Challenges to PTI KP government

Change they need
The new government in KP faces big challenges anyway, but they become even bigger because of the PTI’s promises
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/May2013-weekly/nos-19-05-2013/pol1.htm#6

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) stunned all and sundry with its performance in the recently held elections. Though it couldn’t sweep elections across the country as predicted by Imran Khan, it became the biggest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The PTI is going to form a coalition government in KP with Jamaat-e-Islami, Qaumi Watan Party and some independent members.

The PTI contested elections on the agenda of change. Its manifesto pledges, inter alia, devolution of power, zero tolerance for corruption, improvement of economy through reforms in energy, expenditure, revenue sectors, institutional reforms, accountability and governance reforms. It promises human capital development, skill development and a welfare state and says the state will provide uniform system of education for all, equal opportunity and a social safety net for the poor. It also promises to banish the VIP culture and rightsizing of the government and so on.

The PTI will initiate changes across the board in the first 90 days of its government, according to its manifesto.

The PTI government in KP can both be an asset and a liability. Though Imran Khan says the PTI government will be a model one, governance is certainly being seen as a big challenge in the province. However, all agree that the PTI future is directly dependent upon the performance of its government and its ability to deliver on its agenda of change.

The PTI has had announced several policies and manifesto. It should implement them but it will be difficult unless these are followed by a pragmatic plan of action — a vision that could serve as a guide for the party government and its workers. The PTI has prepared an action plan for ‘Naya Pakistan’ which is generally thought of as unrealistic.

In its bid to attract the young voters, the PTI leaders spoke of lofty ideals that generated high expectations. Living up to these expectations of the young supporters will be a herculean task for the PTI and its government.

Unless the gap between the ground realities and lofty ideals espoused by the PTI is bridged on emergency basis, the party will risk losing its youth even if its performance is better than the previous governments. However, this idealism can be an asset if supported by a realistic plan of action.

Most of the young PTI supporters are idealists. They have little knowledge of how our political system works. They were heard saying the PTI will lash the corrupt in public, will dismiss and replace Zardari immediately after polls, or that Imran will become prime minister/president immediately after election results are announced or that police and patwari system will be abolished.

Analysts say drone attacks, security problem, bad performance of other parties and the PTI slogan of change were the major factors in its victory. Change is, however, a complex phenomenon.

When Imran talks of change, he doesn’t mean he will disband the present system. Instead, he believes in working within the framework of the constitution and law to achieve his objectives. So, in fact, he is for reform and not overturning of the present system of election and governance in the country. Unfortunately, most of the PTI supporters don’t know this. When they will see that the same structure of government, with patwari, police, clerks etc, continues, they will get disillusioned.

Loadshedding, terrorism, restoration of peace, economic development, and reduction in poverty, inflation and joblessness are some major challenges facing the PTI.

According to Muhammad Khan, a Batkhela-based academic, the PTI will have to improve law and order situation through government-militant talks. Besides de-radicalisation and economic empowerment of people, the government will also have to deal with foreign militants.

“It will have to reduce loadshedding for which a short and medium term power generation plan based on micro-hydro power stations will have to be launched. It will have to introduce reforms in different departments to stop corruption and ensure transparency. To eradicate poverty and joblessness, it will have to start an emergency programme for small businesses that ensures interest-free small loans and technical training to youngsters to start their businesses. And most of all, it must prefer collective mega projects for community development.”

“The PTI will now have to deal with Taliban directly and help shape Pakistan’s Talibans’ policy. It will be exposed for the first time to militants. Will it still talk of talks if Taliban continue to challenge the state? Will Imran be able to bring peace to KP, stop drone attacks, eliminate loadshedding and improve economy and livelihood? For this, he will have to engage with other parties and the federal government. This necessitates a change in his style. He will have to be broad-minded, careful in his utterances and tolerant of others. Is Imran prepared to do that,” asks another academic who wished anonymity.

“Leniency and patience are the keys to success. The tension between the JUI and the PTI and the PML-N and the PTI must subside. Political differences must never become personal enmity. They should have working relationship. The PTI leadership and workers must shun bigotry, show magnanimity by accepting others and start doing issues-based politics instead of attacking personalities,” he adds.

According to a political worker, for dearth of experienced men in its ranks, the PTI won’t be able to establish a strong government. Only Pervez Khattak, Yousaf Ayub and Sardar Idrees have served as ministers. Another PTI MPA-elect Yasin Khalil had worked as nazim of a town during the Musharraf era.

“However, inexperience is not the only problem. Internal tensions between the old and new guards, represented by Asad Qaiser and Pervez Khattak respectively, is another problem. The PTI has opted for Khattak, a new comer, and neglected the committed and old Qaiser for the CM slot and has thereby risked its agenda of change. It will be deemed as injustice to the old guards. I think the two PTI allies — JI and QWP — have experienced members and would be the real beneficiaries of the setup,” he adds.

Then coalition government has its own compulsions. The PTI CM will have hard time to reconcile the conflicting interests of allies. “Selection of competent bureaucrats on merit for running the province will not be easy for dearth of officers, allies’ interests and internal rivalry between the old and new groups in the PTI,” he says.

There are other challenges too. In its expenditure reforms, the PTI had pledged ‘symbols of pomp and glory’ (e.g. Chief Minister and Governor Houses) will be shut down and put to public use. While it will need support of the federal government for closing the latter, the former can be easily shut down as the PTI incumbent will be occupying it.

It had also vowed to ‘limit’ perks of ministers, members of assemblies and civil bureaucrats and eliminate all discretionary funds and development funds for the parliamentarians. Will its MPAs let it do so?

During the previous Awami National Party government, the PTI had demonstrated against and urged the ANP to halt the Nato supply line. Will it be able to do that now when it is in power itself? The promise of uniform system of education is also uncertain. Will it be done by banning private schools or by privatising public schools? And rightsizing of government departments may well entail making many jobless.

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Challenges to PTI government in KP

By Tahir Ali

Pakistan Tehreeki Insaf (PTI) stunned all and sundry with its performance in the recently held elections. Though it couldn’t sweep elections across the country as predicted by Imran Khan, it became the biggest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

PTI is going to form a coalition government in KP with Jamat-e-Islami, Qaumi Watan Party and some independent members.

PTI contested elections on the agenda of change. Its manifesto pledges, inter alia, devolution of power, zero tolerance for corruption, improvement of economy through reforms in energy, expenditure, revenue sectors, institutional reforms, accountability and governance reforms. It promises human capital development, skill development and a welfare state and says the state will provide uniform system of education for all, equal opportunity and a social safety net for the poor. It also promises to banish VIP culture and rightsizing of the government and so on.

PTI will initiate changes across the board in the first 90 days of its government, according to its manifesto.

The PTI government in KP can both be an asset and liability. Though Imran Khan says the PTI government will be a model one, opinions differ on as to whether the PTI will be able to form one. However all agree that the PTI future is directly dependent upon the performance of its government and its ability to deliver on its agenda of change.

PTI has had announced several policies and manifesto. It should implement them but it will be difficult unless these are followed by a pragmatic plan of action –a vision that could serve as guide for party government and its workers. The PTI has prepared an action plan for ‘Naya Pakistan’ but it is generally thought of as unrealistic.

In its bid to attract the young voters, the PTI leaders spoke of lofty ideals that generated higher expectations.  Living up to these expectations of the naive young supporters will be a herculean task for PTI and its government.

Unless the gap between the ground realities and lofty ideals espoused by PTI is bridged on emergency basis, the party will risk losing its youth even if its performance is better than the previous governments. However, this idealism can be an asset if supported by a realistic plan of action.

Most of the young PTI supporters are idealists. They have little knowledge of how our political system works. They were heard saying PTI will lash the corrupt in public, will dismiss and replace Zardari immediately after polls, or that Imran will become prime minister/president immediately after election results are announced or that police and patwaris system will be abolished.

Analysts say drone attacks, security problem, bad performance of other parties and the PTI slogan of change were the major factors in its victory. Change is however a complex phenomenon.

When Imran talks of change, he doesn’t mean he will disband the present system. Instead, he believes in working within the framework of the constitution and law to achieve his objectives. So, in fact he is for reform and not overturning of the present system of election and governance in the country. Unfortunately most of the PTI supporters don’t know this. When they will see that the same structure of government, with patwari, police, clerks etc, continues, they will get disillusioned.

Loadshedding, terrorism, restoration of peace, economic development, and reduction in poverty, inflation and joblessness are some major challenges ahead of PTI.

According to Muhammad Khan, a Batkhela-based academic, PTI will have to improve law and order situation through government-militant talks, de-radicalization, economic empowerment and integration of the local and naturalisation of foreign, militants.

