Sinking Industrial estate

Sinking industrial estate

By Tahir Ali

 http://dawn.com/2013/01/21/sinking-industrial-estate/

When Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate was established in a remote area, there was no raw material and market available for industries to be set up there. To compensate for high transportation cost on raw material and finished goods and to make , manufacturing viable, a fiscal incentive package was provided by the federal government.

The package announced in 1989 attracted huge investment and no less than 270 factories were set up. When the incentives were withdrawn in 1991, bulk of the small enterprises gradually went out of business.

Zahid Shinwari, the ex- president of the Gadoon Chamber of Commerce and Industry and current vice president of the KP Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the cost differential of about 25 per cent because of remote location was compensated by incentives. But when these incentives were withdrawn, industries went into losses and many closed down. At the peak of industrial production, around 80,000 were employed but their number is around 16,000 these days.

Rangeen Shah, former secretary of the Gadoon Chamber says the estate has ceased to attract fresh investment since the incentives were withdrawn in 1991. Out of 270 units in operation then, around 120 are now running round the clock or in one or two shifts. However, it were small industries that were closed and the bigger ones have even expanded.

He added that industries whose raw material is abundantly available in KP like processing of agriculture produce, packaging and paper board, furniture, cigarette etc., are nowhere in sight here.

The industrial package announced by PM Yousaf Gilani in 2009 somewhat shored up industrial production. Under the war on terror package, industries in KP were given varying rates of exemption from sales tax, income tax and excise duty for three years. “These expired in June 2012 and need to be extended for another two to three years,” says another factory owner.

GAIE was set up to provide jobs and livelihood to the locals to discourage them from poppy cultivation. However, no homework was done to impart skills to locals. A technical college promised for training of locals and developing manpower for the estate is yet to be built. Locals were employed as watchmen and for other menial jobs while technicians were brought from Punjab and Sindh.

Shinwari says this partly explains why poppy cultivation has started in some parts of Gadoon again. In April 2012, the government had to conduct an operation to destroy poppy crop grown over 34 kanals in some remote Gadoon villages.

The Rs10 billion GAIE project, spread over 1116 acres, situated about 100km to the east of Peshawar, was created after seven poppy growers were killed in anti-poppy operation in the area in 1987. The GAIE was initially planned to have 600 factories.
The estate has spacious roads, drainage and water supply system, communication, power and gas facilities and standard schooling and medical facilities at Tarbela, lying close to it, and Peshawar.

In 2003 the estate was proposed to be converted to an Export Processing Zone by Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah, the then provincial governor. But the plan seems to have been shelved.

According to a technocrat Mumtazuddin, the estate can be revived by improving security situation and announcing a comprehensive incentive package for investors. “First of all, the government should announce that whosoever intends to establish industries will not be asked about his source of income. Then the investor should get soft loans without collateral and with a long grace period for debt repayment. The incentives should also include subsidies on loans, power/gas tariff and industrial plots, reduced rates of sales/ income taxes, and rebate in custom/excise duties on import of raw material and machinery.”

“For a level playing field, the estate deserves a permanent reduction of 25 per cent in sales/income tax and power/gas tariff. This will not only revive the sick industries but also encourage fresh investment. This rebate will help clear stuck-up bank loans ,” says Shinwari.

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ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE AS IT WAS SENT TO DAWN.

Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate: first lavishly bestowed, then neglected   

By Tahir Ali

It was strange the Gadoon Amazai industrial Estate (GAIE) was at first established in a distant area such as Gadoon as there were no raw materials and market available for industries there. High transportation cost on getting raw material from, and sending finished goods to, other provinces made its products less competitive.

But when once established and incentives were announced for attracting investment in it, these should not have been withdrawn prematurely.

Zahid Shinwari, the ex president of the GCCI and the vice president of the KP chamber of commerce and industries, said the factories here already faced cost differential of about 25 per cent and the incentives had brought them at par with their other counterparts. But when these were withdrawn, industries went into losses. At its peak, there were around 80000 employees in the estate but their number is around 16000 these days. Out of 270 factories, only 73 are fully operational of late. No new factories have been established since then,” he said.

