Less than two dollars a day!
There’s no improvement in the law and order in
sight since businesses in Karachi took a nosedive
By Shujauddin Qureshi
The economic and
industrial hub of the country has witnessed persistent breakdown of the law and
order during the last few months, which has not only hampered business
activities in the city, but put a dent in the overall economy of Pakistan.
The ongoing incidents of
target killings of political workers of all leading political parties,
kidnapping for ransom, grenade attacks and firing on shops and traders for not
paying extortion money has very badly hit the local economy. Add to it the
energy crisis, absence of investment, and growing unemployment
Besides Karachi, the rest of
the country is also facing an economic slowdown because of severe energy crisis
amid prolonged load shedding of electricity and gas.
The failure of the government
to maintain law and order situation in Karachi and growing insecurity among the
businessmen has made Pakistan a risky country for local and foreign investment
where even local investors are reluctant to put their money in the businesses,
leave alone foreign investors, who often follow local trends in investment
while deciding to invest in a specific area.
“The government has
completely failed in maintaining law and order situation in Karachi, which is
the jugular vein of the country’s economy,” says Senator Haji Ghulam Ali,
former President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).
“It is very difficult to achieve the 25 billion dollar export target for the
currency fiscal year because of law and order in Karachi”, he tells The News
“The rest of the country is
facing energy crisis, which is not so sever in Karachi, but the breakdown of
law and order has equally damaged the economy,” he remarks.
“The government has failed
to arrest a killer or a terrorist,” laments Senator Haji Ghulam Ali, adding
that the government should seriously take measures to maintain law and order
situation to attract foreign investment in the country.
Businessmen of Karachi find
themselves in a blind alley. While they fear they might have to stop doing
business they also predict that if the situation continues the country would
face a capital flight, which has already started in recent years.
Many industrialists have
moved their capital to countries like Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Middle East
because of law and order situation. Humayun Bashir, President Overseas
Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), in a statement linked the
continuous decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) to the security
conditions in the country.
Still, Karachi the abode of
estimated 20 million people is attracting labour force from northern parts of
the country due to employment opportunities and industrial activities in the
city and the population is increasing rapidly because of this migration
The population influx
pattern, which might have seen a decline in recent times, has nonetheless put a
stress on civic amenities and housings and also made it a difficult job for
security agencies to control law and order in the city.
The frequent breakdown of the
law and order has also created problems for new entrants who face difficulties
in finding livelihood opportunities.
The situation in Karachi has
worsened, especially during the last two years mainly because of growing
incidents of target killings of political workers, professionals and
businessmen and increasing dacoities and kidnapping for ransom. The citizens of
Karachi witnessed a brief period of peace when the Supreme Court of Pakistan
took suo motu notice on worsening law and order situation in Karachi in August
2011 and continued proceedings till mid of September, 2011.
The court’s verdict,
however, did not provide any long lasting respite to citizens. Soon after the
apex court’s bench finished the proceedings and left the city, the target
killings, terrorism incidents and extortion of businessmen started again.
The city has witnessed an
increase in target killing incidents in recent months, whereas the provincial
government is making tall claims of improving the situation. Chief Minister
Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik claimed that the
law and order situation has rapidly improved in Karachi after a meeting on law
and order on August 7.
This could happen, according
to them, with concerted efforts of Police, Rangers, law enforcement agencies
and cooperation of the general public. Rehman Malik said there is a clear
warning to target killers and extortionists.
Karachi’s businessmen, who
had been protesting frequently on the worsening law and order in the city
holding demonstrations, see no letup in the situation because of absence of a
political will, and incompetence of the law enforcement agencies.
The armed groups supported by
major political parties are challenging each other to get hold of certain areas
or to collect extortion money, but due to political reasons the law and order
agencies are unable to control these armed groups.
Although the government has
deployed Rangers exercising police powers to arrest the culprits, there is no
major success in arresting the culprits. Except for occasional reports of
search and arrest of criminals in newspapers and TV channels there is no
concrete and visible improvement in the situation.
“When a doctor is hurting
you, then who would treat or heal you,” asks Ateeq Mir, Chairman All Karachi
Tajir Itehad (AKTI). The government is no longer interested in improvement of
the situation as all the major ruling political parties and their groups are at
loggers head with each other for their control on certain areas,” Atiq says
talking to TNS.
Ateeq Mir says according to
estimates, the city generates trade volume of Rs. 2-3 billion per day and the
turnover of the informal economy is manifold. The country is losing about 40
percent of the revenue due to worsening law and order situation in Karachi
alone,” he adds.
According to him, instead of
any improvement, the law and order situation in Karachi is deteriorating
further with the passage of time. “We don’t see any improvement in the
situation unless Army is called in according to the provisions given in the
Constitution and laws,” he believes.
Mir informs the other day a
delegation of Karachi’s traders met with former Chief Justice of Supreme
Court of Pakistan Justice (Retd) Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui who said, according to
the Constitution, it is the prime responsibility of the government to maintain
law and order situation and government’s ignorance and incompetence is
pushing the people towards civil disobedience.
There is widespread fear of
terrorists in business centres as every other businessman in major wholesale
markets receives chits demanding extortion money. If a businessman does not
comply, he is kidnapped or attacked.
