Nature’s flash of rage
The people of Dera Ghazi Khan lose their belongings in the flash floods owing partly to the apathy of government departments
By Aoun Sahi
Dera Ghazi Khan
is one of the most affected districts of this year’s floods. More than
61,000 people have been affected, around 4500 houses damaged and 48,250
acres of crop area has been inundated in water. The people of the area
describe how they became victims of not just the floods but the
The floods took them by
surprise. “It had been raining for two days, but I did not panic because
I had not seen floods before,” says Fazlan Bibi, 55, mother of six
daughters and six sons who lives in Basti Sheikha in the outskirts of DG
“On Sunday September
9, I was sitting with my family at home. We were having dinner. Suddenly,
I heard people screaming outside, I went out to find out the reason but
what I saw was unbelievable. A huge flood wave was only meters away from
us. We had no time to react. I called my daughters and sons to leave the
house as early as possible. All of us left our house with empty hands and
started running towards safer places,” she tells TNS sitting in a tent
erected only a few hundred metres away from her house.
“That is my house,”
she points towards one of hundreds of houses inundated by water. “I wish
we could at least have been informed a few hours before the floods. I
could have saved the dowry of my two daughters. We are a poor family and
it took us a lot of time to make it. Now, we are sitting in this tent like
beggars, most members of my family spent most of their time trying to get
some aid, which is being given to the favourite”, she complains, adding,
clean drinking water and finding a toilet is the biggest task for her.
“I am lucky that at least all my children are safe with me, some
families have lost their children. They do not know if they are alive or
not,” she says.
Siddiqabad, a dense
locality is among the most affected areas of the district. “For the
first time during the last 60 years floods have hit our area. It was in
fact a manmade disaster,” says Ghulam Hassan, 65, talking to TNS. “It
was a DG Khan Canal breach that caused heavy floods to our locality.
Interestingly, nobody bothered to close the canal. The irrigation
department is responsible for all the damage caused to our locality. We
were never informed about the floods and came to know only when flood
water had already reached our houses,” he says.
It seems that the
district government, irrigation department and disaster management
authorities failed to anticipate the floods in DG Khan. The canal that
flows in the city was not closed as flash floods dashed because of heavy
rains at Sulaiman Range. This caused at least seven breaches on its dykes.
The district government has been trying to play down the situation.
“Everything is under control. Punjab government has already formed an
inquiry committee to investigate reasons of breaches.”
“The DG Khan canal has
maximum capacity to handle 5000 cusec water but flash floods brought
150,000 cusec water to it,” says Dr Iftikhar Sahu, DCO of DG Khan.
“The Punjab government has done a good job to rescue and help people of
the flood-hit areas,” he says.
provincial and federal governments have been trying to provide relief to
flood hit areas but there is no coordination between them. There is no
coordination between National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and
Punjab Disaster Management Authority (PDMA). On September 25, federal
minister for climate change, Rana Farooq Saeed and chairman NDMA Zafar
Iqbal Qadir visited the area to provide tents and food items to flood
affectees but PDMA and district government hardly cooperated with them.
“There is hardly any coordination among different disaster management
authorities this year”, an official of NDMA tells TNS on condition of
“This year we have
observed that flood forecasting system has worked to some extent as PDMA
was being continuously informed by Met office about the likelihood of
flash floods in DG Khan and Rajanpur but district governments have
completely failed to respond to the situation and disseminate information.
“There are serious issues of coordination among different agencies,”
Rana Farooq Saeed says
the incidence of floods in Pakistan during the last three years is an
example of climate change phenomenon. “ In 2010, we had riverine floods,
in 2011 heavy rains caused havoc in certain parts of the country while
this year hill torrents of Sulaiman Range are the main reasons of floods.
We have seen unprecedented rains of around 500 milliliters in some parts
of the country in the first week of September”.
Saeed says so far the
federal government has distributed around 10,000 tents, 15,000 blankets
and 110,000 ration packs in DG Khan and Rajanpur districts. “There are
some problems of coordination among different departments but everybody is
working to help flood affectees and we will soon overcome these issues”,
Rajanpur is the
most-affected district of Punjab in this year’s flash floods. Situated
on the foothills of Sulaiman Range, it is the most vulnerable district of
the province. Six Rod-Kois or flood streams of these mountains end up
bringing water to Rajanpur district and this year they brought more than
130,000 cusecs of water.
According to the local
people, these are the worst flash floods that hit the district during the
last three decades, killing at least 11 people, damaging more than 8500
houses and destroying standing crops on more than 345,000 acres of land.
livestock are the mainstay of economy in the area. “218 villages out of
419 villages of the districts have been badly damaged by these floods,”
says Saleem Ahmed, additional district collector of Rajanpur. He says one
of the main reasons of flash floods is that natural pathways of Rad-Kois
have been occupied by the locals over time. “During the last two decades
or so, with the increase in population, a lot of locals who own lands
around these Rod-Kois have started cultivating it. They have occupied
natural pathways of them. For example Kaha which is the biggest Rod-Koi
which used to have about 4000 feet wide bed now has not more than 1000
feet wide which makes it more dangerous.” He says that the local economy
now depends a lot on the waters of these Rod-Kois.
Rajanpur district, which
is one of the largest districts of the country in terms of area, is also
among the most arid areas of the country with over 600,000 acres of barren
land that totally depends on rain water for agriculture. The water of
these Rod-Kois is an important source of irrigation of hundreds of
thousands of barren land situated in the foothills. A substantial local
experience and wisdom is required to organize and manage the spate systems
and protect the lands from the damage.
In the absence of
properly calibrated gauging and permanent diversion structures, it is
difficult to control water. Most of the local people have set up small
structures in the way of these Rod-Kois to divert flood water to their
lands. During a severe storm, temporary structures are either destroyed or
“During the last sixty
years or so no government took these flash floods seriously”, says Abdul
Sattar, head of a local NGO Saya. “It would need Rs6 billion to
channelize water of these Rod-Kois while the Punjab government has spent
Rs70 billion this year only in Lahore.
