Community police in Malakand

Community police force in Malakand division

By Tahir Ali

http://e.thenews.com.pk/11-11-2012/nos_page18.asp

While there are doubts on the future of the nascent Community Police Force (CPF) in Malakan division as per a report, a senior official of the Malakand police said they are not being disbanded in near future.

Locals say they need to be retained, sufficiently trained and compensated for the task they were inducted for –community protection against militants.

Soon after the 2009 military operation that drove the Maulana Fazlullah-led militants out of the region, the CPF, also called special police force, was raised to check terrorism at community level and to fill the gap between required and available police personnel at that critical juncture.

Members of the CPF were recruited on the recommendation of local jirgas under the supervision of the Pakistan army.

Around seven thousand poor youth had joined the CPF in Swat,Buner,Dir upper/lower and Shangla, in late 2009 for one year. Paid by the provincial government, their services are extended after every year.

Some police officials had resigned from service. Some even had to publish their resignations in newspapers as demanded by militants there. Militants had killed around 180 police officials, including a police-woman Alia, who was murdered for she had refused to tender resignation.

The members of the CPF were trained by army for 6 weeks before they joined the force. They were provided official weapons and black clothes and were distributed in the police stations in the districts of their domicile. They provided valuable help to army and police in tracking down militants as they were fully conversant with the local norms and the area terrain. Some CPF personnel were also awarded for their effective role against militants.

CPF formation and involvement of local communities for crime prevention and intelligence-gathering is a pragmatic approach. Also, police strength is even insufficient for routine policing. Rising tide of terrorism has further increased their woes.

The idea of community policing has been successfully implemented in several countries like Italy, France, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Sweden and India. The US had also resorted to this concept in Iraq.

The members of the CPF in Malakand are, as per the terms of their service, still being paid Rs10,000 per month. Thousands of the poor and nominally educated persons had thronged the centres to join the force. They hardly had any other option for rampant unemployment and acute poverty.

While legally speaking they are under obligation to work against this salary and remain contractual employees, but when thousands of other contractual employees in other departments are being regularised, why are the CPF members denied the facility?

The CPF has given many sacrifices. In the recent fatal attack on Fateh Khan, the president of the peace body in Buner, three of his body guards who lost their lives, were also the CPF members.

In September last year KP Chief Minister Ameer Haidar Khan Hoti had said his government couldn`t afford to wrap up CPF in Swat under current delicate security situation. But there are unconfirmed reports that the force is being disbanded from December this year.

“Community Police was hired under a contact agreement for 2 years in 2009. This contract has subsequently been renewed on yearly basis. The fiscal year in government runs from July – June. Hence the present contract is valid till June 2013. Therefore they are not being disbanded in December,” said Akhtar Hayat Khan, the Deputy Inspector general of police in Malakand division through an emailed response.

While Pakistan army has handed over control of administration to civil authorities in Shangla and Buner in May 2011 and it plans to hand it over in other parts of Malakand division soon, what is needed is the capacity building of existing regular police and CPFand augmenting it with new inductions rather than depriving the existing CPF of their services, locals say.

A clear, hold, build and transfer of authority to civil administration and financial empowerment of the locals and elsewhere must be the basic ingredient of any counter-terrorism strategy. Militancy can’t be defeated without poverty eradication. Depriving the MCP members of their jobs and income sources will render them more vulnerable to militants.

“The Special Police Force personnel are not being terminated in the near future. Moreover, the government , security forces and the police department specially has tried to create a peaceful atmosphere in Malakand Division . Last year saw a record number of tourists in excess of 400,000 visiting Swat during Summer. Swat’s economy is tourism dependent, once it picks upon the reliance on government jobs should decrease,” added the official.

Afzal Khan Lala, the nationalist leader from Swat, while enumerating several attacks on the police in Swat and other parts of the province, noted that police was and is the front line defence of the state and the major target of militants. They know if police is defeated, they would be free to do what they like.