Karachi’s traders are
receiving daily messages through written notes, phone calls, or SMS from
extortionists demanding millions of rupees. According to Ateeq Mir, businessmen
pay millions of rupees to extortionists every day and traders are considering
add the amount in their income tax returns. They are planning to submit
“extortion slips” along with tax returns to the Federal Board of Revenue.
Despite tall claims of the
government regarding improvement in law and order situation, the people of
Karachi, especially traders continue to suffer at the hands of outlaws and
there is no hope in sight for any improvement in the situation.
Much talked about
devolution of powers from federal to provincial governments under the 18th
constitutional amendments 2010 have yet to be seen as effective and viable
amendments. Passed by majority votes in both houses it became an act of
parliament when the President signed the bill on April 19, 2010.
Concerns were shown right
from the beginning about the ability of provincial governments to assume
effective regulatory authority in these areas. We shall examine the challenges
facing transitional process from pre-reforms to the current scenarios.
While more than two years
have passed there is a need to analyse process and results thus far. It is
beyond doubt that had these reforms announced decades ago, Pakistan would have
been a far better place.
The 18th Amendment reflects a
broad political consensus on how Pakistan can actually evolve into a real
federal state as opposed to the notional federalism of the past where
provincial autonomy had become a residue of central patronage and not
guaranteed by the Constitution.
Reflecting on the framework
of reforms 2010 there are two significant dilemmas that need to be discussed.
First, the provinces have been operating as centralised bureaucratic
apparatuses with little or no powers and accountabilities at the local levels.
Second, and perhaps far more important, the provinces have to build their
technical and political capacities to handle the new powers and functions,
which are now flowing at an unprecedented speed. These two challenges continue
to be the real test of political governments.
The 18th amendment enacted
more than 100 changes, both large and small to the 1973 constitution. Among
several other key reforms, including transfers of powers from President to the
Prime Minister, limiting courts powers to endorse suspensions of the
constitution, setting up independent judicial commission, autonomy of election
commission the bill also enhanced provincial autonomy.
Tensions between the federal
government and the provinces over the distribution of authority and revenues
date back to Pakistan’s inception and have prompted some of its most
traumatic upheavals, most prominently the 1971 secession of Bangladesh.
Many of the country’s
leading political parties have long demanded increased autonomy for the
provinces. The 18th Amendment took important steps toward resolving some of
these tensions through devolving authority and strengthened role for the
Council of Common Interests, a joint federal-provincial forum.
It eliminated the
“Concurrent List,” an enumeration of areas where both federal and
provincial governments may legislate but federal law prevails.
Another important change
specified that future National Finance Commission agreements — which set the
distribution of national revenues between the federal government and the
provinces — cannot reduce the provinces’ share beyond that given in the
The amendments did deliver on
promises by the main parties to shift to a more democratic and federal system,
and in this respect it represents a major accomplishment for a political
government. But few Pakistanis saw these amendments as directly linked to the
needed response to the country’s deep economic and security challenges.
During the last two years of
devolution, 10 of the 48 ministries at the federal level were to be devolved.
The Committee set June 30th 2011 as the deadline for this process. Taking up
these recommendations, the federal cabinet devolved ministries for special
initiatives, Zakat and Ushr, population welfare, youth affairs, and local
government and rural development to the provinces in December 2010.
Office buildings, equipment,
development funds and projects for fiscal year 2010-11 were also devolved to
provinces. International matters of these ministries were transferred to the
Economic Affairs Division (EAD) and some planning-related matters to the
Planning and Development Division. However, overall planning of ministries
transferred thus far will be the responsibility of provincial governments.
The second phase of the
devolution process commenced in April 2011, with the devolution of the
ministries for education, social welfare, and special education, tourism,
livestock and dairy, rural development and culture. The process has not yet
In the third phase that will
commence soon after the transfer of three federal ministries, including sports,
women development and environment, to the provinces will take place. No
timeframe has been given yet.
Legitimate concerns have been
shown by political groups, civil society institutions on the hurdles in the
smooth transferring of powers to the provinces. They believe that colonial
mindset, vested interests and political influences have been instilled in the
policies of the federation.
Take example of Federal
ministry of food and agriculture; the subject was a provincial matter even
before the 18th Amendment but all policy matters, foreign aid/loan and
regulatory functions were exercised by the federation. Now the ministry has
been devolved to provinces but the situation on the ground is unchanged.
Not much has been changed so
far in terms of federal and provincial authorities and size of governments.
After devolution reforms ministries have been re-established with a new name
within few days to continue business as usual. At least five new federal
ministries were formed making a mockery of the devolution and decentralisation.
While the centre has
abolished ten ministries so far, there is a deadlock over the staff and
resources. Provinces complain that they cannot pay the pay bill of surplus
staff and centre has retained all the existing federal public servants, as any
move to right size will be fraught with political dangers.
Similarly, since June 2011
the matters regarding staff salaries have been unresolved and largely remained
in the domain of provinces but without guaranteed and additional resources from
the federal government.
On top of all other factors,
bureaucracy resisted the true spirit of devolution by using delaying tactics
and implying procedural complications. The same concerns have been voiced by
the Implementation Commission.
