Tag Archives: development

Pakistan Economy: Sinking Like A Rock, says Asian Development Bank.

Sinking like a rock: Slim chances of recovery for Pakistan’s directionless economy, says ADB

ISLAMABAD: Amid deep-rooted concerns over a “directionless” economy due to failure of the previous government and inability of the caretaker setup to take immediate meaningful steps, the Asian Development Bank has warned that Pakistan’s current growth model is unsustainable that also undermines future prospects.

In its Asian Development Outlook, the Manila-based lending agency has painted an extremely bleak picture of Pakistan’s economy that is “directionless” and immediate recovery chances are almost nil amid a worsening balance of payments position.

“A difficult political situation stalled effective policy response to macroeconomic and structural problems, especially regarding energy, and the end of the government’s 5-year term in mid-March limited political scope for major policy or structural reforms,” it said.

The economic developments in this fiscal year are unfolding along broadly similar lines as previous year, but with “deepening concerns about sustainability and the adequacy of forex reserves”.

A missing link in the ADB’s analysis of political failures is the role of bureaucrats in running the affairs of the government who often do not disclose actual extent of problems to the leadership.

Continue reading Pakistan Economy: Sinking Like A Rock, says Asian Development Bank.

The great game

Western World’s opposition to Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline is seen as a reiteration of its economic interests and geopolitical hegemonic designs in the region

By Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

In the face of threats of sanctions from the United States, President Asif Ali Zardari and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on March 11, 2013 launched the groundbreaking work on the 781-kilometre-long pipeline on the Pakistani side of the border. The Iran-Pakistan (IP) Gas Pipeline Project, initialed in 1995, has been facing perpetual opposition from the United States and its allies. Heads of both the countries, in their speeches at the occasion, reaffirmed their commitment to go ahead with the project “despite threats from the world powers”.

President Zardari said that the project would promote peace, security and progress in the region besides improving economic, political and security ties between the two neighbouring states. Stressing that the project was not against any country, President Zardari said such steps forging better understanding would also help fight terrorism and extremism.

President Ahmadinejad, while pointing towards foreign states and criticising what he called “their unjustified opposition to the project under the excuse of Iran’s nuclear issue”, said: “They are against Iran and Pakistan’s progress and have used the nuclear issue as an excuse”. He added, “We never expected [Western] companies to make an investment in this pipeline which guarantees progress, prosperity and peace in the region; if they don’t want to join this project for any given reason, they are not entitled to rock the boat and disturb the project”.

Pakistan on the completion of IP is to receive 21.5 million cubic meters of natural gas on daily basis. Faced with extraordinary energy crisis, Pakistan needs natural gas badly — its shortage has caused miseries to millions of Pakistanis and closure of industries. Iran has already constructed more than 900 kilometres of the pipeline on its side. The Tehran-based Tadbir energy development group has undertaken all the engineering procurement and construction work for the first segment of the project. It will also carry out the second segment of the project and also extend the financing of $500 million to Pakistan. Iran and Pakistani are optimistic to complete the project by December 2014.

Continue reading The great game

The changing sociology of rural Sindh

By Arif Hasan

The media, print and electronic, are full of very important news and its analysis. Pakistan-US relations, the judiciary-executive conflict, the Karachi killings, sectarian strife, the Balochistan “insurgency”, and similar issues are regularly written about and/or discussed by well-informed experts. …….. …….

…….  From the early 70s to the late 90s, I have worked in rural Sindh and documented and published on the processes of change taking place in different areas of the province. After a lapse of 10 years, I visited a large number of rural areas with which I was previously acquainted. These visits were made between 2010 and 2012 and involved meetings with village communities, transporters, arhatis, real estate agents and local NGO staff and Community Based Organisation activists.

The change that I have observed and which has been articulated by the groups I interacted with, is enormous and that too in 10 years. The most visible and important change is the presence of women in development and political discourse. They are employed in NGO offices, they manage development programmes, they are social activists and the majority of them are from the rural areas. In some of the remote villages I visited, there were private schools and beauty parlours run by young village women. Blocking of roads to protest against the “high handedness” of the local landlords, bureaucratic inaction, and/or law and order situations, has become common. Women participate in these demonstrations and in some cases these blockages have been carried out exclusively by them.

Discussions with groups on the issue of free-will marriages were also held. The vast majority of individuals were in favour of such marriages even if they violated caste divisions. However, they felt that it is the parents that have to change so as to make such marriages conflict free. The non-availability of middle schools for girls was also discussed. Surprisingly, the village communities had no problem with the girls studying with the boys in the male middle schools. In addition, discussions with the Sindh Rural Support Organisation’s (SRSO) women groups, which consist of the poorest women in a village, revealed that about 20 per cent of them had mobile phones and almost all of them watched television although around 30 per cent households actually own a TV.

Continue reading The changing sociology of rural Sindh

Call to elect Dalits representation in parliament

Call to elect scheduled caste people

UMERKOT, Oct 13: Representatives of minorities and civil society have called for giving scheduled caste people representation in parliament and putting in place an inexpensive election system to ensure election of honest persons, good governance and religious harmony in the country.

They were speaking at a consultative workshop organised by the Forum for Human Rights Pakistan in collaboration with the Centre for Peace and Development here on Saturday.

Mirchand Sahjani and Popat Kolhi of the Bheel Intellectual Forum said that members of minority communities had no representation in the assembly and those who were elected to reserved seats for minorities had no interest in resolving people’s problems because the seats were sold to the highest bidders. They did not feel themselves answerable to people because they did not have any constituency or the electorate, they said.

