کلبھوشن، ویانا کنونشن اور اقوام متحدہ کا چارٹر

کلبھوشن، ویانا کنونشن اور اقوام متحدہ کا چارٹر

طاہرعلی خان

http://daanish.pk/6971/

بین الاقوامی عدالت انصاف کی طرف سے کلبھوشن یادیو کیس میں عبوری فیصلے پر پاکستان میں لوگ اپنی سمجھ بوجھ اور سیاسی وابستگی کی روشنی میں تبصرے کر رہے ہیں۔ کوئی اسے جندال کے دورے سے جوڑ رہا ہے، کسی کے خیال میں پاکستانی وکلاء ٹیم کی کارکردگی مایوس کن تھی، کوئی کہتا ہے پاکستان کووہاں جانا ہی نہیں چاہیے تھا اور کسی کے مطابق بین الاقوامی عدالت انصاف کے فیصلے ماننا لازم نہیں اس لئے کلبھوشن کو فوراً پھانسی چڑھالینا چاہیے۔

پاکستانی وکلاء کی عالمی عدالت میں کارکرگی اور وزیراعظم نواز شریف اوران کے دوست بھارتی تاجر سجن جندال کی ملاقات سے اس کو جوڑنے والے نکات پر ایک سے زیادہ رائے ہو سکتی ہیں۔

اقوام متحدہ کے چارٹر کی دفعہ ۹۴ کے مطابق بظاہر اس بات میں وزن دکھائی دیتا ہے کہ پاکستان کے پاس یہ اختیار تھا کہ وہ عالمی عدالت نہ جاتا تو پھر اس کا فیصلہ ماننے کا پابند نہ ہوتا۔ اب چونکہ دانستگی یا نادانستگی میں پاکستان عالمی عدالت میں چلا گیا ہے اس لیے اس پر مزید بات کرنے کا کوئی فائدہ نہیں تاہم آخری نکتہ کہ عالمی عدالت کے فیصلے بائینڈنگ نہیں اس لیے اب کلبھوشن کو پھانسی دے دینی چاہیے، متعلقہ قوانین اور بین الاقوامی ذمہ داریوں سے واضح لاعلمی پر مبنی ہیےاس لیے اس کی وضاحت ضروری ہے۔

اقوام متحدہ کے چارٹر کی دفعہ ۹۴ کےالفاظ یہ ہیں۔ ‘‘اقوام متحدہ کا ہر ممبر وعدہ کرتاہے کہ وہ ہر اس کیس میں عالمی عدالت انصاف کے فیصلے پر عمل کرےگا جس میں وہ فریق ہے۔ اگر کیس کا کوئی فریق عالمی عدالت کے فیصلے کے تحت عائد ذمہ داریوں کو پورا کرنے میں ناکام ہوجاتا ہے تو دوسرا فریق سیکورٹی کونسل سے رجوع کر سکتا ہےجو اگر ضروری سمجھے تو فیصلے پرعمل درآمد کے لئے سفارشات تجویز یا اقدامت کا فیصلہ کرسکتا ہے۔’’ چارٹر کی اس دفعہ کا انگریزی متن یہ ہے۔

UN Charter Article 94

  1. Each Member of the United Nations undertakes to comply with the decision of the International Court of Justice in any case to which it is a party.
  2. If any party to a case fails to perform the obligations incumbent upon it under a judgment rendered by the Court, the other party may have recourse to the Security Council, which may, if it deems necessary, make recommendations or decide upon measures to be taken to give effect to the judgment.

یہ بات تو واضح ہے کہ اب اس فیصلے سے روگردانی ممکن نہیں کیونکہ پاکستان امریکہ جیسی طاقت نہیں رکھتا جس نے کم ازکم دو مرتبہ عالمی عدالت کے اسی طرح کے فیصلوں کے باوجود ملزموں کو پھانسی چڑھا دیا تھا اور کوئی اس کا کچھ نہ بگاڑ سکا تاہم پاکستان کے پاس راستہ کھلا ہے کہ وہ عالمی عدالت سے کلبھوشن کیس کا حتمی فیصلے اپنے حق میں کروانے کے لیے خوب تیاری کرے۔ اس کے لیے چند نکات پیش خدمت ہیں۔

ہندوستان نے ویانا کنونشن کی دفعہ ۳۶ کی روشنی میں پاکستان پر کلبھوشن تک قونصلر رسائی نہ دینے اوراسکی گرفتاری سے بروقت مطلع نہ کرنے پر مقدمہ کیا اور آفشنل پروٹوکول کے آرٹیکل ۱ کی بنیاد پر مطالبہ کیا تھا کہ عالمی عدالت انصاف ویانا کنوشن کے مفہوم اور اطلاق سے پیدا ہونے والے تنازعات پرچونکہ فیصلے دینے کا لازمی دائرۂ اختیار رکھتا ہےا س لیے وہ کلبھوشن کے مقدمے کو سنے تاہم پاکستان نے کہا کہ بھارت اور پاکستان کے مابین ۲۰۰۸ میں قونصلر رسائی کا ایک معاہدہ ہوا تھا جس کی دفعہ ۶ کے مطابق سیاسی اور سیکورٹی بنیادوں پر گرفتاری، حراست اور سزا کی صورت میں ہر ریاست کو کیس کی میرٹ پر خود فیصلہ کرنے کا اختیار دیا گیا ہے۔

دیکھنا یہ ہے کہ آیا ۲۰۰۸ کا یہ پاک بھارت معاہدہ اقوام متحدہ کے چارٹر کے آرٹیکل۱۰۲ کے شق ا کے مطابق اقوام متحدہ کے ساتھ رجسٹرڈ کیا گیا تھا یا نہیں۔ اگرہاں تو پھر پاکستان کا کیس مضبوط ہے تاہم اسے یہ ثابت کرنا ہوگا کہ کلبھوشن ایک غیرقانونی مداخلت کار اور جاسوس ہے۔ اگریہ رجسٹرڈ نہیں تو اسی آرٹیکل کے شق ۲ کے مطابق اقوام متحدہ کے کسی عضو کے سامنے ایسے کسی معاہدے سے مدد نہیں لی جا سکتی۔

انڈیا نے اگر یہی لائن لے لی تو پھراگر پاکستان کشمیر میں بھارتی فورسز کے ہاتھوں انسانی حقوق کی پامالیوں پرعالمی عدالت انصاف میں کیس کرلیتا ہے تو انڈیا بھی شملہ معاہدے کی آڑنہیں لے سکے گا کہ یقیناً یہ بھی اقوام متحدہ کےساتھ رجسٹرڈ نہیں کیا گیا ہوگا۔

تاہم ویانا کنونشن کے آپشنل پروٹوکول کے آرٹیکل ۱سے پہلے چند الفاظ آئے ہیں جن کی بنیاد پر پاکستان اپنا کیس بنا سکتاہے۔۔‘‘جب تک ایک معقول وقت کے اندر فریقین تصفیہ کی کسی اور شکل پرمتفق نہ ہوں، وہ کنوشن کی تفہیم یا اطلاق سے پیدا ہونےکسی بھی تنازع پر بین الاقوامی عدالت انصاف سے رجوع کرنے کی خواہش کا اظہارکرتے ہیں’’۔ یہ معقول وقت کیاہے اور تصفیہ کی اور شکلیں کیا ہیں؟ اور یہ کہ اس کے بغیر کیا کوئی فریق براہ راست عالمی عدالت میں جا سکتا ہے؟

اس کنونشن کے آرٹیکل ۲ کے مطابق‘‘فریقین چاہیں، تواس کے بعد کہ ایک فریق نے دوسرے کو اطلاع دے دی ہو کہ تنازع موجود ہے، دو مہینے کے اندر اندر عالمی عدالت نہیں بلکہ کسی ثالثی ٹریبیونل سے رجوع کرنے پر متفق ہو جائیں۔ اس مدت کے اختتام پر کوئی بھی فریق ایک درخواست سے اس تنازع کو عالمی عدالت میں لا سکتا ہے’’۔

اس کنونشن کے آرٹیکل ۳ کے ذیلی شق ۱کے مطابق اسی دو مہینے کی مدت میں فریقین چاہیں تو عالمی عدالت سے رجوع کرنے سے پیشتر اصلاح و تصفیہ کے کسی طریق کار پر رضامند ہوں۔ شق دو کے مطابق یہ مفاہمتی کمیشن اپنی تقرری کے پانچ ماہ کے اندر اندر اپنی رپورٹ دے گا۔ اگر اس کمیشن کی سفارشات کو کوئی فریق دو ماہ کے اندر اندر قبول نہ کرے تو دوسرا فریق ایک درخواست کے ذریعے عالمی عدالت کے سامنے یہ تنازعہ لاسکتا ہے۔ دیکھنا یہ ہے کہ عالمی عدالت میں جانے سے قبل یہ شرائط ہندوستان نے پوری کی تھیں۔ کیا اس نے پاکستان کے ساتھ کسی ٹریبیونل یا مفاہمتی کمیشن کے لئے بات کرنے کی خواہش اور کوشش کی تھی؟ اگر نہیں تو وہ اس کنونشن کے تحت براہ راست رجوع کرنے کا حق نہیں رکھتا اور پاکستان کو پرزور انداز میں یہ دلیل پیش کرنی چاہیے۔

پاکستان کہتا ہے کلبھوشن ایک جاسوس ہے جو دہشت گردی کرانے غیرقانونی طریقے سے بھیس بدل کر پاکستان میں داخل ہوا تھا اور اسے ویانا کنونشن کے تحت حقوق نہیں دیے جا سکتے جبکہ انڈیا اسے ایک بےگناہ ہندوستانی گردانتا ہے جس کو قونصلر رسائی اور قانونی امداد کے حقوق حاصل ہیں۔ اب ایک طرف ویانا کنونشن ہے اور دوسری طرف اقوام متحدہ کا چارٹر جو دوسرے ممالک کے اقتداراعلیٰ اور سالمیت کے احترام اور ان کے اندرونی امور میں مداخلت کی اجازت نہیں دیتا۔ ایک طرف ہندوستان کی ویانا کنونشن کے تحت ذمہ داریاں ہیں اور دوسری طرف اقوام متحدہ کے تحت۔ ان میں کس کو فوقیت دی جائیگی؟ اقوام متحدہ کے چارٹر کے آرٹیکل ۱۰۳ کا اس سلسلے میں فیصلہ یہ ہے۔ ‘‘اقوام متحدہ کے ارکان کی اس موجودہ چارٹر یا کسی دوسرے بین الاقوامی معاہدے کے تحت ذمہ داریوں پر کوئی اختلاف واقع ہو جائے تو اس چارٹر کی تحت ان کی ذمہ داریوں کو فوقیت حاصل رہے گی۔’’

کیا اقوام متحدہ کا چارٹر عالمی ادارے کے ممبران کو ایک دوسرے کے اندر مداخلت یا جاسوسی کرنے یا ایسا کرنے والوں کی مدد یا پشت پناہی کی اجازت دیتا ہے؟

Writer’s intro

طاہرعلی خان فری لانس صحافی ہیں، رواداری ، احترام انسانیت اور امن کے پرچارک ہیں اور ان مقاصد کے حصول کے لیے ۔    کے نام سے بلاگ بھی رکھتے ہیں ۔ www.tahirkatlang.wordpress.com لکھتے ہیں. وہ

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Challenges to PTI KP government

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Challenges to PTI government in KP

By Tahir Ali

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talking out of chaos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Urgent steps

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

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

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

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

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

tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

caption

Everyone wants peace, but how?

……..

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

Grey areas in peace agenda and the way forward

By Tahir Ali

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Urgent steps

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

                                                                       (tahir_katlang@yahoo.com)

On Peace-talks with militants

Talking peace with militants

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

caption

What if talks fail?

………………

Original text of the article

Chances of a dialogue between militants and government

By Tahir Ali

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Priorities of the parties

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

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

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

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

Obstacles and hitches 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Person with disabilitys: the way forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

………….

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

Disability in Pakistan, the world and

The way forward

By Tahir Ali

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The way forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding disability and PWDs under risk

By Tahir Ali

What is disability?