The Higher Education
Commission (HEC) played the game of resistance well. These issues require
critical thinking and more technical options than simple case of ‘doing the
devolution’ in a hurried manner. Above all, it also necessitates the need for
civil service reform.
If the provinces have to
manage their administrations they need to revamp provincial civil service
cadres to classify officials according to expertise, skills, integrity instead
of seniority and province versus federal divide.
While a few provinces, such
as the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have made some progress to internalise
new roles and responsibilities, the situation in Sindh and Balochistan is
The key reason for lack of
clarity relates to the political environment existing in these provinces. The
federal government has the duty of helping the provinces out and the Council of
Common Interest (CCI) must take note of the situation and appoint special
purpose committees to review the situation.
It shall also be recognised
now that without genuine and effective local governments the process of
devolution cannot achieve its desired results. The devolution from the centre
will be meaningless if centralisation at the level of province is not taken
care of. It is necessary that the provincial laws – that exist in draft forms
– are debated and approved by the legislatures.
Frequent changes in the
Implementation Commission; resource gaps at provinces to effectively handle and
manage added responsibilities, political consensus among provinces on
devolution timeline and framework are some of the key factors to make this
important devolution transition possible.
Provinces must fast-track
their preparations and think of devolving powers and resources to local
governments. The impediments to full provincial autonomy under the 18th
Amendment need to be tackled despite the odds. This may be our last chance to
The writer is Deputy Chief of
South Asia Partnership Pakistan and Global Campaigner
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is
lagging behind in key education indicators, especially female literacy and,
hence, a Sector Plan for a planned programme.
In KP, there are 27614
schools in the public sector, out of which 407 are closed. Total enrollment
(excluding deeni madaris) is 5.1 million, out of which 3.764 million children
are enrolled in the government schools and 1.304 million enrolled in private
schools (EMIS 2010-11).
The share of private sector
in enrollment is 26 percent and madaris as 4 percent, jointly picking a load of
about 30 percent students from the government. Dropout rate from kachi to class
5 is 45 percent (39 percent boys and 53 percent girls).
Dropout rate from class 6 to
10 is also 45 percent. There is huge gender and regional disparity in terms of
educational institutions, literacy and quality teaching staff.
Girls’ schools are 34 percent of total schools. 8385 new girls’
schools are required to equate the number with boys’ schools.
An overwhelming portion of
the education budget is spent on recurrent heads, mainly salaries, in contrast
to the meager amount spent on quality improvements, such as teacher’s
training, curriculum development, supervision, monitoring, etc.
Ninety seven percent of the
budget is consumed in salaries. In this backdrop, the education plan has been
prepared to plug the gaps in infrastructure, improve the quality of teaching,
increase enrollment and retention rates, build the capacity of the teachers and
meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets.
The Education Sector plan is
intended to serve as a guiding instrument for preparation of annual working
plans. Scope of the plan is limited to Elementary and Secondary Education, a
sub sector of education.
technical and vocational, professional and special education, etc, are not
covered in the Plan and hence it is Schools Sector Plan to be appropriate.
The role and impact of the
fast growing private sector, which is catering for 30 percent of the enrollment
and Madaris, having sizeable number of children have not been accounted for in
The base figures for the
Financial Year-2007-08 and 2008-09 have been projected till FY-2015-16. First
the figures of 2007-08 and 2008-09 given in the Sector Plan do not match the
actual figures given in the budget documents.
Secondly, the projected
figures (2008-09 to 2011-12) are in great variance with the actual budgeted
figures. Besides that the main factor in the projected budgetary requirements
and variation in actual budgetary provision is the mismatch between the
resource availability and the priorities of the government.
Contrary to sectoral plan,
there is no change in the form and pattern of resource allocation. Both
recurrent and development budget is prepared and executed at the old pattern,
i.e., the salary requirements are met with nominal allocation for operational
requirements and the development budget is predominantly block allocation, and
the projects are apportioned to constituencies irrespective of comparative
needs, improvement in quality or addressing the regional and gender
There are three main
components of the budget and likewise the projections have been classified,
i.e. salaries, operational budget (day to day expenses) and development budget
(construction of new buildings). Comparative
position of variation in the projected and actual salary budget for FY-2007-08
to 2011-12 is reflected in the following table:
The gap between the projected
and actual allocation for salaries has widened with every passing year. There
is sharp increase in salary budget due to annual increase announced by
government every year and the additional posts created for the newly
constructed schools, which have not been accounted for in the projected
The gap between the
operational recurrent budgeting is also at the same pattern. There is huge
difference in the projected and actual allocations. Major reason of the
variation is; unrealistic and ambitious projections in the plan for expansion
in the schools’ network and capacity building and gender based incentives;
without political ownership and without perceiving the resource constraints.
The projections of
development budget are also not different. There is significant variation in
the projected development budgetary requirements and the actual outlay.
The projections on account of
establishment of additional infrastructure and its staffing and operation and
maintenance have also become infructuous due to the macro level variation in
the financial forecasting. Besides, there is similar significant variation in
the sub component wise budgetary projections and actual allocation.
There is no allocation in the
recurrent budget for purchase of text books, girls stipends, the planned
capacity building, reforms in examinations etc. These are part of the
development budget. Furthermore the planned projection for these interventions
is in great variance with the actual allocation.