He was all praise for the CPF and urged its retention. “It filled the gap created by the killing/injuring and desertions of police in Malakand division. Doing away with them is tantamount to facilitating the militants. In the event of planned delegation of control to civilian forces, which necessitates increase in personnel and capacities, they must be retained and regularised. They must also be strengthened with sophisticated weapons and training for their capacity building,” he added.

Though the number of police personnel has almost been doubled in Malakand division, there are still around 16000 police personnel, much less than required to make a viable alternative for around 50000 army personnel in Malakand division.

According to Zahid Khan, a leader of Swat Qaumi Jirga (SQJ), the induction of MCP had been suggested by SQJ.

“Rather than forming Peace Lashkars, we thought it better to suggest and arrange the CPF that would have official recognition, power and weapons. They were intended to guard the community by manning the streets and entry/exit point of villages. They were a better option in counter-terrorism strategy as they knew the locals and could easily identify non-locals or suspicious persons. Unfortunately, they are being used for performing tasks like hounding drug pedlars etc and not specifically used for community protection,” he said.

“Most of them are in community policing. They work in their police station areas . The advantage being their familiarity with the area and its people. Some are also employed for intelligence collection, which you would agree is essential to thwart incidents. In course of duty they might have been part of a drug peddler arrest but then doesn’t arrest of drug peddlers also contribute to a safe and peaceful community. Regular Police and Special Police carry out patrolling together,” opined Mr Hayat Akhtar.

“If they are to be used as regular police, they need to be regularised, trained like them and scrutinised. The government needs to increase their monthly salary and give them other benefits. But if they are used only as guards, their pay is enough and in consonance with the contract with them,” Mr Zahid Khan added.

However there are many complaints against them. “As most of them are uneducated and insufficiently trained, hence desertions, mistakes like unintentionally killing their counterparts and behaviour problems have been observed. Quite a few have been dismissed for these reasons. Again most of them were inducted without proper scrutiny that’s why one of the CPF members carried out attack on the passing out parade of a CPF batch in Municipal committee Swat last year, killing several of them,” Zahid Khan argued.

While locals say quite a few have left the job for less pay and lack of other allowances, the official source said only a few have resigned from their service for they joined other departments.

“No desertions have taken place in Special Police Force. Some have left jobs by terminating their contracts by finding more fruitful jobs either in the government or private sector, which is a natural phenomenon as pursuit of better prospects is the right of every individual,” opined Mr Akhtar.

He also rejected as totally unfounded that any community police personel had ever carried out suicide attack. “The suicide bomber in the Mingora Police Station Bombing in which members of Special Police Force embraced Shahadat was not a SPF Constable. This attack too occurred in 2009 and not last year as erroneously suggested. Again, nobody has been killed by the firing of a Special Police Force Colleague barring one incident of accidental firing of weapon in Shamozai in 2010,” added Mr Akhar.

Under the Shahuda package of provincial police, the relatives of the martyred regular police personnel are given Rs3 million and their families get their salaries until the year of their retirement. It couldn’t be ascertained whether the CPF members also receive the same amount if killed in terrorism incidents. But Zahid Khan says they are given only Rs0.3mn –the amount due to each civilian killed in terrorism.

When asked, Aftab Alam advocate from Swat expressed his ignorance as to whether it is part of the CPF contract or not.

“MCP members, being contractual employees, are entitled to get only the benefits mentioned in their contracts. They can’t claim benefits like pension etc accrued to regular civil servants if not specifically mentioned in their contracts. That’s the legal situation. Morally speaking, they also deserve to be given benefits like posthumous compensation amount and other benefits available to other regular employees,” he said.

The CPF members must be cognisant of their role and limits. They should not be allowed to investigate crimes at local level as this would create tensions and complexities for the regular investigators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

………….

As the article was published in The News.

Community police force in Malakand division

By Tahir Ali

While there are doubts on the future of the nascent Community Police Force (CPF) in Malakan division, locals say they need to be retained, sufficiently trained and compensated for the task they were inducted for –community protection against militants.

