Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pakistan Happenings..A Hot December.

I reject the cynical view that politics is a dirty business. 
Richard M. Nixon

As the first cold wind blows in Karachi after a winter shower and warm december, the shocking news of an attack on Peshawar airport is on television.The Tehrike Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has accepted the attack with a complicated name mentioning sending the infidels to hell in Arabic as reported by Salim Safi on Geo News.
no infidels died except the said militants themselves and of course innocent people who were taken unawares. The largest number of injured were innocent people including women and children who were residing near the airport.
Why did the Taliban attempt this failed attack on airport. Well, the Pakistan Air Force base is next door and this was their target.By the way a flight for Saudi Arabia was ready also at the airport and if the people had died then were they fitting the infidels going to hell definition?
This attack was anticipated according to Rahman Malik, the interior minister. Only yesterday, a US government official had appreciated the army's decision to take action in tribal areas against militants. The airbase was the first logical target. Thank God it failed and hope that now the army takes a sustained operation against them.
Well, just as we Karachiites were reeling from a paralysis of sorts due to peaceful protests which literary paralysed the city against a Supreme Court summon to Mr Altaf Hussain, leader of MQM to present himself in court on 7th January, this strange, ironic twist in fate grabbed our attention. The irony is that Haji Adeel, on whose petition Mr Altaf Hussain is facing this disgrace and almost strange order from the court is  a minister of KPK where the attack was made. God has strange ,hidden methods.
Let us see if sense prevails and Mr Altaf Hussain offers complete and unconditional apology to the court and diffuses the inflammable situation or takes the other path.Well, the incoming news is that the party or its followers are calling it misguided justice.Let us keep our fingers crossed that nothing horrible happens.from the looks of it as to what is actually happening in Sindh, things appear grim.The nationalists and Functional Muslim Leaguers are giving catcalls that the Pakistan Peoples Party is planning rigging of elections. Strange that only a few days ago they were appreciating the Election Commission Of Pakistan as a sovereign body.The issue of constituency delimitation only in Karachi has also been intelligently taken up by the editor Dawn (http://dawn.com/2012/12/15/delimitation-exercise/ ).He suggests that this exercise should be done after the elections and a fresh census all over Pakistan.
The drama that was so popular in Pakistan ,Ishqe Mamnu ends on  a tragic note but it seems that foreign dramas on prime time Pakistani television are here to stay. It only seems fair that the demand of Pakistan media industry that they be not aired on prime time is justified whether from their cultural or moral demands and standards or because of economic survival reasons for Pakistani dramas.In words of Hillary Clinton,

The worst thing that can happen in a democracy - as well as in an individual's life - is to become cynical about the future and lose hope. 

We must not lose hope this December.
http://literarymusings-meer.blogspot.com/2010/10/karachia-vampire-city.html

I join the protest against the targetted killings of Shias in Karachi, Baluchistan and Gilgit this year again in large numbers.
http://literarymusings-meer.blogspot.com/2009/12/noha-ba-kunankarachi-december-2009.html

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Red Rose For Saveeta Parveen..Abortion Issues In Pakistan.

An Interactive Article by Dr Meher Zaidi
The news that caused heartbreak was the preventable death of Saveeta Parveen ,a dentist in Ireland, beloved wife and a young woman full of life. She was denied abortion by hospital authorities in Ireland and after death of her fetus died. Ireland does not permit  abortion and this obstetric emergency which should have been handled medically once again highlights the tyranny of religious edicts and interference in laws that affect women. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_the_Republic_of_Ireland
There is a furore all over the world and the debate over who controls women's bodies and why is again front page . http://www.thejournal.ie/savita-praveen-halappanavar-abortion-galway-hospital-673590-Nov2012/
Pakistan also faces similar problems but many issues are being solved as is evident from this study by Shirkatgah http://www.shirkatgah.org/_uploads/_files/f_14-abortion_material_in_pak.pdf
In Pakistan the main issues are lack of awareness about prevention of pregnancy, lack of access to services including reproductive health, safe abortions and sometimes lack of knowledge of religious taboos.In Muslim law abortion is allowed till the end of second month and most Muslim scholars allow abortions in case of medical indication even after the 4 rth month of pregnancy.Due to lack of testing awareness women do an ultrasound scan later in pregnancy and if  congenital malformations are detected which cannot be compatible with life after birth in fetus, abortion is allowed.Islam does not allow abortions based on sex of fetus and also discourages limiting births by means of abortion of valid fetus.
As Muslim law basically makes man the center of power and decision in family according to the prevalent interpretations, decisions regarding abortions are mainly taken by men. Freedom of choice by women has been overshadowed by poverty, illiteracy and given the pseudo flavor of tradition and Islamic culture in Pakistan.
A woman may want abortion when her contraception fails, when she already has many children, she has other medical conditions etc. http://pregnancy.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Medical_Reasons_for_Abortion

Monday, November 19, 2012

Child Marriages In Pakistan.

An interactive article by Dr Meher Zaidi

Pakistan faces many legal and moral challenges. Child marriage is one such issue which has to be taken seriously if it wants to justify itself as a modern, progressive state. There are many issues which make this more complicated.
According to religious scholars and almost all Islamic schools of thought, child marriage is allowed in Islam. There is no age bar. Children as young as two can be married and it has been practiced as a custom to betroth children with their cousins or inside clans and tribes. According to the Pakistan penal code a child is described as under 18 years for males and under 16 years for females (http://www.vakilno1.com/saarclaw/pakistan/child_marriage_restraint_act.htm).In practice the female child is taken as when she reaches puberty which maybe as early as 9 years as is happening in many girls in Pakistan now where the age of puberty is falling. According to Mufti Naeem, child marriage including Rukhsati or sending the girl to her in laws house is allowed but sexual act is not allowed in Islam. How can this be prevented is one such big question as many cases of child sexual molestation are not reported or even recognized in Pakistan.
Incestious behaviour is not even reported or acknowledged inside families.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/66743/incest-struggling-to-break-the-taboo/
http://www.asianoutlook.com/articles/April/33.htmll


According to laws rape is well defined but linking this to child marriage and lack of evidence and because the raped is a child and is suffering coercion and dominance shows the inequality and lack of justice provided by the state. http://www.raahnuma.org/posts/child-marriage-laws/
In Pakistan religious political parties and religious scholars stand in way of egalitarian justice provided to child be it female or male.The right to child education and health is a fundamental right. In girl child early pregnancy and childbirth breaches both. The right to education is breached and health is compromised as complications of pregnancy and childbirth including death are common. These are also made more serious because of lack of access to health services and financial dependency. Girl child also suffers from gender prejudice including less access to food and social support.
The male child also suffers from psychological pressure, false and patriarchal gender complexes which hinders his emotional intelligence and social adjustment in adult life.His education and eventually financial status may suffer due to early emotional pressures.The male child also may suffer from early Sexually Transmitted Diseases and exposure to paid sex workers.
The lack of recognition of dangers of child http://www.commonlii.org/pk/other/PKLJC/reports/42.html, the apathy of traditional and religious scholars to understand and address this issue augurs doom for this country.Just like opposition to any human rights issue is considered in Pakistan a holy duty,this issue should be taken up on war footing by the ordinary citizens of Pakistan and legislated  http://www.commonlii.org/pk/other/PKLJC/reports/42.html









Friday, October 12, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The State of Civic Bodies in Karachi and Lahore.

