English medium education in KP

A medium of change
Tahir Ali
February 2, 2014

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/medium-change/#comment-4938

Pashto, Urdu, Arabic and now English.

Will the changeover from Urdu/Pashto to English-medium schooling in KP take the intended course?

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is going to introduce English-medium schooling and a uniform curriculum in all the public sector schools from the upcoming academic session. The shift from Urdu/Pashto medium to English-medium textbooks will be completed in several phases. In the first stage commencing from this April, the students of grade one, besides English, will also study Mathematics and General Knowledge in English. With the promotion of these students to grade two, English-medium textbooks/education will also move up the ladder, if not earlier. The process will take about four to five years to reach up to secondary level.
Official sources say the government is fully prepared for the shift. “First, 400 master trainers were trained who are now busy training primary school teachers for grade one. The process will continue till mid-March and 36000 teachers will be trained this year. One teacher from each primary school will be guided on the new textbooks in ten-day workshops. For more classes later, more master trainers will be trained who would then train all the 120000 teachers in KP,” says an official privy to the process.
He says the government has prepared/printed textbooks and these will be provided well before the start of the session.
Teachers and parents say English medium education was long overdue. It will bring public sector schools at par with their private counterparts which have seen a mushroom growth in recent years. In the absence or shortage of quality English medium government schools, parents go for private schools which are increasingly getting costlier and unaffordable, they argue.
Naming them Centennial model high schools, the government had earlier converted a few government high schools to English medium status throughout the province. These schools proved a great success and have gained parents’ confidence.
The PTI activists say it will help end the decade-old class-based education, bring a uniform curriculum, remove disparities between the education standards in urban and rural areas, ensure equal opportunities for competition and progress to both the rich and the poor and will augment enrolment in government schools.
Nevertheless, changeover from Urdu/Pashto to English-medium schooling is, however, easier said than done. It is likely to bring several problems for both the students and teachers overwhelmed by an English-phobia of an extreme kind. But nothing is impossible for a resolute mind and hardworking administration. Though the government seems conscious of the gigantic challenges lying ahead, some precautions must be made.

Too ambitious for schools with no infrastructure.
Planners will not only have to select and train qualified and competent master trainers and teachers in the later stages, they also will have to prepare/supply books in time and a permanent monitoring mechanism will also have to be developed.
“We need hardworking and proficient master trainers and teachers to be able to teach maths and science in English. Without qualified and committed trainers and teachers and a robust oversight mechanism and competent monitors, the move will come to nothing. One hopes the government will be able to publish/provide textbooks in time and will induct, train and provide competent teachers for this purpose,” says Zubair Ahmad, an educationist.
“Training of teachers continues province-wide. To make the process successful, the concerned officials should ensure that a trainee teacher nearing his retirement or likely to be promoted in near future is not selected. Or at least two teachers should be trained for a class,” says a teacher.
“Some of the trainee primary teachers can hardly speak a simple sentence in English for grade one. The trainee teachers must be young, energetic, qualified (preferably graduate) and must be selected on merit without any interference from teachers’ union and politicians,” says a master trainer. “Also, primary teachers whose promotion to high schools is due shortly must never be considered for training as their departure would deprive their erstwhile schools of a teacher trained for grade one while his training would be of no use in high schools. The government should also plan and ensure follow-up activities so that teachers continue to teach to the class they were trained for,” says the trainer.
“Almost all the teachers at my centre are young. They take keen interest in the training. They are happy that English medium textbooks will improve enrolment and prospects of their students and augment their own prestige,” says another master trainer.
English-medium education is being started from grade one (Awal Aala). It means two preceding classes — the preparatory class (called Awal Adna locally) and the other called Kachi have been left out, says a teacher, Shafiq Khan. The KP government, however, recently announced playgroup classes will be started in public schools from the upcoming session.
Most developed countries have uniform system of education. But different curricula in the public and private sectors and religious madaris (seminaries) have sharply divided Pakistan. A modern/uniform curriculum is necessary to strengthen national unity and promote moderation and tolerance in the country. The PTI, in its 6-points education policy, too had promised a uniform education system if voted to power.
It requires huge funds, time, personnel, incessant work and cooperation from all the private schools and religious seminaries to have a uniform curriculum province-wide. So, the PTI has decided to bring uniform curriculum in government schools through English-medium textbooks for the moment. Private schools may be covered later. The PTI leaders argue the government and private schools follow the same syllabus for class 9 and 10, so why can’t it be the same in other classes.
One hopes the move will lead to healthy competition between the public and private schools. The government should also promote spirit of cooperation and coordination between the two.
The PTI opponents accuse it of being ‘secular’ having pro-west agenda (JUI-F leaders harp on the theory) while some analysts accuse it of taking the KP towards fundamentalism.
Following the landmark 18th Constitutional Amendment that devolved education and curriculum design to provinces, the KP government can modify its curriculum and textbooks. Textbooks lessons have been usually changed by successive governments and the PTI government is also expected to follow suit. But its leaders say they would do so in strict compliance with the 2006 national curriculum. It means there will be no major changes in curriculum introduced by the previous ANP-led government.
The ANP government had included lessons on local heroes in curriculum such as famous poets Rehman Baba, Khushal Khan Khattak and Ghani Khan. They also included lessons on human rights, peace and religious tolerance and removed historic distortions, hate material and harsh sentiments against non-Muslims. The ANP activists say the Jamaat-e-Islami is now bent on reversing these changes.
The KP Elementary and Secondary Education Minister, Muhammad Atif Khan, as per newspaper reports, said Islamic ideology would be the basis of his government’s steps regarding curriculum. He said the PTI government would accept no bar on religious education and won’t tolerate external interference in this regard. He also vowed to rectify the ‘mistakes’ in present curriculum introduced by the ANP government.
The KP Information Minister Shah Farman reportedly said the KP would revise and develop curriculum as per Islamic teachings and the country’s cultural norms. He termed criminal the changes brought about by the ANP-led government (some changes he and Khan cited included the removal of Quranic verses on Jihad, mention of Kashmir as disputed land and replacement of lessons on Voice of God, Hazrat Umar and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with those on ‘The Man Who Was a Giant’, ‘Helen Keller’ and ‘Quaid-e-Azam’ etc).
“While its coalition partner — The JI — wishes to Islamise syllabi by expunging some ‘secular’ lessons from them and limit the donors’ role in policy/decision making, the civil society, opposition parties and donor agencies may dislike the move. How will the PTI deal with these conflicting viewpoints, remains to be seen,” says an ANP activist.

……………………

ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE

English-medium education in KP
Or
Uniform curriculum’ in KP
By Tahir Ali
The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf led-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is going to launch a process of introducing English-medium schooling and a uniform curriculum through it, in all the public sector schools from the upcoming academic session.
The shift from Urdu/Pashto medium to English-medium textbooks will be completed in several phases. In the first stage commencing from this April, the students of grade one, besides English, will also study Mathematics and General Knowledge in English. With the promotion of these students to class 2, English-medium textbooks/education will also move up the ladder, if not earlier. The process will take about four to five years to reach up to secondary level.
Official sources say the government is fully prepared for the shift. “First, 400 master trainers were trained who are now busy training primary school teachers for grade one. The process will continue till mid-March and 36000 teachers will be trained this year. One teacher from each primary school will be guided on the new textbooks in ten-day workshops. For more classes later, more master trainers will be trained who would then train all the 120000 teachers in KP,” said a source.
He said the government has prepared/printed textbooks and these will be provided well before the start of the session.
Teachers and parents say English medium education was long overdue. It will bring public sector schools at par with their private counterparts which have seen a mushroom growth in recent years. In the absence or shortage of quality English medium government schools, parents go for private schools but which are increasingly getting costlier and unaffordable, they argue.
Naming them Centennial model high schools, the government had earlier converted a few government high schools to English medium status throughout the province. These schools proved a great success and have gained parents’ confidence.
PTI activists say it will help end the decade-old class-based education, bring a uniform curriculum, remove disparities between the education standards in urban and rural areas, ensure equal opportunities for competition and progress to both the rich and the poor and will augment enrolment in government schools.
Nevertheless, changeover from Urdu/Pashto to English-medium schooling is however easier said than done. It is likely to bring several problems for both the students and teachers overwhelmed by an English-phobia of an extreme kind.
But nothing is impossible for a resolute mind and hardworking administration. Though the government seems conscious of the gigantic challenges lying ahead, some precautions must be made.
Planners will not only have to select and train qualified and competent master trainers and teachers in the later stages, they also will have to prepare/supply books in time and a permanent monitoring mechanism will also have to be developed.
“We need hardworking and proficient master trainers and teachers to be able to teach maths and science in English. Without qualified and committed trainers and teachers and a robust oversight mechanism and competent monitors, the move will come to nothing. One hopes the government will be able to publish/provide text books in time and will induct, train and provide competent teachers for this purpose,” said Zubair Ahmad, an educationist.
“Training of teachers continues province-wide. To make the process successful, the concerned officials should ensure that a trainee teacher nearing his retirement, having poor eye-sight or likely to be promoted in near future is not selected. Or at least two teachers should be trained for a class,” said a teacher.
“Some of the trainee primary teachers can hardly speak a simple sentence in English for grade 1. The trainee teachers must be young, energetic, qualified (preferably graduate) and must be selected on merit without any interference from teachers’ union and politicians. Also, primary teachers whose promotion to high schools is due shortly must never be considered for training as their departure would deprive their erstwhile schools of a teacher trained for grade one while his training would be of no use in high schools. The government should also plan and ensure follow-up activities so that teachers continue to teach to the class they were trained for,” said a master trainer.
“Almost all the teachers at my centre are young. They take keen interest in the training. They are happy that English medium textbooks will improve enrolment and prospects of their students and augment their own prestige,” said another master trainer.
English-medium education is being started from first grade one (Awal Aala). It means two preceding classes – the preparatory class (called Awal Adna locally) and the other called Kachi have been left out, said a teacher Shafiq Khan. The KP government however recently announced playgroup classes will be started in public schools from the upcoming session.
Most developed countries have uniform system of education. But different curricula in the public and private sectors and religious madaris (seminaries) have sharply divided Pakistan. A modern/uniform curriculum is necessary to strengthen national unity and promote moderation and tolerance in the country. PTI, in its 6-points education policy, too had promised a uniform education system if voted to power.
It requires huge funds, time, personnel, incessant work and cooperation from all the private schools and religious seminaries to have a uniform curriculum province-wide. So, PTI has decided to bring uniform curriculum in government schools through English-medium textbooks for the moment. Private schools may be covered later. PTI leaders argue the government and private schools follow the same syllabus for class 9 and 10, so why can’t it be the same in other classes.
Once hopes the move will lead to healthy competition between the public and private schools. The government should also promote spirit of cooperation and coordination between the two.
Will KP change curriculum?
PTI opponents accuse it of being ‘secular’ having pro-west agenda (JUI-F leaders harp on the theory) while analysts (e.g. Najm Sethi) accuse it of taking KP towards fundamentalism.
Following the landmark 18th constitutional amendment that devolved education and curriculum design to provinces, the KP government can modify its curriculum and textbooks. Textbooks lessons have been usually changed by successive governments and PTI government is also expected to follow suit. But its leaders say they would do so in strict compliance to the 2006 national curriculum. It means there will be no major changes in curriculum introduced by the previous ANP-led government.
The ANP government had included lessons on local heroes in curriculum such as famous poets Rehman Baba, Khushal Khan Khattak and Ghani Khan, on human rights, peace and religious tolerance and removed historic distortions, hate material and harsh sentiments against non-Muslims but, its activists say, Jamate Islami is now bent on reversing these changes.
KP elementary and secondary education minister Muhammad Atif Khan, as per newspaper reports, said Islamic ideology would be the basis of his government’s steps regarding curriculum. He said the PTI government would accept no bar on religious education and won’t tolerate external interference in this regard. He also vowed to rectify the ‘mistakes’ in present curriculum introduced by the ANP government.
KP information minister Shah Farman reportedly said KP would revise and develop curriculum as per Islamic teachings and country’s cultural norms. He termed as criminal the changes brought about by the ANP-led government (some changes he and Khan cited included the removal of Quranic verses on Jihad, mention of Kashmir as disputed land and replacement of lessons on Voice of God, Hazrat Umar and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with those on The man who was a giant, Helen keller and Quaid-e-Azam etc).
“While its coalition partner JI wishes to Islamise syllabi by expunging some ‘secular’ lessons from them and limit the donors’ role in policy/decision making, the civil society, opposition parties and donor agencies may dislike the moves. How will PTI deal with these conflicting viewpoints, remains to be seen,” said an activist.