Hazoor Bakhash, 25, is a
resident of Rojhan tehsil of Rajanpur district. He says that the people of
the area are forced to sell off their livestock at half of the actual
price after the floods. “We need money to feed our families, all our
crops and housed have been destroyed and we are forced to live in tents.
It is too tough to arrange for fodder for our cattle. I have so far sold
out three lambs and two goats. In normal times, I can easily earn Rs
100,000 by selling these animals but now I have sold them at a price of
Rs48,000 only,” he says adding, “One of my cousins has lost one of his
kids in the floods. I do not know who to blame for his death”.
President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Pakistan has been cancelled, or it
has been re-scheduled as the government of Pakistan has said. Whatever the
case, it is time to re-visit our relations with Russia in a historical
For decades, Moscow and
Islamabad viewed each other as adversaries because of Cold War’s impact
on South Asia, Soviet Union’s special relations with India, and
US-Pakistan alliance. After years of ups and downs, a semblance of
stability and cordiality now seems to be appearing in Pakistan-Russia
The 3-day visit to
Pakistan by the Russian leader Vladimir Putin that had to begin on October
2 this year, and earlier by President Asif Ali Zardari to the Russian
Federation in May 2011 reflects a new reality. President Putin is starting
his new term and his first foreign visit is likely to be to Pakistan.
Analysts believe that this first-ever visit by a Russian President to
Pakistan would create an enabling environment for a new perspective for
Besides bilateral talks
with Pakistani leaders, during his forthcoming visit President Putin was
scheduled to attend quadrilateral summit of Pakistan, Russia, Afghanistan
and Tajikistan, and ink a number of agreements pertaining to bilateral
cooperation with Pakistan in various fields, including balancing,
revamping and expansion of Pakistan Steel Mills to raise its annual
production capacity to three million tonnes.
A permanent member of
the UN Security Council, the Russian Federation enjoys great respect and
clout at the global level. Since its independence as a multi-ethnic
democratic state, mineral-rich Russia has succeeded in strengthening its
economy and ensuring steady increase in citizens’ quality of life.
technologically advanced and militarily powerful, Russia managed to pull
through the global financial crises of 1998 and 2008 with minimum losses.
Now, according to Russian officials, every second family in Russia — a
nation of 140 million people and largest country of the world in terms of
territory — owns a car and people have sufficient household appliances
while housing conditions are improving due to mortgage-lending facility.
In the post-Cold War
period, Russia seems determined to continue pursuing an active foreign
policy. One of the priority areas for application of Russia’s diplomatic
efforts is Asia — the epicentre of global political processes in the
present era. In South Asia, as Ambassador Andrey Budnik recently stated,
Russia’s major task will be further enhancement of mutually beneficial
cooperation and partnership with Pakistan due to the latter’s
geostrategic position in the South and Southwest Asia directly adjacent to
the CIS borders, its increased role in the international arena because of
anti-terror war, its dynamic position in the Islamic world and election as
a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2012-2013.
importance of high-level visits in fostering mutually beneficial
relations, beginning in 1991 when Russian Vice-President A. Rutskoi
visited Islamabad and Pakistan’s Minister of State for Economic Affairs
visited Russia, leaders of both the countries have been paying visits to
each other’s country and exchanging views on key issues of regional and
bilateral cooperation. After Rutskoi, foreign minister A. Kozyrev visited
Islamabad in December 1993. Both the Russian leaders offered to supply
modern weaponry to Pakistan in exchange for consumer goods.
However, according to
analysts, the official visit by President Asif Ali Zardari to Russia, in
May 2011, proved to be a milestone in Pakistan-Russia relations because it
helped not only to strengthen bilateral trade, economic and business
relations, it also enabled the two countries to coordinate their positions
on the Afghan settlement. The official visit to Russia by Foreign Minister
Hina Rabbani Khar, in February 2012, gave further impetus to
Apart from bilateral
visits, Pakistani and Russian leaders have been regularly interacting on
the sidelines of international events. In September 2011, President
Zardari met the then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the “Dushanbe
quartet” (summit meeting of the heads of states of Pakistan, Russia,
Afghanistan and Tajikistan); and in November 2011 the then Prime Minister
of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gilani met Chairman of the Government of Russia
Vladimir Putin at the meeting of the Council of heads of governments of
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Saint Petersburg. Also, at the
expert level, there is constructive interaction between various ministries
and departments of both Pakistan and Russia.
But against the backdrop
of dynamically developing political contacts, at US$ 500 million
Pakistan-Russia bilateral trade does not correspond to the actual
potential. Presently, Pakistan’s main imports from Russia are chemical
industry products, metals, newsprint and craft paper; while its exports to
Russia include sports goods, agricultural, textile and leather products.
This brings to the fore
the need for accelerated development of trade and economic ties between
the two countries, especially when there exists substantial potential for
cooperation in energy, oil, gas, telecommunications, satellite television,
metallurgy, machinery, automobile industry, construction of highways and
pipelines as well as air transport service.
Russia has a history of
providing assistance for strengthening infrastructure to Pakistan and
other developing countries. The regional CASA-1000 project — creating a
system to transfer electricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to
Afghanistan and Pakistan — can prove to be a mutually beneficial project
for all the concerned countries, especially when Russia has expressed its
willingness not only to join this project but also to bear expenses up to
US$ 500 million.
Besides, Russia is keen
to participate in the Soviet-built combined heat and power plants (CHPP)
Multan-2 and Guddu, construction of new hydroelectric power stations and
expansion of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) in Karachi. The PSM was built with
USSR’s financial and technical assistance.