By Dr. Meher Zaidi.
The recent fire accidents in which 22 and 21 people were burnt alive in factories located in Karachi and Lahore respectively, speaks volumes of the neglect  and insensitivity on the part of public officials and civic agencies officials to the safety and life saving measures for the workers  and  workplace.http://dawn.com/2012/09/12/at-least-63-dead-in-karachi-factory-blaze-fire-officer/ http://dawn.com/2012/09/12/21-burnt-alive-in-lahore-at-least-22-in-karachi/ http://dawn.com/2012/09/12/most-victims-are-labourers-devastating-fires-in-factories/

The first and foremost person responsible for ensuring safety in the workplace is the owner/manager of the place. He/she should ensure that all safety measures against fire, industrial accidents, building safety (including safe electric circuits/gas connections, piping, provision of alarms, water sprinkling arrangements, sprays, sand bags ,safe exits, fire drills etc) are in place with quality checks and audits periodically. Insensitivity and slackness speaks for the loathsome behavior of all concerned in this country. They emphasize on five time prayers to please God but the basic responsibility towards human beings and those also who are bread winners of the poor families speaks volumes of the real face of Pakistani muslims.
The building regulatory bodies are next in responsibility. The officers of these agencies are totally corrupt to the core. They take enormous bribes to pass maps and give liscences but never check  the construction and regulate the usage of the premises for the purpose it is built. These corrupt officials operate through touts who range from ordinary political workers to the level of engineers and even high government  officials. There is no building regulatory audit and no accountability of this audit by the civic agencies heads. In case of accidents like these and even when the bridge fell in Karachi ,due to faulty construction, the persons responsible find loopholes and bribe their way to freedom. 

The third group of people responsible but no less are the area elected representatives.These are the people who should ensure that factories and warehouses are not located in residential areas. That the workers are given due safety equipment and safe workplace environment and that the poor employees are given political voice no matter even if they are coming from another area. There should be complete ban on factories and ware houses in residential areas.The elected representatives who are presently colluding with factory owners and indirectly helping all corrupt regulatory officers should be made accountable to the public.

The sad state of affairs is that presently if the area residents even if they complain or try to raise voice against such factories or ware houses these corrupt people physically assault them or their families or involve them in some criminal cases with the collusion of area police. This cancerous web of treachery, deciept, dishonesty and corruption is so densly knit that ordinary citizens are scared and find it impoissible to report. They cannot even get the elected representatives on their side. All political parties should be ashamed and should take lesson from these two recent accidents and make it mandatory on all their representatives from lowest denominator to the top to ensure workplace safety as a first right of the citizen.
No plazas, factories, shopping centers be built without ensuring fire safety measures and good electrical audit.The fire and accident evacuation drills should be made mandatory in all such workplaces.These issues should be made part of all school and college curiculum so that there is general awareness andd sense of responsibilty of the masses.

The single most important factor in saving lives is good firefighting and evacuation agency.Presently both Karachi and Lahore firefighting agencies ar under staffed, ill equiped and out dated. These should be expanded massively.They should receive a very updated staff and equipment including vehicles.The Karachi section was bieng revamped following the Ashura bomb blasts but thanks to the infighting between the then interior minister of Sindh and the elected representatives of Karachi, this was put in waste basket.A much needed and most important department stands un-attended and helpless.
As the fire tenders find it difficult to negotiate and reach these densely populated areas ,the relocation after a survey and listing of all such factories and warehouses in Karachi and Lahore is now unavoidable. Both chief ministers should urgently start this exercise and finish this before the next elections with recommendations for action for the next governments.If the new local governments are in place this work will become easier, provided corrupt people are not re-elected and /or the poltical parties purge themselves of these corrupt and damaging elements.
With the new  industrial zones close to Karachi and Lahore, relocation plan should be made and instituted by the new governments on priority basis. The poor workers ‘ lives will not have been lost in vain if this is done. It is high time that we , the people of Pakistan shun our garbs of shamelessness and demand that workplace safety and safe residential areas be our right. We must fight against corruption at political and civic level.The political parties must expunge their corrupt members and change. Otherwise the masses will eventually rise and burn everything  down and who knows that maybe best.   http://meer-mehernewspappar.blogspot.com/2009/12/moon-market-lahore-mayhem.html   

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pakistan Happenings...Of Local Government Elections,New Alliances & Karachi.

