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Pakistan Press (29 Sep 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Gender Unit By Zubeida Mustafa: New Age Islam's Selection, 29 September 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

29 September 2017

Gender Unit

By Zubeida Mustafa

CPEC’s Daunting Tasks

By Moonis Ahmar

Revisiting Extremism

By Anjum Altaf

An Election For Sure

By Asha’ar Rehman

Trump’s Verbal Ruckus at the UN

By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

Lahore’s Shahbaz Growth Rate

By Dr Pervez Tahir

The Rise of the Right

By Khalid Bhatti

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Gender Unit

By Zubeida Mustafa

September 29, 2017

THE Sindh government’s apathy towards gender inequity in education is almost proverbial. I was, therefore, taken aback when the minister for literacy and education in the province quoted the age-old adage: “When you educate a boy you educate an individual, but when you educate a girl you educate a family.”

It left me wondering why his party which has been in power in Sindh for a decade failed to achieve 100 per cent literacy in the province. Has wisdom been late in dawning on our policymakers?

The occasion for this wise quote was the inauguration of a gender unit in the education department with the proclaimed objective of “mainstreaming gender within the education system”. This unit owes its birth to the push it has received from the Gender Working Group (GWG) comprising members of civil society (including the Indus Resource Centre) who are strong advocates of gender parity, and a preponderance of government functionaries, ostensibly supporters of this cause.

In Sindh, 61pc Of Girls Are Out Of School.

The unit will show positive results, we have been promised. The IRC’s role will be vital in sustaining the unit and ensuring it does not stagnate. These measures come at a time when the gender imbalance in education in Sindh has fallen to an abysmal level.

The Sindh government’s own statistics related to gender in education are appalling. Female literacy in the province, already low at 47pc, is only 23pc in the rural areas. But the gender disparity has even worse implications for the future. In 2015, the net enrolment of girls in school stood at 40pc compared with 60pc for boys. In the province 61pc of girls are out of school.

Will funding from Oxfam and motivational/advisory input from GWG with the IRC as the driving force change the situation? One can only hope it will. The IRC has carried out many pro-women projects in the province and has also been working with the government by adopting its schools, though official grants cannot always be taken for granted.

Then one may ask, why this scepticism? The task of implementing the recommendations will be in the government’s own hands. Given its past performance and the profusion of bodies to promote women’s rights in the policymaking structure, I find it difficult to feel optimistic.

The panel discussion at the unit’s inauguration identified a number of essential measures that in principle are perfect. For instance, the need to revise textbooks and make them gender sensitive and to build and make accessible more girls’ secondary schools were mentioned. It was recognised that the numerous women friendly laws that have been adopted must be implemented and ways and means found to enhance the strength of female teachers in schools to encourage an increase in the female net enrolment rate. Toilets and boundary walls in girls’ schools are also conceded as crucial factors in reducing girls’ dropout rates. But isn’t this familiar territory?

Some of the recommended changes have been made over a period of time, albeit in fits and starts. What has not been mentioned in the Sindh Education Sector Plan is the poor state of education — both in terms of content and pedagogy — that makes education so irrelevant for the common man.

It hardly enhances the ethical values of students or even qualifies them for suitable jobs because our system of education imparts little knowledge or information. Above all, it doesn’t teach a child to think critically. What incentive is there for parents to send their children — more so daughters — to school?

A lot of advocacy has been done for education but when the gains promised do not materialise, the advocacy sounds hollow and unconvincing. Even the children feel cheated. During many school visits that I have made in my wanderings in low-income areas, I have found that children are being pulled out of school to help their families. Girls look after their younger siblings and do the housework while boys go off to work in shops and with mechanics. Thus the gender parity improves at the higher level but school enrolment drops drastically.

This shows how important it is to treat the development of people as a composite whole. With all social sectors so badly neglected — be it population, healthcare or any other — focusing on education alone can be counterproductive, and development becomes a painfully slow and lopsided process.

The Alice in Wonderland scenario that emerges at the end of the day is of a person running hard but not being able to make progress. While schools are being built, babies continue to be born in large numbers and little girls are pulled out of school in droves to look after them. Of course we always remain short of schools because the school enrolment ratio goes down while the population growth rate keeps galloping.

