all bailout packages taken together. This is strongly contested, but everyone agrees that the failure can be harmful.
The answer to this puzzle lies in the greed of nations overriding the option of bringing about a win-win situation with modest gains. The Doha Round if concluded would produce a miniscule increase in exports, far short of the US administration's target of doubling exports over the next five years. Instead of the Doha Round, the US administration has signalled its intentions to follow a weak dollar policy to meet its targets. Other countries trying to recover from the financial crisis and its recessionary effects have resorted to protectionism to rule out the import of adverse influences from the rest of the world.
Protectionism is clearly not the cure for recession; rather it can trigger the collapse of economic recovery that many countries (including some rich countries) have started experiencing since the last quarter of 2009. Moreover, such protectionism by developed countries will spell ruin for the poorest countries of the world in Sub Saharan Africa by denying them the use of trade as an engine of growth at a crucial juncture in their development process.
Multilateralism clearly has to prevail over knee jerk protectionism if the world has to achieve sustained economic progress and not get tied up in knots. The conclusion of the Doha Round thus marks the end of a new beginning instead of the beginning of the end. We cannot wait forever to conclude the Doha Round as otherwise other more contentious and unresolved trade-related issues will continue to produce negative energy.
Positive developments are afoot in all major capitals except Washington where Obama has unfortunately but temporarily exhausted his finite political capital in successfully pushing through a historic initiative on healthcare reforms. However, Obama's tenacity signals good times for multilateralism. Having achieved a major victory in the domestic reform arena, the time has come for him to marshal his political capital for the facilitation of a major triumph in the multilateral arena by convincing his domestic constituency of the imperative of concluding the Doha Round. Such conclusion alone would provide the window of opportunity and create the necessary goodwill to address domestic concerns on other trade-related issues.
The conclusion of the Doha Round in 2010 is imperative for success on many fronts -- global welfare reaching a new high through better exploitation of comparative advantages of countries and the reversal of decline in faith in trade as an engine of growth. The collaborative spirit needed for its conclusion has been displayed by WTO members in the past while addressing the development concerns of medicine patents and public health linkages.
Finally, the conclusion of the Doha Round is essential as it will herald a new era of multilateralism which might see the appreciation of new linkages -- between trade and finance; trade and climate change etc. Lamy was right -- the Doha Round is not an island in a sea of alternative opportunities; rather it is the channel which has to be negotiated and crossed if a more prosperous and better aligned world is to be reached.
The author is the Secretary General of CUTS International. Bipul Chatterji of CUTS contributed to this article.
There is a politicised agreement that US is hegemonic and that it has a disproportionate amount of influence
By Waqar Gillani
At first glance, it is difficult to judge whether the person clad in a brown suit with a dark complexion and long hair, and talking in a jolly mood, is a senior academic and researcher from the US. Dr Clarence Lusane has deep interest in music, especially jazz and is currently visiting Pakistan to share his expertise on research on minorities and human rights. Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations in the School of International Service at American University, he is also an author, social activist, scholar, lecturer, and journalist. He has spent two and one-half years living in London, conducting research on racism and human rights in Europe and working with European governments, institutions, and non government originations.
Lusane is currently Co-chair of the Civil Society Committee for the US-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial Discrimination, a bi-lateral agreement involving governments and civil society. His latest book is titled, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice: Foreign Policy, Race, and the New American Century (2006). His upcoming book is expected to hit bookshelves in June 2010 titled, A Black History of the White House. During his visit to Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, he has been trying to study the situation of minorities in Pakistan. Lusane sat with The News on Sunday the other day for an interview. Following are the excerpts:
The News on Sunday: How do you see US foreign policy with reference to the war on terror?
Clarence Lusane: I think the Obama administration has decided to dissociate with the term "war on terror" which, it says, is not useful because it has been associated with some negative policies from the previous (Bush) administration. The first thing which the Obama presidency has done is to change the language of this term so that the US could move from the overly militarised response to a diplomatic approach to US foreign policy. This is the biggest change. I think the Obama administration has adopted a cooperative approach on the whole range of issues like the nuclear issue, etc. This approach is very different from the one adopted by the previous administration. The approach of the Obama administration is to change the label. Their framing of the issue is very different from that of the previous regime.
TNS: What is the real difference in the approach of the Bush and Obama administration in the war on terror?
CL: A number of steps have been taken, for example, announcing the shutting down of Guantanamo Bay. And there is a difference in approach, for example tackling the Cuban-Americans issue. There were restrictions on the Cuban Americans who wanted go to home. The Obama administration has lifted some of those travel restrictions on the Cuban Americans. The Cuban Americans were not allowed to send money to the US. Now they can send money.
TNS: How do you see the Obama administration after one year? It seems he is losing popularity because of not tackling issues like terrorism?
CL: I think the large part of resistance is from the Republican Party. You should also see that everything in the US, unlike other countries where premiers and presidents can do much at their own, is approved by the Congress. Take the examples of healthcare and economic policies. There is a long list of issues for Obama which need to be tackled. After the internal issues there are foreign issues as well that have to be taken up.
TNS: Do you think the internal issues can overshadow external policies of the Obama administration?