As the Pakistan Peoples Party(PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement(MQM) reach accord for a new Local government ordinance, the other political parties like the Awami National Party(ANP),Muslim League ,Functional  (ML-F) which are coalition partners of the PPP government in Sindh are opposing this ordinance.The local government has been successful in Karachi & Hyderabad, two cities governed by the MQM in 2001 till 2009 through the 2001 Local Bodies Act . As described in the editorial of Business Recorder today,All cities need local governments.http://www.brecorder.com/editorials/0:/1235083:lg-ordinance/  The personnel and infrastructure of this tier of government has to be institutionalized.The provincial government officials are transferred after a period and the local body staff has to be deployed on permanent basis with a service structure. A big megapolis like Karachi  needs a permanent local government structure. For that matter cities like Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana also need well trained, well entrenched local government staff which cater to the needs of these cities.
The politics of opposition are based on mistrust and lack of confidence amongst the various coalition partners in Sindh.The background of these political tensions is ethnicity. Sindh political landscape has a very varied expression of ethnicity. The main ethnic groups are Sindhi speaking (Sindhi, Brahui, Balochi speaking communities),Urdu speaking,Pushto speaking,Hindko, Punjabi, Balochi,Gilgiti &Seraiki speaking.Karachi and Hyderabad have a large population of Urdu speaking people. Generally the MQM wins a large mandate from these two cities. During 2000 and 2008, it successfully ran these two large cities with lots of roads & infrastructure development.It bases the strength of this development for favor of the local government (as envisaged in 2001 ordinance).There have been various problems in the implementation of this ordinance and practical problems were highlighted and discussed in many conferences during this period.The Sindhi speaking population which gives its mandate to the PPP largely has not availed of this ordinance and wanted the 1979 Local bodies Act to be implemented. This was made anordinance ironically during the Zia ul Haq regime but was initially the Peoples Local Bodies Act as drafted during the Bhutto government in 1976.It was redesigned with small changes to suit the dictator's whims and put in place.The present PPP wanted this to be implemented with its changes.The other coalition partners agreed on this except the MQM which fearing its disenfranchisement & lessening of its power wanted the 2001 ordinance to be retained.
The new politics of Sindh need taking all allies on board and having a reconciliatory stance with stakeholders as too much water has passed under the bridge and Sindh needs massive and urgent  development both in its urban and rural areas. The successful interaction in which the city Nazim got the nullahs and drains of Karachi cleaned when rains wrecked havoc and submerged even the posh areas of Karachi like Defence and Clifton needs to be revitalized. Since the collapse of the local government and its replacement by administrators by the PPP Sindh government all the good work of garbage and drain cleaning has been undone. The encroachments by the rich and powerful over drains and natural waterways in Karachi which the city Nazim so successfully undid with political clout is slowly making its way back again.The staff of the city government of Karachi has not been paid their salaries for many months so all the drains and main waterways inside the city are filled with garbage. The disposal of solid waste has also taken a back bench. This seems like a deliberate attempt to undermine the well bieng of Karachi civic bodies and indirectly affect the MQM votebank but it , infact raise eyebrows on PPP Sindh governments' ability to govern large cities like Karachi .The lack of civic services and their mismanagement speaks volumes on this party's inability to do anything for their own inner cities where they have a large mandate. The sense of urgency to tackle this issue has been cleverly sensed by president Asif Ali Zardari, who being the co- chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party has brought about a reconciliatory local government ordinance.http://dawn.com/2012/09/07/local-bodies-law-for-sindh-ready/
Image(DAWN.COM) shows the drains are blocked causing havoc in recent rains.
 The issues where Hyderabad was divided into areas , which the PPP says was to lessen its hold over the votebank, has also been a bone of contention for the PPP and MQM.
But what about the other cities like Nawabshah, Larkana, Jacobabad where the city problems are massive with bad roads, bad & broken sewerage etc. Here there is the mandate is of PPP. These cities also need a dedicated , honest local government for their massive and urgent development.http://archives.dawn.com/archives/140927
The new ordinance will not only benefit the largely Urdu speaking MQM supporters but also all the other ethnic groups residing in Sindh. The roads & bridges network will help the Pathan, Punjabi traders and transporters with their businesses. The development and housing , building activity will help the Punjabi, Sindhi,Pathan and Seraiki speaking people.There is a need for all the ethnic groups to develop a tolerance towards each other based on the fact that all are here to stay permanently for their economic gains. The racism and hatred based on primitive instincts has to be abandoned for a new beginning.

The politics of Sindh are also showing a new yawning activity of Sindhi nationalists. People like Mumtaz Ali Bhutto who uptil now called Mr Nawaz Sharif (PML-N) a face of Punjab domination have merged his party into this larger party.All other Sindhi nationalists have also taken a reconciliatory stance with the largely Punjabi party.Many say that this has been done on the behest of the establishment.It seems that in Sindh, the nationalists are leaving no stone un-turned to grab power away from PPP and appear on the scene even as a nuisance value.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Minorities In Pakistan, A reflection in the mirror?

http://tribune.com.pk/story/180431/a-question-of-faith-repeal-blasphemy-law-or-make-it-flawless/
http://tribune.com.pk/story/422933/hate-crime-legislation/
http://tribune.com.pk/story/407850/visualising-a-tolerant-pakistan/

Today as I write there has been a bomb attack on a bus in Karachi in which one is reported dead and ten injured, on a bus carrying Shia students for a protest rally in favor of AlQuds in Palestine. Who did this horrendous act is unknown as it remains unknown who pulled down the 20 Shia Pakistanis from their bus in Northern Pakistan and killed them in cold blood last evening..Before the Afghan War, Pakistan was a peaceful, tolerant country.Even before that as the Saudi/Salafist influence was relatively less all over the world, Pakistan was a peaceful country. As I read the memoirs of Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar in India, I became aware of how pre-partition Indian muslims were invited by the Saudis to build up their infrastructure including canals and also the Indian Muslim religious scholars to address and educate the students and religious universities in Saudi Arabia. Many a religious scholars from India had great influence on these earlier Muslim clerics in Saudi Arabia. These scholars were tolerant and open to ideas as they had to interact with a Hindu population in India. How this tolerant behaviour and teaching changed into extremely violent/Jihadist mentality so much so that even other sects of the same religion are not tolerated remains a dilemma!
The influx of Saudi funded schools all over Pakistan has its links to the preparation for Afghan jihad but the same massive influx all over Central Asian states describes a very deliberate plan.How much of this is related to US designs is a question which eludes even the most well read scholars of politics.

Pre- Afghan Jihad, some later Muslim Salafist teachers were sent to Afghanistan like maulvi Azam, to teach in universities and pave way for a force of religious teachers which will inculcate a sense of Jihad amongst the religious seminary students all across Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal and northern areas. This plan was masterminded by the US security establishment and was implemented by the Saudi Royal rulers.What happened in the Afghan Jihad and what happened after the US left this area is there for all to see. My dilemma is that who supported the spectre of Usama Bin Laden and what is the reality of this spectre?
 Pakistan is imploding and will continue to do so for quite some time till natural forces of balance of existence take place as happens in history.Now that Usama Bin laden is killed we as a nation that is tearing apart its own innards, needs to really answer and introspect these questions:
How many of us 180 million people want to stay as a federation in Pakistan?
Is Pakistan a reality? or is it a farcical ideology?
Can we separate the artificial establishment/pseuodo religious overarching thrust to our ideology from the modern statehood principles and requirements?
Can Pakistan survive as a confederation?
What can be the clauses of the new social contract?
The taliban culture (which is the artificial culture that resulted from Afghan Jihad) is doomed to fail. It does not nurture a society where women and children are not exploited. Eventually it will be wiped out but a massive damage to the inhabitants will be done before that. all educational institutions and infrastructure like roads , bridges that the army built in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa are destroyed.
The present killings of Shias, the migration of Hindus to India and the religious persecution of Ahmedis and Christians is part of this implosive process. The average common man of Pakistan , whether literate or illiterate is loving, God fearing, kind, hard working and un-prejudiced. If he is saved from the clutches of the vested interests be they of religious actors, establishment, corrupt officialdom,he can perform his duties better. After the response to any natural disaster in Pakistan , my belief in the average Pakistani has become that of confidence and strength.Only a free political process where he is truly made to make his choice ,he will choose education, health services, access to justice,dignified labor
and freedom as his priorities.
Religion and violence is not an issue with the Pakistani citizen. It is being thrust upon him with full force since the Afghan Jihad. The only hope is with the  renewal of the new social contract that is Pakistan. The establishment must find its own soft belly. The Pakistani citizen must have the right to make his choice. There is no other way forward for Pakistan.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Controlling Narcotics In Pakistan.