“It will have to reduce loadshedding for which a short and medium term power generation plan based on micro-hydro power stations will have to be launched. It will have to introduce reforms in different departments to stop corruption and ensure transparency. To eradicate poverty and joblessness, it will have to start an emergency programme for small businesses that ensures interest-free small loans and technical training to youngsters to start their businesses. And most of all, it must prefer collective mega projects for community development.”

“PTI will now have to deal with Taliban directly and help shape Pakistan’s Taliban’s policy. It will be exposed for the first time to militants. Will it still talk of talks if Taliban continue to challenge war on the country. Will Imran be able to bring peace to KP, stop drone attacks, eliminate loadshedding and improve economy and livelihood? For this he will have to engage with other parties and the federal government. This necessitates a change in his style. He will have to be broad-minded, careful in his utterances and tolerant of others. Is Imran and PTI prepared to do that,” says another academic who wished anonymity.

“Leniency and patience are the keys to its success. The tension between JUI and PTI and PML-N and PTI must subside.  Political differences must never become personal enmity. They should have working relationship. The PTI leadership and workers must shun bigotry, show magnanimity by accepting others and start doing issues-based politics instead of attacking personalities,” he adds.

According to a political worker, for dearth of experienced men in its ranks, PTI won’t be able to establish a strong government. Only Pervez Khattak, Yousaf Ayub and Sardar Idrees have served as ministers. Another PTI MPA-elect Yasin Khalil had worked as nazim of a town during Musharraf era.

“However, inexperience is not the only problem. Internal tensions between the old and new guards, represented by Asad Qaiser and Pervez Khattak respectively, is another problem. PTI has opted for Khattak, a new comer, and neglected the committed and old Qaiser for the CM slot and has thereby risked its agenda of change. It will be deemed as injustice to the old guards. I think the two PTI allies –JI and QWP – have experienced members and would be the real beneficiaries of the setup,” he adds.  

Then coalition government has its own compulsions. The PTI CM will have hard time to reconcile the conflicting interests of allies.

“Selection of competent bureaucrats on merit for running the province will not be easy for dearth of officers, allies’ interests and internal rivalry between the old and new groups in PTI,” he says.

There are other challenges. In its expenditure reforms, the PTI had pledged ‘symbols of pomp and glory’ (e.g. Chief Minister and Governor Houses) will be shut down and put to public use. While it will need support of federal government for closing the later, the former can be easily shut down as PTI incumbent will be occupying it.

It had also vowed to ‘limit’ perks of ministers, members of assemblies and civil bureaucrats and eliminate all discretionary funds and development funds for the parliamentarians. Will its MPAs let it do so?

 During the previous Awami National Party government, PTI had demonstrated against and urged ANP to halt the NATO supply line. Will it be able to do that now when it is in power itself?

The promise of uniform system of education is also uncertain. Will it be done by banning private schools or by privatising public schools? And rightsizing of government departments may well entail making many jobless.

PTI has indeed given a vision of change to its workers and raised their confidence but like some others, they lack sportsman spirit. They must be taught to respect the ideals and leaders of other parties and learn the art of discussion and tolerance. Unfortunately, by its loose talk, brandishing political opponents as fraudsters, unpatriotic, corrupt and inefficient, some political leaders have inculcated a culture of intolerance and accusations in the youth of the country.

Talking out of chaos

Talking out of chaos
As the momentum for talks with TTP builds up, all the stakeholders should be taken on board on how to conduct and implement the peace agenda
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Mar2013-weekly/nos-10-03-2013/pol1.htm#3

Almost the entire commentaries on the possible peace talks with the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are focused on what and why to talk but the most important part of how talks are to be conducted and implemented has not been concentrated upon.

There is little disagreement, at least in political circles, on that talks should be held but the all important implementation stage of agreement, which was neglected in the past deals that led to their failure and restart of militancy in the country, should be focused more than anything else.

Khalid Aziz, Ex-Chief Secretary Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and a tribal affairs expert, opines the country’s political leadership is trying to build a national consensus on what to do but neglecting how it is to be done.

“Talks will be held as had already been. Hopefully, peace agreements would be signed as earlier done in Waziristan, Bajaur and Swat etc. Focus, to my mind, should have been on the implementation stage of agreements. It should be from the reverse side. It’s at the implementation stage that the real problems lie. So that stage needs more attention,” says Aziz.

“Accusations of violation of the pact by each side and differences would certainly come up. These have been responsible for failure of earlier militants-government pacts in the past. Answers to questions like who would be guarantors and responsible for implementation of the Jirga decisions, who will monitor the daily/minute details of progress on execution of agreement, what powers will they have etc needs to be discussed at length and consensus be built over them by all stakeholders. I mean there should be an elaborate implementation plan and execution structure already in place before any pact is signed,” he elaborates. “I think administrative support is more vital than political support for the Tribal Jirga holding talks.”

The Zardari-led Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the federal government and the Pakistan army have neither supported nor rejected the talks. Their official policy statement is also yet to come on the Tribal Jirga and the guarantors proposed by Taliban.

With militants continuously attacking the military personnel and installations (they released another video of beheading of six Pakistani soldiers recently), the Army may be reluctant to accept talks for the fear that it may be construed as weakness on its part.

Aziz urges the inclusion of Pakistan Army, the federal government, the KP government and all political and religious parties and other stakeholders in the process.

Though Taliban have asked Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Syed Munawar Hasan to become guarantors for the government and army, it is still not clear whether they themselves would give authority to the Tribal Jirga or appoint their own men for talks? And whether they would be acceptable to the government and Army?

Aziz says Taliban should be talked to as to who would be their guarantors but, “I think, they would try to solve the issue through tribal customs and prefer tribal guarantors.”

Will the Tribal Jirga have the guts to give independent decision against the TTP if it genuinely considers it on the wrong or will it pursue a policy of appeasement vis-à-vis them?

Afrasiab Khattak, the president of the KP ANP, sounds optimistic that the peace talks would succeed. “There is national consensus on three points: one, that terrorism and extremism is a problem that must be addressed quickly; two, that dialogue is the first priority and other options would follow later; three, that the problem would be tackled within the framework of law, constitution, security and sovereignty of the country,” he says.

The Central vice-Amir of JUI, Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan, is also hopeful. “We have organised the APC that was attended by almost the entire political and religious leadership from the opposition and the ruling sides. The basic responsibility of the peace talks rests with Tribal Jirga. Maulana Fazlur Rahman and KP Governor Engineer Shaukatullah will serve as a bridge between the Jirga and the parties in the conflict.” Khan says the Jirga will be extended in future and all parties will be included and taken along if needed.

“We have shown our mettle in the past. We had held successful dialogue with the militants during the MMA government. There was no operation, no terrorism when we were in power during 2002-2007,” Khan claims.

Asked whether the Tribal Jirga will be given authority by Taliban and whether the Jirga will be in a position to take independent decisions, Khattak says, “We should not go into details at this point. All problems will be solved as the process goes on. It is a continuous process. The Tribal Jirga is there and it already has started its activities and talked to the governor whose office would be a coordination office.”

Gul Naseeb Khan says waak or authority by both the contending sides is must for empowering the Jirga to decide on the problem.

Khattak argues violence and terrorism is too big a problem to be solved overnight. “The present status quo, no doubt, is unviable. It has to be wrapped up. For this, all political parties and institution should sit together to chalk out its workable alternative.”

Will the federal government and the security establishment own the talks process with Taliban? Khattak says he could give assurance from the government side but cannot say anything on behalf of Taliban. “The government and state institutions are sincere in talks. They will abide by the decisions if the talks are given political ownership by the national leadership. Our party leader Asafandyar Wali Khan will meet President Zardari, PM Ashraf and Army chief General Kayani and take them into confidence”

There is no backup plan as to what is to be done if talks fail to bring about peace in the country. When asked as to what is to be done if talks fail, Khattak says dialogue should be given a fair chance. “But if state’s writ is consistently challenged and its law and sovereignty is not accepted, then the state has the right to resort to other options and respond accordingly.”

Urgent steps

The Tribal Jirga formed by the JUI has members from all the tribal agencies. But as its members were nominated by the JUI chief and may be his party men, they may be biased towards a certain viewpoint. Unless the Jirga is expanded by including members from other parties (and this should be done quickly), it won’t get the respect and backing from the Pakistani society it needs.

There is obviously a communication gap between the stakeholders. There is a need to hold a national conference of all stakeholders. The present policy of leaving things to ‘the other’ by both civilian and military institutions should be given up.

The national leadership should take up the responsibility instead of being in the background. If Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Munawar Hasan and other politicians claim they are national leaders and if they think Fata is part of Pakistan and it needs to be brought under the state writ, then they should lead from the front.

A combined delegation consisting of members of the PML-N, the JI, the JUI (F and S) and other political parties, and teachers from Deobandi Madaris, military and civil establishment, judiciary, journalists, civil society etc should be formed, empowered and facilitated to start the dialogue process.