HANDS activists Bansi Malhi and Sawai Malhi denied discrimination of non-Muslims by Muslims but said the country’s constitution was discriminatory towards minorities as it did not allow any non-Muslim to become president, prime minister and Chief of Army Staff.

Hindus and Muslims lived in perfect harmony in Umerkot and Tharparkar, Sindh and they attended one another’s weddings and religious festivals. In fact, upper-caste Hindus looked down upon scheduled caste Hindus and poor Muslims, they said.

Continue reading Call to elect Dalits representation in parliament

Indo-Pak Borders blur as experts brainstorm on education

Borders blur as experts brainstorm on education

The Aman ki Asha Education Committee met in New Delhi last Thursday to decide on ways in which India and Pakistan can collaborate to bring about reforms in education on both sides of the border. The Indo-Pak Education/Skills Development Committee is one of the six committees formed after the Aman ki Asha Business Meet in May 2010, to take forward cooperation in the areas that delegates had identified as having the greatest potential for cooperation – Education/Skills Development, Textiles, Information Technology (IT), Agriculture, Energy and Healthcare.At a day-long meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), The Times of India, the Jang Group, and Pakistan India CEOs Business Forum at India Habitat Centre, luminaries from both countries shared problems and achievements in their education sectors followed by some brainstorming for effective solutions. ….

Read more » Aman Ki Asha

Summary of Musharraf’s Article: You don’t get it, the Baloch deserve to be killed by the Army.

Understanding Balochistan

By Pervez Musharraf

There is no doubt that Balochistan is the most backward and most deprived province of Pakistan. Successive governments since our independence are responsible for their share of the neglect suffered by Balochistan. But unfortunately the sardars themselves did not favour development in their areas. Notably Akbar Bugti, who despite having been chief minister and governor of the province, hardly did anything for Balochistan, or even for Dera Bugti. An anti-Pakistan, anti-army and anti-FC sentiment was planted and gradually nourished, especially among the Bugtis, Marris and Mengals, by their sardars. Some efforts made in the 1970s to open up the area through the establishment of a communication infrastructure were strongly opposed and rejected by the Marris.

Continue reading Summary of Musharraf’s Article: You don’t get it, the Baloch deserve to be killed by the Army.

A national challenge

By Saad Hafiz

Excerpt;

….. Pakistan is being left behind as more developing countries make an effort to capitalize on the full human potential of their female population to drive economic development and social transformation. Muslim countries such as Bangladesh and Malaysia have made significant progress in implementing gender equality in five critical areas: economic participation, economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment, and health and well-being. If Pakistan is to make economic and social progress in the near future it needs to educate its women from primary to the highest levels, open up economic opportunities to women, introduce social infrastructure and services to unburden women of the domestic and child care burdens and enforce laws to protect women’s rights. Hopefully, the education and empowerment of women in Pakistan will also result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful society.

To read complete article » PaK Tea House

New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

By ERIC PFANNER

PARIS — Many countries censor the Internet, but few spell out their intentions as explicitly as Pakistan.

In an effort to tighten its control over the Internet, the government recently published a public tender for the “development, deployment and operation of a national-level URL filtering and blocking system.”

Technology companies, academic institutions and other interested parties have until March 16 to submit proposals for the $10 million project, but anger about it has been growing both inside and outside Pakistan.

Censorship of the Web is nothing new in Pakistan, which, like other countries in the region, says it wants to uphold public morality, protect national security or prevent blasphemy. The government has blocked access to pornographic sites, as well as, from time to time, mainstream services like Facebook and YouTube.

Until now, however, Pakistan has done so in a makeshift way, demanding that Internet service providers cut off access to specific sites upon request. With Internet use growing rapidly, the censors are struggling to keep up, so the government wants to build an automatic blocking and filtering system, like the so-called Great Firewall of China.

While China and other governments that sanitize the Internet generally do so with little public disclosure, Pakistan is being surprisingly forthcoming about its censorship needs. It published its request for proposals on the Web site of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry’s Research and Development Fund and even took out newspaper advertisements to publicize the project.

“The system would have a central database of undesirable URL’s that would be loaded on the distributed hardware boxes at each POP and updated on daily basis,” the request for proposals says, referring to uniform resource locators, the unique addresses for specific Web pages, and points of presence, or access points.

“The database would be regularly updated through subscription to an international reputed company maintaining and updating such databases,” according to the request, which was published last month.

The tender details a number of technical specifications, including the fact that the technology “should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URL’s (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds.”

Following the Arab Spring, which demonstrated the power of the Internet to help spread political and social change, Pakistan’s move to clamp down has set off a storm of protest among free-speech groups in the country and beyond.

Opponents of censorship say they are doubly appalled because they associated this kind of heavy-handed approach more with the previous regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf than with the current government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

“The authorities here are big fans of China and how it filters the Internet,” said Sana Saleem, chief executive of Bolo Bhi, a group that campaigns against restrictions on the Internet. “They overlook the fact that China is an autocratic regime and we are a democracy.”

Continue reading New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

Pakistan: Extra Rs150 billions sanctioned above defence budget

ISLAMABAD: On top of the Rs495 billion officially-sanctioned defence budget, the government has allocated an additional Rs150 billion for the armed forces, almost half of which was billed under the Armed Forces Development Programme.

A senior official of the finance ministry, citing the ‘Budget-in-Brief’ document, said the total defence and security allocation comes to around Rs645 billion, which is almost 23.8 per cent of the total budget. In addition, Rs73.2 billion would be paid from civilian accounts on army pensions – a practice initiated by Musharraf in 2000. By adding the three allocations – stated budget, contingent liabilities and army pensions – the total allocations total Rs718 billion, almost 26 per cent of the total budget. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Pakistan needs development, which requires peace, stability, and friendly relations with neighbors

By Gul Agha

Pakistani Rupee is now down almost 90:1 against US$, it means high inflation as capital flees and expect worse.. it was like Rs 2 to US$ in 1940s! Pakistan will likely suffer sanctions like North Korea after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, if not sooner. Poverty stricken Pakistan needs development, which requires peace and stability, and particularly friendly relations with giant neighbors — and investment in education and welfare, not in the military.