Controlling Narcotics in Pakistan.
By Dr Meher Zaidi.

Ministry of Narcotics control, government of Pakistan writes in its advertised section in newspaper today that it has devised a National Anti- Narcotics Policy and the 5 year drug Control Master Plan will be implemented. Mr Javed Iqbal  emphasizes that all this will be done with international and local stakeholder support.organisations like UNODC,UNAIDS,SAARC will be actively approached and a regional cooperation with Afghanistan, Iran will be initiated for success.
The strategy is three pronged:
1.Supply reduction through invigorated and strengthened law enforcement.
2.Demand reduction through accelerated initiatives.
3.International Co-operation.
Let us first discuss the supply reduction scenario.
As the conventions in UN drug control says that there is to be increased seizures of drugs components and raw materials from the origins countries and their supply routes.http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drug-trafficking/index.html  This is where the international organisations come into play.Pakistan has a very limited and ineffective Anti- narcotics Support Force. This new initiative with the approval of  the prime minister boasts of new national anti-narcotics policy,5 year master plan with road map, inter agency task force, make Lahore drug free, strengthening law enforcement  & expeditious judicial proceedings and stern action against drug trafficker and smugglers among other  initiatives.
It seems that the write up due to limitation of space does not elaborate on this major aspect of drug control in Pakistan.
There is apparently a criminal lack of justice in drugs control in Pakistan. No drugs supplier at any level, of any magnitude is ever caught in Pakistan.The aspect of catching big fish and making an example out of them is very important for a country like Pakistan.As seen in the failed drug war in Columbia, despite increased force to control this trade, alternative economic opportunities are most important. There has been activity of distribution of seeds for sustainable crops in Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa with supply of hydel projects but these initiatives for lucrative crops and economic advantageous activity need to be expanded.http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/01/02/the-truth-about-plan-colombia.html
I may not say this but I must that  the narcotics control operates at the level of just slapping this criminal charge on a very small person when other charges cannot be put to implicate a person in a criminal case. So a guy can be slapped with possessing 1kg heroin just to keep him in lockup for any other reason. Also to show some activity by the local police station. Never a big fish in narcotics trade has been caught and his case brought on trial. This issue of non-seriousness to tackle the actual menace of drugs in Pakistani society has to be finished.
All the input routes are freely operated by trucks and the goods are smuggled into major cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi.Very seldom are these drugs confiscated.There is very dire need of strengthening this aspect of narcotics control.Various aspects of precursor narcotics control by the Narcotics Control Force like registrations, issuance of no objection certificates etc are important but more intelligence and surveillance of shipments and logistics is needed for effective confiscation. More equipment and training for vigilance is required. 
The ordinary police has to be strengthened and made aware of drug confiscation and some perks & incentives have to be given to them. The false accusations procedures have to be strictly discouraged and abandoned in order to bring the real culprits to justice.
Demand reduction through accelerated initiatives is a very large and difficult subject. It has to be addressed through multiple thrusts. First and foremost is education. Clearly the increase in school enrollment and reduction in drop out rate is among the most effective means of reducing this demand. awareness about the damaging effects of drugs, breaking the habit , reduction of peer pressure, religious thrust and enticement all lead to reduction in demand. Intense media campaigns is a very effective tool in addition to campaigns by pop stars.
In Pakistan direct criminal activity is linked to selling of drugs at street level. The role of police in catching the drug peddler at street level is very important which is totally being ignored due to rampant corruption at this level. Most fights against criminal gangs by the police are now given a political flavor due to which larger actions against criminal gangs are not undertaken or postponed.This lethargy or inability to tackle drug control has to be removed and the ANF has to be strengthened for its role at street level also.The upgrading and strengthening of the Anti-narcotics Force is also an important initiative.Without this effective force this war cannot be won.

A key initiative given is a national survey on the extent of drug abuse and addiction should be the first priority to get a real picture. This will define the population to be targeted both in prevention and treatment. It will also give us the socio-economic makeup in addition to the causes of falling into drug addiction.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pakistan Happenings..Who Will Bell the Cat Species.

"I'm not okay and you're not okay, and that's OKAY" 
 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

As I fall down into the abysmal abyss of the Pakistan politics and pseudo-media world I hear voices all around. My head spins as a viewer, spectator and a mere female thing. "In a crazy world, it's only your insanity that will keep you sane" 
 Leo Buscaglia
So to keep sane I try to see in front in a straight line.
"To see what is what's in front of one's own nose is a constant struggle." 
 George Orwell 
No this is not a treatise on cynical qoutes. It is an exercise to put your thoughts and words in clarity. As Asma Jehangir questions in her lucid article (Ah, not Luciforacious) in Dawn today http://dawn.com/2012/06/19/democracy-under-threat/ ,there are many fine lines, red lines and gray lines that we as Pakistanis need to see, cross, mark and define.Well we may see our canvas as we want to and are taught to as Frank Zappa says; "Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKgK91zCq44&feature=related
What will you do if a country that is bursting at its seams with hungry,illiterate, poverty ridden 180 million people is adjudged by a group of  men who are running a venerable institution like a power house.The common man cannot find a lawyer because he is poor.His trial will never see justice. His grief will be his fate, destiny and judgement. The rich man cannot find a lawyer because the legal fraternity has turned into a moral police brigade. Where the ostracism is judgement itself. Condemnation by a group of men who are the guardians and custodians of law. The law of land does not hold supreme. The men who are the custodians hold supreme their egos and judgments. It is a sad month for Pakistan.There will be trials and tribulations. There will be un-addressed issues. How will the new faces deliver justice? How will the justice reach the common man. The prime minister falls. Another will come. There will be the same issue and the question will remain. Who will bell the cat?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pakistan's Ostrich People.

Akhtar Ali's writes in his "Mirror Mirror on the Wall article" http://www.brecorder.com/articles-a-letters/187/1198747/ that

"Three steps could reduce budgetary deficits, theoretically speaking; reducing military expenditure, taxing agricultural incomes and reducing waste, inefficiency and profligacy in government. It is the last one which government could have done with relatively lesser threat although it may annoy bureaucracies, political and influential leaders and many other beneficiaries of such waste. Finally it robs the ruler of the only pleasure it enjoys; pomp and pleasure bought through spending free money. It is the easiest and also the most difficult job requiring discipline, expertise and self-sacrifice. Waste reduction requires a lot of technical expertise as well in addition to the political will. It is not reduced by showy acts. 

