Tag Archives: Mangla

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.

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Kalabagh: the other view – By Hassan Abbas

THE consensus at the national, or shall we say political, level to build the Kalabagh dam for water and power does not exist.

Perhaps some areas of Pakistan will benefit from the dam while some others will not, but the question is whether Pakistan as a whole would earn any net benefits from its construction.

Those in favour of the dam almost religiously believe that without it we are doomed to a dry future. Why do they think so? Perhaps because a number of reports by foreign ‘experts’ say so. Who are these ‘experts’? Where do they come from? Why do they care? We shall revisit these questions, but first a couple of others.

Do we produce enough electric power in Pakistan? No. Do we have enough water storage capacity? Well, it depends on 1) how we define ‘enough’; and 2) ‘where’ we want to store. Of all the available water in the Indus basin of Pakistan, approximately 95 per cent is directed to agriculture of which over 70 per cent goes waste; less than 30 per cent of it is the actual requirement for the crops we grow.

The fact is, besides wasting water, we also spend billions in managing wastage of water in the name of SCARP (Salinity Control and Reclamation Project). Rather than planning for more water — at the rate of 70 per cent wastage — we need to invest in increasing irrigation efficiency.

We can build a new dam to store water, or we can use an available storage space in the form of natural ‘aquifers’. Current knowledge of hydrogeology tells us that water storage is carried out better in aquifers than in dams.

If only we refill the depleted aquifers under the city of Lahore, we can store more water than the Tarbela reservoir — that too with the least social and environmental impact.

Rachna, Thal and Bari Doabs all offer excellent aquifers which could be exploited for storage, offering a potential storage capacity hundreds of times more than that of Tarbela, Mangla and Kalabagh combined. Although refilling an aquifer would be expensive, it would be much cheaper than building a large dam.

What about power? Do we need a dam for it? Let’s do some simple math here: the dam building might cost $10 billion with an estimated generation capacity of 5GW. This power, however, enters the grid only after completion of the dam which might take, say, 15 years.

With the prevailing technology of solar power, it costs approximately 90 cents to produce one watt. Given $10bn, we produce 10GW and production can start within the first few months of the project, progressively reaching 10GW in, say, two years.

So what is better — $10bn for 10GW in two years or $10bn for 5GW after 15 years plus the huge social and environmental impact?

Despite all this, why are there ‘experts’ who insist that we build the dam — a solution which we, as a poor country, neither have the financial muscle to embark on nor the technical expertise to undertake. Consequently, this ‘solution’ makes us dependent on foreign ‘help’, financially and technically. And we have to pay for this ‘help’ with interest.

When a mega project (like a large dam) is undertaken in a poor country with the ‘help’ of some global financiers, the latter are actually ‘investing’ in the poor country on behalf of a few (rich) ‘donors’.

The donor countries also share part of the project proportionate to their share of ‘donation’, thus creating jobs and businesses for their own citizens involved in that project. With this, their ‘donated’ capital comes back to re-circulate within their own economies, while the economy of the country being ‘helped’ hardly benefits.

Till the project is complete, the host country accumulates a huge debt, plus interest, without having earned anything. As soon as the project starts delivering, the host country is obliged to meet the loan repayment schedule.

Continue reading Kalabagh: the other view – By Hassan Abbas

Punjab/Pakistan denies Sindh’s share of water

Pakistan/Punjab: Water is life! But, life in Pakistans Sindh province has become extremely difficult due to unavailability of sufficient water. The problem has been created by Punjab, which is getting the lions share of Indus waters while denying Sindh’s rightful share. Sindh and other constituent units  in Pakistan are battling serious water shortage, even as Punjab is going ahead with Chashma-Jhelum and Taunsa-Panjnad link canal projects. It is estimated that by June Sindh will face water shortage to the tune of 54 per cent as compared to 14 per cent by Punjab. A recent move by Punjab government to control water flows and forcible opening of flood canals has triggered widespread protests in Sindh and even Balochistan.

