Washington – March 27th 2009: Former WSI Executive Director and Sindhi Activist, Munawar Laghari recently attended President Obama’s briefing on the new strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, at the White House Thursday morning. Sufi Laghari, proudly wearing a Sindhi cap and Ajrak, also met with Paul Montero, White House Liaison on Religious Freedom and discussed the current situation in Sindh. He briefed Mr. Montero about Sindhi Sufism and tolerance, stressing the historical opposition of Sindhis to religious fundamentalism in all guises. Mr. Laghari also met with various diplomats, officials from State Department, and representatives of Think Tanks and distributed copies of “Sindh Monitor” and “Human Rights Situation in Sindh.” Mr. Laghari’s invitation and subsequent visit to meet President is an honor for the Sindhi community of DC.
Issues to consider
– Aqil Sajjad
I’m listing down some political issues that we should consider taking up now that the deposed judges have been restored. Each one of these issues is very important, and we need someone to take it up.
1. Judiciary and police reforms:
..Developing a proper method of accountability for the judges because the existing SJC structure is flawed. – Reforming the lower judiciary. – Police reforms
This is very important because devolution has the potential to open up opportunities for ordinary citizens to enter electoral politics. Union councils are small, and you can contest elections even if you are not filthy rich. Once you have been a union councilor, you can gradually go on to contest elections for bigger constituencies and move up in politics.
Things to do: convince the media to have more constructive discussions on devolution, and promote the idea to the people at large, so that it becomes increasingly difficult for any government to roll it back.
3. Intra-party democracy:
This requires engaging with the media and political party workers at the grass roots to highlight this issue.
4. Demanding live debates on local radio:
Due to the wider reach of radio, and considering the fact that TV channels can generally only talk about national issues, there is a real need for local city/district radio stations to come up and hold live debates on local issues. During elections, the election commission should even arrange for regular structured debates at the local level for all constituencies.
We need to highlight this issue and press the govt to remove unnecessary restrictions and giving live debates proper air time on govt-owned local radio stations.
Highlighting the need for a constitutionally independent NAB, which can investigate and prosecute corruption cases against anyone including those in power without political interference.
6. Provincial autonomy:
A first step should be to make an attempt to understand what people outside Isb, Lhr and Khi think and want…
7. Constitution revue:
Understanding our constitution, and then determining whether it really serves our needs even if it’s restored to the original 1973 form. Then figuring out the kind of amendments that are needed for the genuine empowerment of the people. Some of the earlier points related to judiciary reforms, devolution, NAB and provincial autonomy would automatically be a part of such an effort, but here the goal would be to have a comprehensive review of the constitution rather than a single issue focus.
8. A political party Watchdog:
Looking at things like
a. The extent of intra-party democracy. This should include how party tickets are awarded.
b. Whether the parties have proper think-tanks for policy formulation.
c. Whether the parties have competent people and intra-party mechanisms for bringing such people forward.
d. whether there are any intra-party mechanisms for accountability, how many members of the parties have criminal or corruption cases etc.
e. How many of the MNAs and MPAs elected on party tickets are lotas with a history of switching loyalties.
9. Media watch:
This can include things like
a. keeping an eye on the political connections of newspaper and TV channel owners, and making knowledge of such connections well known to the public;
b. keeping track of whether journalists are consistent in applying the same principle. Example: if someone said that Iftikhar Ch should be restored when he was first removed by Musharraf, then did they continue to propagate the same position when the PPP came into power or did they suddenly do a ‘lota’ on this?
c. rating various talk-shows on the diversity of guests they invite, so that our national discourse does not remain monopolized by a very small group of people.
d. Pointing out instances of yellow journalism.
10. Other watchdogs:
Watchdogs on the judiciary, parliament, executive, police, NAB, or for that matter, any regulatory authority, like PEMRA or SECP.
March 28, 2009
by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia
A big part of Sindh’s sorrows is the rampant corruption that prevents substantial amounts of funds being spend for common good in Sindh. With the spread of dangerous diseases such as Hepatitis, rural Sindh has one of worst health facilities in South Asia. Just imagine how much of private effort and time would be required to collect Rs. 299 millions (US $ 3.7 million) in donations. This much amount was siphoned away just in one year.
We are in a tough situation! One one hand, we try our best to put pressure on USAid and other international aid organizations to ensure that Sindh is not denied its due share in the distribution of aid and loans and then we read the news such as below that some scrupulous Sindhis are shamelessly looting from educational and health budgets.This is quite discouraging!
It is imperative that local (Sindh-based) and overseas Sindhis should start a campaign against increasing corruption in Sindh. This will definitely in the reduction of misery for common people.
Rs. 299m irregularities detected in health dept
Tuesday, 24 Mar, 2009 | 05:45 PM PST |
KARACHI: The health department of Sindh accepted Rs53.48 million worth of medicines without determining their quality and potency, failed to replace drugs worth Rs1.99 million that were declared substandard by the drug test laboratory, and suffered a loss of Rs1.68 million due to the expiry of medicines during the year 2005-06.
Involving an amount of Rs57.15 million, this is only a fraction of the total Rs299.52 million in financial irregularities unearthed by auditors in their report for the year 2005-06.
The Public Accounts Committee of the Sindh Assembly, headed by Sardar Jam Tamachi, will take up the audit report for consideration and subsequent suggestions once it finalises its recommendations for the 2004-2005 audit report.
The audit report for the year 2005-06 says that six offices of the health department – additional secretary health (procurement) , Liaquat University Hospital, Hyderabad, Chandka Medical College, Larkana, People’s Medical College Hospital, Nawabshah, Services Hospital Karachi, and the Inspection and Import Depot of Karachi – made purchases of Rs87.10 million but the details of the procurements are not mentioned in the relevant stock register.