CL: Surely, there is a relationship between the internal and the external, between the US domestic policy and foreign policy. And the degree to which a president is popular gives them the political space to carry out policies at the foreign as well as domestic policy level. Along with Obama, you also have State Department's own capabilities, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They are operating in many ways. For example, Secretary Clinton recently was in Latin America to discuss bilateral issues of cooperation. That level of engagement can also be seen when she was in Pakistan and engaged herself in different constituencies to focus on US-Pak relationship. So, underneath President Obama, you have a layer of diplomatic and political engagements.
TNS: So, it means Obama is sailing in two boats -- on domestic and foreign fronts. Do you think he will succeed?
CL: He has to do both. He has to do domestic and foreign policy. Whether he is popular or not he still has to do both. But he is doing his best. See, in term of Afghanistan, specifically, Obama's approach is that Pakistan has central position in foreign policy agenda. So the relationship cannot be neglected. They cannot afford that.
TNS: Do you think the Obama administration will deliver on both levels?
CL: I think it is very hard. I think he has the possibility of turning the situation around because much of what he is advocating was popular among the people. There are strategies and tactics. I think they might have realised in one year that the graph is going down. Also, the other party does not have an ideal solution. If Obama fails that means there is no alternative and that is a disastrous scenario. But we hope that he can do it. If he fails, it will have a deep impact on the US history. It is a unique situation because we do have the factor of an African-American president.
TNS: What are your views on the US policy of having a 'dialogue' with Taliban and pullout from Afghanistan? Will it be a defeat or victory for the US?
CL: I cannot say much about these negotiations except what I have been reading in the newspapers. As far as defeat or victory is concerned, I think this is a pullout, which was also promised in the election campaign. Conservatives in the US think we should not talk to anybody who is opposing our foreign policy but the Obama administration thinks that we can talk to everybody. It is not the question of success or failure but pulling out the troops.
TNS: Do you think dialogue is a better strategy than tackling an issue militarily?
CL: Yes, dialogue is important. It is essential. I think this is the concept of diplomatic communities. And this is also the difference between the Obama and the Bush administrations. Obama clearly says you have to have a multi-dimensional approach. You have to have dialogue and discussion and tackling the issues politically too. This also gives the idea of sovereignty among the states.
TNS: There is an impression that the US has a hegemonic role. How do you see this aspect of US foreign policy?
CL: There is a politicised agreement that US is hegemonic and that it has a disproportionate amount of influence in the international sphere, politically economically, and militarily. The question is how that position is used. Interestingly, now the debates, especially within the US, have started among the policymakers how this hegemony is beneficial to the US, domestically and internationally.
TNS: You are also studying the role of jazz on international relations? This seems an interesting topic.
CL: I am trying to study the role of jazz in the global community. Jazz has a global impact. For example, in South Africa at one point, it meant resistance. In Germany, with Nazis, jazz had a similar role. In South Korea, it was used for negotiating the occupation. So, jazz seemed to be opening the doors of talks in many countries differently. I am trying to define that role. In 1950 and 1960 Jazz also had an impact in Pakistan. It gained popularity in Pakistan at that time.
We cannot safeguard our security interests without depending on new surveillance mechanisms
By Dr Noman Ahmed
The acts of terrorism in Lahore and elsewhere during the second week of March shattered the short-lived calm in the country. Bomb blasts in Lahore and Swat as well as targeted assassinations of eminent religious leaders in Karachi are a case in point.
There are serious implications of bomb blasts on the society as a whole. These incidents have resulted in an enhanced focus on security administration, exponentially rising the cost of doing business in Pakistani cities, social and psychological impacts on the people, and a steep decline in the progress and growth in various sectors. A set of focused strategies is needed to deal with the predicaments of terror.
A scientific review of the situation is needed. Almost all major political parties and interest groups condemn terrorism. However, there are differences of opinion about perceptions and understanding of the roots and impact of terrorism. Unless a dialogue is started on building a consensus on weeding out terrorism and its causes, efforts of containing it will not bear fruit. This consensus is also important from the standpoint of reining in the pseudo hardliners, militants, and rogue elements within political parties and interest groups.
Extortion groups in Karachi and private armies in Punjab and NWFP are examples. Ploys to damage peace for petty gains and the urge to influence leadership are common denominators of such outfits. We should know that terror planners and their recruits do not descend from the skies; they can be found trying to hide among folks who have found space in the world of crime.
No terror network can succeed in its nefarious designs without mobilising the financial means to undertake the ghastly acts. Experts in the fields such as intelligence and banking must be engaged to piece together the available information to prepare a counter-strategy for blocking dubious transactions. This is a demanding task. Expanded cash economy in FATA and the environs, clan protection to supporters of terrorism, invisible and coded nature of transactions, and similar factors can prove a hurdle.
Local knowledge about all kinds of money transactions can be relied upon. Remittances coming through illegal channels, such as hundi, parchi, and havala should be focused on. Experts should be tasked with looking into various unresolved dimensions of acquisition, transaction, and distribution of funds. If the country is to be emancipated from terror, hard choices shall have to be made in pursuance of this vital national interest.
We cannot safeguard our interests without depending on new surveillance mechanisms. Our urban areas are vulnerable, which become extended liabilities in the process of combating terrorism. Irregular settlements and absence of an organized urban growth and development is the foremost concern. Most of our inner city areas have congested narrow lanes with very limited access for any kind of relief works.