Military expenditure has remained a permanent burden and drain on national economy and resources. The FY Budget 2012-13 has allocated formally a sum of Rs 545.3 Billion towards Military Expenditure (MILEX). Reportedly, it is a 10% increase over the last year without the asking of the defence sector. A good 42.1% (Rs 229.5 Billion) go towards payroll and employment related expenses, another 26.23 %(Rs 143.5 Billion) go towards operating expenses and Rs 120.5 Billion (22%) go towards physical asset, some kind of PSDP for the defence sector. It used to be a one line budget in early days. Happily, slightly more is known now about it. There are other declared and non-declared expenditures which have been excluded from the formally declared allocation. A sum of Rs 98.2 Billion for military pension comes out of civilian budget due to an innovation in understatement techniques. Several organisations of military nature are either budgeted from civilian sector or are simply not declared. It all adds up to an estimated figure in the range of 800-1000 Billion Rupees. This should be compared with a total outlay of PSDP of a mere Rs 360 billion and net revenue receipts of Rs 1774 billion. 

On the other hand it is argued by military circles that MILEX has come down, if measured with respect to the percentage of GDP or the total budget. It is high time that transparency is brought about in this respect. That should be the first step in bringing reforms in this sector so that useful and objective discussion takes place on the subject devoid of self-perpetrating logic or emotionalism. It is often considered unpatriotic or even immature liberalism to talk of reducing MILEX. There are political parties in the countries often encouraged if not propped by the establishment, who make a strong case for a national security state, high foreign policy agenda, wresting Kashmir from the clutches of India and the like along with a welfare state and subsidised energy and food prices. To top it all, these forces and the establishment have apparently turned against the Samraj which used to be milked to finance high military spending and import of weapons"

This shows the double faced and almost bonkers mentality of the so called pseudo- religious parties like the Jamaat -e -Islami who have always benefited by this double faced stance.How can you take high end agendas like the victory of Kashmir, spending billions on clandestine, misdirected organisations like Lashkare Tayyaba (LOIT) and also give cheap electricity and other welfare state benefits to its people at the same time?The Difa -e -Pakistan Council is one such Nauveau folie. 

Elaborating on the issues of Energy Deficiency he gives the cause as 
"Oil prices hurt the economy in many ways, especially because Pakistan has become very dependent on it. All economies are dependent on oil and energy but either they produce energy or consume less of it. Most countries consume oil only for transport needs as there is no other alternative to Internal Combustion engines used in the automotives of today. It is a gift of Musharraf regime which installed or put into pipeline many oil based power plants neglecting investments in gas discoveries and putting Thar coal on a back burner. Unfortunately, he and his coterie did not know, as is usual when going is good, that he was digging a grave for Pakistan's economy. Thus high oil prices, dependence of power sector on oil and low capacity of people to pay for real energy costs resulting in theft and low energy tariff result in unpaid subsidies and circular debt; a vicious cycle that has to be broken somewhere. This can be done if a government is spared of challenges in other sectors extracting and diverting the resources from powerful sectors. A besieged government cannot do that. And all other governments which don't manage to extricate themselves from blackmailing will continue to suffer and will end up as failures in the dustbin of history. The present government had its share in adding to the crisis. It has failed to act swiftly and decisively towards the development of indigenous energy resources like Thar and local gas. It has instead tried to take soft and urgent courses. It indulged in much defamed Rental Power only to know later that the crisis was not of capacity but was of energy resource. Rental Power, through inferior efficiency would have only worsened the crisis and would have contributed to the circular debt. Fortunately, it could not be implemented in full as originally planned. And they have been wasting time and energies in pursuing LNG projects that the economy could hardly support. Already, the government has defaulted on IPPs and has been threatened of international litigation. This would not send a good message to international investors who alone are capable of financing the capital intensive energy projects. On the other hand, energy bureaucracy has been left alone to decide on its own without central policy co-ordination. Bureaucrats are enhancing and showing their personal efficiencies at the expense of the total sector's performance. This is like somebody polishing the furniture of a ship that is sinking."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Issues in Governance by Akhtar Ali.



Akhtar Ali writes in Business Recorder  on Issues in improving governance in Pakistan. In part 1 he gives a very humanistic and pragmatic outlook .  He writes
 "A good governance system is expected to be effective and efficient in overseeing, guiding and regulating economic activity and social development, with democracy, consensus, participation of the people, in a transparent manner, keeping people informed of it's decision, under a set of rules and laws to be adjudicated by an independent judiciary, and having a role for media, NGOs, civil society etc. Good government has to be protective and mindful of the religious and ethnic minorities. It should not rule by brute majority and force. It should be sensitive to the historical and heritage issues of its people. It should also be able to conduct itself with its neighbouring countries and participate constructively in the international system, meet its obligations under conventions, treaties and UN resolutions."
http://www.brecorder.com/articles-a-letters/187/1194616/

Monday, May 28, 2012

Issues in Constituency Delimitation in Pakistan.


Akhtar Ali in his bold and candid article in the Business Recorder newspaper discusses the issues and solutions of constituency delimitation in Pakistan.
"Holding of census is a constitutional requirement and the honorable Supreme Court has also not taken any notice.
Word goes by, that the delimitations' basic work was done by the security/intelligence agencies, which usually have all the data, even on voting patterns of Mohallas.
There appears to be some merit in the word that goes by; more the reason to revise the constituency delimitation to eliminate the shadows of Musharraf regime ala Baqiate Zia-ul-Haq
Reportedly, voting lists have been improved by Nadra and are in the process of final compilation.
Constituency delimitation can be done based on voters' list as well.

This time it ought to be done more scientifically and fairly respecting the voting strengths of the constituencies and minimising the variations in size as has been discussed."
 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Women & Children of Lyari..Children Of A Lesser God.

Dr Meher Zaidi. (An interactive article).
Residents flee Lyari (DAWN).

Armored personnel carriers hand grenaded, heavy assault weapons used mercilessly, three apparently non-criminal youth lying dead on roads, a school teacher injured by bullets inside her home later dying in hospital, children crying and hungry with sounds of heavy gunfire reverberation in background, sounds familiar? Or does it look like a far away place with just news flashing on your television screens? This is Lyari ! The most conflict ridden part, the most dangerous, the most reviled part of Karachi, that huge metropolis, that is the heart of Pakistan.http://dawn.com/2012/04/29/operation-lyari/ http://dawn.com/2012/04/30/panicked-families-fleeing-lyari/
My first introduction to Lyari was when I was a child some 40 years ago when my mother was there on some sort of a mission for APWA( All Pakistan Women's Association). Later in the 60's I became more familiar as she crusaded against the use of drugs in schools and especially those in areas like Lyari. I met women & children from Lyari and instantly became friend with such a gregarious and genuine people as a child usually sees the truth in people.Later on being told of Baluch history by Sardar Gabol, a friend of my parents as he often sat in Lady Dufferin Hospital as a board member and by justice Marri, who gave me a poetry book of Baluch history as translated and collected by him  when I was 14 and taking English tuition for his girls who were my age, I came to know the real people of Baluchistan.This was initially a matriarchal society and was therefore. extremely loving, tolerant and nurturing . Later on as a doctor my patients from Lyari also told me stories and the suffering and endurance that they had to undergo, living as single parents as most of their men had gone to Middle East in Bhutto's employment program. These children grew up in an environment without proper education and mostly urbanized yet poor living conditions.As these families were then mainly socially supported by their relatives who again were less privileged in education and social status clung to their tribal and family roots.
These women and children had to face all difficulties of single parenthood, living without education in an alien urban atmosphere. I am surprised that to this day the University of Karachi or for that matter any in Sindh & Pakistan have not done any research & analysis on such an intense topic of urban integration, drugs & crime. What were the socio-political reasons of this kind of pariah status that Lyari has earned? No research publications. This shows the apathy and disinterested academia and all our politicians have towards our social ills. They think that just by an operation by the police will be able to wipe out the locality off the criminals.http://dawn.com/2012/04/30/four-killed-two-dsps-injured-in-lyari-violence/