Soon after the 2009 military operation that drove the Maulana Fazlullah-led militants out of the region, the CPF, also called special police force, was raised to check terrorism at community level and to fill the gap between required and available police personnel at that critical juncture.

Some of police officials had resigned from service for recurring incidences of militant reprisals. Militants had killed around 180 police officials, including a police-woman Alia, who was murdered for she had refused to tender resignation.

Members of the CPF were recruited on the recommendation of local jirgas under the supervision of the Pakistan army.

Around seven thousand poor youth had joined the CPF in Swat,Buner,Dir upper/lower and Shangla, in late 2009 for one year. Paid by the provincial government, their services are extended after every six months.

The members of the CPF were trained by army for two months before they joined the force. They were provided official weapons and black clothes and were distributed in the police stations in the districts of their domicile. They provided valuable help to army and police in tracking down militants as they were fully conversant with the local norms and the area terrain. Some CPF personnel were also awarded for their effective role against militants.

CPF formation and involvement of local communities for crime prevention and intelligence-gathering is a pragmatic approach. Also, police strength is even insufficient for routine policing. Rising tide of terrorism has further increased their woes.

The idea of community policing has been successfully implemented in several countries like Italy, France, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Sweden and India. The US had also resorted to this concept in Iraq.

The members of the CPF in Malakand are, as per the terms of their service, still being paid Rs10,000 per month. Thousands of the poor and nominally educated persons had thronged the centres to join the force. They hardly had any other option for rampant unemployment and acute poverty.

While legally speaking they are under obligation to work against this salary and remain contractual employees, but when thousands of other contractual employees in other departments are being regularised, why are the CPF members denied the facility?

The CPF has given many sacrifices. In the recent fatal attack on Fateh Khan, the president of the peace body in Buner, three of his body guards who lost their lives, were also the CPF members.

While locals say quite a few have left the job for less pay and lack of other allowances, an official source said only a few have resigned from their service for they joined other departments.

In September last year KP Chief Minister Ameer Haidar Khan Hoti had said his government couldn`t afford to wrap up CPF in Swat under current delicate security situation. But there are unconfirmed reports that the force is being disbanded from December this year.

While Pakistan army has handed over control of administration to civil authorities in Shangla and Buner in May 2011 and it plans to hand it over in other parts of Malakand division soon, what is needed is the capacity building of existing regular police and CPFand augmenting it with new inductions rather than depriving the existing CPF of their services, locals say.

A clear, hold, build and transfer of authority to civil administration and financial empowerment of the locals and elsewhere must be the basic ingredient of any counter-terrorism strategy. Militancy can’t be defeated without poverty eradication. Depriving the MCP members of their jobs and income sources will render them more vulnerable to militants.

Afzal Khan Lala, the nationalist leader from Swat, while enumerating several attacks on the police in Swat and other parts of the province, noted that police was and is the front line defence of the state and the major target of militants. They know if police is defeated, they would be free to do what they like.

He was all praise for the CPF and urged its retention. “It filled the gap created by the killing/injuring and desertions of police in Malakand division. Doing away with them is tantamount to facilitating the militants. In the event of planned delegation of control to civilian forces, which necessitates increase in personnel and capacities, they must be retained and regularised. They must also be strengthened with sophisticated weapons and training for their capacity building,” he added.

Though the number of police personnel has almost been doubled in Malakand division, there are still around 16000 police personnel, much less than required to make a viable alternative for around 50000 army personnel in Malakand division.

According to Zahid Khan, a leader of Swat Qaumi Jirga (SQJ), the induction of MCP had been suggested by SQJ.

“Rather than forming Peace Lashkars, we thought it better to suggest and arrange the CPF that would have official recognition, power and weapons. They were intended to guard the community by manning the streets and entry/exit point of villages. They were a better option in counter-terrorism strategy as they knew the locals and could easily identify non-locals or suspicious persons. Unfortunately, they are being used for performing tasks like hounding drug pedlars etc and not specifically used for community protection,” he said.