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gur-making up in KP

Bitter realities of a sweet crop

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/bitter-realities-of-a-sweet-crop/#.Uq7hS6xsS1s

Sugarcane growers prefer making gur rather than selling the crop to mills owners

Bitter realities of a sweet crop

It is gur-making season in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially in Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan and Nowshera. The estimated sugarcane production in KP is around 1.3 million tonnes. Almost half of it is used for gur making. Gur produced in Charsadda and Mardan is very popular countrywide. Gur is the main sweetener for around 60 per cent people in KP and Federally and Provincially-administered tribal areas (Fata and Pata). It is exported to Afghanistan, Middle Eastern and Central Asian states where it is believed to be used as a sweetener and in winemaking.

Mardan and Peshawar are the hubs of gur trade. Around ten to twelve thousands of purs are traded in the Pipal Mandi gur market when the trade is in full swing. Gur commission agents are also very active these days.

Thousands of tonnes of gur is traded in the province or taken out of the country daily. Majority of the sugarcane growers prefer using their cane-produce for gur-making rather than taking it to mills for its comparative advantages. It fetches them good prices. They have to feed their animals with cane-grass which necessitates intermittent cutting of crop as allowed by gur-making and not simultaneous harvesting of the entire crop as demanded by the mills option. And they usually use gur in their homes. Gur is used in juices, sweets and eaten with bread as curry with bread by the poor.

In Punjab, a kind of gur, named Duplicate, is prepared by mixing gur, glucose and other ingredients. It is good-looking as well as cheaper and tasteful, according to some farmers.

While sugar-mills began crushing season in early November, gur-making is usually started in late September or early October. It lasts till April next year.

Gur prepared in the initial stage is of inferior quality but can fetch more. Late production increases yield and standard. The gur made in January, February and March is much better in quality and is liked the most. Similarly, gur without alteration is the best for human consumption while that mixed with artificial colour tastes bad, though people residing in remote areas prefer it for its bright colour. Again, the gur made from the roots of the last year’s crop is good in quality while that from fresh canes is not that good.

According to Murad Ali Khan, a farmers’ leader from Charsadda, gur is more competitive for the farmers at the current rate.

“A pur of gur (having 75-80 kilograms) fetches a price up to Rs5000 depending upon its colour, taste and quality in the local market. Sugarcane yield per acre is around 400 maunds which can produce 20 purs (a pur consumes 20-25 maunds of cane). These can earn a farmer Rs100,000 or more. It exceeds the price offered by sugar-mills these days,” he says.

According to another farmer, quality sugarcane can give as much as 40 purs per acre. But, he says, farmers in KP will only benefit from the crop when its per acre yield of 350-400 maunds is increased to that of 650-700 maunds in Punjab. At present, gur-making through rented gurganee (machines) is less beneficial for farmers while those who own ganees are the real beneficiaries,” he opines.

Muhammad Zahir Khan, another growers’ representative, says hitches in supply of gur to Fata, Pata and the ban on export of gur to Afghanistan and the central Asian states, however, have lowered gur prices of late to the detriment of gur farmers. “Gur can be a healthy addition to the countries’ depleting export earnings if its export is allowed after value addition.”

Masud Khan, the manager of the Premier Sugar Mills Mardan, says though the minimum sugarcane support price is Rs170 per 40 kilogrammes in other provinces, the local sugar mills offer Rs180. “We have to compete with gurganees. While our per kg cost of production has increased for higher prices and wages offered to farmers and employees, escalating fuel prices and various taxes, gurganees have no such taxes and responsibilities. How can we compete with them? Sugar industry will be on verge of closure if not supported,” he says. The industry has been campaigning for ban on gur export, taxes on gur industry and eventual moratorium on gur production.

Rizwanullah Khan, the president of the Kissan Board KP, however, says prices of all the things are on the rise while last year’s cane price has remained unchanged. “In 2010, mills had offered Rs240 per 40kg. Cane price be increased as per cost of production. We have planned agitation to press for good cane-prices.”

Gur was once the food of the poor. Though it has become costlier than sugar for few years now, the poor still prefer it for its taste and health benefits.

A farmer said gur agents and big farmers have installed generator-run modern gur-ganees with several furnaces which help prepare plenty of purs daily.

In 1996, average retail gur price was 14 rupees a kilo. Currently, it is sold at Rs66-75/kg. The sugarcane growers, unfortunately, haven’t been able to get advantage of this hike. Growers say the gur commission agents have devoured most of the surplus value in the shape of huge commission or deduction of 5-8kg gur/a pur.

Mardan and Peshawar are the hubs of gur trade. Around ten to twelve thousands of purs are traded in the Pipal Mandi gur market when the trade is in full swing. Gur commission agents work pretty much like the property dealers or motor vehicle bargainers who are only concerned with their commission.

“The gur agents enter advance agreements with farmers by making payments for standing crops. They provide farmers seasonal/crop-based loans which they use for buying inputs and fulfilling their domestic needs,” a farmer says.

An official of the Sugarcane Crops Research Institute said though KP’s cane has better quality and sucrose content, its average yield is between 16-24 metric tonnes, much less than that of Sindh and Punjab. He cited insufficient use of fertiliser and pesticides, non-attractive price given by mills, intercropping, use of less than recommended seed (4 ton/acre) and shortage of irrigation water as reasons for lesser acreage and production.

KP school’s report

School report
KP’s Annual Statistical Report paints a bleak picture of schools in the province
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2013-weekly/nos-27-10-2013//pol1.htm#8

Experts agree that education requires a congenial atmosphere and the provision of certain facilities like water, electricity, washrooms, playgrounds and computer-labs within the school premises. But hundreds of schools in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa still lack basic facilities, an official document reveals.

It is mind-boggling to read that 20 per cent of the functional public schools still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities.

According to the latest Annual Statistical Report released by the KP Elementary and Secondary Education (ES&E) Department, there are 28472 government schools in KP of which 27975 are functional while 397 are non-functional/temporarily closed and 100 are newly-constructed. Majority or 23073 (83 per cent) of the schools are government primary schools (GPSs) while government middle schools (GMSs), high schools (GHSs) and higher secondary schools (GHSSs) make up 9, 7 and 1 per cent of all the schools respectively.

Most of the non-functional/temporary closed schools are girls’ schools with 288 of them primary and 7 secondary schools.

Of the total 44873 and 25364 rooms in male and female GPSs, 4563 and 2039 rooms need major repairs, 11929 and 5504 minor repairs while another 3600 and 1416 room need rehabilitation respectively.

Similarly, amongst the 12644 rooms in GMSs, 784 need major repairs, 3048 minor repairs and 634 rooms are in need of rehabilitation. Again, off the total 15377 rooms in GHSs, 2220, 5361 and 2343 rooms are in need of major and minor repairs and rehabilitation respectively. And off the 8167 rooms in GHSSs in the province, 648 rooms need major repairs, 1434 minor repairs and 647 rooms need total rehabilitation.

According to the report, 3.93 million students study in 27975 functional government schools with 2.84 million in GPSs, 0.76 million in GMSs, 0.29 million in GHSs and 0.041 million in GHSSs across the province. Over 1.51 million students also read in 6743 non-government schools here. Most of the 119274 teachers in government schools are male (78172), but female teachers in private schools account for 44466 off 85325 teachers.

The teacher-student ratio in GPSs is 1:39 and secondary schools level is 1:23 but it is much greater in some schools. The report shows that 1175 male and 1450 female GPSs have only one teacher to teach all the classes and the students-teachers ratio for these schools is 1:58 and 1:61 respectively. 344 male and 103 female primary schools have no rooms to shelter students. 10318 off the total primary schools have two rooms and two teachers, obviously short of what is required.

Though females account for over 50 per cent of population here, girls schools make up 36 per cent of all the schools, but their share further comes down to 33 per cent at high and higher secondary levels.

According to a report in The News in 2009, out of total of 4338 and 2609 rooms in all schools in Mardan, as many as 713 rooms in boys’ schools and 399 in the female ones needed major repairs. The recent report says 480 rooms in male schools and 211 rooms in women schools still await major repair.

Overall Net Enrolment Ratio at primary level is 48 per cent (52 and 44 per cent for male and female schools) but it is at 28 per cent (33 and 21 per cent for boys and girls) in all middle to higher schools of the province.

While enrolment overall increased by around 23.9 per cent in the last 10 years (2003 to 2012), increase in teachers and functional schools was recorded at 15.7 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively. Girls’ enrolment grew by 3 times against boys’.

During 2011 and 2012, the dropout rate for the stages from 5th to 9th grade has been recorded at 16, 9, 7, 14 and 16 per cent for boys. For the girls, it has been recorded at 24, 9, 8, 21 and 8 per cent in that order.

But dropout rate could be higher if we analyse the data intently. The date reveals 0.519 million students were admitted in the prep class in GPSs across the province in 2003-04. By 2008-09, when the students reached the 5th grade, their number stood at 0.29 million which means around 50 per cent of them dropped out. By 2012, only 0.16 million students of these are recorded in the 9th grade.

If not for the huge dropout and the spread of private education networks, the existing number of schools would hardly have accommodated all the students of the preceding stages. Are these two phenomena blessings in disguise for the planners?

Though dropout in GHSSs has not been ascertained in the report, it must have considerably decreased as both total male and female enrolment has been recorded at 41000 in last year for both first and second year.

The report further says that 1101of the total 21972 parents-teachers councils (PTCs) in primary schools are non-functional. Similarly, out of 4710 PTCs in middle and secondary schools, 192 are non-functional. The PTCs, it should be reminded, are meant for parents-teachers coordination.

The report shows that out of the sanctioned 133750 (86963 male and 46787 female) teachers, 119274 (78172 male and 41102 female) teachers work these days. It means a deficit of over 14000 teachers. Another 6992 teachers (3185 Primary and 3807 Secondary Schools teachers) will retire during the next 5 years. This, if not tackled soon, may expand teachers-students ratio and the latter’s woes, especially at higher secondary levels. 572 posts of male and 342 posts of female subject specialists, who teach students in grade 11 and 12 in the GHSSs, are still lying vacant, according to the report.

There is no analysis as to how many of the GHSSs in the province afford both medical and engineering classes, but knowledgeable sources say most of them don’t offer courses in science and most of the disciplines in arts for shortage of the subject specialists and resources.

The sector has had received considerable amount in the provincial budget and has been allocated Rs24 billion off the total ADP of Rs118 billion this year. Experts say government schools have spacious buildings and plenty of teachers but loose administration, poor monitoring mechanism, outdated curriculum, flawed examination system, overcrowded classrooms, lack of modern facilities, teachers absenteeism, outdated teaching techniques, and political interference etc are the factors responsible for the poor performance of the public sector schools vis-à-vis their private counterparts.

…………..

Original text of the article

Schools in KP left in lurch

By Tahir Ali

Experts agree that education requires a congenial atmosphere and the provision of certain facilities like water, electricity, washrooms, playgrounds and computer-labs within the school premises. But hundreds of schools in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa still lack basic facilities, an official document reveals.

It is mind-boggling to read that 20 per cent of the functional public schools still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities.

According to the latest Annual Statistical Report released by the KP elementary and secondary education (ES&E) department, there are 28472 government schools in KP of which 27975 are functional while 397 are non-functional/temporarily closed and 100 are newly constructed. Majority or 23073 (83 per cent)of the schools are Government Primary schools (GPSs) while government middle schools (GMSs) high schools (GHSs) and higher secondary schools (GHSSs) makeup 9, 7 and 1 per cent of all the schools respectively.