Courtesy: South Asia News » YouTube

SINDH DELEGATION to attend Alternative World Water Forum in Marseille, France

World Sindhi Institute organizes SINDH DELEGATION to attend Alternative World Water Forum in Marseille France

Two of Sindh’s premier Water Experts on Rivers and Dams and renowned scholar activists Mr Naseer Memon and Mr Abrar Kazi to attend and speak at Forum Alternatif Mondiale de l’Eau “FAME” taking place in Marseille France on 16th March 2012

They will present the Case of Sindh and how the mega dams of Mangla, Tarbela and as well other structures on the Indus have devastated lowest riparian Sindh’s economy; In spite of this new dams are still being planned without Sindh’s permission.

http://www.fame2012.org/en/tag/marseille/

Zardari and the Generals’ consensus

By Praveen Swami

Pakistan’s civilian rulers seem to have averted a possible coup with a little help from inside the army itself.

Eight weeks ago, as rumours of an imminent coup swirled around Islamabad, few seemed to doubt democratic rule in Pakistan would soon be marched before a firing squad.

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States, had been recalled to face charges of conspiring to sack top military officials. There was even talk of a treason trial targeting President Asif Ali Zardari himself — with Mr. Haqqani as the Army’s star witness.

Events since, however, haven’t quite panned out as hardline Pakistani generals might have anticipated: instead of capturing power, the army has found itself in retreat.

Mr. Zardari, Pakistani media have reported, is almost certain to deny the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, an extension to serve until 2013 — a blow directed at Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and a sign of civilian confidence.

In November, Pakistan’s military had shut down the Shamsi airbase, used to stage United States drone attacks against Islamist insurgents: actions intended to distinguish them from political rulers too-willing to please the United States. Last month, though, drone strikes resumed — directed by United States intelligence officers located at the Shahbaz airbase near Abbottabad.

Politicians have become increasingly defiant of ISI authority: even Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who has long shied away from controversy, warned against efforts to run “a state within a state”.

The Generals’ consensus

LONG held together by a Generals’ consensus on the direction Pakistan ought to head in, the army now seems divided as never before. Last month, at a January 13 meeting of the corps commanders conference, where Gen. Kayani briefed generals on the evolving political crisis , he ran into unexpected in-house resistance, leading to a 10-hour debate.

The toughest questioning, a Pakistani government source privy to the discussions told The Hindu, came from Lieutenant-General Tariq Khan — the commander of the Mangla-based 1 corps, and a veteran of counter-insurgency operations who is considered among the most competent of the army’s commanders

Gen. Khan, the source said, made clear the army was unprepared to take power, and demanded to know how the army chief intended to resolve the still-unfolding showdown with the civilian governments. He noted that the army had no coherent plan to address its increasingly-fragile relationship with the United States, too. Backed by other key officers, like Gujaranwala-based XXX corps commander Raheel Sharif, Gen. Khan pushed for the army to pull back from the brink.

Ever since the killing of military ruler Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1998, the corps commanders conference has been a key instrument of what Mr. Haqqani once described as “military rule by other means”. The resistance faced by Gen. Kayani within the institution is, therefore, of great significance.

Ever since he took office, Pakistan’s army chief had worked to rebuild the army’s relationship with the jihadist groups it had patronised for decades. Terrorism in Pakistan, he argued, had come about because the country had become enmeshed in the United States’ war against jihadists in Afghanistan. Building peace, he argued, necessitated reviving this relationship — even at the cost of ties with the United States.

In 2008, Gen. Pasha delivered an off-the-record briefing to journalists, where he described Tehreek-e-Taliban commanders Baitullah Mehsud and Maulana Muhammad Fazlullah — responsible for hundreds of killings in Pakistanas “patriots”.

Following the raid that claimed Osama bin Laden last year, Mr. Pasha put the case for an aggressive anti-United States line to Pakistani legislators: “At every difficult moment in our history”, he said “the United States has let us down. This fear that we can’t live without the United States is wrong.

Gen. Kayani’s line, the government’s decision not to allow his spymaster to serve on suggests, no longer represents the army’s institutional consensus.

The path to peace he envisaged involved costs the army isn’t willing to pay.

Political resurgence?

Continue reading Zardari and the Generals’ consensus