“If they are to be used as regular police, they need to be regularised, trained like them and scrutinised. The government needs to increase their monthly salary and give them other benefits. But if they are used only as guards, their pay is enough and in consonance with the contract with them,” he added.

However there are many complaints against them. “As most of them are uneducated and insufficiently trained, hence desertions, mistakes like unintentionally killing their counterparts and behaviour problems have been observed. Quite a few have been dismissed for these reasons. Again most of them were inducted without proper scrutiny that’s why one of the CPF members carried out attack on the passing out parade of a CPF batch in Municipal committee Swat last year, killing several of them,” Khan argued.

Under the Shahuda package of provincial police, the relatives of the martyred regular police personnel are given Rs3 million and their families get their salaries until the year of their retirement. It couldn’t be ascertained whether the CPF members also receive the same amount if killed in terrorism incidents. But Zahid Khan says they are given only Rs0.3mn –the amount due to each civilian killed in terrorism.

When asked, Aftab Alam advocate from Swat expressed his ignorance as to whether it is part of the CPF contract or not.

“CPF members, being contractual employees, are entitled to get only the benefits mentioned in their contracts. They can’t claim benefits like pension etc accrued to regular civil servants if not specifically mentioned in their contracts. That’s the legal situation. Morally speaking, they also deserve to be given benefits like posthumous compensation amount and other benefits available to other regular employees,” he said.

The CPF members must be cognisant of their role and limits. They should not be allowed to investigate crimes at local level as this would create tensions and complexities for the regular investigators.

No official response could be obtained on the observations by the filing of the story on Friday morning.

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The New breed: Pakistan olive plantation intiatives

Pakistan olive projects

By Tahir Ali

http://e.thenews.com.pk/10-7-2012/nos_page4.asp

With high global demand and rising prices in the international market and Pakistan’s annual edible oil import bill exceeding $2bn, the rationale of recent olive cultivation initiatives in the country cannot be overemphasized.

Olive demand globally is on the rise. Germans are using five times more and British ten times more olive than they did in 1990. In America, olive demand is growing by 6% annually for two decades now. Olive prices in world market have doubled to $3,400 a ton recently.

Pakistan has over 0.8mn hectares of wasteland suitable for olive cultivation. An official of the now defunct Pakistan Oil Seeds Development Board (PODB) had told this writer that by covering the area with olive plants, Pakistan can produce around 1.84mn tons of olive oil. This would fetch over $6bn at the current rate of olive in world market.

Olive is used in foods, pickles, medicines, food preservation, textile industry and cosmetic preparation etc. Special restaurants dealing in olive foods have also been opened in various cities of the country.

The Pakistan agricultural research council (PARC) has begun implementing the project “Promotion of olive cultivation for economic development and poverty alleviation” whereby olive plants will be cultivated on 300 hectares in Baluchistan, 100 hectares in KP, 300 hectares in federally administered tribal areas and 100 hectares in the Pothohar region of Punjab.

The Rs382mn project to be completed in three years is being under the Pakistan Italian debt-for-development swap agreement.

The Punjab government has declared the Pothowar region as Olive Valley. It recently distributed thousands of olive plants amongst olive growers and trained them.

The Punjab Agriculture and Meat Company also plans to develop 10 certified nurseries. These nurseries –being opened through private sector in Attock, Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Jehlum and Khushab districts –would have a catchment area of 27000 acres and would have an impact of $78mn.

The potential area suitable for olive cultivation is around 8mn acres in Punjab of which 0.4mn is being targeted though this initiative. Total impact of this land, if covered, would be $1.16bn.

Similarly, in KP’s budget for 2012-13, a Rs100mn project –research and development on European olive and maintenance of model olive farm Sangbhatti Mardan –has been started and allocated Rs15mn this year.

As the PODB stands dissolved, Sangbhatti olive farm, one of its assets, has been handed over to the directorate of agriculture research in KP.

“The department will provide olive plantlets, grafts and buds produced in the Sangbhatti farm to farmers. Though the production of olive nursery is limited at present, it is nevertheless sufficient for the time being,” said an official of KP agriculture ministry wishing anonymity.