It should ask the parties in the conflict to stop attacks and halt operations. If any side ignores its request and continues with its intransigence, it should inform the nation and unite the entire nation against it. This joint Jirga should seek authority from both the sides. It will then listen to the demands and statements of both the sides separately.

tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

caption

Everyone wants peace, but how?

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Original text of the article as it was sent to The News

Grey areas in peace agenda and the way forward

By Tahir Ali

Almost the entire commentaries on the possible peace-talks with the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are focused on what and why to talk but the most important part of how talks are to be conducted and implemented has not been concentrated upon as it deserved.

There is little disagreement, at least in political circles, on that talks should be held but the all important implementation stage of agreement, which was neglected in the past deals that led to their failure and restart of militancy in the country, should be focused more than anything else.

Khalid Aziz, Ex Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a renowned tribal affairs expert, opines the country’s political leadership is trying to build a national consensus on what to do but neglecting on how it is to be done.

“Talks will be held as had already been. Hopefully peace-agreements would be signed as earlier done in Waziristan, Bajaur and Swat etc. Focus, to my mind, should have been on the implementation stage of agreements. It should be from the reverse side. It’s at the implementation stage that the real problems lie. So that stage needs more attention and more work on. Accusations of violation of the pact by each side and differences would certainly come up. These have been responsible for failure of earlier militants-government pacts in the past. Answers to questions like who would be guarantors and responsible for implementation of the jirga decisions, who will monitor the daily/minute details of progress on execution of agreement, what powers will they have etc needs to be discussed at length and consensus be built over them by all stakeholders. I mean there should be an elaborate implementation plan and execution structure already in place before any pact is signed,” he says.

“I think administrative support is more vital than political support for the Tribal Jirga holding talks and in implementation of its decisions,” he adds.

The Zardari-led Pakistan peoples’ party (PPP), the federal government and the Pakistan army have neither supported nor rejected the talks (it was PPP Parliamentarian, declared an NGO by federal government lawyer in Lahore high court, that attended the All parties conferences held on the issue). Their official policy statement is also yet to come on the Tribal Jirga and the guarantors proposed by Taliban.

With militants continuously attacking the military personal and installations (they released another video of beheading six Pakistani soldiers recently) the Army may be reluctant to accept talks for the fear that it may be construed weakness on its part. And will it give its authority to a Tribal Jirga, which may be apparently supportive or apprehensive of Taliban?

Aziz urges the inclusion of Pakistan Army, the federal government, KP government and all political and religious parties and other stakeholders in the process.

Though Taliban have asked Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Syed Munawar Hassan to become guarantors for the government and army, it is still not clear whether they themselves would give authority to the Tribal Jirga or appoint their own men for talks? And whether they would be acceptable to the government and Army?

Aziz said Taliban should be talked to as to who would be their guarantors but, I think, they would try to solve the issue through tribal customs and prefer tribal guarantors.

Will the Tribal Jirga have the guts to give independent decision against the TTP if it genuinely considers it on the wrong or will it pursue a policy of appeasement vis-à-vis them?

Afrasiab Khatak, the president of the KP ANP, sounds optimistic that the peace-talks would succeed. “There is national consensus on three points: one, that terrorism and extremism is a problem that must be addressed quickly; two, that dialogue is the first priority and other options would follow later; three, that the problem would be tackled within the framework of law, constitution, security and sovereignty of the country,” he says.

The Central vice Amir of JUI Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan, is also hopeful. “We have organised APC that was attended by the almost the entire political and religious leadership from opposition and ruling sides. The basic responsibility of the peace talks rests with Tribal Jirga. Maulana Fazlur Rehman and KP Governor Engineer Shaukatullah will serve as a bridge between the Jirga and the parties in the conflict. Jirga is to be extended in future. All parties will be included and taken along if needed,” he adds.

“We have shown our mettle in the past. We had held successful dialogue with the militants during the MMA government. There was no operation, no terrorism when we were in power during 2002-2007,” Khan claims

When asked whether the Tribal Jirga will be given authority by Taliban and whether the jirga will be in a position to take independent decisions, Khattak said we should not go into details at this point. “All problems will be solved as the process goes on. It is a continuous process. The Tribal Jirga is there. One of the major successes is that it will be expanded. An all encompassing jirga would hold talks with militants and the government. It already has started its activities and talked to the Governor whose office would be a coordination office,” he adds.

Gul Naseeb Khan said waak or authority by both the contending sides is must for empowering the jirga to decide on the problem.

Khattak says violence and terrorism is too big a problem to be solved overnight. “The present status quo, no doubt, is unviable. It has to be wrapped up. For this all political parties and institution should sit together to chalk out its workable alternative.”

To another question will the federal government and the security establishment own the talks process with Taliban, he says he could assure that from the government side but cannot say anything on behalf of Taliban. “The government and state institutions are sincere in talks. They will abide by the decisions if the talks are given political ownership by all the national leadership. Our party leader Asafandyar Wali Khan will meet President Zardari, PM Ashraf and Army chief General Kayani and take them into confidence”

Maulan Naseeb said all state institutions would back the process of dialogue which is the collective decision of all opposition and governing parties.

There is no backup plan as to what is to be done if talks fail to bring about peace in the country. When asked as to what is to be done if talks fail, Khattak said dialogue should be given a fair chance. “It should be the first priority. But if state’ writ is consistently challenged and its law and sovereignty is not accepted, then the state and the nation has the right to resort to other options and respond correspondingly.”

The JUI leader however said policies and decisions shouldn’t be made on the basis of hypotheses. “We are hopeful the talks would be successful. No such deadlock would occur. We will see to it if and when such problem arises.”

Urgent steps

The Tribal Jirga formed by the JUI has members from all the tribal agencies but as its members were nominated by the JUI chief and may be his party-men, they may be biased towards a certain viewpoint. Unless the Jirga is expanded by including members from other parties (and this should be done quickly), it won’t get the respect and backing from the Pakistani society it needs.

There is obviously communication gap between the stakeholders. There is a need to hold a national conference of all stakeholders. The present policy of leaving things to ‘the other’ by both civilian and military institutions should be given up.

 

The national leadership should take up the responsibility instead of being in the background. If Nawaz Sharif, Maualan Fazlur Rehman and Munawar Hasan and other politicians claim they are national leaders and if they think Fata is part of Pakistan and it needs to be brought under the state writ, then they should lead from the front.

A combined delegation consisting of members of PML-N, JI, JUI (F and S) and other political parties, and teachers from Deobandi Madaris, military and civil establishment, judiciary, journalists, civil society etc should be formed, empowered and facilitated to start the dialogue process.

It should ask the parties in the conflict to stop attacks and halt operations. If any side ignores its request and continues with its intransigence, it should inform the nation and unite the entire nation against it.

This joint jirga should seek authority from both the sides. It will then listen to the demands and statements of both sides separately. Then it will consider them in its private and confidential sessions. It will try first to reconcile the two opposing thoughts and if that is not possible, then it will take unbiased, neutral and rightful decisions.

This body or another implementation body made by it will be responsible for supervision of the implementation of any agreement. For this it will have far reaching powers including that of hearing the appeals and deciding on the accusations by the two sides as well as appointing, transferring, calling, arresting and jailing those responsible for violating the terms of the treaty.

(Added. Not included in the text sent to TNS) Drone attacks will have to be stopped and cease fire too will be required. The government will have to make a policy statement on talks in the parliament. The role of federal govt is vital as the centre of insurgency Fata is under its administrative control. A national conference of all stakeholders must be arranged without any delay.

 

                                                                       (tahir_katlang@yahoo.com)

On Peace-talks with militants

Talking peace with militants

 

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Jan2013-weekly/nos-27-01-2013/pol1.htm#7
What are the chances of a dialogue between the militants and the 
government? What does it hope to achieve and how soon? These re all 
relevant questions at a time when we are so close to general election
By Tahir Ali

With the federal and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments as well as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) having agreed for negotiations — albeit with some conditions — there cannot be a better time to discuss the pros and cons of this process.

What, at all, are the chances of this dialogue? What are the respective demands/conditions of both sides? What are the obstacles and how could these conflicting differences be bridged in a way that is acceptable to both the parties? What are the minimum requirements that will have to be fulfilled and the confidence-building measures that need to be taken by both the government and the TTP to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue? Who among the Taliban should the government talk to and who should comprise the official or intermediary peace-body for negotiations? Which are the other national, regional and global stakeholders that need to be taken on board during the process? What should be the agenda of talks? Who will be the guarantors of any accord that is reached? What, are the chances of its success in bringing about peace in the volatile region? And what should be the subsequent options if the talks fail for intransigence?

Questions such as these and others need to be focussed on and discussed at length for working out a viable agenda and a conducive atmosphere for talks towards sustainable peace in the region.

The ANP Chief, Asfandyar Wali Khan, and the KP government recently said they were sincere in holding talks with the militants and that negotiations would be held before elections. However, no dialogue process has begun as yet. One hopes the talks are held and are successful in bringing about the much needed peace in the region.

