Friday, 17 December 2010

Giving up the ghost

by Khurshid Anwer

Never have I felt so close to giving up the ghost. When people at the level of chief ministers start talking nonsense and the newspapers start printing such nonsense then it is time to throw in the towel.

Chief minister Sindh talking to a delegation from The National Defence University, Islamabad, was pleased to pontificate that, “Water distribution is a critical issue”. Then he went on to expose his total ignorance of the subject.

Already there is water shortage in the country and Kalabgah dam will destroy the economy of the country”:


I ask him, if Mangla and Tarbela dams are destroying the economy of Pakistan why not stop storing water in these dams and stop generating power from these dams. Will we then not have floods for three months and draught for the remaining nine months. Will Punjab and Sindh then start producing more food grain. Will this put us in a position to export food grain or will we have to import even more than before. Where will water for the Rabi period come from if we don’t store water during the Kharif period. Will we then be left with any reserve for any contingency, natural or man made. Will we then not be at the mercy of India. Will not the per capita, per annum availability of water nose dive to below the water-scarce level. Have China, USA, Turkey and India stopped adding to their thousands of dams because their economies are being 'destroyed'.

I wish some newspaper had the guts to ask these question from the chief minister who through his abject ignorance is bent upon destroying the economy of the country.

The he misquoted the Water Accord of 1991 by saying that the agreed figure of 10 million acre feet of water was not being released below Kotri barrage. He has not bothered to look up the Accord ( which says - in the absence of an agreement it was decided to conduct further studies. A later foreign consultant’s Study put the figure at less than half of what he is claiming. 

He is clueless that even the 10 maf will not stop sea incursion though the year if all of it flows down during the three flood months. He needs to know that the agreed amount has to be stored in dams for distributing it over the twelve months for year round protection of the Indus delta. The delta needs more dams, not less dams.

Before complaining that Sindh is not getting the increased amount as per the Water Accord, he should ask himself, why was Punjab willing to decrease its share in all future dams to increase Sindh’s share. If he can answer this question, I will stop writing on Kalabagh dam.

The River Indus at Kalabagh

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Experts say food insecurity a ‘growing threat’ to Pakistan


Staff Report
ISLAMABAD: Experts at a seminar held Tuesday claimed that 80 out of 131 (61 percent) districts in Pakistan were food-insecure in the pre-flood situation – the devastating floods that recently ravaged a large part of the country.
Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Dr Abid Aqiyum Suleri, speaking at the seminar dubbed “The relationship between food insecurity, poverty, extremism and conflict” said in terms of population, 48.6% of the population is facing food insecurity. He also shed light on the key findings of recently launched “Food Insecurity Report 2009” jointly published by WFP, SDPI and SDC, said that the results showed that food insecurity at the household, district, provinces and country levels has become more severe as compared to 2003 — particularly after the recent floods in the country.

He said there is interconnectedness between individual, national, regional and global security. He said that poverty and hunger is a growing security concern, as there exists a strong linkage between food security, hunger, poverty, and vulnerability to disasters. He underlined the need that the citizens should challenge the fundamental paradigm of state which was focusing more on non-development expenditures such as debt-servicing, defense, day to day administration and very little was left for development and people.
“Lack of investment on individuals and their social development among major reasons behind extremism and terrorism in Pakistan,” he added.
Moeed Yusuf of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), while giving opening remarks, stressed the need to learn from experiences of other countries, which improved their internal management and resolved internal conflicts and subsequently developed without needlessly relying on foreign countries to help them to progress.
“Corruption has become a norm in Pakistan and without individual self-accountability it is impossible to develop a balanced society in Pakistan,” he added.