“Despite our efforts, mass resort to olive plantation is however unlikely in the immediate future,” the official added.

Pakistan has been unable to increase its olive acreage and yield for indifference by successive governments, lack of private sector’s interest, focus on other cash crops, security situation in KP and tribal belt, too few olive nurseries and marketing worries. It only has 1130 acres of land under productive olive trees and the crop is yet to be inserted into the cropping system.

The question arises: will the new initiatives succeed?

While olive farmers usually grow olive haphazardly, the problem is multiplied by non-availability of standard olive plants and restricted mobility of local and foreign experts in the olive-rich but militancy-hit tribal belt, KP and Baluchistan. This explains why there has been of late a shift of focus to other parts of the country.

Olive acreage and yield could be increased by providing quality seed, polythene rolls for wrapping round the buds/grafts to save them from cold and moisture, modern training and marketing support to olive farmers. Have similar interventions been planned?

Pakistan has over 0.8mn hectares suitable area for olive but as most farmers on fertile lands prefer other crops, the potential area may be around 0.264mh. Even if a third of this area is brought under olive cultivation, around 25mn olive seedlings would be needed (@250 trees per hectare) over the next few years. Has this been considered?

Pakistan need to shift to tissue culture technology, standardise its nursery production and open more germplasm units to provide enough olive seeds, buds and grafts.

Olive tree usually bears fruit after 4-5 years. However, Sultan Ali Khan, a farmer from Swat, said his community had grafted around 40000 wild olive trees but only 5000 of them have been successful and have started bearing fruit after 7-8 years.

Shafeeq Ahmad from Swari Buner said an olive plant could bear over 40-45kg of fruit if sufficient care, protection, pesticides and fertilisers are provided to the plants.

“We planted 600 olive plants on a mountain ridge around ten years ago but it is yet to bear plentiful fruit. Bearing of fruit was late and paltry because the orchards could not be looked after well nor were provided sufficient and timely doses of fertiliser and pesticides as the farmers were not given guidance and help,” he told the TNS.

Another problem is that very ambitious projects are launched but are later forgotten. For example, there is no mention of the projects of establishment of olive orchards in KP and that of research, development and promotion of olive in KP which were allocated funds in the last two budgets but not in this fiscal and have been left out incomplete.

A report on the Malakand olive development prepared by ISCOS, an international organisation, had urged induction of more olive technicians, modern training for them and increase in their salaries, introduction of a system of reward for successful olive farmers, subsidized provision of olive plants, sensitizing farmers against cutting and grazing of animals in olive orchards and an in-depth dialogue and interaction between all the stakeholders in the olive production chain.

The PODB had converted quite a few wild olive plants into fruit bearing trees. That process needs to be continued.

The planners also need to ensure olive production is developed on commercial lines and its enterprises facilitated.

Where and how to plant?

Olives are grown by the methods of budding and grafting of wild olive trees or planting of new trees. However farmers have found the method of grafting the most successful. A research showed that around 80-90% olive trees grown through T-Grafting technique from August to September were successful.

The areas with an altitude between 400 and 1,700 meters, slope of 20°, rainfall between 250 mm and 1,000 mm and having a warm, semi arid, winter rain climate are mostly suitable for olive plants.

Olive production varies on the basis of temperature and rainfall. Rain falls abundantly in March (olive flowering season) and in summer in Pakistan. This rain pattern could pose threats for the olive cultivation –the first may heavily reduce the production and the second –rainfall in summer –could make it prone to various plant diseases. It requires extra care and more use of pesticides.

Olive trees can endure low temperature of even -9° C but these can hardly tolerate it at vegetative stage. It however needs a bit low temperatures in winter to be able to produce good amount of inflorescences and flowers in spring.

Olives require well drained soils for adequate growth. Heavily clayish or sandy soils or one prone to water logging should be avoided.

The common diseases in olive plants are trunk decay, sooty mould and peacock spot, which decay and dry up the tree.

