Thursday, September 30, 2010

Opposition should learn its ropes ?

This time the opposition in Pakistan has conducted itself much better than ever before.I has not colluded with the establishment in trying to oust the government in power prematurely,despite temptations and difficult circumstances.It is not an easy job to be a good democratic opposition.One has to criticize the government to keep it on track and yet refrain from derailing the system by causing despondency with the system among the people.It is a tight rope walking.Imbalance and error is quite likely ,but if it is even-handed it can be useful and constructive.

PML(N) and its top leader Nawaz Sharif have suffered enough under military dictatorship to call for it again.However they have to contest elections after three years and would like to defeat PPP.It appears that they have adopted a policy of supporting PPP government to a bear minimum so as to be able to save the system and yet continue to oppose and blacken the face of their opponents enough so as to defeat them in elections.No body can perhaps condemn this as an election tactic . But elections are far off. One need not be in election campaign all the time.

Serious debate should take place on policies and issues and counter proposals offered .There should be a constructive dialogue through media and assembly processes.Unfortunately PML or any other opposition parties have not fared well on this count.They are only making general statements that they are not happy with the state of governance and that it should be improved.How? there isn't much meat or substance on it.As a face book friend lamented that no political party has a formal policy and proposal process and structure to cape with this kind of responsibility.As a result when they come to power, they do not have pre-thought of policy and programme and become dependent on bureaucracy.The concept of shadow cabinet or think tanks has not found roots.It is high time that something meaningful is done in this respect by the political party.

Their real opponents in politics-the military-men- do it all the time through their training programs and institutions.Under the cover of learning about the country's problems,many trainee senior officers nurse ambitions of assuming civilian responsibilities of heading some big corporations. Look how quickly General Naqvi came up with his vision of local government and succeeded in building a formidable system. Our political parties having rejected the concept of their predecessors , could not make up their mind on the changes and adjustments required.There are similarly other issues.Normally no party has on its roll sufficient number of experts and specialists to assume ministerial responsibilities in core areas.

The common trend is to keep a core group of supporters and loyalists and even discourage general membership drive,lest the party is taken over by the outsiders ?We have emphasized elsewhere, the need of broadening the political base and strengthening political parties in terms of membership,organisation and processes.We would counsel here that serious parliamentary process be put to practice both by government as well as the opposition , especially in the wake of the terribly destructive floods , terrorism and other serious problems with which the country is beset.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Role of Intelligence Agencies in Democracies

Intelligence activity within and abroad is a legitimate and essential state function.It is shear information and data collection ,studying of trends and analysis.Information is to be acquired perse .One doesn't know what information would be useful,although broad direction and areas are prioritized.

Excesses and over-stepping and machinations have been widely reported.These are short-lived deviations in stable democratic societies.FBI and CIA's role in cold war,Vietnam and McCarthyism periods have been well reported.It has been alleged that in those periods MI5 and CIA had made major inroads into such veritable media institutions as BBC,The Economist of London,Times and Newsweek.Such interventions are often and almost always subtle and discrete.

When there is polarization and transition in a society , various state instruments and institutions get involved in this.Information is power and unbridled power is corrupting.The function has a great potential of misuse and abuse,both institutionally and otherwise.Such agencies themselves can become an underground political party of sorts.In Pakistan,due to the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the subsequent proxy war,intelligence agencies became ideologised if not politicized altogether due to the heavy religious and ideological content of the training system of the" Afghan Jihad".General ZiaulHaq used it abundantly for personal political power.

In Pakistan, Army Generals have been frequently finding justification for abruptly undoing constitutional governments and prolonging their personal rule.They have actively used intelligence agencies for this purpose ,covertly and overtly and unashamedly.State and government and national and personal political interests became all too mixed up.Even otherwise,it often requires quite a sophistication to differentiate the two during the heat of activity.It is a tight rope walk and not to talk of intentional misuse and abuse.

In a country where internal and external security has acquired close interface to the extent of almost eliminating the difference , the task of separating national interest from the vested interest becomes very difficult,when military leaders intentions and ambitions are ambivalent.
In a highly polarized society suffering from such instability and threat, objective intentions and personal ambition gets mixed up and overlap.It becomes difficult to abstain.Intelligence agencies therefore have to prepare themselves for any eventuality and thus a rationale for what they allegedly do.

However,the agency mission can get crowded due to such widespread roles and responsibilities.Lack of focus may reduce operational efficiency and effectiveness.Failure to contain terrorism may be a related phenomenon.In the Us no major terrorist incident has taken place after 9/11.In Germany and Japan,in the post war period,many such terrorist groups had been neutralized by their national agencies.A joint campaign and dialogue ended Northern Ireland issue.In our case,no amelioration seems to be insight which is highly perturbing and demoralizing for the nation.

In this background,the responsibilities of the leadership of these agencies become very onerous and critical.Personal promotion and welfare often requires unbridled and manifest loyalty and support.There are unwritten rules and traditions.Nothing can possibly done without the commitment of the top brass of Pakistan Army.Apparently present leadership does not seem to have political ambitions.This may be the time to bring about some balance and adjustments in the working of the agencies.Training and motivation system must emphasize respect for the law and human rights.

In all democratic societies , major intelligence agencies(Mi5,MI6,CIA,FBI etc) report to the civilian set up and governments and are generally not a part of military.It does not mean that liaison and coordination and cooperation does not exist with the military.I the Us there is a class of civilians who almost act as discretely as their military counterparts.They are issued security clearance of varying scales allowing them access to secrets,installations and interactions.In Pakistan ,reportedly even retired generals are considered security risk. What I mean to say is that , talking of America,those civilians are different. We may also benefit from such traditions and practices.

In Pakistan , attempts to bring ISI under Ministry of interior were nipped in the bud. All political interference in the past has always come from this agency.On the other hand in our chaotic political scene, it may be too risky to entrust such sensitive functions of strategic intelligence to civilian domain where the systems have yet to acquire maturity and stability.A mid way out could be to take away some sections from ISI and transfer these to IB and make the latter more effective and assertive.And let ISI perform strategic intelligence under army.Some genuine thinking has to be done in this respect which has to come out internally from these agencies themselves than being an external imposition which would would be resisted.

Reform is due.It can be done without sacrificed operational aims and activities.In fact reforms would strengthen national security which is the objective. against misuse of power for pursuing personal aims of friends,relatives and clients should be built in.It has often been found that agency personnel misuse their official capacity in sorting civilian petty issues.Internal pre and post audit of activities,parliamentary oversight and some sort of internal judicial type clearance procedure should be instituted.

Outside criticism should be objective and careful.Irresponsible comments unnecessarily generate antagonism,fear and nervousness.Reform can be induced and encouraged through dialogue among the parties..Leadership should create opportunities for such dialogue with political parties,civil society and the media in an open and structured manner. We have by now quite a number of retired generals in politics,media and civil society who know the story of both the sides.Let them know that it is not always so dirty and there is a national purpose.

However,tinkering with the system can wait till some normalcy and stability returns.But minds can always remain open and working.Discussion and debate in this respect should create consensus which is vital for a sustainable reform effort.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Corporate governance of large public sector companies-the double board system

In Germany and other European countries,there is a 2-boards system for corporate management of companies exceeding a certain size.Rationale being,broader risk management,transparency and accountability and catering to the stake-holders and not just share-holders.There are two boards;one board of directors as we find in Pakistan and elsewhere where Anglo-Saxon model is practiced ; the other called Board of Supervisors or Supervisory Board.Board of directors is subordinate to the Board of Supervisors.Supervisory Board(BoS) has a chairman of the Board and several members.At least two of the BOS members are to be independent,not belonging to or associated with the company or share-holders.Normally consumer associations,civil society or university professors are inducted/elected in the general meeting as independent members.BOS and BOD are supposed to act together.BoS is concerned with broad policy guidelines,risk management,major contracts and audit.BoD is responsible for day to day operational management of the company under a chief executive(CEO).Lately both models have been converging;single boards powers being more circumscribed and receiving varying levels of external oversight;and BoS's diffused power system and consultative process shortened in the interest of efficiency and quick management.