Russian companies have
shown interest in participating in the exploration and development of
offshore oil and gas fields in Pakistan, building of underground gas
storage facilities, construction of
Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas
pipeline projects, and training of specialists for the Pakistani oil and
It would be pertinent to
mention here that Pakistan started efforts to change the relationship of
restraint as early as 1960s when the then foreign minister Zulfikar Ali
Bhutto opted for a policy of bilateralism in place of its pro-West posture
during the Cold War period and concluded an oil exploration agreement with
the Soviet Union in 1961. At the end of 1965 war, the Soviet Union, acting
as a constructive super power, brokered the Tashkent Declaration between
India and Pakistan.
Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto visited Moscow twice — in 1972 and 197 —
and his visits helped both the sides to understand each other’s points
of view on regional affairs. However, relations between Pakistan and
Soviet Union deteriorated after Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in
Following Soviet troops
withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Soviet Union’s implosion in 1991,
Pakistan started making earnest efforts to mend fences with the Russian
Federation. With this goal in view, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited
Russia in April 1997. Nawaz Sharif’s sojourn was preceded by the visits
of Secretary General Foreign Affairs Akram Zaki and Foreign Minister Gohar
Ayub Khan to Moscow in 1992 in 1997 respectively.
Earlier, on Senate
Chairman Wasim Sajjad’s advice, a Parliamentary Friendship Group was
constituted in the Upper House of Pakistan’s Parliament to foster
friendly relations with Russia. In mid-1990s, the Russian Ambassador gave
a briefing to the friendship group at the Parliament House in Islamabad.
The interaction between
Pakistani Senators and Russian diplomats resulted in a number of visits by
members of the Russian Parliament’s upper house. Later, a delegation
from the Senate of Pakistan, led by Senate Chairman Wasim Sajjad, paid an
official visit to the Russian Federation. In February 2003, President
General Pervez Mushrraf visited Moscow. In return, a six-member delegation
of the Russian Duma (Parliament) visited Pakistan in 2006, and the Russian
Prime Minister Mikhail E. Fradkov in April 2007.
These visits started a
process of constructive dialogue and harmonious relations, paving way for
mutually beneficial relations between Pakistan and Russia in various
The writer is a
freelance columnist based in
especially in developing countries, has been an increasing target for
social reformers. United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund
(UNICEF) defines “child” as anyone below the age of 18, and “child
Labor” as some type of work performed by children below age 18. Child
labor is a widespread problem throughout the world, especially in
Children work for a
number of reasons; the most important is poverty and the persuaded
pressure upon them to escape from this dilemma. As most of the parents do
not spend money for their children education rather they prefer to send
them in the market to earn some money for them. Though children are not
well paid in spite of spending long hours in the market, they still serve
as major contributors to family income in developing countries.
It is also an outcome of
a mass of socio-economic factors and has its roots in lack of
opportunities, high rate of population growth, unemployment, uneven
distribution of wealth and resources, obsolete social customs and norms
and superfluity of other factors.
There is no aid plan or
allowance for children in our country. Class-based education system is
another reason for increasing child labour; villages have less
standardized education systems and resultantly, child Labor is increasing
in rural areas.
Clay and Stephens (1996)
provided an American perspective on child labor. Child labour started in
the colonies that were to become the United States in the early 1600s,
involving children in manufacturing operations, such as working with
cotton and silk, and making hats and ribbons. Factors like rapid growth of
industrialisation, death of a generation of men in the civil war, and low
value placed on education by families encouraged child labor in the United
States. The emergence of labor unions and bargaining power posed threats
to employers, who then preferred hiring children to hiring adults.
Children are not able to
develop normal socialisation skills when they are employed for long hours
(for example, play, relationships with other children, hobbies). Further
retaining wages for child labour also reduces wages of adults, creating a
cyclical demand for child labour to provide sufficient income for a
The present government
in Pakistan has made elementary education compulsory. Along with this, the
government has distributed free books in primary schools so that parents,
who cannot afford their children’s school expenses, send their children
to schools. School represents the most important means of drawing children
away from the labour market.
Studies have correlated
low enrollment with increased rates of child employment (ILO 1992).
However it is not an easy approach as the children are not getting
anything in the form of money while attending a school, it is necessary
that government should take steps to arrange some amount to be given to
students as an incentive.
Parents who are educated
understand the importance of schooling from personal experience. As a
result, parental education plays a large role in determining child
schooling and employment (Tienda 1979).
could be the improvement of the quality of schooling by investing in
education so as to increase its value to children and parents.
However, by providing
subsidies to poor families liable to having working children so they can
afford their children’s schooling (Free, compulsory, relevant and
good-quality education services, income subsidies, nutritional
supplements) and establish partnerships of international organisations
dedicated to improving children’s lives.
Education of good
quality has an inverse relationship with both poverty and child labour.
The higher the level of education of parents and children the lower will
be ratio of poverty and child labor.
Laws and conventions against child labor must be in place and
thoroughly enforced by governments.
curricula and vocational training programmes can be adapted to students’
circumstances — and will increase their school attendance as well as the
opportunity to get employment after their education completion as
vocational training provides skills for a productive adulthood.
The political, economic
and social system of the country are needed to be reshaped to eliminate
child labour from the country and such steps taken that make child labour
in this country a crime.
Policy should be made in
this way that children of poor parents could have a better free education
of high quality along with other paid incentives otherwise in return of
losing their jobs they would turned
to crime and prostitution to survive.
Incentives can help
children remain active in both education and work. When training is tied
to wages, children and their families see both short- and long-term
benefits (Blagbrough & Glynn, 1999).
Controlling, and not
eliminating, child labour will encourage organisations using child workers
to develop collaborative relationships with schools so that there will
continue to be an inflow of human resources from the schools into the
businesses. This is a way of making coordinated improvements in workplace
education systems. Creating such coordinated activities may well be the
outcome of community-based organization development.
children with the foundation and means of becoming better qualified,
skilled workers. Education helps children become good decision makers who
are able to think for themselves and their families.
enhances an individual’s life beyond the economic benefit that will
ultimately accrue to him or her. Further costs would be the provision of
mid day meals, with some allowances as incentives to the family to
compensate for the loss of income when the children are in school.