 According to Rangeen Shah, former secretary of the Gadoon Chamber, Gadoon ceased to attract fresh investment and the factories already there mostly closed down or began minimal production as incentives were withdrawn in 1991. Out of 270 units in operation then, around 120 are running round the clock or in one or two shifts.  However, it were the small industries that were closed and the bigger ones who had built huge infrastructure were constrained to be retained and even expanded,” he added.

The industries whose raw material was abundantly available here –like the agriculture processing, packaging and paper board, furniture, cigarette and its allied industries –are nowhere in sight here.

The Sarhad Development Authority gives advice on the technical, operational and commercial feasibilities of industrial projects but it could not be ascertained whether it had recommended the GAIE or not.

According to another industrialist, the industrial package announced by PM Yousaf Gilani in 2009 has somewhat decreased the closure of industries of late. “Under the war of terror package, industries in KP were given exemptions from sales tax, income tax and excise duty on different ratios for 3 years. These expired in June 2012 and need to be extended for another two to three years,” he said.

The establishment of the GAIE was pushed by a desire to provide jobs and livelihood means to the locals to stop them from poppy cultivation in future. However, no homework was done on the skill development of the locals. A technical college promised for training of local children and developing manpower for the estate is yet to be built.

The result was that the locals were kept only as watchmen and other menial jobs while technicians were hired from Punjab and Sindh.

Shinwari said had there been a technical college that had trained the locals, they would have been employed at the GAIE. “Non-availability of technicians locally forced the industrialists to hire them from Punjab and elsewhere. However over 80 per cent of the non-technical staff are locals,” he informed.

This partly explains why poppy cultivation started in some parts of Gadoon again. In April 2012, the government had to conduct operation to destroy poppy crop grown over 34 kanals in some remote Gadoon villages.

According to a blogger on Swabi online, labourers worked for 12 hours and no week-end leave, no casual leave and no medical leave were allowed to them. So when the GAIE incentives were withdrawn, the locals and labour leaders remained indifferent,” he says.

But Zahid Shinwari said there may be labour rights violations in the estate by some factories and individual entrepreneurs but labour laws are overall followed. The concerned departments routinely check the implementation of these rules.

The Rs10 billion GAIE project, spread over 1116 acres, situated over 100km to the East of Peshawar, was created after seven poppy growers were killed in anti-poppy operation in the area in 1987. The GAIE was initially planned to have 600 factories. Predominant industries are Textile, Chemicals, Steel, and PVCs and plastic industries.

The estate has spacious roads, drainage and water supply system, communication system, power and gas facilities and standard schooling and medical facilities at Tarbela, lying close to it, and Peshawar.

In 1989, the Benazir Bhutto announced some incentives for the province-wide industries that included an income tax holiday for 8 years, exemption from sales tax for 5 years and exemption from custom duty on imported machinery. For GAIE additional incentives were announced that included duty free import of raw materials, 50 per cent concession in power tariff and provision of loans at 3 per cent mark up.

However in May 1991, the Nawaz Sharif government withdrew these incentives given to the GAIE under pressure from industrialists of other provinces and the IMF.

In 2003 the estate was converted to an Export Processing Zone by Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah, the then provincial governor. But the plan seems to have been shelved. According to Shinwari, the concerned authority had expressed reservations over the decision and the file is still lying there.

In 2007, representatives of the US government visited the GAIE and vowed to revive some industries under the Reconstruction Opportunity Zone programme, under which goods from the Gadoon estate were to be exported to the US duty-free. But the idea could not materialise because the US congress rejected the bill.

What needs to be done?

According to Mumtazuddin, an expert, the estate can be revived by improving security situation and announcing a comprehensive package for the investors. “First of all, the government should announce that whosoever intends to establish industries will not be asked about his sources of income. Then it should give soft loans without requiring collateral and with prolonged grace period. Interest on industrial loans should in no way exceed 12-15 per cent. Subsidies on loans, power/gas tariff, industrial plots and sales and income taxes and rebate in custom and excise duty on import of raw material and machinery should be announced,” he adds.    

“Gas and power loadshedding be minimised if not eliminated altogether. Any possible reduction in gas and power tariff will be welcome,” Shah pleads.  

“To give it level playing field, the estate deserves a permanent reduction of 25 per cent in sales/income tax and power/gas tariff. This will not only revive the sick industries but also encourage fresh investment. This rebate will help clear stuck up bank loans in the long run,” Shinwari adds.