Source: dawn.com/news/1360646/gender-unit


CPEC’s Daunting Tasks

By Moonis Ahmar


China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is termed as a ‘game changer’ and a milestone in unleashing the process of development in Pakistan is still in its formative phase. Termed as a mega project of now 56 billion US dollars, CPEC primarily concentrates on energy and infrastructure development in Pakistan while linking the Gwadar port with the Chinese province of Xinxiang for trade purposes.

What are the hard tasks under CPEC and how the adherence of time line to complete various schemes under that gigantic project can help Pakistan deal with the issues of under-development? Is the right kind of environment, professionalism, skills and expertise, which is required for a smooth sailing of a mega project like CPEC, available in Pakistan? To what extent professional approach is pursued by the Pakistani counterparts of CPEC to complete their homework on undertaking projects particularly those related to infrastructure development?

According to the reports, lack of coordination between federal and provincial governments on setting up special economic zones and project of 8.2 billion dollars for expanding the main railway lines particularly Karachi-Peshawar section has caused delays. Necessary planning and paper work, which is essential to give a practical shape to CPEC related projects, are facing delays because of bureaucratic hurdles. Planning Commission, National Economic Council and Central Development Party face enormous difficulties in coordinating with provincial governments on preparing feasibility study of special economic zones. When the Chinese teams visit Pakistan to get the updates on CPEC related projects, the failure on the part of their Pakistani counterparts to do their homework becomes a source of embarrassment. It is in this scenario that one needs to examine what are the issues and challenges which may derail CPEC and cause enormous loss to Pakistan.

Learning from the Chinese and other successful models of development is imperative for a bright future of Pakistan. Social structures must be changed by giving priority to the public education sector, adhering to merit, eradicating feudal and tribal values, and subscribing to professionalism

Four major challenges exist on the Pakistani side as far as the hard task of CPEC is concerned. First, lack of professionalism, which was also mentioned by the In charge Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal the other day that “a Chinese team is coming next month and it is unfortunate that provincial governments have sought two more months to finalise feasibility studies for their respective economic zones.” These economic zones are termed as a hub of industrial activities in different provinces of Pakistan, will create thousands of jobs and attract huge investments. Professionalism requires sound work ethics, competence and a better sense of responsibility. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s predicament is the erosion of work ethics and professionalism in the last four decades resulting into sharp decline in its exports, low industrial and technological growth. Second, bad governance and the absence of the rule of law can be termed as another challenge for CPEC. If various models of development are studied, it becomes clear that without good governance and the rule of law neither foreign investment can take place nor one can expect the assurance of quality and standard in projects and schemes prepared. China emerged as the world’s second largest economy because of its governance system and adherence to the rule of law. Pakistan’s lack of focus on issues which are central to ensure good governance can be termed as a major challenge in taking CPEC to its logical conclusion.

Third, education and scientific knowledge play a vital role to strengthen the process of social and human development. The decline in the standard of education in Pakistan along with the absence of research culture is a fundamental reason why Pakistan is 147 in Human Development Index. China, since the last several decades has given priority to education and science which played a pivotal role in transforming that country from a backward and illiterate to a modern and industrialised society. The success of CPEC heavily depends upon quality education and scientific research in Pakistan so that professional expertise is utilised in projects for better results. Around 26,000 Pakistani students are currently getting education in China in different fields and it is expected that upon their return their services can at best be utilised in the process of development in CPEC and non-CPEC projects. Fourth, security and law and order are the pre-requisites for the success of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Although, a special security division has been raised by the military to protect CPEC and to provide security to Chinese workers and technicians but a congenial and peaceful environment can certainly build trust and confidence among foreigners about their stay, travel and movement in Pakistan.

Pakistan is a country of more than 200 million people with enormous opportunities for development and modernisation of the country’s industrial, economic and infrastructural base. Yet, qualitative change in Pakistani society cannot take place only by CPEC as indigenous efforts and resources for development are essential. China and India are the models of the policy of self-reliance as the two didn’t depend on foreign aid for their development as they were confident that with their expertise and mobilising their own resources they can achieve success. Whereas, since its inception as a new state in August 1947 till today, Pakistan’s economy is import and aid driven which relegated the country’s position in social and human development.