The olive trees need more nitrogenous fertilizer than phosphorous and potash. The latter two fertilizers should be mixed in the soil before planting of trees at the rate of 200 kg and 300 kg per hectare respectively. Best time of nitrogen fertilizer is pre-flowering and stone-hardening stage.

The poverty challenge

The Poverty challenge

By Tahir Ali

http://e.thenews.com.pk/10-27-2012/nos_page4.asp

Life for Fazal Malik of Mardan, 60, has always been tough. Uneducated and without any assets or business, he did manual labour for years to earn livelihood for his wife, four daughters and two sons. He is now too old and weak to work. One of his daughters is mentally retarded. His elder son is uneducated and jobless and the younger did his matriculation but failed to find job and is now an addict. Worse, they had sold their ancestral house to treat his addict son and account for other domestic expenses. One of his daughters, who receives about Rs10,000/month from a private job, is the only bread earner for the family. But the monthly rent and health, food and other expenditures are too big for her meagre income. With no help from any pro-poor programme, Malik has started begging.

With widespread deprivations, poverty and inequalities but less effective pro-poor programmes, Pakistan is prone to ethnic and religious extremism and has become a difficult place for the poor like him.

Article 37(a) of the constitution of Pakistan says that the state shall secure the well-being of the people, irrespective of sex, caste, creed and race, by raising their standard of living, by preventing the concentration of wealth and means of production and distribution in the hands of a few to the detriment of general interest,”. And article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that everyone has a right to a standard of living adequate for  the health and well being of himself and his family.

Despite their commitments to the poor, successive governments have had perpetuated/increased the burdens of the poor. While unrestrained price-increases have been allowed, surcharges and taxes on gas, electricity, petroleum and other items of general consumption have also been multiplied that invariably add to the cost of living and throw millions beneath the poverty line. Enormous but untargeted subsidies have aggravated the poverty conundrum.

What is poverty?

There is difference on as to what constitutes poverty and who is poor. There is no standard formula available to measure poverty. Poverty is measured by the household income expenditure by the Pakistan bureau of statistics.  According to some, people living without certain level of incomes or calories (2350 calories per person) are poor but others measure it by multiple indices and say poverty entails multiple deprivations such as lack of access to education, health and electricity etc.

According to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), poverty is a multi-dimensional concept and is defined either narrowly on the basis of income or broadly by lack of access to opportunities for raising standard of life. The extent and depth of poverty measured through different approaches varies depending upon the indices used and definitions adopted.

However, there are some common characteristics of the poor namely, but not limited to, low literacy level, large family size, no or fewer physical assets, joblessness or a heavy reliance on daily manual labour for sustenance, are unskilled, thus work in the informal sectors and live mostly in rural areas or slums.

According to ONE organisation, an international advocacy group on poverty reduction, women are the worst affected by poverty. They work longer hours earning less money, have fewer educational and political opportunities and are more vulnerable to failures of weak health systems and diseases than their male counterparts.

Pakistan’s statistics

Poverty is widespread, mainly in rural areas where most of the poor live. A careful estimate suggests that one third of Pakistanis are poor –women and children, disabled and the aged, the most vulnerable – who have little or no assets and access to essential social services. There, however, is no reliable data on the extent of poverty.

The present regime for the first time in Pakistan’s history didn’t include the chapter on poverty in the economic survey of Pakistan 2010-11. It reveals two things: one, fighting poverty is either low in its priorities; second, poverty incidence has gone up.

The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) reported recently that poverty incidence is 33 per cent in Pakistan or that around 59 million persons are living below the poverty line.

The SDPI report says 52 per cent population in Baluchistan, 33 per cent in Sindh, 32 per cent in KP (that KP is less poor than Sindh is debatable) and 19 per cent in Punjab lives below the poverty line. It says that 20 districts in the country –16 in Baluchistan and 4 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa –have an acute poverty incidence with Kohistan in KP the most vulnerable district.

According to a research of the Higher Education Commission, poverty has increased to 40 percent in Pakistan in the last decade. The State bank of Pakistan puts the number of the poor at 62mn.