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

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

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

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

PWDs under risk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On affordable and accessible agriculture credit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

https://tahirkatlang.wordpress.com 


Tapping the Solar Energy potential

Solar solution
Instead of investing heavily in the oil-run power plants, the government should explore the abundant solar energy potential for power generation
By Tahir Ali
http://jang.com.pk/thenews/nov2011-weekly/nos-20-11-2011/pol1.htm#1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solar technology on the rise in Pakistan

Rise in sale of solar panels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Original text of the article

Utilising the solar energy

By Tahir Ali

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curbing livestock smuggling

Curbing livestock smuggling

By Tahir Ali

http://www.dawn.com/2011/10/17/agriculture-and-technology-curbing-livestock-smuggling.html

TO curb smuggling and regulate export of animals to Afghanistan, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government plans to set up multi-departmental check-posts equipped with vigilance cameras, computers and digital permit readers at the entry points of the province and the tribal belt.

“To be manned by officials from livestock, police and other relevant departments and supervised by area commissioners, the check-posts will record data about movement of animals to and from the province which will be shared with the home department” says Director General of Livestock, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Sher Muhammad.

“Export of livestock will be allowed only via Torkham border in the Khyber Agency. The cattle for export from Punjab will be registered at the Attock Bridge, and issued a certificate. From there, the animals will be escorted by police in the settled area, and then by the political administration in the tribal belt, up to the Pakistan-Afghan border.

“This elaborate monitoring will check smuggling and facilitate legal exporters, preventing misuse of permits for export of animals and meat to Afghanistan,” says Dr Sher.

“The meat/animal permits for Fata will be issued on a daily basis by the livestock department on the recommendations of the relevant political administration. The permitted quota will have to be lifted the same day or else it will expire. Security forces will inform the livestock department of their meat or animal requirements to guard against misuse of their names,” he added.

Special cattle yards will be established to keep the impounded animals which will be subsequently auctioned. To ensure public cooperation, the government will reward those giving information about movement of animals through illegal routes, keeping their names confidential.

The DG said standard operation procedures with clear-cut definition of responsibilities have been issued to the concerned departments, and hopefully the check-posts would start functioning shortly.

Lack of a centralised export permit issuance system in Islamabad, weak coordination among stakeholders and lack of centrally-controlled computerised monitoring of the trade have made it difficult to check smuggling of animals and meat.

Export is a federal subject and its regulation requires close coordination between provincial and federal governments.

However, KP, despite being badly affected by animal exports and smuggling, is not taken on board on the issue of how many animals are to be exported and by which routes.

The installation of digital permit readers is a good decision, but it will not be possible to implement it unless the federal government issues machine readable export permits. Moreover, it requires huge funds and technical support from Nadra which at present is engaged in digitalisation of passports and arms licenses.

The provincial livestock department has submitted legislation on the technology which is likely to be taken up by the provincial assembly shortly.

Prices of animals and meat have surged by 30 to 50 per cent since last year with mutton selling at Rs500-600 and beef at Rs240-300.

A farmer said it was criminal that for the last few years, when the country itself faced shortage of animals and meat was being imported from India, the government had allowed export and smuggling of animals.

“The government has miserably failed to safeguard the interests of the poor consumers. Rather than exporting live animals to other countries, the government should export value-added products like meat, meat products and finished leather goods. The current temporary ban on exports of meat and animals should be extended for at least 10 years to augment the local livestock pool,” he said.

The federal commerce ministry had recently imposed ban on export of meat and live animals for three months, which still continues.

The government usually issues permits for around 0.25 million animals but around thrice the number are taken across the border due to loopholes in the existing system. While officials man the roads, smugglers use the unfrequented routes for smuggling animals.

The phenomenon not only brings about dearth of animals and raise meat prices locally, the leather industry also suffers as the availability of skins comes down.

The Pakistan Tanners Association has called for ban on export and strict control over smuggling of live animals. The leather industry, second largest value-added and export-oriented industry of the country after textiles, got over 17 million skins in 2006 but only eight million in 2010. Consequently, export of leather products has come down to $867 million in 2009 from 1.22 billion in 2007-08.

Apart from smuggling and export and death of around 2 million animals in the floods of this and last year, other factors responsible for the dearth of animals are: the failure to improve the reproductive efficiency, the lack of beef breeds and affordable livestock feed/ fodder and the insufficient curative and preventive facilities and the like.

To increase the livestock population in the country, provision of fodder and feed to farmers on affordable rates, expansion of animal health care system and beef breed development, animal-flattening programme and provision of soft loans to livestock farmers are needed. Cross-breeding of local and foreign cattle could also increase the weight of animals for upto 15-20 per cent.

Agriculture research low in priorities

                   Stuck in time
Agriculture research remains low on the priority list of
the authorities concerned
By Tahir Ali

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2011-weekly/nos-09-10-2011/pol1.htm#2

Agriculture research in Pakistan in general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in particular is being undermined by scant funds, negligence by the government and private sector, and some procedural hitches.

Agriculture research expenditure in Pakistan is just 0.3 percent of its gross domestic product while it is 2, 0.5 and 0.4 percent in Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh respectively. In 2002, research expenditure in China and India was $2.6bn and $1.4bn but it was only $0.17bn in Pakistan. It is much less than the average international expenditure of $10bn for that period. And this meagre allocation too is on the decline for many years in actual terms.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, agriculture research has received only Rs0.24bn while livestock research Rs0.27bn, just around 0.3 per cent of this year total ADP of Rs 85bn. And almost 90 percent of this meagre amount is consumed by establishment/operation and management expenses while expenditure on operational research is restricted from 3 to 10 percent.

In terms of expenditure per research scientist too, Pakistan just spends $0.05mn on its each scientist while Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh spend around $0.35mn, $0.1mn and $0.09mn in this head. For a population of one million, United Kingdom has 1400, the United States has around 2400, India has 64 but Pakistan has only 44 scientists. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with around 25mn population has only five PhDs for this number.

Institutional autonomy and increased flexibility with accountability for research institutes, robust role for private sector, special focus on small-scale farmers and marginal areas, conservation of the natural resources and ecosystems, recruitment of scientists/workers on merit, career structure for scientists, review of mandate of institutions and their rationalization, mechanism to constantly consult the relevant stakeholders for setting up research agenda,  establishment of research coordination fund, operational funds for research-extension linkage and endowment fund for agriculture research and development are some of the steps needed to be taken.

There is an acute shortage of research personnel in the provincial agriculture research directorate. The shortage of senior researchers is particularly serious which, according to an official of the ministry of agriculture, can be disastrous for the directorate, agriculture and for the people in the province.

“Many researchers are performing their duties under compulsion but waste no time when they get an offer from private companies which pay them hefty amounts. Most of the officers are performing their duties in the same scales for the last 30 years despite being qualified,” said the official, on the condition of anonymity.

He said while the researchers at the Pakistan agriculture research council get regular opportunities for promotion, the ones in the province retire in their initial grades despite being as much qualified.

Links between universities and agricultural research institutes and farmers and extension agencies improve performance. But there is still huge room for better coordination between universities, research institutes, and farmers’ and non governmental organisations.

Agricultural education and research is controlled by agriculture universities worldwide. But these were looked after by the KP government till 1986 and then under the USAID funded project for transformation and integration of provincial agricultural network (TIPAN), these were handed over to the Agricultural University Peshawar as agriculture research system (ARS). But in 2006, it has been again given to the government department.

The decision has, experts say, has deprived the research sector and agriculture of plentiful financial resources, technical and material support and close liaison with foreign universities and other research bodies available to university-supervised ARS in the province.

According to Muhammad Khalid, an agriculture expert, the ARS worked pretty well before it was disbanded. “1980s was the golden period for agriculture development as funds, transport, equipments, machinery and foreign trainings were available for research. Most of the technologies being cherished by the province were built then. The research sector should be given back to Agriculture University and the entire extension directorate be left at its disposal to help it transfer the technology to farmers,” he said.

“Scientists respect their teachers and thus coordination would be better and work speedier. Again, it will minimise corruption in project formulation and implementation as university professors and technocrats are usually honest. Universities also have close collaboration with foreign universities and, therefore, get research grants, projects, and technology more for their good reputation and credibility than the government/department which are suspected by international aid agencies. This cannot be denied at least for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where out of a total of Rs16bn of foreign funded projects in the ADP, there is no single project for agriculture,” Khalid argued.

This is due for another reason. Provinces account for 50 percent of agriculture scientists but 18 percent of PhDs against agriculture universities which account for 23 percent agriculture scientists without PhD and 50 percent with PhD. Out of 350 Punjab’s agriculture PhDs, around 270 are from universities while around 90 percent in Sindh are from universities. There are around 130 agricultural scientists having doctor of philosophy in one or the other disciplines of agriculture. Of these, 90 are working in the agriculture university Peshawar while the rest are at institutes.

Twenty five new varieties of different crops, fruits and vegetables were developed during year 2003 while 17 during year 2004 but in subsequent years the pace of development remained sluggish on these fronts.

When another official was asked had that trend subsided after the 2006 decision, he, wishing anonymity, claimed research work had continued and new seeds and technologies had been introduced but also conceded that financial resources at the disposal of researchers had considerably decreased, impacting research work and even maintenance of the precious machinery and technology obtained during the TIPAN had become a major headache for the sector.

The earlier official, however, said rather than association with universities, it is commitment, leadership and internal working of the people in it that matter most.

“ARS, no doubt expedited work, improved fund availability and performance of the sector. But the research staff of the department was not dealt at par with their research fellows in universities. We were neglected in foreign training, education and other benefits as professors had the upper hand in decisions. The reason, thereof, was that the merger was not complete but half in nature for opposition in provincial assembly. So, administratively the department was given to university but for financial needs it was dependent upon the government,” an official said.

However, he conditionally endorsed the handing over of agriculture and its related sector to university. “There should be complete merger. The department officials should be given opportunities for promotion, education and better grades like those available to university professors. If this is ensured, there cannot be any better mechanism for agricultural development,” he said.

National and provincial agriculture research system in Pakistan is multi-departmental like agriculture research institutes Tarnab or single commodity oriented ones like cereal crops research institute, Pirsabak. In all there are six federal and 13 provincial research institutes which are assisted in research work by 13 agriculture/veterinary sciences universities.

The now defunct federal ministry of food and agriculture and that of science and technology and Pakistan atomic energy commission each have four agriculture research establishments while water and power development authority had two such bodies.

 

Biogas plants to meet fuel, energy shortage

Focus on biogas plants

Over 4,000 biogas plants were installed between 1974 and 1987. But with the withdrawal of official financial support, the pace was slowed down and since then only 6,000 plants were installed till 2006. – File photo

To meet the domestic fuel and bio-fertiliser needs, 3,680 biogas plants are planned to be set up in rural areas by June 2012, according to Pakistan Centre for Renewable Technologies.

The Centre says that over 2,100 family-size biogas plants — against the target of 2,500 — have already been set up throughout the country.

The programme, supported by NGOs, farmers’ bodies and the rural support programme netwok, is being implemented by Pakistan Biogas Development Enterprise.

The construction of 30,000 biogas installations planned for next four years will be funded by the four provinces including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with an investment of Rs2.7 billion. A sum of Rs244 million will be disbursed as investment rebate support to households.

Often animal waste is usually not used productively. In Landhi alone, a suburb of Karachi city, around 0.35 million cattle heads are kept in a three kilometre area that produces thousands of tons of waste but 80-90 per cent of it is thrown into the sea. A Canadian firm Highmark Renewables and the KESC jointly intend to set up a biogas plant at a cost of around $70 million which would produce 30 megawatts of electricity besides 400 tons of residue bio-fertiliser.

The biogas plants will considerably decrease the domestic fuel cost. Moreover, biogas will contribute towards environment protection, sustenance of ecosystem and conservation of biodiversity.

According to PCRT gas produced in a small bio-digester which contains about 20 kg dung should be enough to meet the fuel needs of a small family. A bio-digester for any number of animals can be designed. However, the plant must be water/gas-tight and enough manure and water should be added to it every day.

Biogas plants are fairly popular worldwide. There are almost two million biogas plants in India and the facilities have been built even in the United Kingdom and the US through official patronage. Around 89 such plants in the US are consuming 13 per cent or 95,000 tons of waste to produce about 25,000 megawatt of electricity that is sufficient for 2.3 million households.’