The writer is Assistant
Director, Quality Enhancement cell, Fatima Jinnah Women University
normal life was rudely jolted as two gruesome tragedies hit the country in
on 12 September. Factory fires in Lahore and Karachi caused loss of more
than 290 precious lives and left dozens seriously injured.
As per administrative
norms, we received stereotypical reports about the causes of the fire
though no valid finding about the actual causes has been revealed.
Experiences inform that poor wiring, lack of internal security measures,
shoddy construction or absence of proper fire escape routes may have led
to this avoidable cataclysm.
But these are not
isolated happenings. A few months ago, fire in Karachi caused many
casualties. In the aftermath, the conventional actions took their course,
including announcement of monetary compensation and orders of inquiry.
Such incidents and related issues need a far sighted approach and
permanent solution as they directly impact the safety and security of
human life, especially the poor and working classes.
Disasters like the
recent factory blazes are caused by many reasons. Unsafe methods of
storing inflammable articles like textiles and stitched clothing are one
dimension. Acts of mischief and crime cannot be ruled out, though
scientific inquiry is a pre-requisite.
Factory buildings are
seldom repaired for the various electrical and plumbing defects that they
progressively develop. Since the owners and managers are only interested
in spending the minimum to optimize returns, workers are asked to continue
without addressing faults such as leakages, sparks in wiring or
malfunctioning of worn out conduits.
Many commercial or
residential areas do not even bother to acquire power connections
commensurate with actual load of consumption. Similarly, layouts and
placement of work stations do not guarantee safe evacuation. Few exits to
the exteriors cause danger of stampede and trap situations.
Lack of ventilation
renders such structures suffocating and dingy. Garment factories,
mechanical, embroidery outlets, stitching shops of various scales and
profiles are abound in New Karachi, North Karachi, Orangi, Korangi, Landhi,
Malir, Old Town and many other locations in the city that can face similar
hazards as a possible accident.
The Karachi and Lahore
fires should serve as the final reminders to plan and implement measures
ensuring workplace safety and security. The federal and provincial bureau
of statistics have several surveys already done in the past which can
serve as baseline.
A municipal project may
be formulated to update and enhance this database. Building information
parameters, especially related to human safety must be included. Existing
building byelaws and regulations in various places may be revisited for
initial scale application. Most of them have provisions for safety which
only needs to be effectively applied.
The baseless myth that
application of safety procedures requires high investments by owners and
operators is absolutely baseless. With intelligent planning and design and
use of common sense, very effective methods of combating fires and other
hazards can be enacted with minimal expenditure.
In Karachi, the Building
and Town Planning Regulations 2002 – which is the key applicable statute
in this regard – has many useful provisions. A check list based
evaluation of existing building stock can help identify the
inappropriately constructed buildings for the purpose of retrofitting. Few
specialised teams can be mobilized to design and facilitate these tasks on
an emergency basis. However cooperation from all the stakeholders is a
pre-requisite in this respect. Trade and commerce bodies, political
parties, building control authorities, labour unions, technical
universities and media shall have to work together to approach this vital
complex urban regions such as Karachi and Lahore have many typologies of
building stocks which need safety and security audits through
collaborative administrative agencies, professionals and even ordinary
people. Warehousing and basic manufacturing activities in old town
quarters, squatments along railway lines, high tension wires, highways,
busy urban roads, manufacturing units, godowns of hazardous items,
petroleum installations, nullah banks and garbage dumps are some of the
sites where people can be found to live in a fairly organized but
In the public sector,
the Civil Defence Department has become near moribund. It had many
important roles to play that comprised training at various levels,
preparation drills, maintenance and operation of a basic warning system
and proper record keeping of its outposts. It needs a renaissance.
Fashionable national bodies such as disaster management authorities with
hefty budgets must be asked to assist in its revamping and up scaling.
High sounding devices
such as surveillance cameras and control centres are being set up by
different layers of administration with duplicated functions and duties.
They need to be coordinated to relay much needed information during rescue
operations. Few basic inventories also need to be prepared.
A fire safety audit
should be conducted in the locations where fire complaints and hazards
have been registered on a recurring basis. Causes of fire and combating
capabilities, route planning for hazards, emergency reservoirs of water
and mapping of storages of inflammable materials could be few of the
has become a catchphrase in the globalised world. It means a country’s
ability to create, produce, distribute and service products in the
international trade while earning profits on its capital. Michael Porter
in his book “Competitive Advantage” has presented this concept, though
originally the concept was illustrated by David Ricardo in the 18th
have become the policy discourse in the developing world. There are
different competitive indices and one of the leading competitive indices
is structured by World Economic Forum and has recently published Global
Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 where Pakistan is ranked 124th out of 144
countries, fallen 6 points from 118thranking since last year which shows
that Pakistan lacks a long-term view of competitiveness based on basic
pillar of economic competitiveness. The plain message is that we are
loosing ground in international economy and need to catch-up.
The report classifies
the countries in different categories where factor-driven is still the
substance level of economy in which Pakistan lies. The second category is
efficiency-driven, transitioning to innovation and finally the innovation
driven category of countries which comprised of industrialists and big
economies. The basic sources of these categories are 12 pillars of
No one would deny that a
degree of competition, governance and innovation is reducing, thus
affecting Pakistan’s overall competitiveness strength. There is no
denial of the fact that competitiveness promotes an innovative economy and
changes in ranking can compel government to change policies accordingly,
but how much it is based on the theory and build on practice remains a
question for the validity of the index.