An independent estimate says around 74mn persons live below the poverty line. Another estimate says the number is 135mn, of which an estimated 70mn are extremely poor.

The Mahboobul Haq’s Centre, based on official data from last six years, estimates that 29.2 per cent or 52.5mn persons live in poverty in Pakistan and thus adds that poverty ratio may have gone up.

The World Bank estimated in 2008 that 60.2 per cent of Pakistanis earn $2 a day in 2008, which often is the yardstick for measuring poverty, but in 2005 it had said that 73.8 per cent were poor in the country. These figures are questioned by economic experts.

The UNDP’s Human Development Report, 2011 ranks Pakistan at 145th with HDI value of 0.504, up from 0.503 in 2010 and 0.499 in 2009, through Pakistan’s rank has slipped a little during 2011. Pakistan’s Inequality Adjusted Poverty Index is 0.346 and multi-dimensional poverty index is 0.264.

It was in 2005 that the official poverty statistics were last released showing a decline in the calorie-based income poverty from 34.5 per cent in 2001 to 22.3 per cent in 2005. In 2007-08, the figure came down to 17.2 percent. The figure was accepted by the WB, IMF and ADB but the PPP regime didn’t release it officially.

It was astonishingly recorded at 12.4 percent in 2010-11 by an official team but the PPP government aptly decided not to release the figure. With this an election year, the government, as per reports, wishes to show that poverty incidence has decreased ever since this government came to power in 2008.

But the goal of poverty reduction becomes very difficult if high inflation, increasing indirect taxation, low economic growth that forces job cuts, declining and twisted development and pro-poor expenditures are taken into account.

Why poverty increased?

Pakistan has initiated several Safety net programs to save the poor from economic shocks but according to a research, most of these pro-poor programmes are fragmented and often duplicative, have limited coverage, are poorly targeted (Only a fraction of Rs500bn spent by the government on different subsidies last year reached the poor) and most contribution are obtained by non-poor households, are characterised by slack implementation and monitoring capacity is very low.

Lack of access to markets/services, snags in agriculture development, illiteracy, political uncertainty that triggered frequent changes in regime that made long term development planning impossible, slump in businesses, low investment, increased joblessness for rising energy cuts and militancy, inflation and currency devaluation, recurrent natural calamities, un-targeted energy and food subsidies, inequitable income/resource distribution (the richest one per cent, it is estimated, grabbed 20 per cent of total income in 2001. This might have surged further of late), governance deficit, government’s failure to affect sustainable enterprise development, and limited coverage of social safety programmes have exacerbated, or failed to stem, poverty in the country.

The Asian Development Bank ascribes rise in poverty to growing population, internal tensions, mounting defence expenditure, agricultural backwardness, unequal income distribution, swelling utility charges and rising non-productive activities.

Mr Wolfgang Herbinger, Director World Food Programme in Pakistan, argued last year that food prices were too high in Pakistan and it is a country full with food but with people who are too poor to buy it.

Changes in per capita income, economic conditions, unemployment situation, and remittances alter economic fortunes and force people move in or out of the poverty situation.

The level and intensity of poverty is dependent on the pace of economic growth, the degree of social, political, and economic inclusion or exclusion, weak governance, inefficient judicial system, poor service delivery performance and corruption and leakage.

The Rural Support Programs Network,  through its dialogue with communities in different districts of Pakistan identified discriminatory education system, high incidence of health problems, widespread unemployment, deprivation from capital for enterprise development, few opportunities for women, lack of vocational skills, inadequacy of agriculture and livestock extension services, environmental degradation, inconsistent water supply, lack of access to justice, and a rapid rise in population, and at times variance between local needs and projects as the reasons for rampant poverty.

According to another report, ‘Human Development in South Asia 2012’ ‘governance deficit’ is adversely hampering efforts to cut poverty despite big expenditures. “(It) increases out-of-pocket expense for health and education….and (causes) unequal access to water, sanitation and electricity.

(To be continued)

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