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Pakistan Press (28 Aug 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)



The White Part in Our Flag By Yasser Latif Hamdani: New Age Islam's Selection, 28 August 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

28 August 2017

The White Part in Our Flag

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Violation of Women Rights in Pakistan

By Palwasha Khan

Bring Afghan Taliban on the Negotiation Table

By Babar Ayaz

Former PM’s Disqualification: A Bane Or A Boon?

By Inamullah Marwat

Enumerating Pakistan

By Umair Javed

Donald Trump's Desperate Surge

By Lal Khan

Rationalisation of Afghan Policy

By Dr Muhammad Khan

Response to Trump’s Afghan Strategy

By Mirza Aslam Beg

Reflections on US Racism

By Paul Street

Missing Persons Nightmare

By Faisal Siddiqi

CPEC And The Chinese Interests In Pakistan

By Abdur Rehman Cheema and Muhammad Haris

Pakistan Census 2017 and Right Questions to Ask

By Quratulain Fatima

Planet’s Warning

By Huma Yusuf

Public Spaces

By Hajrah Mumtaz

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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The White Part in Our Flag

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

28-Aug-17

It has been 20 days since the Chief Justice of Pakistan made those remarks about the Two Nation Theory and despite widespread criticism the CJP has refused to clarify what he meant by his comments. A statement, any statement, would have been better than the deafening silence by the chief judge of the country.

In a way this is to be expected. What more can one expect from a majoritarian state and society which has almost since inception failed to respect its minorities despite repeated pronouncements and promises by its founding father. It is instructive to read, in this regard, the resignation letter of Mr Jogindranath Mandal, Pakistan’s first law minister, who had seen the way the cookie was crumbling as early as 1950. In my article in this newspaper dated June 16, 2016, I had outlined the career of this extraordinary scheduled caste Hindu lawyer and politician who had not only represented Muslims of India in the interim government before partition but had also had the honour of presiding over the inaugural session of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly in 1947. Three years later he resigned citing discrimination against Hindus and the state’s propensity to ignore Jinnah’s promises to the minorities as his reasons for doing so.

Article 51 of the Constitution makes it clear that the non-Muslim reserved seats are to be gifted to the mainstream political parties in proportion to their general seats. How does this give Non-Muslims any representation?

He wrote: “After a few months, the British Government made their June 3 Statement (1947) embodying certain proposals for the partition of India. The whole country, especially the entire non-Muslim India, was startled. For the sake of truth I must admit that I had always considered the demand of Pakistan by the Muslim League as a bargaining counter.” This has been the contention of many who have studied the events leading upto partition. Indeed even Ayub Khuhro, one of the leading Muslim Leaguers from Sindh, admitted as much in a candid conversation with Sri Prikasa, the first Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan. The idea was to get the maximum share of power for the Muslims in the post independence India. Mandal had supported the Muslim League in Bengal through thick and thin because he believed that the Muslim League was actually aiming for a solution less than partition. Nevertheless Pakistan came and now that it was created, Jinnah was asked a straightforward question by Kiran Shankar Roy in the first session of the constituent assembly “Can you make clear your policy as to whether Pakistan will be a secular state?” Responding to this question Jinnah made his most famous and greatest speech on 11 August 1947. No one who reads this speech in entirety can dispute what Jinnah’s answer was.

Mandal continues: “I presumed that it would be set up in all essentials after the pattern contemplated in the Muslim League resolution adopted at Lahore on March 23, 1940... I was fortified in my faith in this resolution and the professions of the League Leadership by the statement Qaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah was pleased to make on the 11th August 1947 as the President of the Constituent Assembly giving solemn assurance of equal treatment for Hindus & Muslims alike and calling upon them to remember that they were all Pakistanis. Every one of these pledges is being flagrantly violated apparently to your knowledge and with your approval in complete disregard of the Qaid-e-Azam’s wishes and sentiments and to the detriment and humiliation of the minorities.”

This was in 1950. Mandal’s letter goes on to list the mass scale conversions and oppression against Hindus in East Pakistan. Remember this was before Pakistan became an Islamic Republic, before Pakistan began constitutionally discriminating against Non-Muslims. Mandal points out that unrepresentative Non-Muslims were being presented as representatives of minorities. His letter is scathing ending with “But I can no longer afford to carry this load of false pretensions and untruth on my conscience and I have decided to offer my resignation as your Minister, which I am hereby placing in your hands and which, I hope, you will accept without delay. You are of course at liberty to dispense with that office or dispose of it in such a manner as may suit adequately and effectively the objectives of your Islamic State.”