Little do they know that decades of neglect has ruined the streets of this township.The criminality has not taken place within a decade. The failed governance model of this township is also an eyeopener and a lamp burner for the political parties like the Pakistan Peoples Party, who do the politics of emotions in this township and the PML-Nawaz which is trying to snatch away its vote-bank and part of which is this Uzair Baloch/Zafar Baloch phenomenon .In recent decade this group has become the strong arm of the Peoples Amn committee away fro the other armed groups such as Ghaffar Zikri & Arshad Pappoo. The "Gubber Singish" Chaudry Aslam (Cop of Karachi) has been attacked in his Defence home by the criminal gangs and had vouched to finish off the Lyari gangs (or some of them).

Post 2009 Ashura bomb blasts and arson of entire markets of M.A. Road and surrounding areas , the business community was also interested in getting these Lyari gangs under control.
 As the then home minister Zulfiqar Mirza, was the close friend of the leaders of Peoples Amn Committee, he appeared to side up with them and as generally the MQM was the party more vocal for the business community this action was always delayed or never taken. Zulfiqar Mirza is also the husband of  Fahmida Mirza, speaker National Assembly and friend of the president Asif Ali Zardari. The problems of Lyari remained as no serious effort by friends and foes was made to convene any study at a larger level academically to see the reasons for conflict and any means suggested for its resolution .http://karachi.metblogs.com/2009/12/28/pictures-bomb-blast-at-ma-jinnah-road-on-ashura/

http://meer-mehernewspappar.blogspot.com/2009/12/karachi-burns-againon-ashura.html
The power game by the armed gangs in Lyari is the main problem. It has never been tackled or solved or even handled by its political leadership which is to this day with Pakistan Peoples Party (Nabil Gabol at this time).
Now this new turf war was taking place to dislodge the PPP (Zulfiqar Mirza faction backed ) Uzair Baluch group who have threatened to go over to PML-N side. As shown in live television news clips, armed with latest automatic weapons and offering stiff resistance to a relatively less armed and unprepared  police force (Three policemen including SHO Civil Lines lost in first frontal attack on Lyari on first day), many questions arise to the efficacy and efficiency of the operation and the executors.

The president, Asif Ali Zardari has planned to uplift Lyari and prepare ground for his son Bilawal's first triumphant entry into the national assembly. For this end he has made the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Shaheed University of which an esteemed faculty has been instituted.In order for it to function flawlessly and impart education to Lyariites and outsiders , there is need for impeccable law and order including non-ethnic peace.
This maybe an operation for this purpose also.

This choice of armed assault in urban densely populated area is very damaging for the women, children, old and sick of the area. The elected representatives of this area were so much at distance with their people that they were unable to resolve this issue in a less violent manner and the ganged up leaders had taken the whole community hostage. This happens when the intellectuals and socially responsible distance themselves from politics and popular parties like the PPP chose candidates on basis of muscle power and  feudal to ensure votes. Pakistan is changing in both its rural and urban  politics. Very soon the poor, disenfranchised, down trodden labor, tiller, workers will speak and for towns like Lyari this may be an opportunity to change its criminal label to the one of Free & Fair Revolution. The question is are we prepared? For liberation from elitism and tyranny? Are we prepared as a people?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pakistan Happenings...An April's Foolery.

Pericles
This last week of April, Pakistan stands at crossroads where the Pakistan Peoples Party once again will have to choose a noose.Either way it will suffer tremendous losses apparently but will again emerge triumphant and more popular after some years of repression.What is it that keeps this party so popular with the masses? In history it will be counted as most loved leaders, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. In fact it is the emergence of sense of vote and power of vote at the grass roots level which is making this party the choice for people all over Pakistan. As this party will eventually shed off its feudal makeup and move towards more progressive and liberal stance, the poor man will move towards it.The middle class which is small and more urbanized will again prefer to vote for this party as the other choices are too parochial and limited.
Prime ministerYusuf Raza Gilani is used to living in jail. that is not a problem. Ironically the ostracism being practiced by media and some journalists is similar to that practiced in ancient Greeks and Athenians. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostracism 
The lessons to be learnt here are that evolution of democratic process is taking place in Pakistan's society in a very rapid and interesting manner. This country holds 180 million people in a crazy , wild, passionate, emotional mosaic of ethnicity, politics, social makeup, literacy levels and religious groups. Its scientists from making nuclear bombs to discovering subatomic particles have won many a laurels.Its sages and saints have conquered the hearts of millions.It keeps its ancient wisdom from prehistoric (Mehergarh, Moen-jo- Daro,) to ancient history, Taxila, Harrapa, Gandhara to modern turmoil of an elected democracy which is in strife within itself with tribal, feudal, religious groupings, illiteracy in the modern sense.
We need to see the character of Pericles, Themistocles in our new emerging leadership.History repeats itself. Only those nations survive and emerge glorious who learn from history.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Future Roadmap For Pakistan Peoples Party.

 The Future Roadmap For Pakistan Peoples Party.
Dr. Meher Zaidi.

Pakistan Peoples Party was formed by  Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Lahore in 1967 after Pakistan and India 1965 war.Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was elected its Chairman.According to Fakhar Zaman,

. Among the express goals for which the party was formed were the establishment of an "egalitarian democracy" and the "application of socialistic ideas to realize economic and social justice". A more immediate task was to struggle against the hated dictatorship of Ayub Khan,who was at the height of his power when the PPP was formed. Basic principles of PPP enshrined:
    • Islam is our Faith
    • Democracy is our politics
    • Socialism is our Economy
    • All Power to the People
The Party also promised the elimination of feudalism in accordance with the established principles of socialism to protect and advance the interests of peasantry.

