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.
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."