Most of the non-functional/temporary closed schools are girls’ schools with 288 of them primary and 7 secondary schools.

Of the total 44873 and 25364 rooms in male and female GPSs, 4563 and 2039 rooms need major repairs, 11929 and 5504 minor repairs while another 3600 and 1416 room need rehabilitation respectively.

Similarly, amongst the 12644 rooms in GMSs, 784 need major repairs, 3048 minor repairs and 634 rooms are in need of rehabilitation. Again, off the total 15377 rooms in GHSs, 2220, 5361and 2343 rooms are in need of major and minor repairs and rehabilitation respectively. And off the 8167 rooms in GHSSs in the province, 648 rooms need major repairs, 1434 minor repairs and 647rehabilitation.

As for other facilities like library, computer and science laboratory, the report says that only 1205, 254 and 1152 off 3092 male and 451,154 and 561of the 1810 girls middle to higher schools have these facilities respectively. The rest have no such facilities and so are the GPSs.

With strategic use of computer bases learning tools, educational institutions can provide the supportive productive environment teachers need to reach, teach, and support each student’s learning needs and potential. But KP’s provincial assembly was informed last year that around 2000 GHSs and GHSSs in KP lacked computer labs and 4,500 computer teachers were needed.

According to the report, 3.93 million students study in 27975 functional government schools with 2.84 million in GPSs, 0.76mn in GMSs, 0.29mn in GHSs and 0.041mn in GHSSs across the province. 1.51mn students also read in 6743 non-govt schools here. Most of the 119274 teachers in government schools are male (78172) but female teachers in private schools account for 44466 off 85325 teachers.

The teacher-student ratio in GPSs is 1:39 and secondary schools level is 1:23 but it is much greater in some schools. The report shows that 1175 male and 1450 female GPSs have only a teacher to teach all the classes and the students-teachers ratio for these schools is 1:58 and 1:61 respectively. 344 male and 103 female primary schools have no rooms to shelter students.

10318 off the total primary schools have two rooms and two teachers, obviously short of what is required.

Though females account for over 50 per cent of population here, girls schools make up 36 per cent of all the schools but their share further comes down to 33 per cent at high and higher secondary levels.

According to a report in The News in 2009, out of total of 4338 and 2609 rooms in all schools in Mardan, as many as 713 rooms in boys’ schools and 399 in the female ones needed major repairs. The recent report says 480 rooms in male schools and 211 rooms still await major repair.

Overall Net Enrolment Ratio at primary level is 48 percent (52 and 44 percent for male and female schools) but it is at 28 per cent (33 and 21 per cent for boys and girls) in all middle to higher schools of the province.

While enrolment overall increased by around 23.9 per cent in the last 10 years (2003 to 2012), increase in teachers and functional schools was recorded at 15.7 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively. Annual growth in the three was also disproportionate at 2.66, 1.75 and 0.86 per cent in that order. However girls’ enrolment grew by 3 times against boys’.

During 2011 and 2012, the dropout rate for the stages from 5th to 9th grade has been recorded at 16, 9, 7, 14 and 16 per cent for boys. For the girls, it has been recorded at 24, 9, 8, 21 and 8 per cent in that order.

But dropout rate could be higher if we analyse the data intently. The date reveals 0.519mn students were admitted in the prep class in GPSs across the province in 2003-04. By 2008-09, when the students reached the 5th grade, their number stood at 0.29mn which means around 50 per cent of them dropped out. By 2012, only 0.16mn students of these are recorded the 9th grade.

If not for the huge dropout and the spread of private education networks, the existing number of schools would hardly have accommodated all the students of the preceding stages. Are these two phenomena blessings in disguise for the planners?

Thought dropout in GHSSs has not been ascertained in the report, it must have considerably decreased ( Correction: increased) as both total male and female enrolment has been recorded at 41000 in last year for both first and second year.

The report further says that 1101of the total 21972 parents-teachers councils (PTCs) in primary schools are non-functional. Similarly out of 4710 PTCs in middle and secondary schools, 192 are non-functional. The PTCs, it should be reminded, are meant for parents-teachers coordination.

The report shows that out of the sanctioned 133750 (86963 male and 46787 female) teachers, 119274 (78172 male and 41102 female) teachers work these days. It means a deficit of over 14000 teachers. Another 6992 teachers (3185 Primary and 3807 Secondary Schools teachers) will retire during the next 5 years. This, if not tackled soon, may expand teachers-students ratio and the latter’s’ woes, especially at higher secondary levels.

572 posts of male and 342 posts of female subject specialists, who teach students in grade 11 and 12 in the GHSSs, are still lying vacant, according to the report.

There is no analysis as to how many of the GHSSs in the province afford both medical and engineering classes but knowledgeable sources say most of them don’t offer courses in science and most of the disciplines in arts for shortage of the subject specialists and resources.

The sector has had received considerable amount in the provincial budgets and has been allocated Rs24bn off the total ADP of Rs118bn this year. Experts say government schools have spacious buildings and plenty of teachers but loose administration, poor monitoring mechanism, outdated curriculum, flawed examination system, overcrowded classrooms, lack of modern facilities, teachers absenteeism, outdated teaching techniques, and political interference etc are the factors responsible for the poor show of performance of the public sector schools vis-à-vis their private counterparts.School report

Electing competent and honest leadership

The article was published on May5, 2013 before elections. Sorry for delayed posting.

Voting values
While the ECP and several advocacy groups are encouraging voters to cast their votes, what are the merits and demerits voters should consider before choosing their future representatives?
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/May2013-weekly/nos-05-05-2013/pol1.htm#3

A week later, on May 11, 2013, 86.18 million Pakistani voters — 48.59 million male and 37.59 million female — will elect their representatives for National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies who would subsequently choose the next federal and provincial executives.

This exercise carries immense repercussions for over 180 million people as their fate will be left at the discretion of these elected representatives. This necessitates both quantitative and qualitative improvement in voting standard.

While tax evaders, defaulters and the corrupt couldn’t be sifted during the scrutiny process, voters are now the only hope to block their entry into power corridors. They will have to come out in large numbers and elect the best amongst candidates.

However, for multiple reasons — rampant corruption, joblessness, insecurity, poverty, maladministration, unawareness, corrupt practices that manipulate elections, terrorism and the like — voters stand disillusioned with political system that has resulted in low voters’ turnout in previous elections, coming as low as 20 per cent in different constituencies.

In the 2008 general elections, though voters’ turnout was 50 and 48 per cent in Islamabad and Punjab, it was 44 per cent for the country and only 31, 31 and 33 per cent in Balochistan, Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa respectively. Women comprise around 44 per cent of the registered voters but have been mostly kept from using this basic right in the past.

The total number of voters has gone up from 80.7 million in 2008 to 86.1 million this year, but analysts foresee a low turnout due to terrorist attacks/threats, ban on transportation facility for voters by the candidates and voters’ distrust in elections and disappointment with politicians.

But the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and several advocacy groups are encouraging voters to cast their votes. With increase in the number of overenthusiastic young voters, the emergence of the PTI on the electoral landscape, a comprehensive security plan put in place for polling day, chances of massive women polling (candidates and parties concluded written agreements inhibiting women from casting votes in the past. But this time no intra-parties’ agreement has surfaced so far) and with almost all the parties participating in elections, hopefully the turnout would be good enough, between 50-55 per cent in this election.

Voters generally look at the candidate’s personal caste, character or performance, his party and its manifesto or his own personal interests at the time of voting.

Some, especially diehard workers, say parties’ performances and manifestos, rather than candidates’ characters, should be the main concern for voters because parties form governments and ultimately decide things. But the rest — the swinging majority — have their own priorities.

“The problem is parties are run by their leaders and their selected buddies. If the party is in wrong hands, they would violate rules, its manifestos and national interests for their political interests and will ruin institutions by nepotism and favouritism and use the national exchequer senselessly for self/party aggrandisement. So, a party shouldn’t be supported if its leadership and candidates’ character and competency are questionable,” says Shakirullah Khan, a lecturer.

“Some parties seek votes over slogans of religious revolution, sectarianism or support terrorists in one way or the other. Supporting them is tantamount to dividing the state and society on the basis of sects, religions or creed. Can we endure such an environment,” he argues.

Others say development work, provision of jobs and contracts, financial assistance to the needy, personal liaison with the constituents or good oratory skills should be the basis for supporting a candidate.

“But what if all this is done by a corrupt politician. Obviously, this support is driven by selfishness. Pakistan owes its retarded growth, rampant poverty and financial weakness to these flawed priorities on part of the voters. By supporting such candidates, one may end up getting benefits but this will leave the country’s resources, people and fate in the hands of senseless rulers, so it cannot be a choice of a patriotic voter,” says Muhammad Iqbal, another voter.

Independent candidates were the fourth largest group in 2008. They polled 11 per cent votes in National Assembly and 26 and 24 per cent votes in Balochistan and KP assemblies. Being the main source of horse-trading, they must never be voted for. There are always some persons with good reputation amongst the candidates, but they come from parties whose performances were dismal.

“But even if a noble fellow who is contesting from a bad party is sent to his/her parliamentary party and parliament, he/she will be a misfit there amongst most of the self-centred colleagues. Party discipline is another hindrance. If the party decides on a thing that he/she finds obnoxious, he will either have to conform or risk expulsion. If he accepts, corruption will continue as earlier,” according to Shah Hasan, another voter.

But Iqbal responded the personal abilities and character rather than the candidate’s party affiliation should be the guiding factor for voters. Ignoring all ethnic, linguistic and sectarian biases while voting, they must vote solely on the basis of honesty, sincerity, merit and competence.

Vote is a sacred trust and casting vote is mandatory. By voting someone, we testify to his character and abilities and authorise him to decide and work on our behalf. It is as if we engage a lawyer who obviously cannot be a person who can be bribed, intimidated and bought, Iqbal said. “Even if they have been nominated by popular and reputable parties, voters should reject candidates who are corrupt, loan-defaulters and tax-evaders. And they should support competent persons even if they are contesting on tickets of ‘bad/corrupt’ parties.”

Voters should continue with their determination not to send corrupt elements to parliament. This obviously is a long route. But slowly and gradually it will become a norm and most of the electorate will follow suit.

People are heard criticising corrupt leaders, but they too are equally guilty of preferring them over the incorruptible, competent and trustworthy substitutes. If parties ensure awarding tickets to ‘electables’ (not necessarily competent and honest candidates), it is because the electorate too has been accepting their nominees. It’s very shameful that electorate goes on to elect the very candidates, who were disqualified for having fake degrees. This practice of siding with the corrupt must end.

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Original text of the article

Election: choosing competent & honest representatives

By Tahir Ali

A week later, on May 11, 86.18 million Pakistani voters –48.59mn male and 37.59 female – will elect their representatives for National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies who would subsequently choose the next federal and provincial executives.

This exercise carries immense repercussions for over 180mn people as their fate will be left at the discretion of these elected representatives. This necessitates both quantitative and qualitative improvement in voting standard.

While tax evaders, defaulters’ and the corrupt couldn’t be sifted during the scrutiny process, voters are now the only hope to block their entry into power corridors. They will have to come out in large numbers and elect the best amongst candidates. 

However, for multiple reasons – rampant corruption, joblessness, insecurity, poverty, maladministration, unawareness, corrupt practices that manipulate elections, terrorism and the like – voters stand disillusioned with political system that has resulted in low voters’ turnout in previous elections, coming as low as 20 per cent in different constituencies.

In the 2008 general elections, though voters’ turnout was 50 and 48 per cent in Islamabad and Punjab, it was 44 per cent for the country and only 31, 31 and 33 per cent in Baluchistan, Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa respectively.

Women comprise around 44 per cent of the registered voters but have been mostly kept from using this basic right in the past.

Total number of voters has gone up from 80.7mn in 2008 to 86.1mn this year but analysts foresee a low turnout for terrorist attacks/threats, ban on transportation facility for voters by the candidates and voter’s distrust in elections and disappointment with politicians.