The daunting task of CPEC is not only to deal with the challenges but also to make sure that within the stipulated period of time projects are completed with proper quality and standard. Learning from the Chinese and other successful models of development is imperative for a bright future of Pakistan. For that matter, social structures of Pakistan must be changed by giving priority to good quality education to its children and youth, adherence to merit, eradicating feudal and tribal system, subscribing to proper work ethics and pursuing a professional approach. Is the leadership of Pakistan capable of dealing with the challenges of development particularly those related to CPEC projects?

As long as corruption, nepotism, compromise on merit, culture patronisation and laziness looms large, one cannot expect Pakistan to get even closer to developed societies. As rightly said by the founder of communist China Mao Tse Tung that, “a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.” Pakistan must first take the first step to achieve the goals of development, modernisation and progress by having a leadership which is selfless, honest and a doer like in case of China and other successful countries.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/29-Sep-17/cpecs-daunting-tasks


Revisiting Extremism

By Anjum Altaf

 September 29, 2017

COULD it be argued that there are good and bad extremists just as there are good and bad Muslims? If so, the proposal to identify extremists in universities might be misplaced.

Extremism has become conflated with violence and terrorism which is a partial interpretation. The dictionary defines extremism as “belief in and support for ideas that are very far from what most people consider correct or reasonable” which widens the scope for a more nuanced understanding.

Put that neutral definition together with the observation of Bertrand Russell that “the tyranny of the majority is a very real danger” and that “it is a mistake to suppose that the majority is necessarily right” and one can argue that almost all human progress has been due to ‘extremists’ who have challenged the moribund ideas of majorities. Think of Galileo.

Extremism has become conflated with violence and terrorism.

It is possible, of course, that extremism could lead to poor judgement with negative consequences. Mr Jinnah’s position in Dhaka that Urdu would be the sole national language of Pakistan was arguably extremist and one that contributed to subsequent problems. However, no one would accuse Mr Jinnah of evil intentions. Mitigating errors of judgement calls for inclusive decision-making, not surveillance by intelligence agencies.

The example above should remind us that extremism is often not an individual attribute but is contextually determined — the position regarding Urdu could have been mainstream opinion in one part of the country but a fringe one in the other. Consider another example, the position on Creation where the mainstream view in Pakistan accords with the story of Adam and Eve. If a mainstream Pakistani migrated to Europe he would become there the holder of a relatively extreme position. Would it be warranted for European intelligence agencies to interrogate his ‘extremism’ when nothing else changed in his personality?

lobalisation has exacerbated this problem of contextual extremism. In the West, beards and turbans have become symbols of extremism, while bikinis and bars are considered likewise in other parts of the world. The clash of civilisations reflects in part the harmless divergence among different mainstream opinions.

In the face of these arguments, many discussants concede the point that private views, however extreme, are not problematic per se. In their view the problem emerges when some individuals try to impose their extreme views on others. This suggests that the problem is not extremism of one’s views but intolerance of those of others.

This is a serious concern if true because the entire ethos of the educational system in Pakistan is built around bolstering the conviction that we are right and those who disagree with us are wrong. Every unsanctioned opinion is liable to severe punishment. The state also propagates the extremist sentiment that every citizen should be prepared to die for the nation and destroy its enemy.

An apocryphal story of a teenager apprehended crossing the border in 1965 to annihilate infidels is telling in this regard. Asked to identify the source of his extreme views he ascribed them all to watching PTV. Hannah Arendt had warned that such “commitment can easily carry you to a point where you no longer think”. Only a heavy dose of self-reflection of the type exemplified by Bulleh Shah and Kabir can reverse the trend towards mindlessness.

This lethal problem of intolerance cannot be solved by surveillance of students but by a renewed examination of state commitments and the realisation that many agents of the state are themselves extremely intolerant. It is ironic for a set of agents fostering intolerance to start combing campuses for the victims of their efforts.

A different perspective on extremism holds that it is worrisome only when it engenders violence. This prompts two reflections. First, that those holding extreme views rarely resort to mass violence in their individual capacity. Individuals act in politically motivated ways more when they are part of groups espousing violent aims — no surprise that violent actions are immediately claimed by groups like the militant Islamic State group or the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. Putting an end to such violence requires proscribing the groups and not pursuing individual extremists which is an impossible task with a huge margin for error. When a state leaves such groups alone allowing them to morph under various guises while claiming to ferret out individuals, it loses the claim to credibility.

