Covid-19: A Blessing in Disguise

Covid-19: A Blessing in Disguise

By Tahir Ali Khan

“I have a generator which I used to rent to locals but that is not possible anymore as Manga is closed. We are confined to home for last ten days for lockdown after the case of Saadat Khan came to surface. We are working in the fields and catering to the melons. We need plant-spray but it is hard to get as markets are closed. Life is difficult but we must avoid social interaction. I believe there is no difference between shooting people with a gun and shaking hands by a Coronavirus infected person with others,” says Safiullah Khan, a resident of Manga, a town lying some 6km from Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pakistan.

Manga is the home town of Saadat Khan who was the first Corona patient in Pakistan who had contracted Covid-19 in Saudi Arabia while performing Umra there. On return, Khan met, hugged and arranged a banquet for villagers despite clear symptoms and warnings by health officials to keep aloof from all with the result that he not only succumbed to Covid-19 himself a few days later but also infected scores of persons including his villagers, family members and a lady doctor who had met him.

Pakistan has over 4000 confirmed Corona-infections and 60 related deaths so far while there are respectively over 1.4 million and over 82 thousand Corona cases and deaths worldwide. Billions worldwide stand badly impacted by closure of businesses and supplies, home-confinement and joblessness. Millions are in danger of dying from the virus, hunger, slow and insufficient trace/test/treat response and infrastructure on part of the governments and acute carelessness and irresponsible behaviour on part of the people if the virus attack continues. As per the Washington Post, `US fatalities could be over 200,000 soon.

The Covid-19 impact on Global economy and Pakistan economy is estimated at $2.7 trillion and upto $4.95 billion respectively and there are gloomy forecasts for harsh economic conditions ahead, the world, however, is trying hard to contain and tackle the deadly pandemic and its aftershocks.

The World Bank Group has announced $14 billion package. ADB has announced $6.5 Billion initial response aid and the IMF to deploy $1trilion loan capacity to help sustain economies and protect jobs. Pakistan PM too has announced Rs1.25 trillion Covid-19 relief package. China has sent two planes-load of medical aid to Pakistan.

With self regulation, social distancing and care by the people and joint efforts of the public and private organizations across the globe to contain the virus and ensure proper treatment, the threats of COVID-19 may disappear sooner rather than later. But there is a silver lining behind the COVID-19 cloud. The lessons learnt during the calamity are likely to make life easier, happier, simpler and more pleasant than pre-Corona age in the world.

Covid-19 is a defining time. It will long be remembered for the lessons it taught, the opportunities it provided and the changes it brought in life patterns worldwide.

And the people at large have become kinder and friendlier. Enormous Cash-help and food-packages are being widely distributed to the poor in every nook and corner of the country. While the federal and provincial governments are making plans to deliver aid soon, aid organizations and philanthropists in Pakistan are already offering relief to the poverty/Covid-19 stricken people.

Home Confinement, almost nil social distancing for fear of contracting virus, closure of educational institutions, decreased office timings and reduced attendance in offices have afforded great opportunities for talking to near and dear ones at home, studying books, taking exercises, writing diaries/books and reports, watching movies, chatting with friends on social media and discussing things with family members. It has taught us that in the end it is your own family and home that keeps you safe and happy when you are in trouble and need support.

There is less noise-pollution and air pollution. With less traffic on road and industries coming to a halt during the crisis, according to a report in Nature, the ozone layer is continuing to heal and has the potential to fully recover.

The calamity has helped ease political polarization between PM Imran Khan and his political opponents on one hand and the federal government and the Sindh government on the other. Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of Late Benazir Bhutto, recently offered support to PM Khan as well as Shahbaz Sharif, the leader of the opposition in Pakistan’s National Assembly and brother of former PM Nawaz Sharif. Hard critic of Khan Maulana Fazlur Rehman of JUI (F) too has avoided criticism ever-since the crisis began. PM Khan, though, has shown no urgency to respond in same coin.

Covid- 19 has once again shown that our health system has remained underfunded, under equipped, under-staffed and under-developed. And if the matchless hardwork and sacrifices of our insufficiently equipped/endangered doctors and the Pakistan Army and private charity and welfare organizations were not there, we certainly would have seen more dreadful scenario by now.

It has brought home the point that there are highly insufficient hospitals with very few ventilators, testing facilities and per capita bed availability.

According to a World Bank report, there were only 0.6 hospital beds for 1,000 people in 2014 in Pakistan against 3 in Trinidad and Tobago and 2.7 in Saudi Arabia while Gallup Pakistan says in 2015, the population per bed ratio in Pakistan was 1613 which is larger than US’s 350, Japan’s 85 and India’s 1050. And there were 14073 health facilities for 191.7 Million persons i.e. a health facility for 13622 persons.

As per the data of Pakistan’s National Institute of Health NIH Pakistan, by March 31, Pakistan had performed 14658 corona tests of which 1865 are positive which are 13 percent of the total. China, against this, tested over 1.5 million people per week.

The disaster thus has made bare the lack of health infrastructure, lack of modern equipments, insufficient trained personnel and financial resources to cater to the needy in our emergency response programme to deal with the crisis. It necessitates better planning and more money for comprehensive development of the country’s fragile health infrastructure to be able to cope with suchlike disasters in future.

We must therefore allocate more funds for health system for research, development and training and ensuring sufficient medical equipments. The federal government should divert at least 30 per cent of the development and 50 per cent of non-development expenditures to trace, test, treat and support the Corona affected people and build sufficient health infrastructure.

Tracing, testing and treatment of the Covid-19 infected persons and financial support to the poor during/after lockdown is a massive challenge. This can hardly be done by the government alone. National and international donors and relief organisations should also help it cope with the calamity. The importance of close collaboration and coordination among governments, departments and masses, thus, can’t be overemphasized as it keeps from wastage of resources, allocation imbalances and less effective response.

As against some nations hit the most by the virus, Pakistan’s population remains have so far remained mostly safe and this despite widespread public disinclination to take care and avoid mingling with one another. One of the major reasons behind this is the youth ratio in Pakistan’s population which as per unicef Pakistan, has 68 percent population under the age of 30. We all know youngsters in this age have strong immunity against contagious diseases.

Health officials here were not popular earlier. But with their hardwork, selfless service, empathy and untiring efforts in the battle against the Covid-19 despite lack of medical equipments, Pakistani doctors are widely loved these days.

There are religious, medical, psychological, administrative, legal and moral aspects of the Corona-virus issue, therefore consolidated efforts are needed from all the sides and experts. Special care must be made to help and save persons with disabilities.

Tahir Ali Khan is a Mardan-based academic and writer. He blogs at www.tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahirkatlang039@gmail.com

An Appeal to Chinese

An Appeal to Chinese

By Tahir Ali Khan
It was agonizing. There were fewer people than before. All of them were scary and in a hurry. They had to be for they feared they might fall victim to the deadly Corona virus.

The sight and the concern for the future were distressing. I was about to weep and began sobbing. Then I tried to control myself thinking of the people around me. But I just couldn’t hold my tears from rolling down my cheeks.