But the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and several advocacy groups are encouraging voters to cast their votes. With increase in the number of overenthusiastic young voters, the emergence of PTI on the electoral landscape, a comprehensive security plan put in place for polling day, chances of massive women polling (Candidates and parties concluded written agreements inhibiting women from casting votes. But this time no intra- parties’ agreement has surfaced so far) and with almost all parties participating in elections as against 2008 when several boycotted the process, hopefully the turnout would be good enough, between 50-55 per cent in this election.

Voters generally look at the candidate’s personal caste, character or performance, his party and its manifesto or his own personal interests at the time of voting.

Some, especially die-hard workers, say parties’ performances and manifestos, rather than candidates’ characters, should be the main concern for voters as it is parties that form governments and ultimately decide things. But the rest -the swinging majority- have their own priorities.

“The problem is parties are run by their leaders and their selected buddies. If the party is in wrong hands, they would violate rules, its manifestos and national interests for their political interests and will ruin institutions by nepotism and favouritism and use the national exchequer senselessly for self/party aggrandisement. So, a party shouldn’t be supported if its leadership and candidate’s character and competency are questionable,” says Shakirullah Khan, a lecturer.

“Some parties seek votes over slogans of religious revolution, sectarianism or support terrorists in one way or the other. Supporting them is tantamount to dividing the state and society on the basis of sects, religions or creed. Can we endure such an environment,” he argues.  

Others say development work, provision of jobs and contracts, financial assistance to the needy, personal liaison with the constituents or good oratory skills should be the bases for supporting a candidate.

“But what if all this is done by a corrupt. Obviously, this support is driven by selfishness. Pakistan owes its retarded growth, rampant poverty and financial weakness to these flawed priorities on part of the voters. By supporting such candidates, one may end up getting benefits but this will leave the country’s resources, people and fate in the hands of senseless rulers, so it cannot be a choice of a patriotic voter,” says Muhammad Iqbal, another voter.

Independent candidates were the fourth largest group in 2008. They polled 11 per cent votes in National Assembly and 26 and 24 per cent votes in Baluchistan and KP assemblies. Being the main source of horse-trading, they must never be voted for.

There are always some persons with good reputation amongst the candidates but they come from parties whose performances were dismal.

“But even if a noble fellow who is contesting from a bad party is sent to his/her parliamentary party and parliament, he/she will be a misfit there amongst most of the self-centred colleagues. Party discipline is another hindrance. If the party decides on a thing that he/she finds obnoxious, he will either have to conform or risk expulsion. If he accepts, corruption will continue as earlier. If he doesn’t, he’ll be sent packing for indiscipline,” according to Shah Hasan, another voter.

But Iqbal responded the personal abilities and character rather than the candidate’s party affiliation should be the guiding factor for voters. Ignoring all ethnic, linguistic and sectarian biases while voting, they must vote solely on the basis of honesty, sincerity, merit and competence.

Vote is a sacred trust and casting vote is mandatory. By voting someone, we testify to his character and abilities and authorise him to decide and work on our behalf. It is as if we engage a lawyer who obviously cannot be a person who can be bribed, intimidated and bought, he said.

 

“Even if they have been nominated by popular and reputable parties, voters should reject candidates who are corrupt, loan-defaulters, tax-evaders, are themselves rascals or are supported by rogues, run illegal businesses, use abusive language against opponents, are incompetent, known violators of law or support the extremists and terrorists. And they should support competent persons even if they are contesting on tickets of ‘bad/corrupt’ parties,” he said.

“Of course initially, the men of character will face tough resistance in their parliamentary parties’ meetings and parliament. Perhaps they would be asked to remain quiet or quit the seat. Suppose he/she resigns or is forced to quit over principles, the electorate in the bye-elections must reject the party’s candidate if he/she is not as competent and honest as that one or better support another whose one is better.”

According to him, this will be a lesson for all. “The corrupt will never dare compete elections in future. Parties too will never award tickets to candidates on the basis of their electability but would decide on the basis of their character and capabilities to impress the transformed electorate. The men of character so elected will then be in majority. It will bring a soft revolution in the country’s political and economic landscape. Decisions will then be taken on the basis of merit. Parties’ leadership will no more be in the hands of the corrupt but in competent and honest hands.”

Voters should continue with their determination not to send corrupt elements to parliament. This obviously is a long route. But slowly and gradually it will become a norm and most of the electorate will follow suit.

People are heard criticising corrupt leaders but they too are equally guilty for preferring them over the incorruptible, competent and trustworthy substitutes. If parties ensure awarding tickets to ‘electables’ (not necessarily competent and honest candidates), it is because the electorate too has been accepting their nominees. It’s very shameful that electorate go on to elect the very candidates, who were disqualified for having fake degrees. This practice of siding with the corrupt must end.

 

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.

Handbook for winners and losers in elections

The article was published on May12 2013 when election results were pouring in

verdict
Handbook for winning and losing candidates
If you or your party has won, ask your supporters to remain within the limits of law. Bury the hatchet. Visit all your fellow contestants and build a democratic, moderate Pakistan
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/May2013-weekly/nos-12-05-2013/pol1.htm#1

By the time these lines are published, the country would have sailed through the exciting process of general elections — peacefully, fairly and transparently, one hopes.

Everyone who contests elections is ultimately a winner or a loser. Obviously, there can only be one winner amongst the contesting candidates. And if that one is not you, accept the verdict of the electorate and your defeat wholeheartedly.

Otherwise, there will be no difference between you and the extremists who, instead of allowing people to vote as per their sweet will, imposed their choices over them by attacking some parties and asking the people to remain away from them.

Don’t build conspiracy theories or indulge in allegations of rigging for rationalising the win of your opponent. And never indulge in anti-polls campaign as anti-democracy forces would surely benefit from it as has always been the case during the past.

Build new sound precedents. For example, call or visit your victorious opponent to felicitate him/her over the victory. We have something to learn from the developed countries in this regard. Candidates there indulge in criticising the opponents but once elections are held, the loser readily accepts the defeat and congratulates the winner.

And if you or your party have won, ask your supporters to remain within the limits of law and morality. Be patient, caring and unselfish. Bury the hatchet. Invite or better visit all your fellow contestants together. Ask them to guide and help you in serving the masses. Take their feedback as to what were the most important and urgent items on their agenda had they won. Keep in touch with them. This will help you better serve your constituency.

This is what democracy demands to take roots in our country: the spirit of tolerance, conciliation and cooperation on part of both the loser and winner.

With the ECP independent, the print and electronic media highly active and vigilant, voters lists cleared of bogus votes, elaborate arrangements made for conducting free and transparent elections and the people resilient to vote and so on, no party or candidate would continue to harp on the theory of massive rigging or establishment’s interference in favour of some parties to reject the polls results.

All this had made it impossible for parties or individual candidates to indulge in taking over polling stations and rigging on a massive scale as was witnessed in some previous elections.

We have had enough of selective morality. We have had several times been hit by the ‘I don’t accept’ mentality. Pakistan was dismembered mainly for the fact that Sheikh-Mujeebur Rehman-led Awami League, the winner of the 1970 election, was not allowed to form government as per the mandate given to it.

Similarly, in 1977, the military took over as the opposition agitated against the alleged rigging in elections. The period between 1988 to1999 was characteristic of an acute political polarisation between the major parties with Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto.

Between 1988 and 1999, five governments were sworn in against the required/normal two. It was because the PPP and the PML-N wasted no opportunity in dislodging the other by indulging themselves in palace intrigues, and horse-trading, etc.

Going by the principles of popular sovereignty and representative democracy, no one can justify the shenanigans of the religious and political leadership during these years. Some religious figures, unabashedly, played in cohort with the establishment. Routed by the people in 1993, a religious leader didn’t accept the people’s verdict against his wishes and continued his famous Dharnas and ‘million marches’ until the elected government of Benazir Bhutto was dislodged. Then he boycotted the next polls for he wanted elections be preceded by accountability. He didn’t own up these results either because he wanted something else.

The PPPP, the ANP and the MQM, no doubt, didn’t get the level playing field for the TTP threats. There were fears they might go for the boycott, but luckily sanity prevailed. But I am unconvinced if these attacks and threats had any worthwhile negative impact on their final results. Instead, they were judged on the basis of their performance during the previous government. And as the Pakistani electorate usually supports those who are on the receiving end and done wrong to, they might have, instead, gained from the sympathy wave.

The other parties, which the TTP didn’t target, relished freedom to organise rallies and conduct elections campaign the way they wanted. They felt happy for the leverage they got vis-à-vis their counterparts and hoped to capitalise on it. But as it became certain their freedom might not benefit them as they wished, some parties and leaders started talking in strange terms.

For example, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the JUI-F chief, warned that non-state actors would decide the destiny of Pakistan if moderate politics of the JUI-F were blocked. He said the JUI-F was the hope of the nation and the country but conspiracies were being hatched to keep the JUI-F out of the democratic politics. “If our path is blocked, the people would lose faith in parliamentary politics and hence democracy and the country will lose enormously,” he added.

A worker of another religious party recently told me his party chief said if his party path was blocked, they would reconsider their strategy for bringing a change in the country. He quoted the leader as saying that opinions differ on the point as to whether change can be brought through elections or other means. “Some argue otherwise. But I fear if the path of our party was blocked, they would gain majority and I would be hard-pressed to conform,” he said.

What this practically means? Isn’t it a bare warning to the people: Elect us or you would be strengthening those who are against democracy? Can a democratic leader talk this way?

Despite several issues associated with democracy in Pakistan — rigging, horse-trading, role of money in elections, dynasties and feudalism, weak legal framework to impose election laws, etc — democracy is arguably the best ever system of election, governance and accountability contrived so far.

Elections afford the people an opportunity on regular intervals to dismiss those in power if they fail to deliver. It is for the safety, welfare and empowerment of the masses and, thus, cannot be discredited.

The future is now in your hands. Give confidence and hope to the nation that has seen little to cherish in the past. Help build a democratic, moderate and tolerant Pakistan by being a role-model for the nation.

  …………………………………

Original text of the article

Burying the hatchet Or Needed a democratic behaviour

By Tahir Ali

By time these lines are published, the country will have sailed through the exciting process of general elections –peacefully, fairly and transparently, one wishes.

Everyone who contests elections is ultimately a winner or loser. Obviously, there can only be one winner amongst the contesting candidates. And if that one is not you, If you were a candidate but lost elections, accept the verdict of the electorate and your defeat wholeheartedly. Otherwise, there will be no difference between you and the extremists who instead of allowing the people to vote as per their sweet will, imposed their desires/choices over them by attacking some parties and asking the people to remain aloof from them.     

Don’t build conspiracy theories or indulge in allegations of rigging for rationalising the win of your opponent. And never indulge in anti-polls campaign as anti-democracy forces would surely benefit from it as has always been during the past.

Build new sound precedents. For example, call or better visit your victorious opponent along with your supporters to felicitate him/her over the victory.

We have something to learn from the West in this regard. Candidates there indulge in scathing, though not depraved, criticism of the opponents but once elections are held, the loser readily accepts the defeat and congratulates the winner.

And if you or your party have won, ask your supporters to merry but within the limits of law and morality. Be patient, caring and unselfish. Bury the hatchet. Invite or better visit all your fellow contestants together. Ask them to guide and help you in serving the masses. Take their feedback as to what were the most important and urgent items on their agenda had they won. Keep in touch with them. This will help you better serve your constituency.

This is what democracy demands to take roots in our country: the spirit of tolerance, conciliation and cooperation on part of both the loser and winner.

With the ECP independent, the print/electronic media highly active and vigilant, the Establishment neutral, having no darlings, voters lists cleared of bogus votes, elaborate arrangements made for conducting free and transparent elections and the people resilient to vote and almost all parties took part in elections despite threats, no party or candidates in its/his right senses would continue to harp on the theory of massive rigging or establishment’s interference in favour of some parties to reject the polls results.

All this had made it impossible for parties or individual candidates to indulge in taking over polling stations and rigging on massive scale as was witnessed in previous elections.

We have had enough of selective morality. Win, yes. Defeat, no. We have had several times been hit by the ‘I don’t accept’ mentality. Pakistan was dismembered mainly for the fact that Sheikh-Mujeebur Rehman-led Awami League, the winner of the 1970 election, was not allowed to form government as per the mandate given to it.