The pension liability of the
Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is fast increasing due to increase in the
intensity of attainment of age of superannuation by employees. Education is the
major sector, adding major share of pensioners’ to the pool. The total
pension liability of the Province has shot up from 7 billion to 16 billion in
three years. This aspect has not been touched.
The projections of the
Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS) and the new form of sectoral budgeting
called Medium Term Budgetary Framework (MTBF), prepared by DFID, as part of the
Provincial Reforms Program are also in variance with the Education Sector Plan.
The projections of the Post Conflict Need Assessment (PCNA) Report, prepared by
UNDP for the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) are also in
variance with the Education Sector Plan.
The utopian plans, devoid of
demographic, fiscal, economic, political and social assessment would always
confront with similar fate. Education is a driver of economic development, and
the huge public sector spending is going waste, in terms of quality education.
The education departments
have become major employment provider, having 51 percent of total employees of
the Provincial Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and consuming about 31 percent
of the total recurrent budget (FY 2011-12). The core issues are poor
governance, lack of accountability and gender disparity and not wayward
The writer is Director,
Finance Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and can be accessed at
Salary Budget Actual Salary %
in the Plan
sub-sector of agriculture in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is faced with various snags
which are hindering farm mechanisation in the province.
A senior official of the
Agriculture Engineering Department (AED) said that meagre funds allocations,
fragmentation of land holding by division, higher rates of agricultural
machinery in the market, lack of awareness in farmers, policy blues and poor
control on inflation and machinery prices have checked farmers from adopting
Farmers, however, also say
that government’s indifference, low annual funds utilisation ratio, lack of
coordination between the public and private sector and illiteracy and poverty
of farmers and shortage of machinery pools, staff and offices at the grassroot
level are rendering farm mechanisation a distant dream.
Though AED’s share in the
budget has been increased to 0.38 percent of total provincial ADP this year
from 0.19 percent in last year with its allocation jumping to Rs0.37bn this
year from Rs0.16bn in last fiscal, it’s still way short of the requirements
of the sector.
With present meagre
allocations, agriculture mechanisation is impossible. While the government is
either disinclined or incapable to give the required resources to the
department, the private sector too has neglected the vital sector in its
Low priorities of investment
in agriculture sector both on part of the government and farmers have led to a
perpetual state of subsistence farming.
The AED needs plenty of
bulldozers to prepare more soil for cultivation as the already scarce under
cultivation land in KP is fast decreasing for urbanisation and soil erosion.
For this sufficient funds are
required. But the provincial government continues to allocate meagre funds to
the vital sector. Donor agencies, therefore, should come forward and help
provide the machinery.
The AED was disbanded in the
province in the Musharraf regime and its bulldozers, etc, were handed over to
the department of Agriculture Extension. “The AED was reinstated a few years
ago. It got back its bulldozers but in pathetic condition”, said an official
who didn’t want to be named.
“The department is
utilising over 22 years’ old outlived machinery that needs immediate
replacement. We have only 30 bulldozers in workable condition while another 15
are non-functional, though repairable. There are 7 machinery stores in KP, one
each at divisional level and most districts of the province have no such
And the machinery there is
outdated, not replaced since 1992. The federal government had in 2009 promised
to provide 100 bulldozers to the province under a project but the promise
wasn’t met,” he added.
Even today, only 9 off the 25
districts in KP have seeds grading plants and the rest still remain deprived of
According to the official,
the government will procure 25 bulldozers this year for reclamation of land in
KP. “Its tender was floated last year but no responsive parties turned up.
Tenders are now being issued again and bulldozers will be in our hands at the
end of this fiscal year hopefully. These will help reclaim 10000 hectares of
Only about 20 per cent
farmers use modern agriculture technology. This is because either most have no
money to buy and, if they have, no knowledge or inclination to use the modern
farming techniques and services.
But the official said the
current year ADP has several good schemes for the sector. “The government
will also install 3 power winches which will be utilised for installation of
tube wells. Besides, the construction of agriculture engineering workshop in
Mardan will also be completed. Work on the installation of 500 dug wells
(2009-12) in water scarce areas of KP will hopefully complete by the end of
this fiscal year. Another project for small farmers land development worth
Rs100mn also continues,” he added.
According to the ADP
document, only Rs15mn could be spent by June last on the land development
scheme and the throw forward amount will be Rs69mn beyond this fiscal year.
Low funds utilisation and
delay in completion of the projects is another problem. In all, Rs1.19bn of
total agriculture ADP of Rs1.35bn could be utilized last fiscal. Most of the
schemes of the AED from last fiscal were throw-forwarded to this year.
For example the installation
of dug wells began in 2009 but still continues. Similarly, the land development
scheme was launched in 2010 but is far from completion as yet. The delay
increases the cost of the projects besides depriving the farmers of the
benefits of the projects.
Insufficient staff is yet
another problem. The number of officials of the department, according to the
official, was 1500 a decade ago which has decreased since then as different
offices and posts were given up in downsising initiative.