There is a huge potential for production of biogas in the country. There are currently around 47 million big animals in Pakistan. Even if 50 per cent of their drop is collected, availability of fresh dung comes to 233 million kg a day that can produce around 12 million cubic meters of biogas per day. The fuel requirement of over 20 per cent of the population could be met only from biogas. It will also produce 19 million tons of bio-fertiliser per year.

Around 70 per cent of population in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa lives in rural areas. Most farmers have two or more cattle head whose dung mixed with an equal quantity of water can be used to produce biogas. Any farmer having at least three animals can set up this plant with a one-time investment of Rs40,000 —50,000.

If individual farmers cannot afford the cost, a few families with domestic animals could jointly install such a plant in their neighbourhood. And by selling the gas to families that do not contribute manure for having no animals, the maintenance expenditure, if any, could be financed with this money.

Over 4,000 biogas plants were installed between 1974 and 1987. But with the withdrawal of official financial support, the pace was slowed down and since then only 6,000 plants were installed till 2006. Firewood, dung and crop residues are major sources of energy for rural and low-income urban households. In 1992, firewood provided fuel to about 60 per cent such households followed by dung in dry form at around 18 per cent. To save deforestation, biogas gas is a viable alternative.

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After a few mistakes were spotted in the above printed version of the article, the original text of the article is hereby reproduced.

Biogas plants to reduce deforestation and domestic fuel budget

By Tahir Ali

Under the project “development and promotion of biogas technology for meeting domestic fuel needs of rural areas and production of bio-fertilizer”, the Pakistan centre for renewable energy technologies (Pcret) plans to install 368 biogas plants in rural areas by June 2012.

Launched in 2008 with a target of 2500 such plants, Pcret has already installed over 2100 family size biogas plants in different parts of the country.

Earlier, based on a feasibility study, a programme implementation plan for domestic biogas of Pakistan was finalised with the support of rural support programmes network, NGOs and farmers organisations and is implemented by Pakistan biogas development enterprise. Though it, the construction of 30,000 biogas installations in 4 years will be supported in four provinces including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a total investment of Rs2.7bn. Rs244mn would be disbursed as investment rebate support to the households who spend on the technology.

However, the potential is too enormous to be satisfied with this number. Animal waste is usually wasted (see picture). In Landhi Karachi alone, around 0.35mn cattle-heads are kept in a 3km area that produce thousands of tons of waste but 80-90 of it is thrown in the sea. A Canadian firm Highmark Renewables with the help of KESC plans to establish world’s biggest biogas plant at a cost of around $70 million that would produce up to 30 mega watt of power and 400 tons of residue bio fertiliser.

With inflation and energy shortage and costliness aggravating with each passing day in the country, biogas plants could considerably decrease the domestic fuel budget and lessen burden on national power grid. Moreover, biogas will also contribute towards environment protection, sustenance of ecosystem and conservation of biodiversity.

According to a Pcret report, a family size biogas plant annually 10056Kg wood or 22200 Kg animal dung or 1104 lit kerosene oil or 540 kg L.P.G or 9000 Kwh of electricity.

Gas produced in a small bio-digester which contains about 20 kg of dung should be enough to meet the fuel requirement of a small family. Based on these calculations, a bio-digester for any number of animals can be designed.  However, the plant must be water/gas-tight. Enough manure and water must be added to it every day.

Biogas plants are fairly popular in Pakistan’s neighbourhood and even developed countries. There are almost two million bio-gas plants in India and the facilities have been built even in UK and USA through official patronage. Around 89 such plants in the US are consuming 13 per cent or 95000 tons of waste to produce about 2500 mega watt of electricity that suffices for 2.3mn households.’

Despite its simplicity and huge potential, the production of biogas has not been given due attention in Pakistan. There are currently around 47 million big animals in Pakistan. A medium size animal drops around 10 kg of dung per day. Even if its 50 percent is collected, the availability of fresh dung comes to 233 million kg a day that can produce around 12 million cubic meters of biogas a day. Since 0.4m gas could suffice the cooking needs of a million Pakistanis, the fuel requirement of over 20 percent of them could be met only from biogas. It will also produce 19 million tons of bio-fertilizer per year, which can boost agricultural productivity.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa too, despite having one million camels, 6mn cattle, 2mn buffaloes and over 12mn sheep and goats, has failed to utilise the waste of these animals to produce biogas which can be used for cooking and power generation and its residue could be used as fertiliser and which has the potential to reduce both the fuel bill and deforestation in the country.

In the cattle breeding and dairy farm in Charsadda, a bio gas plant has been in operation but the innovative technology has not been disseminated on mass scale in the province.

It seems strange as to why to reduce the speed and scale of deforestation especially in the forest-rich Malakand and Hazara divisions, biogas plants have not been installed or the attention of the locals not drawn towards this enormously fruitful and cheap source of energy so far.

Around 70 percent population in the province lives in the rural areas. Most farmers have two or more cattle whose dung mixed with an equal proportion of water can be used to produce biogas. Any farmer having at least three animals can establish this plant with a one-time investment of Rs40,000 to 50,000.

If individual farmers are not ready or cannot afford the expenses, a few families with domestic animals could jointly install such a plant in their neighbourhood. And by selling the gas to families that cannot contribute manure daily for having no animals, the maintenance expenditure, if any, could be financed with this money.

The government needs to announce more attention and funds to spread this technology to countryside. Media should create awareness among the rural community and NGOs and foreign investors should be encouraged to spread it.

Over 4000 biogas plants were installed in Pakistan by the government between 1974 and 1987. But later it withdrew the financial support which reduced the growth rate of this technology and only 6,000 plants were installed till 2006 since then.

A typical biogas plant consists of a digester where the anaerobic fermentation takes place, a gasholder for collecting the biogas, the input-output units for feeding the influent and storing the effluent respectively, and a gas distribution system.

Firewood, dung and crop residues are major sources of energy for rural and low-income urban households. In 1992, firewood provided fuel to at about 60% of rural and low income families followed by dung in dry form at around 18%.

Only 4% of Pakistan’s total area is covered by forest with only 5% area protected. To control reforestation adoption of biogas is a best technology in Pakistan.

 

 

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Unfair Net hydel profit share

Water and Power Development Authority

Water and power development authority

 share

Steps should be taken to ensure actual amount of hydel profits to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

By Tahir Ali

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/sep2011-weekly/nos-18-09-2011/pol1.htm#5

The debate on the net hydel profit (NHP) arrears the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) owes to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has resurfaced with an all parties’ conference in Peshawar, unanimously calling upon the federal government to pay the NHP arrears of Rs258 billion as soon as possible.

Held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti and attended by all major political parties within or without the assemblies, the conference expressed concern over capping of NHP at Rs6 billion and resolved to back the KP government in its NHP endeavours.

Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel, former finance minister and member of KP national finance commission (NFC) team, laments that WAPDA has capped the annual NHP at Rs6bn against the dictates of AGN Qazi formula (QF), which was unanimously endorsed by NFC meeting in February 1988, approved by Council of Common Interests in January 1991 and validated by presidential NFC order No3 of 1991. The NFC had recommended increase of 10 percent on Rs6 billion for future years. He says as per KP’s calculation based on the QF, its annual NHP for 2010-11 stands at Rs40bn against Rs6bn.

“While Punjab is being paid Rs5bn for around 100MW of electricity produced at Ghazi Barotha power project, KP is given Rs6bn despite the fact that it produces around 4000MW and power tariff has been increased manifold since then,” he says.

Besides the fact that Rs6bn was determined based on power tariffs of 1987 at the rate of Rs0.33 per unit, in dollar terms in 1991, Rs6bn equaled $200 million. Now it can fetch around $70 million with the current rate of return.

The Arbitration Tribunal (AT) headed by Justice Ajmal Mian had agreed to QF for calculating NHP for 1991-92 but did not apply the QF mechanism for the years onward and rather adhered to a mechanism of compound indexation of 10 percent per year in NHP, using Rs6.9bn as benchmark which was calculated on the basis of QF by WAPDA for 1991. While the provincial conference projected the arrears at Rs258bn,

Adeel says it is around Rs300bn now. “Apart from Rs75bn NHP arrears (the AT decreed it at Rs110bn but Rs35bn have been paid to the province till now), as per QF and AT award, WAPDA owes us over Rs55bn for 10 percent interest on the outstanding amount and Rs203bn for due but unpaid increased NHP amount post AT award and another Rs40 billion as this year’s NHP,” he says.

Had that period and amount also been included, KP’s outstanding amount against WAPDA would have been much more than at present. It further claimed that according to the QF, the revenues should include all the revenues paid by the consumers, including surcharge and additional surcharges.

WAPDA, however, proposed Rs72bn against Rs83bn already paid, thus claiming Rs10.9bn as overpayment to KP and said that surcharges of Rs829bn and other revenues of Rs195bn could not be used for NHP determination. It also stubbornly rejected as unconstitutional the QF.

KP, realising that WAPDA is too weak financially or reluctant to provide the money, has focussed on the federal government being guarantor of the AT award and rightly so.

Para 3 and 4 of the Presidential NFC order No3 of 1991 states: The net profits from the bulk generation of power at the hydro-electric stations located in the provinces shall be paid by the concerned undertaking established or administered by the federal government (i.e. WAPDA) to the provinces and that the federal government shall guarantee payment of net profits to the provinces concerned by the above undertaking on a regular basis.

Based on the NFC award, AT award was binding on all parties. It had been signed by the then WAPDA chairman Tariq Hamid and secretary finance KP and endorsed by the federal secretary water and power from the federal government. But WAPDA challenged the award in a civil court. Sensing betrayed, KP also went to the Supreme Court against this move where the case is still pending.

When the present ANP-led coalition government was installed, it soon formed an all parties Jirga headed by CM Hoti that met Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in September 2008 and apprised him of their grievances on capped annual NHP and arrears.

The PM promised to solve the problems and formed a committee of experts to present its report within two months on the issues. Later in October 2009, the PM announced payment of Rs110 billion arrears on behalf of WAPDA in five annual installments to be given on July 1 each year with the promise to release first installment of Rs10 but it was paid only in December when the provincial NFC team threatened boycott of its proceedings.

The technical committee is yet to give its decision. KP finance ministry’s white paper says that while participating in the committee, KP shall not accept reopening of issues already decided/settled, that any settlement must conform to the parameters of AT and NFC awards, and that calculation of NHP shall be in accordance with QF.

Last year, the federal government paid Rs25bn simultaneously but it has released only Rs4.6bn till date and intends to release the amount in bits and pieces.

Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, president of Pakistan Peoples Party (S) says the coalition at the centre and province should have no problem in increasing annual NHP, giving the province its arrears along with mark up for the entire period. “Our party would support the government in its bid to get NHP arrears and increase the NHP annual amount as a matter of provincial right. But in case they fail to do so, ANP should come out of the federal government,” he says.

“Arbitration was unnecessary in the matter. NHP is the constitutional right that was accepted by AG N Qazi commission, established in 1987 by CCI and guaranteed by constitutional provisions and no government could have denied NHP to the province. However KP government must stick to the QF and never renege on provincial rights,” he adds.

Sub-clause 2 of Article 157 of the Constitution clearly empowers the provinces to construct power projects, levy taxes on, and fix tariff, for electricity, construct distribution and transmission lines for distribution of power and the provinces should insist on provincial management rather than the central bodies like WAPDA, Nepra and Pepco, etc, but provinces have reneged on their rights.

 

””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

Text of the article as it was sent to the paper

The Net Hydel Profit dispute between KP and WAPDA/federal govt

 

By Tahir Ali

 

The debate on the net hydel profit (NHP) arrears the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has to pay to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa resurfaced again with an all parties’ conference in Peshawar recently calling upon the federal government to pay the due NHP arrears of Rs258 billion as soon as possible.

 

Held under the chairmanship of chief minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti and attended by all major political parties, the conference expressed concern over capping of NHP at Rs6 billion and resolved to back the KP government in its endeavours to get NHP arrears.

 

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa intends to take up the issue with the federal government forcefully in coming days and the issue, inter alia, has the potential to harm the PPP-ANP coalition if it remains unresolved.