The society is all polarised across ethnic, communal, and social lines. For instance, in Karachi, the administration appears to be helpless to initiate any law enforcement operation due to fear of riots. Law enforcement agencies have also expressed concern about inadequate numbers of personnel, especially those deployed for anti-terror duties. Some sections of conservative religious groups have been found fomenting unrest and hysteria amongst masses for revoking any anti-terror plan. A concerted action is needed to address each of these vulnerabilities.
Once a terrorist is set in motion, death and destruction follow. The rational way is to strengthen the process of locating hideouts and accomplices through surgical and precise operations to avert destruction on big scale. Disappointingly, one finds that orthodox means of blockading the thoroughfares and manual searches are made to deal with the threat.
Recourses should be employed for acquiring appropriate technology for mapping, monitoring, and targeting terrorists. Use of relevant tools of information technology can make a difference in this regard. On the basis of available information and database, a broad-based crime information system can be electronically produced and shared amongst the concerned stakeholders. Inputs from media correspondents, academia, technologists, IT professionals, and law enforcement agencies can also be of much use. A basic model of this work exists in the form of Citizens-Police Liaison Committee where technology and collaborative effort of citizens has borne fruit.
Feedback and consultation is also important. Ordinary citizens feel comfortable to link up to institutions like CPLC. If a multi-stakeholder forum is generated with facilitation from the government, it can prove very useful.
Those affected by terrorism deserve an effective response from the state, its institutions, and functionaries. In many cases, the injured constitute a sizable portion of target groups that require continuous assistance. Ordinary and specialised healthcare is the foremost necessity in these situations. Public sector healthcare facilities have performed exceptionally well in minimising the agonies and trauma of such heinous acts, their meagre resources and capacity notwithstanding.
Financial incentives must be extended to those medical practitioners and paramedical staff who have served under the most adverse circumstances. Medical units must be activated. Burn units and trauma centres must be set up and equipped with latest technology. A district-wise strategy must be worked out to establish and maintain hospitals in terror-affected areas such as Charsadda, Mardan, Nowshehra, Dera Ismail Khan, etc.
In the pipeline
Pakistan impatiently waits for foreign aid that it needs to shoulder its ailing economy mainly due to the on-going war on terror
By Ather Naqvi
Pakistan has so far received only a fraction of the promised financial aid from its foreign friends. Lately, under the strategic dialogue between the US and Pakistan, the US has pledged $125m aid for the construction of three thermal power units besides other incentives.
Economic Affairs Division Secretary, Sibtain Fazal Halim, informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Economic Affairs about a week ago that Pakistan will receive $7.5 billion aid package under the Kerry-Lugar Act -- $1.5 billion annually during the next five years -- to improve governance, strengthen security and legal institutions, and eliminate corruption during the period from 2010 to 2014 of which $3.5 billion will be spent in bringing about political reforms, improving girl's primary education, and maintaining the rule of law, etc. $2 billion would be spent in the agriculture sector while $1 billion would be spent as support for solution to the energy crisis. But all this remains mere paperwork.
The same applies to The Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP), a group cobbled together to give financial support to the democratic government of Pakistan. Launched in New York on September 26, 2008, it includes the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan. As things stand, Pakistan is likely to receive an amount of only $831m as against $2.3bn promised by FoDP during the current fiscal year. According to one report, $571mn have been received so far from FoDP while $260mn are expected before the close of fiscal year.
The slow response from the FoDP and delay in aid to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) by the United States has left Pakistan government with no option but to readjust the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) which has been reduced to Rs 250 billion from Rs 421 billion as allocated in the budget. The US has released only $349 million under the CSF against the due amount of $2 billion.
According to USAID's website, "From 2002 through 2009, USAID provided more than $3.4 billion (including Emergency Economic Assistance) to address needs in economic growth, education, health, good governance, earthquake reconstruction assistance, as well as humanitarian assistance."
There is no letting up as far as making aid announcements is concerned. In a ceremony held earlier this month, the US Coordinator for Civilian Assistance, Ambassador Robin Raphel, announced Rs. 7.2 billion in assistance from the US to low-income Pakistani families through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). Initiated in 2008, the BISP, through its bi-monthly cash payments of 2,000 rupees, approximately 600,000 eligible families across Pakistan will receive assistance. BISP plans to support approximately 15 percent of the Pakistani population.
The cost of fighting the war on terror is enormous and weighs heavily on Pakistan's already poorly-faring economy. President Asif Ali Zardari has said fighting the war on terror has cost more than $35b to Pakistan since Sept. 11, 2001. If that is true, the aid announced for Pakistan so far will hardly make a difference in Pakistan's economy. According to the Foreign Office, Pakistan needs aid of Rs29b for reconstruction work in Malakand region alone over the next three years.
Critics look into why the aid has been delayed. "The level of corruption is extremely high in Pakistan and donors know this. So, they do well in requiring proper receipts and reports, and checking them for accuracy. This takes time," says Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Professor of Physics, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad and a fervent critic on national and international issues. "Aid can be withheld as a means of exerting pressure to achieve certain political objectives. There is no such thing as a free lunch; aid can never come without strings," he adds.
Hoodbhoy links our dependence on aid with excessive spending on our part, "This dependence is because we spend far more than we produce and export. Pakistan has a huge military establishment and the country's elite spends lavishly on consumer items. On the other hand, except for the government employee whose tax is automatically deducted at source, no Pakistani pays his due share of taxes."
