do we stand?
Things change, do
See if it
A clear and effective consensus on the
issue of religious
By Raza Rumi
Western ‘think’ outfits such as The Fund for Peace, have been producing reports on several countries, including that on Pakistan, and their latest country report for Pakistan (dated August 2010) makes for a sobering reading. While they have not pronounced the utter failure or demise of the Pakistani state, it is noteworthy that the legitimacy of the Pakistani state, its security apparatus and group grievances are alarmingly high. For instance, on a scale of 0-10 (with 10 representing the worst-case scenario), group grievance stands at 9.4, state legitimacy indicator at 8.9 and the state of security apparatus at 9.7! The numbers may appear alarming and exaggerated and many nationalists in Pakistan would object to such rankings.
However, without going into a methodological and interpretative analysis of such data, it is abundantly clear that Pakistani citizens have never felt so insecure and perhaps dejected as they feel today. Of course, one needs to qualify such a generalisation by remembering the state of Pakistanis in the eastern wing of the country in 1971 when the majority of the citizens lost their faith in the Pakistan project. Notwithstanding the favourite refrain of India-bashing, the West Pakistani elites had brought the country and its population to the brink of a civil war which facilitated external intervention leading to the demise and burial of Jinnah’s Pakistan on December 16th, 1971.
Crisis of the Pakistani State
It does not require elaborate surveys and outsiders to tell Pakistanis what afflicts their existence. If state viability and legitimacy are hinged upon the production of reliable public services, then there is a serious issue here. The provision of basic entitlements and services such as security has declined beyond belief in recent years. The criminal justice system has moved beyond the state of dysfunctionality whereby, it is now nearly impossible to prosecute and punish terrorists. Chronic under-resourcing of public services such as health and education have shifted the production of these services to the private sector, thereby excluding a sizeable number of Pakistanis and created a human resource which is neither employable, nor an accelerator of economic growth. Recent data indicate that nearly 55 percent of Pakistanis live without adequate sanitation facilities and even a bigger percentage consumes unsafe drinking water. The state of rural and urban regulation remains a nightmare, even for well-meaning policy-makers who have to contend with lack of credible data and who are forced to engage with entrenched patrimonies and systems of patronage.
Is reform possible?
Reform therefore, in such a climate, has become a term of abuse. The international development agencies insist on correcting institutional practices and getting the policy incentives right. However, such is the discourse set by Pakistan’s xenophobic media, backed by an omnipresent security apparatus that any such external proposal is viewed as either an ‘interference’ or a direct challenge to the country’s ‘sovereignty’. Billions of dollars of international aid which have been channeled into Pakistan in the last three decades have yielded marginal results at best. First of all, the policy and operational prescriptions are either ill-conceived, or irrelevant; and in cases where they are pertinent, the implementing public institutions have failed to convert resources into results due to endemic rent-seeking, corruption and malfeasance. For instance, the US $10 million Social Action Programme of the 1990s had little or no effect on the state of social indicators by the end of the 20th century. Inherent to this predicament remains the unrepresentative nature of policy making and governance, often mediated by the executive branch of the state which has itself remained unaccountable to the people whom it purports to represent.
Little faith in democracy
Representation or the pretensions of a representative democracy have also lost credibility in the eyes of the citizens. First of all, political parties have barely found an environment conducive to free mobilisation and organisation, due to long interregnums of authoritarian rule in Pakistan. Three decades of the country’s existence were spent under unalloyed military rule and the rest is a story full of institutional conflicts, ineptitude of the political elites and perennial political uncertainty. In the year 2011, Pakistan finds itself, once again, in the throes of deep political uncertainty where the fall of the civilian governments is predicted every second day. Even if the civilian governments are going to last, their record in governance and credibility at large has been deeply tarnished due to their own follies as well as a strong anti-democracy ‘opinion’ which permeates the unelected institutions of the state, powerful sections of print and electronic media and the urban middle classes which favour a stable, nationalist and semi-autocratic mode of governance. This is not a situation limited to Pakistan alone. Experiences from the South-East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and several others demonstrates how middle classes are more inclined towards authoritarianism than the messy and dirty travails of representative democracy.
In Pakistan, the situation is further compounded by the fact that at the time of independence, its unelected institutions were much stronger than political parties and representative structures. In part, this also explains the different trajectories that India and Pakistan followed in terms of establishing workable systems of democracy.
Extremism and militancy
We could have overcome these challenges, had the Pakistani state not dabbled in short-termism since the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan in the late 1980s. The security establishment focused more on external victories and the acquisition of ‘strategic depth’ by completely ignoring the domestic fallout of nurturing a jihad industry, of espousing Wahabi sectarianism and ignoring the essential imperatives for state-building in several parts of Pakistan. Today, these sidestepped spaces have transformed into ungovernable areas in the form of FATA, parts of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa, unregulated settlements of Karachi and many towns and hamlets of southern Punjab. Worse, the number of armed militants and semi-autonomous Islamist groups has proliferated across the country. Ordinary Pakistanis have gradually come to the realisation -- despite propaganda about a ‘foreign hand’ in every problem faced by the country -- that the state is on the retreat. The gravity of this situation is also not so openly acknowledged by the doyens of the security establishment. Military operations in Swat and FATA (2010) and now the admission by a senior military official on the effectiveness of drone strikes in targeting terrorists (March 2011), indicate that the sense of foreboding associated with, and the realisation of tackling this home-grown menace is more widespread than we think. However, military solutions have rarely succeeded in any context. The issues of poverty, deprivation and marginalisation of Pakistani citizens will require political and economic transformations and a course correction of the country’s ideological path. This can only happen in the medium to long terms.