Second, one must confront another conundrum obscured by the blanket castigation of violent extremism. Recall the phrase that characterised the 1964 US presidential campaign of Senator Goldwater: “Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice.” Clearly, Goldwater did not consider extremism to be an unambiguously negative phenomenon nor was he averse to violence if warranted by the situation. Many others would recall that both Begin and Mandela started as individuals with ‘extremist’ views, joined groups with ‘violent’ aims, and propagated ‘terrorism’. Yet, both went on to lead their countries and were honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize.

One can reconcile with such extremism only if the focus on groups with violent aims includes states that use violence to oppress their own or foreign citizens. It is hard to justify passivity against the depredations of such states — “Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue” was the second half of Goldwater’s pronouncement. The glaring case at present is the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Unless there are global mechanisms to prevent such state-sanctioned atrocities, non-state groups will cite the precedent of Begin and Mandela to resist and the world will be in no moral position to criticise their violent extremism.

The bottom line of this reflection is that intolerance not extremism is the major threat to society; that intolerance is the inevitable outcome of state-sponsored indoctrination in education; that this indoctrination can only be countered by a tradition of self-reflection that includes within its ambit one’s most cherished beliefs; that effectively restoring social harmony requires proscribing groups that espouse violent aims and these can include states themselves. The surveillance of individuals by the state, here or elsewhere, is the wrong prescription.

Source: dawn.com/news/1360648/revisiting-extremism


An Election For Sure

By Asha’ar Rehman

September 29, 2017

SOMEONE has called for an early general election. Someone we don’t really have much trust in. It is ‘natural’ for many of us here to dismiss his talk as the roar of a perpetually dangerous simpleton who kind of monopolises naïveté.

The demand is found to be unpalatable in a country that, to put it mildly, doesn’t quite have an ideal functioning democracy. This country overshoots the target by some distance.

Indeed, by some measures, the type of democracy we are practising in our beloved homeland right now would be placed on a plane much higher than your usual ideal democracy. Where else would we find a sitting minister forced to divide his time between his ministerial functions and encounters with the trial courts? Where else do you get to see a minister doubling as an accused, refusing to resign for the greater good of democracy?

An early election could be a much-needed stopover for the people to gather their thoughts before they trudge on the road there’s no escape from.

The kind of scenes we have been able to enact at the raw age of 70 would dwarf the most established, ideal systems put together by other countries. We are specialists in our own kind of democratic system  and on that count, all those adventurers and dull crusaders who have over time invested in an indigenous model, our own little kingdom, stand vindicated.

Like all good things, our little supra-ideal system comes with its own directions for use and its own minor clarifications. Some of us have been heard saying that, while Ishaq Dar may embody our aspirations for distinction, right at this moment he may have his own issues to settle.

For one, the futuristic minister is thought by many to be too involved with the legal cases against him at present to spare any time for his job as finance minister. Not to mention the extra sentiment he has to put in at various fora as a well-wisher of the family he openly owes allegiance to.

The theory is that he might be better able to fulfil his more urgent duties as a member of the coterie as opposed to a member of the cabinet. Mr Dar, however, is not resigning, in order (as we all remember by rote now) to save and secure democracy, which (experience has taught us) requires us to be patient and navigate mindlessly through sea after sea of confusion.

There’s a lot of confusion out there as Mian Nawaz Sharif — disqualified but not quite disposed of — walks ahead looking for his own version of justice. He is moving forward, sometimes with the daredevilry of Bruce Willis’ character John McClane in the Die Hard film franchise, and at other times with the resignation of a lamb about to be put to the sword. Through various moods and phases, he has so far managed to defy the deadline set for his eventual and final demise. Yet he has had little influence when it comes to providing relief to the people who have been kept hostage by Pakistan’s brand of tension-filled politics.

Signs of distress are all around. Journalists who want to gauge the extent of uncertainty caused by the removal of a prime minister and the ad hoc arrangements put in place since come up with far from reassuring assessments. There is a serious lack of direction at various levels of government inside the country, even while a stand-in prime minister is able to spell out our resolve to the international community at the UN with some gusto.

By some accounts, not all the initiatives undertaken by the Sharif government can run with the same old fervour now that Mr Sharif has been ousted and his party is faced with an uncertain future. Political disputes, on the other hand, are resurfacing with a severity akin to a political climate in the run up to a general election. And yet, so many here choose to boo the man who has asked for a snap election.