I was in the mosque for Friday prayers. The prayer leader quickly wrapped up the sermon and the subsequent prayer. Earlier, he had asked the people to do ablutions at home, offer the traditional Sunnah prayers at home and just reach to the mosque for obligatory prayer. He then prayed to Allah, besides other things, to eradicate this menace of Corona Virus quickly and completely.

The people the4n left quickly to offer the remaining Sunnah and optional prayer at home.

I wept because the mosques are on the verge of being closed and we may not be able to attend congregational prayers at these Homes of Allah the Almighty; even the Sacred Mosque at Makkah and the Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH have been shut down for prayers; so do churches, Mandirs, shrines and religious places of other beliefs; Markets, parks and roads are almost empty; Schools and colleges are closed; There is no or less social interaction; We are mostly confined to homes.

But there is more to it.

The entire world has been hit hard by the virus. Thousands have died and hundreds of thousands are in danger. Billions have been confined to homes. World economy is in a shambles. Hundreds of millions are finding it hard to cater to their families in wake of lockdowns and the resultant joblessness and pricehike. Billions may die of hunger in coming months if the virus attack continues.

The world is fighting and trying hard to contain the deadly pandemic. All have to. There is just no other option. We all do. Sooner or later, we will win (If Allaah wills) but the entire world needs to ponder and decide: will it be the last time that the virus played havoc with us? or will it strike back? Will we be on the defensive and trying to cure the patients after being hit by the pandemic or need to be aggressive in our approach to stop the menace from occurring again?

It is here that I want to say something to our brothers in China and other nations who, for their culinary habits, have been playing havoc with the world by becoming the origin of the virus.

You have all rights to eat whatever you like. So, none can force you to eat or not to eat this or that thing. We can only make a humble request. And let me make one. Hope you will accept it in the best interest of your nation and the entire world.

Just AVOID EATING RATS, MICE, BATs, DOGs, PIGS and other animals who are believed to have been the main sources of this and other deadly viruses in the past.
Kindly reconsider your culinary habits, stop eating the dangerous virus-containing and bad-smelling animals and shift to vegetables.

And if you like eating flesh, just move on to other non-dangerous animals like goats, rams and buffalos etc.

We all need to have Empathy. Just think of the deadly effects the eating of such deadly animals has caused to the world. Could we hope you all will put yourselves in our shoes and have mercy on us all living in the world that we share with you? Could you please promise that you will never eat these animals again?

قومی غیرت اور اقتدار اعلٰی

قومی غیرت اور اقتدار اعلٰی

طاہر علی خان

یکم اپریل 2001 کو امریکہ کا ایک جاسوس طیارہ بین الاقوامی سمندری حدود پر پرواز کرتے ہوئے چین کے حینان آئی لینڈ کی حدود میں داخل ہوا تو چین نے اسے اپنے لڑاکا طیاروں کے ذریعے گھیرے میں لے کر اترنے پر مجبور کردیا۔ اس جاسوس جہاز کی ٹکر سے چین کا ایک لڑاکا طیارہ سمندر میں گر کر تباہ اور اس کا پائلٹ مرگیا۔ جہاز اور اس پر موجود عملے کی واپسی پر چین اور امریکہ کے درمیان چپقلش پیدا ہوئ جو کئ مہینے جاری رہی۔

امریکہ کہتا تھا ہمارا جہاز بین القوامی ہوابازی حدود میں محو پرواز تھا جس میں ہر ملک کو جہاز اڑانے کی اجازت ہوتی ہے۔ چین کہتا تھا یہ ہمارے حدود میں اڑ رہا تھا، اس نے ہم سے اجازت نہیں لی تھی اور اس کی ٹکر سے ہمارا جہاز تباہ اور پائلٹ جان سے ہاتھ دھو بیٹھا اب امریکہ اس دخل اندازی پر چین سے معافی مانگے اور جہاز کی تباہی اور پائلٹ کے خون بہا کے طور پر ایک ملین ڈالر ادا کرے۔ امریکہ نے بالآخر دس دن بعد معافی مانگ لی تو اسے اپنے 24 اہلکار مل گئے۔ جہاز کو واپس لے جانے کےلیے گئے ہوئے اس کے پائلٹس کو مگر خالی ہاتھ آنا پڑا۔

چین نے کہا اب یہ جہاز ہماری سرزمین سے نہ خود اڑاکر اور نہ ہی اسے سالم حالت میں کسی دوسرے امریکی جہاز میں لے جایا سکتا ہے بلکہ اب اسے پرزے کرکے لے جانا پڑے گا۔ یوں اس جہاز کے پرزے صندوق میں بند کرکے ایک روسی جہاز میں لے جاکر امریکہ کے حوالے کیے گئے۔ اس کے ساتھ ایک اور کام بھی کیا گیا۔ امریکی اہلکاروں اور جہاز کو لے جانے، رکھنے، اہلکاروں کے کھانے پینے اور جہاز کو ٹکڑے ٹکڑے کرکے واپس بھیجنے کے سارے اخراجات کی مد میں امریکہ سے 34567.89 ڈالرز بھی وصول کیے گئے۔

کیا آپ سوچ رہے ہیں چین ایک طاقت ور ملک ہے وہ اپنے قومی غیرت کے حوالے سے حساس ہو سکتا ہے اور اپنی مرضی بھی منوا سکتا ہے جبکہ غریب اور کمزور ملک آزادی سے اپنے فیصلے خود کرنے کاسوچ بھی نہیں سکتے؟ چلیے آپ کو اپنے ملک کی تاریخ سے ہی چند مثالیں دیتے ہیں جب ہمارے سابقہ حکمران طاقت ور ممالک کے سامنے ڈٹے رہے اور انہوں نے آزادی کے ساتھ اپنے مفاد کو مدنظر رکھتے ہوئے فیصلے کیے۔

یہ 1962 کی بات ہے۔ جنرل ایوب خان ملک کے سربراہ ہیں۔ چین اور پاکستان کے درمیان رابطے اور گرم جوشی بڑھ رہی ہے۔ امریکہ کو پتہ چلتا ہے تو وہ پاکستان کو اس وقت امریکہ کے دشمن چین سے دور رہنے کا کہتا ہے مگر پاکستان ماننے سے انکار کر دیتا ہے کہ چین سے تعلق اور دوستی اس کے ملکی مفاد کا تقاضاہے اور یہ تعلق کسی دوسرے ملک کے خلاف نہیں ہے۔ یہی امریکہ بعد میں پاکستاں کی منت کرتا ہے کہ وہ چین سے اس کی مذاکرات اور تعلقات قائم کرنے کا ذریعہ بنے۔