Bakht Raziq, a political activist, is optimistic about the prospects of dialogue. “No problem could ever be solved by the use of power alone. To bring the war to a responsible close and for a lasting peace in the region, a political settlement is absolutely essential.”

That the provincial government has only two months left to start/complete the lengthy peace process and that the militants and the government have sharp differences of opinion has led some experts to be sceptical of the process.

Brigadier (Retd) Mehmood Shah, a security and tribal affairs’ expert, thinks the process is a non-starter and only a time-buying tactic on the part of the government. “Despite offers of talks from both sides, there is still no plan as to when, with whom and how the dialogue would be held.”

Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, ex-Interior Minister and Chief of the Qaumi Watan Party, also thinks talks are hardly possible as the government has only four weeks to go. “The ANP government has been in for five years but failed to curb militancy and bring peace. Still the dialogue must be given a fair chance. With elections due shortly, the Taliban would also like to wait till the next government is installed. They had stalled attacks against the incumbent ANP-led government for four months when it came to power five years ago.”

There are other factors that show dialogue is still possible, even if a bit later. The US is holding negotiations with the Afghan Taliban. The Pakistani military establishment has changed the focus of its security doctrine from external to internal threats. Pakistan has released, and is releasing, the Afghan Taliban prisoners. It is reluctant to launch a military operation in North Waziristan (NWA) despite demands from the US.

The successors of Maulvi Nazir in NWA have vowed to continue the truce with the Pakistan Army while the TTP too has pledged to abide by it. The incumbent regime is almost at the end of its term and with general elections at hand, the militants may halt their attacks and prefer to adopt await-and-see policy till a new government is installed after elections.

Mehmood Shah opines that as dialogue with terrorists is not acceptable to the world, “the government will certainly ask the militants to accept Pakistan’s constitution, shun militancy, lay down arms and stop interference in Afghanistan before coming to the negotiating table.” They, on the other hand, would urge the release of their mates, withdrawal of army from the tribal belt, enforcement of Shariah and end to alliance with the US, says Shah.

Sherpao says though parties differ in their priorities, these can be bridged or else the differences be kept aside for the time being. “The Taliban would obviously demand the enforcement of Sharia, end of support to America, release of their prisoners, cessation of war policy in Pakistan, payment of compensation etc. They would also ask for guarantors to supervise the implementation of an accord. But these problems can be discussed and sorted out later.” The first question would be how to bring the contending parties to the negotiation table, says Sherpao.

He thinks these differences should not be made an excuse to stop or derail the negotiation process. “After all talks between the US, the Afghan government and insurgents, including the Taliban, are held despite the fact that Taliban don’t accept the Afghan constitution/government, have killed many Afghan leaders and closed girl schools.”

Some experts are of the view that Pakistani Taliban are an extension of the Afghan Taliban. So talks with the Pakistani Taliban cannot be held in isolation. The two and other regional and global elements must be taken on board.

Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai and Pakistani and American establishments still suspect each other. Each of them has its own list of enemies and friends. The friend of one is often the enemy for the other. Bridging this conflict of interest is essential. Whether the US would discontinue its drone programme inside Pakistan is still uncertain. An attack could spoil the entire peace process in no time.

All stakeholders — Pakistan, Iran, US, Afghan government and Taliban along with other groups there, TTP, political parties — of the conflict will have to be taken on board during the peace process.

The next government in Pakistan will have to own the process that begins today. For this, a national consensus between the stakeholders — political/religious parties, the security establishment, civil society — about the enemy, the ailment and the solution is needed.

“The government will have to form a peace council/ reconciliatory commission that should be acceptable to all stakeholders. This reconciliatory body would be given ‘Waak’ (authority of representing and deciding on behalf of a party in a conflict) by the sides. It will first conduct negotiations and then supervise the implementation of the agreed decisions,” says Sherpao.

To bridge the huge gap between the opposing views of the Taliban and the government, a mediator would be required. But an arbiter usually starts work on mutual request or at least upon the consent of the parties involved in a dispute. Again, an arbiter should be a neutral person or a body of people respected by all the parties concerned. He must be given authority or ‘Waak’ in Pushto. Has any Waak been given to a third party or arbitrator?

“The militants are practically divided into several groups that are separate and independent from the TTP. For example, Maulana Fazlullah-led Swat Taliban and Maulvi Faqir-led Bajaur factions are not under the operational control of TTP. Then there are sharp differences on dealing with al Qaeda, Tajik, Uzbek and other foreign militants,” states Shah.

caption

What if talks fail?

………………

Original text of the article

Chances of a dialogue between militants and government

By Tahir Ali

With the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments as well as the Tehrik-e-Taliban PakistAAAan (TTP) having agreed for negotiations –albeit with some conditions-, there cannot be a better time to discuss the pros and cons of this process.

What are, at all, the chances of a dialogue? What are the respective demands/conditions of both the sides? What are the obstacles? How could/should these conflicting differences be bridged in a way that is acceptable to both the parties? What are the minimum requirements that will have to be fulfilled and the confidence building measures that need to be taken by both the government and the TTP to create conducive atmosphere for the dialogue? Who should be talked to and how? Who should comprise the official or intermediary peace-body for negotiations? Which are the other national, regional and global stake-holders that need to be taken on board during the process? What should be the agenda of talks? Who will be the guarantors of any accord that is reached at? What, if held, are the chances of its success to bring about peace in the volatile region? And what should be the subsequent options to curb militancy if the talks fail for intransigence?  

Questions such as these and others need to be focussed and discussed at length for working out a viable agenda and a conducive atmosphere for talks towards a sustainable peace in the region.

The ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and KP government recently said they were sincere in holding talks with the militants and that negotiations would be held before elections.

However, no dialogue process has begun as yet. One sincerely hopes that the talks would be held and would be successful in bringing about the much needed peace in the country and region.

 Bakht Raziq, a political activist, said there are lots of chances that dialogue will be held.  “No problem could ever be solved by use of power alone. To bring the war to a responsible close and for a lasting peace in the region a political settlement is absolutely essential.”

That the provincial government has only two months left with it to start/complete the lengthy peace process and that militants and government have sharp differences of opinion on the way forward has led some experts to be sceptical of the process.

Brigadier (R) Mehmood Shah, a security and tribal affairs’ expert, thinks that the process is a non-starter and only a time buying tactics on part of the government. “Despite offers of talks from both sides, there is still no plan as to when, with whom and how dialogue would be held.”

Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Ex Interior Minister and Chief of the Qaumi Watan Party, too thinks talks are hardly possible as the government has only 4 weeks to go. “The ANP government has been in for five years but failed to curb militancy and bring peace. But dialogue must be given a fair chance. With elections due shortly, Taliban would also like to wait till the next government is installed. They had also stalled attacks against the incumbent ANP-led government for four months when it came to power five years ago.”

But there are some factors that show dialogue is possible, even if a bit later. The US is holding negotiations with the Afghan Taliban. Pakistani military establishment has changed the focus of its security doctrine from external to internal threats. Pakistan has released and is releasing Afghan Taliban prisoners. It is reluctant to launch military operation in NWA despite demands from the US.  The successors of Maulvi Nazir in NWA have vowed to continue the truce with the Pakistan Army while the TTP too had pledged to abide by it. The incumbent regime is almost at the end of its term and with general elections at hand, the militants may halt their attacks and prefer to adopt wait and see till a new government is installed after elections.

Priorities of the parties

Mehmood Shah opines that as dialogue with terrorists is not acceptable to the world, “the government will certainly ask the militants to accept Pakistan’s constitution, shun militancy, lay down arms and stop interference in Afghanistan before coming to the negotiating table. But they would urge release of their mates, withdrawal of army from the tribal belt, enforcement of Shariah and end to alliance with the US,” he adds. 

Aftab Sherpao says though parties differ on their priorities’ list, these can be bridged or else differences be kept aside for the time being.

“The Taliban would obviously demand enforcement of Sharia, end to support to America, release of their prisoners, cessation of war policy in Pakistan, payment of compensation etc. They would also ask for guarantors to supervise the implementation of an accord. But these problems can be discussed and sorted out later. The first question is how to bring the contending parties to the negotiation table,” he said.

 “These differences should not be made an excuse to stop or derail the negotiation process. After all talks between US, Afghan government and insurgents including the Taliban are held despite the fact that Taliban don’t accept the Afghan constitution/government, have killed many Afghan leaders and closed girl schools. Obviously when the militants accept the writ of the state and its constitution, the problem would be over. Why would they fight the government then?”

Obstacles and hitches 

Experts say Pakistani Taliban are an extension of Afghan Taliban. So talks with the Pakistani Taliban cannot be held in isolation.  The two and other regional and global elements must be taken on board.

Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai and Pakistani and American establishment still doubt suspect each other. Each of them has its own list of enemies and friends. The friend of one is often the enemy for the other. Bridging this conflict of interest is a must.

If US would discontinue its drone programme inside Pakistan is still uncertain. An attack could spoil the entire peace process in no time.

All stake-holders –Pakistan, Iran, US, Afghan government and Taliban along with other groups there, TTP, political parties – of the conflict will have to be taken on board during peace process.

The next government in Pakistan will have to own the process tomorrow that begins today. For this national consensus between the stakeholders -political/religious parties, the security establishment, civil society – as to who is enemy, what is the ailment and what is the solution is needed which is far from there. Confusion on the friends and enemies will have to be removed.

“The government will have to form a peace council/ reconciliatory commission that should be acceptable to the stake holders. This reconciliatory body would be given Wak (authority of representing and deciding on behalf of a party in a conflict) by the sides. It will first conduct negotiations and then supervise the implementation of the agreed decisions,” says Sherpao.

To bridge the huge gap between the opposing views of Taliban and government, a mediator or arbiter between the two is needed. But an arbiter usually starts work on the mutual request or at least upon the consent of the parties involved in a dispute. Again, an arbiter should be a neutral person or body of people respected by all parties. He must be given authority or “Waak” in Pushto. Has any Waak been given to a third party or arbitrator?

 “The militants are practically divided into several groups that are separate and independent from the TTP. For example Maulana Fazlullah-led Swat Taliban and Maulvi Faqir-led Bajaur factions are not under the operational control of TTP. Then there are sharp differences on dealing with Alqaeda, Tajik, Uzbak and other foreign militants,” states Shah.

With no office for TTP still allowed or established, how and where talks would be held.

Militants will be extremely reluctant to stop cross-border attacks.

Person with disabilitys: the way forward

The way forward
Persons with disabilities need a lot more attention than what they get
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2012-weekly/nos-09-12-2012/pol1.htm#6

International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed on December 3, 2012. The day has been celebrated by the United Nations since 1992. The theme of this year is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.

Hasan Shah, 35, from Katlang Mardan, was born healthy but polio attack paralysed one of his legs in his childhood. Coming from a poor family, he couldn’t get treatment or education. He is still jobless.

Despite consistent efforts, he has failed to get any support from any poverty alleviation or disability rehabilitation programme, both public and private. A friend has bought him a calf. He is rearing it in the hope that it would grow into a cow and eventually earn him money after a few years.

There are an estimated one billion PWDs worldwide. Unfortunately, the number is increasing rapidly due to terrorist attacks, road accidents, diseases and natural disasters.

The 1998 census recorded a prevalence rate of 2.49 per cent for PWDs. It comes to around 4.5mn PWDs out of the estimated 180mn population of the country at present.

The World Health Organization, however, estimates that 10 percent of global population comprise PWDs. Ihsanullah Daudzai, General Secretary of the Special Persons Development Association (SPDA) said the number of PWDs is increasing by the day.

“No reliable survey has so far been made. So there is no authentic data on disability in the country. The government thinks PWDs form around 2.5 per cent of the country’s population. But we think disability prevalence is around 15 per cent in the country,” he says.

Of the total PWDs in Pakistan, the physically disabled comprise 40 percent, visually impaired 20 percent, hearing impaired 10 percent, mentally disabled 20 percent and around 10 percent are overlapping ones.

“The national data base and registration authority is issuing special computerised identity cards to the PWDs and can thus be instrumental in collecting an authentic data but that will take time,” Daudzai says.

The CRPD and its Optional Protocol was adopted by the United Nations on December 13, 2006, and was opened for signature on March 30, 2007.

As of late, there have been 154 signatories to the convention, 90 signatories to the Optional Protocol, 126 ratifications and accessions to the Convention and 76 ratifications and accessions of the Protocol.

Pakistan signed the convention on September 25, 2008 and ratified it on November 5, 2011. However, it has not yet signed or ratified the protocol like India and China, etc. Israel and the US, etc, have only signed the convention in 2007 but neither ratified it nor signed and ratified the protocol as yet.

Disabled Persons’ (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981 calls on the government of Pakistan to work for prevention of disabilities, protection of rights of PWDs and provision of medical care, education, training, employment, and rehabilitation to them.

The ordinance is implemented through the ‘National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons’ in collaboration with its provincial counterparts. But critics say the councils have remained dormant for years and failed to lead from the front.

The government has also announced that PWDs can receive Rs1000/month while those with severe disabilities can get Rs2000 to avail personal attendant services. They can have free wheelchair, hearing-aid or white cane etc. If a family has two or more than two PWDs, it will be declared a Special Respected Family. The Pakistan Baitulmal (PBM) has introduced a policy of providing Rs. 25000/- to such families.

“All public sector departments and private establishments are bound to reserve 2 per cent quota of their employees for the PWDs. But it is only partially implemented. The quota is also much less than needed. The SPDA demands that a minimum of 5 per cent job quota be reserved for the PWDs,” he adds.

“Three steps are must for the financial empowerment of the PWDs. One, their treatment and rehabilitation should be the first priority. Two, all the PWDs, especially the female ones, should be provided free and market oriented technical and professional education at their doorsteps. Three, the infrastructure of the special education centres should be used for the purpose after normal schooling hours. Four, the centres should have hostels in them to accommodate the PWDs from far flung areas,” he pleaded.

The need for zero tolerance against discrimination on the basis of disability, building the capacity of PWDs and making them an integral part of national programmes both in policy development and programme implementation cannot be exaggerated.

Economic empowerment of PWDs is essential for an inclusive society for them. Local and multinational companies and philanthropists should come forward for the purpose.

All MDGs affect the lives of PWDs. But there are no references to PWDs either in the MDGs themselves or in the accompanying body of guidelines, policies and programmes. Also, PWDs are out of the ongoing revisions of the MDGs. However, the MDGs can hardly be achieved if PWDs are not included in its policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation. An authentic census of PWDs is also long overdue.

The Rio +20 Outcome Document, “The future we want” urges States to enhance the welfare of PWDs; promote inclusive housing and social services and a safe and healthy living environment for all, particularly, PWDs and to ensure equal access to education for PWDs.

There is a need for a barrier-free city planning in future. The cities and towns must conform to the Universal Design for Independent Living to make it suitable for all citizens, including elders, the youth and disabled.

Sport is a global tool for inclusion, tolerance and diversity. Though Paralympics are held every two years, PWDs need to be provided opportunities of sports and tourism at local level.

The political parties should also make their manifestoes more relevant and inclusive for PWDs.

Committed and qualified teachers are a prerequisite for proper education and training of special children. Therefore due attention should be paid to the training of teachers.

In 2007, China had employed 4.3mn PWDs. Pakistan should itself take the lead to train and offer gainful employment to such persons. IBM is a role model for employment to PWDs. It has employed many PWDs who are doing fine research and production work.

The worker says at least one percent seats of parliament and provincial assemblies should be allocated for PWDs.

………….

The original text of the article as it was sent to The News on November 30, before the international day on disability was observed.

Disability in Pakistan, the world and

The way forward

By Tahir Ali

International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be observed tomorrow (3rd December 2012). The day has been celebrated by the United Nations since 1992.

The theme of this year is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.

Hasan Shah, 35, from Katlang Mardan, was born healthy but polio attack in his childhood paralysed his one leg. Coming from a poor family, he couldn’t get treatment or education. He is still jobless. Despite his consistent efforts, he has failed to get any support from any poverty alleviation or disability rehabilitation programme, both public and private. A friend has bought him a calf. He is rearing it in the hope that it would grow into a cow and eventually earn him money after a few years.

There are an estimated one billion PWDs worldwide. Unfortunately the number is increasing rapidly for wars, terrorist attacks, road accidents, diseases and natural disasters.

There is still no reliable data on disability in Pakistan. However the 1998 census recorded a prevalence rate of 2.49 per cent for PWDs. It comes to around 4.5mn PWDs out of the estimated 180mn population of the country at present.

The World Health Organization however estimates that 10 per cent of global population comprise PWDs. Those working on disability say PWDs form 12-15 per cent of Pakistan’s population.

Ihsanullah Daudzai, the General Secretary of the Special Persons Development Association (SPDA) said the number of PWDs is increasing by the day.

“No reliable survey has so far been made. So there is no authentic data on disability in the country. The government thinks PWDs forms around 2.5 per cent of the country’s population. But we think disability prevalence is around 15 per cent in the country,” he says.

This comes to around 27mn PWDs. Another NGO worker, who wished anonymity, said over 12 percent of Pakistan’s population or 21mn persons have disability. Over 90 per cent of them are jobless and poverty stricken.

Of the total PWDs in Pakistan, the physically disabled comprise 40 per cent, visually impaired 20 percent, hearing impaired 10 per cent, mentally disabled 20 per cent and around 10 per cent are overlapping ones.