Flawed domestic and foreign policies and intense geo-strategic pressures have resulted in the alienation of the Baloch population in Pakistan. It is no longer a simple case of state reform, but a far deeper malaise compounded by the dwindling faith in the Pakistan project by the minorities (Ahmadis, Shias, and Christians, etc), the Baloch people and segments of Sindhi and Pashtun populations. The fissures within Pakistan have deepened in the past decade and the society as a whole finds itself battling the imposition of a homogenous, ‘Urdu-Punjabi-nuclear’ identity and an Islamicist ideology. Ethnic divisions in Karachi are a source of perennial violence; sectarian conflict has intensified and become a tool for militancy to flourish and the marginalised sections of the population are getting closer to a situation where internal implosions are quite likely in the near future. Perhaps, the most significant and sadly, the most under-rated dynamic remains the marginalisation of Pakistan’s youth which is the single largest group in the country (65 percent of the total population) which finds little hope or opportunity in their collective future. Unfortunately, signs of any policy shift and the will to drive a social change agenda remain missing amongst the Pakistani elites.
Nobody wants to break up Pakistan
Unlike 1971, no regional or global power wants Pakistan’s disintegration. If anything, there is a consensus across the globe that Pakistan needs to be stabilised and its state capability enhanced to ensure world peace and to avoid unlawful nuclear proliferation or even conflagration. More importantly, a viable state and effective law enforcement institutions are needed in Pakistan by the two emerging economic giants of Asia, i.e., China and India, since Pakistan’s instability and internal conflict are inherently transnational in nature. Of course, the US and the West are even more concerned for a variety of reasons. In the short-term, the US and NATO want a quick resolution to the Afghanistan imbroglio and in the medium-term, the arrest of the rapid spread of Al Qaeda’s ideology, especially amongst radicalised sections of global Muslim population. Whether we like it or not, Al Qaeda and its cohorts have been focusing on Pakistan and being provided with a hospitable reception, not to mention effective fund flows from the Gulf States.
Where do we go from here?
It is now a cliché to state that Pakistan’s democratic process may show the way forward, in terms of mediating competing interests and ideologies, and reconciling fissures within the polity. Sadly, there is no alternative for a complex society such as Pakistan to be governed by any other means. A plural and inclusive democracy is a sin qua non for the long-term stability of the country and for negotiating the tricky civil-military imbalance. However, democracies cannot function without economic development, education and a culture of tolerance. In the short-term, the political parties of Pakistan need to wake up from their self-indulgent torpor and realise that their inaction will not just be detrimental to Pakistan’s future, but also to their very survival in a political climate defined and dictated by extremist militant groups.
Political parties need to forge consensus on three vital issues: a) workable electoral reforms to rescue the credibility of the democratic process; b) a bi-partisan economic agenda which enables the state to finance essential services and secure entitlements for the poor, the youth, as well as the minorities of this country; and c) negotiate with the military on the scope of foreign policy objectives viz-a-viz India, Afghanistan and the US. The convenient policy of seceding security and foreign policy to the military is a negation of the public mandate that the electorate provided to the ruling coalition in 2008.
The next area of urgent reform pertains to the state of education in the country. From the narrow definition of education reform in improving state schools, to the broader agenda of ensuring secular and broad-based quality instruction in the public schools and colleges, education sector rectifications simply cannot be delayed anymore. Finally, a clear and effective consensus on the issue of religious intolerance, extremism and vigilantism has to be developed and must look beyond the perceptibly convenient option of military action(s).
The writer is a
policy adviser based in Lahore. He blogs at www.razarumi.com and manages
webzines Pak Tea House and Lahore Nama. Email: [email protected]
Winners and losers
We are given the luxury to completely
avoid asking difficult
By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar
It is disturbing how the ‘war on terror’ has dehumanised us Pakistanis. Over the past week two massive bomb blasts in Faisalabad and Peshawar competed for media attention with the CIA and ISI, the never-ending spat(s) between the ruling party and other mainstream parties, and the trials and tribulations of Pakistan’s cricket team. Pakistan’s TV media has very quickly learned the art of dramatising war and violence, a la its American counterpart. The result is a dumbed-down TV watching public that is now so used to live ‘war’ reporting that it is riled up more by Kamran Akmal than by indiscriminate violence against innocents.
It might be different if the majority of us actually got to hear the thoughts of those who live in the midst of this ‘war’ on a daily basis. Instead, we are fed only those snippets of information that reinforce the broader narrative, so much so that we are given the luxury to completely avoid asking difficult questions of ourselves, our beliefs and biases, and the inextricable relationship between an increasingly dysfunctional polity and the identity that we claim for ourselves.
Let me come at this from a different slant. Cricket is undoubtedly the most popular sport in this country (notwithstanding its lack of popularity in some peripheral regions). The Pakistani cricket team is arguably the one thing that brings us together as Pakistanis -- and it is telling that there is so much discord both within its ranks and in way most of us relate to it. Most of us are incredibly cynical in the way we respond to our cricketers’ performances -- or antics, as the case may be. Yet we also follow games quite religiously, and no more so than during a World Cup.