Experts suggest that incentives and industrialisation go hand in hand. For example, when the package for GAIE was announced, over 200 industries were established within no time there. But when they were withdrawn, the pace of industrialisation slowed down, rather reverted.

 

Model Achai cow farm

Model cow farming
Under the Achai Cow Conservation and Development Project, KP farmers will get free of cost insemination, vaccination, medicines and advisory services for conserving and developing their cattle
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Jan2013-weekly/nos-13-01-2013/pol1.htm#5

A Model Achai Cow Conservation Farm has almost been built at Munda in Lower Dir Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The farm is being constructed under the Rs222 million Achai Cow Conservation and Development Project. Launched in July 2009, the farm was originally scheduled to be completed by June 2012, but it was delayed by a few months for law and order situation in the region.

A senior official said that after completion of the remaining only 2 per cent work, the site will be handed over to the Directorate of Livestock within a few days.

According to Dr Wahid Mir, the project director, 20 canals of land has been purchased for the farm while another 22-24 canals will be bought for fodder production for the animals to be kept there. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has around 6 million cows of different breeds but none of these have been utilised to produce genetically superior and high yielding species so far.

Though there are several indigenous cattle breeds like Lohani in Kohat and Gabrali in Swat that need conservation and development, the government selected the Achai cow for its characteristics, inter alia, of good weather adaptability, suitability for the area, docility, high fertility and good conception rate.

“The cow is suitable for the area terrain and weather; it can resist cold and warm climate (can withstand both icy and as high as 200 Celsius); it has a small body and thus needs little food but gives more milk as compared to its size and food; it is docile and can be milked by even children; it has double conception rate than other national breeds; it also has better fertility. While other breeds take two to three years after one reproduction, Achai cow usually reproduces after one and a half year and may give birth to three calves against the one or two on part of other breeds; and because it was endangered as according to the livestock census in 2006, only 5 lakh Achai cows were reported province wide,” Dr Mir said.

The best high milk/meat yielding Achai breeds are to be selected for reproductive purposes at the farm and then disseminated to farmers in the area. Even with the beginning of the Achai project, the price of Achai cow, which was until recently looked down upon by market players, has increased to Rs40,000/cow from Rs15,000/20,000 earlier.

Based on a survey of 400 Achai cattle, the average milk yield in 45 per cent Achai cows was recorded by the project officials at only 1 and 1.5 litres a day. Another 20 per cent yielded 2-4 litres. Some other cow groups produced 4-5, 6-7, 8 and 9 litres a day.

“The respective yields of these groups can be easily increased with concerted efforts for dissemination of best Achai breeds, provision of hygienic feed and efficient animal health services,” according to the official.

“There will be a small laboratory that will be used for diagnosing animal diseases. The best Achai cows will be ascertained and later used for reproductive purposes through the artificial insemination and the embryo transplantation technique wherein embryos from best female are collected and implanted in other female animals,” he added.

Asked whether any semen production unit (SPU) is being established at the farm for semen availability for artificial insemination, Dr Mir replied in the negative, but said that there was a big SPU in Harichand Charsadda cattle farm. A state of the art embryo transplant technology is also being established there. Its services will be used for the Dir farm as well.

Side by side, implementation of Achai project has already started in the districts of Charsadda, Swat, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Malakand and Chitral. Achai-rich Kohistan, Shangla and Buner districts have been kept out from the project, apparently for fiscal and staff constraints though Dr Mir said Buner and Swabi will be included in it in the near future.

Through the project, Achai owners are being registered and Achai cow associations are being formed in every village where 25 households own Achai cattle. “Against our initial target of 48 bodies, 102 Achai associations have so far been enlisted in the project area and more are being formed. These organisations will later be combined into a district Achai cattle owners association. Another association at divisional level is also to be formed.”

Asked as to what benefits would accrue to the registered farmers, the project director said that the registered farmers would get free of cost insemination, vaccination, diagnosis, treatment, medicines and advisory services for conserving and developing their cattle.

“We have already provided training to some farmers at the Cattle Farm in Hari Chand, Charsadda. Farmers will also be taken to model public and private cattle farms in KP and Punjab where they will be acquainted with modern ways of livestock rearing, feeding, milking, feed making, preparation of by-products from milk etc,” Dr Mir added.

