Tag Archives: Opportunities

Corruption limits educational opportunities for Sindhi Children

Reopening ghost schools a lucrative business in Thar

By Prem Shivani

MITHI: The number of schools in the most-underdeveloped district in Sindh is roughly twice the number of total villages.

According to education department records, there are 4,153 operational schools in 2,484 villages of Tharparkar district.

The schools are ‘operating’ on paper only and are not even remotely related to providing education to children living in these villages. Such schools are used only to embezzle government funds received for their management, Dawn reliably learnt. A couple of years ago, more than 50 per cent ghost schools in the district were got reopened by local influential persons in connivance with officials of the education department.

The schools regularly receive funds, ration for students, stipends and scholarships which the bogus schools management committees — comprising the supposed supervisor, teacher and at times the education district officer and additional district officer — distribute among themselves, according to sources in the education department.

According to regulations of the education department, a primary school has to be opened after every two kilometres. However, since the education officers have a stake in schools funds they have been more than generous in opening as many as 60 bogus schools in a single village, said the sources.

These officials have evaded notice by maintaining fake records for students’ enrolment and semis code.

A school with a semis code receives Rs22,500 per year as school management committee fund, a stipend of Rs250 for every girl student enrolled and the person who opens the school in his locality or village gets the job of a lower staff or a naib qasid. Moreover, funds and wheat, oil and ghee are also given by the World Food Programme and Tawana Pakistan Project for these schools.

According to education department records, there are 61 primary schools for boys and girls and one high school in Vaouridora village in Chhachhro taluka which has a total population of 6,580 people.

Around 3,950 boys and girls — 60 per cent of the population — have been shown enrolled in these schools, also having 182 students who have even studied up to matric. Out of these 62 schools 42 do not even have a building but have been allotted a semi code by education officials.

Meanwhile, 27, 22 and 17 schools have been supposedly functioning in Chhachhro, Diplo and Islamkot towns respectively.

A greater number of schools are operating in several villages of Tharparkar district having a population of less than 5,000 people.

Moreover, 24 schools have been opened in Chelhar, 23 in Karuro, 23 in Charnore, 22 in Thardos, 21 in Kitar, 19 in Kitari, 19 in Sakrio, 17 in Kantio,16 in Udani, 15 in Janjhi,14 in Danbhario,14 in Ranpario, 13 in Jetrar, 12 in Khimejopar, 11 in Pabuhar, 11 in Bhorilo, 10 in Dhaklo, 10 in Jese jo Par,10 in Kaloi, and 9 in Aranro village, state official bogus records.

A senior teacher who worked with the Tawana Pakistan Project confirmed that many schools in Thar maintained bogus records of students’ enrolment.“Wheat and oil obtained for these schools is openly sold in the market of these villages and towns,” he said.

An education official who wished not to be named shed some light on ‘the rationale behind opening several schools in a single village’.

He said that influential persons of various communities used their clout to get as many schools opened as possible because for each school opened in a village, bogus teachers gave a cut of their loot to the school superviser and the influential person who had got the school opened. If a teacher paid Rs1,000 a month to the supervisor then more schools meant more teachers and more money, he explained.

Tharparkar district education officer Abdul Majid Hur said that the matter was being probed thoroughly. He said that he would not hesitate to take a stern decision for putting the educational system in Thar on a sound footing and ensuring that quality education was imparted in schools.

For about two years now, people working in such bogus schools in connivance with the education department have managed to pull the wool over the eyes of stakeholders who are funding these schools.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1023302/reopening-ghost-schools-a-lucrative-business-in-thar

India-Pakistan Trade: Making Borders Irrelevant

By: Tara Beteille, co-authors: Kalpana Kochhar

In our blog post last November, we discussed Pakistan’s decision to grant India most favored nation (MFN) status. We were hopeful about the gains from easier trade between the two, but noted the many stumbling blocks in between. In the past 20 weeks, both countries have made serious efforts to address these blocks. Things are looking good. Here is an update.

Both countries mean business

In addition to the goodwill gesture of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visiting India this April and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh considering visiting Pakistan, important issues addressed include:

  • Pakistan issued an order in March 2012 to move from a positive list of 2,000 items for India to a negative list of 1,209 banned items. Pakistan intends to phase out the negative list altogether and formally give India MFN status by the end of 2012.
  • India, which formally granted Pakistan MFN status in 1996 (but maintained barriers) has agreed to reduce its sensitive list of 865 items by 30% within four months. India has also agreed in principle to allow Pakistani foreign direct investment in the country.
  • Both countries recently agreed to allow yearlong multiple-entry visas for business visitors, with visitors allowed to enter and exit through different cities.
  • The two countries have agreed to allow each other’s central banks – the Reserve Bank of India and the State Bank of Pakistan – to open bank branches across borders to facilitate financial transactions and ensure smooth trade.
  • A second checkpost gate was inaugurated this March at the Attari-Wagah border to ease road traffic between the two countries. The checkpost, with elaborate security features and capable of accommodating 600 trucks at a time, will provide upgraded infrastructure, including new storage go-downs, wide roads, and a luxurious passenger terminal.