AED has great significance as
it provides machinery to farmers for reclamation of cultivable wasteland and
addition of cultivable land that enhances agricultural produce. It also helps
exploit the surface and sub-surface water resources for irrigation by use of
machinery. It also provides free of cost counselling services on the farm
mechanisation related problems. And it intermittently helps the government in
calamities like earth-quake and floods, etc, by offering the heavy machinery
lying in its machinery pool.
According to an estimate,
each year 0.1mh of irrigated and 0.28mh sof rain-fed lands is feared lost to
soil erosion in KP, FATA and PATA. Another 3.9mh of non-arable land is also
threatened by it.
Lands in rain-fed areas in
southern parts of the province, Charsadda, Mardan and most of those in the
hilly areas of Dir, Swat and Chitral are threatened by erosion, especially
where there are little vegetations, forests or crop cover.
Agriculture worldwide has
undergone great changes and various technologies are used for ploughing the
fields and sowing, harvesting and packing crops but farmers in many parts of KP
are still seen ploughing their fields with bullocks and hand-harvesting is
widespread, resulting in delays and losses.
Mechanised farming can
increase per acre yield but small landholding in the province is the hurdle.
The government could solve this problem by importing or evolving miniature and
using laser technology for the purpose.
Zahir Khan, a farmer from
Peshawar, said that the provincial government should procure agricultural
machinery and provide it to the farming community on subsidised rates across
the province. It must purchase bulldozers in large numbers and open machinery
pools in the district and tehsil level with a transparent monitoring mechanism
in place to ensure merit-based provision to the needy farmers.”
“These machinery pools
could be opened on the basis of public private partnership and could be
extended to the grassroot levels. These machinery pools have long been promised
in several agriculture policies promulgated by the government. The government
also should streamline the laser technology for land levelling in the
province,” he added.
After suffering heavy
financial losses due to low prices of sugarcane crop last year, the farmers of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province this year again are worried for their crops,
apparently due to torrential rains, high-prices of fertilisers and insecticides
and lack of attention of the government towards their genuine problems.
Besides the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), where ongoing militancy and frequent military
operations had caused heavy losses to the so-called farming and agricultural
sector, the farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are facing numerous
challenges during the past few years and many of them were now gradually
quitting their profession.
Like the rest of the country,
the farmers in KP have been complaining of suffering heavy financial losses due
to skyrocketing prices of fertilisers, insecticides, untimely rains and
persistent power loadshedding.
The ever-increasing cost of
production and low rates of their produce is a major concern of the farmers
these days, making it difficult for them to sustain with their profession.
A noted farmer, Haji Niamat
Shah of Sawaldher town of Mardan district, is one among the many farmers who
are seriously thinking to quit farming his forefathers had adopted several
decades ago, due to increasing cost of production and no return.
“My family is associated
with farming for the past several decades but now I have noticed we are going
in losses for the past few years as we get no income from this profession. Take
the example of maize crop on which I had spent Rs11000 per four kanals but the
crop was damaged during the recent storm and torrential rains,” the elderly
He said first there was
continuous dry spell and when their crops ripened, rainstorm started in most
parts of the province and seriously damaged their crops.
“The government is unable
to take our problems seriously and instead of promoting agriculture and farming
in the province, it banned selling and export of gur (raw sugar) to the tribal
areas and Afghanistan from where it is onward transported to Central Asian
Republics where gur has a very good market,” Haji Niamat Shah complains.
Another farmer, Shahid Aziz,
in Charsadda district is having similar concerns for the farmers in KP. He says
the government should have better plans for this year to address farmers’
problems after last year’s woes of the growers.
“Most of the farmers are
still having gur of the last year which they could not sell due to low prices
and now another sugarcane season at their threshold. The farmers would face
similar financial losses they suffered last year due to lack of proper
agricultural policy,” the farmer says.
He said the only way the
government can help small sugarcane growers is to reduce prices of fertilisers
and electricity as most of the farmers are finding it hard to irrigate their
crops from tubewells due to power loadshedding and high-prices.
“Pakistan is an
agricultural country but policies here are always formed against the interests
of farmers. Even India is better than us where prices of fertilisers are almost
half than in Pakistan,” says Haji Niamat Shah.
Similarly, he says, if the
government wants to encourage the farmers to sell their sugarcane crop to sugar
mills and produce more sugar, it should exempt the two major sugar mills from
sales tax. It would help the mills run during sugarcane crushing season and the
mills would pay it as support prices to the growers.
“Why the farmers would sell
their sugarcane crop to the sugar mills as they always intend to fleece them by
purchasing their crops at throwaway prices.
Haji Niamat Shah, who is also
president of an association fighting for farmers’ rights in Mardan, says
tobacco growers are facing problems similar to sugarcane farmers.
He says a stand-off over
fixing tobacco prices between the growers and tobacco companies had delayed the
buying season for two months as the growers were not willing to sell their
produce to the companies fixed by the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) while the
companies refused to purchase their crops at the price set by a commission set
up by Federal Agricultural Ministry.
“Tobacco growers in KP
annually pay Rs50 billion to the federal government as tobacco cess but the
government failed to save their interests against the powerful tobacco
companies,” Haji Niamat Shah complains.
He believes there should be a
commission comprising representatives from the farmers and government to
utilise some of the amount the federal government every year collects as
tobacco cess on the welfare of tobacco growers and promotion of the crop.