To Hoodbhoy, aid is not the answer to the economic ills of the country, "The amount being given is enough to prevent Pakistan from falling apart, but Pakistan can never become a prosperous country until it learns to govern itself well. Look at India. Many experts are saying that it will come to the level of China and America in another 20-30 years. All this was done by emphasising education, proper governance, and democracy. Foreign aid played only a small role in this."
Lack of transparency is another problem, "Nothing is transparent in our government. A good portion goes back to the donor country in the form of expert consultant fees. An even bigger portion somehow ends up in the pockets of our big people -- civil and military. Proper utilisation of foreign aid requires a strong and well-trained bureaucracy. Audits of money received for the public should be made publicly available," he says.
Moeed Yusuf, an expert on international issues, opines that, "The delay (in aid) differs from country to country and the mechanism through which it is to flow -- the more cumbersome the bureaucratic procedures in the donor country, the greater the delay." Moeed says, "The US has one of the most elaborate and complicated procedures to get the provisioned aid finalised and delivered. The Kerry-Lugar bill is to provide money to various sectors through intermediary agencies and involves a number of local partner commitments. The funds are also strictly compartmentalised in that different functions have different specific allocations. In short, delivery under this bill will be very slow, much slower than the Coalition Support Funds (CSF), for instance," he says.
Moeed believes it is difficult to answer as to what extent foreign aid makes a difference in the uplift of a country's economy such as Pakistan, which is fighting the war on terror, "Ultimately, this depends on how much aid is coming in. For Pakistan, the Kerry-Lugar bill is unlikely to do much; the amount is simply not enough given the kind of challenges Pakistan faces. Also, the costs Pakistan is incurring in the fight against terror more than offsets any gains from the KL bill."
Moeed points out that the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) have "pledged a substantial amount but have hardly given anything". He realises that "Pakistanis haven't introspected to see why they should? It sounds very good to say that Pakistan has fought the world's war but the fact is that the world realises that Pakistan cannot but continue fighting terror and, therefore, they lose nothing by turning back on their pledges. It's unfortunate as in the long run, Pakistan's stability is critical for the region but such donor decisions are often based on short-term and myopic interests. Pakistan is justified to feel wronged; alas, this is realpolitik".
Moeed laments we do not have a transparent system of spending the aid once received, "The capacity to account for spending is lacking in the first place so even if there was no leakage of funds, Pakistan would not be able to keep track of all disbursements and actual spending. This is what happened under the CSF transfers and led to much tension between the US and Pakistan."
Still, Moeed sees the brighter side of the picture, "One needs to remember that some aid is better than no aid if one is focusing on the absolute amount available to spend. However, its impact is entirely dependent on how the recipient country utilises aid. It is absurd to receive aid from the US and then blame it for lack of positive impact. Consider: US gives aid, the Pakistan government is tasked to spend the money; they do and fail to create positive impacts. Whose fault is it? Pakistan's, not the donor's. There is a need, urgent one, to introspect and understand that rather than bashing the US on this count, the Pakistani civil society needs to demand greater accountability from its own government. The US can be criticised for the amount of aid (if it is not enough) but not for the failure of the Pakistani authorities to spend the aid sincerely."
The problems of Balochistan have not been completely understood
By Salman Abid
The dilemma of Pakistani politics is that there is no progress in social and political harmony between the four provinces and there is no consensus on different issues such as peace, security, autonomy, and many others. Currently, Balochistan has serious reservations with regard to power-based structures of Punjab and Islamabad.
A majority of regional nationalist parties have rejected Balochistan package and National Finance Commission (NFC) award. They have shown their mistrust in Islamabad. Nationalist political parties have also shown and registered their reservations on the constitutional package. According to their statement, the 1973 Constitution is totally supportive of federation only. The provinces, excluding Punjab, have been discriminated against.
Unfortunately, the issue of Balochistan has not been properly understood by the people at large, especially those living in Punjab. The whole issue has been dealt with in isolation, thereby aggravating grievances. This is because of the lack of knowledge and dependency on Islamabad and Punjab-based information. Our mainstream newspapers and electronic media have also not highlighted the Balochistan issue on a priority basis. State media has deliberately not reported much on the Balochistan issue.
During my recent visit to Quetta to participate in national conference, I had the opportunity to meet different political and social stakeholders and media persons. During my meetings, I tried to understand their concerns about national politics, especially with reference to Balochistan perspective. I strongly realised that Baloch showed lots of hatred towards the state and the ruling elite, especially after the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti.
Balochistan has three perspectives. First, the Baloch are constantly looking for their identity in the 1973 Constitution. Second, they have rejected the 1973 Constitution and demand for a new one because the present constitution, according to them, does not provide basic human rights. And lastly, they seem to now believe in an armed struggle and raise the slogan of an independent Balochistan.
The Pakistan living Standard Measurement Survey (PSLM) 2004-5 identifies a sharp inter-provincial disparity with regard to access to safe drinking water. Several reports state that 52 percent population in Balochistan uses wells and open ponds for drinking water, compared to 3 percent in Punjab, 13 percent in Sindh, and 35 percent in NWFP. The PSLM survey reported alarming regional disparity in the education sector. According to the survey, only 27 percent of the students in Balochistan complete primary or higher education, compared to 64 percent in Punjab. Gender disparity is also a very sensitive issue in Balochistan and women are marginalised.