“The national data base and registration authority is issuing special computerised identity cards to the PWDs and can thus be instrumental in collecting an authentic data but that will take time,” Daudzai says.

The CRPD and its Optional Protocol was adopted by the United Nations on 13th December 2006, and was opened for signature on 30 March 2007.

As of late, there have been 154 signatories to the convention, 90 signatories to the Optional Protocol, 126 ratifications and accessions to the Convention and 76 ratifications and accessions of the Protocol.

Pakistan has signed the convention on 25 September 2008 and ratified it on November 5, 2011. However it has not yet signed or ratified the protocol like India and China etc. Israel and the US etc have only signed the convention in 2007 but neither ratified it nor signed and ratified the protocol as yet.

“Disabled Persons’ (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981 calls on the government of Pakistan to work for prevention of disabilities, protection of rights of PWDs and provision of medical care, education, training, employment, and rehabilitation to them.

The ordinance is implemented through the ‘National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons’ in collaboration with its provincial counterparts. But critics say the councils have remained dormant for years and failed to lead from the front.

Pakistan has since then taken a number of steps to facilitate PWDs. 50% concession in Air, Train and Road fare for PWDs has been announced. Tuition, hostel and other expenditures for the PWDs have also been waived off at universities’ level.

The government has also announced that PWDs can receive Rs1000/month while those with severe disabilities can get Rs2000 to avail personal attendant services. They can have free wheelchair, hearing-aid or white cane etc. If a family has two or more than two PWDs, it will be declared a Special Respected Family. The Pakistan Baitulmal (PBM) has introduced a policy of providing Rs. 25000/- to such families.

Besides the Director General of Special Education and Social Welfare, Pakistan Baitulmal, Benazir Income Support Programme and other public sector entities, the Layton Rehmatullah Benevolent Trust, Milestone Society for the Special Persons, Society For Disabled Women Pakistan,, Handicap International and many other foreign and local NGOs work for the for rehabilitation and empowerment of PWDs in the country.

The way forward

“All public sector departments and private establishments are bound to reserve 2 per cent quota of their employees for the PWDs. But it is only partially implemented. The quota is also much less than needed. The SPDA demands that a minimum of 5 per cent job quota be reserved for the PWDs,” he adds.

“Three steps are must for the financial empowerment of the PWDs. One, their treatment and rehabilitation should be the first priority. Two, all the PWDs, especially the female ones, should be provided free and market oriented technical and professional education at their doorsteps. Three, the infrastructure of the special education centres should be used for the purpose after normal schooling hours. Four, the centres should have hostels in them to accommodate the PWDs from far flung areas,” he pleaded.

The need for zero tolerance against discrimination on the basis of disability, building the capacity of PWDs and making them an integral part of national programmes both in policy development and programme implementation cannot be exaggerated.

The government should provide them access to education, health services, social and legal assistance, cultural activities, vocational and life-skills training.

Mainstreaming disability requires taking specific measures at all levels, strengthening the regional knowledge/policy frameworks and warrants addressing the needs of PWDs within the context of the Millennium Development Goals.

Economic empowerment of PWDs is essential for an inclusive society for them. Local and multinational companies and philanthropists should come forward for the purpose.

All MDGs affect the lives of PWDs. But there are however no references to PWDs either in the MDGs themselves or in the accompanying body of guidelines, policies and programmes. Also, PWDs are out of the ongoing revisions of the MDGs.

However, the MDGs can hardly be achieved if PWDs are not included in its policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation.

An authentic census of PWDs is also long overdue. General Assembly resolution 64/131 also called on governments to build a knowledge data-base on PWDs, which could be used to facilitate disability-sensitive development policy planning, monitoring, evaluation and implementation.

PWDs should not be considered as “objects” of charity, treatment and social protection. They rather should be viewed as “subjects” with rights, who are worth of those rights and can shape their lives as per their own accord.

The Rio +20 Outcome Document, “The future we want” urges States to enhance the welfare of PWDs; promote inclusive housing and social services and a safe and healthy living environment for all, particularly, PWDs and to ensure equal access to education for PWDs.

There is a need for a barrier-free city planning in future. The cities and towns must conform to the Universal Design for Independent Living to make it suitable for all citizens, including elders, the youth and disabled.

Sport is a global tool for inclusion, tolerance and diversity. Though Paralympics are held every two years, PWDs need to be provided opportunities of sports and tourism at local level.

The political parties should also make their manifestoes more relevant and inclusive for PWDs.

Committed and qualified teachers are a prerequisite for proper education and training of special children. Therefore due attention should be paid to the training of teachers.

In 2007, China had employed 4.3mn PWDs. Pakistan should itself take the lead to train and offer gainful employment to such persons. IBM is a role model for employment to PWDs. It has employed many PWDs who are doing fine research and production work.

The worker said says at least one per cent seats of parliament and provincial assemblies should be allocated for PWDs.

Understanding disability and PWDs under risk

By Tahir Ali

What is disability?

There is no agreed upon definition of the term disability. Generally speaking, the PWDs can be classified into severe physically disabled (wheelchair bound), mild physically disabled (walking with crutches, walker. stick), visually impaired (blind/partially blind), speaking impaired (dumb), hearing impaired (deaf) and mentally impaired.

However, According to the National Policy on the issue of disability” 2002, “A person with disabilities means who, on account of injury, disease, or congenital deformity, is handicapped in undertaking any gainful profession or employment, and includes persons who are visually/hearing impaired, and/or physically and mentally disabled.”

Disability is not for impairment alone, but should be seen as the result of interaction between a person and his or her environment.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) states that they “include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

PWDs under risk

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) face several prejudices. The biggest problem they face is the hostile social environment so that if a person limps he is called langra. And if he has lost an eye, he is summoned as kana.

PWDs are commonly the poorest of the poor in society, experiencing social exclusion and discrimination at all levels.

Also, the PWDs have restricted access to physical environment, to microfinance institutions, to information and communications technology resulting from legislation, policy or societal attitudes or discrimination in areas such as education, employment and transportation.

The wheelchair is one of the widely used assistive devices. Out of around 70mn in need of wheelchairs worldwide, only 5-15 per cent PWDs have access to it. Little access to travel and tourism or sports facilities is another problem.

All PWDs, and especially women and children, are at much higher risk of violence, neglect, poverty and exploitation. Factors such as stigma, discrimination, and ignorance about disability, indifference of the government, their poverty and the lack of social support for them and their supporters etc make them vulnerable to the above and other dangers.

Every minute over 30 women, the World Bank reports, are seriously injured or disabled during labour and these 15-50mn women mostly go unnoticed. The global literacy rate is as low as one per cent for women with disabilities, according to a UNDP study.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes that women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation. To address this concern, the CRPD has also taken a two track approach to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women with disabilities.

The World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons also states that women face significantly more difficulties – in both public and private spheres – in attaining access to adequate housing, health, education, vocational training and employment. They also experience inequality in hiring, promotion rates and pay for equal work, access to training and retraining, credit and other productive resources, and rarely participate in economic decision-making.

The WHO estimates that over 50mn get disabled in road accidents worldwide each year.

The needs of PWDs are hardly considered while mapping buildings, roads, pathways, parks and educational institutions etc.

On affordable and accessible agriculture credit

A small beginning
Banks must simplify and re-structure their lending mechanism
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2011-weekly/nos-04-12-2011/pol1.htm#3

Financial help of farmers is necessary for the modernisation of farming and farmers’ prosperity. But small farmers who, according to some estimates, constitute 85 percent of the total 6.6 million farmers in the country, have negligible share in the agriculture credit disbursed in the country in general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in particular. Those residing in the far-flung hilly and tribal areas are particularly affected by it.

Financial exclusion of the small farmers who have little resources to approach the research and extension systems, coupled with their illiteracy and poverty, keep away from commercial farming and expose themselves to low productivity, eventually adding to severe financial hardships.

They, in turn, have to rely on informal sector for their credit needs offered at higher rates, leaving them in a vicious debt-cycle and poverty trap.

Acknowledging that agricultural credit disbursement was worse in KP, the SBP launched some agriculture-credit schemes as part of its financial inclusion programme for KP but credit disbursement ratio couldn’t improve.

Countrywide, less than 2 million farmers of the total 6.6 million, get agriculture credit facility. The situation in KP, which accounts for less than 4 percent of the national agriculture credit disbursement and where over 90 percent are characterised as small farmers, is particularly dismal. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa accounted for Rs 7.9bn or only 3.4 percent of the total agriculture credit of Rs233bn in 2009. Only six percent of farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have access to agriculture credit against 21 percent for the country.

Various easy credit schemes, support price mechanism and subsidy regimes in the past were designed for small and medium scale farmers, but they scarcely benefited from the schemes and big landlords were the main beneficiaries.