There are problems. Not least of them is the issue of electoral reforms that have been delayed — why and at whose behest being two pertinent questions that must be asked of parliament and the government. That is where the national focus must now be, even if the election is going to be held on schedule next year. But to cite lack of electoral law reforms as a reason why an early election cannot be held is a little unfair. The primary aim should be to pull the people out of their current state of uncertainty. The laws will continue to evolve, in the next term of the assembly if not the current one.

The biggest dispute arising out of the 2013 election has to be resolved. Along the way, it has been complicated by Panama and some other, comparably minor elements — but the parties remain the same, by and large. It is the Sharifs versus Imran Khan, which obviously leads to projections about who is likely to gain and by how much in the event of a snap election. While these estimates of success at the polls are all legitimate, some thought must be given to the effects all this political wrangling and lack of resolution on some basic political questions has had on the minds of Pakistanis.

It could well be that this country has to go through this experience of intense, relentless, round-the-clock politicking. A general election may add to this intensity, but that could also be of some relief to people subjected to sensational, unending debate without answers. The election could be a stopover — a much-needed one — for the people to gather their thoughts before they trudge on the road there’s no escape from.

Let’s forget for a moment which party will gain or lose ground. Let’s for once concentrate on the proposal, and not so much on the person behind it. Let’s call for a general election as early as possible.

Source: dawn.com/news/1360647/an-election-for-sure


Trump’s Verbal Ruckus at the UN

By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar


When Donald Trump speaks, he shakes and rattles the world with his narrative. He did silence the listeners when addressing for the first time at the UN General Assembly. Perhaps his rise to the echelon of power as the President of the United States will keep Washington on its toes to defend itself from any reaction coming from countries, which President Trump openly talks about. The President must have known that among all the countries the US is confronting, North Korea is a problem child, which cannot be restricted, constrained or controlled.

When the previous US Presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, invaded and attacked Afghanistan, much blame was placed on Washington for sending the US troops into a fight, which they could have never won. Termed as an ‘Unwinnable War’, the US troops had to withdraw from Afghanistan with the US flag on half-mast. For the US mission in Afghanistan, it was a decision that boomeranged at Washington with deep impact. Although the US will never go into a direct war with North Korea, a cold war could occur having a chance of one in a thousand. Even a cold war would be excessively expensive for both countries that will create crevices and splits in regional allies, hence shifting and fluctuating global diplomacy and affairs to great extents.

However, what President Trump expressed during his speech at the UN General Assembly has become the talk of the world. You call it an act of defiance or blatant ignorance that the President of the US — the most powerful man in the world — created a ruckus of words at the United Nation. President Trump threatened to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea during his pugnacious address. He could have used better, more sophisticated or diplomatically feasible words to address North Korea’s belligerent actions. However, he may have certainly added fuel to the flame that is burning in Pyongyang, with its direction at Washington.

President Trump threatened to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea during his pugnacious address. He could have used better, more sophisticated or diplomatically feasible words to address North Korea’s belligerent actions

Furthermore, President Trump gave a new moniker to North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-Un, calling him ‘Rocket Man.’ Perhaps it is for the first and only time inside the UN General Assembly when someone has referred to a President by a nickname. Interestingly, President Trump’s speech was somewhat akin to the State of the Union Address former US President George W. Bush delivered nearly fifteen years ago in 2002. In fact, George W. Bush first used the term ‘axis of evil’, which later became associated with governments that harbour terrorism.

Instead of creating an inspiring example to be followed by other world leaders, President Trump seems to be adamant at following the footsteps of past US presidents who brought to Washington wars and battles, which became unwinnable. The US is still paying the price of its mission in Afghanistan and Iraq, which has also destabilised many parts of South Asia and the Middle East respectively.

However, while President Trump was openly bashing North Korea, he — to some extent — challenged the world in confronting North Korea. President Trump said, “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about. That’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.” Never before has any US President presented a robust and somewhat aggressive speech in the United Nations. Furthermore, President Trump also discussed Iran’s nuclear deal it made with the US during Obama’s regime.