 

The Arbitration Tribunal (AT) headed by Justice Ajmal Mian had decreed that WAPDA would pay Rs110bn NHP arrears in equal instalments of Rs25 billion.  Last year, the federal government paid Rs25bn but it has released only Rs4.6bn till date and intends to release the amount in bits and pieces. KP abhors this scenario as it has projected the money in its revenue estimates and the denial or delaying of the amount could expose the province to financial problems.

 

CM Hoti recently said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wanted the NHP amount in cash and would not accept its adjustment against federal government loans as was being suggested.

 

Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel, former KP finance minister and member of KP national finance commission (NFC) team says WAPDA owes us around Rs300bn now. “Apart from Rs75bn NHP arrears, as per AGN Qazi formula (QF) and AT award, WAPDA owes us over Rs55bn for 10 per cent interest on the outstanding amount and Rs203bn for due but unpaid increased NHP amount post AT award and another Rs40 billion as this year’s NHP,” he says.

 

Adeel says as per KP’s calculation based on the QF, its annual NHP for 2010-11 stands at Rs40bn against Rs6bn but laments that WAPDA has capped the annual NHP at Rs6bn against the dictates of QF that had been unanimously endorsed by NFC meeting in February 1988, approved by Council of Common Interests in January 1991 and validated by presidential NFC order No3 of 1991. The NFC had recommended increase of 10 per cent on Rs6 billion for future years.

 

“While Punjab is being paid Rs5bn for around 100MW of electricity produced at Ghazi Barotha power project, KP is given Rs6bn despite the fact that it produces around 4000MW and power tariff  has been increased manifold since then,” he adds.

 

Besides, Rs6bn was determined based on power tariffs of 1987 at the rate of Rs0.33 per unit, in dollar terms in 1991, Rs6bn equalled $200 million but it comes to around $70 million with the current rate of return.

 

The AT had agreed with QF for calculating NHP for 1991-92 but did not apply the QF mechanism for the years onward and rather adhered to a mechanism of compound indexation of 10% per year in NHP using Rs6.9bn as benchmark which was calculated on the basis of QF by WAPDA for 1991- the year prior to restructuring and also when no surcharges and additional surcharges were levied.

 

In the AT, the MMA government had claimed Rs595 billion (Rs292bn principal amount and the rest mark-up) from 1991-2005 but it had abandoned NHP demand from 1973 to 1991 as well as interest on the amount WAPDA owed to KP.

 

Had that period and amount also been included, KP’s outstanding amount against WAPDA would have been much more than at present.

 

It further claimed that according to the QF, the revenues should include all the revenues paid by the consumers, including surcharge and additional surcharges.

 

WAPDA however proposed Rs72bn against Rs83bn already paid, thus claiming Rs10.9bn as overpayment to KP and said that surcharges of Rs829bn and other revenues of Rs195bn could not be used for NHP determination. It also stubbornly rejected as unconstitutional the QF.

 

KP, realising that WAPDA is too weak financially or reluctant to provide the money, has focussed on the federal government being guarantor of the AT award and rightly so.

 

Para 3 and 4 of the Presidential NFC order No3 of 1991 states: The net profits from the bulk generation of power at the hydro-electric stations located in the provinces shall be paid by the concerned undertaking established or administered by the federal government (i.e. WAPDA) to the provinces and that the federal government shall guarantee payment of net profits to the provinces concerned by the above undertaking on a regular basis.

 

Based on the NFC award, AT award was binding on all parties. It had been signed by the then WAPDA chairman Tariq Hamid and secretary finance KP and endorsed by the federal secretary water and power from the federal government. But WAPDA, showing its intransigence, challenged the award in a civil court.

 

Sensing betrayed, KP also went to the Supreme Court against this move where the case is still pending.

 

When the present ANP-led coalition government was installed, it soon formed an all parties Jirga headed by CM Hoti that met PM Gilani in September 2008 and apprised him of their grievances on capped annual NHP and arrears thereof besides mark up, and also complaining that the province was being subjected to worst load-shedding and highest electricity tariff.

 

Gilani promised to solve the problems and formed a committee of experts to present its report within two months on the issues of capped NHP amount, NHP up to 2004-05 and from 2005-06  onwards along with mark up.  Later in October 2009, PM announced payment of Rs110 billion arrears on behalf of WAPDA in five annual instalments to be given on July 1 each year with the promise to release first instalment of Rs10 but it was paid only in December when the provincial NFC team threatened boycott of its proceedings.

 

The technical committee is yet to give its decision. KP finance ministry’s white paper says while participating in the committee, KP shall not accept reopening of issues already decided/settled, that any settlement must conform to the parameters of AT and NFC awards, and that calculation of NHP shall be in accordance with QF.

 

Attempts to contact central leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Sirajul Haq, provincial president of Pakistan Muslim League-Q Amir Muqam Khan and Akram Khan Durrani, former CM KP, didn’t succeed.

 

Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, president of Pakistan Peoples Party (S) said the same coalition at the centre and province should have no problem in increasing annual NHP, giving the province its arrears along with mark up for the entire period. “Our party would support the government in its bid to get NHP arrears and increase the NHP annual amount as a matter of provincial right. But in case they fail to do so, ANP should come out of the federal government,” he said.

 

“Arbitration was unnecessary in the matter. NHP was/is the constitutional right that was accepted by AG N Qazi commission, established in 1987 by CCI and guaranteed by constitutional provisions and no government could have denied NHP to the province. However KP government must stick to the QF and never renege on provincial rights,” he added.

 

“But we would also like to know as to what happened to the Hydel Development Fund and the money provided thus far. The provincial finance commission would also be amended accordingly,” he said.

 

Sub-clause 2 of Article 157 of the constitution clearly empowers the provinces to construct power projects, levy taxes on, and fix tariff, for electricity, construct distribution and transmission lines for distribution of power and the provinces should insist on provincial management rather than the central bodies like WAPDA, Nepra and Pepco etc, but provinces have reneged on their rights.

 

WAPDA has always been reluctant to either increase the annual NHP instalment and has been delaying the payment with one pretext or the other. NHP to the province is due since 1973-74 after the constitutional provisions took effect. But no profits were paid upto 1991-92. For the first time, in March 1978, General Ziaul Haq ordered the disbursement of the profits but with no outcome. Several resolutions by KP assembly have also proved futile.

 

tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

Table 1-details of mark up

Details of outstanding mark up on NHP
   (Rs in Billion)  
· Principal Award Amount (F.Y 1991-92 to 2004-05) 110.101
· Mark-up as per Award of Arbitration Tribunal 10%
· Left over amount from Principal 0.101
· Mark-up (9.10.06 to 30.6.07) 7.993
· F.Y 2007-08 (1.7.07 to 30.6.08) 11.010
· F.Y 2008-09 (1.7.08 to 30.6.09) 11.010
· F.Y 2009-10 (1.7.09 to 16.11.09) 4.159
Sub Total 34.273
· Mark-up on Rs. 100 billion 6.170
(From 17.11.09 to 30.06.2010)  
· Mark-up on Rs. 75 billion 7.500
(From 1.7.2010 to 30.06.2011)  
· Mark-up on Rs. 50 billion 5.000
(From 01.7.2010 to 30.06.2012)  
· Mark-up on Rs. 25billion 2.500
(From 1.7.2012 to 30.06.2013)  
Sub Total 21.170
Total (Future Payable) 55.443

 

Table 2- Details of increased NHP

Year wise details of NHP with mark-up (Post Award period on Compound indexation @ 10% per-annum)
I             FY 2005-06  
           a) Provincial Claim 26.32
           b) Amount Received 6
           c) Balance Amount 20
   d) Mark up @ 10% (1.7.2006 to 30.6.2011) 10.51
          Total 30.45
   
ii          FY 2006-07  
a)  Provincial Claim 28.93
 b)  Amount Received 6
 c)  Balance amount 22.9
 d)  Mark up @ 10% (1.7.2007 to 30.6.2011) 9.7
            Total 32.1
iii         FY 2007-08  
a) Provincial Claim 31.82
b) Amount Received 6
c) Balance amount 25.82
d) Mark up @ 10% (1.7.2008 to 30.6.2011) 7.74
            Total 33.56
Iv           FY 2008-09  
a) Provincial Claim 35
b) Amount Received 6
c) Balance amount 29
d) Mark up @ 10% (1.7.2009 to 30.6.2011) 5.794
Total 34.80
v          FY 2009-10  
a) Provincial Claim 38.50
b) Amount Received 6
c) Balance amount 32.50
d) Mark up @ 10% (1.7.2010 to 30.6.2011) 3.24
Total 35.75
Vi        FY 2010-11  
a) Provincial Claim 42.35
b) Amount Received 6
c) Balance amount 36.35
Total 203.03
Grand Total along with Rs55.44 mark up 258.47

 

Under performing sugar crops research institute

I took photo with Canon camera.

Image via Wikipedia

Sugarcane research in a shambles
By Tahir Ali Khan
August 29, 2011

http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/29/agriculture-and-technology-sugarcane-research-in-a-shambles.html

KHYBER Pakhtunkhwa’s Sugar Crop Research Institute in Mardan is handicapped for paucity of funds, shortage of research staff and meagre seed production capacity, according to its officials.

“About 80 per cent of our limited budget is consumed by wage-bill and the rest is spent mainly on land preparation, cultivation and harvesting at the SCRI and two other research stations at Harichand and Dargai. There is virtually nothing left for research and development work,” said Sartaj Ali, farm manager at the SCRI.

While there are no funds for purchasing new equipment and machinery, load-shedding and low voltage often damage the precious equipment installed in early 1990s.

The institute is spread over 96 acres. One-third of the 70 acres available for cultivation is kept fallow while the rest is under cane cultivation. “But only 15 acres are under seed multiplication that produce around 440 tons of quality cane-seeds. This is clearly insufficient for the province. And in its subsidiary, Harichand farm too, 10 of 20 acres available for cane-seed multiplication remains unused for want of funds,” he said.

“The SCRI has developed 22 cane varieties so far. Some of these varieties have increased yield and income of farmers.

“Sugarcane farmers in 75 per cent areas grow CP77/400, a seed variety developed by SCRI. Sugarcane requires abundant water, more than required by rice crop. So we have developed SPSG-394, Mardan 92, and NCO310 as well for water stress areas. Most of these varieties have 12 per cent of sugar recovery ratio, the highest at world level,” he added.

“We are trying to bridge the huge gap between yields of farmers, institute and progressive farmers. While our average yield at the SCRI is about 32-36 tons, progressive farmers obtain around 40 tons per acre while per acre yield of common farmers is not more than 16-20 tons,” he said. “Their efforts in this regard have failed due to weak extension service and liaison with farmers as a result of shortage of staff and resources at our end and ignorance and lack of cooperation and coordination at the farmers’ side,” he added.

The staff shortage has also undermined the research work at the SCRI. Lack of service structure and opportunities for promotion as well as poor remuneration have discouraged many a talented people to join as research officers and encouraged the existing ones to leave for lucrative offers elsewhere.

“Over half of the 20 research officers’ slots are lying vacant. Country-wise, the situation is even worse. Over 260 of the 350 research officers in the SCRIs countrywide have left. Another problem is that 60 per cent of the existing research officers, recruited in 1973-74, are retiring in the next three to four years. There is no replacement for them in sight, he said.

Responding to a question on the causes of low cane yield, Ali said: “Most farmers resort to intercropping of wheat and cane which reduces output. Most of the farmers use less than the recommended four tons seed per acre, resulting in less plant population. They also do not use enough fertiliser and pesticides. Moreover, they still grow old varieties and delay cultivation and harvesting of cane for better prices.

Regular watering, inconsistent rains and abundant poplar trees around field also reduce yield and cause termites problems as well. Another issue is that of small landholding. Land fragmentation reduces cropped areas and compels farmers to do inter-cropping and makes commercial and mechanised farming impossible,” he added.

“Farmers should grow early cane varieties (CP72/2086, CP80/1827, Mardan93 and CP85/1491) as these mature in September/October and provide better sugar recovery (12 per cent) and price, an opportunity to cultivate wheat in time and save ratoons from frost and cold,” he added.

According to him, globally, education, research and extension are looked after by the universities. “In Pakistan too from 1982 till 2006, research work was the responsibility of universities. This expedited the process of sanctioning the project. But in 2006-07, during the previous MMA government, research was handed over to the department, not a good decision,” he said.