 Similarly in 1977, the military took over as the opposition agitated against the alleged rigging in elections (there were indeed some genuine complaints of elections rigging then, but my emphasis is on the fallout of the anti-poll campaign).

The period between 1988 to1999 was characteristic of an acute political polarisation between the major parties with Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto alternatively siding with the establishment against the other.

Between 1988 and 1999, five governments were sworn in against the required/normal two. It was because the PPP and PML-N wasted no opportunity in dislodging the other by indulging themselves in palace intrigues, horse-trading and playing as the scions of the establishment against the political opponents with impunity. This behaviour on their part was anything but democratic or in consonance with the notion of popular sovereignty –that it is the people who have the ultimate right to elect their rulers and no one else.

Going by the principles of popular sovereignty and representative democracy, no one can justify the shenanigans of the role of religious and political leadership during these years. Some religious figures unabashedly played in cohort with establishment. Routed by the people in 1993, a religious leader didn’t accept the people’s verdict against his wishes and continued his famous Dharnas and ‘million marches’ until the elected government of Benazir Bhutto was dislodged. Then he boycotted the next polls for he wanted elections be preceded by accountability. He didn’t own up these results either because he wanted something else.

The PPPP, ANP and MQM, no doubt, didn’t get the level playing field for the TTP threats. There were fears they might go for the boycott but luckily sanity prevailed. But I am unconvinced if these attacks and threats had any worthwhile negative impact on their final results. Instead, they were judged on the basis of their performance during the previous government. And as the Pakistani electorate usually supports those who are on the receiving end and done wrong to, they might have, instead, gained from the sympathy wave.      

The other parties, who the TTP didn’t dislike and target, relished freedom to organise rallies and conduct elections campaign the way they wanted. They felt happy for the leverage they got vis-à-vis their counterparts and hoped to capitalise on it. But as it became certain their freedom might not benefit them as they wished, some parties and leaders started talking in strange terms.

 For example, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the JUI-F chief, warned that non-state actors would decide the destiny of Pakistan if moderate politics of JUI-F were blocked. He said the JUI-F was the hope of nation and country but conspiracies were being hatched to keep the JUI-F out of the democratic politics. “If our path is blocked, the people would lose faith in parliamentary politics and hence democracy and country will lose enormously,” he added.

A worker of another religious party recently told me his party chief said if his party path was blocked, they would reconsider their strategy for bringing change in the country. He quoted the leader as saying that opinions differ on the point as to whether change can be brought through elections or other means. “Some argue otherwise. But I fear if the path of our party was blocked, they would gain majority and I would be hard-pressed to conform,” he said.

What this practically means? Isn’t it a bare warning to the people: Elect us or you would be strengthening those who are against democracy? Can a democratic leader talk this way?

Despite several drawbacks associated with Pakistani. brand of democracy –rigging, horse-trading, role of money in elections, dynasties and feudalism, absence of economic liberty for the poor majority, weak legal framework to impose election laws etc – democracy is arguably the best ever system of election, governance and accountability contrived so far.  It affords the people an opportunity on regular intervals to punish those in power if they fail to deliver. It is for the safety, welfare and empowerment of the masses and thus cannot be discredited for the looting and plunders of ‘democratic leaders’.

The future is now in your hands. Give confidence and hope to the nation that has seen little to cherish in the past. Help build a democratic, moderate and tolerant Pakistan by being a role-model for the nation.

Review of PPPP performance

Review of PPPP performance

performance
Facts and fudging
Economists are reluctant to buy what the PPP ads boast about the last five-year performance on economy
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/apr2013-weekly/nos-21-04-2013/pol1.htm#1

The Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) recently published advertisements in newspapers and issued its manifesto for the 2013 elections wherein it enumerated its achievements during its last five-year rule.

Economic experts, however, reject these claims and accuse the regime of fudging the figures, mismanagement, poor governance and fiscal indiscipline.

The national economy is still faced with low revenue receipts, declining tax to GDP ratio, rising current expenditure, dying foreign direct and local investment, low annual GDP growth rate, rising debt to GDP ratio, acute power/gas crisis and the inefficient and sick public sector entities (PSEs).

Though the PPP claims reducing inflation to 9.6 per cent, it remained in double digits, hovering between 11-15 per cent during the last five years. As per the Ministry of Finance (MoF) figures, overall consumer price index and food CPI increased from 100 points in 2008 to 175 points and 196 points in January 2013. The IMF says inflation in Pakistan will return to double digits by the end of this fiscal year.

Food insecurity is on the rise. As per the National Nutrition Survey, 2011, conducted by the BISP, 58 per cent of Pakistanis were food insecure.

According to Dr Muhammad Yaqoob, former State Bank governor, the economic conditions of an average family have become worse due to rising prices, large-scale unemployment and shortage and the rising cost of gas and electricity.

The PPP had vowed to establish a fair tax system. It claimed raising tax revenues from Rs1 trillion in 2008 to over Rs2 trillion in 2012. Though revenues have increased in quantity, as per 2012-13 fiscal policy statement (FPS) of the MoF, total revenues were 14.6 per cent of GDP in 2008 which came down to 12.4 per cent in 2012.

The government has been unable to meet any of the revenue, expenditure and deficit targets over the last five years. For indecisiveness or self-centredness, it failed to levy tax on agriculture and impose reformed general sales tax as it didn’t want to annoy the industrial, business or agriculture lobbies and political allies. Most of its leaders allegedly avoided fulfilling their tax responsibilities, thus setting bad precedents for others.

The party claimed foreign remittances are now $14 billion against $6.4 billion in 2008. But “the rise partly reflects the diversion of black money and illegally-held capital abroad through remittance channels without any fear of being questioned about the sources of the funds. Moreover, there has been an inevitable need for workers abroad to send more remittances to support their families against rising inflation,” according to Dr Yaqoob.

According to FPS, the real GDP growth was 6.8 per cent in 2007. It came down to 3.7 per cent in 2008. From 2009 to 2012, it was recorded at only 1.7, 3.1, 3.0 and 3.7 per cent respectively.

The PPPP, in its 2008 manifesto, had pledged a sound debt policy and that the future generations won’t be overburdened with excessive debt.

But instead, the public debt — both domestic and foreign debt — has more than doubled in the last five years. It borrowed more than all the previous governments combined. The public debt was Rs4.8 trillion in 2008 but reached Rs12.6 trillion by June 2012. The tax to GDP ratio which was 55.4 per cent in 2007 was at 61.3 per cent in 2012. Total debt is now over Rs13 trillion.

Every Pakistani baby was born with a debt of Rs30,000 in 2007. Today he/she carries a debt of over Rs80,000.

The debt rose up by 21 per cent per annum despite the fact that fiscal responsibility and debt limitation act of 2005 had asked for reducing debt to GDP by 2.5 per cent annually to be able to keep Debt to GDP ratio below 60 per cent by June 2012-13.

If the IMF standby arrangement programme hadn’t remained suspended over the last three years, Pakistan’s external debt of $66 billion would have been jacked up by another $5-6 billion during the time.

The SBP second quarterly report for 2012-13 states that the government was unable to meet its self-imposed quarterly limit of zero net budgetary borrowing from the SBP.

Pakistan’s domestic debt servicing is climbing and is now the biggest single expenditure item. Similarly, its external debt servicing will reach $6 billion in the current and to $7 billion in the next fiscal year.

The party claims to have reduced fiscal deficit from 7.6 per cent in 2008. But if compared with 4.4 per cent in 2007, it rose to 5.3, 6.3, 6.0 and 6.6 per cent respectively in the next four years. The IMF estimates fiscal deficit will be 7.0-7.5 per cent of GDP as against the government target of 4.7 per cent. According to Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, a leading economist, the fiscal deficit reached as high as 8.5 per cent last year.

The manifesto claims Forex reserves are now $13.2 billion against $8.2 billion in 2008, but according to Dr Khan, the SBP’s Forex reserves stand at $6.69 billion on April 5. “Pakistan must retire $0.838 billion to IMF by June 30. With little or insufficient external inflows, the SBP’s reserves may fall to $5.8 billion by June 2013. The SBP has borrowed $2.3 billion from commercial banks in the forward market and if we adjust it, the SBP’s reserves would be $3.5 billion by then — sufficient to trigger a crisis of confidence.”

The party claimed it reduced interest rate from 15 per cent in 2008 to 9.6 per cent in 2013. Industrialists and experts doubt this. Nevertheless, the rate spread — the difference between return on deposits and lending rates — is still very high in Pakistan.

In 2008, the rupee was 62.61 against the dollar. The PPP left it at 98.98 by March 15, 2013. This has, besides causing price-hike locally, increased public debt and made imports costlier.

Instead of restructuring or privatising the loss-making PSEs, the PPP government kept on doling out hundreds of billion annually to these entities. Most of the PSEs were allegedly handed over to political cronies and were further destroyed by large-scale inductions by treating them, as Dr Khan put it, as employment bureaus.

Though the party claims having added 3600MW to the national grid, the country continues to face acute energy shortage. It has made life miserable for the people, halted industrial development and estimated to have inflicted a loss of Rs3 trillion to the country during last five years.

Over Rs1.8 trillion doled out to the power sector for financing circular debt would have sufficed to complete several projects that would have solved much of the energy problems.

The PPP had promised growth of business and industry with equity and making private sector as engine of growth. But Pakistan’s industrial sector and the private sector was badly hit by lawlessness, policy inaction and shortage of energy.

In 2007, large scale industrial production was 8.7 per cent which came down to 4.1 per cent in 2008 and to minus 8.2 per cent in 2009. In 2010, it again increased to 4.81 per cent but then declined to 1.14 per cent in 2011 and 1.02 per cent in 2012.

Economic growth was three per cent per annum during the PPP tenure against seven per cent per annum in the preceding five years.

Dr Khan said investment rate also continued coming down during the last five years and declined to a 50-year low at 12.5 per cent of GDP from 22.5 per cent in 2006-07. Industrial growth stagnated at near zero per cent against 12.4 per cent per annum in the preceding five years.

During FY09, foreign direct investment fell to $3.72 billion and further to $2.20 billion in 2010 and $1.63 billion in 2011.

…………………….

Original text of the article.

Reviewing PPPP performance on economy

By Tahir Ali

The Pakistan Peoples’ Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) recently published advertisements in newspapers and issued its manifesto for the 2013 elections wherein it enumerated its achievements during its rule.

Independent economic experts however reject these claims and accuse the regime of, inter alia, fudging of figures, mismanagement, poor governance, self-centredness and fiscal indiscipline.

The national economy is still faced with low revenue receipts, declining tax to GDP ratio, rising current expenditure, dying foreign direct and local investment, low annual GDP growth rate, rising debt to GDP ratio, acute power/gas crisis and the inefficient and sick public sector entities (PSEs).

Inflation

Though PPP claims reducing inflation to 9.6 per cent, it remained in double digits, hovering between 11-15 per cent during the last five years. As per the ministry of finance (MoF) figures, overall consumer price index and food CPI increased from 100 points in 2008 to 175 points and 196 points in January 2013. The IMF says inflation in Pakistan will return to double digits by the end of this fiscal year.

Food insecurity is on the rise. As per the National Nutrition Survey, 2011, conducted by the BISP, 58 per cent of Pakistanis were food insecure.

According to Dr Muhammad Yaqoob, former State Bank governor, the economic conditions of an average family have become worse due to rising prices, largescale unemployment and shortage and the rising cost of gas and electricity.

Revenue

The PPP had vowed to establish a fair tax system. It claimed raising tax revenues from Rs1 trillion in 2008 to over Rs2tr in 2012. Though revenues have increased in quantity, but as per 2012-13 fiscal policy statement (FPS) of the MoF, total revenues were 14.6 per cent of GDP in 2008 which came down to 12.4 per cent in 2012.

The government has been unable to meet none of the revenue, expenditure and deficit targets over the last five years. For indecisiveness or self-centredness, it failed to levy tax on agriculture and impose reformed general sales tax as it didn’t want to annoy the industrial, business or agriculture lobbies and political allies. Most of its leaders allegedly avoided fulfilling their tax responsibilities, thus setting bad precedents for others.

