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Capital’s mood : edit in The News,July 23, 2014

The government’s outlook seems geared less towards creating the jobs that would reduce the misery of the masses than making the country more conducive to capital. This is why the condition of the economy has been upgraded from stable to negative by the international ratings agency Moody’s. This upgrade, while welcome, is less a sign of the health of our economy than how attractive it is to foreign capital. The influx of money from abroad has never been a guarantee of the kind of sustainable growth that equals permanent jobs at a decent standard of living. It means only that investors from abroad see an opportunity to make a quick buck investing in the stock market or lending to companies. The PML-N has always tried to present itself as a political party that puts the needs of business first and the improved rating from Moody’s reflects that priority. Right now all foreign capital is welcome since it will improve our foreign currency reserves but the best way to achieve that is by....... Read more

July 23, 2014   No Comments

Without the leaders: Editorial in Dawn, July 23rd, 2014

YET again, we find that a few of our important political leaders have been away on foreign tours at around the same time. And of course, true to tradition, discussions are back, seeking to portray these leaders’ temporary absence as proof of their disconnect with the people they avowedly lead. On Tuesday, Imran Khan, who was himself away and targeted by some government ministers for what was seen as an uncalled for, ill-timed diversion, criticised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for going abroad at a crucial juncture.

Apart from this, the usual aspersions have been cast on Asif Ali Zardari’s trip to Washington just when all eyes are focused on what shape an opposition protest planned against the government could take. It is in this manner that every tour by a prominent politician raises some suspicions.

While for many, the leadership’s personal tours abroad signify a kind of retreat others can only dream of in a place that often witnesses events worth escaping from, for....... Read more

July 23, 2014   No Comments

Sharing water: Editorial in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2014

Water sharing among provinces has historically remained a sensitive issue, with federating units sparring over the perceived cut in their portions. Allegations of water theft have also flown thick and fast among the provinces, especially Punjab and Sindh, over the years. It was in 1991 that a seminal water sharing accord was reached among the provinces, which brought the longstanding conflict to an end. Each federating unit was allotted a share in the precious resource under a consensus-based agreement.

To a large degree, the accord holds to this day. But we still get to hear complaints about one province or the other getting less than its allotted share. One such instance came to the fore on July 20 when a team of consultants constituted by the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) found that Balochistan is currently receiving water below its entitlement. The team is tasked to measure water discharge at designated points to determine the distribution of water between Punjab, Sind....... Read more

July 23, 2014   No Comments

Our long-term nightmare; By Jamil Nasir in the News, July 22, 2014

The writer is a graduate of Columbia University.

According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2013-14, the GDP growth rate has crossed four percent, stated to be the highest in the last six years. Not only opposition parties but some leading economists of the country have challenged this assertion. They say that a growth rate of 4.4 percent was achieved in 2011-12, so even if it is above 4 percent now, it is not the highest in the last six years.

It has been further argued that the growth rate has been overstated in sectors like large-scale manufacturing, construction, finance, insurance, wholesale and retail trade. In fact, the GDP growth rate in 2013-14 is close to 3.5 percent. This controversy may have some political underpinnings but it is not of much long-term significance. Even if the growth rate is above four percent it will not make a big dent in poverty and unemployment.

The four percent growth rate can hardly put Pakistan on the positive route to economic....... Read more

July 22, 2014   No Comments

Sex crimes – dare we compare?: by Afiya Shehrbano in the News, July 22, 2014

The writer is a sociologist based in Karach

Any effort at a comparative analysis between postcolonial and post-Partition progress in India and Pakistan provokes a disproportionately defensive reaction. This is not the usual practice of just Pakistani conservatives and nationalists but is also common amongst many of the so-called educated, chattering urban elite. Any attempt at a critical comparative study or observation of India’s progress often earns one the accusation of being ‘anti-Pakistan’ or an Indophile, whose only aim is to become like the Hindu and Bollywood-delusional, unshining India.

The less contestable sites of comparison such as democracy, the economy, software development and other ‘impersonal’ fields do not warrant such a reactionary lashing out. Instead, the anxiety is usually over any comparison between the ‘secular’ nature of the Indian state and that of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or, the culture industry and/or, women’s developme....... Read more

July 22, 2014   No Comments

Rearticulating law in Pakistan: By Dr Asad Q Ahmed in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2014.