My proposal is to try this system of two-boards in Pakistan in large public sector companies .We have seen the results of single board managed companies:mounting losses ,corruption ,falling level and quality of service etc.Take PIA,Railways,Pakistan Steel, WAPDA,PEPCO,National Bank of Pakistan ,OGDC etc.Under the current style of management, the CEO has unbridled powers of Black and White,who is manipulated from behind by controlling ministries.If CEO manages to keep the ministry happy,he is not asked many questions and is free to do all kind of nepotism,and corruption etc.Some powerful CEOs have direct line with the chief executive,Pm or President of the country and are immune from ministry's control either.Board members are only part-time and either have full tome jobs elsewhere or are board members of numerous organisations earning fee and other formal and informal advantages such as misuse of official vehicles,travel and leverage in appointments of personnel.

BoS ,in case of large public sector corporations can bring external and independent oversight,transparency and control over powerful individuals of the board and the CEO.The stakes involved in organisations like PIA and Railways are too much and too many.It is worth examining the viability of such a system in our circumstances.We need not copy the whole system in Toto and can and should make suitable adjustments to the German model.We have seen that in the US and other Anglo-Saxon countries,the supremacy of the CEOs has brought in many problems of recklessness and lack of transparency giving rise to financial crashes.Public sector is going to remain in Pakistan for a long time despite efforts of privatization.Hence the need of some innovation in respect of corporate governance.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Corruption requires a long term sustained effort and solution

Today there is a hue and cry over corruption.There are those who have other aims, and corruption is just a scapegoat for them.They want to weaken democracy and would noy let democratic traditions take root in the country.There are others well-meaning but naive citizen who are fed up of bad governance ,but their patience seems to have run out at a wrong time;too late or too early.Too late,because it should have been demanded during the long reign of Musharraf regime who had all the time in the world to improve governance; too early because democratic dispensation is too young of 2 years only.

People should understand that only a democratic system has been revived which has a potential to bring change and improvement over time.It is not a social revolution which has undone the forces of status quo and vested interest.It is only through the power of vote and successive cleansing through elections that one can hope cleaning the body politic of the country.

Pakistan today has many challenges, the biggest being of law and order, terrorism,dislocation of people and the economy caused by the floods etc. All fronts cannot and should not be opened at the same time.Those who want treatment,change,healing and improvement, should also look at the capacity of the patient to undergo multi operations.Hence some patience must be shown both by the people as well as the leaders.

There was corruption long before Mr.Zardari, and there will be long after him , from Molvi ZiaulHaq to Mr.Clean Musharraf.For years ,Pakistan is on the list of one of the most corrupt countries of the world.Poverty,inappropriate legal system , colonial style governance and a host of many other factors are responsible for it.It has quite deep roots in Pakistan.It is systemic and systematic.The corrupt are used to to living beyond means.As against 8000 NRO cases, more than a million corrupt officials should be there having well-entrenched and comfortable and stable operations.It would be wrong to assume that if one person at the very top is removed ,corruption would go away. It has been personally observed by many insiders and outsiders ,that having an honest boss at the top is not enough.I have seen many police chiefs who were extremely honest personally ,but could make no dent on police corruption.There were many very honest chairmen of CBR ,none of them could reduce corruption.There are so many retired justices and chief justices of the high court and the supreme court who were impeccably honest.Did they or could they including the existing ones, manage to reduce corruption in judiciary.The answer is no.It is the bottom of Pakistan which is corrupt and may be the top.

President Asif Zardaris ' cases admittedly are not being helpful for democratic stability these days.There are other complications that may develop with premature toppling of Sindh leadership.So many Sindh leaders have been killed and dethroned.There are nationalists and separatists who are waiting for their turn.There is trouble in the two other provinces.Let us be patient,objective and practical about things politic.Rome was not built in a day.

What has happened as a result of activism and bickering and calls for improvements in governance and performance. has happened today is that the Troika's standing has been revived and strengthened and not of democracy , where their is no Troika.There is P.M. and the parliament.ZiaulHaq kept assuring Bhutto , although he was only letting the opportunity mature and acted when he felt comfortable.If civilians do not act responsibly and do not put their act together,democracy would suffer again.It was during dictatorship that CJ was manhandled and locked in his house.It is democracy which brought him back.

Pakistan Meteorological Department being a Ministry of Defence entity ?

It may surprise many,but it is true that Pakistan Meterological Department(PMD) is part of the Ministry of Defence.What direct relevance is there of weather with matters of war and peace should be known to those who put that department where it is now.Perhaps nowhere in the World is this department associated with the military or Defence except for antiquated regimes like North Korea and Mayanmar.In 19th century century days of Clausewitz ,weather data may have a had strategic value requiring security and secrecy.Today in the age of satellites and international weather modelling ,there is hardly any notion of sensitivity about this data.

But why should one bother about where a department is located hierarchically, so long such an association does not cause any problem in its functioning ,output and liaison with the users.There is an implication and a serious one.Due to being a MoD installation,there has always been an aura of secrecy about it. PMD has been found wanting in disseminating the data with the required facility and readiness.There is always some hesitation and number of questions asked and forms to be filled to get simple meteorological data which everywhere is available abundantly on the net without charge.Now bureaucracy has discovered another convenient device of hiding behind user charges and have started charging discouragingly high commercial charges for the data.It may be awkward to call the data to be sensitive and easy to deny and discourage access through demanding payments.And then making payments is not easy.You have to get an account number from the department,go to the State Bank of Pakistan ,make the payment,repeat the process if there is some discrepancy and the cycle goes on.Similarly FBS does with its data.They hardly earn any money and contribute towards financial sustainability,but manage to discourage data use and development.And in case of PMD,save the so called," sensitive' data.The consequence is that many scientific,economic and environmental applications that could have been developed and published could not be done. A number of which I can readily cite.Most EIA applications involving air pollution such as of power plants cannot be done because of the data restrictions.Expensive software like AERMOD has been made free by other countries,but for the ready availability of data.Flood modelling and water inundation cannot be made online because of restrictions on GIS.A lot of economic analysis is not undertaken on various regions of the country because CENSUS data is not made available in the required format or even made available online.A lot of flood information and analysis and forecast of flood flows could have been made available to the public in the form of flood maps,but for such restrictions esp on GIS.

In the case of PMD and its role in flood forecasting and organisational interfacing with the user departments,the jury is still to be out.The net result has been , a lack of coordination among the relevant organisations.Did PMD's special status a MoD entity prevent or discourage readily interacting directly with other departments or it had to go via?these questions would be and should be reviewed at the earliest opportunity.In any case PMDs association with the MoD and its secretive behavior is an anachronism which must change.It should be reorganized along open lines and appended to Ministry of Science and Technology or MINFAL .PMD itself should not have too much of a say in it, as they may not be objective about it due to the real estate advantages that come with MoD affiliation.

And lastly appending civilian institution to defence sector has many disadvantages,the most important being the budgetary issues.Defence expenditure unnecessarily becomes high and bulky reflecting poorly in political terms inviting undeserved criticism and hostility.Genuine requirements of Defence sector are too many and do not justify further agglomeration.