Source- adopted from Gul Agha’s facebook wall.

China’s ‘Cake Theory’

‘Cake Theory’ Has Chinese Eating Up Political Debate

by Louisa Lim

What goes on inside China’s leadership is usually played out behind the closed oxblood doors of the compound where the top leaders live. This year, though, a political debate has sprung out in the open — and it has leaders and constituents considering how to move forward politically.

This ideological debate comes as China gears up for a once-in-a-decade political transition. The country’s future top leaders seem almost certain, with Xi Jinping in line for president and Li Keqiang on track for premier. Horse-trading is under way for other leadership positions, however, sparking a debate that could define China’s future.

The Chongqing Model: Equal Slices

In recent months, the streets of the city of Chongqing have been ringing with song. These are not spontaneous outbreaks; they’re government-mandated sessions, requiring employees to “sing the red,” patriotic songs praising China.

This is a leftist vision of China’s future, with powerful echoes of its Maoist past.

It’s the brainchild of Bo Xilai, Chongqing’s party secretary and the son of a revolutionary elder, Bo Yibo, one of the “eight immortals” of Communist China. Bo Xilai has taken a three-pronged approach by “smashing the black,” or attacking corruption and organized crime, with what some say is a disregard for the rule of law. His approach also includes putting in place measures to help those left behind by China’s economic boom.

“The government intervenes to correct the shortcomings of the market economy,” says Yang Fan, a conservative-leaning scholar at China University of Political Science and Law and co-author of a book about the Chongqing model.

“There are projects to improve people’s livelihood by letting migrant workers come to the city, by building them cheap rental places and allowing them to sell their land to come to the city,” he says.

This is where it comes to what’s been dubbed “cake theory.” If the cake is China’s economy, the Chongqing model concentrates on dividing the cake more equally.

The Market-Driven Guangdong Model

The competing vision, based in the province of Guangdong, focuses on making the cake bigger first, not dividing it. In economic terms, the Guangdong model is a more market-driven approach, pushing forward development ahead of addressing inequality.

“The Guangdong model aims to solve the concerns of the middle class,” says Qiu Feng, a liberal academic from the Unirule Institute of Economics. “It’s about building society and rule of law. It wants to give the middle class institutionalized channels to take part in the political process. Its basic thought is co-opting the middle class.”

He says the “Happy Guangdong” approach is aimed not at those left behind, but at those who have profited from the economic boom.

Guangdong’s party secretary, Wang Yang, has criticized the Chongqing model, saying people need to study and review Communist Party history, “rather than just singing of its brilliance.” In political terms, he’s throwing down the gauntlet at his rival, Bo Xilai.

Finding A Way Forward

Both these politicians are fighting for a place — and influence — inside the holiest of holies: the Politburo Standing Committee. This comes against a background of criticism of the current leadership from a surprising quarter.

“The bureaucracy is corrupt. Power has been marketized. Governance has been industrialized,” says Zhang Musheng, a consummate insider. “Local governments are becoming riddled with gangsters.”

Zhang’s father was secretary to China’s Premier Zhou Enlai. This makes him what’s known as a “princeling.” He’s attended a number of meetings held by children of former leaders, where criticism of the current leadership has been aired.

Despite their grievances, they came to one conclusion.

“China’s such a complicated society. Right now, it can’t leave the Communist Party. So the Communist Party must reform and improve,” Zhang says. “Although it’s criticized, right now there is no social force which can replace the Communist Party.”

Those are the key questions: how to reform or even if the Communist Party can reach consensus over which model it follows. ….

Read more » NPR

Pakistan: We have money to spend on missiles, tanks and submarines, and other things, little to invest in public needs.

The Republic: a con artist’s dream by Ayaz Amir

Excerpt;

… We have money to spend on missiles, tanks and submarines, and other things, little to invest in public needs. But this is empty moaning. In the fortress of Islam other priorities reign. We can cry until the cows come home but there won’t be much interest in public education or public transport, or in the need to get rid of that devil’s invention which is the plastic shopping bag. (I am sorry for referring to this time and again but why can’t we do something about it?) ….

Read more : http://www.columnspk.com/the-republic-a-con-artist%e2%80%99s-dream-by-ayaz-amir/

Turkey takes over the Arab Spring

– By Pepe Escobar

Finally. Crystal clear. Someone finally said it – what the whole world, except Washington and Tel Aviv, knows in its collective heart; the recognition of a Palestinian state is “not an option but an obligation”.

It did wonders that the man who said it was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Cairo, at the Arab League, in front of all Arab foreign ministers and with virtually the whole Arab world glued to satellite networks scrutinizing his every word.

The current Erdogan Arab Spring tour – as it was billed by the Turkish press – comprising Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, has already rocketed him to the status of a geopolitical cross between U2’s Bono and Barcelona’s superstar Argentine footballer Lionel Messi.

Erdogan received a rock/soccer star welcome at Cairo’s airport – complete with “Hero Erdogan” banners brandished by the Muslim Brotherhood. He even addressed the crowd in Arabic (from “Greetings to the Egyptian youth and people, how are you?” to “Peace be upon you”).

Erdogan repeatedly stressed, “Egypt and Turkey are hand-in-hand.” But it’s the subtext that is even more incendiary. While Israel’s former good friends Egypt and Turkey are now hand-in-hand, Israel is left isolated facing a wall. There could not be a more earth-shattering development in the Levant – unheard of since the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978.