WEF, MID and other
indexes developed for ranks of the competitiveness are very useful for the
policy change of a country, as a guideline but issue is with the
interpretation of the “national competition” based on their method
which dominantly neo-liberal. It is based on strongly market-oriented
perception of competitiveness, along with those conditions within the
countries’ economy that leads to the growing enterprises in the trade
intense stress on competition in today’s world has become a misleading
concept than a reality. The ultimate purpose of competitiveness is
prosperity of the people, development of a country and not having the
largest or fastest growing or securing a major share of trade in
For the capitalist
world, it has become a weapon of an ideology to wipe out the weaker and
adversary economies. The economic pundit of International Economic
Institutions prescribe policies for promotion competition as the key to
economic development, particularly
to the countries like Pakistan which is executing Structural
Adjustment Programme of the World Band and IMF and where competitiveness
is considered as economic success under the doctrine of “Washington
This means lesser role
of state in the market, whereas, government by markets cannot ensure an
equitable economic development and growth. Moreover, on one side WEF
evaluates the social cohesion and environment in their competitiveness
criteria and on the other one can find a trade-off between performance of
companies on the basis of profits securing which contradicts the social
cohesion and environmental degradation.
Whether it is trade,
investment or fiscal deficit, the competition is seen as an answer to
every economic and social problem of a country and arguably if it is a
right diagnostic of the entire problem then why we witness the worsening
unemployment, growing poverty and inequality, mounting trade deficit and
distorted national economies at the end.
The winners of the world
economy are engaged in ruthless economic battle through their own built
scientific instrument, called competition indices that allow countries to
be ranked on account of “competition”. To produce more to have more
profit fundamentally explains the framework describing a firm’s capacity
to compete and if the same analogy is applied to the national economy to
compete with each other for trade share in the export market, this is over
simplistic as not necessarily that countries are competing with each other
all the time while staying in international trade.
trade is inspired by the theory of comparative advantages but losing
competitiveness in one commodity or the other does not mean that a country
is not competitive in the international market in absolute terms and for
that matter even having trade deficit does not mean that the firms are not
competitive, if that is the case then huge economies should not be have
Therefore, trade deficit
as an indicator of economic growth should be dependent on the nature of
its economy and its stage of development of the specific country. The
broader definition of competition which deals with the structural factor
has long term effect of performance of the country also denies the theory
of comparative advantages as when economies trade each other they do not
compete like firms with confrontation .
Actually, free trade
means optimising the resource allocation in an economy under certain
assumption that these economies must have perfect markets, perfect
competition, full access on costless advance technology,
no externalities, and full access of information.
These countries need
selective strategies to become competitive, through intervention in the
market which has been the case with the new developed East Asian
economies. The competitive index constructed by WEF placed the
technological advancement as the core of the competitive edge of an
economy, by which means that economic growth and competitiveness of a
country depends on its capacity of innovation and import of technology.
The competitive policy ,
innovation and role of the government is all related to the market
failure, which is greater impediments in order to have such innovative
capacity for a country which still has to develop its macro-economic and
micro-economic factors. Therefore, the value given of higher technological
sophistication, free trade and stronger institution of intellectual
property rights by WEF to the competitive index infect seems to be in
ignorance of the fact that this element of higher productivity is very
much contained in developing world due to the policy intervention of the
competitiveness taken in such a concept by WEF generates further bias
towards free market indicator as it reduces the score when government
spending as share of GDP is on higher side, which means government has to
pay for the public goods and services, in the absence of private market,
it brings a country further down in the rank. In this way, competitiveness
becomes meaningless for international trade, when it is superseded by
correlations like aggregate net-imports, proportions among total
development and technological accumulation are much stressed element of
this theory which manages to shift the focus on the technological
advancement and human capital development as primary source of
competitiveness of an economy.
The share of market
value is created only by companies, which are limited only by the
intensity of their innovation and dynamism, while the state plays a
significant role in the provision of conditions that enable value
creation, it cannot create value but driver of the value and core
countries might get better ranks on the basis of catch-up-growth mechanism
but it has ultimately a limit of productivity because it is imperative to
become core economy to maintain the productive capacity and absorb the
technological advancement of the core economies in the long run.
In this way,
competitiveness indices present a weak empirical foundation that can be
misleading for the policy purposes as well as for the international
investors for a specific country.
The writer is
Chairperson of International Relations and Politics department of
International Islamic University, Islamabad
The recession in
economy leads to the depression of the whole society. It dictates social
evils within the social discourse, unemployment, thus, is the chief
element which fabricates the progression of social distortion.
political-economists and sociologists believe that, the number of
unemployed individuals are the indicator which could generate social
nonconformity. And, any economy which holds sustainable rate of full
employment, would facilitate to craft a good society.
Pakistan is facing the
significant issue of unemployment. According to Labour Force Survey
2010-11 the total available labour force is 57.3 million which reflect 32
percent of the whole population whereas, out of same 6 percent are
completely unemployed and if average size of a household is 5 than, at a
broader level, “every seventh household would be directly and/or
indirectly victim of unemployment.
The degree of employment
is questionable because the minimum wage — 8,000 rupees — is seldom
paid by employers while social security and EOBI are unapproachable
dreams. The denial of labour rules are the modern values of
Inside labour force,
males are major recipients while females are supportive and in this
adverse situation females are particularly victimize of the “system”.
It is established “entrepreneur conduct” to pay less by 10 to 40
percent to female workers as compared to males.
LFS-2010-11, the number of “self employment” females has increased by
2 percent as compared to the previous year. This indicates the same class
converted into self-employment.
Whereas, the trends of
“unpaid family workers” are more adverse and at least 63 percent of
the female labour force are found in this class or, we could say that,
within ten working women six are unpaid or meagerly paid. And, the trends
of “regular employment” for female workers are 21 percent of female
labour force which majorly includes daily wagers.
Of the ten working women
two are paid by 10 to 40 percent less compared to male workers while one
is self employed which couldn’t make the amount equal to minimum wage
and, six are unpaid family workers while the rest are completely jobless.
Degree of employment
determines the level of empowerment and by this rule I have not the words
to describe the empowerment of female labour force. One point is clear
that in this situation, income by any female worker is moderately
significant to feed her family.
This specific behaviour
of carrying bias against females, which are out of their homes for
earning, would defiantly produce negative outcomes. Hence, the principal
question to this situation is very simple. How we could construct a good
society without empowering the woman? And who is responsible for this
situation? Finally, when we would be serious in dealing with woman?