Another great benefit of these associations is the farmers-government linkages. “These associations have greatly facilitated the work of the veterinary assistants and benefited the farmers as cattle are being inspected, vaccinated and treated by the former at a pre-determined date with the help of the latter at village level,” he argued.

By raising milk and meat production of Achai cattle, the project is expected to boost the incomes of the area farmers. But staff deficiency may serve to minimise its coverage and impact. There are only 56 personnel at disposal of the project directorate province wide — 5 doctors, 12 veterinary assistants and other staff. Each district is to be looked after by a doctor and two veterinary assistants.

The difficult terrain of the Malakand division, scattered and distant villages, large population of Achai cows and staff deficiency will seriously impact the working and efficiency of the project and harder/farther areas will be left out. Dr Mir said more staff was needed at Tehsil level and locality levels for full coverage of the area.

“Veterinary Assistants will prepare an elaborate record of the conception, birth, calf-sex and its weight, milking duration and the growth and then the conception of the child-cow and its mother. This is a continuous process. They will also have to do other field duties like inspection, vaccination, treatment and counselling services for the farmers,” he added.

Though the livestock sector accounts for over 12 per cent of 25 per cent of provincial gross domestic product from agriculture, the sector has not received enough attention from both the federal and the provincial governments who have been handed over its ownership after 18th Amendment.

Insufficient funds and technology constraints have, inter alia, hampered its growth. Animals in the province are characterised by delayed puberty, low reproductive efficiency and low production of milk/meat and are, therefore, mostly non-profitable for the livestock owners, especially for small ones.

The share of livestock in the agriculture ADP has also decreased to Rs0.379 billion (26 per cent) this year from Rs0.60 billion (44 per cent) in the last fiscal year, reducing its share in total ADP from 0.70 per cent last fiscal to 0.38 per cent in the current ADP. Most of the districts still have no model dairy, beef and poultry farms there. Expansion of animal healthcare system and evolution and promotion of high yielding fodder varieties have also been neglected.

Though the livestock department is better equipped, trained and capable of supervising the veterinary drugs, the task has been left to the health department at both federal and provincial levels.

Achai-cow-conservation-project in Lower Dir

Achai cow conservation project

The government, impressed with the Achai cow breed’s ability to adapt to extreme weather conditions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and return on investment, is promoting setting up of dozens of Achai cow associations in selected districts in the province.

These associations are being formed in villages in Charsadda, Swat, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Malakand and Chitral, where at least 25 households own Achai cows.

“We initially planned to form 48 bodies. However, we have enlisted 102 Achai associations in the project area so far, and continue to enlist more of them. These organisations will later be combined into a district Achai Cattle Owners Association,” said the project’s director, Dr Wahid Mir. He added that cattle associations will also be formed at the divisional level.

Talking about the benefit of these bodies, Dr Mir said that registered farmers will get insemination services, as well as vaccination, diagnosis, treatment, medicines and advisory services for their animals for free.

Some farmers have also been trained at the cattle farm in Hari Chand in Charsadda, and will be taken to modern public and private cattle farms in KP and Punjab, where they will be acquainted with modern ways of rearing livestock animals, as well as proper method for feeding and milking the animals. They will also be taught about preparing by-products from milk.

However, Kohistan, Shangla and Buner districts, which are also home to a sizable Achai population, have been left out of the project. Dr Mir said that the programme will be launched in Buner and Swabi in the near future.

Apart from helping cattle farmers, these associations have trained veterinary assistants, who are supposed to regularly vaccinate the animals and treat them if they contract any disease.

Improving the quality of the livestock breed is yet another goal of the project. Dr Mir said that better animals will help farmers through increased milk and meat production. Achai breeds that give the best milk and meat production ratios will be selected for reproductive purposes, and then disseminated to local farmers.

“As the project started, the price of an Achai cow increased to Rs40,000 from around Rs20,000,” observed the project director.

A survey of 400 Achai cows found that 45 per cent of them yielded an average of one to 1.5 litres of milk a day. Another 20 per cent of the animals yielded 2-4 litres a day, while some groups managed to yield as high as nine litres of milk in a day.

The respective yields of these groups can be easily increased with concerted efforts for disseminating the best breeds, as well as provision of hygienic fodder and efficient healthcare services.

However, Achai is not the only cow breed that is present in the province. Several indigenous cattle breeds, like the Lohani in Kohat, and Gabrali in Swat, can also do with some help.