Foreign remittances

The party claimed foreign remittances are now $14bn against $6.4bn in 2008. But “the rise partly reflects the diversion of black money and illegally-held capital abroad through remittance channels without any fear of being questioned about the sources of the funds. Moreover, there has been an inevitable need for workers abroad to send more remittances to maintain their families for rising inflation,” according to him.

GDP growth

According to FPS, real GDP growth was 6.8 per cent in 2007. It came down to 3.7 per cent in 2008. During 2009 to 2012, it was recorded at only 1.7, 3.1, 3.0 and 3.7 per cent.

Public Debt

The PPPP, in its 2008 manifesto, had pledged a sound debt policy and that the future generations won’t be overburdened with excessive debt.

But instead, the public debt –both domestic and foreign debt –has more than doubled in last five years. It borrowed more than all the previous governments combined. The public debt was Rs4.8 trillion in 2008 but reached Rs12.6tr at June 2012. The tax to GDP ratio which was 55.4 per cent in 2007 is now at 61.3 per cent in 2012. Total debt is now over Rs13tr.

Every Pakistani baby was born with a debt of Rs30,000 in 2007. Today he/she carries a debt of over Rs80000.

The debt rose up by 21 per cent per annum despite the fact that fiscal responsibility and debt limitation act of 2005 had asked for reducing debt to GDP by 2.5 percent annually to be able to keep Debt to GDP below 60 percent by June 2012-13.

If the IMF standby arrangement programme hadn’t remained suspended over the last three years, Pakistan’s external debt of $66bn would have been jacked up by another $5-6 billion during the time.

The SBP second quarterly report for 2012-13 states that the government was unable to meet its self-imposed quarterly limit of zero net budgetary borrowing from SBP.

Pakistan’s domestic debt servicing is climbing and is now the biggest single expenditure item. Similarly, its external debt servicing will reach $6bn in the current and to $7bn in the next fiscal year.

Fiscal deficit

The party claims having reduced fiscal deficit from 7.6 per cent in 2008. But if compared with 4.4 per cent in 2007, it rose to 5.3, 6.3, 6.0 and 6.6 per cent in the next four years. The IMF estimates fiscal deficit will be 7.0-7.5 percent of GDP as against government target of 4.7 percent. According to Dr Khan, fiscal deficit reached as high as 8.5 percent last year.

Foreign exchange reserves

The manifesto claims Forex reserves are now $13.2bn against $8.2bn in 2008 but according to Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, a leading economist, the SBP’s Forex reserves stand at $6.69bn on April 5. Pakistan must retire $0.838bn to IMF by June 30. With little or insufficient external inflows, the SBP’s reserves may fall to $5.8bn by June 2013. The SBP has borrowed $2.3bn from commercial banks in the forward market and if we adjust it, the SBP’s reserves would be $3.5bn by then– sufficient to trigger a crisis of confidence.”

Interest rate

The party claimed it reduced interest rate from 15 per cent in 2008 to 9.6 per cent in 2013. Industrialists and experts doubt this. Nevertheless, the rate spread –the difference between return on deposits and lending rates –is still very high in Pakistan.

Rupee devaluation

In 2008, the rupee was 62.61 against the dollar. The PPP left it at 98.98 by March 15, 2013. This has, besides causing price-hike locally, increased public debt and made imports costlier.

Bleeding PSEs

Instead of restructuring or privatising the loss-making PSEs, the PPPP government kept on doling out hundreds of billion annually to these entities. Most of the PSEs were allegedly handed over to political cronies and were further destroyed by large-scale inductions by treating them, as Dr Khan put it, as employment bureaus.

Energy imbroglio

Though the party claims having added 3600MW to the national grid, the country continues to face acute energy shortage. It has made life miserable for the people, halted industrial development and estimated to have inflicted a loss of Rs3tr to the country during last five years.

Over Rs1.8 trillion doled out to the power sector for financing circular debt would have sufficed to complete several projects that would have solved much of the energy problems.

Industrial, economic growth and investment

The PPPP had promised growth of business and industry with equity and of making private sector as engine of growth. But Pakistan’s industrial sector and the private sector was badly hit by lawlessness, policy inaction and shortage of energy.

In 2007, large scale industrial production was 8.7 percent which came down to 4.1 percent in 2008 and to minus 8.2 percent in 2009. In 2010, it again increased to 4.81 percent but then declined to 1.14 percent in 2011 and 1.02 percent in 2012.

Economic growth was three percent per annum during the PPP tenure against seven percent per annum in the preceding five years.

Dr Khan said investment rate also continued coming down during the last five years and declined to a 50-year low at 12.5 percent of GDP from 22.5 percent in 2006-07.  Industrial growth stagnated at near zero percent against 12.4 percent per annum in the preceding five years.

During FY09, foreign direct investment fell to $3.72bn and further to $2.20bn in 2010 and $1.63bn in 2011.

Corruption

Corruption was rampant. Hajj scam, Pakistan Steel plunder, railways corruption, rental power loot and others scams remained the talk of the town.  Anti-corruption bodies were however made dysfunctional by their politicization. Transparency International estimated Pakistan lost over Rs8.5tr in corruption, tax evasion and bad governance during the previous government.

………………..

Achievements of PPPP

The new PPPP’s manifesto and advertisement have listed its accomplishments during the 2008-13 government.

“We inherited a bubble economy based perilously on consumer credit, stock market speculation, property mark-ups, non-transparent privatization and foreign aid. Inflation stood at 25 per cent, making the poor dangerously vulnerable to local and international shocks.”

“We lowered inflation to single digits standing at 9.6 per cent in 2013; raised tax revenues from Rs1 trillion in 2008 to over Rs2tn in 2013; We cut the fiscal deficit from 7.6 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 6.6 per cent in 2013(more robust as compared to India’s 8.7 per cent and the USA’s at 8.9 per cent); we kept public borrowing under 60 per cent of GDP; turned a current account deficit of $14bn in 2008 to a surplus of $62bn in 2013; investor confidence grew as the Karachi Stock Exchange index surged to 18,000 points in 2013 from 4,800 points in 2008 ( but the advertisement says it rose up from 5220 points in 2008 to 18185 points in 2013);  Forex reserves were $8.2bn in 2008 but are now $13.2bn (but the advertisement says these increased from $6bn in 2008 to $16bn in 2013); foreign remittances are now $14bn against $6.4bn in 2008; reduced fiscal deficit from 7.6 per cent in 2008; disbursed Rs 70bn amongst 75 lac deserving families BISP besides other pro-poor programmes; signed the Pak-Iran agreement on Gas Pipe Line, handed over Gowader Port to China; increased exports from $18 in 2008 to $29bn in 2012; the rural economy went up from Rs50bn in 2008 to Rs800bn in 2013; we added 3,700 MW of power to the national grid during our tenure and launched Mangla, Tarbela extension and other projects; increased pays of public sector employees by 158 per cent; foreign investment increased and so on.”

 

Damming conflicts

Damming conflicts
With prices of land rising up in South Waziristan Agency after Gomal Zam Dam’s construction, new tensions among tribesmen are flaring up
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Mar2013-weekly/nos-31-03-2013/pol1.htm#4

As Gomal Zam Dam being built in South Waziristan Agency nears completion and is expected to get operational by the end of the year, new opportunities and challenges have emerged that necessitate a comprehensive governance and execution model for conflict resolution, optimum utilisation of resources and smooth implementation of the project.

The GZD is a multi-purpose project consisting of three components — dam and spillway, power house and irrigation system. It is being completed by Wapda and Frontier Works Organisation with financial assistance from the USAID which had provided $80 million to help complete the work which was expected to hit snags for shortage of funds.

Secretary Planning and Development Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Asad Ali Khan, said that as per the contractors’ report, the dam component is 90 per cent complete. Main canal has been completed while tributaries and irrigation channels are being constructed. The hydro power component is almost complete and will shortly start electricity generation.

He said all stakeholders — the concerned government departments, community representatives and donors — should join hands to make it a success. “The P&D department KP has formed a review committee to supervise and support the advocacy project and to ensure transparency in the project,” he added.

The project has huge financial impacts. Vast tracts of land in the fertile command area in the South Waziristan agency and the districts of Tank and Dera Ismael Khan (DIK) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, mostly rain-fed or irrigated by the traditional Rod Kohi system, would benefit from the scheme.

“It will benefit over 0.3mn farmers in 81 villages in Tank and DIK and would provide irrigation water for 191000 acres of land. It will help reduce flood damage of around $2.6mn and will also generate electricity. It would store 1.14 million acre feet of water for irrigation and drinking purposes, generate around 20 megawatts, sufficient for 25,000 households in the command area,” according to an official.

Earlier land prices were low and agriculture fetched little. Hence many lands had been abandoned by the absentee landlords. Life standard was low in the project area. The areas either witnessed severe drought or floods that inundated vast areas and flattened crops. But now with prices of land rising up after dam’s construction, new tensions are flaring up.

“As land prices and potential for agriculture incomes have increased, there is discomfort in the command area. Conflict of interest is expected to get deeper. Though I can’t say whether there would be tenants-owners wars that happened in the country in 1970s, as reported tenants-owner tensions are likely to rise in number and depth. This could be a potential threat to the area peace. The government should nip the evil in the bud,” said Ahmad Zeb, a community representative from DIK. Zeb said the problems of collective land ownership and absentee landlordism could be pestering problems in future if not checked.

“The absentee landlords, who had left their lands unattended or to tenants for decades, are returning to take possession of their lands, a move being resisted by the tenants. Resultantly, tenants-landowners tensions are on the rise. Before this becomes a menace for this volatile region bordering the militancy-hit tribal belt, the government needs to proactively check this menace. There is a need for new land resettlement and subsequent distribution amongst their virtual owners,” Zeb said.

As the work on the project began in 2001, the trend of buying or snatching lands from the ignorant farmers started. However, in October 2001, the provincial government banned the sale, purchase, registry, Hiba, settlement of property and transfers of land under the Gomal Zam Dam Speculation Ordinance, in the project area till completion of the dam.

Humyun Khan, a Tank community representative, also seconded Zeb’s thoughts and urged involvement of the administration to overcome this menace.

According to another farmer from the area, main canal has been established and irrigation channels are now being prepared but farmers are reluctant to allow irrigation channels on the paltry amount being offered. Worse, payment is being delayed under one pretext or another.

Again, farmers are unhappy over the division of irrigation water in the 393 morgahs on the basis of different cropping intensities in the command area. A farmer said that some areas have been allotted less water on the basis of low cropping intensity. Coupled with this is the expected huge gap between the water availability at the head and tail-end with the result that the farmers in the tail-end will suffer. This discrepancy needs to be removed.

Considering this, the Gomal Zam Command Area Advocacy Project (GZAP), launched recently, is of vital importance as it plans to ensure a hassle-free execution of the project to make it advantageous for the impoverished farming community in the command area of the Gomal Zam.

The Small Grants Ambassadors’ Funds Programme of the USAID has provided Rs20mn for the advocacy project. It is being implemented by the Regional Institute of Policy Research and Training (RIPORT), a local think tank.

“With civil work almost complete in most components of the GZ project, there is a need to build an institutional mechanism to ensure hassle-free execution of the project. We intend to set up a consultative institutional mechanism based on community and government stakeholders’ interaction for addressing agriculture/irrigation related challenges including conflict mitigation. It will also undertake research for identifying the agriculture/irrigation threats and opportunities in the project area. A project review committee composed of representatives of P&D, agriculture, irrigation, Wapda, SWD and the donors needs to be formed,” said Khalid Aziz, the chairman of RIPORT. “All these steps would help develop a governance model for smooth implementation of the irrigated agriculture in GZ command area.”

“Community awareness and participation is to be ensured. They need to be informed of the challenges and opportunities of shifting from Rod Kohi to canal irrigation system. Awareness sessions in 131 villages regarding canal distribution system and its challenges would be arranged. Village committees would be formed and training for each village committee on on-farm water management, sustainable cropping patterns etc would be provided. Learning visits will be arranged for farmers to the Chashma right bank canal,” he explained.