I have been paying close attention to the current edition of cricket’s biggest tournament, and particularly to the fact that many Pakistanis are as focused on India as on Pakistan. A bad performance by our team produces the usual condemnations and conspiracy theories, only to be followed quickly by reference to India. The gist of what most of us say is: ‘Pakistan will never win the World Cup, but India will not either.’
My sense is that most who are downplaying India’s chances don’t actually believe what they are saying. In other words, there is a creeping fear that India might actually win the damn thing, which strikes us as an utterly depressing scenario. For the record, I agree with the pundits (and bookies) that are proposing India as the most likely winners of the game’s showpiece event. But that is besides the point.
What is important is the fact that so many Pakistanis -- and particularly young people who follow sports -- appear to be as desirous of Pakistan winning as they are of India losing. Indeed, given how unconvinced we are about the professionalism of our own cricketers, one might even venture that we want India to lose more than we want Pakistan to win.
Thus, even in the world of cricket, one in which we can ostensibly abstract at least a bit from the harshness of the real world, India’s large shadow looms over us. There is, of course, nothing unusual or wrong about disliking opponents in the realm of competitive sport. All around the world diehard fans have a team or individual sportsperson that they abhor. So, for example, many cricket lovers, including those who would classify themselves as neutrals, have been thrilled at Australia’s fall from grace in recent times after almost a decade of total domination.
But in our case, the India syndrome extends much beyond cricket, and even beyond a traditional rivalry between contiguous states (in the mold of, say, Australia-New Zealand; USA-Canada, etc. etc.). It is a state of mind, and it is reflected in everything from the way we read history (or misread history, rather), conceive of security, and, most importantly, construct identity.
And so it is that the spiral of violence and intrigue that has started to feel quite run of the mill in the so-called ‘age of terror’ can be easily explained away as the work of Big Brother. In recent years, and particularly over the past 2-3 years -- not coincidentally since the military has retreated from direct control of government -- India’s evil designs have been complemented by America’s. That this is the same America that continues to pour money into Pakistan’s well-oiled military machine is a detail that unnecessarily complicates the official narrative, so best to leave it out.
There should be no doubt that the India syndrome makes for a terrifying, insular worldview, one that only survives due to a maddening self-righteousness. In this way, we are not dissimilar to Americans (by which I mean citizens of the United States of America) who have also been bred on a history devoid of facts and a myth of exceptionalism that breeds contempt even while it is based upon a hopeless ignorance.
Indeed, all states in the modern world try and fashion the public mind so as to assert and reinforce their own legitimacy. But this does not mean that we should continue to simply avoid thinking about our unique identity construction and the sanctimonious behaviour that it breeds. India, for all of its internal failings, has had more success in bringing together the billion and a quarter people that live within the state’s borders, and not on the basis of an obsession with something outside of it. Its well-documented failures persist (Kashmir, the north-east), but I am fairly certain that Indians watching the World Cup are concerned only about their team winning and not Pakistan losing.
During a discussion in one of my classes this past week I debated with students why there may be ordinary people in this country who might actually be happy when Pakistan loses; these are the same people who burn Pakistani flags, or commemorate 14 August as a black day. This was a disconcerting thought for many in the class, and the knee-jerk response of at least some of them was to suggest that such people have probably been instigated by the proverbial foreign hand. I had made my point, and (thankfully) my students were able to see it. I would like to believe that at some World Cup sooner rather than later we will all be able to come together and cheer our team on, without questioning their integrity and with little concern for the fortunes of other sides. We have got a long way to go to get there, but I suppose there is no harm in hoping.
Energy shortage has also contributed to decline in FDI inflows by pushing up the cost of doing business
By Hussain H. Zaidi
At a time when the economy of Pakistan is in dire need of external capital inflows to finance the current account deficit, contain fiscal deficit, generate jobs and push up the growth rate, foreign investment is drying up. During the Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, foreign direct investment (FDI) decreased to $3.72 billion from $5.40 billion in FY08. During FY10, FDI inflows fell further to $2.15 billion. During the last two years (FY08-10), FDI dropped by 150 percent.
During the first seven months of the current fiscal year (July-January FY11), FDI inflows came down to $946 million compared with $1.12 billion (by 18.4 percent) during the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year. Financial services and communications have been the major recipient of FDI during last half decade. Both these sectors have seen FDI inflows go down significantly. Financial services FDI went down from $1.86 billion in FY08 to $707 million in FY09 to $163 million in FY10.
FDI in communications dropped from $1.62 billion (including $133 million in privatization proceeds) in FY08 to $879 million in FY09 to $ 291 million in FY10. In the oil and gas sector, FDI went up to $775 million in FY09 from $635 million in FY08 before falling to $741 million in FY10.
On calendar year basis, FDI inflows decreased from $5.6 billion in 2007 to $5.4 billion in 2008 to $2.4 billion in 2009. The fall between 2007 and 2009 was 125 percent. During the same period, global FDI inflows dropped from $2.1 trillion to $1.1 trillion by 91 per cent.
Among the developing countries, FDI receipts came down from $565 billion in 2007 to $478 billion in 2009 by 18 percent. In South Asia, however, FDI inflows rose from $32.2 billion to $38.4 billion by 19 percent. The increase in South Asian FDI was principally due to India, whose FDI receipts rose from $25 billion in 2007 to $34.6 billion in 2009 by 38 per cent.
The above paragraph shows that though in the wake of recession in the developed economies, world FDI inflows as well as those of developing countries as a group have also declined, the fall has been far more substantial in case of Pakistan. And in case of India, FDI receipts have gone up significantly. Therefore, global recession, though one, cannot be the principal cause of drying up of FDI inflows into Pakistan and we need to look for indigenous factors.