However, Dr Mir explained that the government selected the Achai breed for its ability to adapt to changes in the weather, as well as its docility, high fertility and overall suitability for the area

“The cow is suitable for area terrain and weather. It can resist cold as well as warm climate (it can reportedly withstand temperatures that range between the freezing point up to 200 Celsius). It has a small body and thus it needs little food.
However, it gives more milk for its size and food intake,” said Dr Mir.

The project director added that milking the Achai cow is a fairly easy job, as, “even children can do it. Its conception rate is double that of other national breeds. And while other breeds take up to three years to reproduce after giving birth, the Achai cow does it after one-and-a-shalf year. It may give birth to three calves, compared to one or two given by other breeds,” he said.

Only 500,000 Achai cows are present in the province, according to a livestock census conducted in 2006, added Dr Mir.

To help farmers realise full well what the cow can offer, a model Achai Cow Conservation Farm has been built in Munda in Lower Dir, at a cost of Rs222 million. Dr Mir said that 20 canals of land had been purchased for the farm, with another 22 to 24 canals will be bought for the production of fodder for the animals.

“Nearly 98 per cent of the construction of the Achai farm has been completed. The site will be handed over to the directorate of livestock within a fortnight, after the work is completed,” said a senior official.

“There will be a small laboratory that will be used for diagnosing animal diseases. The best Achai cows will be ascertained and later used for reproductive purposes, through artificial insemination and embryo transplantation.”

However, after having paid due attention to the livestock and animal rearing activities, authorities now need to turn their attention to the human capital they have available. The project directorate has only 56 personnel at its disposal. This includes five doctors, 12 veterinary assistants, and other staff members. Each district has been assigned a doctor and two veterinary assistants.

Mir conceded that more staff was needed at the Tehsil and locality levels so that the entire project area could be covered.
“Veterinary assistants are expected to keep records of conception, birth, sex of the calves, their weight, milking duration and growth. They also have to do field duties, like conducting inspections as well as vaccinating and treating animals. They are supposed to offer counselling services to the farmers as well,” said Dr Mir.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has around six million cows of different breeds, but none of them have been utilised to produce genetically superior and high yielding species. It is expected that this project will change the fate of at least one of these breeds.

Education in Swat after militancy and Malala

Swatis love their schools
There is a renewed urge among the girls in Swat to get more education after the attack on Malala
By Tahir Ali

Following years of virtual militants’ sway, destruction of hundreds of schools, target killings and especially the October 9 attack on Malala Yousafzai, outsiders think of Swat as a place where female education has become a very difficult and risky enterprise. But apparently these incidents have further ignited the love for knowledge in the resilient Swatis.

According to a social worker in Madyan, who wished anonymity, there are no mentionable hurdles in the education sector but students and teachers somehow feel threatened. “There is a general perception that schools may be attacked, though there is no apparent threat. This fear is evident from the fact that NGOs have been asked to share their data/plans with authorities for security reasons. Polio workers are escorted by the police,” he says.

On October 15 last year, when the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government named the Government Girls Degree College, Saidu Sharif in Swat after Malala, the students of the college campaigned against it until the decision was withdrawn. Locals say they were not against Malala but they thought that associating her name with the college would make them susceptible to militants.

Dilawar Khan, an educationist in Mingora, Swat, sees no visible impact on the enrolment of students. “It has rather increased after the incident. As far as opposition to the renaming of college after Malala is concerned, it was pushed by some political elements and personal vendetta with her and her father rather than by security perception.”

Afzal Khan Lala, the famous local nationalist leader from Matta who remained in his hometown despite persistent attacks on him, seconded his thoughts.

“Swat already had good literacy rate irrespective of gender. In fact, the recognition and awards Malala received, has increased the urge for education and excellence among students. Malala was attacked for her advocacy for female education and for opposing the anti-knowledge agenda of militants. The opposition to naming a college after Malala was brought about by prejudice against her achievements and fear of becoming a target of militants,” he says.

According to Aftab Alam Advocate and ex-president Swat Bar Association, female education has got a fillip in post-militancy/Malala attack situation in Swat. “Her worldwide acclaim has encouraged other girls. It will not be out of place to point out that for the first time in Swat’s history, four female lawyers have been inducted in our fraternity and more such aspirants are in the pipeline,” he says.