During the visit to Gwadar I met the fisherfolks' community. They shared their own concerns and problems. Most of the development under the Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) focuses on new colonies and basic infrastructures for the 'new' people, and not the old people living there for the last 60 years. People have serious reservations on military organisations, capturing the local land in the name of security. Baloch have strongly criticised national media many a time at various forums to protect and justify extremism in the county.
The Balochistan situation is always seen under the Baloch perspective, ignoring the Pakhtun and Hazara perspectives. The Pakhtun community is fully engaged in business and development activities in the region but lives in isolation.
More than 10 million Pakhtuns live far from their homes, especially in Karachi, to earn a living. They cite low representation in the provincial set-up and complain that they have been reduced to second-rate citizens. The Hazara community also raises its own concerns, especially the target killings and the dealing of security agencies with the Hazara people. According to HRCP report, more than 260 people belonging to the Hazara community in Quetta since the year 2003 have become victims of target killing and more than 1000 people were injured.
Another major issue is that of missing people. The controversy over the missing people still persists and no authentic data is available with political parties. According to the HRCP fact-finding mission report on Balochistan 90 people are missing as on January 9, 2010. Military data shows only 64 from the region. In 2009, 15 incidents of sectarian violence took place in which 26 men were killed and five others injured. In 2009, a total of 141 incidents of target killings took place.
After the boycott of national elections in 2008, most of the nationalist political parties believe the announcement of NFC award and Balochistan package by the government is a good initiative but this decision has been taken without consensus and consultations with nationalist parties. At this moment, there is a dire need for presenting the concerns and reactions of all four provinces at the national media, including FATA and PATA. This would help in building social harmony in Pakistan.
In my view, most of the issues can be resolved if the existing communication gap is removed between the two provinces. Our political leadership lacks the decision-making power in order to take a big decision that could resolve the provinces' woes. Having reservations on issues is understandable but to totally reject political initiatives form the Center is also not acceptable. There is always room for a dialogue. The democratic government should call an All-Parties conference on Balochistan and invite political forces, including the civil society organisations and make a new political contract. Provincial autonomy is another serious issue and the only solution lies in decentralisation.
The government and security agencies should address the Baloch people's concerns about the missing people and take affirmative action against target killings. Our national media has to give more space and time to different issues of different stakeholders. All these actions will bear fruit if our political parties act in national spirit and build a strong relationship with small provinces. Civil society organisations' role is very important in acting as pressure group and build a bridge between the state, government, and Balochistan.
The writer is a political analyst and can be reached at email@example.com
We need to revisit trade and industrial development vision if it wishes to develop a pro-poor economy
By Zubair Faisal Abbasi
The last two years have been witness to a decline in the industrial and trade development fortunes in Pakistan with wide-ranging implications for economic growth and poverty eradication. During the last fiscal year, large scale manufacturing witnessed negative growth of 7 percent while value of imports increased to almost double of the export. The phenomena, however, has a history of policy orientation behind it. In fact, as predicted by a number of experts on trade and industrial development, the rapid liberalisation of trade regimes along with dismantling of industrial policy during the 1990s and 2000s, there has been progressive increase in the trade gap and unsatisfactory performance in attainment of a sustainable industrial competitiveness and development.
Historically speaking, many researchers argue that Pakistan was unable to craft and implement a planned scheme of industrial development and up-gradation leaving continued absence of a national system of innovation. It failed to facilitate and execute inter-sectoral linkages amongst trade, industry, banking, and education sectors which could design the required social infrastructure for sustained economic development. On another account, unlike many late industrializers of East Asia, the role of the state in Pakistan remained questionable in allocation of resources for rapid industrialization and modernization of economy. As mentioned by Dr. Asad Sayeed, the regulatory and financial systems served on the basis of political alignments with the regime instead of creating a genuine entrepreneurial class.
However, after wasting the 1980s despite having massive 'big push' by the public sector from the 1970s, the 1990s were strangulated under structural adjustment programmes. It must be noted that during 1990s, there have been frequent settling and unsettling of political regimes with interim governments playing a big role in the management of economy. During this time, a serious effort for implementation of the Washington Consensus approaches wedded to the policies of 'liberalisation, stabilisation, and privatisation'. It focused more on what is called 3D approach e.g., dismantle the state, dis-empower the worker, and Depend on market. The trend continued and the economic management of Pakistan took a slow but sure turn from being predominantly developmental to neoliberal idea system.
Notwithstanding, despite having a structurally adjusted economy, the fortunes of industrial sector have not flourished. The economic management acumen could not bring the required social infrastructure which is essential for pro-poor growth in industrial and commercial capital. There is no exaggeration that this is the industrial and manufacturing sector which helps create valuable items for exports as well as generates employment and labour utilization potential in an economy. Empirical evidence from many countries including from East Asia and China shows that poverty can be rapidly and substantially be reduced only in those economies which can create a flourishing industrial sector and modernize the agriculture segment.
If we look at Pakistan, during the period between 1999-00 to 2007-08, the growth rate of the banking and finance sector was higher than the industrial and agriculture sector. The commodity and electricity shortages that were witnessed later in 2007-09, are not a product of one or two years rather some critical issues in availability were resolved during the democratic government.