Though Pakistan’s regulatory regime is as much investment-friendly as that of any other country in the region, the problem lies with the political and economic environment. A country characterized by political instability, bad law and order, poor governance, adhocism of policies, and corruption does not have a good potential for foreign investment, because these factors increase the risk of doing business.
Coming to Pakistan, after a period of relative political stability for five years -- during which FDI inflows registered a drastic increase though the bulk of those were restricted to the telecommunication and financial sub-sectors -- the country drifted into political instability in March 2007 when the Chief Justice of Pakistan was suspended by the then President. Since then the country has passed through political upheavals one after the other.
The Economic Survey of Pakistan (2009-2010) reports that between 2002 and April 2010, a total of 8,141 incidents of terrorism took place in Pakistan causing 8,875 casualties. Of these, some 1906 incidents occurred only in 2009-2010 in which 1,835 people were killed. The cumulative economic cost of terrorism between 2004-05 and 2009-2010 is estimated to be more than $43 billion. It may be mentioned that that the economic cost is showing rising trends. In FY05, the cost was $4.4 billion, which increased to $5 billion in FY06, $6 billion in FY07, $7.7 billion in FY08, $8.6 billion in FY09 and $11.5 billion in FY10.
One of the repercussions of militancy is lack of investment. The security measures taken by the government have increased the cost of doing business. The anti-terrorism campaign has caused inefficiency as resources have been diverted to security matters at the expense of economic development. Political uncertainty breeds speculation and results in the flight of the capital. As the country’s credit rating goes down, it reduces its value as an investment market.
The economic factors which promote investment include the size and growth of the economy, price and productivity of labour and other inputs, physical and commercial infrastructure, market-oriented policies like a floating exchange rate, the level of demand and proximity to other markets.
Take the relationship between economic growth and FDI, which goes both ways. Rapid economic growth attracts FDI, and increased FDI inflows in turn contribute to economic growth. In case of Pakistan, where domestic savings fall well below the desired level of investment, foreign capital has played a cardinal role in economic growth. It was in FY03 that the economic growth got momentum when the real gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 5.10 percent compared with 3.6 per cent in the preceding year. The same year (FY03) FDI inflows jumped to $798 million from $485 million during the previous year.
A reciprocal relationship exists between a country’s competitiveness and FDI. While FDI may help make an economy more competitive through transfer of technology and better managerial skills, it is a country’s given competitiveness that affects the level of foreign investment that it receives. Pakistan’s position on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is on the fall.
According to the annual Global Competitiveness Report, Pakistan’s GCI ranking fell from 92 (out of 131 countries) in 2007-08 to 101 (out of 134 countries) in 2009-2010.
The above paragraph shows that not only Pakistan has a rather low ranking on all the indicators except market size, the same has some down on almost all the indicators. This also shows that the market size, though an important factor, is not sufficient to attract FDI.
Finally, energy shortage, which assumed dangerous proportions during the last couple of years, has also contributed to the decline in FDI inflows by pushing up the cost of doing business.
Out of reach, still
Water and sanitation related diseases are
By Aoun Sahi
In July 2010, the General Assembly of UN adopted a resolution recognising that access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right. Pakistan voted in favour of the resolution. This is not the first time that Pakistan has made such pledges on an international forum. In November 2008, during the third South Asia Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN) Pakistan, along with other SAARC countries, not only admitted that access to sanitation and safe drinking water is a basic human right but also promised to include water and sanitation as a basic right in the constitution.
The other major commitments the government of Pakistan made during Delhi SACOSAN were to accord priority to sanitation, to improve conditions of sanitary workers, and to achieve MDGs on Sanitation in a time-bound manner. The Delhi declaration also promised to ensure basic access to sanitation facilities to all by reducing disparities through appropriate budgetary policies, with active participation, contribution, decision-making and ownership by communities.
SACOSAN is the only political platform in South Asia region that talks about sanitation. The overall goal of the SACOSAN process was to accelerate the progress of sanitation and hygiene in the south Asia region so as to enhance its peoples’ quality of life in realizing the MDGs.
The fourth SACOSAN is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka from April 4 to 8 this year. So far, it seems all governments in the region, except Sri Lanka and Maldives, have failed to fulfill their commitment on sanitation. According to the WHO, 1.027 billion (64 percent) out of 1.595 billion in South Asia who do not use improved sanitation facilities and are exposed to severe health risks as well as adding to environmental pollution.
The urban-rural disparity in the use of improved sanitation facilities is another important concern. The majority of the people who do not have access to water are located in rural areas. In Pakistan, 72 percent urban population has access to sanitation facilities while the number is only 29 percent for the rural population.
Pakistan is committed to achieving the MDG target by 2015 of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe and improved sanitation. Given the baseline of 33 percent improved sanitation coverage in 1990 according to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP), the MDG target for Pakistan is 67 percent improved coverage.
Both the costs associated with lack of access to safe water and basic sanitation and benefits derived from improved access are very important for poor people. The ratio of economic returns from every US $1 invested in water and sanitation is estimated at $9 in developing countries (WHO 2008). Despite these benefits, almost all countries in South Asia are off-track in achieving the sanitation related MDGs.