Forty five years on, the party stands again at the place where it first started. With two of its dynamic, popular leaders murdered by forces against its basic founding principles and their power in vested interest , the party needs a new leadership from inside or outside  to gather its ideological force and direct its power to fight the fascist and authoritarian as well as the political forces and re-establish its manifesto. The shift in its ideological lead has made the party into a rudderless ship which may easily sink if the internal issues are not addressed immediately.
The old guard of the Pakistan Peoples Party is now getting irrelevant in the context of their vision, direction, corrupt and feudal behaviour. They are getting irrelevant also in the context and background of the changing paradigm of politics in Pakistan. Due to poverty, natural disasters, extremely high cost of living in Pakistan and illiteracy, Pakistan stands as a failed state.
The failure of the system to establish sound and solid institutions, defence and provision of basic human rights, the loss of establishment of a just and egalitarian society have together enhanced the urgent need for a leadership which not only represents the aspirations and needs of the masses but also has the capacity to adapt and bring about rapid change in the socio-economic status of the common man.
The Pakistan peoples Party must give up its populist lineage and image and defeat the politics of cronyism, sycophancy,feudalism and corruption. It must defend its basic promise of "Roti, Kapra aur Makan" as it still is the most relevant slogan. The present leadership must realize that the days of populist leadership are over and this party has the strongest base to propel Pakistan towards a just and egalitarian society with a promise for the common man.
The party must bridge the gap within its internal workers, peasants, and build up its middle class cadres.It must decentralize its working and empower the lower worker. It must strengthen its common base in the agriculture, farmers and traders . It must push towards land reforms. It must fight and purge the feudal mindset from within its ranks. 
The present hue and cry from the ordinary citizens in some way reflect the needs of the common man and the party does have it in its manifesto. Benazir Bhutto in her last manifesto did give policy directions to the party but her sad and untimely death left the party under care of an inexperienced leadership which is to this day fighting for survival. It is high time that the political leadership devolved the powers and decision making in the hands of the working class of the PPP.
Pakistan is ready for a revolution. Not the kind bieng proposed by Mr. Imran Khan who has not really fought any electoral victories and is ideologically weak.Pakistan is ready for a pragmatic revolution where the entire policies will be wrenched away from an exploitative capitalistic system towards a socialist, just and egalitarian system.The worker, the farmer, tiller and the working classes have to be empowered.
Pakistan Peoples Party must seize this opportunity to bring its revolution back.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pakistan Happenings:Privacy, Civil Liberties, Media Ethics, Morality,Medical Ethics.

Friedrich Nietzsche believes that we have to assess the value of our values since values are relative to your goals and yourself. He emphasizes the need to analyze our moral values and how much impact they have on us. The problem with morality, according to Nietzsche, is that those who were considered “good” were the powerful nobles who had more education, and considered themselves better than anyone below their rank. Thus, what is considered good is relative. A “good man” is not questioned on whether or not there is a “bad”, such as temptations, lingering inside him and he is considered to be more important than a man who is considered “bad” who is considered useless to making the human race better because of the morals we have subjected ourselves to. But since what is considered good and bad is relative, the importance and value we place on them should also be relative. He proposes that morality itself could be a danger. [9] Nietzsche believed that morals should be constructed actively, making them relative to who we are and what we, as individuals, consider to be true, equal, good and bad, etc. instead of reacting to moral laws made by a certain group of individuals in power.
 Media in Pakistan is blatantly mushrooming. Sometimes like a cloud of dust and debris which when fall make the earth ashen and grey. Just like a nuclear fallout. Sometimes like the sweet sticky but harmless residue of a cotton candy.There are anchors who are responsible and educated and then there are anchors who are irresponsible , brash , who have no understanding of ethics, privacy and civil liberties.These latter anchors and morning show hosts are hosting and airing programs on television channels which are a shame on the channel they are aired on. The issues of moral policing, hypocrisy,morality, right to privacy http://privacy.org/about/ , are unclear in the minds of these hosts and the public and audience are  left to their mercy. The producers and directors of these shows are either irrelevant or are not aware of the dangers they are causing themselves.
Recently a host on a morning show raided a park in Karachi and with a team of many men and women chased and humiliated many young men and women who were present there. Video  which shows the program which has caused furore amongst a very small segment of society who understand the right of individual to privacy and its guarantee under the civil liberties as enshrined in the UN  Charter of The Human Rights. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights#Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
http://www.humanrights.com/#/home
The issues in privacy debate now on social media in Pakistan is about what to do about the few public spaces that are accessible to women and men in only big cities like Karachi and how to protect the individual's freedom. The public spaces that are present in smaller towns are either occupied by drug addicts and are not used by women and children due to gender/ religious suppression.Many have protested but this is has a smaller audience.http://thingsmayamissed.tumblr.com/post/16402313027/dear-the-maya-jee-those-are-pink-chaddis-you
http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/9975/an-open-letter-to-maya-khan/comment-page-4/
http://tribune.com.pk/story/325990/vigil-aunties/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_ethics
It is high time that the right to privacy by individual is protected in Pakistan and the individual freedom of speech, thought, opinions and belief are respected as enshrined in Universal declaration of human rights.As it is the space for tolerance and liberal thinking is shrinking in Pakistan at an enormous speed.Before little space is also engulfed by intolerance and bigotry we may get some individual space for breathing.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pakistan Happenings :Women In Political Pakistan.


Women  In Political Pakistan.
An interactive Article  By  Dr Meher Zaidi
Pakistan has entered the middle of the 21st century ill prepared and poorly armed to face the gigantly immense challenges facing its polity, political future and economic well being. Its literacy rate not being improved as much as it should have been. The quality and quantity of education has not been up to a standard increasing competence and direction for development to take place. http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/pakistan_pakistan_statistics.html
More than 50% of population in Pakistan is women and girls. They are laborers, agricultural workers (Haris, tillers ), teachers, doctors, nurses, scientists etc.  They are amongst the most suppressed, vulnerable groups facing social sanctions, religious prejudice, inequality, gender discrimination, violence, economic prejudice and political suppression. Pakistan must understand that in order to increase its Competitiveness Index it needs to fast track its policies for women development and empowerment and bring Women’s Issues in mainstream politics.
http://www.weforum.org/issues/global-competitiveness 

 In an enlightening interview in Herald (October 2002, http://herald.dawn.com/), Ms. Hina Jilani http://www.cartercenter.org/peace/human_rights/defenders/defenders/pakistan_hina_jilani.html ,in an answer to a question as to how will the increase in women’s seats in the parliament be beneficial,  says that the increase will help understand women’s problems better  and also erase the discrimination against women.She was critical of the small number of seats sanctioned at the time and said that she stood for bringing women’s issues in mainstream politics. This is an issue which has matured for open debate now in Pakistan. Mr Imran Khan is now emphasizing on good governance, corruption free society, rule of law. He has to bring these issues in mainstream political arena. This issue of bringing Women’s issues in mainstream has to be seen in the paradigm of Economic Dynamism and  Competitiveness.