Pakistan Meteorological Department being a Ministry of Defence entity ?

w.It is too catastrophic to ponder over.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Introducing reforms in the banking sector

Banking sector unduly prospered in the reign of Musharraf-Aziz Qureshi.In order to get acclaim and recommendations from powerful financial lobby,national and international(it is well integrated),it is found essential by illegitimate regimes pursuing temporary bonanza and ratings,to patronize and unduly benefit this sector.Result being buoyancy in banking and purely speculative stock exchange.International press and media starts publishing photos and shower praise.Often ratings improve mostly because of the psychological factors.Boom is brought to be followed by a subsequent bust as has happened in the past and also most recently.Although the recent bust has been related with international factors, while it is also true that slowdown had already set in by 2005.You can only go so far by superficial laissez-fair and by utilizing earlier installed capacities and investments.Why is the boom not sustainable? Perhaps the bust is implicit in the boom?

Hot capital attracted by a purely speculative market goes away at the slightest indication ,robbing the small investors of their investments by causing planned and unplanned crashes.Stock markets based on long term investments and yields may be of some benefit to the economy,contributing to the welfare of investing public and creating jobs and economic activity.
If there is an improvement in the performance of the financial sector,the interest rates should have come down along with the cost of intermediation. Lending rates hover around 18-20%,while the deposit rates seldom exceed 10 %.This is among one of the highest bank margin ,indicative of underdeveloped and inefficient financial and banking sector.It discourages both borrowing and deposits and only encourages bankers.No wonder banks in this country have earned huge profits. The artificial boom, call it free-for- all , caused distortions in banks factor market.Ordinary run of the mill managers started demanding and managed to get impossible salaries.After all the loot had to be shared.It was shared by their patrons,banks and the employees.Net losers being the depositors and the economy.

This is the time to correct the excesses of Musharraf regime and bring in some real competition in the sector so that the lending rates come down ,removing one of the major stumbling blocks in the competitiveness of Pakistani exports ,causing trade gap ,foreign borrowing and more inflation.However Pakistan interest rates are not high due to inflation,as the deposit rates are comparatively low.It is the bank margin that makes interest rates high ,I must say,at the risk of being nauseatingly repetitive.There is no need to be disruptive and rash.Some adjustments and reforms can definitely cause improvements without rocking the boat.A high level committee of the stake holders incorporating some genuine reform and socially oriented intellectuals and professionals should be formed to address the required changes.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ten Commandments for the government in the aftermath of Floods

There are widespread demands of improving governance performance. It appears that some major policy steps and reforms package may have to be launched courageously to assuage concerns in this respect.All policy reforms of any significance carry risks of annoying and even antagonizing some sector or group.Those risks have to be taken.The risks in not taking the measures and appear to be doing something meaningful are probably more .

These are my humble submissions to the Government of Pakistan , especially in the aftermath of the floods,which would have been required to be implemented even before the floods.The list could have been longer,but has been kept brief.More will follow in this series:

0)The most sacrosanct principle and objective should be to survive and let the democratic government to complete its term for the first time in the history of Pakistan..Fighting for it in itself is a respectable motto.Any conspiracy against a Sindh leadership party would be injurious to national fabric and unity.

00)Encourage Americans to depart from Afghanistan as an only peaceful ending to terrorism in due course,despite possible prodding for the opposite from certain quarters, to keep the US in.These are the people who want to have cake and eat it too.Do not listen to them.Keep trying for a Marshal Plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan.Involve Afghans in the process.There should be no hurry for a break-through with India.Let them wait for Nawaz Sharif.

1)Maintain and pursue the politics of inclusion,reconciliation and consensus ,taking the partners along. Pursue the same within as well.

2)Do not borrow unnecessary confrontation from the powerful institutions.

3)Revive local governments( setting an example in Sindh),even if with lesser powers and adjustments for LGs , preferably with the consensus of stake-holders , and encourage provincial governments elsewhere to do the same.

4)Tax(on Income) the agricultural landlords holding 100 acres or more.

5)Launch some significant initiative on Land Reforms and Land Distribution.Introduce land co-operative schemes.

6)Introduce and pursue jobs creating economic policies supporting SMEs and micro enterprises.Large Industrial sector has very little room for growth in the current national and international trade and competition regime,as has also been indicated by recent data.

7)Do not fall into the trap of extractive taxation policies and so called documentation.However do barely enough to barely satisfy IMF boys.These policies would scuttle growth and job creation especially among the poor.

8)Revive Ration Card scheme of the 1960s(free or cheap ration) for flood victims and for the others for cheap rates from the utility stores.

9)Introduce Aqua fishery(cage) for flood areas and coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan.

10)Pay attention to Energy Sector:fast track Thar Coal with Chinese with a deal of 5000 MW;solve hydro royalty issue of KP ala Indian model of 12% free electricity.

11)Bring meaningful reforms in the exploitative Banking sector,bringing lending interest rates and banks margins down , and balance the lopsided free for all brought in by Musharraf and his minions.No wonder all kinds of banks have been coming in for a small economy seeing huge profits.

Energy sector has a potential to drown Pakistan

Last oil price hike was among one of the major factors of devastating Pakistan's economy.What will another hike do is any body's guess.Great risk lies in there.Our dependence on oil is increasing despite such impending and known risk.Almost all power plants that have come on stream recently run on oil;more are to come.Domestic oil production is not increasing,despite some potential.Gas production is going down and in the process of being used up.New exploration and discoveries are hampered due to political and law and order problems in Balochistan and elsewhere.Despite Balochistan package and other palliatives and offers.political situation in Balochistan has only worsened.And do not think that only military can solve this problem.It can only make it worse.

There is no serious break through on Thar Coal despite great potential.It is difficult to imagine for outsiders like us as to what stalls progress on Thar coal.Probably Sindh has overplayed its card of provincial autonomy assuming exclusive control over an issue that has many interfaces.And now it is appearing to come close to a failure.Some new initiative is required to cause a breakthrough.Now floods would be a good excuse for every inefficient entity to hide under its cover.On the other hand federal bureaucracy,barring some settlement on "joint development", seems to be searching for options except Thar coal.Chinese have been prevailed to supply more nuclear reactors,which are three times more expensive in capital costs and associated with many other hurdles and political difficulties.We must be clear in our minds that only Chinese can possibly develop Thar coal in the remote and scorching heat of Thar desert.No other country or company can handle the risks involved in this size of the project.You can sign nth MOUs ,nothing would happen.As a token World Bank has withdrawn support among criticism of financing dirty coal.I hope we manage to put our act together before it is too late and financing coal is stopped altogether in the nearing prospects of solar power.The solution may lie in awarding a 5000 MW project to Chinese to include all the infrastructure development costs.Chinese may agree to it on suitable terms.

I heard a Sindhi nationalist leader spitting venom on hydel power and Kalabagh dam,despite being drowned in flood water.What more rationale and justification can be given of excess water to be stored in dams than these horrific floods in which 45 MAF(million acre feet) of water has overflown in a few days as opposed to a normal flow of 100 MAF over the entire year.The combined storage of all the dams proposed to be built is smaller than this flow.It is hoped that barring these Abujehls people in Sindh in general are not going to block dams any further.If they do they would be drowned again and again and resultantly the whole of Pakistan.Dams have long been used throughout to store water and prevent floods.Americans,Chinese,Brazilians ,Indians and others have done it successfully.There is no colonialism about it.Let us hope that sense prevails ultimately.