Injustices to women have
adverse effects on their lives. According to my opinion, the abnormality
of Pakistan society has many reasons and among all, the above stated
occurrence occupies the upper position.
The above stated
situation is the ultimate proof that the policy of state has failed in
this regard. It is the prime responsibility of each stakeholder of the
state i to remove this and implement the plan to incorporate woman workers
in the main arena of society and construct a solid framework which could
guarantee fundamental rights to every citizen of the state.
Kamran Asdar Ali
is associate professor of anthropology,
and and the Director
of the South Asia Institute at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the
author of Planning the Family in Egypt: New Bodies, New Selves (UT Press,
2002). He is the co-editor of Gendering Urban Space in the Middle East,
South Asia and Africa (Palgrave 2008) and Comparing Cities: Middle East
and South Asia (OUP, 2009), both with Martina Rieker, with whom he also
coordinates the Shehr Network on Comparative Urban Landscapes. He has
published several articles on issues of health and gender in Egypt, more
recently his published work has been on Pakistan’s cultural history,
popular culture, urban politics and gender issues. He has previously
taught at the University of Rochester (1995-2001).
Ali was a member of the
Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (1998-99) and a senior fellow at
the Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) in Leiden,
The Netherlands (2005). More recently, he was a fellow at the
Wissenschaftskolleg at Berlin (2010-2011) where he finished a book length
manuscript on the social history of the working class movement during
Pakistan’s early years.
The News on Sunday: You
are currently working on a book focusing on the political and cultural
debates in the first two decades of Pakistan’s independence. Recently,
scholars such as Ayesha Jalal and Saadia Toor have also written on this
period. Why do you think this time period is particularly important for
understanding the trajectory of the Pakistani state? What particular area
do you focus on in your work?
Kamran Asdar Ali:
Pakistan today stands at a critical juncture in its short history of
existence. The bigger picture consisting of increasing Islamist
radicalism, domestic insurgencies, social and economic crisis, the
destabilising of the democratic experiment, the perpetual threat of
military takeover and the country’s place in the international security
paradigm in most cases informs how the rest of the world views and
imagines the country. Further, work on 20th century Muslim history in
South Asia, with few exceptions, remains typically enmeshed in a
stereotypical engagement with Islam and with tropes such as female
seclusion, Muslim revivalist movements and the narrow question pertaining
to the creation of Pakistan. This said, very little attention is paid to
the smaller picture and the other histories that could update us about how
people, with all the uncertainties in their lives, struggle to retain a
modicum of dignity and create opportunities to live decent and meaningful
lives. My recent work seeks to put forward the idea of other possible
imaginations for Pakistan’s future that were present at the moment of
its inception and also during the formative years of its existence.
By focusing on the Left
movement or communist politics I provide for one such alternative
rendering of Pakistani social and cultural history that may help us
reframing Pakistani history in varied and provocative ways. The scholarly
challenge remains to represent the multiple layers of Pakistan’s history
in order to bring it out of the Muslim nationalism, gender discrimination,
security studies/Islamic threat paradigms within which Pakistan studies is
Within this larger
context, by concentrating on the communist movement, labour politics and
working class struggles my project seeks to rethink key moments in
Pakistan’s history to present an argument that will be set against the
more predictable forms in which Pakistan’s history is relayed.
However, the book is not
necessarily framed as a moral argument that juxtaposes class based
emancipatory politics against a conservative centre. Rather, by paying
close attention to people’s lives, their writings and practices I show
the entanglement of their experiences in multiple and cross cutting
processes and political motivations. For example, the book starts with
formation of the new country in 1947, when there was, as you suggest in
your question, uncertainty, confusion and anxiety among intellectuals
about what constituted the cultural and social norms that could unify the
diverse populace and what were the modalities through which this process
could come about? In this respect the communists, who were then part of a
legal political entity, entered this debate by presenting their own vision
for a more egalitarian future.
Yet, not unlike the
state and its insistence on Muslim Nationalism, the CPP too had a morally
conformist political stance. Its position at times mirrored that of its
own opposition — the Pakistani state and the Islamists — as the
communists sought to create a universalistic politics of social identity,
homogeneity and rational society. In this rational-universal world of
order and “truth” they, too, would not allow any contingency or
ambivalence in terms of other ways of thinking about a democratic or
TNS: Why was the
communist party seen as a major threat by the nascent state despite its
relatively low numerical strength? What were the major mistakes made by
the CP that did not allow it to respond adequately to the crackdown by the
KAA: Within the first
year of its existence the ruling elite of Pakistan became suspicious of
any challenge to its authority. Jinnah and the Muslim League had brought
together a range of interests and social classes in support for the call
for Pakistan. By avoiding specifics and by not putting forward any
concrete economic programme in its final days (although the 1946
manifestos of the Punjab and East Bengal Muslim League did address these
issues) the Muslim League had succeeded in appealing to landowners,
businessmen, lawyers, socialists, intellectuals and the middle classes. It
had also played on the slogan “Islam is in danger” to mobilize the
more religious groups, the rural masses, and of course those large
landowners who were linked with religious authority as caretakers of
shrines and sacred lineages.
However, once Pakistan
was created, the lack of clarity on any social and economic policy made
governing the new state a matter of political gamesmanship where the party
officials continued to manipulate colonial laws and legal procedures to
stay in power.
death, his tradition of centralising power was carried forward by the
Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan who openly advocated the supremacy of one
ruling party and derided those who opposed the Muslim League as traitors
and enemy agents. There is no denying that the new state had enormous
economic and social challenges, foremost being the settling of refugees
who had poured into the country, mostly destitute and without resources.
There were secessionist tendencies in the NWFP politics that were being
encouraged by the Afghan government and the lingering problem of Kashmir
was ever present, making the security of the country vulnerable.