One of the main reasons of small farmers’ financial exclusion is their inability to be bankable — to be able to provide collateral (the explicit or implicit guarantee against the possible risk associated with the loan) to banks as most of them are tenants, who don’t have any property registered in their names or own land below the required level.

Plenty of these farmers, especially those in villages, are also influenced and kept from applying for credit by the Riba-element, a necessary part of credit but avoided by most on religious grounds.

Small farmers have been practically neglected in the existing provincial agriculture policy developed in 2005. The policy has, however, yet to be updated to focus them despite several announcements.

As per the prudential regulations for agriculture financing, banks are required to ensure disbursement of working capital/short term loans within seven days but it is usually delayed. “The entire formalities for any agriculture loan require lengthy documentation and procedure and take around two to four months to get the loan,” says a bank manager on condition of anonymity, when asked about the process of loan delivery.

“Small farmers should be given loans on personal guarantee. Group-based credit schemes are being followed by small banks but needs to be taken up by the main private banks as well to improve credit disbursement ratio in the country. Crop and life insurance is the best way to decrease the risk of farming community against losses and of banks against non-repayment,” he adds.

Some farmers hold the banks responsible for low agriculture credit in the province. “The banks are risk-averse. They avoid lending loans to farmers for fear of default. Much has been said of the one-window operation but no bank as yet has come out with a fast track mechanism for credit disbursement. The banks must simplify and re-structure their agriculture lending mechanism and mobile credit officers should reach farmers at their doorsteps to boost credit delivery,” says Shahid Khan, a farmer in Mardan.

Last year, the KP government revived the erstwhile cooperative bank and promised to provide Rs1 billion seed money for easy farm and non-farm loans to small farmers from the bank but practically just Rs200mn were released. This year too, Rs400mn will be released. How can credit ratio be improved with this? 

Under agricultural loans scheme through the passbook system, banks are bound to allocate 70 percent of their loans to subsistence farmers but whether the law is followed is not clear.

In group-based lending, developed by the SBP, small farmer groups are formed by the lenders involving 5-10 members having identical needs and registered with the former. Collateral is generally not used and is replaced by personal guarantee —-a joint liability agreement/undertaking — takes its place wherein each member takes the responsibility of the outstanding debt of all group members. In case of any change in the group, a fresh guarantee would be signed by the members.

A group coordinator acts as facilitator of the group and agent of the bank. The bank ensure that group coordinator is executing the assigned tasks as prescribed like liaison with members, arrangement of meetings, etc, and if need be replace him, with the consensus of the group, in case he fails to deliver. Group members ensure that the bank receives timely repayments from individual borrower/group members. But if a borrower dies, liability lies to remaining group members. However life insurance is urged to safeguard the interests of both the borrowers and lenders.

Everyone who owns or is a tenant or lessee over up to12.5 acres of land or have more than 40 sheep, has computerised national identity card, residence in the village and membership in the village organisation, is eligible for crop or non-crop loans in the scheme. 

Though globally 12.5 acres of land is the threshold of subsistence farming but in Pakistan one having that much land is considered a rich person given the phenomenon of small land holding in the country. According to an estimate, cultivated land per person in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stands at just at 0.2 acres. The benchmark needs to be brought down for bank credit if small farmers are to be benefited.

Repayment schedule for farm loans may be set as per production cycle of crops and for non-crop activities, like livestock farm establishment, it should be three to five years.

 

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Tapping the Solar Energy potential

Solar solution
Instead of investing heavily in the oil-run power plants, the government should explore the abundant solar energy potential for power generation
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/nov2011-weekly/nos-20-11-2011/pol1.htm#1

Though Pakistan is beset with an acute energy crunch, it has failed to exploit the huge hydel power resources as well as the abundant solar energy potential for the power generation purposes for years.

The resourceful but unfortunate country receives high levels of solar radiation — approximately 1000 watts per square meter for most parts of the year. Global solar energy potential is estimated at 800 million megawatt while Pakistan has, according to an estimate, about 100,000MW solar energy potential, as it is the 6th luckiest country in the world where sunrays are available extending up to 16 hours in summer.

But Arif Allauddin, the chief executive officer of the Alternately Energy Development Board (AEDB), recently said that 2.9 million MW of electricity could be produced by utilising solar energy alone in the country.

The AEDB has signed several solar energy MoUs or contracts with different agencies for widespread use of off-grid solar technologies in Pakistan through public and private sector and for dissemination of solar energy and setting up local solar manufacturing facilities. But, the country is still far from exploiting the sun power for producing electricity that could run its factories and create millions of jobs in the country.

Instead of exploring the solar potential, the country has opted to invest heavily in the oil-run power plants, which has burdened the national exchequer with a huge oil import bill, exposed the people to exorbitant power tariff increases and still left the power producers with a circular debt of hundreds of billions of rupees during the last few years.

A project launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2003 in the Indian state of Karnataka, facilitated over 18,000 applications for loans for solar panels over three years. UNEP recruited two popular banks to take part in the project as part of their ‘priority sector lending’ obligation and it subsidised the loans to help decrease the interest rate. The project has been extended to other Indian states of Gujarat, Kerala and Maharashtra, and the UNEP plans to initiate similar projects in Algeria, China, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco and Tunisia, but Pakistan is not included in the list.

While the World Bank and Asian Development Bank are allocating funds for solar technologies, the local banks do not come forward to support the sector. Non-seriousness of authorities can be judged from the fact that AEDB has yet to issue the new updated alternate energy policy. The present policy was drafted in December 2006. The draft of the new energy policy, which has been sent to the Council of Common Interest for approval, intends to help boost the growth of the domestic renewable industry by 2014. It, among other things, aims to facilitate establishment of a domestic alternate renewable energy manufacturing base in the country and promote research on the technology in the country.

Solar energy, one of the best alternate energy sources, lessens pollution, reduces global warming and does not harm the ecosystem. Besides, it is abundant in supply and it has no maintenance and operation expenses as solar cells and panels don’t require fuel (gas and oil etc) which are getting costlier by the day. It is also convenient in places not covered by traditional grids and village electrification through solar energy has already been on the agenda of the AEDB, but there are several problems.

Solar energy generation technology is deemed costly and unaffordable for one person, but is considered within the reach when combined investment is made by a few families or the process is supported by the government and international bodies. High cost of solar system, public unawareness and banks’ reluctance to lend to investors is further hurting potential projects and keeping the technologies from dissemination.

Failure to establish local solar energy manufacturing units in the country has also made it comparatively costlier. And several government companies — AEDB, Pakistan Council for Renewable Technologies, the AEC, etc — dealing with the sector and the lengthy process of approval of solar energy projects also inhibit investors.

The fact that solar energy system can be installed with one time investment and then there is no maintenance or operating expenses, those who can afford it are coming towards the technology in great numbers.

According to a report, the country’s first on-grid solar electricity system, 180 KW each, is being built at Pakistan Engineering Council and the Planning Commission with financial help from Japan. It will not only fulfil their requirements but the surplus electricity will be sold to the Islamabad Electric Supply Company.

President Asif Ali Zardari had recently asked the concerned bodies to shift Presidency to solar power on the pattern of Planning Commission and Pakistan Engineering Council. He had also ordered that one town be converted to solar energy each year, all new development schemes should have solar streetlights and solar cookers, heat pumps, water heaters and water pumps be encouraged.

According to a report in the Guardian recently, Greece plans to sell its sun to Germany which plans to develop about 20,000 hectares of solar power parks there for exporting renewable energy to Germany. And Greece, facing a default after it secured £97 billion in rescue funds, hopes solar energy can help it out of its debt crisis.

Germany is the global leader in solar energy, but it has a lot less sun than Greece. After Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, the German government has decided to close its nuclear reactors by 2022.

Hit worst by the ever increasing loadshedding and power tariff, many people in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are turning towards solar energy and the sales of solar panels are going up enormously in the province, and particularly in the federally and provincially administered tribal areas, where there is less pollution and high intensity sunrays that can produce more energy.

“People are turning to solar technology as loadshedding, costliness of power and the rising maintenance and operation expenditures of generators have left them with no other option,” says Wakeel Ahmad, a Peshawar-based dealer of solar technology. “Solar lamps have been installed near Peshawar bus stand and these are likely to be installed on streets and roads in the city very soon.”

“Solar technology is sold in watts at Rs250 per watt with 20 years warranty. A normal household with daily consumption of 1000watt would thus have to spend Rs250,000. The family could also buy a solar panel only at Rs40,000 to charge its electricity based un-interrupted power supply systems to use the power later in their homes,” Ahmad adds.

Nazir Ahmad, a Swabi-based dealer, says hundreds of solar energy systems are sold in the area. A Wapda official in Dir, wishing not to be named, says people in difficult terrain of the district have installed even imported solar systems which has brought revolution in their lives and agriculture.

Over a million tube-wells in Pakistan are eating up billions in power subsidy and consuming an estimated 1000-1500MW of power, straining the weak national grid.