According to Rashid Amjad, Chief Economist of Pakistan, the economic growth in Pakistan has largely been contributed by increased use of factors of production rather than improvement in quality in techniques of using the inputs i.e., increase in total factor productivity (TFP). Improvement in TFP which is possible only when economic planning for labour, technology, and business generation follows a coherent vision for modernization of both industry and agriculture. Empirical evidence tells a boom-burst scenario that despite having a peak growth (19 percent) in 2004-05, the subsequent years 2007-08 could see industrial sector growth nose-diving to 4.8 percent.
It appears that the current economic management needs a politically embedded role of the state to create vision for economic management and follow up the vision with developing appropriate institutional arrangements. Pakistan, despite having vast resources for material progress was not able to create a turn around and catch-up with the industrial world let alone that it could have made a strategy for forging ahead. Historically speaking, there were acts of omission and commission which failed the state to enable itself in playing a more constructive role in trade and industrial development of Pakistan.
In the international development context one can argue that Pakistan needs to go beyond the Millennium Development Goals (NDGs) approach. While these goals emphasize poverty eradication by 2015 does not mention the processes of industrialization and growth of manufacturing sector which can help generate potential for labour utilization. One can suspect that despite being structurally adjusted, many developing countries will not be able to create jobs and upgrade their industrial structures for improvement in trade gaps through value additions. The economic managers (read masters) of Pakistan, need to pay heed to this fact while developing the next five year plan. This is heartening to see that the impending new five year plan has the vision of 'investing in people' which was also the theme of international conference organized by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economists in Islamabad recently. How much of such a plan can be successful, if we keep 'rolling back the state', is a million dollar question?
Under the circumstances, the democratic Pakistan needs to seriously revisit the trade and industrial development vision if it wishes to develop a high-quality pro-poor economic development which reduces incidence of poverty. Pakistan should learn to manage competition and build inter-sectoral cooperation. Rather than believing in the neoliberal religion of level playing field in which the stronger player perforce wins, Pakistan, borrowing wisdom from Prof. Ha-Joon Chang, needs to understand the analogy of a boxing match. There are different weight categories for different players so that the week has also the chance of winning a game while playing against an opponent of the same category.
The industrial sector of Pakistan can become competitive in international trade if the banking, government, education, and business sector follow a sensible industrial policy backed by suitable institutional arrangements. Democratic Pakistan would need to deliver on this account for successful poverty eradication -- a poverty eradication which rests on increases in capabilities of social infrastructure to provide employment and social assets beyond basic needs.
The writer is a development consultant and academic www.idi.org.pk
Push for peace parks
Dilip D'Souza and Beena Sarwar continue their correspondence, attempting to share thoughts honestly, without fear and hostility, exploring what divides our countries, and seeking ways to bridge the divide
March 25, 2010
Let's talk a little bit more this week about the notion of a joint war memorial, before moving on to other wrangles.
Precedents: The US has Civil War memorials that commemorate -- on the same piece of land and in at least one case I know of, Shiloh, on the same memorial tablet -- the patriotism and sacrifice of soldiers on both sides of that bloody, brutal war. To me, memorials like these were the best way (the only way?) for a deeply divided nation to reconstruct and move on, thus giving new meaning to the idea of "United" States. Triumphant memorials by the victors would have only deepened wounds and perpetuated the divide. Instead, Shiloh is a place for introspection and reflection, an attempt to understand and heal.
The big difference in our part of the world is, of course, that we are two separate countries. But the big parallel is that hostility runs as deep here as it must have during the American Civil War, and blood flowed as freely then as it has along our borders for years. So surely there's a place, a need, for healing in our parts as well.
I don't think we need to wait for the armies to stop seeing each other as enemies: after all, armies are conditioned to do that and personally I think that's OK. Yet I suspect there are more soldiers than we think who will see the merit of something like this. After all, it's they who put their lives in the firing line every day, allowing the rest of us the luxury of distant hostility. After all, too, both sides have memorials to their own patriotic soldiers killed in battle. This is really an argument to take all that a step further.
And isn't that what working towards peace is about: the extra step, the leap of imagination?
Let's incorporate the thoughts and lessons of the virtual memorials you mention, certainly. But let's imagine the shape a real memorial will take too, and then turn imagination to reality.
If we can start with that much, for now, that's good enough for me too.
all good wishes,
March 26, 2010
Enjoyed your thought-provoking email. The Shiloh cemetery where soldiers from both sides of the American Civil War are buried is a good example of attempts to overcome past hostilities and move on.
As you note, India and Pakistan are two separate countries. This underlines the greater need to find a space for healing. How about joint 'peace parks' in the border areas?
Anna Grichting, a German friend whom I first met in Lahore in 2001 at the Peerzada's annual Sufi music festival, introduced me to this concept a couple of years ago while she was working on her doctorate at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Anna has worked closely on this concept with Saleem Ali, a Pakistani professor who teaches Environmental Studies at Vermont University.
Anna has been working on a proposal for a peace park in Cyprus between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot Territories. There's a Peace Park in the Red Sea area between Israel and Jordan. The green belt that runs along the former Iron Curtain in Europe is basically a peace park.