Right after the
independence of, formulation of educational policy got importance for the fact
that education is perceived as a means to mould the nation of a country and the
society to achieve the desired goals.
The same was seemingly done
in the First Educational Conference 1947, in which Pakistan was perceived as a
country having deep religious roots, hence educational policy was developed in
a certain way. Development of religious values was ingrained in the educational
policies at the cost of plurality and Western values.
Whereas, at the time of
developing and creating dominance of religion in education, the policy makers
forgot and set aside the dream of the nation’s founder of a “united nation
in which people considered as citizens of Pakistan irrespective of their
However, being five to seven
percent in total population of Pakistan, the representation of minorities and
even their efforts towards the progress of the country have been forgotten in
the educational discourse.
Ignorance and missing details
in forming educational policies is not a new phenomena but a process started
from First Educational Conference 1947 to the Educational Policy 2009. Such
suppression of minority representation was started even before passing of an
official Constitution of the country.
In Objectives Resolution,
prepared by the Constituent Assembly on 12th March 1949 as a base for the
formulation of first Constitution, Pakistan was designated as a state which
raised concerns about the minorities of that time and this act was criticized
by them in terms of being transferring them into second class citizens.
Other than neglecting
minorities’ representation, the mention of religion in a dominant way in
educational policies in general and in course book in particular has not only
pushed religious diversity into social exclusion but helped in submerging their
identity even as citizens of Pakistan.
How minorities were deprived
of their identities of being Pakistanis and being diverse can be seen in
various education policies.
In the “National Plan of
Educational Development 1951-1957” inclusion of religious teachings was
envisioned as necessary tool for ideological shift of newly developed nation.
However, in the “Commission of National Education (Sharif Commission)
1959”, certain measures were taken for children form minorities along with
children of the majority.
The commission also declared
that non-Muslims should be taught according to their own religious beliefs in a
subject called Dinyat (religious studies).
Nonetheless, the educational
policy formulated in General Ayub’s period criticised in almost all of the
subsequent educational policies. While keeping in view the criticism as most
important factor, the educational policy 1970 took a step further for non
Muslims with nationalization of their missionary schools.
Education Policy and Implementation Programme 1979” fueled the factors of
conservatism, obscurantism and sectarianism in the nation and thus skewing the
space for minorities to live in the country.
In the same policy, factor of
religion was also introduced in science course books like biology, chemistry
and mathematics. The decision of separate electorate system for people of other
religions was also taken under this policy.
The “National Education
Policy 1992” of Mian Nawaz Sharif’s regime while widening the circle of
“Ideology” in education sector included teachers along with students. The
policy had a special emphasis on teachers to become an ideal religious teacher
for students. Teachers’ training programmes, on-service and pre-service, were
designed to prepare them to become a focal point for preaching of religion and
The “National Education
Policy 1998-2010” was drafted, again, during Mian Nawaz Sharif’s time. In
this policy, apart from making the subject of the book compulsory from grade I
to B.A, B.Sc levels, students from other religions got attention and they were
provided with “Moral Education/Ethics” as an alternate subject.
While following the same
pattern “Education Policy 2009” also talked about separate Ethics book for
minorities. Moreover, removal of any type of material against religion or
against any cultural or linguistic minority was also there in the policy.
The writer is a researcher
(IP) gas pipeline project has recently received a boost after the announcement
by Iranian authorities that their side of the pipeline would be ready by March
20 next year.
But challenges to the
pipeline on the Pakistani side raise doubts about its completion as scheduled.
National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) Managing Director, Javad Oji, on August 20
said that Iran’s seventh gas trunk-line from Iranshahr, southeast of Iran to
Pakistan border and Zahedan city is 90 percent complete and would start
operating in September 2013.
The announcement by Oji has
revived the hopes regarding the completion of IP gas pipeline. Tehran has
demonstrated exceptional commitment to the project by completing most of its
900 kilometers part of the pipeline. The Iranian steadfastness has been despite
heavy opposition to the project.
The need of laying energy
pipelines from Iran to Pakistan and further to India has been felt since long
in the region, specifically in the last two countries due to their extreme
energy deficiencies with Iran the closest possible source of getting cheap oil
and gas for them.
But there have been few
initiatives and concrete actions from the stakeholders in this regard. After
much procrastination Pakistan and Iran signed an agreement in 2010 to go ahead
with the construction of the pipeline.
Originally, India was also
part of the project and it was then known as Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas
pipeline. However, Delhi pulled back apparently due to high cost of the gas
which Tehran demanded. However, it is believed that it was either the US
pressure or India’s bid to appease Washington which led to her saying adieu
to the project.
Still, India must have
calculated on the one hand the potential benefits in the form of gas which it
required for its fast growing economy and sustaining its current high-levels of
economic growth of around nine percent.
The 56-inch diameter IP gas
pipeline is approximately 1750 kilometers long of which 900 kilometers fall
within Iranian and 850 kilometers inside Pakistani territory. The project once
completed would supply 750 million cubic feet (21 million cubic metres) to one
billion cubic feet per day gas to Pakistan by mid-2015.