According to Nazir Ahmad, a solar tube-well with 20 years guarantee can be bought for Rs0.9 million which pumps water non-stop from sunrise to sunset for irrigation. Solar pumps could fulfil the daily water requirements of small to medium size fish farms and communities as well.

“The government must provide incentives such as tax holidays, grants to the selected villages, some resource risk coverage, competitive tariff for solar energy and guaranteed purchase agreements from producers,” says the dealer. .

Solar technology on the rise in Pakistan

Rise in sale of solar panels

President Zardari recently asked the concerned bodies to shift Presidency to solar power on the pattern of Planning Commission and Pakistan Engineering Council. – File photo

While the huge hydro-power potential of the country still remains unutilised, quite a few people hit by loadshedding and power tariff hikes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are turning towards solar energy.

Facilitated by high intensity sun-rays in the tribal belt, the sales of solar panels are going up. Wakeel Ahmad, a Peshawar-based dealer of solar panel, said people are turning to this technology as load-shedding/cost of power and the rising expenses on generators have left them with no option but to adopt solar technology. Nazir Ahmad, a dealer of solar energy equipment in Swabi, claimed that scores of solar energy panels are being sold in the area.

“Solar lamps have been installed near Peshawar bus stand with plans to install them on roads and streets in the city soon. Individuals are also coming up in great numbers to buy these panels,” he said.

“Solar panel is sold at Rs250 per watt with 20 years warranty. A normal household with daily consumption of 1000 watt would thus have to spend Rs250,000. The family could also buy a solar panel for Rs40,000 to charge the electricity-based uninterrupted power supply systems to use the power later in their homes,” he added.

A Wapda official in Dir said people in this difficult terrain have installed imported solar panels which have revolutionised their lives as well as agriculture. Over a million tube-wells in the country are using 1000-1500MW of power, straining the weak national grid, consuming over billions of rupees in power subsidy.

According to Ahmad, a solar tube-well with 20 years warranty could be installed by one-time investment of Rs0.9mn which can pump water non-stop from sunrise to sunset for irrigation. Solar pumps could fulfill the daily water requirements of small to medium-size fish farms and communities as well. These could pump water from a depth of up to 1000 feet, according to a report.

Pakistan receives high level of solar radiation throughout the year- around 1000 watts per square meter. Mr Arif Allauddin, chief executive officer of AEDB, said recently that 2.9mn MW could be produced through tapping solar energy in the country.

But Pakistan has failed to utilise solar power though it has opted to invest heavily in the oil-run power plants. The AEDB has signed several MoUs on installation of solar energy panels with different agencies. It plans widespread use of off-grid solar technologies in Pakistan through public and private sector cooperation. Setting up of local solar PV manufacturing facilities is also included in its programme.

However, the high installation cost of the system, lack of awareness among people, and banks’ reluctance to finance the system were hindering the spread of the technology.

Failure to establish local solar energy manufacturing units in the country has also made the system comparatively costlier.

Several government companies like AEDB, Pakistan Council for Renewable Technologies etc, dealing with the sector, and the lengthy process of approval of solar energy projects inhibit investors from adopting this system.

The technology may be costly and unaffordable for one person, but is considered within reach when combined investment is made by a few families or the process is supported by the government and international bodies.

But the fact that solar energy system can be installed with one-time investment and there is no need of maintenance or operating expenses.

“While the World Bank and Asian Development Bank are allocating funds for solar technologies, the local banks do not come forward to support the sector. The AEDB will keep on creating high hopes but actually it is doing nothing,” said an expert.

A project, launched by the UN environment programme in 2003 in the Indian State of Karnataka, facilitated over 18,000 loans for solar panels over three years. UNEP recruited two popular banks to take part in the project as part of their ‘priority sector lending’ obligation and it subsidised the loans to help decrease the interest rate. The UNEP plans to initiate similar projects in other countries but not in Pakistan.

The government needs to provide tax holidays and grants to selected villages, schools, mosques and offices, some resource risk coverage, competitive tariff for solar energy and guaranteed purchase agreements from producers.

President Zardari recently asked the concerned bodies to shift Presidency to solar power on the pattern of Planning Commission and Pakistan Engineering Counci. He also advised that one town be converted to solar energy each year; all new development schemes should have solar street lights and solar cookers. Use of water heaters and water pumps should be encouraged, he said.

According to a report in the Guardian recently, Greece may allow Germany to develop about 20,000 hectares of solar power parks for exporting renewable energy to Germany.

…………….

Original text of the article

Utilising the solar energy

By Tahir Ali

In the wake of apparent government’s failure to utilise the huge hydro power potential and hit worst by the ever increasing load-shedding and power tariff, quite a few people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are turning towards solar energy and the sales of solar panels in the province is on the rise.

Particularly, the tribal belt, where there is less pollution and so high intensity sun-rays produce powerful energy, the sales are going up enormously.

Wakeel Ahmad, a Peshawar based dealer of solar technology, said people are turning to solar technology as load-shedding/costliness of power and the rising maintenance and operation expenditures of generators has left them with no other option. Nazir Ahmad, a Swabi based dealer, said hundreds of solar energy systems are sold in the area.

“Solar lamps have been installed near Peshawar bus stand and these are likely to be installed on streets and roads in the city very soon. Individuals are also coming in great numbers,” he said.

“Solar technology is sold in watts at Rs250 per watt with 20 years warranty. A normal household with daily consumption of 1000watt would thus have to spend Rs250,000. The family could also buy a solar panel only at Rs40, 000 to charge its electricity based un-interrupted power supply systems to use the power later in their homes,” he added.

A Wapda official, based in Dir, said people in the difficult terrain of the district have installed even imported solar systems which has brought revolution in their lives and agriculture.

Over a million tube wells in Pakistan are eating up billions in power subsidy and consuming an estimated 1000-1500MW of power, straining the weak national grid.

According to Ahmad, a solar tube-well with 20 years guarantee could be had by onetime investment of Rs0.9mn which pumps water non-stop from sunrise to sunset for irrigation. Solar pumps could fulfil the daily water requirements of small to medium size fish farms and communities as well. These could pump water from a depth of up to 1000 feet, according to a report.

Pakistan receives high levels of solar radiation throughout the year- around 1000 watts per square meter for most parts of the year. Mr Arif Allauddin, chief executive officer of AEDB said recently said that 2.9mn MW could be produced through tapping solar energy in Pakistan.

But Pakistan has failed to utilise solar power though it has opted to invest heavily in the oil-run power plants.

The AEDB has signed several solar energy MoUs or contracts with different agencies for widespread use of off-grid solar technologies in Pakistan through public and private sector and for dissemination of solar energy and setting up local Solar PV manufacturing facilities.

However, the high cost of solar system installation, public unawareness and banks’ reluctance to lend to investors was further hurting potential projects, however, are keeping the technologies from dissemination.

Failure to establish local solar energy manufacturing units in the country has also made it comparatively costlier.

And several government companies -AEDB, Pakistan council for renewable technologies etc-dealing with the sector and the lengthy process of approval of solar energy projects inhibit investors.

Non-seriousness of authorities can be judged from the fact that AEDB has yet to issue the new updated alternate energy policy. The present policy was drafted in December 2006.

The technology is deemed costly and unaffordable for one person, but is considered within the reach when combined investment is made by a few families or the process is supported by the government and international bodies.

But the fact that solar energy system can be installed with one time investment and then there is no maintenance or operating expenses, those who can afford it are coming towards the technology in great numbers, Ahmad opined.

“While the World Bank or Asian Development Bank are allocating funds for solar technologies, the local banks do not come forward support the sector. AEDB will keep on creating high hopes but actually it is doing nothing,” said an expert.

A project, launched by the UN environment programme in 2003 in the Indian state of Karnataka, facilitated over 18,000 loans for solar panels over three years. UNEP recruited two popular banks to take part in the project as part of their ‘priority sector lending’ obligation and it subsidized the loans to help decrease the interest rate. The UNEP plans to initiate similar projects in other countries but Pakistan is not included.

The government must provide incentives such as tax holidays, grants to the selected villages, schools, mosques and offices, some resource risk coverage, competitive tariff for solar energy and guaranteed purchase agreements from producers and the like.

President Zardari recently asked the concerned bodies to shift Presidency to solar power on the pattern of planning commission and Pakistan engineering council, being financed by Japan. He also advised that one town be converted to solar energy each year, all new development schemes should have solar street lights and solar cookers, heat pumps, water heaters and water pumps be encouraged.

According to a report in the Guardian recently, Greece plans to sell its sun to Germany which plans to develop about 20,000 hectares of solar power parks for exporting renewable energy to Germany. And Greece, facing a default after it secured £97bn in rescue funds, hopes solar energy can help it out of its debt crisis.

Germany is the global leader in solar energy but it has a lot less sun than Greece. After Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, German government has decided to close its nuclear reactors by 2022.

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