Aziz said, “The project activities include optimisation of agriculture incomes, land levelling, soil conservation, reclamation of lands, on-farm water management, utilisation of canal water for drinking purposes, awareness about water and land rights, optimisation of cropping patterns, preparation of manual of best agriculture and irrigation practices and identification of reforms and legislation.”

Officials from agriculture and livestock departments also want a role for the departments and warned against duplication of farmers’ organisations to be formed in the project areas. They advocated close coordination between the concerned departments.

Plantation of locally sustainable plants on the canal side and orchards and rangeland development should also be considered.

Gomal Zam Dam: potential and challenges

By Tahir Ali

As Gomal Zam Dam being built in South Waziristan Agency nears completion and is expected to get operational by the end of the year, new opportunities and challenges have emerged that necessitate a comprehensive governance and execution model for conflict resolution, optimum utilisation of resources and smooth implementation of the project.

The GZD is a multi-purpose project consisting of three components –dam and spillway, power house and irrigation system. It is being completed by Wapda and Frontier Works Organisation with financial assistance from the USAID which had provided $ 80mn to help complete the work which was expected to hit snags for shortage of funds.

Secretary Planning and Development Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Dr Asad Ali Khan said that as per the contractors’ report, the dam component is 90 per cent complete. Main canal has been completed while tributaries and irrigation channels are being constructed. The hydro power component is almost complete and will shortly start electricity generation.

He said all stakeholders –the concerned government departments, community representatives and donors – should join hands to make it a success. “The P&D department KP has formed a review committee to supervise and support the advocacy project and to ensure transparency in the project,” he added.

The project has huge financial impacts. Vast tracts of land in the fertile command area in the South Waziristan agency and the districts of Tank and Dera Ismael Khan (DIK) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, mostly rain-fed or irrigated by the traditional Rod Kohi system, would benefit from the scheme.

“It will benefit over 0.3mn farmers in 81 villages in Tank and DIK and would provide irrigation water for 191000 acres of land. It will help reduce flood damage of around $2.6mn and will also generate electricity. It would store 1.14 million acre feet of water for irrigation and drinking purposes, generate around 20 megawatts, sufficient for 25,000 households in the command area,” according to an official. 

Earlier land prices were low and agriculture fetched little. Hence many lands had been abandoned by the absentee landlords. Life standard was low in the project area. The areas either witnessed severe drought or floods that inundated vast areas and flattened crops. But now with prices of land rising up after dam’s construction, new tensions are flaring up.

“As land prices and potential for agriculture incomes have increased, there is discomfort in the command area. Conflict of interest is expected to get deeper. Though I can’t say whether there would be tenants-owners wars that happened in the country in 1970s, as reported tenants-owner tensions are likely to rise in number and depth. This could be a potential threat to the area peace. The government should nip the evil in the bud,” said a community representative.

Ahmad Zeb, a community representative from DIK, the problems of collective land ownership and absentee landlordism could be pestering problems in future if not checked. “The absentee landlords, who had left their lands unattended or to tenants for decades, are returning to take possession of their lands, a move being resisted by the tenants. Resultantly, tenants-landowners tensions are on the rise. Before this becomes a menace for this volatile region bordering the militancy-hit tribal belt, the government needs to proactively check this menace. There is a need for new land resettlement and subsequent distribution amongst their virtual owners,” he said.

No sooner did work on the project begin in 2001, the trend of buying or snatching lands from the ignorant farmers started. However in October 2001, the provincial government banned the sale, purchase, registry, Hiba, settlement of property and transfers of land under the  Gomal Zam Dam Speculation Ordinance, in the project area till completion of the dam.   

Humyun Khan, a Tank community representative, also seconded his thoughts and urged involvement of the administration to overcome this menace.

According to another farmer from the area, main canal has been established and irrigation channels are now being prepared but farmers are reluctant to allow irrigation channels on the paltry amount being offered. Worse, payment is being delayed under one pretext or another.

Again, farmers are unhappy over the division of irrigation water in the 393 morgahs on the basis of different cropping intensities in the command area. A farmer said that some areas have been allotted less water on the basis of low cropping intensity. Coupled with this is the expected huge gap between the water availability at the head and tail-end with the result that the farmers in the tail-end will suffer. This discrepancy needs to be removed.

Considering this, the Gomal Zam Command Area Advocacy project (GZAP), launched recently, is of vital importance as it plans to ensure a hassle-free execution of the project to make it advantageous for the impoverished farming community in the command area of the Gomal Zam.

The Small Grants Ambassadors’ Funds Programme of the USAID has provided Rs20mn for the advocacy project. It is being implemented by the Regional Institute of Policy Research and Training (RIPORT), a local think tank.

“With civil work almost complete in most components of the GZ project, there is a need to build an institutional mechanism to ensure hassle-free execution of the project. We intend to set up a consultative institutional mechanism based on community and government stakeholders’ interaction for addressing agriculture/irrigation related challenges including conflict mitigation. It will also undertake research for identifying the agriculture/irrigation threats and opportunities in the project area. A project review committee composed of representatives of P&D, agriculture, irrigation, WAPDA, SWD and the donors needs to be formed. All these steps would help develop a governance model for smooth implementation of the irrigated agriculture in GZ command area,” said Khalid Aziz, the chairman of RIPORT.

“Community awareness and participation is to be ensured. They need to be made aware of the challenges and opportunities of shifting from Rod Kohi to canal irrigation system. Awareness sessions in 131 villages regarding canal distribution system and its challenges would be arranged. They will be informed about water user rights and best irrigation practices. They need to be guided on how to ensure optimum use of the available water for increasing their output, on water conservation practices and on the new water and crop patterns. Farmers’ organisations are to be formed in villages. Village committees would be formed and training for each village committee on on-farm water management, sustainable cropping patterns etc would be provided. Learning visits will be arranged for farmers to the Chashma right bank canal,” he explained.

 “The project activities include optimisation of agriculture incomes, land levelling, soil conservation, reclamation of lands, on farm water management, utilisation of canal water for drinking purposes, awareness about water and land rights, optimisation of cropping patterns, preparation of manual of best agriculture and irrigation practices, identification of reforms and legislation. We will also conduct research on introduction of locally viable new seeds, adopting better usage water practices, threat of water logging if water intensive crops such as sugarcane is sown. A project management unit is to be formed. The irrigation and revenue experts and department will be consulted and involved in monitoring and evaluation,” Aziz added.

Officials from agriculture and livestock departments urged main role for the departments and warned against duplication of farmers’ organisations to be formed in the project areas by different departments. They advocated close coordination between the concerned departments.

A local said not only the establishment of infrastructure but its sustainability also needs to be ensured in

Plantation of locally sustainable plants on the canal side and orchards and rangeland development should also be considered. For this purpose the research of the agriculture university Peshawar and that of the Gomal University could be obtained.

 

Do talks with Militants mean capitulation to them?

Capitulation to militants?
Unconditional talks with TTP is seen as detrimental to peace
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Mar2013-weekly/nos-17-03-2013/dia.htm#5

Two All Parties Conferences, first by Awami National Party (ANP) and second by Jamiat Ulemae Islam (F) have urged talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) but is there any rationale for these talks?

Prolonged conversations with political workers and persons from different strata have revealed most are against the talks. But they wish to be anonymous while opposing them in public to avoid the militants’ wrath.

“It will help bring Peace, it is said. But have the earlier agreements with militants — Shakai (2004), Sararogha (2005), Miramshah (2006), Khyber (2008) and Swat (2008) brought about peace?” Asks a political activist.

“These agreements were explicitly pro-militants — the state halted operation withdrew troops from demanded areas, announced amnesty for, and released militants, paid them compensation etc. But all this didn’t pacify them; they didn’t stop their war against the state; instead, they got emboldened and more lethal and extended their campaign and sway to other areas,” he adds.

Some apologists, he says, accuse the state and its security forces of not honouring the earlier deals. They always support the narration of militants (anti-state elements) and blame the security forces (state institutions) for spread of terrorism and violation of these accords. “But didn’t militants agree to certain conditions but then violated them; they didn’t take advantage of opportunities given by the state; they used peace-talks as an interval for gaining more areas and strength; they continued to support foreign fighters on Pakistani territory; they killed over 35,000 innocent civilians and 5,000 soldiers and desecrated even their bodies; they least cared for Pakistan’ international compulsions.Talks with them won’t be accepted to the families of martyrs. It will mean surrender, appeasement and our capitulation to them. These can be held only if they surrender and accept the state sovereignty; there is no other option than to do to them what they are doing to us,” the activist says.

“Some analysts argue that when US could hold talks with Afghan Taliban despite their attacks and rejection of Afghan constitution, then talks with the militants should not be marred here by asking for their surrender and ceasefire. They forget the difference between the sitting here and there. Taliban there are fighting the US and its allies who have occupied Afghanistan and the TTP here is waging war against its own people, land and security forces. How could they be equated?”

According to a social activist, it is obvious no state or its people can allow or afford a parallel system or a militant force in its jurisdiction. They can’t be expected to embrace those who are hell bent on their annihilation.

“How can talks be held with them? Have they submitted to state’s writ, its constitution and accepted and repented their mistakes and injustices? Will they unconditionally surrender? Will they cease to indulge in terrorism?”

“The militants this week released another video wherein six Pakistani soldiers were beheaded. Then the TTP’s spokesman offered talks while Adnan Rashid, the master-mind of several high profile attacks who was freed from the Bannu Jail by TTP last year, sat beside him. He is a figurehead. His presence in the video makes a mockery of the talks offer and is meant to molest the establishment,” says another social activist.

“The security forces are fighting for the country and Pakistani politicians should visit the frontlines to express solidarity with them. Instead, they are adding insult to injury by urging unconditional talks with TTP,” he opines.

“Militants and some of their apologists say alliance with the US and drone attacks brought about terrorism in Pakistan. But if so, (one can say only for the sake of argument and if it is not taken as enticing them for attacks on the US) then why militants who attack Pakistani defence installations located hundreds of kilometres away from their hideouts and kill our soldiers and innocent civilians, don’t go and attack the US bases in Afghanistan located a few miles away from there?” he asks.

“So assertive are the militants that when the JUI APC avoids using the term terrorism and militancy, it is welcomed by the TTP as a ‘positive’ development. And when the ANP APC declares talks are the first priority (but not the only solution as declared often by others) and talks about other options, its APC is rejected and it is targeted,” opines another political worker.

“Taliban have threatened to target ANP, MQM and PPP during election campaign and asked people to avoid their meetings and warned other parties to consider their policies. By welcoming some parties as guarantors and declaring others as targets may end up giving open field to the former and restricting it for the latter.”

“In private discussions, most politicians reject talks but they are pro-talks in public so as to avoid being killed. During the APCs and elsewhere, they avoid condemning the Taliban. They urge talks but intentionally avoid discussing the other options (of state operation and retaliation) in case talks fail. They want peace and power but, it seems, political expediency is being preferred over demands of national security and sovereignty? Most are following a policy of appeasement. But never forget the first step in retreat is never the last one,” says a teacher.

Militants assert that they fight for Islam. What is terrorism to others is Jihad for them. They say the government should frame independent foreign policy, separate itself from Afghan war, cede operations in Pakistan, prepare Islamic constitution and repeal laws repugnant to Islam. So is urged by their mentors. “Who should decide on these things? Who should have authority to decide what is right and bad for the country, TTP or popularly elected parliament and rulers? Should anyone wage war on his state if one doesn’t agree with any of state policies? Should people have exclusive authority to elect their rulers or states can be taken over by force? Bullet or ballot, which should determine things? Should one believe in supremacy of constitution to be enforced and explained by the state judiciary or in abdication of state to the Taliban, that they decide and impose whatever they want to?” asks a technocrat.

“Nothing can be achieved with piecemeal half hearted endeavours devoid of any comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy clearly spelling out other post-talks-failure options,” he says.

“Militants don’t have the capacity to fight a sustained war against the state. The security forces have flushed militants out from most of their strongholds. They can no more hold on to an area for long. They only can indulge in hit and run campaign. But their guerrilla warfare can never bring about the change they cherish. It can only inflict material and human losses on the nation to satisfy only their sense of vengeance?” he adds.