The Peace Parks Foundation website notes that the first peace park of Europe was established in 1914 by peace movements in Sweden and Norway to celebrate 100 years of peace between the two countries. Why can't we aspire to leaving such a legacy for our coming generations?
War memorial or peace park -- or both? Certainly, many soldiers will support such ideas, considering they are the ones in the line of fire "allowing the rest of us the luxury of distant hostility" (love that phrase). But they cannot support such concepts openly, at least while in service.
Note how many retired armed forces personnel are in the forefront of Track Two initiatives for peace between the two countries. You might remember the joint declaration they signed against nuclear weapons after India conducted nuclear tests in 1998, followed by Pakistan.
Serving officers and soldiers cannot openly support such causes even if they believe in them. Unless they want to be 'conscientious objectors' who end up either deserting or being punished like Israel's 'Refuseniks' -- whom I salute.
Peace is essential, not only for India and Pakistan but for the whole of South Asia
By Hamid Mir
A statue of Sir Ganga Ram once stood on the Mall Road in Lahore. This statue of a Hindu engineer and social worker came under attack during the riots of 1947. According to famous Urdu writer, Saadat Hasan Manto, one day an angry mob first pelted the statue with stones and then smothered its face with coal tar. Then a man made a garland of old shoes and climbed up to put it round the neck of the statue. The police arrived and opened fire. Among the injured was the boy with the garland of old shoes. As he fell, the mob shouted: "Let us rush him to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital."
The statue of Sir Ganga Ram disappeared from the Mall Road Lahore within a few years after the creation of Pakistan but Sir Ganga Ram Hospital is still there. This hospital was built by Sir Ganga Ram in 1921.The Hindu name of this famous hospital survived because there was no politics behind the creation of this institute. The City of Lahore still has many hospitals and colleges with non-Muslim names like Gulab Devi Hospital and Dayal Singh College.
Like the Indians, Pakistanis also changed many British names. The city of Montgomery was renamed as Sahiwal, Lyallpur became Faisalabad and Lawrence Garden was named Jinnah Garden because all these British names were symbols of 'tyranny'. No Hindu or Sikh name was changed. We still have a Hindu Gymkhana in Karachi. Once a military dictator General Ziaul Haq tried to change the Hindu and Sikh names of some pre-partition institutes but the people of Lahore refused to allow this because they saw Ganga Ram, or Gulab Devi or Dayal Singh not as Indians but only good human beings.
This is also the case with Aligarh Muslim University established by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in 1875. This University is a source of pride not only for Muslims but for all Indians. Hakim Ajmal Khan and Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar established Jamia Millia Delhi in 1925 -- not just for Muslims but for everyone. The name of university also survived like Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Lahore. What is the lesson? If a Hindu does good work, his Hindu name will always be remembered in Pakistan. If a Muslim does a good work he can get respect in India.
Unfortunately, today our focus is not on good work because good work is not a big story. Most of my media colleagues in India and Pakistan focus more on negative stories -- violence and its effects are sensational, they draw more viewers, listeners and readers. Journalists focus on Hafiz Saeed because he hates India but they will not focus the humanitarian work of Abdus Sattar Edhi who runs the biggest private ambulance service in the world. They want to glorify the anti-Pakistan statements of Bal Thackeray but they don't care about Manmohan Singh who always faces problems whenever he speaks about peace with Pakistan.
Sometimes I feel that war is possible anytime in South Asia and peace is impossible. I think that we must stand by those who are attempting the impossible. Peace is essential, not only for India and Pakistan but for the whole of South Asia. Peace is like oxygen. Everyone needs oxygen. If there is less oxygen in one country of South Asia, it will be dangerous for the environment of the whole region. If there is less water in one country of the region, it will threaten the environment of the whole region. If there is enough water in Bangladesh then Bengalis will not cross the border and go to India in search of jobs. If there is enough water in Pakistan nobody will blame India for stealing river waters. Both India and Pakistan are facing water shortage but instead of working together they are involved in the blame game.
We must not think with our fears and suspicions but we must think with our best hopes for each other. Extremists are in a minority but they are organised and determined to implement their war agenda. Unfortunately, liberals and moderates are disorganised and full of doubts about each other.
Today, extremist forces have successfully raised tension in the region. Moderate forces, which currently include the governments on both sides, are reluctant even to talk to each other because they constantly suspect each other. In so doing, (i.e. not talking) they are playing into the hands of those who can create a warlike situation anytime by just organising one terrorist incident. Their survival lies in conflict and tensions, which they are successfully orchestrating. Our survival lies in peace but we are not joining hands to gain strength.
We the writers, poets, and journalists must play a greater role for minimising the tension. This tension is dangerous for peace. Peace, as I said earlier, is oxygen. Peace is a must for love. A loveless life is a fruitless tree and a friendless life is a rootless tree. Trees can live without fruit but not without roots. Let us discover our roots. We can discover our roots in Afghanistan.
When we look at Afghanistan we see only Taliban and terrorism because that is what the media shows us. But Afghanistan has also given us so many of Sufi poets and saints like Hazrat Ali Hajwairi (Data Ganj Baksh) of Lahore and Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer who are revered by all our religious communities. Hazrat Ali Hajwairi came from Ghazni to Lahore and Hazrat Khawaja Moeenudin Chishti had roots in Herat area of Afghanistan.