1969 یاد آرہا ہے۔ اسلامی کانفرنس تنظیم کا اجلاس مراکش کے دارالحکومت رباط میں ہو رہا ہے۔ ہندوستان کو بھی تب ساٹھ ملین مسلم آبادی کی وجہ سے بطور رکن شرکت کرنے کی دعوت دی جا چکی ہے اور اس کا وفد شرکت کرنے پہنچ چکا ہے۔ یہ سن کر صدر پاکستان جنرل یحیٰی اجلاس میں آنے سے تب تک انکار کردیتے ہیں جب تک ہندوستان کو بطور ممبر اجلاس میں شرکت کی دعوت واپس نہیں لی جاتی۔ اجلاس کا وقت صبح دس بجے مقرر ہے مگر وہ اپنے جائے قیام سے باہر آنے سے منکر ہیں۔ انہیں منانے عرب ملکوں اور ایران کے رہنماء جاتے ہیں مگر ناکام ہو جاتے ہیں۔ اس کے بعد ہندوستانی وفد کو کانفرنس کو ناکامی سے بچانے کےلیے اپیل کی جاتی ہے کہ آپ مکمل رکن کے بجائے آبزرور کی حیثیت سے شریک ہوں یا اجلاس میں آنے سے اجتناب کریں مگر وہ بھی نہیں مانتے۔ ادھر صدر پاکستان بھی نہیں آرہے۔ کانفرنس ہال میں دوسرے ملکوں کے وفودبیٹھے ہیں پاکستانی صدر کا انتظار کررہے ہیں۔ اجلاس ملتوی ہوتا ہے بالآخر اگلے روز جب صدر پاکستان کی بات مان لی جاتی ہے اور ہندوستانی وفد کو اجلاس میں شرکت کا دعوت نامہ واپس لے لیا جاتا ہے اور اسے اجلاس میں شرکت نہیں کرنے دی جاتی تو صدر پاکستان اجلاس میں پہنچ جاتے ہیں۔

آئیے اب 1974 کی بات کرتے ہیں۔ پاکستان 1973 کی عرب اسرائیل جنگ کے بعد دوبارہ اس قسم کی صورت حال سے بچنے اور عالم اسلام کے اتحاد کو یقینی کےلیے اسلامی کانفرنس کی تنظیم کا اجلاس بلاتا ہے تو امریکہ وزیراعظم بھٹو کو ایسا نہ کرنے کا کہتا ہے اور نہ ماننے کی صورت میں اسے نشان عبرت بنانے کی دھمکی دیتا ہے مگر پاکستان اس کی بات ماننے سے انکار کرلیتا ہے کہ اپنے خارجہ پالیسی کے فیصلے وہ اپنے مفاد کے تحت کرے گا نہ کہ ان کے کہنے پر۔

اور وہ وقت بھی یاد کریں جب پاکستان نے اپنا ایٹمی پروگرام شروع کیا تو امریکہ اور دوسرے ملکوں نے اسے “اسلامی بم” بنانے سے روکنے کی ہر ممکن کوشش کی، پابندیاں لگائیں، ہمارے حکمرانوں کو دھمکیاں دیں مگر ذوالفقار علی بھٹو مرحوم سے نواز شریف تک سب ڈٹے رہے اور ایٹم بنانے پر کام جاری رہا۔ بعد میں بے نظیر بھٹو مرحومہ کے دور میں بیلسٹک میزائل اور ان کے بنانے کی ٹیکنالوجی بھی حاصل کی گئی اس لیے کہ ایسا کرنا ملک کی سلامتی کےلیے ضروری تھا اور یہی ملک کے مفاد میں تھا۔

1998 کی یاد آرہی ہے جب ہندوستان نے پانچ ایٹمی دھماکے کیے اور پاکستان کو دھمکیاں دینی شروع کردیں۔ اس وقت کی نواز شریف حکومت نے اس پر مذہب، سیاست، سماج اور صحافت سمیت ہر شعبہ زندگی سے منسلک لوگوں سے مشورے شروع کر دیئے کہ کیا کیا جائے۔ اس دوران خفیہ طور پر جوابی ایٹمی دھماکوں کی تیاری بھی جاری رہی۔ دنیا کی طاقت ور انٹلی جنس ایجنسیوں کو شک تھا کہ پاکستان تیاری کررہا ہے لیکن جگہ کا پتہ نہ تھا۔ دنیا کے مختلف ممالک کے رہنماؤں نے پاکستان کو ایٹمی دھماکوں سے روکنے کی کوششیں شروع کردیں، دھمکیوں سے کام نہ چلا تو امریکی صدر نے خود وزیراعظم نواز شریف صاحب کو فون کرکے دھماکے نہ کرنے کے عوض پانچ ارب ڈالرز اور مزید امداد کی پیشکش کی لیکن حکومت نے 28 مئ 1998 کو چھ ایٹمی دھماکے کرکے پاکستان کو مسلم ملکوں کی پہلی ایٹمی طاقت بنادیا۔

2003 میں پاکستان نے عراق کے خلاف فوجی کارروائی کی مخالفت کی اور جنگ میں حصہ لینے کےلیے اپنی فوج نہ بھیجی۔۔ جنگ کے بعد امریکہ اور برطانیہ پاکستان پردباؤ ڈالتے رہے کہ وہ عراق میں قیام امن میں مدد دینے کےلیے اپنی فوج بھیجے مگر پاکستان سمجھتا تھا کہ عراق میں صورتحال خطرناک تھی اور وہاں فوج بھیجنا نقصان دہ ہوگا۔ یوں پاکستان نے ایک دفعہ پھر اپنے مفاد میں فیصلہ لیا۔

نومبر 2011 میں امریکی فوج نے پاکستان افغانستان سرحد پر سلالہ کےمقام پر ایک کارروائی میں 28 پاکستانی فوجی شہید کردئیے۔ پاکستان نے اس کے نتیجے میں نیٹو سپلائ لائن منقطع کردی۔ پاکستان کا مطالبہ تھا امریکہ اس پر معافی مانگے اور قصورواروں کو سزا دے۔ امریکہ چاہتا تھا اس کے بغیر سپلائ لائن بحال کی جائے۔ وہ پاکستان پر مہینوں دباؤ ڈالتا رہا مگر جب تک جولائی 2012 میں اس نے معافی نہیں مانگی پاکستان نے نیٹو سپلائی لائن بحال نہ کیا۔ اس سے پہلے جب امریکی سیکرٹری دفاع نے کہا کہ ہمارا صبر تمام ہورہا ہے تو پاکستانی فوج کے سربراہ جنرل کیانی نے امریکی وفد سے ملاقات منسوخ کردی تھی۔

2011 ہی میں ریمنڈ ڈیوس کا واقعہ ہوا۔ اس نے دو پاکستانیوں کو قتل کیا اور پاکستان نے اسے گرفتار کرکے اس پر مقدمہ شروع کیا۔ یہ امریکہ کے بقول ایک سفارتی اہلکار تھا جسےگرفتارکیا جا سکتا تھا نہ اس پر مقدمہ چلایا جاسکتا تھا۔ امریکہ نے پاکستان پر بے انتہا دباؤ ڈالا کہ ریمنڈ ڈیوس کو فوراً رہاکرے مگر پاکستان ڈٹا رہا۔ پاکستان نے ان کے سفارت کاروں کی تعداد اور سرگرمیاں انتہائ محدود کردیں ۔ باالآخر امریکی حکومت نے ان بندوں کے خاندان والوں کو خون بہا دے کر ریمنڈ ڈیوس کو معافی دلوائ اور یوں عدالت میں راضی نامہ پیش کرکے اس کی جان بخشی کروائ۔

