extortion
Prime target

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  

process
Still not there!
The sooner the devolution process completes the better
By Irfan Mufti  
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.  

Showing in numbers
A look at the financial projections of the education sector plan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
By Saif Usmani  
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).  

technology
No to agri-engineering?
Investment in latest technologies used in the 
agriculture sector can substantially increase the produce in KP
By Tahir Ali  
The engineering 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 farm mechanisation.  

Farmers’ plight
Authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa must take notice of the problems farmers are faced with
By Mushtaq Yusufzai  
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.  

Missing the point
An education policy should reflect every aspect of a society which it deems to represent
By Afsheen Naz  
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.  

energy
In the (gas) pipeline The Iran
Pakistan gas pipeline can bring a lot of relief to the countries in the energy sector
By Raza Khan  
The Iran-Pakistan (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.  

Less than two dollars a day!
The level of poverty can be brought down significantly if focused efforts are made  
By Dr Noman Ahmed  
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.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

extortion
Prime target
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 on Sunday.

“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 pattern.

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.

 

 

process
Still not there!
The sooner the devolution process completes the better
By Irfan Mufti

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 previous agreement.

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 completed.

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 somewhat worrying.

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 do so.

The writer is Deputy Chief of South Asia Partnership Pakistan and Global Campaigner

[email protected]

 

 

 

   

Showing in numbers
A look at the financial projections of the education sector plan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
By Saif Usmani

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.

Colleges, universities, 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 plan.

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 disparities.

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 financial implications.

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 expansion.

The writer is Director, Finance Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and can be accessed at [email protected]

S#      Year          Salary Budget           Actual Salary % Variation

                    Projected      Budget           /increase

                    in the Plan   

1        2009-10          19308.700          26210.300          35.75%

2        2010-11          20105.600          34500.852          71.60%

3        2011-12          21045.400          39817.000          89.20%

 

 

 

 

 

 

technology
No to agri-engineering?
Investment in latest technologies used in the 
agriculture sector can substantially increase the produce in KP
By Tahir Ali

The engineering 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 farm mechanisation.

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 investment priorities.

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 facility.

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 these facilities.

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 land annually.”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farmers’ plight
Authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa must take notice of the problems farmers are faced with
By Mushtaq Yusufzai

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 farmer explains.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Missing the point
An education policy should reflect every aspect of a society which it deems to represent
By Afsheen Naz

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 religious identities”.

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.

 “National 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 values.

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

 

 

energy
In the (gas) pipeline The Iran 
Pakistan gas pipeline can bring a lot of relief to the countries in the energy sector
By Raza Khan

The Iran-Pakistan (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 billion.

However, despite 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 Washington.

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 ‘supplier’s credit’.

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 outages.

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 Pakistan.”

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 give support.

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

[email protected]

 

 

 

Less than two dollars a day!  
The level of poverty can be brought down significantly if focused efforts are made  
By Dr Noman Ahmed

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 communities.

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 million households.

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 greatly improved.

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 vulnerable.

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.

 

  Home|Daily Jang|The News|Sales & Advt|Contact Us|

 


BACK ISSUES