The pipeline would pass from
Paras gas-fields in Iran’s southern port city of Assalouyeh in Bushehr
Province through to the city of Iranshahr in Sistan-Balochistan province on the
border with Pakistani Balochistan province. A third-party financial assessment
by a German firm estimated the IP gas pipeline project to cost $1.2-1.5
Islamabad’s signing of the project with Iran, it has not been able to take
concrete steps to construct its part of the pipeline. There have been multiple
impediments to the construction inside Pakistan which include unavailability of
funds; nationalist insurgency in Balochistan province, where most of the
Pakistani part of the IP pipeline has to be built; and above all pressure from
Whereas, there has been
strong commitment and conviction from Pakistani leaders and authorities right
from President Asif Ali Zardari to secretaries of relevant ministries to the
project but little has been done to complete it in time.
This has cast a long shadow
on the future of the pipeline and has also put Pakistani leaders and officials
in a dilemma. “Iranian side of the project is nearing completion but there
are several problems on the Pakistan side; Balochistan is in turmoil,
availability of finances is another issue and Americans are opposing it tooth
and nail and then there is no clear commitment from one of the potentially
experienced partners, Russia and China to provide expertise and technology for
the IP. Therefore, Pakistan has to show extraordinary resilience to make the
project a success,” says Sarfaraz Khan, Director Area Study Centre for
Central Asia, Russia, China and Afghanistan, of University of Peshawar.
Due to Washington’s
opposition to the IP gas pipeline Islamabad has found it extremely difficult to
arrange funds of around $750 million to construct the pipeline on her
territory. While the US has been advising Islamabad against going ahead with
the project, potential investors have shied away because of precarious security
situation in Pakistan.
In Pakistan certain quarters
believe Washington supporting Baloch nationalist insurgency, which against the
backdrop of US-Iran deep animosity seem somewhat understandable.
After showing some initial
interest to provide financial and technological support to the IP project
portion inside Pakistan both Russia and China failed to give clear commitment
to the project.
Keeping this in view as well
as its national interest Tehran has offered Pakistan to give $250 million to
complete Pakistani side of the project through the mechanism called
Islamabad has been asking
Iran to increase the credit amount to $ 500 million. Pakistan and Iran will
resume talks in the first week of September to finalize the arrangement of
finances to lay Pakistan’s side of the pipeline. In this regard, both the
countries have already set up a Joint Working Group this year.
The US, on a number of
occasions, has even threatened Pakistan with sanctions if Islamabad continued
to work with Iran on the project. The US has consistently argued that as United
Nations has already passed resolutions regarding the Iranian nuclear programme,
therefore, if Pakistan proceeded with Tehran on the IP project it would be
tantamount to violation of the UN resolutions.
However, Islamabad has argued
that the UN resolutions have nothing to do with the IP project as they are
regarding Iranian’s nuclear programme. Islamabad has also contended that the
project is critically needed by Islamabad to deal with its acute energy crisis
that in recent years have resulted in long hours of electricity and natural gas
It is important to note that
IP project could not be commissioned in time because of Islamabad’s lack of
commitment. Washington is believed to have used every pressure tactic to keep
Islamabad at bay from the project and that seems to have worked.
In February this year, State
Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told a briefing in Washington “If, in
fact, the pipeline does go forward — and there have been a lot of false
starts and backing-and-forthing on that — you know, we have issues of
concern. And we’ve been very clear about those with the government of
However, a time came that the
US pressure had to be resisted due to critical energy crisis in the country.
Therefore, the ultimate signing of a formal agreement between Pakistan and Iran
to start the construction of the much-delayed gas pipeline was an important
political and economic development goal.
As soon as the agreement on
IP gas pipeline was signed the US started expressing its reservations on the
project. Even on one occasion the now deceased US special envoy for
Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) region, Richard Holbrooke, said in Islamabad that
Pakistan should not ‘overcommit’ itself to the project.
The US’s actual opposition
on the project is based on the calculation that its biggest beneficiary would
be Iran in particular the completion of the pipeline would give the much-needed
breathing space to Tehran’s sanctioned-hit economy. Thus projects like IP gas
pipeline are in conflict with the US policy of getting around Iran.
This policy is somewhat akin
to the policy of Soviet Encirclement or Containment of Communism, which the US
pursued during the Cold War (1948-1990) to trounce the ideological and economic
challenge which the erstwhile Soviet Union posed.
With regard to Iran, the
Americans have already successfully implemented this policy. The US forces’
presence in Iraq (which is now at quite low level) and Afghanistan, two
neigbours of Iran, shows the encirclement policy in operation.
The US’s heavy military
presence in the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea just outside the
territorial waters of Iran corroborates this US policy towards Iran. So, by
trying to keep Pakistan away from the gas pipeline project, the US wants to
deny Iran the breathing space.
As the economy of Iran is
largely dependent on selling its oil and gas riches the construction of the IP
gas pipeline is of extreme importance to Iran.
Now the completion of the
project is largely dependent on the initiative to be taken Islamabad,
particularly about how to resist Washington’s pressure. There are other
factors like lack of technological support, unavailability of funds, political
instability in Balochistan, etc. If Pakistan could overcome these problems it
can proceed with the project despite American threats provided Russia and China
At a time when the US wants
Pakistan to give foolproof security to NATO’s Ground Lines of Communications
(GLOCs) through the latter’s territory to send supplies to the alliance’s
security forces in Afghanistan, Islamabad could use the opportunity as a
quid-pro-quo to get Washington’s assurance, even implicitly, that it would
not come in the way of the project.