With the current rate of work on sanitation Pakistan will be able to achieve sanitation related MDGs by 2028 instead of 2015. Ironically, Pakistan’s national sanitation policy 2006 promises that 100 percent population will be served with sustainable access to improved sanitation. It is interesting to mention that during Delhi SACOSAN (2008) then environment minister of Pakistan, Hameed Ullah Jan Afridi, declared that Pakistan was not only well on its way towards meeting the MDGs target for sanitation, but would also surpass it soon.
Pakistan is amongst the countries with highest number of people with no access to improved sanitation facilities. There is little separation of industrial waste from municipal waste in Pakistan, with both flowing directly into open drains and then open water bodies. The Pakistan Strategic Country Environmental Assessment notes that nullahs and storm-water drains collect and carry untreated sewage which then flows to streams, rivers and irrigation canals, resulting in widespread bacteriological contamination.
About 2,000 million gallons of sewage is being discharged to surface water bodies every day. It notes that while some sewerage collection systems exist, collection levels are estimated at 50 percent overall in country (and only 20 percent coverage in rural areas), with only 10 percent effectively treated. Treatment plants exist only in a few cities, and few are fully functional. In katchi abadis, almost all wastewater is disposed of through open, unlined drains.
There is no formal solid waste management system that exists in rural areas. As villages grow and urban morphology shifts, this has become a growing problem in large villages and urban areas which are rapidly assuming an urban form. It is estimated that only about 50 percent of solid waste is actually collected with the remaining dumped at roadsides, in drains and at dump sites.
Collection efficiency varies and coverage in higher income areas is generally considerably higher than in low-income ones. Some 250,000 tons of medical waste is produced annually in Pakistan, and mixing of medical waste with municipal solid waste poses further problems. While hospital incineration practices are improving, this remains a serious issue. Agricultural and industrial waste also pose a serious issue. It is estimated that between 1000-1500 tons of outdated pesticides are in stock in Pakistan. Disposal of hazardous waste remains the responsibility of local governments that are ill-equipped to adopt consistent procedures or to regulate the private sector. Uncollected and unsafely disposed of waste poses a serious public health risk through clogging of drains, formation of stagnant ponds, and contamination of soil and water.
The Pakistan Strategic Environmental Assessment (World Bank, 2006) estimates, that of the costs to the national exchequer of environmental degradation, the highest is from water and sanitation. Child mortality in Pakistan remains high in relation to other countries. Although there has been a decline from 117 per 1000 live births in 1986-1990, to 94 per 1000 live births in 2002-2006 showing a 20 decline in 16 years, this still means that one in 11 children will die before reaching the age of 5.
Under-5 mortality is 28 percent higher in rural areas. Water and sanitation related diseases are responsible for some 60 percent of the total number of child mortality cases in Pakistan. It is estimated that the total health costs from these two diseases alone is Rs114 billion or 1.75 percent of GDP. NGOs working on water and sanitation in Pakistan are of the view that the cost to the national exchequer from these two diseases alone is far greater than the resource allocation to water and sanitation.
Access to improved sanitation for all seems a distinct dream at the moment as no political will is there to solve these issues. Our policy makers need to understand that they should spend money on improved sanitation facilities. Civil society organisations hope that Pakistan’s country paper in upcoming SACOSAN in Colombo will be based on ground realities and the government will accept that it has failed to fulfill its commitments made in Delhi SACOSAN in 2008.
Education policy does not focus on enhancing environmental literacy
By Mohammad Niaz
Since human beings share the environment with other living creatures, protection of environment and natural resources ought to be prioritised for sustainable flow of benefits to future generations. Current education system mainly focuses on prescribed syllabi. However, little focus has been laid on promoting environmental literacy in an effective manner. Consequently, there is little comprehension and understanding of people-environment relationship, which results in lack of a positive approach among people. This is one of the major contributing factors towards prevalence of unfriendly environmental activities.
In fact, environmental literacy begins with imparting awareness which helps understand the issue that leads to appropriate action for which schools as well as society serve as grooming grounds. However, crux of the problem is that in developing nations many people largely lack environmental knowledge and so is the lack of individual as well as collective action.
In such situations, people in society usually overlook the factor how human interaction with the environment can have both positive and negative impacts on people and the natural world. In this backdrop, efforts to conserve, preserve, and protect natural resources for a more sustainable future can not be materialised.
But there are some glimmers of hope here and there. National Environment Policy of Pakistan 2005, for instances, envisaged integration of environmental education into the curriculum from primary to university levels. The policy further highlighted ensuring establishment of environmental education/training institutions as well as environmental clubs in educational institutions throughout the country. However, no efforts have been made to translate these into action.
According to a report in 2009, literacy rate in Pakistan was around 58 percent. The National Education Policy of Pakistan 1998-2010 states that curriculum at all levels of education would be reviewed to create a relationship between education and the environment. However, no specific policy guidelines were provided regarding environmental education either for formal or non-formal education. The education policy does not focus on enhancing environmental literacy.
The government prepared National Conservation Strategy (NCS) in 1992 which recommends increase in environmental awareness and education through a number of initiatives, including specifying target group-based environmental communication; prioritizing sustainable development; and mobilizing media, etc. It amply shows how much attention has been focused on these parameters.
Except for environmentalists and conservationists, people resort to unfriendly environmental activities. Mostly media, both print and electronic, portray only glimpses of facts about environment. Awareness of environment issues among the grown-ups is important because it is the decisions they make that affect what children learn. Children are part of the society and need to be taught to be environmentally aware.