“Swatis love books, schools and peace. Every visitor to the area will testify that Swatis are tolerant and progressive people and have nothing to do with militancy,” says a local, Tahir Shah.

Alam too cited jealousy, political considerations of some locals and fear of attack by militants on the college as reasons for opposing Malala college.

“The importance of girls’ education cannot be emphasised. There goes a saying “Mard paray, fard paray but zan paray tu watan paray (if a male reads, it is as if an individual reads but when a woman studies, it is as if a country reads), says Alam.

Nasir Khan, another Swat resident, says these factors had positive impact and rather boosted the morale and vision of the female students in the area. “There was some fear initially but now things have become normal. The students opposed renaming of the college because that would have made them potential target of militants,” he said.

The district education officer (female) Swat Dilshad Begum also says Malala is the pride of the area and has motivated others. “There is a renewed urge to get more education. The government has made education free up to the secondary level and is providing free books to students and stipends to girls. The KP government has given plenty of monetary benefits and incentives to all cadres of teachers. We are motivating and preparing them for the task through refresher courses. There cannot be a better opportunity. They should now ensure quality education to their students,” she says.

The strength of students has increased. “From 74904 female students in Swat in 2009, the number increased to around 118594 students in 2011. Data for this year is being finalised and it says that the female enrolment has gone up.”

There has been no security threat to any school of late. “The government has provided police officials where needed. Again, it has asked all the headmasters and principals of the schools to prepare special entry passes for all girl students. A teacher will be deputed to allow students into the schools after checking their cards,” she added.

Swat already had a good literacy rate for both boys and girls. The former ruler of Swat, Miangul Abdul Wadood, had opened a chain of schools for girls. But during their peak days, the Taliban first asked girls to observe strict purdah (veil) on their way to school. Later, they banned girl education and ordered girls’ schools to be shut down by January 15, 2009, and threatened to attack the students and teachers who didn’t follow the edict.

The Taliban had started their anti-girls education campaign in 2003 which continued for the next four years. They would announce and eulogise the female students on radio who gave up studying. So convincing was their appeal for the naive girls that in 2004, more than 200 girls of high school Charbagh asked for school leaving certificates and tore them there.

In May 2008, the Kabal GGHSS was the first school to be destroyed. With that began a trend that saw the destruction of over 400 schools in Swat. 217 of these were girls’ schools. 124 were fully destroyed and 93 of them were partially damaged. As of now 270 schools are fully or partially destroyed, Dilshad Begum informs. Even though the Swat of 2012 is way different from what it was in 2009, still with the militants saying they will continue their campaign, there is no room for complacency within the government circles.


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ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE AS IT WAS SENT OT THE NEWS.

Female education in Swat after Malala incident – situational analysis of past and present

By Tahir Ali

Following years of virtual militants’ sway, destruction of hundreds of schools, target killings and the October 9 attack on Malala Yousafzai there, outsiders think of Swat as a place where female education has become very a difficult and risky enterprise. But locals and officials say none have negatively impacted it and these have further ignited the love for knowledge in the benign but resilient Swatis, the fear of the hidden enemy and their attacks notwithstanding.

According to a social worker in Madyan, who wished anonymity, there were no mentionable hitches in the education sector but students and teachers somehow felt threatened. “There is a general perception that the school may be attacked though there is no apparent threat. This fear is evident from the fact that NGOs have been asked to share their data/plans with authorities for security reasons. Polio workers are escorted by the police,” he said.

On October 15 last year, when the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government named the Government Girls Degree College, Saidu Sharif in Swat after Malala, the students of the college campaigned against it until the decision was withdrawn. Locals say they were not against Malala but they thought that associating her name with the college would make them susceptible to militants.

Dilawar Khan, an educationist in Mingora Swat, said there had been no negative effect of attack on Malala on the enrolment of students. “It has rather increased after the incident. As far opposition to the renaming of college after Malala, it was pushed by some political elements and personal vendetta with her and her father rather than by security perception.”

Afzal Khan Lala, the famous local nationalist leader from Matta who remained in his hometown despite persistent attacks on him, seconded his thoughts.

“Swat already had good literacy ratio for both girls and boys. In fact the recognition and awards Malala received, boosted the urge for education and excellence on part of other students. Malala was attacked for her advocacy for female education and opposing the anti-knowledge agenda of militants. The opposition to Malala’s college was brought about by prejudice with her achievements and fear of becoming target of militants,” he said.