آئیے اب 2015 کی طرف آتے ہیں۔ سعودی عرب، یو اے ای اور اس کے دیگر عرب اتحادی یمن میں اس کے بقول ایران نواز ہوثی باغیوں کے خلاف فوجی کارروائی کرنا چاہتے ہیں۔ اس کےلیے ایک فوجی اتحاد تیار بنایا جارہاہے جس میں پاکستان کو بھی شامل ہونے کی دعوت دی جاتی ہے۔ پاکستان میں نواز شریف کی حکومت ان دو ملکوں کو ناراض بھی نہیں کرنا چاہتی لیکن اس جنگ میں شریک بھی نہیں ہونا چاہتی۔ بالآخر حکومت وہاں فوج نہ بھیجنے کا فیصلہ کرتی ہے کہ پاکستان مزید دوسروں کی ایک غیر ضروری جنگ میں آخر کیوں کودے۔ اس سے یقیناً سعودی عرب اور یو اے ای ناراض ہوئے اور نواز شریف کو اس کا اقامہ کے معاملے پر نقصان بھی ہوا مگر جنگ میں نہ کودنے کا فیصلہ انہوں نے پاکستان کے مفاد میں لے لیا تھا۔

اب ہم 2019 کی بات کرتے ہیں۔ کشمیر میں ہندوستان ظلم و ستم کا بازار گرم کر چکا ہے۔ پاکستان او آئ سی کا اجلاس بلانا چاہتا تھا۔ لیکن سعودی عرب اور یو اے ای نے اس کا ساتھ نہیں دیا۔ الٹا مودی کو ایوارڈز سے نوازا گیا۔ پھر او آئی سی کا اجلاس ہوا جس میں ہندوستان کو بلایا گیا۔ پاکستان نے اس پر احتجاج کیا لیکن “بردران اسلام” نے اس کی بات کو توجہ ہی نہیں دی۔ چنانچہ اس نے اجلاس کا بائیکاٹ کردیا لیکن اسے منانے کسی نے آنے کی زحمت ہی نہیں کی۔

2019 ہی کے ستمبر میں ملائیشیا، ترکی اور پاکستان کے سربراہان نے متفقہ طور پر فیصلہ کیا کہ مسلم امہ کے مسائل کو کماحقہ کوریج دینے، اسلاموفوبیا کے پروپیگنڈے کا توڑ کرنے اور صحیح اسلامی بیانیہ کی ترویج کےلیے یہ تین ممالک ایک مشترکہ چینل بنائیں گے اور ایک مشترکہ کرنسی بھی لانچ کریں گے۔

ترکی، ملائشیا اور ایران نے کشمیر کے مسئلے پر کھل کر ہمارا ساتھ دیا حتیٰ کہ ملائشیا سے ہندوستان نے اربوں ڈالز کا خوردنی تیل درآمد کرنے کا آرڈر کینسل کردیا۔ اب ہمارے وزیراعظم کی منظوری سے اسی ملائشیا میں مسلم ممالک کا اجلاس بلایاگیا جس میں شرکت کا ہمارے وزیراعظم نے وعدہ کیا۔ اچانک وزیراعظم صاحب سعودی عرب چلے گئے اور وہاں شہزادہ سلمان سے ملے تو وہاں سے ہی خبر آگئ کہ وزیر اعظم صاحب ملائشیا نہیں جائیں گے۔ پاکستانی وزیرخارجہ نے اس پر کہا کہ ملائشیا اجلاس پر عرب ممالک کو تحفظات تھے جبکہ پاکستان امت میں انتشار نہیں چاہتا۔ ترک صدر نے کہا کہ سعودی عرب نے پاکستان کو چالیس لاکھ پاکستانی کارکن سعودیہ عرب سے نکالنے اور سٹیٹ بنک میں رکھی اپنی رکھی گئ رقم واپس لینے کی دھمکی دے کر ملائشیا اجلاس میں جانے سے روکا ہے۔ تاہم پاکستان میں سعودی عرب کے سفیر نے اس تاثر اور بیان کی تردید کی ہے کہ سعودی عرب نے پاکستان کو ڈرا دھمکا کر اجلاس سے روکا ہے۔

اگر واقعی پاکستان کو دھمکی دے کر ملائشیا کے اجلاس میں جانے سے روکا گیا ہے تو سوال یہ ہے ہم نے ان کے کہنے پر کیوں فیصلہ تبدیل کیا اور وہ بھی ان کے خلاف جو کشمیر اور FATF وغیرہ کے معاملے پر اِن کے برعکس ہمارے ساتھ کھڑے رہے ہیں۔ اور سوال یہ بھی بنتا ہے کہ اب کون ہماری بات پر اعتبار کرے گا یا کشمیر کے مسئلے پر ہمارے ساتھ کھڑا ہونے کےلیے تیار ہوگا؟

اگر کوئ کہے کہ سعودی عرب نے تو نہی روکا لیکن وہاں نہ جانے میں ہی پاکستان کا فائدہ تھا تو پھر وہاں جانے کا وعدہ کیوں کیا گیا۔ اس کا مطلب تو یہ ہے کہ ہمارے فیصلہ کرنے والے دور اندیشی سے عاری ہیں۔ انہوں نے ترکی اور ملائشیا کے ساتھ نئے اتحاد اور پھر اجلاس میں شمولیت کا وعدہ اور فیصلہ اس کے تضمنات پر سوچے بغیر کیا۔ اگر یہ بات ہے تو یہ تو ملک کےمستقبل کےلیے اور بھی خطرناک بات ہے۔

قومی اقتدار اعلیٰ کا تقاضا ہے کہ کوئ بھی ملک اپنے اندرونی اور بیرونی فیصلے اپنی آزاد مرضی سے، بغیر کسی کے دباؤ اور مجبوری کے، اپنے مفاد کو مدنظر رکھتے ہوئے کرے۔

حالیہ پاک بھارت کشیدگی کے چند مظاہر

حالیہ پاک بھارت کشیدگی کے چند مظاہر

طاہرعلی خان

پاکستان اور ہندوستان کے درمیان حالیہ کشیدگی کے دوران جہاں چند افسوسناک چیزیں دیکھی گئیں وہاں کچھ قابل فخر مظاہر بھی سامنے آئے ہیں۔ پلوامہ میں ایک کشمیری نوجوان نے ایک فوجی کانواٸے پر خود کش حملہ کیا تو ہندوستانی حکومت اور ذراٸع ابلاغ کی اکثریت نے بلاتحقیق پاکستان کو مورد الزام ٹھہرانے اور اس کو سزا دینے کی باتیں شروع کردیں۔

بی جے پی حکومت بظاہر آٸندہ انتخابات میں پاکستان مخالف جذبات پیدا کرکے فاٸدہ اٹھانا چاہتی تھی چنانچہ ہندوستانی وزرإ اور صحافی منہ سے آگ برساتے رہے۔ یہ ایک غیر منصفانہ اورمعیوب طرزعمل تھا۔ ان کے برعکس پاکستانی وزرا، صحافی اور فوجی ترجمان وقار، تمکنت اور ہوش مندی کے قابل فخر نمونے دکھاٸی دیٸے۔ انہوں نے سرحد پار انتقام پر تلے پڑوسیوں کو جنگ کی تباہ کاریوں کا احساس بھی دلایا اور دلاٸل سے ان کے الزامات کو تہس نس بھی کر دیا۔