However, the government
continuously relied on Public Safety Acts and other new draconian measures
to keep a check on political opponents. The early history of Pakistan is
littered with disagreements on a range of issues, but the landowners,
lawyers, and the emerging mercantile elite were united in their fear of
communist politics that threatened the status quo and demanded radical
In the emerging
atmosphere of the Cold War, perhaps the bogey of the communist threat
offered an easy target for the government to deflect from its own
shortcomings in providing the people of Pakistan political stability along
with social and economic policies that would work in their favour.
It should be noted that
apart from the harassment of party workers in West Pakistan, the most
severe action against the communists was taken in East Bengal, especially
in the area bordering the Garo hills of Assam, in Mymensingh district.
Here the East Bengal Communist Party (EBCP) had influence over the Hajong
aboriginal tribesmen and the scheduled castes (Namasudras). The Pakistani
state’s security services, and in some cases regular troops, severely
repressed the organised struggles of these particular groups. The severity
of the response partly showed the Pakistani state’s preparedness for
real or imagined challenges from the communists.
I would argue that the
small size of the communist party was not a major threat to the Pakistani
state. However, the Pakistani political elite were extremely sensitive to
any criticism coming from the emergent democratic forces in the country,
whether liberal, Marxist or Islamist for that matter. Two popular
newspapers of the country were influenced by progressive ideals as the
Pakistan Times and Imroz were published by Mian Iftikharuddin and Faiz
Ahmad Faiz was the editor; both these personalities were close to the CPP
leadership. With the support of its international allies, perhaps the
State created a communist bogey to consolidate its power and to postpone
crucial provincial and national elections. The first time elections were
held in Punjab in 1951, the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case was brought
forward. The second such elections in East Bengal led to the routing of
the Muslim League, but within months the threat of communism was raised
and the governors rule was imposed after the dismissal of the United Front
government. Although the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case unfolded just before
the 1951 Punjab elections, it is evident that the hostility toward
communism was fairly well entrenched within Liaquat Ali Khan’s
Further, in these early
days, the British and United States intelligence agencies worked closely
with the higher echelons of the Pakistani state apparatus to help them in
their efforts to curtail this threat from within or across the border.
Unlike the belief that it was only the 1980s that saw the resurgence of
state sponsored Islamic discourse, it was already in use in the late 1940s
in addition to police repression, confiscation of periodicals and
pamphlets, censorship, arrests, general harassment, and state-sponsored
propaganda against the communists. Islamic doctrine was employed in the
media to persuade people against the anti-religious (meaning anti-Islam)
and, linked to this, the communists’ anti-Pakistan political stance.
Public gatherings by communists were occasionally attacked and disrupted
by mobs claiming Islamic tendencies or love for Pakistan.
What lessons can contemporary progressive movements learn from the
mistakes made by the progressive movement in the 1950s and 1960s?
KAA: These are different
eras. Let me discuss the late 1940s and early 1950s as a discussion of the
1960s and beyond will take up much space. From its inception in 1948 the
CPP followed the radical turn within the CPI under B.T Ranadive’s, the
newly elected General Secretary, leadership. The new policy had put
forward its own revolutionary strategy which sought to bring people
together to launch a massive struggle against bourgeois forces and the
Congress led government in India (or the Muslim League in Pakistan). The
Party envisaged a People’s Democratic Revolution based on the alliance,
led by the working class and the communist party, of the workers, the
peasantry, the progressive intellectuals and the petit bourgeoisie. This
“democratic front” would form the basis of the new future governance
by the toiling masses after the eventual over throw of the current system.
The radical line postulated that the spontaneous industrial strikes and
militant peasant struggles over the entire country would enable the
disillusioned masses to join the struggle leading to a mass upsurge. The
rank and file members of the party were ordered to radicalize every
political front with the hope that this would serve as a catalyst for an
insurrectionary action by the people. Hence, working class workers and
peasants from a range of different parts of the country were encouraged to
face the brunt of state repression. For intellectuals the CPP advised that
they should be ready to accept economic, material and bodily pain and also
be prepared to struggle against bourgeois and retrogressive ideas that
they harbor within themselves. The secretary general of the CPP, Sajjad
Zaheer argued that in the present moment of history the industrial workers
were uniting all the socially oppressed classes to lead them in the
revolutionary struggle against capitalism and imperialism.
The emphasis on Pakistan
being at a level of “social evolution” where it could be counted as
being a capitalist country with a large working class
and the struggle was for the next stage of socialist transformation
may have been a rhetorical ploy to energize the various mass fronts that
CPP supported, however, this was not reality that was Pakistan. With only
nine percent of the industries from British India present in the country,
it was by far a rural economy with a disorganized and linguistically
differentiated labour force. For example on the national question, the CPP
did show its solidarity with the Bangla linguistic rights, yet under the
influence of CPI’s hard line in the late 1940s it remained
hostile, at least in this early phase of its existence, toward the
emergent nationalist leadership of various linguistic groups, whether
Pashtun, Baloch, Sindhi or Bengali. It deemed nationalist leaders as
belonging to elite classes and hence did not recognize them as class
allies in the struggle for “real” emancipation.
TNS: Let’s talk about
Karachi, which has been a subject of your writings. Uptil the 1970s, the
city was major site of labour struggles. How did this transition from
labour politics to ethnic politics come about in Karachi?
KAA: My book ends in the
1972 labour movement in Karachi, a period many consider to be the
beginning of the end of one of the most protracted labour struggles in
Pakistan’s history. Starting in the late 1960s, this movement was
pivotal in shaping the transition from military rule to democratic forms
of governance. Ironically, it was the democratically elected party that
came into power through the overwhelming support of the working class,
students and radical left groups, the key participants of this movement,
which was instrumental in suppressing the worker’s struggle.