A model campaigner

Erdogan’s tour is a realpolitik master class. He’s positioning Turkey as the forefront supporter of the Palestinian cause. He’s also positioning Turkey at the core of the Arab Spring – as a supporter and as an inspirational model, even though there have been no full-fledged revolutions so far. He’s emphasizing solid Turkish-Arab unity – for instance planning a strategic cooperation council between Egypt and Turkey.

Plus the whole thing makes good business sense. Erdogan’s caravan includes six ministers and nearly 200 Turkish businessmen – bent on investing heavily all across northern Africa. In Egypt, they may not match the billions of dollars already committed by the House of Saud to the military junta led by Air Marshall Mohammed Tantawi. But in 2010, Turkish trade with the Middle East and North Africa was already at $30 billion, representing 27% of Turkish exports. Over 250 Turkish companies have already invested $1.5 billion in Egypt.

Crucially, Erdogan told Egyptian TV channel Dream, “Do not be wary of secularism. I hope there will be a secular state in Egypt.” Erdogan was subtly referring to Turkey’s secular constitution; and at the same time he was very careful to remind Egyptians that secularism is compatible with Islam.

The current Turkish model is enormously popular among the Egyptian street, featuring a moderate Islamic party (the Justice and Development Party – AKP) in power; a secular constitution; the military – albeit strong – back in the barracks; and an ongoing economic boom (Turkey was the world’s fastest growing economy in the first half of 2001). [1]

This model is not exactly what the regressive House of Saud wants. They would prefer a heavily Islamist government controlled by the most conservative factions of the Muslim Brotherhood. Worse; as far as Libya is concerned, the House of Saud would love to have a friendly emirate, or at least a government peppered with Islamic fundamentalists.

Erdogan also stressed that the “aggressiveness” of Israel “threatens the future of the Israeli people”. That’s music for the Arab street. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Erdogan in Cairo – and confirmed he’ll go ahead with Palestine’s bid to be fully recognized as a state by the United Nations Security Council later this month. ….

Read more → Asia Times

Sindh – American Flood Assistance Already at Work

More than 50,000 families reached in Sindh

Islamabad, September 13, 2011 (press release)– In response to the Government of Pakistan’s disaster declaration on September 9, the United States has immediately begun providing a broad range of assistance to Sindh communities affected by this year’s floods, including food supplies for more than 50,000 families, and safe drinking water, shelter, sanitation and hygiene supplies, and basic health care for thousands more.

“Assistance provided by the United States will help thousands of flood-affected families attend to their immediate needs over the next few weeks,” said Andrew Sisson, Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development Mission.

This support is part of the broader U.S. Government commitment to assisting the people of Pakistan by supporting long-term development in times of immediate crisis. It will be delivered by local and international organizations specializing in relief work.

Already, USAID-funded food packages have reached 23,000 families in seven districts of Sindh (Badin, Mirpurkhas, Tando Muhammed Khan, Tando Allah Yar, Tharparker, Umarkot, and Hyderabad). This assistance was delivered by the International Organization for Migration. USAID also paid for nearly 60 trucks to deliver relief to affected areas and 1,000 plastic tarpaulins for shelter, and is financing other efforts to coordinate relief activities.

In the coming days, U.S.-funded relief supplies, including shelter materials, drinking water, sanitation and hygiene provisions will be provided through the Rural Support Programs Network, a Pakistani non-governmental organization. The United States is also contributing funding for 26,000 food packages to be distributed by the World Food Program.

The U.S. has also provided funding to the Agha Khan University’s mobile health unit, which is providing health care to affected communities in to Badin District. Additional U.S.-sponsored medical teams will begin working in other heavily flooded areas within the next several days. These health services are crucial in preventing and treating diarrhea, malaria, and other diseases that typically follow floods.

Courtesy- Information Office, Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy Islamabad, Pakistan

http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/

Via → Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, September 13, 2011.

Sindhis should rethink their priorities before it is too late!

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia

The Sindhi political analysts and thinkers in Sindh continue to provide further insight into thinking of educated and middle class Sindhis who live in Sindh. These should help Sindhi Diaspora to better understand the ground realities in order to chalk out their actions about their supporting role in awakening of Sindhi society. Indeed, only the determined resolve and courageous actions by masses of Sindh would bring about enough changes to thwart the ill designs of internal and external anti-Sindh forces. Yesterday, I have shared my review on Naseer Memon’s article published in Sindhi daily Kawish on August 13, 2011 under the title “PPP’s recent decision to revive Local Government Ordinance 2001 is violation of its own manifesto‏”. Today, I am reviewing an article by Zulfiqar Halepoto that was published yesterday (13 August 2011) in Sindhi daily Awami Awaz. I am currently reviewing Jami Chandio’s article “PPP & a New Sindh” that was published in Sindhi daily Ibrat on 13-14th August, 2011. The purpose of these reviews is to provide a compilation of what Sindhis in Sindh so that Diaspora Sindhis can assess the need and formulate their actions in support of Sindh interests.

Zulfiqar Halepoto articulates the need for “paradigm shift” in Sindh where one political party has been looked upon as the only capable force that can protect their interests and Sindh’s integrity. Where once PPP leaders were honored and welcomed in their communities, most Sindhis are angry and hold PPP responsible for many of their problems.

According to Zulfiqar Halepoto, people of Sindh overwhelmingly voted for PPP in 2008 with the following four expectations:

1. The government of Sindh will be formed without the participation of those that had ruled Sindh for the several years in immediate past. During that time, the Sindhi interests suffered the most as the regimes became oblivious of the collective interests of Sindh and focused on only their personal gains. Sindhis expected PPP to adhere to its pledge not to share power with MQM and dissipate impression that in order to have peace and prosperity of the people of Sindh, MQM must be made a part of the government.