According to Aftab Alam Advocate, Ex-president Swat Bar Association, female education has got a fillip in post-militancy/Malala attack situation in Swat. “Her worldwide acclaim encouraged other girls. It will not be out of place to point out that for the first time in Swat history, 4 female lawyers have been inducted in our fraternity and more such aspirants are in the pipeline,” he said

“Swatis love books, schools and peace. Every visitor to the area will testify that Swatis are tolerant and progressive people and have nothing to do with militancy,” said a local, Tahir Shah.

Alam too cited jealousy, political considerations of some locals and fear of attack by militants’ attack on the college as reasons for opposing Malala college.

“The importance of girls’ education cannot be emphasized. There goes a saying “Mard paray, fard paray but zan paray tu watan paray (if a male reads, it is as if an individual reads but when a woman studies, it is as if a country reads). The more there is investment on female education, the better for humanity and the country. For this more schools, more resources like playground, laboratories, teachers) be provided in Swat, Malakand division and elsewhere,” he added.

Nasir Khan, another Swat resident, said these factors had positive impacts and rather boosted the morale and vision of the female students in the area. “There was some fear initially but now things have become normal. The students opposed the college renaming for that would have made them potential target for militants,” he said.

The district education officer (female) Swat Dilshad Begum also said Malala was a pride for the area and has motivated others. “There is a renewed urge to get more education on their part. The government has made education free up to the secondary level and providing free books to students and stipends to girls. All cadres of teachers have been given plenty of monetary benefits, incentives and up-gradation by the KP government. We are motivating and preparing them for the task through refresher courses. There cannot be a better opportunity. They should now ensure quality education to their students,” she said.

She said the strength of students has increased. “Against around 74904 female students in Swat in 2009, there were around 118594 students here in 2011. Data has been collected for this year and is being finalised according to which female enrolment has gone up.”

Talking about security threats and measures, she said there had been no security threats to any schools of late. “The government has provided police officials where needed. Again, it has asked all the head masters and principals of the schools to prepare special entry passes for all girls’ students. A teacher will be deputed to let allow students into the schools after checking their cards,” she added.

There are 507 primary, 55 middle, 27 high and 5 GHSSs in the public sector in Swat where around 118594 female students are taught by 2595 teachers. Of these, 96631 are primary students who are taught by 1845 teachers where the students- teacher ratio stands of 53:1 per cent against the required 40:1 in the province.

“We need more teachers to be able to provide education to the locals at their doorstep. We need some resources (vehicles etc) to improve teachers’ accessibility to schools on some routes. There are no high schools in some areas. Through the KP government’s Rokhana Pakhtunkhwa scheme, students in some areas are being financed by government for their education in some reputable private schools but we need more schools in certain areas. Besides, there are no IT teachers in our schools. Some other schools lack laboratories or equipments therein,” Dilshad Begum said.

Destruction and reconstruction of female schools

Swat enjoys good literacy rate for both boys and girls. Even the former ruler of Swat Miangul Abdul Wadood, had opened a chain of schools for females. But during their peak days, Taliban first asked girls students to observe strict purdah (veil) when they go to school. Later they banned girl education and ordered the girls schools to be shut down by January 15, 2009 and threatened to attack the students and teachers who didn’t follow the edict.

How the female students were psychologically hit by the order is evident form one of Malala diaries, she wrote for BBC, on January 3, 2009. She writes: “On my way from school to home I heard a man saying ‘I will kill you’. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.”

The Taliban had started their anti-girls education campaign in 2003 which continued for next four years. They would announce and eulogise the female students on radio who gave up studying. So convincing was their appeal for the naive girls that in 2004, more than 200 girls of high school Charbagh asked for school leaving certificates and tore them there.

In May 2008, the Kabal GGHSS was the first school to be destroyed. With that began a trend that saw the destruction of over 400 schools in Swat. 217 of these were girls’ schools. 124 of these were fully and 93 of them were partially damaged. As of now 270 schools are fully or partially destroyed, Dilshad Begum informed.

Girls’ schools in backward and remote areas in Tehsil Kabal, Matta and other areas across the Swat River especially received the brunt of attacks. Shamozai, Koza Bandai, Khwazakhela, Sheen and Kharriri etc were other affected areas. Urban areas remained mostly safe then though they also saw destruction of some schools later.