“The agriculture department has launched Rs30 million project for sugarcane seed production through chip buds, chip nodes and standardisation of technology in KP but it needs to be speedily and effectively implemented.”

Cheating in the examinations

Cheating their way to success

 

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/aug2011-weekly/nos-14-08-2011/pol1.htm#1

Use of unfair means in examinations need to be strictly checked to improve credibility and standard of education
By Tahir Ali

Examination results show the ability and capability of students, teachers and institutions. Good results ensure admission to reputable institutions and eventual success in life. The problem of cheating during examinations has rendered Pakistan’s examination system and its results invalid and unreliable. What is more dangerous is that some students think of it as their right.

The superintendent and other invigilators at a given examination centre have to confront pressure during examinations, ranging from requests by friends and family members to allow cheating to political pressure, and attacks and death threats from student groups. All these pressures are aimed at one thing – to allow students use of unfair means to get good grades.

These allegations of corruption are not restricted to the invigilating staff. There are complaints that invigilating staff of choice is appointed at the boards of intermediate and secondary education (BISEs), papers are leaked and even better grades are maneuvered with the help of BISEs staff and marking/checking personnel there, charges which are denied by BISE officials.

The National Accountability Bureau in collaboration with BISEs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently organised a seminar on the issue where a strategy against the same was prepared. Cheating in the board examinations, in one way or the other, is in the knowledge of all and everyone wants to correct the situation, states an official document prepared by a local BISE.

“Parents’ obsession with their child’s future, private education sector’s efforts to ensure good grades for their candidates, lack of required facilities, non availability of sufficient teachers, books and material in schools, paucity of female teachers and invigilators, absence of criteria and favouritism in teachers’ selection for examination duties both at the department and the board levels, political interference, etc, are some of the problems in this regard,” the document says.

According to a senior educationist, who wishes anonymity, negligible remuneration and daily allowance for invigilators for examination duties is another problem.

“Daily remuneration of Rs25, Rs37 and Rs60 for common invigilators, the deputy superintendent (grade 16 or 17) and superintendent (grade 17-18) respectively gets them around Rs225, Rs700 and Rs1080 for the full duration of the examination. Teachers also get a daily allowance of Rs280 and Rs500 respectively in the same order which is being given at this rate for years now. Earlier, it was given on the basis of running basic pay but now at lump-sum basis. Then there are mostly two papers a day but there is no extra remuneration or daily allowance for them for the double paper,” he says.

The remuneration has remained unchanged for years though examination fees and prices have been increased manifold. “Do the board members, chairman, secretaries, controllers and the other officers at the BISEs draw the same level of remuneration and daily allowances for their examination related duties? It is not unnatural if, in this backdrop of meager remuneration by the BISEs, invigilators do not perform their duties on merit and impartially,” he says.

Examination centres also face paucity of space. The students are to be seated at four meters distance from each other but it is hardly practised for space constraints in the halls. Congested seating, resorted primarily to accommodate the students for shortage of space, makes supervision difficult and makes inter-students communication and copying easy, especially when there is frequent power shutdown in the summer, the examination season in the country.

Students usually use mobile phones for unfair means in the examination. Despite warnings from the staff, they bring mobile set(s) along with them. Invigilators ask them to switch their sets off but they usually dodge. Then, in some cases, megaphones are also used by outsiders to help candidates answer the questions.

Number of staff is also a problem. An invigilator is appointed for 40 students. Though an extra invigilator is allowed for 11 more students but if there are less than 11 students, one invigilator may have to supervise upto 50 students, which makes his or her task very difficult.

In some papers, where the number of students increases from average (on the basis of which the staff is appointed) the superintendents are allowed to appoint extra invigilators but they usually avoid doing so as it requires lengthy procedures to take sanction for extra staff and then no one is ready to do the duty for a day or two.

The boards can punish the cheaters on a written complaint from the superintendents, by canceling the concerned paper(s) or ban him/her for a few years from taking examination. But the examiners usually avoid so for three reasons: One, to avoid lengthy paperwork required to prepare a tenable unfair-means case; two, this can ruin the victim’s future beyond repair; and three, students often react violently at cases. Recently, a local BISE’s controller of examinations narrowly escaped an attempt on his life.

Some invigilators also point out that if students resort to hooliganism, it is the examiners who are accused of not using ways to avoid such incidents. What this practically means is: allow the cheaters if stopping them can create problems.

All the stakeholders in the examination system – students, their parents, teachers, schools and BISEs, who are responsible, though in varying degrees, for rampant malpractices will have to make efforts to stop or minimise this scourge.

It requires a three-pronged strategy to guard against cheating in examination: before, during and after the examination. Teachers and students need to fully commit themselves to teaching/learning process. Students should revise notes at home. Schools with hostel facility usually show better performance. Competitive environment in classes and a proper mechanism for guidance and counseling students are also needed in schools.

To improve teaching at schools, a system of reward and punishment for teachers should be introduced. The performance report of all teachers for this purpose should be prepared on a quarterly basis by the departmental inspection teams from lower classes, rather than on annual basis and at Matric or intermediate levels as these days.

Increase in remuneration and daily allowances of staff and then appointment of honest invigilators should be ensured. This can be easily done by computerising the record and the process of invigilation staff selection. The education department should forward the lists.

Teachers’ unions should not be allowed to interfere in the examination. Ruling political parties will have to take initiative by disowning their political wings in teachers and let the board administrators decide things on merit. Interference by outsiders can be prevented by police personnel and daily visits of inspectors to the examination centre. Moreover, fully enclosed examination halls could also help overcome the problem.

Through awareness campaigns in the print and electronic media and through functions and lectures, people should be convinced of the repercussions of using unfair-means in a students’ career.

“Complete dependence on external examination in total disregard to internal examination for final result of the students is flawed. A comprehensive testing system, which takes into account the results shown by students in both the internal examination conducted by his institution and external one by BISEs, will greatly minimise corruption in the examination,” adds the educationist.

tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

 

Following is the original text of the article as sent to the paper.

 

Arresting cheating in examinations

By Tahir Ali

It is examination season in the country. Examination results are the yardsticks of students, teachers and institutions ability and good results in it ensure admission in reputable institutions and eventual success in life. But the problem of malpractices during the examination has not only rendered Pakistan’s examination system and its results invalid and unreliable but what is more dangerous is that students are beginning to think of it as their right.

The superintendent and other invigilators at a given examination centre, have to confront several pressures and enticements during the examinations. Ranging from requests by friends and family members to allow malpractices to offers for money to political and social pressures and attacks and death threats from students’ groups, the students, their parents, teachers and institutions try their best to get undue advantage from them during the examination papers.

All these efforts, offers and pressures are aimed at one thing- to allow students the use of unfair means to earn good grades.

These allegations of corruption and malpractices are not restricted to the invigilating staff. There are complaints that invigilating staff of choice is got appointed at the boards of intermediate and secondary education (BISEs), papers are leaked and even better grades are manoeuvred with the help of BISEs staff and marking/checking personnel there, charges which are denied by BISE officials.

The national accountability bureau in collaboration with BISEs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently organised a seminar on the issue where a strategy against the same was prepared.

Cheating in the board examinations, in one way or the other, is in the knowledge of all and everyone wants to correct the situation, states an official document prepared by a local BISE.

“Parents’ obsession with their children future, private education sector’s efforts to ensure good grades for their candidates, lack of required facilities, non availability of sufficient teachers, books and material in schools, paucity of female teachers and invigilators, absence of criteria for and favouritism in teachers’ selection for examination duties both at the department and the board levels, political interference and pressures by the teachers unions are some of the problems in this regard,” it says.

According to a senior educationist, who wished anonymity, negligible remuneration and daily allowance for the invigilators for the examination duties is exacerbating the phenomenon.

“Daily remuneration (tea, meal expenses) of Rs25, Rs37 and Rs60 for common invigilators, the deputy superintendant (grade 16 or 17) and superintendant (grade 17-18) respectively gets them a around Rs225, Rs700 and Rs1080 for the full duration of the examination. Teachers also get a daily allowance of Rs280 and Rs500 respectively in the same order which is being given at this rate for years now. Earlier it was given on the basis of running basic pay but now at lump-sum basis. Then there are mostly two papers a day but there is no extra remuneration or daily allowance for them for the double paper,” he said.

“The remuneration has remained unchanged for years though examination fees and prices have been increased manifold.  Do the board members, chairman, secretaries, controllers and the other officers at the BISEs draw the same level of remuneration and daily allowances for their examination related duties? It is not unnatural if, in this back-drop of meagre remuneration by the BISEs, invigilators hardly resist the offers provided by the institutions and parents of candidates and if they don’t perform their duties on merit and impartially,” he questioned.

According to another public school teacher, examination centres also face paucity of space. “The students are to be seated at four meters distance from each other but it is hardly practised for space constraints at the halls. Congested seating, resorted primarily to accommodate the students for shortage of space, makes supervision difficult, renders inter-students communication and copying easy and makes time miserable for students and the staff especially when there is frequent power shutdown in the summer, the examination season in the country,” he opined.

Students usually use mobile phones for unfair means in the examination. Despite warnings from the staff, they bring mobile set(s) along with them. Invigilators ask them to switch their sets off but they usually dodge. Then megaphones are also used by outsiders to help the candidates answer the questions.

Staff paucity problem is also there. An invigilator is appointed for 40 students. Though an extra invigilator is allowed for 11 more students but if there are less than 11 students, one invigilator may have to supervise upto 50 students. Is it possible?

In some papers where the number of students increases from average (on the basis of which the staff is appointed) the superintendants are allowed to appoint extra invigilators but they usually avoid doing so as it requires lengthy procedure to take the sanction for the extra staff and then no one is ready to do duty for a day or two.

The boards can punish the cheaters, on a written complaint from the superintendents, by cancelling the concerned paper(s)/examination or ban him/her for a few years from taking examination. But the examiners usually avoid so for three reasons: One, to avoid the lengthy paperwork required to prepare a tenable unfair-means case; two, this can ruin the victim’s future beyond repair; and three, students often react violently at UFM cases and even fire at the staff. Recently, a local BISE’s controller of examinations narrowly escaped an attempt on his life.

Some invigilators also pointed out that, if students resort to hooliganism anywhere for strictness of the invigilating staff and any untoward incident happens as a result, it is the examiners who are accused of not knowing/using the tactics to avoid such incidents. What this practically means is clear: allow the cheaters if stopping them can create problems.

How to tackle the problem

All the stake-holders in the examination system- students, their parents, teachers, schools and BISEs, who are responsible, though in varying degrees, for rampant malpractices, will have to make concerted/joint efforts to stop or minimise this scourge.

It requires three-pronged strategies to guard against cheating in examination: before, during and after the examination.

Teachers and students need to fully commit themselves to teaching/learning process. Students should revise the work at homes. Schools with hostel facility usually show better performance.

Competitive environment in classes and a proper mechanism for guidance and counselling of the students are also needed in schools.

To improve teaching at schools, a system of reward and punishment for teachers should be introduced in schools. The performance report of all teachers for this purpose should be prepared on quarterly basis by the departmental inspection teams from lower classes, rather than on annual basis and at Matric or intermediate levels as these days.

Increase in remuneration and daily allowances of the staff and then appointment of honest invigilators should be ensured. This can be easily done by computerising the record and the process of invigilation staff selection. The education department should forward the lists.

Teachers’ unions should not be allowed to interfere in the examination. Ruling political parties will have to take initiative by disowning their political wings in teachers and let the board administrators decide things on merit.

Interference by outsiders can be prevented by enough strength of police personnel and daily visits of resident inspectors to the examination centre. Moreover, fully enclosed examination halls could also help overcome the problem.

Through awareness campaigns on print and electronic media and through functions and lectures by social, political and religious celebrities, people should be convinced of the repercussions of the unfair-means for the students’ careers. Obviously, when children know that their parents can go to any limit to get them pass, why would they work hard after that?

“Malpractices in the examinations could be minimised by reducing the weightage of external examination. The present complete dependence on the external examination in total disregard of the internal examination for the final result of the students is flawed. A comprehensive testing system which takes into account the results shown by the students in both the internal examination conducted by his institution and external one by BISEs besides taking other aspects of his performance and character, apart from the written one, will greatly minimise corruption in the examination,” adds the educationist.