This is all about diplomacy
and it depends on how Pakistani interlocutors maximize prospects of serving
Islamabad’s interest through acumen and tact.
The writer is a political
analyst and research scholar currently pursuing PhD in International Relations,
researching roots of religious extremism-terrorism in Pakistan
Many studies done in
the recent past about the state of poverty and vulnerability inform us that
about half of Pakistani households live on less than two dollars a day.
Other scales and methods of
analysis adopted by researchers and social scientists corroborate these
findings. While statistics and figures may show marginal differences, it is
beyond doubt that about half of Pakistani population can be tagged as under
privileged which faces multiple challenges.
Inability to access
dependable health care and immunisation; resourcelessness to afford education
of reasonable quality; lack of access to clean drinking water, sanitation,
public transport and recreation; ethnic conflicts, sectarian and religious
strife and non-existence of freedom of enterprise are some of the core issues
that are causing poverty and hopelessness to spread swiftly.
Internal dislocations due to
violence, disasters and lack of security are further compounding these
problems. Scores of programmes and initiatives have been launched by
governmental and non-governmental organisations but the net outcome has been
less than desirable in the final analysis.
It may be remembered that
Pakistan is not an isolated case study in respect to these quasi permanent
ailments. Most of the developing countries across the globe in general and Asia
in particular have faced similar predicaments, especially in recent times.
Access to safe and secure
housing in a properly located and serviced settlement is a near universal
issue. Low income and vulnerable communities across Asia have faced evictions
from traditional settings with the rise in market oriented developments.
Construction of mega
infrastructure schemes, real estate projects, commercial outlets, manufacturing
locations and ware-housing normally cause evictions and gentrification. In
Mumbai, which is a primate city of India and offers attraction to unskilled and
semi-skilled work force from a vast hinterland, the choices of residence have
been very few.
Thus, poor people opt to live
on pavements, shoulders of railway tracks, water bodies and roads as well as
public open spaces. As land is expensive and scarce, the more powerful
stakeholders use legal and administrative clout to prevent its re-distribution
to under privileged and needy.
The pavement dwellers have
been routinely dealt with brute force with each instance leaving them poorer.
National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) in Mumbai has developed effective
tools and mobilisation options for the common good of such vulnerable
By undertaking negotiations
with the state authorities, many rights of the slum dwellers have now been
recognised. In the same dimension, Society for Promotion of Area Resource
Centres (SPARC) has done useful work in building the ability of slum and
pavement dwellers in Mumbai.
It also arranges for
undertaking new house construction schemes for under privileged, encourages
community contracting and supports the disadvantaged through technical advice
and mobilisation of local saving groups. Its impact has crossed more than a
Grameen Bank of Bangladesh is
now a globally acclaimed success story for micro credit assistance to the poor.
The bank also runs a successful housing programme since the late 1970s. Through
extensive action research, the Grameen Bank staff found that through proper
advice and credit, living conditions of that vast rural poor folks can be
Thus, the bank provides
housing credit in the range of USD 250 to 600 to build new home and undertake
extensions. A durable and flood resistant structure is desirable outcome in
this respect. Beneficiaries report safe dwelling during rain and other climatic
challenges routinely faced by Bangladeshi territories.
The bank officials have
reported nearly hundred percent rate of re-payment with drastic improvement in
the quality of life of the lower state of rural society. The programme is
implemented in many locations in Bangladesh.
Civil war and genocide had
impacted a vast territory of Cambodia. For a very long time, there were no
institutions capable of addressing the rising needs of local population. Urban
Poor Development Fund (UPDF) was founded in 1998 with a target to improve the
living conditions of disadvantaged people.
It has shown impressive
record in supporting community based saving groups, arranging loans/grants for
land acquisition for landless people, up gradation of basic services,
development of housing and enhancing food security.
More than 122 communities in
capital Phnom Penh and 44 communities in 11 other cities are the direct
beneficiaries till the present. In the same way, Community Mortgage Programme
in the Philippines helps in land acquisition for low income communities.
A social housing finance
corporation supports the construction of basic housing units through community
action. This venture has an impressive portfolio of 1686 projects and over 0.2
million direct beneficiaries.
Many inspiring and successful
ventures can be quoted from the Pakistani context also. Work of Sindh Katchi
Abadis Authority during the late 1990s, Orangi Pilot Project and its partner
organisations, SAIBAN – Action Research Group for shelter, Aga Khan Rural
Support Programme in Gilgit Baltistan region, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation
Fund, KASHF Foundation and many others are examples worth replicating.
But in the present times, few
pre-requisites need to be attended on a priority basis. Every province must
have a social housing assistance institution to extend credit to the
Universities must extend
technical assistance through guided internships to scale up community action in
housing development. And an institution must be created to spot the vulnerable
communities based on objective assessment and transparency.
It may be noted that by
ensuring the adoption of appropriate models of development with proper
implementation mechanism, a great deal of positive change can come in the lives
of the downtrodden.