2. The PPP government will find the killers of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and bring them to justice.

3. The PPP government will bring about the required constitutional and administrative changes that the dictatorial regime had brought to weaken native Sindhis and allow only one ethnic group to control Sindh’s larger cities.

4. The governance in Sindh that had suffered greatly in the last 12 years under the regimes that violated Sindhi Rights on all fronts will end. Sindh’s government would be an example of an exemplary governance in Pakistan ensuring welfare of all those who live in Sindh.

Unfortunately, the government of PPP has gone even beyond the status quo and has made sufferings of Sindhis much worse. Sindhis often express that they are now lost and wonder who will protect their interests? PPP thinks that Sindh vote bank is in their pocket and they are not afraid of any backlash from their actions that regularize injustices of previous regimes and further compromising on Sindhi Rights. Like the previous regime headed by a Sindh Chief Minister, PPP too has surrendered its power to MQM whose discriminatory policies against all groups of Sindh not only continues unabated but has worsened. There is an increasing feeling among the people of Sindh that PPP has become part of problem and looking at it as a solution provider is a big mistake!? Most Sindhis think it would be far easier to wedge struggle against a dictator and racist political parties without PPP’s presence.

It would seem to me that PPP had been, at minimum, a silent partners of those who do not wish Sindh & Sindhi identity to survive in Pakistan. These forces want Sindhis should leave their mother tongue and centuries old culture of peace & communal harmoney and to adapt the language of minority as their first language.

Sindhis are angry with PPP and with themselves for misplacing their trust and hopes in PPP. Sindhis do not understand why a PPP which won 90 seats in Sindh would forget their voters within a span of less than three years. Sindhis are disappointed that on the pretext of saving their regime at the center, they have been continually ignoring aspirations and hopes of Sindhis. Instead of creating more opportunities for Sindhis, doors for Sindhis continue to shut, particularly in those areas where they are controlled by MQM. People of Sindh can no longer tolerate this situation and a determined movement towards forming a genuine unity of Sindh on the point that “protection of interests of Sindh is their first priority” is fast spreading among Sindhis living in villages, towns, and cities.

President Asif Zardari has played Sindh as “Sindh card” whenever his rule faced a threat from opposition and the Pakistani security establishment. The “Sindhi Topi Day” was also a part of that gimmickry. It is said that most people in Pakistan think that regardless of what happens, Sindhis will continue to support PPP? This myth is now to great extent shattered as people of Sindh are able to see through the politics of exploitation of Sindhis by internal and external forces. Some non-Sindhi Pakistanis are noticing that a change is brewing among Sindh. Sindhis are now condemning the decisions of PPP that are counter to the interests of Sindh. They are also realizing that Sindhis are not against the integrity of Pakistan and that main demand is to secure equitable rights in Pakistan and preserve their identity, culture, and language.

The anger of Sindh is lost on other political parties in Pakistan as most are now taking steps to seek support of Sindhis. Awami National Party, Jamat-e-Islami, and Sunni Tahrik are now supporting Sindhi demand for cancellation of former dictator Musharraf’s undemocratic, black, repressive, & discriminatory Local Government Ordinance. MQM is staying silent about the demands of Sindhis. On other side, Sindhis have notice support of Pir Pagaro on this issue. However, Sindhis have not forgiven for his pro-Kala Bagh stand and his support of General Musharraf’s policies that hurt the interests of Sindh.

The Sindhi nationalist parties are remain divided. Although most Sindhis respect those nationalist parties for their their stand on the interests of Sindh, some of these political parties are likely to keep themselves away from the upcoming elections. Their divergent views including the separatist leaning of some have kept their voter bank constrained.

Zulfiqar Halepoto urges Sindhis to look at all aspects of this complicated situation, weigh all options before jumping on any bandwagon. Sindhis should think and formulate strategy, long-term plans and be ready to effectively respond to any tactical challenges. One should look at the success of Pakhoons, who have more than one credible options for exercising their vote. Without a fundamental change in the political landscape of Sindh, Sindhis still only have two serious options – Muslim League and PPP. The Sindh chapters of these two parties are dominated by anti-Sindh waderas, who together with MQM and anti-Sindhi business owners will continue to damage the interests of Sindh.

It is imperative that Sindh nationalist parties create a formidable political party or group that will become a credible second alternative for Sindhis. If this is achieved, it will be an important paradigm jump for Sindhis that will likely bring about a positive development for not only Sindh but also for Pakistan.

Courtesy: → Sindh e-lists/ e-groups, August 14, 2011.

An era of misinformation – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

The combination of religious extremism and unbridled capitalism became very lethal in Pakistan. Every sector, including the media, produced a new class of rich people all spewing a demented worldview

Whenever something critical is written about religious extremism, jihadis, the Taliban or the Pakistan military, it is considered the magic of American dollars. Perhaps some confused misguided individuals genuinely believe that most of the $ 1.5 billion of US aid is being deposited in the bank accounts of a few liberal and enlightened columnists. The fact of the matter is that one or two English dailies that publish such material are always in financial trouble, unable to pay the wages and compensation to workers and writers. On the contrary, most of the media outlets are owned and run by the most conservative tycoons who generously compensate the pro-jihadi and pro-military columnists, talk-show hosts and their handlers.