(tahir_katlang@yahoo.com)

 

Swat: The way forward

Batkhela Bazaar (Off Day)

Image via Wikipedia

Swat: what’s the way forward?

The area needs a lot more attention now than what it needed before

By Tahir Ali

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/jul2011-weekly/nos-24-07-2011/pol1.htm#3

During my visit to Swat last month, I talked to many people in Batkhela, Chakdara, Mingora, Madyan, Bahrain and Miandam. Not only in Swat but elsewhere too, lack of scientific approach, jumping to conclusions created by widely-held conspiracy theories and an acute absence of dialogue between the public and the establishment are not only hampering development of mutual trust but harming efforts to develop national consensus on anti-terrorism strategy.

There is military presence but other than several check-posts where military or police personnel register and identity destination of tourists, there is nothing uncommon. Hoteliers are required to register particulars of the guests and military vehicles patrol the roads casually. I think that presence of security is natural as Swat has been under tumultuous conditions for years. There is simply no room for complacency and negligence here.

Many people in Swat acknowledge that extremists’ ability to occupy an area has been crushed but say they could stage a comeback anytime as their leadership has not been arrested or killed and those arrested have not been accounted so far. The fear is so pervasive that no one is ready to come on record against either of the parties.

Conflict of opinion is bound to occur in a problem where human beings with different backgrounds and analytical capability are involved. Conformity by all to official or militant account is impossible and the objective should be unity in diversity in an environment that allows freedom of thought and dissent encourages dialogue and avoids equating those with genuine reservations on the role and strategy of establishment with the anti-state elements.

If there are loopholes in the official account, the account of war on terror of the men in the street in Swat is no different from the rest of Pakistan where conflicting, often ridiculous, conspiracy theories are embraced as facts and opinions are formed on their basis.

As elsewhere, there is considerable confusion on the causes of the problem. To some Swatis, Taliban and terrorism are the products of Pakistan’s pro-American foreign policy but they also blame Mossad, RAW, CIA or Black Water for these acts. Again, many believe Taliban wanted to create state within the state, had the blessings of foreign agencies and the state did the right thing to crush them.

But some also accuse the civil and military establishment of being too lenient initially and narrate how the army and police stood silent when the Taliban killed the people. Yet, others exonerate them and think it was the negligence, inaction or purposeful silence of the MMA-led provincial government that provided the space and opportunity to the militants to expand their area of influence.

Many others admit they had committed the mistake of siding with the insurgents — near revolt-like situation in 1994 led by Sufi Muhammad, and the 2007-9 uprising led by Fazlullah.

Some Swat people are unhappy over the establishment’s double standards on counter-terrorism strategy. “In Pakhtun areas challengers of state’s writ are crushed while those in Punjab, which is more significant for Pakistan’s stability than the former, are tolerated and their extremist ideology is allowed to flourish,” says a man in his 40s, not wanting to be identified.

A few point out how the militants managed to collect huge quantities of sophisticated weapons and established training centres. Many think it strange that with so much patrolling and many security checkposts around, militants are still able to attack. “Where did the terrorists come from and go? There were hundreds of militants according to official estimates, tell us how many have been killed or captured,” says a resident from Chakdara.

Many others are thankful to the army and say army presence has saved many lives and properties from falling prey to mutual enmities created by suspicions of spying in the area. First, the Taliban killed many for being pro-establishment and then security agencies hunted the ‘anti-state’ actors and their abettors. The victims and their families in both cases thought someone in the neighbourhood to have spied on them. This created many local enmities.

Some people in the area think terrorists are being used as puppets by ‘agencies’ to take dollars and justify the huge/permanent military presence in the area. What struck me the most was that this mindset was even held by apparently educated people.

The state and its security apparatus needs to open up and allow dissent in its interactions with the people. Special teams of teachers and psychologists accompanied by men from civil and military agencies should visit seminaries and schools in the area and allow open questioning of their narrative. This way they would be able to apprise themselves of the real mindset of the people.

There should be no doubt that most of the insurgents have used lack of speedy justice to attract people to their agenda. Most of the Taliban cadres comprised young minds who are susceptible to violent agenda. They should be taught that reformation of societies through violent and militant ways results in more loss and acute anarchy in their midst. De-radicalisation programme for militant youngsters and their families is good but it needs to be replicated in Punjab.

The solution to the problems lies in our patient and judicious approach to problems, an equitable distribution of wealth in society, poverty alleviation and job opportunities.

The state should try to build a consensus against militancy in the country. The concept of ‘bad’ or ‘good’ militants needs to be given up. The political class should offer dialogue and amnesty to militants if they are ready to lay down arms and submit to the writ of the state.

The writer is a freelance journalist who blogs at:

https://tahirkatlang.wordpress.com

Following is the text of the article in original ( as I had sent it to the paper)

Analysis of the situation in Swat

Time for public-military open dialogue

By Tahir Ali

Asim Sajjad Akhtar in these pages last week analysed the situation in Swat. During my visit to Swat last month, I talked to numerous persons in Batkhela, Chakdara, Mingora, Madyan, Bahrain and Miandam. In the light of what I saw and ascertained, some of his observations on the effects of the catastrophe, the profound suspicions, unanswered questions and fear amongst the people, on the lack of any meaningful critique in Pakistan on the war on terror and that before taking any position on ‘war on terror’ one should visit Swat and see the long-term consequences of war on ordinary Swatis could be endorsed, but one cannot completely agree with his assertions that army loathes everyone else there, including the police, and that there are irreconcilable holes in the official account of the war on terror.

Not only in Swat but at the national scene too, lack of scientific attitude, our national malady of jumping to conclusions, suspicions created by widely-held conspiracy theories, and an acute absence of open dialogue and of liaison between the public and establishment are not only hampering development of much needed mutual trust but harming efforts to develop national consensus on anti-terrorism strategy.

There is military presence but not that much as is suggested. Other than the several check-posts where military or police personnel register the identity and destination of tourists, there is nothing uncommon. Hoteliers are required to register the particulars of the guests and military vehicles patrol the roads casually. I think that much care and security is natural as Swat has been under tumultuous conditions for years. There is simply no room for complacency and negligence here.

Their attitude with the public at large is not that bad either, provided you obey the rules or cooperate.

Many Swatis acknowledge that extremists’ ability to occupy an area has been crushed, but say they could stage a comeback anytime as their leadership has not been arrested nor killed and those arrested have not been accounted so far. The fear is so pervasive that no one is ready to come on record against neither of the parties.

Conflict of opinion is bound to occur in a problem where human beings with different backgrounds and analytical capability are involved. Conformity by all to official or militant account is impossible and the objective should be unity in diversity in an environment that allows freedom of thought and dissent, encourages dialogue and avoids equating those with genuine reservations on the role and strategy of establishment with the anti-state elements.

To me, just as patriotism is not confined to conforming to official version alone, liberalism and objectivity also cannot be equalised with attacking the state policies at any cost. Unfortunately it has been.

If there are loopholes in official account, the account of war on terror of the men in the street in Swat is no different from the rest of Pakistan where conflicting, often ridiculous, conspiracy theories are embraced as facts and opinions are formed on their basis.

As elsewhere, there is considerable confusion on the causes of the problem. To some Swatis, Taliban and terrorism are the products of Pakistan’s pro-American foreign policy but they also blame Mossad, RAW, CIA or Black Water for these acts. Again many believe Taliban wanted to create state within the state, had the blessings of foreign agencies and the state did the right thing to crush them. But some also accuse the civil and military establishment of being too lenient initially and narrate how the army and police stood silent when in their eyesight, the Taliban butchered the people. Yet others exonerate them and think it were the negligence, inaction or purposeful silence of the MMA-led provincial government that provided the space and opportunity to the militants to expand their area of influence and increase their power and resources. Yet many others admit they had committed the mistakes of siding with the insurgents quite a few times- 1890s insurgency of Mad-mulla against the British, near revolt-like situation in 1989 and 94 led by Sufi Muhammad and the 2007-9 uprising led by Fazlullah, for example.

Some Swatis are unhappy over the establishment’s double standards on the counter-terrorism strategy. “In Pakhtun areas –like Swat and tribal areas– challengers of state’s writ are crushed while those in Punjab, which is more significant for Pakistan’s stability than the former, are tolerated and their extremist ideology is allowed to flourish,” a man in his 40s said.

A few point out how the militants managed to collect huge quantities of sophisticated weapons and established training centres and think it strange that with so much patrolling and many security checkposts around the militants are still able to come and attack. “Where did the terrorists come from and go? There were hundreds of militants according to official estimates but please tell us how many have been killed or captured,” said a chakdara resident.

They need to be reminded that army and police need authorisation for attack which was not there until the incumbent ANP-led government gave it a go-ahead. They need to be reminded that despite success of the operation, militants would continue their intermittent strikes for years to come. After all, you cannot man all entrances and stop those all the time who want to attack.

Many are thankful to the army and say the army presence has saved many lives and properties from falling prey to mutual enmities created by suspicions of spying in the area. “First the Taliban killed many for being pro-establishment and then the security agencies hunted the ‘anti-state’ actors and their abettors. The victims and their families in both cases thought someone in the neighbourhood to have spied on them. This created many local enmities. Enmities in Pakhtoon societies go on for generations. Time is the best healer but I think it may take around 25-30 years to heal the wounds created by mutual suspicions or actual wrongs,” according to a teacher.

There were some hardliners who at first said there were no militants and when confronted, opined they were the agents of the establishment and those killed are no more than official sacrifices for a ‘greater national cause’ They thought terrorists are being used as puppets by ‘agencies’ to take dollars and justify the huge/permanent military presence in the area.  What struck me the most was that this profound suspicious mindset was even held by apparently educated fellows. They also need to be addressed. But the mainstream reconcilable population badly needs special sessions with open questioning to erase their suspicions before it is taken in by the propaganda in the streets and family functions.

The state and its security operatus needs to open up and encourage dissent with its stance in its interactions with the people. Special teams of teachers and psychologists accompanied by men from civil and military agencies should visit seminaries and schools in the area and allow open questioning of their narrative. This way they would be able to apprise themselves of the real mindset of the people rather than the taken-for-granted-consensus against militants.

There should be no doubt that most of the insurgents have used the lack of speedy, easily and locally available justice to attract people to their agenda.

 

Most of the Taliban cadres comprised young minds who are susceptible to any violent agenda for their nascent minds and needs to be separated and saved from the groups that arouse their emotions and keep them from pursuing education. They should be taught that reformation of societies through violent and militant ways results in more loss, less advantage and acute anarchy in their midst.

 

The de-radicalisation programme for militant youngsters and their families is good but it needs to be replicated in Punjab.

 

In Swat recently, Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani rightly insisted on the need to fight the “political, psychological or religious” trends which lead to radicalism. Solution to the problems lies in our non-reactionary, patient and judicious approach to world problems, an equitable distribution of wealth in society, poverty alleviation and job opportunities, a robust and big middle class, rule of law, interfaith harmony and saying goodbye to emotionalism and puritanical approach and non-interference in the affairs of other states.

The state should try to build an anti-private jihad consensus in the country. The concept of ‘bad’ or ‘good’ militants needs to be given up. The political class should offer dialogue and amnesty to militants if they are ready to lay down arms and submit to the writ of the state. Religious-political parties and scholars must discourage militancy.

The writer is a freelance columnist who blogs at:

https://tahirkatlang.wordpress.com

Foreign debt accumulation and its implications

The Debt Collection

Image via Wikipedia

Foreign debt accumulation and its implications

By Tahir Ali Khan

The News 16-5-2100

With grave threats to the economy such as terrorism, deteriorating law and order situation and recent floods, the government has resorted to obtain foreign loans that amount to billions of dollars. In such difficult state of affairs, should the government consider to seek a debt waiver from the international community?

Pakistan’s external debt has doubled in the past four years and the government is currently spending more than four times as much per person on servicing external debt than on healthcare.