“Hundreds of schools were destroyed by militants in Swat. They dynamited the buildings thereby depriving the students of education and light. The government girls’ higher secondary school (GGHHS) in our village was the only school that remained safe because the community protected it day and night. But the militants dynamited the boys’ school there which we didn’t expect as they were only after girls’ schools then,” Lala recalled.

“The destruction would have rendered their students uneducated for long. However the government opened schools in rented buildings, tents, and makeshift homes. In the meanwhile, the Pakistan army and the provincial reconstruction, rehabilitation and settlement authority started rebuilding the schools with support from Qatar Charity, UAE, EU, USAID and the like. Most of them have been reconstructed and rehabilitated. Only 33 remain to be reconstructed as of now,” Dilshad begum informed.

It could not be ascertained as to whether any girls’ schools are being used for residential purposes by the security forces or not.

Even though the Swat of 2012 is way different from it was in 2009. But with militants saying they will continue their campaign, there is no room for complacency within the government circles as it can encourage them to expand their hit and run campaign.

On Malala

Malala Yousafzai, the Swati teenager rose to glory after she wrote daily diaries for the BBC website with the pen-name of Gul Makai. She was later adjudged The Daughter of Pakistan by the National Assembly and has earned several fascinating distinctions that filled others with envy: She won Pakistan’s first peace award; was the Herald’s, person of the year; was nominated for International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011; was awarded the 2012 Tipperary International Peace Award from Ireland, which was awarded to Benazir Bhutto in 2007 as well; she stood at number 6, ahead of Obama amongst Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 influential world thinkers; she was named ‘Young Person of the Year’ by The Times; a bill has been introduced in US Congress that seeks Congressional Gold Medal for Malala; She is suggested as candidate for the Noble Peace Prize; the list continues to expand.

On December 10 last year, President Asif Ali Zardari Monday announced a 10-million-dollar donation for the “Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education” which will ensure that all girls go to school by 2015 in line with UN Millennium goals.

According to the Education for All Global Monitoring Report released by UNESCO, Pakistan has around 5.1 million out of school children, the second highest worldwide, with 63 percent of these girls.

On Tahirul Qadri’s long march

Dawn’s editorial which merits reading by all.

Ignoring history

| 3-12-2012
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THE slogan is eerily similar. Tahirul Qadri’s refrain to save the state, not politics, is reminiscent of the one raised during Gen Ziaul Haq’s time, “pehle ehtesaab, phir intikhab”, which was used to delay a democratic change of government for over a decade. The context today may be different, but the political rhetoric is familiar. As the Qadri-MQM team asks the army to support its long march — and not to follow orders from a sitting government to prevent it — it is rightly raising fears about military intervention just as the country was preparing itself to vote out one government and vote in the next for the very first time. Despite the bitter lessons of Pakistan’s history, there are some who still seem to be clinging to the notion, despite their pro-people language, that this country’s citizens are not worthy of democracy.

What is most alarming is that the real agenda of Dr Qadri’s movement remains unclear, hidden behind claims that are self-contradictory and illogical. Why suggest a Tahrir Square-like revolution for a country that, far from being under one man’s dictatorship for 30 years, has finally managed to pull off a full democratic term? Why build such a movement on a one-point agenda of “electoral reform” — and what exactly does this consist of — when an independent chief election commissioner has been appointed and can be appealed to without drama and talk of revolution? Why the need to push for the immediate installation of a caretaker set-up when that is less than three months away? Why initially hint at postponing elections and then deny that was the intent? Why claim to be in favour of democracy while asking for the army not to follow the orders of an elected government? All that is clear is that behind this is an agenda — whether fully thought-out or not — that is not being revealed.

There is an entirely different path Dr Qadri could take. With the ability to draw large crowds that he has demonstrated at his rallies, the right thing to do would be to contest elections to prove widespread support for his cause and then work to improve the system from within. The same applies to the MQM, a party that has contested polls and come into power on the strength of public support but is choosing to go along with those with an unclear but worrying agenda. There is no doubt that Pakistan’s democracy is not just imperfect but flawed, built on nepotism, corruption and entrenched power rather than true representation of the people. But only letting the system continue, not interrupting it repeatedly, will allow it to improve.