And now the pricing.GOP has been subsidising electricity amounting to Rs !50 billion per year.It has not been able to pay it however ,along with the non-payment of electricity bills by the provincial governments.This has given rise to circular debt of Rs 200 billion.It does not get paid off ,as more amount is added to it successively.And IMF is also requiring to do away with these subsidies.If these subsidies are withdrawn,along with the uniform subsidized tarriff,electricity rates in Sindh,KP and Balochistan would increase.In Punjab electricity rates are expected to go down? Why? Is it another so called" machination from Punjab" as many nationalists would be akin to term it? Not really.the story is as follows.About 25 % of electricity is lost in T&D losses, a large part of it is theft.This T&D loss(theft mostly) is not uniform through out Pakistan.In Punjab,it is the lowest around12% in northern and central Punjab and 15% in southern Punjab.Everywhere else,these losses are in the range of 35-45%.Currently these excessive losses are hidden and averaged out in uniform tariff.Without electricity subsidy borne out by the GOP,every province and user would pay for its losses.Thus Punjab having lesser losses would end up in lower tariff and the opposite will happen to the users elsewhere.

As it is electricity is expensive and kind of unaffordable for most of the people and even businesses,a pandora box will open up.The issue may not end up in terms of the aforementioned cool and cold logic.The issue is far more complicated.KP will argue that you take away our(it is not theirs' solely) cheap hydro electricity at one Rupee a unit and sell it back to us at 6-7 Rupees.In Balochistan cost of gas fired electricity is Rupees 4 per unit and similarly Sindh produces a lot of gas for electricity production.What is the way out?Balochistan's consumption is quite low and could be jangled in a variety of ways.In Sindh ,problems would be further compounded due to KESC vs rest of Sindh.More thinking is required on this.

However KP issue can be at least partly resolved by resolving the Hydel Profit/Royalty of Tarbela Dam produced electricity.No permanent solution has been implemented.Despite practical suggestions proposed by this scribe some 18 months back.My suggestion is simple.Give 12% of Tarbela generated electricity to KP free as royalty or alternatively pay 12% royalty at CPPA whole sale price.Both are more or less equivalent,transparent and simple to understand and not mired by the complicated calculations of AGN Kazi.It is being done in India, a country not disliked by Sarhadi Gandhi to say the least?Elsewhere the royalties are lesser.This maximum should be acceptable to the government of KP and even the other distractors.A n early decision should be made in this respect in consultation with the stakeholders.These royalties should go towards adjustments of tariff increases.I would tend to support 12% free electricity which has a larger public appeal and would be politically attractive.

Finally energy conservation and efficiency issues should receive government support and attention.A unit saved is a unit produced and even worth more due to environmental reasons.In order to remain out of technical complexity,let me propose here to reduce the demand of air-conditioning to a more acceptable level. Two or even three piece suits have become unduly popular in Pakistan government and business circles, requiring chilling while the outside temperature may be 45 degree C or more.This is awfully expensive.Instead Bu-shirts should be promoted,as one Japanese P.M.reportedly proposed for his country in the context of rising cost of energy.GOP has already taken steps towards reducing Ac loads.More should be done.How about reverting back to Kurta Shalwar ala-Zia period.I am not a Zia supporter as is widely known,but would not mind adopting and proposing better policies.

Improving governance performance:the case of Lalloo Prasad

Often it is argued that in Parliamentary democracy,ministers come from their districts through popular votes.They are often not well versed with the ministerial tasks they are entrusted with.Consequently a case is made either for the Presidential system in which ministers are not elected but are selected by the president usually on the basis of expertise cum political association.
Or military dictators emerge offering expert ministers as a better alternative.Can ministers deliver in the parliamentary system while lacking in expertise?The case of Lalloo prasad,the former flamboyant Chief Minister of Bihar province in India, proves that ministers can deliver.Lalloo turned around Indian Railways recently,turning a loss giving entity into a profitable organisation and that without increasing the fares.In India ministers have been delivering well over the years despite the so-called cacophony and rambling of democracy.It has been marching ahead on fast track over the last decade with a growth rate of 10% plus as opposed to our boom-bust economy artificially primed by military dictators which often runs into snags thereafter.

There is a strong case for our ministers to improve performance.After all they are a motley crowd of a century plus permitting build up of expertise and specialization.Having large cabinets is often a need of fledgling democracies garnering and building a strong base of support for the government.Only a minister is added.Often the administrative departments are already there
irrespective of a separate minister.If ministers behave frugally,and the whole system is reorganized on frugality and cost consciousness,it can be affordable.So the problem is not with having a large cabinet,it is with the general culture of profligacy.The most frugal government expenditure system is of the U.S.High ranking US officials are found travelling in "tubes" in Geneva .Their Pakistani counterparts often are provided with rented Mercedes.

Similarly much criticized foreign trips and travel could be made more cost effective ,if no extra payments are made other than a frugal daily allowance, and embassies are forbidden to afford extra cost.All legitimate costs can be affordable and justified,if there is efficiency and output.Without output and performance,even a zero cost would be a liability.So buck up Pakistani parliamentary ministers.Introduce frugality,innovation and efficiency.As Iqbal said rightly and slightly too optimistically: sabaq parh phir adalat ka shujaat ka,Liya jaega tujh se kam dunya ki imamat ka.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

List of Blogs

A. Introduction


  • Flood relief:Solar Disinfection of Water
  • Flood Relief:clean drinking water and PCSIR products
  • Flood mitigation: Planning and community participation
  • Floods;lack of a communication protocol
  • Review of FFC and Flood Management System
  • Flood dividends
  • Floods and the mighty Indus
  • Flood Compensation
  • Risk Management: floods and businesses
  • Flood Forecasting and Management System in Pakistan
  • Flood Management & Map Phobia in Pakistan
  • Floods forecasts and Emergency preparedness
  • Flood victims: Emergency support vs sustainability
  • Floods: Emergency Shelter and Toilets (continued)
  • Floods: Emergency Shelters and toilets concept and costs
  • Floods and Dams: the right time for discourse and debate
  • Floods: water accord and discord in Pakistan
  • Floods: irrigation system, abiana and income tax on agricultural incomes?
  • Inadequate and delayed relief assistance and the potential for anarchy and destabilisation


  • Land and Housing Reforms: Innovations and opportunities due to the floods.
  • Land (zar, zameen and zan) is one of the THREE.
  • Is Land Reform off the Menu?
  • Afghan Mineral Resources for Regional Development.
  • Land Ownership and Utilization in Pakistan
  • Land Reforms: Restructuring Agriculture and Political Power
  • Balochistan; Insurgency and Land Reform


  • University Research: Water & Environment
  • University Research: the Floods
  • University Research IX :Conclusion
  • University Research X: the way forward
  • University Research VIII: the case of HEJ and PCSIR
  • University Research VII: the antithesis
  • University Reseach VI; Agriculture
  • University Research V: the incubators
  • University Research IV:Bio-sciences
  • What an engineering university should be doing at a minimum
  • University Research III: Ultimately Public Sector Universities would have to earn some money
  • University Research:relevance ,cost-effectiveness and not elitism
  • University Research II: Merger of Ministries of Edu and Science


  • The need and rationale for a Water Policy
  • Pakistan Drinking Water Policy
  • Mr. President (Musharraf) : What you should be doing?
  • Book Review/Comment:Memories of a soldier; 1947, before, during , after
  • Dichotomy of Political Power: Persecution or Performance and Capability?
  • Why Pakistan Railways is collapsing?
  • Floods and the Local Governments


  • Is beggary a menace to be curtailed?
  • Insuring the poor.


  • Fishery cage aquaculture for sustainable Livelihood for the poor,landless and flood victims

H. Appendix

· Pakistan's Development and Energy Challenges: Two new books by Akhtar Ali.