Considered a key agreement between the two countries, which is also supported by many UN members, President Trump considers it a waste, as mentioned in his speech. “The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it. Believe me.” On what basis did, President Trump opines this deal to be useless? If he is opposing this deal, he may have to face tough questions from Washington’s allies who support it.

China, too, has entered the equation and is desperately trying to ease the tension between Washington and Pyongyang. It is yet to be seen if President Trump views China’s diplomatic mediation as an insult since China has never been in the US President’s good books. Moreover, the United Kingdom and China, members of the UN Security Council, could join forces in compelling North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un may not be easily compelled to withdraw his decisions and President Trump will never regret his words or actions. Perhaps two bohemians, President Trump and Kim Jong-Un ruling their countries will never bow down to anyone. In that case, the world will suffer.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/29-Sep-17/trumps-verbal-ruckus-at-the-un


Lahore’s Shahbaz Growth Rate

By Dr Pervez Tahir

September 29, 2017

Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, the annual average GDP growth rate in Pakistan was 3.9 per cent. It was 5 per cent for Punjab. However, the GDP growth rate of Lahore was as high as 6.7 per cent. In other words, Lahore is leading the growth of the province as well as the country. It is an economy of over a trillion rupees or around 11.5 per cent of the national economy. The share in Punjab is 19 per cent. These are the finding

What explains the rapidly rising economy of Lahore? Is it what the Chinese call Shahbaz speed turning into Shahbaz growth rate? The common perception is that Lahore has enjoyed more than its share of public investment. This certainly is a factor, but there is a lot more that comes out of the study. Industrial sector growth in Lahore was only 3.3 per cent, lower than even the rest of Punjab’s growth rate of 4.8 per cent. Official policy as well as business preference is to move manufacturing away from the congestion and overcrowding in Lahore. Even so, the manufacturing subsector displayed a growth rate of 5.4 per cent, higher than Punjab and Pakistan. The agriculture sector experienced a lower growth of 2.2 per cent. Describing the sector as agriculture in the case of Lahore is a misnomer. With a share of around 4 per cent, it is largely composed of livestock and other non-crop activities. The latest census also confirms that Lahore is now totally urban. In 1998, 17.8 per cent of the population of Lahore district was rural. It is now negligible in a population of 11.13 million. In the intercensal period, the city district added 5.98 million to its urban population compared to 5.57 million in Karachi. Partly definitional, but mostly the development is associated with the magnet that Lahore has become for those seeking profits, jobs and education in relative peace, not just from adjoining districts, but all over the country.

Services, therefore, has become the largest sector of the economy of Lahore. From 78.2 per cent in 2010-11, the contribution of services rose to 81 per cent in 2014-15. The annual average growth rate was 7.7 per cent. The largest subsector in services in Punjab and Pakistan is wholesale and retail trade. In Lahore, it is the second largest with annual growth of only 0.9 per cent. Low share and growth of the commodity sector is at work here. The largest subsector is transport, storage and communications with a contribution of 37.1 per cent. It enjoyed a healthy growth rate of 9.3 per cent. IT, telecommunications and passenger transport are the most dynamic components. But the highest growth of 12.3 per cent occurred in housing services, a subsector contributing 12 per cent of the services sector. A related subsector of the industrial sector, construction, grew even higher at 12.9 per cent. Together, the double-digit growth of construction and housing services portray a massive urban sprawl.

In 1927, Patras Bokhari had fun in Lahore ka jughrafia: “Beyond the four walls of Lahore also happens to be Lahore. And day by day it is happening more and more. Experts estimate that Lahore will be the name of a province in 10-20 years, with Punjab as its capital.” Are we, 90 years on?

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1518677/lahores-shahbaz-growth-rate/


The Rise Of The Right

By Khalid Bhatti

September 29, 2017

The results of the September 24 federal elections in Germany sent a wave of shock across Europe. The partners of the Grand Coalition, the right-wing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SDP) suffered losses and gained fewer votes.

Overall, the election results show that Germany cannot escape the processes that have affected the rest of Europe. There is an increasing polarisation and political fragmentation. There has also been a melting away of the traditional support for the two major traditional political blocs – the CDU/CSU and the SDP.

In the good old days of the old federal republic, these blocs would score 80 percent to 90 percent of the votes cast between them. But this figure has been reduced to an overall share of just over 53 percent and has led to the emergence of the anti-immigration, Islamophobic and extreme right-wing party, the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD).