Faisal Nadeem Gorchani, Head of Policy Advocacy and Outreach, SDPI gave an overview of human development situation in western part of district Rajanpur particularly of Union Councils Tribal Area Mat Kund, Tibi Lundan, Harrand and Wah Lishari which present poor human development indicators, abysmal socio-economic conditions, and appalling development scene with majority of population suffering with poverty, illiteracy, malnourishment and unemployment. “People affected by hill torrents have a growing sense of resentment that they have been either ignored altogether or inappropriately taken care of, given the extent and scale of destruction in these areas since the overwhelming focus of district administration, non-government organizations (NGOs) and media have been on the people and areas affected by the unprecedented devastation of Indus River,” he added.

Other experts also underlined the need for challenging the fundamental paradigm of state in the favor of public, provincial autonomy, and addressing the worsening crisis of governance.
During an interactive question-answer session the media persons and experts held a detailed discussions on issues such as social injustice, unequal distribution of resources, prevalent corruption, foreign interference, non-inclusive polices, lack of social safety nets, vested interests, lack of public participation and ground realities in policies, sense of fear, lack of check and balance system, changing social values into corporate values, denial of provincial autonomy and right of provinces over their resources, lack of judicious utilisation of resources, lack of water reservoirs creating energy shortages, unemployment, dual polices and foreign interference into Pakistan’s internal affairs, feudalism, vacuum of visionary leadership, absence of long-term policies, absence of rule of law and many other complex challenges to peoples’ real economic and political empowerment in Pakistan


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Roaring racing cars leave behind more than tragedy

From the Newspaper DAWN
December 11, 2010 (3 days ago )

By Mohammad Asghar

It has been a week since a car racing event in Bahria Town ended in tragedy but the deathly silence, rumours and questions that it left behind continue to haunt the twin cities.

Families of the five persons who were killed when one racing car crashed into the spectators are still in mourning and one of them appeared disinterested in helping the Rawalpindi police in its investigations.

“We are too distressed. Whatever happened has happened,” said Rehan, a relative of the family.

But such are the suspicions surrounding the tragedy that the Supreme Court on Friday took suo motu notice of the incident.

Although the Rawat police registered an FIR the same day, rumours continue to circulate that the police was under pressure not to register one because the four accused it named in the FIR – Ali Riaz, Waleed Khan, Majid Naeem and Sheikh Atif – were influence wielders.

Media echoed that “influence” when it reported that Islamabad police apologised to Malik Riaz Hussain, the real estate tycoon who developed Bahria Town, for the police raid on his house in search of Ali Riaz, his son.

All four accused appear to have gone into hiding and police say their arrest is the top priority for them. Police commandos have been deployed in the street in which the tycoon lives, reportedly to prevent Rawalpindi police launch another raid.

In the meantime the Rawalpindi police have managed to put the name of Majid Naeem, who was driving the car that went out of control and caused the tragedy, on the Exit Control List to prevent his fleeing the country.

But skeptics ask why he alone?

Waleed Khan is said to be the marketing manager of Bahria Town properties. Majid Naeem also was a corporate executive and Sheikh Atif was the one sent to seek permission from the local administration for holding the car race.

Press reports say the District Coordination Officer sent his application to City Police Officer who had no objection to the `sport` event provided “security procedures” were followed. But when the application reached Commissioner Rawalpindi Division Zahid Saeed, he refused permission for “security reasons”.

Sheikh Atif assured the commissioner that the race would not be held in the Rawalpindi part of Bahria Town but in the part which lies in the Islamabad Capital Territory, according to the reports.

But the deadly accident, attributed in the FIR to reckless driving, took place in the Rawalpindi part of the town and so became a matter for its police to deal with.

Jurisdiction and “influence” issues apart, the more important question is: what the law says.

Federal Ministry of Sport sources said the day after the tragedy that car racing was not recognised as a sport at the official level.

There exists neither a racing track in the country nor any law to govern the sport.

“Sunday`s (December 5) event was just an exhibition sporting event. Had there been better protective measures for the spectators, the tragedy could have been averted,” an official of the sports ministry was quoted saying the day after the tragedy.So, a lot of ambiguities have to be cleared before fixing the responsibility for the tragedy.