Latest loans from IMF ($7 billion), World Bank ($1 billion) and Asian Development Bank ($2 billion) will further increase the country’s present foreign debt of about $58 billion. Its external debt will go up to about $73 billion in 2015-16, as debts that were rescheduled after 9/11 in return for Pakistan’s support in war on terror are effective again. The ratio of debt servicing will also expand as a result. This may lead to an already debt-trapped country to face even more predicaments in a few years time. The country is currently paying on average over $3 billion on debt-servicing. It means payment of Rs710 million a day and Rs30 million every hour to lenders.

The government’s inability to adopt austerity measures and curtail its burgeoning expenditure has left it with no choice but to seek costlier foreign loans and thus overload the people with more taxes to repay these borrowed funds.

The reconstruction and rehabilitation of militancy and flood-battered areas require billions of dollars. In addition, the ruling leadership has limited finances to run the country’s affairs. If the government’s scarce financial resources are utilised on repaying loans, then what will be left for poverty alleviation and social sector development? These areas have clearly been neglected by successive governments in the past and even today things have barely changed for the better.

Though the UN made a historic appeal to the international community last year (after Pakistan was hit by ravaging floods) to wholeheartedly provide assistance funds to the country for the reconstruction process, promises of loans have so far failed to materialise. Last year international aid agencies, Oxfam and ONE International called upon international finance institutions (IFIs) and lending countries to cancel all of Pakistan’s external loans.

It is an ironic fact that France received more than fifteen times, Japan more than five times, South Korea four times, and China three times money in debt payment from Pakistan last year as compared to their respective flood donations, as calculated by Oxfam. Consuelo Lopez-Zuriaga, Oxfam’s Head of Humanitarian Campaigns had dubbed it madness and absurdity and urged that Pakistan’s debts were written off so that reconstruction was started in full swing. Pakistan, however, could not capitalise on the aforesaid case.

There was contradiction in the narratives of two federal ministers at the Pakistan Development Forum last year. While the Interior Minister Rehman Malik requested for waiver of Pakistan’s external debt, Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh disowned the call made by Rehman Malik, saying that asking for a debt write-off was never an option before the government and that it was a grave issue with serious consequences. This could negatively affect the country’s sovereign credit rating and make it difficult for it to raise money from the capital market in future.

He argued that most of the foreign debts were obtained from multilateral agencies and Pakistan had made commitments to these institutions while seeking loans, therefore being a sovereign nation, Pakistan should/would fulfil its commitments.

The government has announced measures to restrict its internal borrowing to 10 per cent of the previous year’s revenue collection and provincial borrowings at an equivalent of six-week expenditure of the previous year, but nothing of this sort has been done on the front of foreign loans.

It seems that the economic managers of the country are more interested in creating money to repay foreign lenders than to take Pakistan out of its present quagmire. Out of the total loans received from the US, almost 85 per cent of the aid money goes back to Washington.

There are numerous laws and resolutions which support the notion of writing off debts. Article 25 of the International Law Commission stipulates that “in case of an actual threat or a prospective peril to a state’s essential interests, the state is excused for not performing an international obligation”. A number of democratically elected governments -Argentina, Burkina Faso, Peru, Mexico, Paraguay, and Ecuador for example- have had refused debt payments on the basis of this rule. Pakistan can also decline to pay back its loans under this principle.

Pakistan’s current debt-to-GDP ratio is around 62 per cent, exceeding the 60 per cent limit set under the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act. Pakistan is fast approaching the debt-to-GDP ratio of 80 per cent, which according to the World Bank is default stage.

According to a 1980 resolution by UN commission on international law, a state cannot be expected to close its schools, hospitals and universities, abandon public services to the point of chaos, simply to have money to repay its foreign debts.

IMF had cancelled all its debt ($268 million) to Haiti, after a catastrophic earthquake hit it earlier this year. The cancellation was given through a newly established Post-Catastrophe Debt Relief Trust Fund, set up for this purpose. Pakistan, hit by a similar calamity, could have also resorted to the same measure.

Beginning in 1996, developed countries, under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, cancelled debts amounting to $110 billion and $93 billion, which belonged to African countries. The facilitated countries agreed to channel their debt savings to poverty reduction.

The success story of these nations can be replicated in Pakistan where expenditure on health and education combined stands at less than 2 per cent of the GDP. The foreign debts incurred by various regimes did not benefit the people of Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan should appeal to the international community and the IFIs to cancel these loans, as they did in the case of Haiti.

In long term perspective, foreign loans become a source of poverty, backwardness and economic subjugation. New loans are taken to repay old ones and most debtors in turn have to spend more on debt servicing than they do on health and education combined.

If the rupee is devalued or dollar gets stronger, the rupee cost of the foreign debt goes up. At the moment, the government is buying dollars at almost Rs85 to service foreign loans obtained at Rs9.90 for a dollar or a little more in the 1970s and 1980s.

Foreign loans should be taken only for development projects in the country. A debt audit commission should be established to make an inquiry into all the foreign loans attained thus far and how these funds have been utilised. On a final note, the government needs to restart a national self reliance scheme for self-sufficiency and to get rid of the debt burden.

ensuring fair price for farm produce

Improving the support price system

By Tahir Ali Khan

DAWN April 25, 2011

http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/25/ensuring-fair-price-for-farm-produce.html

“RATHER than bringing my tomatoes to this far away market to sell it at a price which even cannot cover the transportation expenses, I better destroy the crop in the field,” said a farmer who had brought the commodity from Sindh to the vegetable market in Mardan.

A truck-load of tomato could fetch him barely Rs35,000 while his expenses on its transportation were Rs65,000.

This is often witnessed in case of most crops in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially those which are not covered by support price mechanism.

To get the badly needed money or sell perishable items, small farmers try to dispose of their produce quickly. The agro-based mills/factories and commission agents, who usually work as cartels, reduce demand to depress prices. Farmers are forced to sell their crop below the cost of production in times of prices crash.

Without minimum guaranteed support price for some crops, farmers suffer in years of good crop as well.

The scope of price support system should be enlarged to cover more crops like maize, horticulture. The support price should be determined after consulting all stake holders and taking into account multiple factors—-the cost of production, domestic and world prices, parity prices, domestic and international demand and supply situation, comparative economics of competing crops, real market prices, profitability of input use, impact of support price on other sectors of the economy and the incidence of poverty in a particular region etc.

An agricultural costs and prices commission is needed to be set up in all provinces to provide data and the basis for fixing support and procurement prices of agricultural commodities.

The support/procurement price system is needed to promote equity, productivity, price stability, and agricultural development and to ensure a fair return for the produce.

Initially eight crops – wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane, some oilseeds, gram, onion and potato – were covered by the support price system. However, under the pressure of international lending agencies, it was restricted to four crops – wheat, cotton, rice and sugarcane in 2001. The procurement prices for wheat and rice are implemented through Passco, for cotton through Trading Corporation of Pakistan, and for sugarcane through sugar mills.

Support price is the minimum guaranteed price which the growers are offered when the market price tends to fall following a bumper crop. And if the market price is better, they could sell their produce elsewhere. This policy usually encourages farmers to grow price-supported crops.

Support price in the country was determined by the Agriculture Prices Commission from 1980 to 2000. The commission was initially an autonomous body. Then, under goading from the lending agencies, it was made an attached ministry of agriculture ministry and later converted to Agriculture Policy Institute (API). The Agricultural Development Commissioner has the additional charge of API Chairman. The reports prepared by API, however, are hardly considered by the government.

After the Cotton Export Corporation and Rice Export Corporation of Pakistan, responsible for cotton and rice respectively, were closed, the task of implementing the support price of cotton was left to the Trading Corporation of Pakistan and that of rice to Pakistan Agricultural Services and Storage Corporation (Passco). After the disbandment of Agricultural Marketing and Services Limited, there is no agency to procure potato and onion. Same is the case with oilseed crops after the closure of Ghee Corporation of Pakistan.

Despite trends of liberalisation and deregulation, the system of guaranteed minimum price is used in many countries to stabilise prices of farm produce. India too has the Agricultural Costs and Prices Commission, set up in 1968, to ensure a minimum guaranteed price to growers for their output.

The support price system needs to be revamped. While big farmers benefit disproportionately and consumers are often badly hit, the poor farmers do not benefit much from it.

Tobacco is an important cash crop. But its weighted average price (Wap) is dismally low. According to Haji Niamat Shah Roghani, a farmer, calculated the cost of production of tobacco in 2010 at Rs165 per kg while its Wap notified by the Pakistan Tobacco Board was Rs98.

“The price should have been over Rs200 per kg on the back of escalating prices of inputs. Tobacco growers should be meaningfully involved in price determination. While the cost of production of per hectare tobacco was fixed on the basis of 3000kg per hectare yield, companies made purchase agreements with farmers on the basis of 2100kg PHY which goes against the interest of the growers,” he argued.

Maize is another staple food crop which doesn’t have a support price and public procurement mechanism. The government should announce a minimum support price, and procure maize from farmers.

Again, though the official minimum support price for sugarcane was Rs125 per 40 kg, local millers offered up to Rs338 per 50 kg to farmers.

“It speaks volumes of the government’s indifference and lack of information on the ground realities. Look at the price fixed by it and the one offered by mills,” said a farmer.

Globally, five types of prices – monopoly, procurement, support, free-market, and administrative prices – are being used for agriculture produces.

Monopoly prices are fixed by the government below the market prices and the producer is compelled to sell his produce to government or its designated/authorised agencies. This policy is rigid and harms the farmers but is pro-consumers.

From 1950 onwards, Pakistan opted for the procurement price system in which the farmers were free to sell their produce in the open market but the government reserved the right to purchase the produce anytime at a fixed price. The price thus fixed is generally lower than the market price.

Free market prices are beyond government control and are fixed by the dynamics of supply and demand. In this system, the farmers benefit in a poor crop year when supply decreases and demand increases, but invariably suffer in a bumper crop year when the supply and demand position is reversed.

Administered prices: These are the prices which the government administers for the benefit of producers as well as consumers.

Meeting meat shortage

Meeting meat shortage

Consumers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa demand for a strict check on livestock smuggling

By Tahir Ali (The News 17-04-11)

The issue of livestock smuggling to Afghanistan and Iran and the resultant sharp increase in the prices of meat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has come into the limelight once again. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti told the Provincial Assembly recently he had received reports that animals were being smuggled to Afghanistan.

Conceding the issue of smuggling in the Provincial Assembly recently, Provincial Information Minister, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, informs that smugglers had set up a network to smuggle cattle to Afghanistan. “Cattle smugglers pay money to militants to help them in illegal transportation of cattle,” he discloses. “The matter has been taken up with federal government and the ministry has been asked to change mechanism for exporting cattle to Afghanistan as it was being misused,” he adds.

Meat and mutton prices have gone up to Rs200-250 and Rs350-500 respectively in different parts of the province as against Rs150 and Rs300 a few months ago. Prices of cattle and buffaloes have also risen by about 30-40 percent against last year for shortage of animals resulting from animal/meat export and smuggling to neighbouring countries, besides some other reasons.

Livestock farmers and dealers say the permission to export and the failure to check smuggling of animals and meat can trigger a crisis of meat across the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan in coming months. Mehmood Ali Khan, a livestock dealer, says the federal government should check export licenses. “Adequate supply of animals is imperative to stabilise and control prices. As animal exporters are exploiting the facility, it should be banned until the government makes full arrangements to stop illegal transportation of animals,” he argues. Another livestock farmer and dealer, Bashir Ahmad, says illegal smuggling of animals could be stopped through efficient checking.

Director General Livestock Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Sher Muhammad, says the federal government had issued export licenses for 0.25 million animals and 25000 of these were to pass through the Pak-Afghan border at Torkham. “The government has made elaborate arrangements. Check posts have been established both in settled and tribal areas to allow only legal export of animals and to check smuggling. Proper record is being kept of all the animals that pass through the route,” he informs, adding “But one must remember that all animals going to federally administered tribal areas are not smuggled. The meat needs of the tribal belt have also to be met. Exporters of animals are also issued licences to export livestock to other foreign countries,” he adds.

“As far as our departments are concerned, we facilitate legal export and see that unnecessary hurdles are removed while sick, pregnant and breed-endangered animals are not exported or sent to Fata,” he informs. According to reports in the media, around a million animals are smuggled to Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asian States yearly. This has to be stopped or regulated.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for livestock, Hidayatullah Khan, says the government is working to stop illegal smuggling of animals to Afghanistan and Iran. But an official, who does not want to be identified, admits that the long and mountainous border and poor law and order situation in the militant-infested tribal belt makes the task difficult. Afghanistan shares around 2000 km border with Pakistan that spreads over seven tribal agencies and district of Chitral.