ہندوستانی حکومت نے جب پاکستان میں فضاٸی کاررواٸی کا مضحکہ خیز دعویٰ کیا تو اس کے بعد ان کے وزرا اور میڈیا نے پاکستان کا جس طرح مذاق اڑایا اور اپنے ”کارنامے“ پر جس طرح اتراتے رہے، وہ حد درجہ معیوب اور قابل افسوس تھا۔ اس کے برعکس پاکستان نے ان کے دو جہاز گراٸے اور پاٸلٹ پکڑا تو ان کی طرح شیخی خوری کے بجاٸے وقار و عاجزی دکھاٸی اور پاکستانی وزیراعظم نے پھر تحقیقات میں مدد اور امن مذاکرات کی پیشکش کا اعادہ کیا۔ یہ پاکستان کی اخلاقی فتح اور فخر کی بات تھی۔

اس پورے بحران کے دوران دنیا کی ”بڑی جمہوریت“ نے بریفنگ میں کسی صحافی کو سوال کرنے کا موقع نہیں دیا۔ اس کےبرعکس پاکستانی وزرإ اور فوج کے ترجمان ہر قسم کے سوال و جواب کے لیے دستیاب رہے۔ پاکستان یہاں بھی نکھر کر سامنے آیا۔

اگرچہ کٸ سال سے پاکستان باربار ہندوستان کو مذاکرات کی دعوت دیتا آرہا ہے لیکن ہندوستان رعونت سے مذاکرات سے انکار حتیٰ کہ پاکستان سے کھیلوں تک میں باٸیکاٹ پر اتر آیا۔

پاکستان نے پلوامہ حملے پر دکھ کا اظہار کیا اور تحقیقات میں مدد اور مذاکرات کی پیشکش کی تو ہندوستان نے اسے پاکستان کی کمزوری یا بزدلی گردانتے ہوٸے توجہ ہی نہیں دی اور انتقام انتقام کی لاگ الاپتا رہا۔ اس کے باوجود ہمارے وزرا اور فوجی ترجمان یاد لاتے رہے کہ جنگ میں صرف انسانیت ہی ہارتی ہے۔ یہ ایک باعزت قوم کا طرزعمل تھا۔

پاکستانی سپاہی مقبول حسین جو 1965 کی جنگ میں ہندوستان کا قیدی بنا تو اس کی زبان کاٹ دی گٸ اور جب 40 سال کے بعد وہ رہا ہوا تو جسمانی طور پر معذور تھا۔ اس کے برعکس پاکستانی فوج نے بھارتی پاٸلٹ ونگ کمانڈر ابھی نیندن کو عوام کے غیظ و غضب سے بچایا اور عزت دی۔ پاکستان یہاں بھی جیت گیا۔

اور اب امن اور خیر سگالی کے جذبے کے تحت پاکستانی وزیراعظم نے گرفتار بھارتی پاٸلٹ کو یکم مارچ سے رہا کرنے کا اعلان کردیا۔ یہ ریاست پاکستان اور سرحد کے دونوں جانب موجود امن پسندوں کی بڑی اخلاقی فتح ہے۔ لیکن اس اعلان کا خیر مقدم کرنے کے بجاٸے بعض ہندوستانی صحافی اسے پاکستان پر دباؤ کا نتیجہ قرار دیں یا کہیں کہ ہم نے پاکستان کو ابھی نیندن کو رہا کرنے پر مجبور کردیا ہے تو یہ ہندوستانی قوم کے لیے کوٸی قابل فخر طرزعمل نہیں ہے۔

پاکستان نے اپنے طرزعمل سے ثابت کردیا کہ یہ امن و انسانیت سے پیار کرنے والے، باعزت اور قومی سالمیت کےبارے میں حساس لوگوں کی سرزمین ہے۔ یہ جنگ سے نفرت کرتے ہیں لیکن اگر ان پر مسلط کی جاٸے تو اس میں کودنے کو سعادت سمجھتے ہیں۔ کیا وزیراعظم نریندر مودی کو ایسے پیارے پڑوسی کو دشمن کی جگہ غنیمت نہیں سمجھنا چاہیے؟

اس بحران کے دوران پاکستان کی پوری سیاسی ومذہبی قیادت، حزب اختلاف اور صحافی حکومت اور فوج کے پیچھے کھڑے رہے۔ یہ ایک قابل فخر مظہر ہے۔ اس میں موجودہ حکمران جماعت کے لیے بھی سبق ہے جو ماضی میں بعض ایسے مواقع پر قومی اتفاق راٸے دکھانے میں مانع رہی۔

موجودہ حزب اختلاف نے وزیراعظم عمران خان کو ہندوستان اپنا ایلچی بھیجنے پر، نہ ہی مذاکرات کی بار بار پیشکش پر اور نہ ہی غیر مشروط طور پر، بغیر وزیر اعظم مودی کی اپیل کے، اچانک گرفتار بھارتی پاٸلٹ کی رہاٸی کے اعلان پر غداری اور ملک دشمنی کا طعنہ دیا۔ یہ ایک قابل رشک روایت ہے۔ کیا برسراقتدار جماعت اس سے سیکھنے کے لیے تیار ہے؟

To PM Modi and India

To Modi and India

We remind you of wisdom and sense but find you always indulging yourself in suspense and nonsense.

We talk of poverty alleviation but your every act leads to tension aggravation.

We talk of construction but you conspire for destruction and obstruction.

We remind you of civility and responsibility but you only like vanity and insanity.

Byt Remember that he who hatches mischief is ultimately caught by mischief.

And that outbreak of war, like a devil, is easy to raise but difficult to lay and subdue.

Take pity on your morally and politically ailing and demoralized forces and civil population fed up with your interminable and insatiable love for blood.

But if you are not ready to heed our love for peace and bent on bringing havoc to your country and the region,

And consider our patience as weakness or cowardice, which it is not,

Then listen! you will come to grief when we respond but responsibility thereof will rest only at your shoulders.

So, step back, express a remorse over what you have done, seek forgiveness and behave as a normal human being.