  • New Book: Pakistan's Development Challenges: federalism, security and governance.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Managing Pakistan in the aftermath of the floods

Floods have devastated Pakistan directly and indirectly.Nealy one-fifth of people and area have been affected.Human, cattle,crops,homes,schools and infrastructure and what not have been destroyed.Damage and loss assessment is yet to be completed,however,there are varying estimates ranging from 11 to 45 billion US dollars.As it is Pakistan was reeling from the affects of two or more successively bad years due to international recession,oil price hike and political transition.Floods have worsened the situation further.The initial psychological and physical shock was so much that some people even doubted that Pakistan would be able to survive at all.These doubts are not new and the flood shocks have even exacerbated those.

Floods visit every community where there is a river.For centuries of human experience and history,floods have been considered a blessing which brought a new round of fertility.There used to be no fertilizers ,floods brought fertile soil along and spread it on the shore.The problem is due to the burgeoning population.In the last sixty years alone,Pakistan's population has increased manifold,mounting pressure on both rural and urban land and areas.

The intensity of floods was colossal.According to initial estimates,45 MAF(million acre feet) of water gushed out in a few days,as opposed to normal average flow of 100 MAF in one full year.This was certainly the most severe flood in the history of the land of this country.

Admittedly,floods devastation could have been much lesser,had we been a little more organised and a little less corrupt and inefficient.What a forlorn hope.Most technology to forecast floods and deal with it exists in the country but utilized with wanting efficiency.Investments in Dykes and Levees have been made over the years,but got weakened and dilapidated due to poor maintenance as a result of corruption of the irrigation department.On e of the most corrupt in a country which has the "honour" of being listed as one of the most corrupt countries of the world.Sindh has suffered much more due to this corrupt officialdom.In Sindh,doctors and teachers donot go to their workplaces and draw salaries.It is ghost schools and health facilities all over. Nationalists in Sindh would have pushed all the fault to Pakistan and its federal (punjab) government ,had Sindh not been ruling in the center and elsewhere.A separatist movement would have been launched.Thanks to the present democratic set-up.This is another reason,that many patriotic and sincere Pakistanis argue and wish that the current political dispensation should be allowed to continue and complete its full term,which it has legitimately earned,despited the purported faults and issues.Sky is not falling,it would have fallen in their absence of those who pronounced "Pakistan Khape" in a situation when they had all the power and potential to play foul.

It is not easy to run this country in these circumstances.Perhaps those who are destablising the system in the hope of coming to power through back doors donot quote appreciate it.So is the power of power.It is a mix motley crowd consisting of naive and innocent middle class professionals clamoring for reform and revolution and a less mature media led by inadequately informed anchors,some of whom clearly running their personal vendetta.In the background there always are undemocratic forces,both within and outside the establishment.The establishment established long ago by the so called," gang of four', led and left by the Governor Ghulam Mohammad.Younger people would'nt know and appreciate what I mean.

Government of the day has great responsibility to discharge despite onerous and mounting problems.For its part,it should maintain its politics of consensus despite problems and difficulties. Opposition has a difficult role and task to perform to which it has not been quite used to and for which there has not been a tradition.To maintain and support the present set up without letting them winning the next election.It is indeed a tight rope, and the chances and incentives and detractor too many to cause imbalance and a fall.Mr.Nawaz Sharif has an opportunity to live for history and not for power.He has done well uptill now and should continue doing so.He would earn more honour and respect without power than with it.He has already done so.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fishery cage aquaculture for sustainable livelihood for the poor,landless and flood victims

Fishery aquaculture has existed in Pakistan for quite sometime now.In this one literally grows fish from small fish media called fingerling,the latter being produced in hatcheries.Fishery aquaculture is, however ,quite expensive business requiring land,pond excavation,water pumps and drainage system and in some cases even expensive oxygenation.Fish feed is also to be provided.In Punjab,fish aquaculture has grown quite significantly to meet demand mostly from middle and upper classes.

In coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan, natural fish is caught under traditional net and line method using fishing boats and trawlers.It is an open access system where Pakistani vessels have equal access under a nominal registration fee system.Fish catches and yields from the sea has bee dwindling through out the world including Pakistani coasts , creating a space and demand for other fishing techniques,one of which is fish aquaculture as discussed before.

Lately Fisheries Development Board has announced a project named Cage Fishery Development.
In this technique fish aquaculture is done in inland water bodies, open riverine or sea water in metal or plastic net cages. Because in open water,fish grown by fish farmer is free to go away otherwise,it has to be caged.With cages many individual and groups can pursue aquaculture in a common water resource,otherwise one has to excavate his pond or may have to contract or lease the whole water body.
Cage fish aquaculture is relatively a new technology developed only since 1980-90s.Highest development and production of cage fish culture has taken place in China,where demand for nutritional protein is high due to an expanding population base.In Nepal ,cage fish culture has been introduced to provide livelihood to displaced communities of a dam project.In Indonesia and Thailand ,Tsunami victims have been supported through in-cage fishery aquaculture initiatives.Most recently,Clinton's foundation Global Initiatives has launched a similar project for Haiti Earthquake victims and has reportedly been received well by the stake holders.

Currently the initiative launched by Fisheries development Board(FSB) is geared towards larger projects and investments.FSB has created a network of facilities to promote fish production through this method.The in-cage fishery aquaculture is feasible both for large scale as well as at micro and individual level.FSB and provincial governments would be strongly advised to launch a small scale initiative for the poor farmers,rural poor and the landless peasants and now the flood victims.A package consisting of 4-5 fish cages of one cubic meter volume(one meter all sides),and monthly feed supplies and a starting stock of fingerling could be provided to the target group in all parts of the country in flood areas and in coastal Balochistan.Water bodies may be allocated to farmers groups and associations or on individual basis along with the aforementioned inputs.A training and demonstration programme should also be launched .Chinese government may be requested to provide assistance in this respects.They have a lot of experience in this and offer inputs and services at less than % prices.

This is no alternative to land reforms,in absence of which at least water bodies like rivers,canals and lakes could be leased to the poor for in-cage fish aquaculture production,which would earn them cash and as well meet the nutritional requirements.NGOs should also pay attention especially for the flood victim poor.Women who currently are at a disadvantage in the fisheries sector,because in our social and religious traditions,women do not go out on boat for fishing,in-cage fishery would provide an alternative inroad into this sector.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Community based fisheries management

Fish consumption in Pakistan is one of the lowest in the world i.e.1-2 kg per capita per year bringing down nutrition levels among people to one of the lowest also.This is not a habit issue,which at best is a chicken-egg problem.This is despite , a 1000 km+ coastline and four rivers and thousands of miles of canal network.There is a tremendous potential in the sector to contribute to the livelihood of the poor , if not for boosting exports which any case robs the poor of its potential food that may be available otherwise.

Most of the coastal fishery is under open access system which is normally exploitative maximising output and profits without any regards for resource conservation,sustainability and stewardship,although there are some regulations that provide for the former with a varying level of effectiveness.If a resource is owned by a community ,it may forego consumption or injurious exploitation ,for the sake of tomorrows consumption and needs.In open access system ,it is generally free for all and no such incentives for resource conservation and stewardship or management exist ,except for some labelling systems that are in a stage of infancy.

Similar is the situation for inland fisheries resources and water bodies which are contracted out by WAPDA and provincial governments as per their domain and ownership.Except for some limited revenue,the characteristics of contractorship are the same as in the open access system.Even the puprete and potential revenues are siphone off by the corrupt bureaucracy and their politically influencial patrons.