It is very easy to find out who has benefitted from the explosion of the media as an industry. Count the number of shows and their hosts who are preachers of Islamisation, and who are always finding a Yahood-o-Hunood (Jewish and Hindu) conspiracy for everything that goes wrong in Pakistan. Most of the media men getting salaries in millions per month will fall into this category. The fortunes of these right-wing media persons are just like Hollywood-Bollywood top stars. The only difference is that the largest film industries’ rags to riches stories are related to an independent entertainment industry while said Pakistani media persons are pushing the corporate media’s fuzzy thinking and disinformation endorsed by the military, its agencies and mentally challenged emerging ruling classes.

Besides other things, Islamisation and jihad-preaching has become a huge industry involving millions of stakeholders. Writing jihad-preaching textbooks for millions of students for the government/privately-run educational system (from kindergarten to university level) to printing and publishing them is a mammoth industry. Unlike most other countries that prepare the students for improving the production of the economic sector, Pakistan’s education is geared towards producing jihadi producers and consumers. Once the jihad-fed generation of producers (media men) and consumers (readers and viewers) came of age, the stage was set for an unprecedented age of misinformation in Pakistan.

The overwhelming ethos of religious self-righteousness was accompanied by infinite greed, corruption, lack of work ethics and professionalism. In the British ‘pagan’ era, all such socio-economic ills were minimal. Unleashing of Darwinian capitalism on the international level by the Reagan-Thatcher era also confounded the problem. The combination of religious extremism and unbridled capitalism became very lethal in Pakistan. Every sector, including the media, produced a new class of rich people all spewing a demented worldview. Religious extremism, jihad, political anarchy, and the collapsing of different state institutions have immensely benefited the new rich: their simultaneous rise has to have some interlocking dynamics. One obvious link is the abandonment of any sense of equity, where the gains of economic development have been usurped by the top five or ten percent, including the media persons.

In Pakistan, jihadi Islam has been a big business after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Billions of dollars, pumped in by the US, Europe and the Middle Eastern monarchies have changed hands. Pakistan’s military and its agencies were the main channels to distribute jihadi money among the mullahs, politicians and media outlets. Further, since the state was run by the military and its agencies, they were the only ones who had key information that can make or break the media outlets, pen-pushers, and tongue-twisters.

No bigwig media warrior could survive or sustain without having deeper links in the ‘agencies’ because these military outfits were the only ones who had the know-how, manpower, finances and coercive authority to collect information about everyone, particularly the politicians and other state operators. The secret agencies were holding the purse and the information to create media jihadi warriors and eliminate the few who would try to deviate from the ‘path.’ Umar Cheema and Saleem Shahzad’s cases are the latest in a series of murders and disappearances of ‘wanderers of truth’, particularly if they happened to be from smaller nationalities or minority ethnic groups.

The parameters of media control have never changed even after the American departure from Afghanistan by the end of the 80s and re-entry after 2001. In the interval of the US’s absence, the Middle Eastern monarchies have been supplying the funds. Nonetheless, the funds coming in from all these channels have been disbursed by the same old agencies to the same old beneficiaries. A few poor liberal enlightened media men are not the ones upon whom dollars shine. The greenback is still blessing the same old jihadi crowd, nowadays called the ‘ghairat’ (honour) brigade.

With the expansion of the jihad market, the media has gained its own clout and the US is more interested in buying out the most anti-America media outlets, pen-pushers and tongue-twisters. Some were bought in broad daylight and many of us know about it. Now media tycoons have accumulated huge sums of profit and the US may not be the only source of outrageous (given Pakistani median income) compensation. Just read daily ‘khutbas’ (sermons) in the most popular newspapers and listen to the talk shows and decide yourself. Other than jihadi fuzzy-thinking, what else are these media groups selling to the market? Short answer: nothing!

Courtesy: → WICHAAR.COM

Pakistan, India & China: A tale of triplets

COMMENT: A tale of triplets — by Shahab Usto

Pakistan’s utmost priority should be to follow the Chinese model: shun external engagements and turn inwards to focus only on economic, social and human development. Remember, we have missed the bus twice

Independent Pakistan, India and China were born at almost the same time, inherited the same decrepit state structures, and shared the same trajectory of international wars and civil strife. But they do not share the same present. China is the fastest growing economy. India is catching up fast with it. But Pakistan lags far behind both.

As it is, China (closely followed by India) is all set to dominate the Asia-Pacific region, if not the world. The US-led West is jittery. Stuck in a financial crisis, the West has lost faith in its economic philosophy based on unregulated markets. “The teachers are in trouble,” as one Chinese minister put it, referring to the ideologues of the failing Anglo-Saxon corporate and financial models. …

Read more : Daily Times

Our textbooks and the lies they teach

By Raza Rumi

Due to the 18th Amendment, a momentous shift in Pakistan’s governance arrangements is taking place through a politically mediated and largely consensual manner. The federal government is being trimmed and 10 ministries have already been devolved to the provinces. A key development pertains to the devolution of education — lock, stock and barrel — to the provinces. Most notably, the odious era of setting poisonous, centralised curricula in the name of a ‘martial’ nationalism is finally over. Whether the past practices of turning Pakistan into a jihad project will end is uncertain, unless the provinces take the initiative and reverse the regrettable trajectory of the past.

Pakistani textbooks have preached falsehoods, hatred and bigotry. They have constructed most non-Muslims, especially Hindus, as evil and primordial enemies, glorified military dictatorships and omitted references to our great betrayal of the Bengali brothers and sisters who were the founders and owners of the Pakistan movement. It is time to correct these wrongs. ….