Environment-literate people know that nature is a network of relationships with other biological entities. Therefore, they have an important role in informed environmental decision-making with the ability to understand ecological, biological and physical systems. They acquire an affinity for biological entities such as forests, water, soils, fauna, and place and these parameters are reflected in their actions and sayings.
Development of environmental ethics and promotion of environmental literacy needs consistent formal and informal mode of education. It is necessary because development at the cost of environment causes damage to the people and the environment.
Saving our environment promotes a sense of responsibility for our children and grandchildren in a world that we inherited. Green belts and eco-friendly buildings need to occupy urban landscape in designing human societies. But, instead, we see contemporary developmental trends and current approaches shape the landscape.
Deforestation, solid waste issues, habitat fragmentation, and pollution, etc, have shaped the mindscape of many people in our society where these indicators of environmental degradation are considered as normal phenomena. Environmentally literate people consider every resource as their own and tend to ensure conservation and careful use.
Children need to explore and understand environment through direct experiences in the natural world that promotes emotional bonds with nature. Schools are the first places, which reconnects children to nature through a number of activities, including planting, growing, harvesting, and recycling so that they apply their environmental knowledge in planning and management of technologies and social institutions.
Students know that plants prepare food in the process of photosynthesis which fulfil energy needs. But later, this preliminary knowledge is often forgotten by many people in the real world situations. The point is that by continuous use of resources people generally think resources do not deplete or they are infinite.
In fact, nature serves as a laboratory for observation and experimentation. It is not only a library of data about geology, flora, fauna, and history but also a testing ground for man. Clarity of mind and purpose comes only if outdoor learning opportunities supplement indoor learning and teaching. We lack the ability to understand the importance of our relationship with our places. If the learning places include places like natural areas, forests, streams, lakes, agricultural lands the opportunities for environmental learning multiply accordingly.
Our environmental literacy is confined only to keeping the environment of-our homes clean. The extent of pollution and depletion of natural resources reflect the degree of awareness about ecological and environmental literacy. Time demands we changed our approach to environment for sustainable economies and to resolve ecological and environmental challenges.
The writer is Deputy Conservator Khyber
Energy-starved Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India should be serious about tapping and sharing energy resources in the region
By Prof. Dr. Azmat Hayat Khan
The much-awaited gas pipeline agreement (TAPI) was signed in December 2010 by state officials of Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India in the Turkmen capital. This marks a new era of pipeline diplomacy between the energy-rich Central Asia and South Asia.
The project is being developed by the Asian Development Bank at an estimated cost of 7.6 billion dollars. The pipeline will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then India. The pipeline is going to start gas supply by the end of 2014 or early 2015 as predicted in the recent agreement.
The 1,680 kilometers pipeline will run from the Dauletabad gas field in Turkmenistan to supply 33 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas a year to Afghanistan’s volatile southern provinces from Herat to Kandahar and then through Quetta and Multan in Pakistan. The final destination of the pipeline will be the Indian town of Fazilka, near the border between Pakistan and India. Pakistan and India are going to get 42 percent share each while the remaining would be given to Afghanistan.
TAPI is expected to boost economies of all the four countries. It is a vital project for the development and progress of the region. The pipeline is also potentially good for peace in South and Central Asia and needs the parties involved in the agreement to take concrete steps to make it a reality because of their economic interests.
It would provide revenue and diversification of export routes for Turkmenistan. For Pakistan and India, it would address energy deficits while the potential for export to other countries through the Pakistani port of Gwadar is a further advantage. In Afghanistan, it would provide revenue for development and gas for industrial enterprises. The deal is consistent with the US declared policy of linking Central and South Asia and diversifying export routes for Turkmenistan’s gas.
Another significance of the project is that a huge number of human resource would be recruited for the construction of the pipeline and, even thereafter, on monitoring, storage, and other related assignments. According to a rough estimate, more than 12,000 jobs would be created for the Afghan people only during the construction of the pipeline. In the long run, it would provide direct and indirect employment opportunities to people of all the four countries, thus substantially reducing unemployment in these countries. Apart from this aspect, for the countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, the project would bring a huge amount of transit fee, as the pipeline covers huge stretches through the Pak-Afghan territories, e.g. : As a transit route Kabul could earn billions of dollars which is estimated at 1.4 billion dollars a year .
The project is the first formal effort for linking the energy rich Central Asia with the energy deficient South Asia. It would provide an outlet to the land-locked Central Asian Republics (CARs) through a shortest possible route for the rest of the world as well.
Besides a lot of hope for the economic prosperity TAPI is expected to bring in, there are fears about the completion of this project. The pipeline has to pass through some conflict-hit areas of Afghanistan, some of which are still under the occupation of Taliban and warlords. Member countries of TAPI and the ADB have shown concern over the security aspect of the project in the Taliban-dominated areas and some areas of Pakistan, frequently hit by terrorists.
Pipeline construction cannot begin unless there is at least relative peace in the areas and all stakeholders, including the Pashtun, participate in the project. The mix of ethnic groups, long-standing tribal traditions, and history of minimal governance create major challenges which requires political solutions rather than military.
TAPI is economically and geo-politically significant, but teeming with many difficulties that will challenge all participants in the years ahead. In both Afghanistan and the tribal area of Pakistan, people along the route have long histories of independence from central and foreign powers. Unless their cooperation is sought and the benefits to them are clear, pipeline security cannot be ensured.