The auditors found that the Liaquat University Hospital of Hyderabad purchased machinery, equipment and stationery articles worth Rs76.41 million; Chandka Medical College, Larkana, bought crockery items for Rs0.64 million; and People’s Medical College Hospital, Nawabshah, procured medicines worth Rs0.36 million.
On account of various hospital dues, fees and rent, a total of Rs61.80 million were realised. However, the amount was not deposited in the treasury, which was a violation of Rule 41 of the Sindh Financial Rules, Volume-I. Besides, the auditors say, dialysis machines worth Rs22.90 million were purchased while the lowest bids in this regard were ignored without any reason.
According to the report, tenders were invited for 16 dialysis machines equipped with complete RO system but the contractor quoted the rates separately as Rs0.696 million for each dialysis machine and Rs0.5466 million for each portable RO system. Instead of 16 complete sets 27 dialysis machines and six portable RO systems were purchased without carrying out any consultation with hospital administrations.
The scrutiny of the expenditures’ statement revealed that machinery and equipment costing Rs86.93 million were purchased by the office of the additional secretary health (procurement) but the statement of the Import and Inspection Depot revealed that they only received machinery and equipment worth Rs71.12 million. There is no mention of the machinery and equipment costing Rs15.81 million in the Import and Inspection Depot’s record.
The office of additional secretary (procurement) purchased X-ray films worth Rs14.08 million without obtaining clinical efficacy report from the Civil Hospital Karachi, which was a violation of Clause 18.3 of the contract agreement. The office paid Rs7.20 million on the purchase of a 500 KVA generator to M/s Allied Engineering instead of the lowest bidder, M/s Irfan & Bros, who quoted its rate as Rs6.44 million. Advance payment was made to the bidder in violation of the rules. Besides, medicines and equipment costing Rs1.34 million were purchased without calling tenders and without approval of the technical committee.
Similarly, the office of additional secretary health (procurement) and Lyari General Hospital ignored the lowest bid for the renovation of buildings and provision of medical services without assigning any reason, including the purchase of equipment for a surgical operation theatre at a cost of Rs7.27 million.
The directorate of the malaria control programme purchased laptop and multimedia projection and secretary health department purchased five laser jet printer HP-1200 and five P-IV machines at the rate of Rs37,000 each. A total of Rs0.6445 million was spent in violation of para-67, chapter-IV of the Sindh Purchase Manual, 1991.
Sindh Medical Faculty
The office of director-cum- controller of examination, Sindh Medical Faculty, Karachi, granted loans of Rs5.24 million to different officers/hospitals not related to the Sindh Medical Faculty for various purposes during the year 1993-2004. The auditors say that there is no provision in the faculty rules for grant of loans to an employee outside the faculty.
The office incurred Rs2.96 million on honoraria, paid without any policy and criteria at a rate other than the one duly approved by the governing body. A total of Rs3.11 million was incurred on account of POL expenditures by unauthorised persons. Besides, no logbook and relevant records were maintained.
On account of ‘Medical Camp at Jacobabad’ and ‘Tasman oil leakage,’ the office of director-cum- controller of examination issued Rs2.0 million out of faculty funds to deputy director of the school health services, Karachi, without obtaining approval of the governing body.
Import, inspection depot
The Import and Inspection Depot Karachi without awaiting the report of medicine samples from the drug test laboratory released medicines to various hospitals. Later, some of the medicines worth Rs2.75 million were found substandard. Similarly, the depot spent Rs0.07 million on purchase of uniforms.
A loss of Rs1.68 million was incurred due to expiry of medicines in the Inspection and Import Depot and Civil Hospital, Karachi.
The report says that residential quarters of the Ojha Institute of Chest Diseases, Karachi, were in unauthorised possession and the authorities concerned could not recover Rs7.68 million rent for the quarters. A loss of Rs4.60 million was incurred due to fixed monthly recovery of water and gas dues at the rate of Rs26 and Rs75, respectively. Similarly, electricity charges of Rs5.58 million were not recovered from officials residing in government accommodations at the Ojha Institute and Chandka Medical College Hospital, Larkana.
The report finds that Chandka Medical College Hospital, Larkana, has been making an annual payment of Rs4.5 million to M/s Fazal Din & Sons Karachi on the maintenance/ service of lithotripter machine for the last 10 years. The auditors say a new machine could be bought for 20 per cent of the total service charges paid during the decade.
Besides, an amount of Rs2.06 million was fraudulently drawn from the treasury/district accounts office of Larkana on account of electricity charges of the medical college. The medical college hospital retained Rs1.45 million in a private account and did not deposit the amount in the government treasury.
The civil hospital failed to recover to Rs2.33 million for X-ray services.
People’s Medical College Hospital retained Rs0.05 million in a private account and did not deposit the amount in the government treasury.
The Lyari General Hospital Karachi and Services Hospital Hyderabad paid Rs0.751 million and Rs0.157 million, respectively, to an NGO ‘Patients Welfare Society’ out of government receipts realised on account of laboratory charges, which should have been deposited into the government treasury.
March 28, 2009
by Zar Ali Khan Musazai
I try my best to forget the shocking news of a misery in mean time other engulfs me,( Khushal Khan baba)
Pashtun nation once again bled by the hands of terrorists who committed suicide attack on a mosque in Jamrud, Khyber Agency FATA in which more than 100 innocent Pashtun martyred while more than 150 were serious wounded. This is an other declaration of war against Pashtun nation when their worship place was attacked after the explosion at the shrine of great Pashtun/Afghan poet Rehman baba which was targeted by the terrorists few days ago. Pashtuns’ blood has turned cheaper than water in the area administered by the Pakistan.