Taken with edition and addition from FB wall of Prof Fazal Hanan

سعودی عرب، پاکستان اور ہندوستان

سعودی عرب، پاکستان اور ہندوستان

طاہر علی خان

سعودی عرب کے ولی عہد شہزادہ محمد بن سلمان کے حالیہ دورہ پاکستان میں سعودی عرب نے پاکستان میں 20 ارب ڈالر کی سرمایہ کاری کے مفاہمتی یادداشتوں پر دستخط کیے۔ اس کے بعد مگر ان کے دورہ ہندوستان میں سرکاری شعبے میں 28 ارب ڈالر کے مفاہمتی یادداشتوں پر دستخط سمیت سعودی عرب جنرل انوسمنٹ اتھارٹی نے ہندوستان کے نجی شعبے کے ساتھ اربوں ڈالرز کے 11 مزید مفاہمتی یادداشتوں پر دستخط کیے۔ شہزادہ محمد نے ہندوستان میں ایک تقریب میں یہ بھی کہا کہ اگلے دوسالوں میں انہیں سعودی عرب کی طرف سے ہندوستان میں 100 ارب ڈالر سے زیادہ کی سرمایہ کاری کے امکانات نظر آ رہے ہیں۔

یاد رہے ہندوستان اور سعودی عرب کے باہمی تجارت کا حجم 18۔ 2017 میں تقریباً 28 ارب ڈالر تھا جبکہ سعودی عرب ہندوستان کا چوتھا بڑا تجارتی پارٹنر بھی ہے۔ اس کے برعکس پاکستان اور سعودی عرب کے باہمی تجارت کا حجم محض 3.4 ارب ڈالر ہے۔ 2010 میں یہ حجم 4 ارب ڈالر تھا۔ سعودی عرب کی طرف سے پاکستان میں براہ راست غیرملکی سرمایہ کاری کا حجم پچھلے مالی سال میں صرف 17.4 ملین ڈالر تھا۔

شہزادہ محمد نے دورے کے دوران نہ صرف ہندوستانی وزیراعظم نریندر مودی کو اپنا بڑا بھائی قرار دیا بلکہ ان کی درخواست پر ہندوستان کا حج کوٹہ دو لاکھ تک بڑھانے اور سعودی عرب کی جیلوں میں قید تقریباً 900 ہندوستانیوں کو رہا کرنے کا اعلان بھی کردیا۔

ہمارے ہاں عام خیال ہے کہ پاکستان کو اہم گردانتے ہوئے ہی ولی عہد شہزادہ محمد نے خود کو سعودی عرب میں پاکستان کا سفیر قرار دیا جبکہ ہمارے وزیراعظم کی کرشماتی شخصیت ہی کی وجہ سے وہ پاکستان کا حج کوٹہ بڑھانے اور 2000 پاکستانیوں کو قید سے رہا کرنے پر آمادہ ہوئے تھے۔

کیا ہندوستان اور اس کے وزیراعظم نریندر مودی کو اتنی زیادہ اہمیت دینے کا مطلب یہ ہے کہ سعودی عرب اورجناب محمد بن سلمان کی نظر میں پاکستانی وزیر اعظم عمران خان اور ان کے ہندوستانی منصب مودی یا پاکستان اور ہندوستان یکساں مقام رکھتے ہیں؟

اور یہ اس کے باوجود کہ پاکستان ان کا ایک برادر اسلامی ملک اور ہندوستان مسلمانوں کے دشمن اسرائیل کا قریبی دوست، کشمیر کے لاکھوں مسلمانوں کا قاتل اور ”کافروں“ کاملک ہے ؟ اگرچہ ہمارے انقلابی یہ بات نہیں مانتے لیکن حقیقت یہ ہے کہ سب ممالک اپنے بین الاقوامی تعلقات مذہبی رشتے نہیں بلکہ اپنے مفادات کی بنیاد پر بناتے اور رکھتے ہیں۔ دوسرے ممالک ہماری طرح بیگانی شادی میں عبداللہ دیوانہ نہیں ہوتے۔ جہاں سے بھی ان کو فائدہ ملتا ہو اس ملک یا ممالک سے راہ و رسم بڑھانا اور تجارت کرنا ان کے حکمران اپنا قومی فریضہ سمجھتے ہیں۔

اس میں کوئی شک نہیں کہ سعودی عرب نے تقریباً ہر تکلیف اور ضرورت کے وقت پاکستان کی مدد کی ہے اور وہاں موجود پاکستانی تارکین وطن ہر سال تقریباً 5 ارب ڈالرز کا زرمبادلہ بھیجتے ہیں لیکن پاکستان نے بھی تقریباً ہر مسئلے پر ان کا ساتھ دیا ہے۔ پاکستانی تارکین وطن نے سعودی عرب کی جدید تعمیر و ترقی میں اہم کردار ادا کیا جبکہ پاکستانی فوج نے ان کی فوجی استعداد بڑھانے اور دفاع کو یقینی بنانے کے لیے خود کو وقف کیا ہوا ہے۔ یعنی اس تعلق میں دونوں کا ہی فائدہ تھا اور ہے اس لیے یہ برقرار رہا اور پروان چڑھتا رہا۔ اس کی کوئی دوسری وجہ نہیں۔

تاہم پاکستان کے لیے ان کے دورہ ہندوستان میں خوشی کی خبر یہ ہے کہ ہندوستان کی خواہش کے باوجود شہزادہ محمد نے اپنے دورے کے دوران یا اختتام پر سرکاری اعلامیہ میں پاکستان یا اس کی کسی تنظیم کو پلوامہ حملے میں موردالزام ٹھہرانے سے اجتناب برتا۔ اس کے برعکس اعلامیہ میں مودی نے ان کے ساتھ مان لیا کہ

”The two sides stressed the importance of regional stability and good neighbouring relations۔ “

یعنی دونوں ملکوں نے علاقائی استحکام اور اچھے پڑوسی تعلقات کی اہمیت پر زور دیا۔
وزیراعظم مودی جس انداز میں پاکستان کے خلاف بولتے ہیں اس کو مدنظر رکھتے ہوئے اس اعلامیہ پر دستخط ان کے لیے یقیناً ایک سخت مشکل اور ناخوشگوار فیصلہ ہوا ہوگا۔

Lessons from Quaid’s life

Lessons from Quaid´s Life

By Tahir Ali Khani
The nation celebrated the Birth anniversary of Quaide Azam (May Allah grant him the highest of paradises) yesterday.

This celebration must also be a will to learn from his life.

Here are some of the characteristics of his character we all need to follow and a few lessons from his life we must learn and remember.

The Quaid´s life, character and mindset can be summarized as follows.

1. He was a man of great honesty. integrity, intellect and sagacity.

2. He could neither be deceived nor intimidated nor bribed.

3. He was sincere and strongly committed to his nation and cause and did all he could to win Pakistan.

4. He was a great believer in a constitutional, legal and peaceful democratic political struggle. He believed in democracy, freedom, respect of other´s rights and rule of law. He always followed laws and never violated them.

5. He neither believed nor ever resorted to militancy, underground struggle and extremism. He was above narrow religious sectarianism, regional or linguistic tendencies. That´s why all sections of society rallied behind him.

6. He never indulged himself in corruption. Rather, he dedicated all his personal wealth to schools and colleges.

7. He worked with a great passion but with patience. He never abused his political opponents. he was strong and firm but very polite and respectful.

8. He believed in hardwork. He would think before speaking and taking a decision. And once he reached at a decision after careful deliberation, none and nothing could move him from his chosen path.

9. He always took decisions in the light of ground realities and opted for the best possible path open to the nation. He never opted for emotionalism and populism.

10. So, the nation, our leaders and rulers need to learn the ideals of democracy, integrity, honesty, constitutional and peaceful political struggle, respect of rule of law, passion and patience, hardwork, sincerity, respect for others, tolerance and moderation from his life.