……………….

ORIGINAL TEXT of THE ARTICLE.

The other view: Is Dialogue a capitulation to militants?

Tahir Ali

Two All Parties Conferences, first by Awami National Party (ANP) and second by Jamiat Ulemae Islam (F) have urged talks with the Tehreeki Taliban Pakistan (TTP) but is there any rationale for these talks?

Prolonged conversations with political workers and persons from different strata have revealed most are against the talks. But they wish to be anonymous while publicly opposing so as not to annoy the militants.

“It will help bring Peace, it is said. But have the earlier agreements with militants –Shakai (2004), Sararogha (2005), Miramshah (2006), Khyber (2008) and Swat (2008) brought about peace?,” asks a political activist.

“These agreements were explicitly pro-militants -the state halted operation, withdrew troops from demanded areas, announced amnesty for, and released, militants, paid them compensation etc. But all this didn’t pacify them; they didn’t stop their war against the state; instead, they got emboldened and more lethal and extended their campaign and sway to other areas,” he adds.

Some apologists, he says, accuse the state and its security forces of not honouring the earlier deals. They always support the narration of militants (anti-state elements) and blame the security forces (state institutions) for spread in terrorism and violation of these accords. “But didn’t militants agree to certain conditions but then violated them; they didn’t take advantage of opportunities given by the state; they used peace-talks as an interval for gaining more areas and strength; they continued to support foreign fighters on Pakistani territory; they killed over 35000 innocent civilians and 5000 of soldiers and desecrated even their bodies; they least cared for Pakistan’ international compulsions. Talks with them won’t be accepted by the heirs of martyrs. It will mean surrender, appeasement and our capitulation to them. These can be held only if they surrender and accept the state sovereignty; there is no other option than to do to them what they are doing to us,” the activist says.

“Some analysts argue that when US could hold talks with Afghan Taliban despite their attacks and rejection of Afghan constitution, then talks with the militants should not be marred here by asking for their surrender and ceasefire. They forget the difference between the sitting here and there. Taliban there are fighting with the US and its allies who have occupied Afghanistan and the TTP here is waging war against its own people, land and security forces. How could they be equated,” he argues.

According to a social activist, it is obvious no state or its people can allow or afford a parallel system or a militant force in its jurisdiction. They can’t be expected to embrace those who are hell bent on their annihilation.

“How can talks be held with them? Have they submitted to state’s writ, its constitution and accepted and repented their mistakes and injustices? Will they unconditionally surrender? Will they cease to indulge in terrorism?”

“The militants this week released another video wherein six Pakistani soldiers were beheaded. Then the TTP’s spokesman offered talks while Adnan Rashid, the master-mind of several high profile attacks who was freed from the Bannu Jail by TTP last year, sat beside him. He is a figurehead. His presence in the video makes a mockery of the talks offer and is meant to molest the establishment,” says another social activist.

“The security forces are fighting for the country and Pakistani politicians should visit the frontlines to express solidarity with them. Instead, they are adding insult to injury by urging unconditional talks with TTP,” he opines.

“Militants and some of their apologists say alliance with the US and drone attacks brought about terrorism in Pakistan. But if so, (one can say only for the sake of argument and if it is not taken as enticing them for attacks on the US) then why militants who can attack against Pakistani defence installations located hundreds of kilometres away from their hideouts and kill our soldiers and innocent civilians don’t go and attack the US bases in Afghanistan located a few miles away from there?,” he adds.

“So assertive are the militants that when the JUI APC avoids using the term terrorism and militancy, it is welcomed by the TTP as a ‘positive’ development. And when the ANP APC declares talks are the first priority (but not the only solution as declared often by others) and talks about other options, its APC is rejected and it is targeted,” opines another political worker.

According to him, Taliban have threatened to target ANP, MQM and PPP during election campaign and asked people to avoid their meetings and warned other parties to consider their policies. By welcoming some parties as guarantors and declaring others as targets may end up giving open field to the former and restricting it for the latter, he argues.

“In private discussions, most politicians reject talks but they are pro-talks in public so as to avoid being killed. During the APCs and elsewhere, they avoid condemning the Taliban. They urge talks but intentionally avoid discussing the other options (of state operation and retaliation) in case talks fail. They want peace and power but, it seems, political expediency is being preferred over demands of national security and sovereignty? Most are following a policy of appeasement. But never forget the first step in retreat is never the last one,” says a teacher.

“Militants assert that they fight for Islam. What is terrorism to others is Jihad for them. They say the government should frame independent foreign policy, separate itself from Afghan war, cede operations in Pakistan, prepare Islamic constitution and repeal laws repugnant to Islam. So is urged by their mentors. Who should decide on these things? Who should have authority to decide what is right and bad for the country, TTP or popularly elected parliament and rulers? Should anyone wage war on his state if one doesn’t agree with any of state policies? Should people have exclusive authority to elect their rulers or states can be taken over by force? Bullet or ballot, which should determine things? Should one believe in supremacy of constitution to be enforced and explained by the state judiciary or in abdication of state to the Taliban, that they decide and impose whatever they want to?,” asks a technocrat.

“Nothing can be achieved with piecemeal half hearted endeavours devoid of any comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy clearly spelling out other post-talks-failure options,” he says.

“Militants don’t have the capacity to fight a sustained war against the state. The security forces have flushed militants out from most of their strongholds. They can no more hold on to an area for long. They only can indulge in hit and run campaign. But their guerrilla warfare can never bring about the change they cherish. It can only inflict material and human losses on the nation to satisfy only their sense of vengeance?” he adds.

(These are the views of the persons. Writer’s total agreement with these is not necessary)

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?

……..

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.

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.

………………………

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.


…………………….

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
2

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.

The rise and fall of Gadoon Industries

Policy

The rise and fall of Gadoon Industries
Initially the Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate was lavishly granted incentives, but then neglected and left to ruin. However, a comprehensive package for investors can save the dying industries
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Dec2012-weekly/nos-30-12-2012/pol1.htm#1

If the establishment of the Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate (GAIE) in an area located far away from the sea-port with no raw material was wrong, the abrupt withdrawal of incentives announced earlier for attracting investment in it was even more appalling. 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.

“The industries whose raw material was abundantly available here — the agriculture processing, packaging and paper board, furniture, cigarette and its allied industries — were neglected,” according to Mumtazuddin, an economist and industrialist.

According to Rangeen Shah, former secretary of the Gadoon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), no industrial estate should have been established at first at such a distant place as Gadoon. “There were no raw materials and market available for industries here. High transportation cost on getting raw material from, and sending finished goods to, other provinces made the GAIE products less competitive. But when incentives were announced once, these should not have been withdrawn on the pressure of industrialists from other areas,” he said.

He said Gadoon had been harmed by policy makers, not industrialists. “With incentives withdrawn in 1991, Gadoon ceased to attract fresh investment and the factories already there mostly closed down or began minimal production. 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.

Zahid Shinwari, 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 incentives were withdrawn, industries went into losses. At its peak, there were around 80,000 employees in the estate but their number is around 16,000 these days. Out of 270 factories, only 73 are fully operational of late. No new factory has been established since then.”

According to an industrialist, Ghulam Mohiuddin, while around 75 per cent industries had been closed down following the withdrawal of incentives, the situation had improved due to the industrial package announced by former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in 2009. “Under the war of terror package, industries in the KP were given exemptions from sales tax, income tax and excise duty on different ratios for three years. These expired in June 2012 and need to be extended for another two to three years,” he suggested.

Continuous loadshedding of electricity and gas has forced many of the industries to work in one or two shifts. Units closed or working in one or two shifts could not sustain for long. The problem has been multiplied by the fact that most of the technical employees belong to Punjab and once they leave, they cannot be available again easily.

 

The estate and the incentives:

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 include 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 government of late Benazir Bhutto announced several incentives for the industries in the province and the GAIE.

The incentives for the province-wide industries included an income tax holiday for 8 years, exemption from sales tax for 5 years and exemption from custom duty on imported machinery. For the 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.

In May 1991, the Nawaz Sharif government withdrew these incentives given to the GAIE under pressure from the Punjab industrialists and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the US because such incentives had not been given to other industrial estates.

Since the withdrawal of incentives, the shifting of machinery from the GAIE was banned but it continued stealthily. However, in May 2012, the industrialists and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government have agreed to lift the ban. This caused the departure of more industries from the estate.

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.

Experts suggest that incentives and industrialisation go hand in hand. Both are interlinked. For example, when the package for the 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.

 

What needs to be done?

According to Mumtazuddin, the estate can be revived as and when the government creates a conducive environment for investment 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 proposed.

“Sales and income tax rebate for five years be announced for the GAIE. Gas and power loadshedding be minimised if not eliminated altogether. Any possible reduction in gas and power tariff will be welcome,” Rangeen Shah pleads.

“To give it 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 in taxes, as suggested by the Federal Board of Revenue, will revive industries which will lead to paying more taxes and clearance of stuck up bank loans on their part,” Shinwari concluded.

 

No benefits for the locals

The establishment of the GAIE was pushed by a desire to provide jobs and livelihood to the locals to stop them from poppy cultivation. 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 or labourers while technicians were hired from Punjab and Sindh.

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.

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.

According to a blogger on Swabi online, GAIE once had 580 industries and mills but due to improper planning, it is losing its charm. “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,” the blogger says.

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

…………………..

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

Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate: first lavishly bestowed, then neglected

By Tahir Ali

If the establishment of the Gadoon Amazai industrial Estate (GAIE) in an area located far away from the sea-port with no raw material was wrong, the abrupt withdrawal of incentives announced earlier for attracting investment in it was even more appalling.

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.

“The industries whose raw material was abundantly available here –like the agriculture processing, packaging and paper board, furniture, cigarette and its allied industries –were neglected,” according to Mumtazuddin, a historian and industrialist.

According to a Rangeen Shah, former secretary of the Gadoon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), no industrial estate should have been established at first at such a distant place as Gadoon. “There were no raw materials and market available for industries here. High transportation cost on getting raw material from, and sending finished goods to, other provinces made the GAIE products less competitive. But when incentives were announced once, these should not have been withdrawn on the pressure of industrialists from other areas?” he said.

He said Gadoon had been harmed by policy makers, not industrialists. “With incentives withdrawn in 1991, Gadoon ceased to attract fresh investment and the factories already there mostly closed down or began minimal production. 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.

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 an industrialist Ghulam Mohiuddin, while around 75 per cent industries had been closed down following the withdrawal of incentives, the situation had improved for the industrial package announced by PM Yousaf Gilani in 2009. “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.

Continuous load-shedding of electricity and gas has forced many of the industries to work in one or two shifts. Units closed or working in one or two shifts cannot sustain for long. The problem has been multiplied by the fact that most of the technical employees belong to the Punjab and once they leave, they cannot be available again easily.

Locals could not benefit

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 or chaprasis while technicians were hired from Punjab and Sindh.

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.

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.

According to a blogger on Swabi online, GAIE once had 580 industries and mills but due to improper planning, it is losing its charm. “The biggest of reasons was that 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 estate and the incentives

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 government of prime minister late Benazir Bhutto announced several incentives for the industries in the province and the GAIE.

The incentives for the province-wide industries 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.

In May 1991, the Nawaz Sharif government withdrew these incentives given to the GAIE under pressure from Punjab industrialists and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the US because such incentives had not been given to other industrial estates.

Since the withdrawal of incentives, the shifting of the machinery from the GAIE was banned but it continued stealthily. However in May 2012, the industrialists and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government have agreed to lift ban. This is feared to cause the departure of more industries from the estate.

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.

Experts suggest that incentives and industrialisation go hand in hand. Both are interlinked. 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.

What needs to be done?

According to Mumtazuddin, the estate can be revived as and when the government creates a conducive environment for investment 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.

“Sales and income tax rebate for five years be announced for the GAIE. 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 in taxes, as suggested by the federal board of revenue, will revive industries which will lead to paying more taxes and clearance of stuck up bank loans on their part,” Shinwari adds.

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.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 15 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.