The first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, lived more than a year after this letter but I cannot find a single statement from him on record about this letter or the resignation of Pakistan’s first law minister. How different things might have been had Liaquat Ali Khan refused to accept Mandal’s resignation and instead worked to ameliorate the conditions of minorities in Pakistan.

67 years later the total population of Non-Muslims has dwindled to less than 5 percent. Our Muslim politicians and political parties are deathly afraid of even this small number. The present constitutional scheme originally envisaged 5 percent of the seats in the National Assembly as reserved seats for Non-Muslims to allow them to have a voice. Through the Legal Framework Order 2002 that number has now been capped at 10 seats i.e. 10 seats against 330 other seats in the house. Article 51 of the Constitution makes it clear that the Non-Muslim reserved seats are to be gifted to the mainstream political parties in proportion to their general seats. How does this give Non-Muslims any representation?

CJP, therefore, is on sure footing. He has 69 years of precedent supporting his position i.e. make a statement prima facie prejudicial to a minority community and then simply ignore calls for clarification. If Liaquat Ali Khan could do it to a person of the stature of Jogindranath Mandal at a time when such attitudes were frowned upon, why would the feelings of the tiny Hindu community matter in 2017’s hyper-Islamic Pakistan? CJP is perhaps is the Chief Justice of Muslims exclusively. Who cares about the white part of our flag? It is as rudimentary as an appendix is to the human body. Indeed why not remove the white part altogether and be done with it? What right does any Non-Muslim have in this country anyway? Better they migrate somewhere else.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/28-Aug-17/the-white-part-in-our-flag

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Violation of Women Rights in Pakistan

By Palwasha Khan

August 28, 2017

WOMEN are not created weak but more generous than men. They are created more beautiful and less fierce, as beauty hates to hurt and harm others. That is why they seem weak to people, but in reality, they are not. Angles are the strongest of created beings, and women are closer to the angelic nature than men, as they are readier than men to carry angelic light”. (Prophet Mohammed).

In Islam, men and women are morally considered equal in Allah’s sight and are expected to fulfil the same duties of worship, prayer, faith, alms giving, fasting and pilgrimage to Makkah. Islam generally improved the status of women compared to earlier Arab cultures, prohibiting female infanticide and recognizing women’s full person-hood. Islamic law emphasizes the contractual nature of marriage, requiring that a dowry should be paid to the woman rather than to her family, and guaranteeing women’s rights of inheritance and to her own manage property. Women were also granted the right to live in the matrimonial home and receive financial maintenance during marriage and a waiting period following death and divorce.

Women’s rights in Pakistan are a big question often raised in the West. It is believed that women have no rights or privileges in the male-dominated society of Pakistan. Pakistan is an Islamic state, where people not only take pride in strictly adhering to the Islamic values but also are ready to sacrifice their loved belongings for the glory and sanctity of Islam. Islam has accorded a highly venerated social position to women. Islam acknowledges the rights and privileges of the women in society. Likewise, Islam does not impose any restrictions that may hamper the social growth and development of the woman folk. A woman is equally important member of society. The woman plays a vital role in building the society on healthier and stronger foundations.

Although, the ‘‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948’’ promotes equal rights of all people including men and women. The preamble of UDHR states “the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human being and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom” The equal rights for men and women were promoted 62 years ago, but the movements for women’s rights have received more attention recently after the adoption of The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1979. The human rights movements have shifted towards embracing women’s issues 50 years after the UDHR. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) advocate for women and girls (children’s) rights and promote gender equality. However, still many developing countries (including Pakistan) seem struggling to achieve the targets of MDGs. Many feminists in Pakistan challenge the human rights law for failing to recognize oppressive practices against women as human rights violation.

Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries for a woman. The State does little to protect it vulnerable despite constitutional guarantee and laws guaranteeing free will to the women of Pakistan. They are denied their fundamental rights. Women in Pakistan have been constantly complaining of having being isolated from the mainstream of society. Women feel disillusioned on being maltreated by the male-oriented set-up in Pakistan. However, the Pakistani society usually adopts a hostile attitude towards the women. Women face substantial, systemic challenges in Pakistan. And most fundamental is the question of violence. The violence against women is a very alarming situation in the country because it is getting to a very threatening situation and the violence is getting brutal day by day. The honour and dignity of female is endangered and no women are safe.