Community base fisheries management has emerged as a viable alternative management system, although promoted more for environmental reasons than any thing else.Our focus here is to utilise this approach towards the following social and economic objectives:
1) to broaden the claim and stewardship of the poor and the landless on the resurces.
2)to dilute feudal structures and reduce dependence of the people on it.
3)to increase nutrition and income of the rural poor.
4)To increase output,efficiency,economics and resource conservation.
5)and for the time being ,contribute to the revival of rural economies after the flood disaster,with which we have dealt with in a sperate article.

However,there is a great risk in all community based systems to be hijacked by feudal vested interest through proxy and background manipulations and machinations.The very purpose of broader social and economic upliftment is gone.Commercial and administrative systems have been and are an improvement of the classical and traditional master-client system of landed interests which try to reemerge under new names of community organisations.Policy designers have to be watchful.

The opportunities of improvement are many.Small steps with continuous improvement and innovations at a broad scale in most parts of the economy can add up to bring about a major impact on the economy and well-breing of the people.The tragedy is that people seem to be losing hope and confidence that things would work out.They wait and dream and hope for a great tumultuous type of change delivered by a Messiah whose time is either gone or has yet to come.Some phony messiahs are touting themselves as the real ones. are waiting for an Islamic system , and their other brothers want to fast track the same through their suicide attacks.Some nihilists are looking forward to total destruction, so that a new order emerges from its debris.There used to be communists of the yesteryears,whose dreams were overrun by the collapse of the Soviet system.Still possibly ,the only real communists are found in Pakistan and India.Fast growth phenomenon of fascism was defeated at the alter of misconduct of Adolf Hitler,and the new proponents of it in the form of military dictators of ours have not been able to offer a panacea,except to offer themselves again and again.So there is no panacea ,magic or secret recipe for social and economic development.It comes about piecemeal,in small steps but through a continuous and sustained effort.

In Pakistan,we have been talking about various initiatives for a long time .No sizable initiative after Poultry Scheme has not been implemented.All that is done is that some demonstration projects are launched under foreign aid and through foreign consultants,without conviction or commitment.There is no follow-up and no policy and action for launching such schemes and initiatives.There is abundance of doubting thomases and skeptics for whom nothing is possible or feasible,except the continuation of their perks and benefits.On the other hands so many challenges and demands on newly elected political leaders are created that they are paralyzed in fire-fighting and so much impatience is shown as to create despondency,while military rule is tolerated for long times.People of Pakistan must understand these machinations and put their weight behind democratic political order.On the other hand,political parties should induct technicians and experts,who should remain busy in their development work without bothering about the daily political ups and downs.It is only then that a legitimate and sustainable development and improvement cycle would come into full gear.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Floods Recovery:land reform,water rights,in-land fishery and white revolution

We should be coming out of floods soon,as at least in Punjab people have started returning home to start planting for the next crop.In Sindh also,people are expected to start returning.Flood victims will have to be rehabilitated ,as they have lost almost every thing;houses,cattle,food stock,plantation, crop etc.It is an extremely difficult task.Most of the affectees are small farmers and the landless poor,operating in the Kachcha areas.Next crop is to come in six months, and the affectees have to eat and survive in this period beside providing inputs to produce their livelihood.

In this article, I would like to discuss some of the options and approaches that could produce some results in near term,although may take some time,and may not be implementable immediately.However,as I have pointed out elsewhere,government(s) can utilise this calamity as an opportunity to launch some fundamental reforms in the economy and agricultural sector in Pakistan.

Let me first of all and at the first opportunity explain what is meant by "white revolution", as some readers may be concerned and nervous over the word revolution.White revolution is a term referring to the prospect and potential of very high increase in milk production in our country.For almost a decade , we are talking about the white revolution by launching innovative development and assisting programmes in the live stock sector.With more than 200,000 cattle having been lost in the floods,the dream of such a revolution seem to have receded further into
the oblivion.However, a more distributive and broad based programme could be launched by providing a pair of cattle under some loan scheme,along with a small piece of land.By some magic ,if government manages to get the money and credit from abroad and lends it to small farmer, where does the land come from.

I have discussed elsewhere the possibilities of launching land reforms,in a limited fashion,which may be politically feasible.I would not elaborate it over here,except that the Government(s) can speed up and rather broaden the land distribution programme that had been in the pipeline in Sindh,before the floods.Same can be done at much broader and wider scale in Balochistan,where only 5-6% of the countries population lives on almost 50% land mass of the country i.e., one million households vs 25 million households elsewhere.I have similarly argued for water rights for the landless from all the future irrigation network expansion of the future, and further increase in irrigation water availability.

Let us here focus on the flood water.Many water bodies in the country and especially in Sindh and Balochistan ,which had become almost extinct due to lack of water, should have been revived and rehabilitated by the excess flood water.In lower Punjab,farmers are reportedly offering higher bids for leases of these water bodies with their enhanced fishery potential.New areas with deeper land where inundation has been very high could possibly converted to new water bodies.In many countries like Bangladesh, Peru and Brazil etc aquatic fishery projects have been launched successfully in the flood plains under community based systems.

Traditionally in-land water bodies are auctioned and given out on annual contracts to often rich and well-connected contractors who try to maximize their fish catch , small artisanal fishermen from their subsistence activities.As it happens conventionally in Pakistan, a lot of money and income goes into the pockets of those awarding the contracts and their patrons.Very little income is received by the government.Provincial governments should consider awarding communal or cooperative ownership or fishing rights to nearby and traditional communities along with assistance and extension providing hatcheries and feed supplies under some credit schemes.New water bodies may be created by trapping the flood water and connecting it with river through channels.In Haiti a similar project has been launched under Clinton Global initiative,about which a film has been shown recently on CNN.A similar project could be launched in Sindh and elsewhere in the country.Through such innovative schemes and projects,one could mitigate and alleviate the disastrous consequences of floods to our people and the economy.However we must move fast, and move optimistically in a positive way,looking for wisdom and approaches from whatever directions these may be be available.Fortunately ,world today is a global village and technology and wisdom is available to meet the challenges.World community appears to be quite eager to help,if we are eager to help ourselves.

Mr.President(Musharraf):what you should be doing ?

General Musharraf has formed his own party and plans to return home soon.He intends to contest elections and hopes to win as well.His announcement has been received variously ,depending on the political or social spectrum one belongs to.Baloch nationalists would want to eliminate him physically,others would want to try him in the court of law.P.M.Gilani has said that the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudary would like to "welcome" him.Nawaz Sharif would at least like to send him back in the same manner,the former was treated.After 18th amendment,the prosecution under article six may be likely. In fact he may be tried for heinous crimes under an international war tribunal,as have been the case of other cruel dictators as, Yugoslavian and Vietnamese leaders etc..There are enough cases like Lal Masjid and Akbar Bugti case.The tradition of inviting international legal system in domestic issues has already been set in Pakistan.On the other hand , there would not be an indispensable need to return to Pakistan to take part in politics and head the party,in these days of electronic media and nearby Dubai with its new found open door policy of allowing political meetings on its land.Mr.Altaf Hussain is leading his party comfortably from London.In the past Shaheed Benazir and Nawaz Sharif have been doing the same.One only needs to arrive as a victor and not as vanquished,for the latter is treated very badly in Pakistan.

However,victory does not seem to be to0 close and the General Musharraf is already 67 , by newspaper accounts as made available by the official system , although the practice of understating ones age among the government service hopefuls is not totally unknown. A friend and Colleague of mine,once a senior bureaucrat,retired several years earlier than his elder brother,who retired as an ambassador .In the later years,the role of Nawabzada Nasrullah may be possible,if in the intervening time Musharraf does some good things.Immediately he may be able to achieve the following;

1)To provide leadership and patronage to a faction of PML-Q ,who are Siyasi Yateem these days,and whose opponent Chaudaries have problems with Musharraf.After all Chaudaries have a political history and perhaps future as well and they consider Musharraf as a spent cartridge, a disdain with which Musharraf himself used to reject his opposing colleagues.