West’s Double Standards

West’s Double Standards: An Unending threat for the World?

Double

 

When the Syrian regime was accused of using chemical weapons in Syria in April this year, US President Trump immediately issued a tweet describing the Syrian President Basharul Asad as “an animal” who gassed his own people.

And when anti-government demonstrations erupted in several Iranian cities earlier this year, the US ambassador to UN Nikki Haley was quick to embrace their cause. “The Iranian regime’s contempt for the rights of its people has been widely documented for many years,” she told the UN Security Council session.

However, the US, conversely, has been keeping mum over human rights violations perpetrated by its allies; Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt. The US, instead, supported them with money, weapons and deals despite their anti-democracy agendas and ruthless suppression of political opponents. The United States even continues to assist Saudi Arabia in its atrocity-ridden military intervention in Yemen.

As Israel’s biggest ally, the US has used its UN Security Council veto dozens of times to protect the Jewish state from resolutions condemning illegal settlements to violence against Palestinians.

Most of the big powers take pains to portray themselves as humane, lovers and protectors of rights and democracy, yet the reality is quite different. They often indulge themselves in double standards and selective morality, unmatched with their known commitments to justice and liberties.

Read more: Syrian imbroglio

The United States, particularly, has been supporting extremely repressive regimes like the Shah of Iran, Nicaragua’s Somoza family, Taiwan’s Chiang Kai-shek, and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and military dictators like Egypt’s Abdul Fatah Alsisi and Pakistan’s Zia-ul-haq. The discriminatory US policy on intended Indian and Pakistani membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is another classic case of double standard.

Pakistan and India applied for NSG membership in 2016. Though the signing of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a prerequisite for entry and India is yet to sign it, the US is spearheading efforts to waiver the NPT- signing exemption for India. And the United States has added seven Pakistani companies to a list of foreign entities that are subject to stringent export control measures, a move that could hamper Pakistan’s bid to join NSG.

The US has also signed nuclear deal with India but Pakistan has been denied the same deal. The pact between the US and India exempts military facilities and stockpiles of nuclear fuel from scrutiny by the International Atomic Energy agency which has enabled India to sign nuclear cooperation agreements with Japan, Russia, France, Britain, South Korea, Canada, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Namibia.

India rejects this line, insisting Kashmir is a bilateral dispute between the two countries.

The abuse of Veto power

The constitution of the UN Security Council is anything but justice. There is no equality of opportunity to every member state. Veto power given to big powers, therein gives undue leverage to them in getting things done as against the smaller ones. Which means that if any P-5 member or its ally is the aggressor or wrongdoer, no adverse action is possible against it as the P-5 member vetoes any such move. As Israel’s biggest ally, the US has used its UN Security Council veto dozens of times to protect the Jewish state from resolutions condemning illegal settlements to violence against Palestinians.

Read more: Germany’s Syria Strategy

While Israel is allowed to stockpile loads of nuclear arms and no hostile military action is initiated against it even if it blatantly and arrogantly rejects UN resolutions on halt of extension in settlements, Iraq is attacked and its cities turned into heaps of debris under the false pretext that it’s preparing/piling weapons of mass destruction despite report to the contrary by UN inspectors who had been deputed there.

And while there is continuous silence on blatant heinous human violations by “allies” such as Israel, there is a strong reaction to similar incidents perpetrated by “others” such as Saddam Hussain’s era Iraq.

Selective morality and double standards

And it is nothing but double standard and selective morality if Israel that openly violates/rejects international laws, UN resolutions and any serious effort for peaceful solution of its issues with Palestinians is equated with/ preferred over Palestinians whose lands have been usurped and who are being displaced and denied human rights.

Veto power given to big powers, therein gives undue leverage to them in getting things done as against the smaller ones.

Catalonia’s recent example, where Spain arrested an elected leader Carles Puidgemont for holding a separatist referendum, is ironic how the western world, across Europe, has united to extradite an elected Spanish leader, with popular mandate, yet is often seen providing asylums (and perhaps other help) to violent insurgent leaders from Baloch insurgency in Pakistan.

Read more: Wrath for separatists in Spain but sympathy for Baloch insurgents from Pakistan: Europe’s Double Standards?

Another example is their take on Pak- India relations. With both being nuclear powers, a war between the two can have dangerous repercussions for global peace. But the US and  Britain famously urge Pakistan and India to resolve their issues through mutual negotiations.

As India is not ready to talk to Pakistan, accusing Pakistan of state terrorism, Pakistan rightly urges major powers for mediation on Kashmir. India rejects this line, insisting Kashmir is a bilateral dispute between the two countries.

When the US and Britain insist India and Pakistan should resolve their dispute through mutual dialogue and refuse to mediate or condemn India for its atrocities in Kashmir, they are actually toeing Indian lines.

An extremist Hindu fundamentalist party, is voted to power with a clear majority in the 2014 Indian General Elections

It is but injustice if India which is clearly the wrongdoer being violator of several UN resolutions on Kashmir and whose leaders openly admit helping breaking up Pakistan in 1971 and vowing to drying up Pakistan against all international norms – is treated at par with Pakistan -which is trying its level best to bring India to the negotiation table for resolution of its disputes with it though unsuccessfully so far.

Read more: Russia, Turkey, Iran to hold Syria talks

One fails to understand how can Pakistan and India resolve their disputes peacefully and through mutual discussions when India is not ready to talk to Pakistan and powerful nations are silent spectators lest any offer for mediation or any criticism of perpetrated state-violence by India in Kashmir displease India – a big economic market.

The US and Britain say they are perturbed over violence in Kashmir and urge patience. It is welcome but what is objectionable is when the oppressor is not asked to refrain from using brute force against the peaceful demonstrators and the unarmed oppressed Kashmiri civilians are not openly supported in their fight for self-determination allowed and promised to them by UN resolutions in 1948, 1949 and by the Indian leadership till 1957 before Kashmir was made an integral part of Indian federation.

Stereotyping Muslim Nations

Another example of this double standard is the stereotype mindset that eyes all Muslim nation/states as extremists. Never has any extremist political or religious group obtained absolute majority in any Muslim country in any general elections. Such groups either don’t have the courage to take part and if they do, they have the lowest popular support base, often standing at less than one percent.

Iraq is attacked and its cities turned into heaps of debris under the false pretext that it’s preparing/piling weapons of mass destruction despite report to the contrary by UN inspectors who had been deputed there.

While Pakistan is considered an intolerant and extremist society, no  extremist group ever has obtained absolute majority here. For example, the Jamat-e-Islami Pakistan, an Islamic fundamentalist party, obtained only 0.4 percent of the total polled 46 million votes in the 2013 elections while Pakistan Muslim League-N, Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Tehreek Insaf having tolerant, democratic and anti-extremism credentials jointly polled around 30 million of the total votes.

Read more: Syrian government forces announce Yarmouk camp evacuation agreement

But India is considered one of the biggest democratic and liberal society in the world despite the fact that Prime Minister Narendara Modi’s Bharatia Janata Party, an extremist Hindu fundamentalist party, is voted to power with a clear majority in the 2014 Indian General Elections –it contested on 437 seats of the total 543 seats in the LoK Sabha and grabbed 282 seats, polling over 31 percent of the total polled votes.