But smuggling is not the only reason behind shortage of animals and meat. Livestock losses in floods, high breeding/nourishing costs, increased transportation charges, the role of middlemen in the sale and supply of animals, and increased government/contractor levies are affecting livestock farmers as well as the common men. Last year, floods had killed 0.15 million animals, causing a loss of around Rs7 billion to the sector in the province.

The problem has been aggravated further by the absence of beef-breeds of cattle in the country. Pakistan has 25, 26, 25 and 57 million buffalo, sheep, and goat respectively. These animals belong to various breeds but none of those has been bred on a mass-scale to produce genetically superior beef and mutton breeds.

Meat production has remained mostly the same. No worthwhile investment has been made in beef and mutton production. Genetic improvement of local livestock species, fattening farms and reproductive efficiency of animals are some of the ways to meet the demand of mutton and beef in the country.

Hidayatullah Khan says one model beef farm would be established in every district of the province. But there is still no development on this count. The Policy Document Livestock Vision-2020 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa says the province is deficient in meat production. The average availability of red meat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 31 grams/person/day (GPD) whereas the requirement is 56 GPD. So there is a gap of about 25GPD.

Dr Sher Mohammad says since there are no beef breeds of cattle in the country, working cattle, cows and buffaloes that are no longer able to work or produce milk are slaughtered and consumed as beef. “Beef cattle farms produce more than double the beef and mutton produced through common ways. By establishing beef farms, the gap between demand and availability can be bridged. These will improve the socio-economic status of the farmers through increasing meat production. It will also bring self sufficiency in meat and check spiraling meat prices,” he argues.

Sajjad Haider, another farmer, says the government should start a crash plan for the uplift of livestock farming. “It should import and use latest reproductive technology and breeding techniques to increase livestock population in the country. Steps to be taken include provision of fodder and feed to farmers on affordable rates, expansion of animal healthcare system, and improvement in breed and animal-fattening programmes. It should also provide soft loans for at least one year to help improve animal health and production,” he says.

“Cross-breeding of local and foreign cattle, buffalos, goat and sheep will help improve local low-productive breeds into highly producing ones. For example, weight at the time of maturity of local cattle is 300kg whereas in case of cross-bred it is 350kg or even more,” Sher adds.

But it also requires availability of semen for artificial insemination services. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, however, has only two semen production units, as many nitrogen-production plants at Peshawar that are vital to keep the semen safe and 361 artificial insemination centres (AICs). More such facilities are needed. Animal breeding and genetics experts should be involved in a campaign to increase meat production.

Increasing tax revenue

Money
Getting to the point

Expanding the tax base and capping the leakages is the only option to raise the much-needed revenue

By Tahir Ali

The News http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/mar2011-weekly/nos-20-03-2011/pol1.htm#4

No state can operate without a proper and fair tax collection mechanism. But a balanced tax structure has affordable rates, proper load distribution and broad range unlike the present structure which has narrow base, and ever increasing rates.

Pakistan must increase its dismal tax-to-GDP ratio (9 percent) to meet the financial requirements for sustainable development and rehabilitation of the ailing economy. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) aims to increase the ratio to 15 percent by 2015 which is a must as high tax to GDP ratio means sustained socio-economic development as more money is there for developing different sectors of economy and for uplifting the living standard of the people.

World powers have been repeatedly urging Pakistan to raise its tax to GDP ratio and that the rich should contribute to the efforts first before asking the international community for money.

US foreign secretary Hillary Clinton has been quoted as saying the most important step Pakistan can take is to pass meaningful reforms to expand its tax base and that the rich and elite support the government and people of Pakistan in their hour of need.

The ratio, unfortunately, has been on the decline due to weak and corrupt tax collection machinery, smuggling, and frail commitment to raise new taxes and bring untapped areas under the tax net. According to an estimate, the government is losing around Rs500 billion annually in tax theft. Governments have always expressed their concerns on the issue but the remedy often resorted to has been defective.

According to a rough estimate, only 2.5 million of the total population of 170 million pays direct taxes which include 1.8 million salaried taxpayers. Most tax payers come in the lowest tax bracket paying meager taxes than they should.

A report jointly released by FBR, Georgia State University, and the World Bank last year said  that every man, woman and child in Pakistan is evading taxes worth Rs4,800 per annum and the existing tax gap stood at 67 percent of the actual tax receipts.

The report said narrow tax base, tax evasion, distrust of taxpayers and administrative weaknesses have taken a toll on tax collection and some sectors are more heavily taxed than others. ÒAgriculture contributes about one-fifth of GDP, and amounts to no more than one percent of revenue. Given the shortfall in agriculture and services, industry carries the brunt of the tax burden, and its tax share is three-times as high as its GDP share,Ó it added.

Pakistani leadership has not created good precedents for the people. Hesitant as Pakistani leadership is to cut down on their bourgeoning current expenditure, the shortage of funds in wake of fewer taxes leaves little room with the government other than either to slash development budget or seek expensive foreign debts as has been witnessed in post-flood situation in the country.

Rather than expanding the tax-base by bringing more people into the tax net, the existing tax-payers, mainly the salaried class, have been subjected to increased tax ratio by successive regimes. This has been done this week as well by increasing the ratio of sales tax.

This strategy has been adopted by all the public service departments as well that have increased their tariffs but done little to curtail the theft that has resulted into a loss of an estimated Rs75 billion for Wapda alone. This has resulted in an increased resort to theft in taxes and services by the people and entrepreneurs.

Tax exemptions are making things even worse. The economic survey 2009-10 states that the influential sectors and individuals have managed to secure tax exemptions worth Rs147 billion in major taxes.

The national economy has also received both internal and external shocks during the past more than thirty years. Prolonged load-shedding and law and order situation has dealt severe blows tot the industrial sector in the country.

Direct taxes were Rs520bn as against the initial target of Rs544bn last year. This year it is Rs633bn which also seems impossible given the straight record of the tax collection machinery. This explains why a tax collection target has been lowered recently.

A broadened but rational and balanced tax structure with minimal exemptions is needed but it requires a strong political will to do so on the part of the government.

Shaukat Tarin, former finance minister, had promised to bring agriculture, stock exchanges and real estate business in the tax net for increased revenues, but he was resisted and, instead, shown the door by powerful lobbies.

Last year, former finance minister Hina Rabbani Khar, had said Pakistan had devised a three-year plan for shifting from indirect to direct taxes, expanding the tax base and taxing the untaxed sectors but the idea seems to have been abandoned to the detriment of the people and development.

For industrial growth and to tap the full potential of the industries, the government should overcome energy shortage and build as many big and small hydro-power generation units as possible. More economic activities and development would yield more taxes.

Smuggling to and from Afghanistan and Iran would have to be stopped or controlled and trans-border trade would have to be regulated for raising the tax to GDP ratio. The informal economy is thought to be two times bigger than formal economy of Rs16000 billion. Corruption will have to be brought down.

PakistanÕs tax rules and regulations are complicated, especially for indirect taxes, and some taxpayers have little knowledge on their obligation. This problem needs to be given due attention.

It is strange that the introduction of universal self-assessment scheme, a scheme to allow taxpayers to determine their tax themselves without being questioned by the tax officials and in the absence of income tax audits, has also failed to augment revenue from taxes. What is probably lacking is a commitment on part of the wealthy to support the state. A robust but fair accountability mechanism is the other option to force compliance.

Provincial taxes contribute no more than 0.4 percent of the national GDP, and as a result provincial governments largely depend on fiscal transfers from the central government to meet their expenditures. The inability of provinces to increase their provincial receipts will have to be tackled.

Missing the point

Missing the point Livestock department needs to be empowered to oversee veterinary drugs and services

By Tahir Ali (The News 27-2-2011)

Strangely enough, livestock and dairy development department in Pakistan has no powers to authorise and monitor veterinary drugs and services, which is obstructing hassle-free delivery of these services and creating complications for the stakeholders, primarily farmers.

Though the livestock department is better equipped, trained and capable of doing the work well, it has been denied these powers and the sector is being supervised by the health department at both federal and provincial levels.

At present, there is no separate veterinary drugs’ registration and regulation authority in the country. The health department issues licenses to animal druggists, monitors veterinary medicines and services and checks the sale of counterfeit veterinary drugs but it obviously cannot do that efficiently not only for being overburdened with responsibilities but also for being not properly trained for the purpose.

There is a dire need to shift the onus of registration and regulation of veterinary drugs and services to its parent and concerned livestock department rather than assigning the task to an already overburdened health department. The move will ensure efficient and effective delivery of veterinary drugs and services and improve their monitoring and reporting systems.

President all Pakistan Veterinary Medical Council Muhammad Arshad, says “Departments that have been formed for a purpose should be dealing with their respective task and not vice versa as is the case here. The health department officials are simply not qualified and lack the required expertise to oversee the veterinary sector properly. These responsibilities should be handed over to the livestock or food and agriculture department,’ he says adding, “There are highly qualified specialists with the livestock department who know the drugs and the nature and requirements of veterinary ailments. They will ensure effective monitoring of the sector.”

But, unfortunately, the health department has taken advantage of its clout to first take and later maintain the sector under its ambit though it is utterly unjustified if considered from the point of merit and farmers’ welfare,” he says.

Dr Ghulam Muhammad, a veterinary expert, says a separate veterinary drugs’ authority under the livestock department was urgently needed and the government should legislate for the purpose. “The posts of veterinary assistants can be upgraded and they can be authorised to ensure the availability of veterinary drugs and services to farmers. They are trained and possess the requisite expertise for working in the sector and will be dealing it better which will help farmers,” he says.

“Health inspectors or officials may be competent persons but only a veterinary expert knows well if a particular animal-specific drug or equipment is permissible or otherwise,” he argues.

“At present, substandard livestock drugs are openly sold in the market. To add to farmers’ woes, there are countless livestock quakes providing unauthorised diagnosis, therapy and prescription services to farmers with the result that the livestock suffers from ailments like low productivity of milk and meat,” Dr Ghulam informs.

Arshad says there are over 100 lawful veterinary manufacturers and about 200 veterinary drug importers in the country. “Illegal manufacturers are in thousands and are supplying animal drugs under the garb of herbal drugs. There are laws to stop the practices but health department officials have done nothing about it,” he says.

Director General Livestock and Dairy Development Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Sher Muhammad, says his department intended to legislate and request the government to hand over the responsibility of checking and monitoring the veterinary drugs and services to the livestock department. “Devolution of departments to the provinces is underway. When this process completes, we will come to know which components of the department are assigned to the provinces. Then we’ll prepare legislation and request the government to pass it from provincial assembly,” he says.

Haji Naimat Shah, vice president of Anjuman-e-Kashtkaran Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is unhappy that manufacturing and selling of substandard veterinary drugs and unauthorised services to farmers continue unabated.

“Weak coordination and communication between the livestock and health departments cause delay in taking actions against the culprits selling, for example, fake veterinary drugs and working as animal doctors unlawfully”, he says.

While several veterinary drugs require freezing temperatures to maintain their efficacy, they are kept at normal temperature for lack of refrigerators and air-conditioners at the stores.

The livestock and dairy sector accounts for 52 percent of agriculture, 11 percent of gross domestic product, around 9 percent of exports, and feeds about 50 to 60 million people in the country. It also accounts for 51 percent of provincial GDP in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

More than 90 percent livestock is owned by small farmers and it is their main source of income. By patronising and developing the livestock sector, their financial position can be improved which will push them away from extremist forces in the country.

Even though total veterinary drug sales exceed billions of rupees per year in the country, it covers just about 10 percent of the total livestock industry potential in Pakistan. With a very large livestock population and progressing poultry industry, there is great potential for investment in the veterinary pharmaceuticals.

Officials of the health department agree that there is a need to do more work on the subject to improve the efficiency of the livestock department. Drug Act of 1964 would have to be amended to give the livestock department more powers. “We should think and plan about increasing the capacity of the livestock department as the health department might lack the required expertise,” says a health official who does not want to be identified.

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