Read more : The Express Tribune

Pakistan can no longer be ruled from Islamabad

National Integration – Masood Sharif Khan Khattak

Communication infrastructure, domestic tourism, undiluted provincial autonomy and bonding through the workplace play a vital role in the integration of a nation. Pakistan’s national integration has suffered immensely because these factors have never been crucially important to our leadership. Pakistan’s communication infrastructure is primitive, domestic tourism is non-existent, provincial autonomy only receives lip-service and bonding through the workplace is totally missing except in the armed forces. Uniform development across the country over the past sixty years would have solidly integrated the Pakistani nation but that did not happen due to absolute incompetence, poor leadership and corruption at all levels. The price Pakistan is paying for its neglect is in the shape of an internally disjointed nation forced to suffer the present-day indignities in the shape of terrorism and insurgency.

The political and military establishment must now understand that the military potential of any country is multiplied manifolds when it is backed by a nation that is well-integrated. An integrated nation can cover up for military shortfalls but military strength cannot cover up for the shortfalls of a nation that lacks integration and cohesion. The Soviet Union’s break-up in 1991 is an example that amply illustrates this aspect. Pakistan must, therefore, accord top priority to uniform development throughout the country in order to have a nation that can back its enviable military potential in a solid manner; if not, then all will be lost.

Nawaz Sharif deserves the credit for initiating the modern communication infrastructure of Pakistan that is so essential for the integration of a nation that lives in a country as big as Pakistan. The launching of the Lahore-Islamabad motorway by Nawaz Sharif in the early 90s was a huge step in the right direction. If the process had been initiated decades ago Pakistan today would have been a very cohesively integrated nation. …

Read more : PKcoluminist.com

Over-Centralized HEC must be Abolished

Press Releases 2011

Correction for the Record: USAID Has Not Put Any Funding for HEC on Hold

April 6, 2011

Islamabad – Several news reports claim that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is withholding $250 million from the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

These reports are inaccurate. USAID has not put any funding for the HEC on hold, nor does it have any plans to do so at this time.

The United States through USAID already has provided all of its planned funding to the HEC for 2010, which amounted to $45 million. Funding for any future USAID programs will be determined later this year, when the U.S. Congress approves funding for 2011. …

Read more : EMBASSY OF THE U.S, ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN

Source – http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/pr_11040605.html

SINDH NEEDS INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT

by Dr Ali Akbar Dhakan, Karachi, Sindh

All the macro economic objectives can be obtained through the development of industries both small and large scale because they provide employment facilities, increase supply of goods, boost up exports, control inflation and price hike, reduce poverty and provide chances of prosperity through improvement of purchasing power of the common people .The problem of unemployment in Sindh particularly in Rural areas is due to lack of focus and attention to be given to the development of this sector.

Continue reading SINDH NEEDS INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT

Who can check them? Unfortunately no body !

Who can check them? — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Excerpt:

…. The ‘establishment’ with its ‘solution by force policy’ has created irresolvable resentment among a majority of Baloch. ‘Balochistan: Waiting for justice’ editorial in Daily Times on February 28 has put the matter in proper perspective, “Pakistan’s security establishment has dealt with Balochistan in a very heavy-handed manner. The largest province of Pakistan has seen little development over the last six decades. Lack of education, infrastructure and political power has alienated the Baloch from the rest of the country, particularly Punjab, which they see as their ‘enemy’. The recent policy of eliminating moderate nationalists, who are in open national politics, is a dangerous trend. Thousands of Baloch have disappeared under mysterious circumstances or have been picked up by unknown elements. They are not only tortured but many of them are killed brutally and their bodies are later found from different parts of Balochistan. This policy adopted by our security establishment is leading to an increase in separatist sentiment among the Baloch.

“It is no secret that neither the federal government nor the provincial government has any real say when it comes to Balochistan. The real power lies with our security establishment, which has a narrow and non-political repressive policy. It is time that they understand that force, repression and killing cannot resolve this issue. A political solution is needed and for that the democratic government needs to run the show. The Baloch have been waiting for justice for decades now. It is time to address their grievances.”

Significantly even Balochistan’s Advocate General (AG) Salahuddin Mengal stated in Supreme Court that, “We are recovering dead bodies day in and day out as the Frontier Corps (FC) and police are lifting people in broad daylight at will, but we are helpless. Who can check the FC?” Who would know better than him about perpetrators of brutal killings of which my old student Faiz Mohammad Marri is the latest victim. Only the iron-will and determination of the people can check the oppressors because history moves relentlessly however brutal the repression. …

Read more : Daily Times

Pakistan: Where the generals play & people pay!

The natural consequences – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The unbridled expenditure on militaries and weapons by countries to create ‘national security states’ not only promotes war-mongering and indiscriminate use of force but also leaves people perpetually tottering on the brink of an abyss. This folly is akin to credit card use: carefree fun initially and desperation at payback time. Unfortunately, it is the innocents who pay the price with interest while big guns find refuge in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The madness of diverting resources primarily towards military strength cannot be achieved without disregard for people’s rights. Such countries are essentially internally repressive and jingoistic in external relations. Naturally, the countries that neglect the human suffering dimensions of their waste of resources not only lag behind but start regressing, slowly becoming derelict and decrepit. …

Read more : Daily Times

Injustices in Pakistan: Startling Disclosures of Federal Employment Figures

 

By Aziz Narejo

 

Sindhis and Baloch have been complaining about injustices to them since the inception of Pakistan. Be it the distribution of resources, apportionment in budget, provincial autonomy, water rights, share in economic development, expenditure in social sectors, education, health and infrastructure development, their involvement in the decision making process or their share in the military, the most powerful institution in the country, they are ignored everywhere. Their cries are never heard or even noticed at the highest levels.