The US and other states may have plausible arguments and reasons for persisting in such double standards. But they need to be candid and acknowledge that their decisions are based on cold calculations of national interest, not ethical considerations. They should at least spare us the pretense that they care about human rights and liberties.

Tahir Ali Khan is an academic with over 28 years experience and blogger. He has written over 700 articles. He blogs at http://www.tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahirkatlang039@gmail.com

Appeasement or Constitutionalism

Appeasement or constitutionalism?

https://dailytimes.com.pk/149023/appeasement-or-constitutionalism/

The government, no doubt, mishandled the situation. It should have called a meeting of all political parties, a joint session of Parliament and a meeting of the powerful national security council to discuss and devise a strategy on how to dislodge the TLY dharnas.

Following the government’s failure to disperse the Faizabad sit-in and later the countrywide sit-ins by the Tahreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasoolullah (TLY) it is obvious that the government would have to talk to the agitators and submit to some of its demands. If any talks were to be held between the government and TLY, the former won’t be talking from a position of strength and it would have to submit to demands of the latter.

The wording of the mutual pact brokered by the establishment clearly gives the non-state actor TLY an upper hand on several counts.

The agreement has been signed with a party that has flouted court orders, broken laws with impunity, and openly indulged in hate-speech. It is an agreement between law breakers and law-enforcers but the latter representing the state have been admonished one-sidedly.

As per the agreement, the non-state actor TLY has been cleared of all charges. It neither has to express remorse nor seek apology from the millions of Pakistanis who were drastically affected by their dharnas.

All of its workers have to be freed within three days, cases and orders for their home-confinement have to be withdrawn and no legal action has to be taken against them. How would the government be able to release TLY agitators who have been booked under Anti-Terrorism Act remains unclear.

According to the agreement, it was the government that made things worse. The TLY is a ‘peaceful’ party but it is the government that aggravated the situation by use of force. It has to fulfill all the private and public damages caused duringdharnas. But why the provincial and federal government has to pay for damages caused by the dharnaholders is inconceivable.

The government has also committed itself to form an enquiry board, taking TLY into confidence, to ascertain the culprits for the November 25th action and to punish those responsible within 30 days. However, no such enquiry is to be conducted against the TLY for violation of laws and damaging public or private properties.

An ideal situation would have been that the agitators had called off their dharna within the deadline given first by the Islamabad High Court and then by the Islamabad administration, but it was ultimately the government that had to succumb to political pressure, renege on its basic responsibility to restore the writ of the state and to prosecute all those who were arrested during this legal campaign.

These are not welcome signs for rule of law and the sovereignty of the state. Anyone who believes in rule of law and infallibility and non-divisibility of sovereignty of the state must have been shocked.

Though the resignation of law minister, as per the agreement, is likely to set a very dangerous precedent, the matter will not come to an end with this. Such appeasement will embolden the TLY and its demands will continue rising after this. A group of TLY has already asked for resignation of Sanaullah, Punjab law minister. Such appeasement has neither worked before nor will be of any benefit towards solution of the current problem.

It was expected that no political, religious or social figure would support these agitators and instead openly support the state institutions but though there had been no criticism by some leaders -like Imran Khan, Sirajul Haq etc- of the prolonged illegal blockade of roads by the TLY, the government has been continuously and severely criticised all these days by them.

Opposition politicians even went a step ahead of the TLY. While it demanded only resignation of the law minister, they were demanding resignations of interior minister and even prime minister for “mishandling the situation.” Emboldened by this backing, the TLY too was seen pressing for the resignation of entire federal cabinet.

The Pakistan Army spokesman too had reported the Army chief to have asked the government “to handle the issue peacefully avoiding violence from both sides as it is not in national interest and cohesion.”

The advice may have stemmed from a sincere wish to bring peace, but it cannot be denied that only the state has the authority to use force — which is called the monopoly of violence — and no non-state actor — group or individual — has any such privilege vis-à-vis the state.

While the state has had all legitimate right to use force to disperse the dharna after peaceful attempts to do so failed, the other side- a non-state actor- must have obeyed the law. When it confronted the state, and continued with its intransigence, it should have been openly criticised, opposed and clearly asked to behave. Rather than equating the two and urging both to avoid violence, all democratic forces and constitutional institutions must have openly and clearly voiced support for the state. How can the state and a non-state actor be dealt equally when the former is trying to establish writ of the state while the latter is trying to resist and refuse to submit to the law of the land and the court decisions?

The two sides of the present situation cannot be dealt with equally. Whereas on one side is the state and its institutions, on the other one is a non-state actor. The latter was not ready to pay any heed to allow people free movement despite repeated requests from intermediaries and orders from courts. But when the government -the executive organ of the state and representative of its sovereign power- started operation to ensure free movement on the roads, some politicians, who had remained tight-lipped thus far on the illegal blocking of roads by the TLY, started severely criticising the government for resorting to violence.

Criticising the government alone for not solving the issue through peaceful talks and resorting to use of force is sheer injustice. In fact, ever since the sit-in began 20 days ago, the government had been using all available channels to talk to the TLY leadership and tried its level best to make it call off the dharna. It was the TLY leadership that was not ready to budge even an inch from its stated position or to accept any request by mediators and orders from court to disperse peacefully. What would the government do in such a situation? To remain silent spectator and thus not only deviate from its foremost responsibility of ensuring law and order and establishment of writ of the state but also risk annoying the IHC and SCP that were calling for ending this illegal dharna quickly?

Another thing that merits attention is the way the “workers” of the TLY battled with the law enforcement agencies’ personnel. They were not ordinary workers and looked like highly trained individuals. It is never easy for ordinary political workers to confront, tease and defeat the trained and experienced LEA personnel. And where did they get gas masks, gas guns and other apparatus must also be investigated.

The government, no doubt, mishandled the situation. It should have called a meeting of all political parties, a joint session of parliament and a meeting of the powerful national Security Council to discuss and devise a strategy on how to dislodge the TLY dharna. It didn’t.

And it was naturally reluctant to use force as it felt this would fetch it against the powerful and now resilient Brelvi school of thought to which the TLY belongs. As always, it was groping in the dark pinning hopes on religious personalities that had no influence on the TLY to change its mind on demands and dharna. The official powerful civilian cum military channel was not considered on time. The result is that its reluctance to use the above official channels and to use force unless ordered to do so by court and that too in a haphazard manner has endangered the authority of the state vis-à-vis a non-state actor.

Change in government and policies must be brought and allowed only through popular vote and parliament. Dharnas cannot and must not be allowed to dictate terms and force ministers and governments to resign. Constitutionalism and Rule of law must not be compromised. Submission and Appeasement to one such group is tantamount to giving up constitutionalism forever which will have dangerous repercussions for the country.

The writer is an academic and researcher who has written extensively on political and social issues. He blogs at http://www.tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

Published in Daily Times, November 29th 2017.

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

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.

…………….

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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