As decided, the construction of the pipeline is set to start in 2012, and the four countries hope to see it complete by the end of 2014, which many believe is not a realistic timeframe because of security concerns in Afghanistan, FATA and Balochistan areas of Pakistan. But the demand for energy in both India and Pakistan is increasing and they have no option but to take measures for completing the project.
It is India’s energy needs which have driven the country into Central Asian politics. With a population of over 1 billion and a booming economy it is ranked as the world’s sixth biggest energy consumer. Now to keep its economy growing at an average annual rate of 7-8 percent, the country will need to increase its energy consumption by roughly 5-10pc each year.
Pakistan’s gas requirement is increasing annually by 10 percent. With the widening supply-demand gap, unrest due to consumer and commercial load shedding, TAPI gas pipeline is considered vital to fulfill Pakistan’s growing energy requirement. Pakistan has also welcomed Indian participation in this gas pipeline project and would get lucrative cash of around seven hundred million dollars per annum in the form of royalty of the pipeline as a transit route to India.
Pakistan imports 3.5 billion dollars of furnace oil per annum which puts a very huge import burden on the country. If supply from TAPI starts this import figure is likely to come down considerably while the domestic consumer is going to get gas on affordable rates. On an average, the total revenue and saving to Pakistan through this pipeline project is estimated to the tune of six billion dollars per year which shows the significance of TAPI to Pakistan which is facing severe liquidity crunch coupled with an ever rising inflation.
This huge project is very important for Afghanistan as well and it would be the biggest project in the country to date. That is why the country has shown its resolve to deploy five to seven thousand security forces to safeguard the pipeline route. Kabul seems to have the political will and a powerful economic incentive to keep the Taliban away from TAPI. In this regard, however, the ongoing efforts of Hamid Karzai for the reconciliation and re-integration of Taliban and warlords needs further support.
Prior to TAPI, another gas pipeline agreement between Iran Pakistan and India was signed which was severely opposed by the US, but it favoured the Turkmenistan pipeline which shows that TAPI is more practical. But at the same time, Islamabad is not ready to abandon the IPI and cites its severe energy crisis as a legitimate reason to undertake multiple energy projects. India has also said it has not shelved the IPI project although it is concerned about the security in Pakistan.
Iran and the US do not have the best of relations that is why US forced both India and Pakistan not to sign the agreement and many believe that the existing agreements are basically MoUs and it is yet to be seen if the project eventually becomes a reality.
Pakistan and India are both energy insecure countries. Economic dependency of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India for energy resources is likely to improve bilateral relations among them and it will ultimately add to regional stability provided the pipe dreams comes pipeline reality.
The writer is Vice Chancellor University
of Peshawar and former Director of Area Study Centre, University of
There is a glimmer of hope that the untaxed money stashed away in foreign banks would be brought back
By Huzaima Bukhari and Dr. Ikramul Haq
This quote by French critic and journalist, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808-1890), very aptly describes the process of change in rigid societies -- where stagnation ultimately leads to violent changes. The original French version “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” -- “the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing”, usually translated as “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. It prompted Michel Foucault, noted French philosopher and historian, to later write, “Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same” in his internationally-acclaimed work, The Archaeology of Knowledge (1972).
It is heartening to note that the process of change in Pakistan under not-very- ideal democratic set up is taking place -- though there is tough resistance from vested interests to retain the things as they are. Three developments during the week are notable -- some members of the ruling classes have shown desire for change which is a very positive sign.
The desire for good governance is universally accepted, but the issue is how to achieve this goal in Pakistan. To address this vital question, we suggested an enactment aimed at disqualifying all such persons from participating in the elections. Mr. Raza Hiraj, member of the National Assembly belonging to PML-Q, has presented a draft constitutional bill seeking the insertion of Article 63(B) after the existing Article 63(A) of the Constitution to this effect. The draft amendment reads as under:
“63 B; Disqualification On Certain Grounds: (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution or any other law for the time being in force, a person shall be disqualified from service in Pakistan or holding any office in any organisation, including members of the armed forces and judiciary; whether wholly or partly owned or controlled by the federal or provincial government or being elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) or Provincial Assembly or local government if:
n he maintains an account in any bank or financial institution in a foreign country whether in his own name, or in the name of his spouse, children or dependents or as the case may be
n or holds a dual nationality or has a permanent resident status of any other country whether in his own name, or in the name of his spouse, children
n or dependents or as the case may be, or holds an office of profit or interest in any company or organisation established in a foreign country whether in his own name, or in the name of his spouse, children or dependents or as the case may be, or
n any property whether free hold, lease hold or even in the form of license, assets, shares or any interest in any company based in a foreign country, whether in his own name, or in the name of his spouse, children or dependents or as the cay may be, or (e) carries out business including any commercial activity in any organization or establishment based in a foreign country whether in his own name, or in the name of his spouse, children or dependents or as the case may be.”
The statement of objects and reasons for bill, which is to be treated as a private member’s bill, states that “the bill is for the people who have faith in Pakistan and who believe in Pakistan. It is now up to the politicians to rise above their party consideration to work for the good of the people and the country. The bill, if carried out in letter and spirit, would eradicate the misery of those underprivileged who are unaware of their association with their motherland”.