Opportunities and gains

Making borders irrelevant can have far-reaching effects for economic prosperity across sectors in Pakistan and India. Consider a key driver of growth: electricity. South Asia’s recent More and Better Jobs flagship report estimated that industrial load shedding in Pakistan has resulted in the loss of 400,000 jobs. Trade between energy surplus and deficit regions could counter such losses — indeed, Pakistan is already in negotiations with India to import up to 500 MW of electricity.

Continue reading India-Pakistan Trade: Making Borders Irrelevant

God’s Soldiers

By Omar Ali

This is 6 months old, but I just happened to see it.  Praveen Sami is right as far as it goes, but I would add that there are many confused and self-contradictory elements within this God’s soldier world. Pakistan’s army high command is indeed heavily influenced by this Jihadist and Islamist ideology (more than friendly observers like Anatol Lieven or Indian liberals may realize), but some of the SAME people are also crooks, compromisers, confused liberals, “modernisers” and so on. The net effect is a persistent Jihadist initiative mixed with real clashes with hardcore jihadis, alliance with the CIA, and extensive mercenary, trade and cultural exchanges with infidels, including INDIAN infidels. Some people in the Pakistani elite do have an almost psychotic reaction to anything “Hindu” (the best analogy would be the psychotic ravings of some Bajran Dal and VHP types when Muslims are mentioned) but even the Jihad is not monolithic and clear-headed. And neither is the control of the state by the army. And neither is the politics of the civilian population. In that, there are opportunities as well as threats.
Yeh tehzeeb aap apney khanjar sey khudkashi karey gi.. (this civilization will kill itself with its own dagger).. the verse  is from Allama Iqbal Jihadi and refers to Western civilization, but applies with greater force to his own confused “dream of an Islamic state”. To regard them as incorrigibly and completely Jihadist would be to do the same sort of thing Arundhati Roy does when she thinks of American policymakers.  In the real world, there are opportunities as well as threats. Some people may be interested in what can be done…

See also: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2011/05/pakistan-the-narratives-come-home-to-roost-by-omar-ali-.html

Courtesy:» Brown Pundits

The Downfall of Political Islam

by Samir Yousif

Finally I would point out that political Islam has failed to provide a political model that can compete with other contemporary political models, such as the Chinese model, Western democracies, or even developing democracies such as India and the other Asian countries. That comes with no surprise, as religion, any religion, keeps itself centuries behind.

The theme of my argument is the following statement: Islam, as a religion, has nothing to offer to economic or political theory. This simple idea has serious consequences. Political Islam, when it runs the country, will ultimately fail. It has no appropriate agenda that provides solutions to real political or economic challenges such as underdevelopment, unemployment, inflation, recession, poverty, just to mention a few.

(I will not touch upon the most significant political-socioeconomic issue which is income inequalities, because Islam accepts a society composed of very rich classes living side by side with very poor classes- examples can be found from history or from today’s Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, and Iran). While some Islamists continue to claim the existence of “Islamic economics,” they have failed in producing anything close to a simple theory of economics.

I believe that the main reason for the downfall of Muslim civilisation was the inherent social crisis: a society composed of few rich surrounded by the poor masses kept going by a strong religion. Social and political revolutions took place several times during the heyday of Muslim civilisation, as happened during the Umayyad Caliphate, the Abbasid Caliphate, in Muslim Spain, and the famous Zanj Rebellion during the year 869 in Basra. But historians have ignored such revolutions. Muslim economies have failed throughout history to solve the very basic problem: the wage equation. Unskilled and skilled workers were downgraded to the lowest classes in Muslim societies, and were paid the minimum. History has showed that under Islam the wealth of the country went mainly to the Calipha, feeding his palace, army, the royal family, and to the vested interest that the Calipha has chosen himself. The tax system was mainly imposed on the agricultural sector, what was known as the produce tax (Kharaj).

“Islamic economics” is a term used today to justify the significant income inequalities in such societies and to find religiously- accepted investment opportunities for the rich. …

Read more : http://www.document.no/2011/01/the-downfall-of-political-islam/

Towards a Secure Democratic Future: Pakistan’s Challenges and Opportunities

Elite Pakistanis are not happy with Zardari Government!
Report by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia, USA
Last Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009, I attended a presentation at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington DC on Pakistan. The topic was “Towards a Secure Democratic Future: Pakistan’s Challenges and Opportunities” . The presenter was Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, who is a former Senator and currently associated with GEO Television and daily English newspaper “The News”. In the past, Mr. Mahmood has represented Pakistan as a delegate to the UN. The tone and content of his presentation was to introduce the notion that Pakistan’s 15,000 elite were uneasy about the present Pakistani government headed by Mr. Zardari and ready to embrace yet another military intervention.
Mr. Haqqani, the Pakistani ambassador to the US was also present in the meeting hall before the session began but tactfully left the meeting before Mr. Mahmood began his presentation to avoid embarrassment and critical comments against the present government.

Continue reading Towards a Secure Democratic Future: Pakistan’s Challenges and Opportunities