Instead of an India-Pakistan proxy war in Afghanistan why can't we follow the teachings of our great Sufi saints? Why can't we build an India-Pakistan Peace Hospital in Kabul? All the South Asian countries should start joint efforts for making peace and stability in Afghanistan. Once Afghanistan is stabilised it will be a big achievement of the whole region and then we could have a successful India-Pakistan Peace Mission in Kashmir.
Let us discover each other. We hate each other and we love each other. We have a unique and contradictory chemistry. Media in India and Pakistan have already discovered lot of hatred. Now is the time for discovering some love. We must focus on those who are attempting the impossible, which takes courage. We must discover some new Ganga Rams and Sir Syed Ahmad Khans in India and Pakistan. I am sure that our region has a lot of good people who are working not only for their own religious community, whether Hindu or Muslim, but for everyone. Good people are in the majority but their voices are not heard in media. They are dominated by war-mongers. We must become voice of good souls. We need these good souls not just for two countries but we need them for the peace and prosperity of the whole South Asia.
Hamid Mir read this paper at a conference organised by Foundation of Saarc Writers and Literature on March 26th 2010 in Delhi
The inclusion of India in the gas pipeline project will be of great benefit for all stakeholders
By Alauddin Masood
The final decision seems to have been taken for the supply of gas to Pakistan from Iran. After holding negotiations that spread over 15 years, Pakistan and Iran signed the agreement on March 16 in Istanbul for supplying 750 million cubic feet (mmcfd) of Iranian gas to Pakistan by the middle of 2015.
Understandably, the supply of gas from Iran will greatly help overcome the shortage of energy in Pakistan. The inter-state gas systems -- a semi-autonomous body of Pakistan -- and the National Iranian Oil Company finalised the agreements after having resolved all issues relating to the project, including pricing, project details and gas quantity.
Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Syed Naveed Qamar, has termed the signing of these agreements as 'a historic achievement and a milestone' towards meeting the energy needs of Pakistan. The agreements will now result in the start of actual work on Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project.
The sale-purchase agreement has already been signed for the supply of gas to Pakistan at the rate of 78 percent of the crude oil price. Under the agreement, Islamabad will make sure that it ensures unhindered gas supply to a third party, India in this case, if it wants to become part of the IP gas pipeline project at a later stage. Conceived in 1995, India quit Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project in 2008, after 13 years.
The Iranian gas will enable Pakistan to generate 5,000 MW of electricity. However, it will not be economically viable for domestic use because of higher prices. The current domestic price in Pakistan is $4 per one thousand British Thermal Units (mmbtu) while gas from Iran will cost $9 per mmbtu and could be used only for power generation.
Iran is an energy giant with one foot in the Caspian Sea and the second in the Persian Gulf. It is beneficial both for Pakistan and Iran to enter into a buyer-seller relationship for natural gas that Iran has in abundance and subcontinent's growing and energy starved economies desperately need.
Natural gas is transported either through overland or undersea pipelines in its natural state or as liquefied natural gas (LNG) in oil tankers. Liquefying gas and transporting it as LNG in oil tankers is a costly venture. For LNG transportation, the capital outlay that would need to be incurred will include an expenditure of over $2bn for a liquefaction unit, over $200 million for each LNG tanker and over $500 million for a re-gasification plant.
Amongst the other two options, the on-shore route is more economical. Costing about $2.538 billion, the more economical on-shore route has been selected as the obvious choice for the transportation of Iranian gas to Pakistan. The off-shore route for the transportation of Iranian gas to Pakistan is estimated to cost $4.46 billion, almost double the cost of on-shore route.
As per on-shore route, the IP gas pipeline, with 42-inch diameter, will enter Pakistan from Jiwani, near Gwadar in Balochistan. It will reach Nawabshah through coastal highway where it will be connected with the infrastructure of Sui Northern Gas Private Limited. Pakistan has already appointed a local franchised representative of a German designer as consultant to design pipeline specification.
Due to spurt in economy, Pakistan is facing a daily shortfall of over 400 mmcfd of gas, which is projected to increase to four billion cubic feet by 2025. To meet its growing gas needs, Pakistan has been considering four options for the execution of a gas pipeline project. These included: IPI gas pipeline, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, Qatar-Pakistan under-sea pipeline and LNG pipeline.
Recently, efforts have been stepped up to revive Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. A meeting of experts from the four countries is being convened in Ashkabad for April 17 and 18 to discuss the project route and the volume of gas Turkmenistan could spare for Pakistan and India.
There has been little progress on this project for the last four years. Earlier, in 2008, India was to host a meeting of experts on the project but it was postponed at the eleventh hour for unknown reasons.
The cost of 56-inch diameter 1,435 km pipeline (from Turkmenistan to Multan) has recently been revised to about $4 billion from $3.3 billion in 2004. The pipeline, which is to originate from Turkmenistan's Daulatabad gas field, will run 145 km in the host country, 735 km in Afghanistan, and 555 km in Pakistan (up to Multan) under the preferred southern route via Herat and Kandahar.
The Asian Development Bank, which has offered to provide technical support to the project, has concluded a thorough feasibility study which says that inclusion of India will be of great benefit not only for the project but for all stakeholders.
Alauddin Masood is a freelance columnist based at Islamabad.