The second very significant move in sight is the following draft resolution that Senator Mr. S.M. Zafar intends to table in the forthcoming session of Upper House:
“It is resolved that since there is a paradigm change in the financial and banking world on the issue of secrecy of account and since the developed countries have shown willingness to cooperate with the state whose government brings to its notice the money taken out of the country, illegally and particularly through avoidance of income tax and on signing of MOU between the countries of origin and that of the country in whose bank or financial institution, the amount is deposited or if any property is traced to have been purchased through that amount, the later country where the amount is so deposited or used, do transfer the deposited money and take further action for the return of the assets of the state of origin. Therefore, the Government of Pakistan under Article 25(1) of the Avoidance of Double Taxation Treaty with Switzerland, should as a first step, seek information regarding Pakistanis maintaining accounts in the Alpine state, as has been done by many countries in recent months”.
In these columns, we requested the government to constitute a bipartisan house committee to study the methods and channels for bringing looted, untaxed money, lying in various banks abroad. We hope that all parliamentarians, irrespective of their affiliation with any political party, would support constitutional amendment bill and resolution of Mr. Raza Hiraj and Mr. S. M. Zafar respectively for eradicating corruption and bringing back looted national wealth from abroad.
We have also been pleading convincingly for levying agricultural income tax on rich farmers -- most of them are absentee landlords -- as share of agriculture in total tax collection is less than one percent whereas its contribution in the country’s GDP is nearly one fourth. A few days back, former foreign minister and chairman of the Farmers’ Association of Pakistan (FAP), Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said the agricultural sector be brought into the tax net and big growers, by paying income tax must play their role in national progress.
We have been arguing time and again that small farmers should be exempted from the taxes but those who earn substantial income from agriculture should also pay income tax. We have already presented a draft law in these columns for easy and hassle-free collection of agricultural income tax at federal level. The present provincial laws, as we analyzed, are just hoax and there is no political will to tax the rich landlords who dominate the assemblies.
By amending the Constitution as was done in July 1977 by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but overturned by Ziaul Haq, income tax on agriculture can be made a federal subject with the condition that entire proceeds, after charging collection fee by federation, would go to provinces. We hope that the Finance Minister, Mr. Abdul Hafiz Shaikh, would initiate this move in the coming budget to fullfil his promise of taxing the rich rather than promoting regressive taxes like Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST).
Kala Dhaka, a semi tribal area, has been changed into a settled district and renamed as Tor Ghar to stem militancy
By Zia Ur Rehman
Although the government claims Kala Dhaka, a semi tribal area, has been changed into a settled district and renamed as Tor Ghar in accordance with the wishes of local tribes, the new district is created to safeguard other parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), especially strategically located Hazara Division, from militancy. Hazara division borders Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan in the north and Muzaffarabad in the east. The local militants had been using the semi-tribal area for carrying out terrorist activities. These militants had reportedly taken refuge in the area after fleeing the military operation in the Malakand division.
On January 27, Kala Dhaka was officially declared the KP’s 25th district, changing its tribal status to a settled district, and renamed as Tor Ghar (the area’s historical Pashto name which means “black mountain’) during a ceremony at President’s House, Islamabad. Tor Ghar was previously a provincially-administered tribal area in Mansehra district which shares borders with Buner and Shangla districts of Malakand division and other areas of Hazara division. The Indus River separates Tor Ghar from Malakand division. The area is inhabited by five main Pashtun tribes -- Hassan Zai, Basi Khel, Aka Zai, Nusrat Khel and Mada Khel -- and is governed through the centuries-old local jirga system.
Following a military operation in the Malakand division, militants fled to tribal area of Kala Dhaka where the local militants, led by Momin Khan and Maulana Dost Muhammad, were already making inroads in the territory. Later, in neighbouring districts of Hazara division, especially in Mansehra, militants started their subversive activities and attacked the offices of international aid organisations and police stations.
On March 9 last year, six people, including two women, were killed when the militants attacked the office of World Vision -- an American aid organisation in tehsil Oghi. The militants had also attacked Mansehra and Balakot police stations on February 20 last year, killing a station house officer (SHO) and injuring nine cops.
Although the responsibility for attacking the police stations was claimed by a newly-formed militant group “Jandul-Hifza”, local sources say these attacks were carried out by militants belonging either to “Lashkar-e-Ababeel”, a militant outfit headed by Mujahid Mahiyuddin or the Momin Khan-led militants operating in the semi-tribal area of Kala Dhaka. Similarly, on April 6, 2009, four people, including three female staffers of a USAID-funded project “Rise International”, were brutally killed by militants in Shinkiari area of the district.
The militants operating in Kala Dhaka and Mansehra had been involved in Swat-like activities for the last three years and they had established camps across the hills of Chinikot and Pakal Valley in Mansehra. Several Kashmiri militant groups also ran eight training camps in Batrassi forests of Mansehra before 9/11 which were closed down later.
The rising militant activities compelled the government to launch a military operation in the area. The local political administration contacted the elders of local grand jirga, comprising all five clans of the area, and formed armed lashkars (militias) to restrict infiltration of militants from Buner and Shangla. Momin Khan, belonging to Basi Khel clan, assured the jirga not to conduct any acts of violence.
“Initially, local tribes were not in favour of changing the centuries-old tribal status of the area, but then they accepted the change by presenting their conditions to the government,” an elder of Hassan Zai tribe told TNS. “Local tribesmen are yet not ready to abandon their centuries-old jirga system.”
Demands of tribesmen included tax exemptions, arms licenses to legalise weapons, free health and education services and relaxation of educational qualification in appointments on government jobs. The tribal elder claimed KP Chief Minister Hoti had agreed to the conditions.
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