Akhtar Ali in his new book Pakistan’s Development Challenges, Federalism, Security & Governance  http://developmentpakistan.blogspot.com/2010/06/new-book-pakistans-development.html , writes in the chapter “Competition & Competitiveness”  that “Competitiveness in international markets & elsewhere would come about first from promoting  social mobility, reducing invisible barriers, eliminating class monopoly, releasing millions of human beings from social bondage of one form or the other. It is not just the poverty and economic conditions; it is the socio-political apparatus that may have to be overhauled. The politics of corruption and favoritism must end. “ He further elaborates how this disparity can be bridged over .
 My emphasis is on bringing the over  50% female population into the picture. As said by the learned author unless  the labor wages are brought out of the “cheap, low” paradigm into international competition , the issues of poverty, falling out of competition and social mobility will not be resolved. Both industrial and business community needs to understand the politics of competition and international competitiveness and of course the female input in economic productivity.
Agriculture contributes 26% to the GDP in Pakistan. The agriculture worker ( and thank God agriculture in Pakistan is neither fully mechanized and corporatized) is underpaid, overworked and un-insured. The women due to increased vulnerability (pregnancy, childbirth, nutritional deficiency, low literacy, social practices, lack of easy access to justice, population overload in family unit, poverty) also contribute to low agricultural productivity. This needs to be again addressed as a mainstream political issue.
 Akhtar Ali again in his forthcoming book (available on Amazon http://www.amazon.ca/Pakistans-Development-Akhtar-Ali/dp/1466225041), emphasizes Land Reform Package  and Water Rights. These will surely improve the socio-economic conditions of rural population in general and women in particular. These suggestions on land reforms are not those that bring about social turmoil as envisaged by some  Tehrik- e- Insaaf politicians in public discourse. They are viable and doable options as presented in his book in detail.  http://www.insaf.pk/
Benazir Income Support Program is one such program which intends to bring about some fiscal relief to women and poor families in Pakistan. http://www.bisp.gov.pk/events/co-responsibility%20cash%20transfer%20Presentation.pdf .  Their Waseela –e –Taleem program is scheduled to be launched in early 2012 but it seems that Pakistan due to its extremely bad luck has once again embroiled itself in issues like the memo gate and the NRO whereby the incumbent government instead of focusing on these social sector programs is again on the defensive and its  attention divided. This program should continue and be part of the policy programs by whoever forms the new government. Pakistan needs to continue its   development and social emancipation policies.
Another point to be emphasized is that whenever there is discussion and debate on the issues of development aid , the politicians start a verbal diarrhea against aid as if it is pariah dog. Aid in the context of social development has to be taken from the international community because due to our fat defense budget we are not allocating any funds for social sector development. Till such time we are generating these funds ourselves we will have this chicken –egg  problem of low social indicators (Poverty, health, literacy and education) and Pakistan’s inability to come out of its problems (Failed State, Lack of Freedom etc). http://www.underminingdemocracy.org/pakistan/
As Pakistan enters the middle of this century aware of its problems and its people are aware of the solutions to bring about an egalitarian  change in its politics, armed with education and economic vibrancy, the people who paint a doomsday picture will be dis-illusioned.  Pakistan’s judiciary, armed forces and above all politicians need to understand the emergency of bringing the politics of women in the mainstream.

Update 20th January,2012 : DAWN newspaper headlines Women's Commission Bill Passed By National Assembly http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/20/womens-commission-bill-passed-by-na.html .The significance of passing this bill at this time is that an even groundwork is available to remove the hurdles and barrriers of socio-economic and social injustices to provide a smooth transition of the women polity in development and economic prosperity.This bill is a major step by the parliamentarians to improve the lot of women in Pakistan. The government with its allies and the opposition has made it possible now for the women issues to be handled by a more adequate and informed class of individuals to handle the women's issues and fast track the issues instead of slow pace of work which took decades to be resolved.Its preamble highlights the understanding the parliamentarians have of the issues and we hope that democratic dispensation of the governments will continue in future.
 “promotion of social, economic, political and legal rights of women” as provided in the Constitution and “in accordance with international declarations, conventions, treaties, conventions and agreements relating to women, including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women”.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pakistan Happenings...The Gas And Electricity Riots.


The Gas And Electricity Riots; Failure of stable policy inputs.
Dr Meher Zaidi.

Due to shortages of gas and electricity , both for industrial and domestic users, rioting has erupted in many cities of Pakistan. The violent demonstrators are burning public and private transport. This is ominous for future investment in Pakistan as both national and foreign investors will hesitate. It seems that a hand grenade attack on a cellular company network is also done to discourage foreign investment in Pakistan.
Pakistan is a country of 180 million people. It is a growing and burgeoning economy which needs wider and stable policy inputs. Its telecom and IT industry is growing very rapidly and a sure policy in both these sectors will enhance the GDP enormously. Both these sectors need stable electricity supplies.
The textile industry which again forms   a major economic input again suffers because of electricity shortages.
The domestic consumers are suffering shortages   while the private and public sectors in transport are unable to use gas (CNG) due to shortages in supply. The gas load management plan by the federal government does not seem to be working as the social impact like transport to schools , offices suffers considerably. Commuters are using even the top of buses and wagons, which is most unsafe.
The media anchors who are very vocal against the incumbent government fail to realize that it is the last ten years policy failures and apathy on the part of economic advisors and policy makers in Pakistan that has precipitated this crises. It is true that out of ten years, three years are of the incumbent government but the previous Musharraf government is largely responsible for apathy. It only concentrated on oil guzzling power plants.
The new energy initiatives that need to be fast tracked liked Thar Coal are again being apathetically handled by the Sindh government and its support personnel as corruption and complete lack of knowledge to handle such a sensitive and technical issue is rampant in all these quarters. Dr Samar Mubarakmand  behaves as a magician and Mr Do it all which is again useless to fast track this major project. Sadly Senhua , the Chinese company that had done all the homework and whose rates were best for the project are no longer in the picture.
The issues of electricity tariffs and gas pricing cannot be understood easily by the common man. The demands by the political parties to bring the prices down are wrong. These prices and tariffs are linked to international prices and demand and supply. It is not an issue that the government can handle easily. Subsidies have to be cut and prices increased. That is the natural life cycle till we are sufficient in supply whether it is indigenous Coal, Hydro, Thermal , Wind or imported LNG. The gas supply is low because in the last ten years no sufficient gas exploration has been done. The issue of gas in transport that is CNG could have been resolved if Liquid Nitrogen Gas (LNG) was imported and used. Although according to the chairman CNG association only 7% is used of the total reserves of gas and they want to utilize the flame gas also, LNG would be a better option. The public needs to be properly educated on these issues but unfortunately the government media cell and the private media itself lack the knowledge of the issues themselves. The private media anchors are mainly show makers and they do not sincerely understand the issues to influence public opinion and build a positive response in consumer behavior.http://wwwdevelopmentpkistan.blogspot.com/2012/01/gas-crisis-i.html
http://www.brecorder.com/articles-a-letters/187/1158139/