(The writer is Professor in Arabic and Islamic Studies and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, the University of California, Berkeley)

In a letter of 1855, written to the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar II, a leading scholar of India, Fazli Haqq Khayrabadi, states the following:

“This land’s people, be they Muslim or Hindu, are farmers, labourers, merchants, stipendiaries, scholars, and beggars … For as long as the government was under the control of kings and rajas, there was never any shortage of means of livelihood. But since the British have come to hold sway, the situation has become such that the populace is in dire shape. This is so because all but a few means of livelihood have been closed off by the new government. And even now, as the skeleton of governmental organisation is transforming, these means seem to be disappearing … The government has taken control of all commodities, such as cloth, wool, horses, ....... Read more

July 22, 2014   No Comments

What can happen on August 14: by Mazhar Abbas in the News, July 22, 2014

KARACHI: What can happen on August 14? It is Pakistan’s Independence Day. It is “Youm-e-Azadi,” not only a day of celebration but also a day of remembrance of those millions of people who had sacrificed their lives, properties and migrated to a new country for a better tomorrow. But it can be a different “Youm-e-Azadi” this year, with “Azadi march” of Imran Khan. How different it will be is a million dollar question.

While the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced a week-long celebration with Pakistan Parade, to be attended among others by Services Chiefs, Imran Khan has other plans. He has announced to enter the federal capital, with over one million people in the name of “Azadi March.” No one knows, whether our ever-green leader of “green revolution,” Dr Allama Tahirul Qadri would also accompany him, or enter the capital, before or after Khan. As situation stand today, all is not well.

So, the simple answer to the question, “wha....... Read more

July 22, 2014   No Comments

The ‘other’ drones: Editorial in Dawn, July 22nd , 2014

NOW, this latest batch of drones may be a little more difficult to ignore than the unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, that have a history of wreaking havoc in the northwest.

The drone camera is fast becoming a fixture at all kinds of public events in the country. It was much in evidence in Lahore, enhancing the security cover for the Youm-i-Ali procession on Sunday. And there is a growing trend to employ the camera-fitted UAVs to telecast news events such as political rallies.

At the moment, they are primed as good utility tools that help any number of groups from security agencies to television channels looking for the best possible live coverage. Elsewhere in the world, organisations such as Amazon are looking to increase the carriage and flight duration capacities of drones to use them to deliver packages.

The acceptance of the advancement has been wide and the predictions are that it is something that Pakistan will not be able to resist. Indeed, given the secur....... Read more

July 22, 2014   No Comments

Delayed electoral reforms : Editorial in Dawn, July 22nd , 2014

THE Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms is, from a democratic perspective, a solid, timely and well-conceived idea that can effect real change in the electoral system and move the country closer towards the ultimate goal of free and fair elections. Unhappily, the catalyst for the electoral reforms committee was neither parliament nor a sober assessment of the shortcomings of last year’s election.

Instead, it took the PTI and its chief Imran Khan to agitate specifically, and only, against PML-N victories in Punjab before the prime minister offered what appeared to be an olive branch in the hope of defanging the PTI’s threat. If the original motive behind a laudable idea was less than salutary, the manner in which the formation of the committee itself has been needlessly dragged out has compounded the problem.

Surely, for a committee mooted by the prime minister in the second week of June, the composition of the committee should already have been finalised and ....... Read more

July 22, 2014   No Comments

Back to square one; Editorial in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2014.

The monumental cock-up that is the governmental handling of the crisis in the power sector added another trophy to the shelf. The committee that presides over energy resource rationalisation for the power sector was called by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on July 18. With outstanding receivables now standing at Rs520 billion, Mr Dar could reasonably have been expected to crack a few heads together. True to form, he did no such thing. Instead, he passed the responsibility for coming up with a mechanism to recover the missing receivables back to the water and power ministry.

Since the water and power ministry is the bureaucratic equivalent of a quadriplegic, which is also in a persistent vegetative state, the likelihood of a result coming from that direction is vanishingly small. Of particular note is that the finance minister showed up to the meeting with no plan other than to pass the buck at a time when decisive leadership is the need of the hour.

All the fine talk of immed....... Read more

July 22, 2014   No Comments