2)He may further dilute the prospects of unification of the Muslim League factions,by adding his own faction.
3)He may embolden and revive Nawaz Sharif's claim to political leadership in the environment f polarization which Musharraf's reentry may create.

4)And not to talk of the joke he would be making of Pakistan and its politics and democracy;breaking the constitution a number of times, conducting himself in a totally dictatorial fashion and style,and in the end freely playing in the political field with impunity- an unfortunate message to the future military coup d'tat leaders-nothing would ever touch them and that they would be in merry-making always.

Why should Musharraf be trying to do what he has already done,having ruled for 11 long yaers,more than what a legitimately elected political leader would expect to achieve in his political life.Both Nawaz Sharif and Benazir got two years each of stints in power only twice and that even intermittently.His beloved Pakistan is still in trouble,despite his eleven years of political engineering and economic policies.Assuming that his claims of economic progress are correct to some extent,would we need to have him alone to repeat it.what happens when he dies?We need,it has been proved by the long years of Musharraf rule, a sustainable and legitimate system built on the rule and respect of law that delivers us from the curse of boom-bust cyclical economy.Tinkering with the economy in the short run and energizing a few sectors like construction,consumer durables and cars ,and under-investing in infra-structure and endogenous resource development,could have only worked that far as it did.Growth started dwindling and problems such as trade gap started reappearing well within his period.Why the boom if it has to bust so frequently and so early?Is it real or sustainable?So problems are not resolved for ever.You need a system and a process which Musharraf interrupted for eleven long years.But for him, a new genre of competent leadership could have emerged through several completed elections and tenures.So did his naive and selfish predecessors like General Zia And General Ayub.Musharraf did take some long term measures, which we would elaborate upon separately,building up media,establishing local governments and doing away with the colonial-style deputy commissioner system.He could have done more.And he does not want to enter for doing more.For he cannot and he will not.For example he would not be launching land reforms , as he would be needing the crutches of the land lords even more than ever before.He had the support of the most powerful institution of the country.There is no reason that army should support him now.Army supports its commanders and not spent cartridges as Musharraf loved to dub his retired colleagues,as he is retired himself now.His worth,apart from his real estate assets,would not be more than the residual brass that continues to stick around.

However,he can be worth more,if he does what is required and what is right and suitable and appropriate.He can do many things.He can think about the problems of Pakistan in the context of his own experience of power and control and come out with a recipe for Pakistan's development.He can seek the help of his former colleagues and other competent and experienced people who may be willing to extend a helping hand,should he prove to be genuine.He should publish his thoughts,exposing real enemies and difficulties that lay buried and away from people.It is the people,ordinary and not so ordinary,who are to be the ultimate hope and beneficiaries himself.Today you are a people ,just a people.In his book,he would be well advised to express repentance on what he did to the constitutional process and apologize to the nation and advise others not to repeat the same.There is no disrespect or dishonor in it.It would salvage him for history,after all at that age and experience,one would like to think how history would rate him and place him ,among heroes,ordinary or destroyers if not outright traitors.Would he do that?highly unlikely.

He can also do what Clinton and Carter are doing.They are doing it on world scale,he can do it at a lower level-at his national level.He can do what Imran Khan(but for his politics),Edhi and Agha Khan have done He may be be able to do more.Do something for educating the poor,help build bridges with India,encourage Pakistan Defence forces on being more cost-efficient and less demanding of budgetary sources.He has the credibility, contacts and experience.Many , at-least in the rightist circles in the US would oblige him.Going by his track record over the last two years,inviting hanger ons to yacht trips , networking with vested interests and what not ? He is ordinary even slightly lesser,unless he proves otherwise.

Book Review/Comment:Memories of a soldier;1947,before,during ,after

Major General(retd) Wajahat Hussain , has published his memoir recently and deserves attention of thinking Pakistanis who care to think about Pakistan and its problems and potential.I may not be qualified enough to undertake review of a book written by a very senior and sincere General of Pakistan Army,but surly I can possibly make a few comments.

It is my good fortune of having had some contacts and interaction with a few very respectable personalities of Pakistan Army,purely in an intellectual context.General Wajahat is one of them and additionally,an uncle(real) of a very dear friend of mine.General Ateequrrehman,wrote such an appreciative and laudatory comment on my maiden book at that time(Pakistan's Nuclear Dilemma,1984),that I would not expect to get from a person of that stature ,all my life.General A.I.Akram wrote Foreword to the same book.General Wajahat belongs to that class of old genre"gentlemen" of liberal upbringing and outlook and intellect,which perhaps was the only reason General ZiaulHaque quietly opposed the promotion of Major General Wajahat to the rank of a Lieutinent General, as is claimed by the author and is generally known.

General Wajahat has been forthrightly candid about a number of issues,of which I would single out the following for a special mention:

1)As narrated by Brigadier Qayyum ,later Senator,Mujeeburrehman while in custody in West Pakistan,offered to a settlement within the framework of one Pakistan,and reverse the course of history,if he was made the P.M. of Pakistan.Brig.Qayyum,as disclosed by General Wajahat in this book.Qayyum says he spoke to General Hameed about this offer,who did not take it up to his boss Yahya Khan ,saying that Mujeeb has been publicly declared as a traitor by the president.Perhaps Mujeeb's offer was too late,in the context of the consensus that came to exist then in West Pakistan,that the former could not be trusted and,if in power, may create a situation for the dissolution of West Pakistan, a thesis I and many others in Pakistan tend to give credence too.

2)General Wajahat,as Air Marshal Asghar Khan, does not have many charitable words for 1965 War,which he says, ended into a stalemate with 500 square miles of territory of Pakistan occupied by India ,was fought without adequate planning and fore-thought and without thoroughly examining all and other strategic options.Pakistan Army may not like these assessments , although it has already gone soft on 6th September.There are many who donot subscribe to this view.

3)General Wajahat has tried to expose the real personality and prejudicial mind of General Ayub Khan ( and the gang of four,as he chooses to call GM,Iskender Mirza etc.) ,whom his son Captain Gauhar Ayub , is doing his best to paint a holy picture of.Prejudice,corruption and opportunism,infact,got weaved into Pakistan's public life due to the" pioneering" work of these persons.General Wajahat has done a good job of putting these people in right perspective.
4)General Wajahat rejects Kargill campaign,but has chosen to be brief about it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Balochistan;Insurgency and Land Reform

Despite serious attempts by the present PPP government including provincial autonomy as enshrined in the 18th amendment,and Balochistan Aghaze-huqooq package,public apology by President Zardari and substantial reduction in the role of security agencies,and even background engagement and negotiation with the liberationists,there is apparently no concession by the insurgents and no amelioration in the insurgency.The dialogue and engagement should continue,so that a peaceful and democratic solution is achieved at some point in time.Unfortunately GOPs ability to offer any more carrots as it has recently announced,has been seriously reduced by the recent fluid and may not recover from it in a short while.The taliban terrorism has further compounded the problems.Many interests are converging including India,Taliban,Sipah-e-sahaba and the nationalists and separatists.And GOP and the system too weak and occupied to take any drastic action.And the drastic military actions have only exacerbated the problems.

It appears that when ever the opportunity arises some long term measures may have to be taken.Following are the three possible actions that may be examined by the government:
a)creation of a new and counter elite
b) agricultural land grants to masses
c)development and colonization of the coastal area by Baloch masses and the new elite.