The period covered by
the book, 1947-1972 hence encompasses the growth and the descent of
organized Left politics in Pakistan. If the late 1940s is considered the
beginning of the communist movement in the country, linked as it was to
the international consolidation of communism in Eastern Europe and the
victory of Maoism in China, then the 1960s was surely its zenith, as urban
based working class and student movements destabilized the status quo. My
work on this period details by discussing the social and historical
processes that led to the substantive decline of labour and class based
politics and the concurrent emergence of a politics increasingly shaped by
issues of ethnic, religious and sectarian differences that mark
The timing of the labour
movement coincided with one of the most vulnerable periods in Pakistani
history. The division of the country and the overthrow of a dictatorial
regime opened up a political space for radical change that was
unprecedented in the nation’s life. It is argued by some that during
this movement the working class for the first time shed its narrow
economistic demands and confronted the state for broader political gains.
This celebration of emancipation is prefigured in a move toward becoming a
class onto itself and may reflect an analytical trope on historical
writings on the working class.
In a rethinking of this
argument I suggest that the cleavages within the working class itself were
just beneath the surface. Difference based on political affiliation,
region, language and ethnicity were dividing the working class in the
period preceding the labour movement as there were simultaneous efforts to
consolidate a united front of working class rights by some trade union
leaders and radical political activists. Hence, rather than show a united
labour movement, I focus on the different ways in which the left itself
was divided and also the cultural and linguistic distance between the
Karachi based leadership and the workers themselves.
TNS: Can we today look
at the city in ways that can allow us to imagine a less fragmented and
more tolerant urban space?
KAA: This is a difficult
question and is a profoundly political one. Despite promises of
egalitarian freedoms, the disciplinary nature of “liberal” modernity
has seldom allowed the urban to be a space of such complete abandon for
the working poor. Modern urban representational tropes like mobility,
speed and rationalized spatiality also foreclose critical questions that
examine ways in which, for example, the multitude of poor women negotiate
urban space in conditions of declining public transportation
infrastructure. The control of urban crowds, the management of the working
poor, the harnessing of female sexuality, the issues of vagrancy and
unattached children has been the historical dilemma faced by those,
administrators and academics alike, who seek to control the city and make
it still needs to be emphasized that although women, the poor,
children and minorities in most cities have not been granted full and free
access to the streets — are not complete citizens — yet industrial
life has brought them into public life. Women (and men) may use the urban
space for mobility, transgression, and different pleasures that they seek,
in the process navigating the everyday in favorable and unfavorable terms.
Hence, they survive and flourish in the interstices of the city and
“negotiate” its contradictions in their own particular way. How people
survive in their private and work life in expanding cities in the global
south are stories and histories that are yet to be told or written. I am
venturing tentatively to embark on such a project that would seek to write
the city in different and multifarious ways.
One thing that stands
out for me is how liberalisation policies have left a deep impression on
social and economic structures in most countries of the global south over
the past two decades. The impact has been of the last few decades has
affected virtually every sector of the post-colonial state. In recent
decades privatisation of this public sector has led to a retrenchment of
labour in the formal sector and rising male unemployment. New growth
industries have only marginally been accessible to the vast majority of
the working poor. These processes have led to an increase in women’s
participation in the labour force, albeit at lower wage levels and in the
informal sector, as women have opted for wage labour to off-set the
economic burdens faced by families. Policies
of unmaking the postcolonial welfare state have further manifested in
increased inflation, reduced access to affordable health, education and
housing, in turn severely affecting poor families and specially women, as
they become primary bread earners in a volatile economy.
In following the above
argument, we need ethnographic studies based on the everyday experiences
of working class to explore the contours and possibilities of a future
politics for cities like Karachi; a city that is always on the verge of
violent eruption. This move opens up the possibility of thinking about a
politics for the city that relies as its building blocks on every day
interactions and therefore takes seriously the lived experiences of people
themselves. The possibility may be of crucial importance for contemporary
Karachi where a diverse, multi-lingual and ethnic population considers the
challenges, pitfalls and compromises of co-existence. This does not mean
that all problems are solved or there is blind optimism — there is major
ethnic violence in the city frequently — but perhaps ethnographic
attention to the lives in the working class districts of Karachi may still
nudge us toward imagining a different political space, away from the
corridors of formal power, where in a spirit of co-living, disagreements
can be lived in a general gesture of kindness and tacit agreements with
others about how to get by.
Following the cultural
geographer, Nigel Thrift, I maintain that cities like Karachi also do
bounce back from such periodic crises and the mundane and the everyday
life of people, although transformed by the events, continues in
meaningful and creative ways. Thrift argues, albeit in his case for
Western cities, that despite the vulnerability of cities to epidemics,
natural disasters, terrorist attacks and violent conflict, they are always
modulated by processes of repair and maintenance. He suggests that by
focusing on the everyday practices of the people themselves a different
register of understanding of cities and their future politics may emerge.
A politics that is not always dependent on an analysis of conflict and
friction, rather it is a politics that is often concerned with living with
disagreements as much as it is about creating consensus.
I find this formulation theoretically productive to understand the
mechanisms through which people despite the presence of endemic personal,
social and political violence in Karachi’s working class neighborhoods
continue to co-exist, share resources and work together.
TNS: What are your
thoughts on the current state of the academia in Pakistan? Do you see any
positive trends? What recommendations would you give for the uplift of the
social sciences in the country?
KAA: I remain cautiously
optimistic about the state of social science in Pakistan. I have travelled
the country in recent years and visited many public universities or met
faculty and students from there. There have been recent efforts to promote
the social sciences and the humanities by the HEC and also by some
universities themselves. In private universities we see more people with
doctoral degrees teaching and one can imagine the quality of research and
publication has also risen in the past decade. However, major attention
has to be paid to the training and mentoring of junior faculty in terms of
inculcating in them the spirit of doing first rate research and
publishing. For, in my view, a good teacher is always a good researcher
her/himself. This is the future of our academia which needs to be nurtured
and guided and given the tools to develop the habit of asking provocative
questions and getting involved in producing studies in the field of
history, anthropology, political science, art history, legal studies,
fields of language literature and linguistics and other such fields.