The Left Party (Die Linke) and the Greens made modest gains in the elections. Both parties have failed to put forward a clear, anti-capitalist, radical left-wing and pro-working class and youth programme to attract a wider segment of workers and youth. The Left Party could have pulled the brakes on the AfD’s march on the basis of a radical programme.

The extreme right-wing AfD emerges as the true winner of this election. The AfD is the first extreme right-wing racist party elected to the German parliament since World War II. While the AfD’s entry into parliament was expected, the size of its vote shocked many despite its recent recovery in the opinion polls. It jumped in as the third largest party with nearly six million votes – 12.6 percent of the total number of votes.

The surge in the AfD’s support – that has increased from 811,000 votes in 2013 – is a sign of the unrest and dissatisfaction that has developed among various sections across the country despite the recent economic growth. The major AfD strongholds lie in the east where deindustrialisation – which has taken place since the dismantling of the planned economy in the former East Germany – has left behind a large rust belt and demoralised the local population.

The ruling CDU/CSU lost 8.5 percent of the votes and fell to 33 percent of the combined votes. This is the lowest share of the votes for the CDU/CSU since 1949. The Social Democrats lost 5.2 percent to end up with 20.5 percent. This is not only the lowest vote since Second World War but is comparable only with the worst results of 1890 and 1932. The extreme right-wing AfD and the pro-business and free market economy Free Democratic Party (FDP) are the real winners of this election as both increased their votes by 7.9 percent and six percent, respectively.  

The outcome of this election has undoubtedly weakened the political position of Chancellor Merkel. The SDP has already announced its plan to sit in the opposition and the AfD is not in the mood to join the coalition government. Merkel left with Greens, the Free Democrats and its Bavarian sister CSU to form the coalition government.

Chancellor Merkel, who has been in power for 12 years and is likely to hang on to another four-year term, had hoped that she and her party alliance of the CDU and the Bavarian CSU would easily win another victory around the 40-percent mark. The ruling class would have preferred a coalition of the traditional bourgeois parties – the CDU/CSU and the FDP. But in the end – due to the decline in support for the CDU/CSU – this coalition failed to win a majority.

This election failed to produce the results that the German bourgeoisie had hoped for. The German capitalist class wanted a stable, strong, pro-business and more right-wing coalition government to carry out further cuts on wages, pensions, the welfare system and the liberalisation of the economy. The weak, chaotic and unstable coalition government will not be able to serve this purpose.

Both the Greens and the Free Democrats will push for concessions from Merkel. Both parties represent different programmes and ideologies. Both parties dislike each other and will fight to gain more influence in the coalition to satisfy their voters. It will not be an easy task to put together such contrasting coalitions to work smoothly.   

The SDP suffered a humiliating defeat. The traditional social democracy is in serious trouble. Jeremy Corbyn is the only exception in this Europe-wide phenomenon. Corbyn revived the Labour Party on a radical left-wing programme in opposition to the austerity, neoliberalism and free market onslaught. The social democratic parties across Europe moved to the right and gradually embraced the free market economy and neoliberal economic policies to dismantle the welfare state. The SDP did the same and launched the most vicious attacks on the wages, working conditions, unemployment benefits and welfare programmes between 1998 and 2005.   

The result of Schroder’s ‘reforms’ was – and is – a massive casualisation of labour in Germany and attacks on the unemployed. Over a quarter of the workforce is now in some form of casual employment. Many of them receive wages that place them just about on or below the poverty line. A majority of them need more than one job to survive or have to rely on additional social security to pay their rent. This is, by the way, the main explanation for the low unemployment rate and the export boom in the German economy. The poor population and low-paid workers are increasingly dependent on the free lunches offered by welfare organisations and volunteers across Germany. These are the conditions of the low-paid workers of the strongest and richest economy in Europe.

The SDP’s leadership continued with the same right-wing policies and failed to offer a real alternative to the working class and the poor. The SDP is heading towards the direction of other social democratic parties in Greece, France, the Netherlands and elsewhere who have been badly affected by their policies of carrying out counter-reforms.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/233261-The-rise-of-the-right


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/gender-unit-by-zubeida-mustafa--new-age-islam-s-selection,-29-september-2017/d/112698


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