It is even more unfortunate that the so-called human rights advocates, champions of the civil society, the ‘democratic forces’ and others proclaiming to be on the side of fairness in society also always ignore the voices from Sindh and Balochistan. After losing all the hope for any positive change, Baloch have finally decided to part ways with Pakistan. If it continues, Sindhis may have to make a decision too. …

Rea more : Indus Herald

Pakistan nears bankruptcy, yet its Army poaches most of the resources of the nation

As Pakistan nears bankruptcy, patience of foreign lenders wears thin

BY GRAEME SMITH

ISLAMABAD — A terrifying kind of mathematics has become popular among aid workers, analysts and others who spend their lives tracking the fate of Pakistan. It’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation about how the country will get through the coming years without declaring bankruptcy: take the country’s foreign debt ($53-billion), add interest, subtract the $1.8-billion that won’t arrive as scheduled on Jan. 1 from the International Monetary Fund because Islamabad failed to meet loan conditions. Add the staggering cost, perhaps $10-billion, of rebuilding after summer floods.

The numbers seem bleak. The government floated the possibility last week of running a deficit for the coming year of $15-billion.

Islamabad’s latest plan to raise revenue, a reformed tax law, has become bogged down by stubborn opposition parties, front-page criticism and street protests. The cabinet’s economic team is threatening to quit.

Pakistan needs a bailout. But is the country still a good investment?

“That’s the conversation people are having now, about whether you’d be throwing good money after bad,” said Mosharraf Zaidi, a development expert and policy analyst based in Islamabad.

The international community has accused Pakistan of poor financial management for years. Cables recently posted by the website WikiLeaks show a U.S. intelligence official complaining in 2008 about the country’s preference for spending money on strategic military hardware instead of development: “Despite pending economic catastrophe, Pakistan is producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world.” …

READ MORE : Globe and Mail

Some good work from USAID

U.S. Provides Equipment To Lady Health Workers

ISLAMABAD: More than 1,500 Lady Health Workers who work in areas in Punjab and Sindh provinces affected by the floods will receive kits of basic equipment to assist them as they offer vital health care services to families in their communities. This donation is part of the United States’ continuing support for Pakistan’s flood relief and recovery efforts.

The kits were donated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to Pakistan’s National Program for Family Planning and Primary Health Care. Kits include blood pressure monitors, scales, thermometers, blankets, tents, and basic furniture. This equipment will enable Lady Health Workers to set up health houses to provide basic services in flood-affected communities. …

Read more : ONLINE

Human rights in Pakistan?

by Nizamuddin Nizamani

General Ziaul Haq organically changed the socio-political landscape of the state and turned the country’s mass into a ticking bomb by planting the seeds of religious fundamentalism. To counter the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, he initiated a military operation in Sindh and created sectarian and ethnic militant groups in Karachi and other parts of the country

The world community celebrates Human Rights Day on December 10. The envisaged purpose seems to accept the truth that despite the claims of modern, scientific, human-friendly development and globalisation, still some heinous human rights violations are the order of the day in some regions, while realising the universal truth that all humans without discrimination have equal rights to live and develop.

It seems that the UN and related bodies have bitterly failed to guarantee access to basic amenities for common people globally in general and the global south specifically. Even the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) seems a distant dream. …

Read more : Daily Times

Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq was particularly concerned about Pakistan, and India. Both were well down in his index, below even Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. South Asia, he wrote in 1995, is sinking “into a quagmire of human deprivation and despair”. He was shocked that it had fallen behind sub-Saharan Africa, to become the most deprived region in the world.

Mahbub ul Haq, a heretic among economists, died on July 16th 1998, aged 64.

…… Mr Haq said he was not sure whether the countries of South Asia had the political will to cut their arms bills and finance their “essential human goals”. In what he called his “intellectual journey” he had moved from idea to idea. In his World Bank days he had on his desk a notice which said, “It is too late to agree with me: I’ve changed my mind.” Critics said it showed his lack of judgment; admirers praised his flexibility. It was probably just a sign of his charm.

To read full article : Economist

Shift in Turkey policy worries EU, NATO – By Shiraz Paracha

Keeping Turkey under control and on board is becoming a serious challenge for the United States and the European Union (EU) as the Turkish public and government are frustrated with Western double standards and hypocritical policies.

Turkey is transforming from a pro-Western state to a country that is bursting with anti-imperialist and anti-racist sentiments. The ruling Justice and Development Party of Turkey represents the public feelings. The West, particularly, the EU has infuriated the Turkish public by blocking Turkey’s entry into the EU.

 

Turkey, an ally of the West and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since 1952, is now also looking towards East. The United States, the EU and Israel are watching Turkey with great caution and perhaps with certain nervousness.

Under the leadership of President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has been building relations with its neighbors, under a doctrine called ‘zero troubles with neighbors’.

The Justice and Development Party pushes for Turkey’s EU membership but at the same time demands justice and respect from its European partners.

Europe accepts Turkey as a military partner, but the EU seems to have less appetite for a political partnership with Turkey. Germany and France, especially, have been creating obstacles in the way of Turkey’s joining the EU.

German and French opposition to Turkish membership of the EU is rooted in history. The attitude of the EU’s biggest states towards Turkey has its roots in religious and cultural hatred of Turks. …

Read more : CriticalPPP

India is worse than Pakistan on gender equality

by Aradhana Sharma

NEW DELHI: Believe it or not when it comes to gender inequities India fares worse than Pakistan. In fact, the country fares lower than all other countries in South Asia save Afghanistan. These are the findings of the 2010 Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Programme on Thursday as per its Gender Inequality Index.

So while Pakistan may be in the news for its treatment of women and might have become a hot bed for international women’s activism, it certainly seems to know how to take care of its mothers better. On maternal mortality, India — with its abysmal record — trails Pakistan. …
Read more :  The Times of India