As colonial raj did by distributing land in reward for cooperation and bringing about a new elite, in place of freedom fighters and those who did not go and could not go along with their colonial rule and policies.There should be a lot of public land still available in Balochistan.After all,it is only 5% of country's population living in 50% of the land mass of the country.Most of it may be barren land ,so most of the distributed land was when it was distributed to the collaborators by the Raj.It is only the later irrigation network that made such land productive.Unfortunately,as it is widely alleged,most of the land grants have been given to military and bureaucracy,who came from outside Balochistan ,which painted Pakistan as a colonial power and not a rule of brothers and comrades.Local counter elite could be created by land grants 50-100 acres plus to the educated middle classes , however,little in number they may be in Balochistan. There may be about 50,000 families in this category.Their education,some personal assets and the new land tracts may contribute to the creation of new elite.The possession of land,even if not immediately profitable,may bring a social strength ,confidence and consciousness among ordinary people.In rural societies there is no respect and even rights for those who donot have land.So let us bring respect and honour to the ordinary,as a first step towards improvement.

The second component of the reform is ,which one may be inclined to dub or term as land reform,but in my view is sightly more than that, to distribute land smaller land grants among the masses, to about 500,000 families and organize those as cooperatives.Horticultural and rangeland cooperatives may be promoted through credit schemes.Both foreign and local coops may be there.Trilateral JVs of Australian,Middle-eastern and local partners may prove to be feasible and attractive from sourcing and marketing perspectives.Australians sheep industry may find a useful marketing and inventorying point in these set ups.There may be many useful and interesting ideas in this respect.But the focus should be creating economic and social opportunities to the common man of Balochistan away from the strangle-hold of the traditional elite and Sirdars.The schemes have to be small and not so lucrative by design so as to prevent creation of interests of landlords,Sirdars and the traditional elite.

One may be wondering over the water issue in all this grand drama.More storage dams are being created.All the share of Balochistan in the increase of water supply and the associated irrigation networks should go towards the proposed settlements and the reformed land.It should not benefit the traditional elite but should work for the benefit of new elite and the common man.More over adoption of conservation techniques like drip irrigation mat have to be promoted as well.We have also proposed a new system of water rights which benefits the landless and makes them partners in the new irrigation.

Thirdly,urban land clusters and town should be established on the coast,on lands having no Sirdar ownership or social and traditional influence.Residential and commercial plots should be alotted to the locals from all over Balochistan,encouraging migration of common man from Sirdari strangleholds to these towns where there is rule of law and the Pakistan state.In the past,in Gawadar all urban land went into the ownership of outsiders,although through private commercial purchases.Only landed and traditional local elite may have been benefited.Urban development of Balochistan cannot be done on private sector traditional model.Land development allotments have to be in public sector,while building activities may have private sector component.

GOP does not have resources presently.However, a few years or so may be required in studying and planning such an enterprise.these scheme should be based on bipartisan consensus including the military.A strong taboo would have to be created against exploitative interests that may pervert the whole idea in implementation.The goal has to be kept in mind:that is the creation of a new counter elite that is sympathetic to a united Pakistan , and creation of socio economic system in Balochistan independent of the traditional elite and Sirdars,who who often collude and blackmail on anti-Pakistan campaigns.

For the larger issue of country wide Land Reforms,I have already made submissions in my earlier blogs.There is a scope,however limited for land reforms throughout Pakistan .Long term planning and sustainable action is required under national consensus to implement the proposed scheme.Impulsive actions,without constructive thoughts and preparation,and only motivated by personal pique has done tremendous disservice to the national unity in the past and has only exacerbated the Baloch issue.But do we have the time?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Flood relief:Solar Disinfection of Water

Take normal used mineral water bottle,remove label,wash it with whatever contaminated water that is available,fill it with contaminated water,cap the bottle,put the bottle under sun for six hours,water is disinfected.Drink it as it is or after letting it cool a bit.

Too simple and too good to be true.But it is true.I have myself done it and got it tested.My wife Dr.Meher who is a qualified and experienced physician has checked it and approves it.It is a WHO/UNICEF approved method of disinfecting water being used normally by the poor in about 30 countries of Asia,Africa and Latin America ,including India, Indonesia and Brazil.By now millions of users are using it normally and routinely.Discovered rather late in 1980s,the process is being developed and marketed by a water research institute based in Switzerland called SODIS/AWEAG.The reader can go to their website or Wiki for verifying what I am saying and getting more details about it.

The disinfecting quality of sunlight has been widely known in our society for long.Old stored clothes are usually put in sunlight by mothers and grannies for removing odour and possible infections.Scientific basis of the efficacy and working of sunlight for water disinfection is now well established through research.Ultra-violet rays of certain wave length have been known to have disinfectant qualities.UV(320-450 nm) kills and immobilizes pathogens.UV disinfection system have been in the market for quite some time now and are a standard equipment but may cost a lot of money.Sun has the same UV light in the same required wavelength and it is free.

We need it today more than any body else.Water purification tablets and mineral water is being supplied.There are 20 million people who have been affected ,which is more than a whole country population of many countries.We are falling short of such supplies and should start popularising the solar method.A lot of used mineral water bottles should already be available in the system,as these have been supplied to the victims.Volunteers can collect such bottles from restaurants,hotels and clubs.Even new unfilled bottles can be procured .There is enough capacity in the country.

The need of the hour is that the media spread the word.Universities,volunteers and NGO get familiarized themselves and offer training and demonstration to the flood victims.Provincial and local governments and NDMA should adopt this method and popularize it among flood victims.Time is too short.Many flood victims are drinking contaminated water.Disease and death may follow, on a hitherto unknown scale,however used to we may have become to it.

Flood Relief:clean drinking water and PCSIR products

Water gets contaminated in the flooded environment.And the victims are usually out of their homes without any pots and stoves and fuel to be able to boil their water.Disaster aid agencies and NGOs are often asking for donations of water cleaning kits that are imported usually and its supply uncertain.There are several solutions that may be implemented by the agencies:

Household bleach is one of the best disinfectant,approved by such donor agencies as DFID.A few drops per liter and 30 minutes waiting time does an excellent job.NGOs and volunteers should make these supplies available to the flood victims and do some demo and ax plaining.This practice can even be adopted as a routine as well

Another good disinfectant,quite effective and safe,was developed by our PCSIR. It was a pouch containing sand and silver halide.All one was require to do was to put such a pouch in ones water pot or filter ,and drink safe water out of the tap.the product was developed probably in late 80's and was quite visible.Several of my friends and relatives did use it for quite some years when I was weaned on mineral water which i have stopped and have returned to the boiled water at my home.I wonder what happened to the PCSIR product.It is no more visible.It could have proved very handy for the flood victims.Why was it discontinued? May be due to lack of enough demand or having been proved undesirable for some scientific reason.Only PCSIR can tell ? We would like to listen if they are listening us.

Five Reverse Osmosis(RO) plants and three ultra-filtration plants designed and manufactured by EME Karachi garrison of Pakistan Army were dispatched today to various locations in Sindh.Ultra-filtration plants have a capacity of 25,000 liters a day and cost Rs.50,000/- per,while R.O.plants have a capacity of12000 liters a day and a price tag of Rs. 2.5 million.Naturally ROs are quite expensive as the water quality is almost mineral water irrespective of the input quality.We have earlier discussed the case of procuring such plants on rent or lease or outright purchase of even used plants.Some areas permanently require ROs or ultra-filtration plants where these can be dispatched to after the emergency.It is a good idea on the part of EME of Pak Army to have engaged in this kind of endeavor which would have multiple benefits.