One of the key problems is that there is a very fragmented legal framework for violence against women. Moreover, there are no proper mechanisms on the ground for proper enforcement. Despite several legislative developments to strengthen the women protection system, no significant decline was seen in the number of cases of violence against women. Many laws were introduced but never forced in the country. In 1996, Pakistan internationally ratified Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The law requires the government to take strict measures against any abuse that hinders women rights for freedom, equality and justice. The law is good in its part for binding the country in protecting rights of the women. Government presented another bill on women rights Prevention of anti-Women Practices Bill 2006 (Criminal Law Amendment) in December 2006 and 2016. The bill contains the proposal of nine-member Ulema panel to relieve women from some malpractices. Under Section 310A, the bill prohibits handover of women for settling a dispute between groups or either under marriage.

Given these facts, women in Pakistan do not possess their due rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The State is unable to protect the women from inhuman social customs prevalent in our society. The general population is mum over wicked practices being carried out on women; there is a great need of their voice against anti-women practices rather than forming laws after laws. There is need to wake people of Pakistan for the protection of women rights.

Source: pakobserver.net/violation-women-rights-pakistan/

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Bring Afghan Taliban on the Negotiation Table

By Babar Ayaz

8-Aug-17

President Trump brashly shifted the blame for American failures in Afghanistan on Pakistan. Even if he is right to some extent, the United States should not forget that it itself helped to train, arm, equip and fund those militants to fight a Jihad in Afghanistan — when it suited them in the ‘80s. So if most of the Islamic terrorists groups coalesce in Afghanistan and Pakistan today, it is also the fault of Reagan era US policies. The present insurgency by the Afghan Taliban is the continuation of the Jihadism inculcated by the establishments of both countries some decades ago.

The much-awaited Afghanistan policy of the United States, which was announced on Tuesday by President Trump, was tough on Pakistan. That was not unexpected: keeping in view the fact that the US has neither been able to win in Afghanistan, nor has it restored peace with the help of the existing government, and therefore required a scapegoat.

For the last 16 years, the US has tried everything and spent almost US$800 billion to suppress the Taliban insurgency, but to no avail. For the failing to crush the insurgency, despite creating and funding a large (but ill-disciplined and untrained) Afghan army, Pakistan cannot and should not be held solely responsible.

President Trump was right when he said that announcing a date for the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan would be counter-productive. It would give the Taliban a hope that the US can be beaten out of Afghanistan, and they (Taliban) would increase attacks to hasten the US withdrawal. Understandably, both sides — the US and the Taliban — would like to come to the negotiating table from a position of power. So to assume that the militants would cease fire for important peace talks for Afghanistan is a grave miscalculation on the part of Pentagon strategists.

Pakistan has to take two features of President Trump’s policy seriously: One, when he says “We will also expand authority for American armed forces to target the terrorists and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan... these killers need to know that they have nowhere to hide; that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms. Retribution will be fast and powerful.” And two: when he says “I have already lifted restrictions the previous administration placed on our war fighters that prevented the Secretary of Defence and our commanders in the field from fully and swiftly waging battle against the enemy... micromanagement from Washington DC does not win the war.”

These features of the policy are dangerous because this may give haughty US field commanders license to attack the Afghan Taliban bases — alleged or otherwise — by conducting ‘hot pursuit’ or cross-border attacks inside Pakistan.

There is no doubt that Pakistan’s armed forces are fighting a heroic war against terrorists who challenge the writ of the government — and they are winning. But by giving importance to India in the same policy speech on Afghanistan, President Trump has given no credence to Pakistan’s sovereign concerns that India is encircling Pakistan by entrenching itself in Afghanistan. This fear drives the Pakistani establishment to consider the Afghan Taliban as their insurance policy. Supporting the Afghan Taliban also counters Indian influence on the Afghanistan government and intelligence apparatus.

Frustrated Pakistanis are asking why the US continuously mistreats Pakistan, who has been in the forefront in the fight against terrorism since it began. Pakistan has lost 7,000 soldiers and over 60,000 civilians in terrorist attacks — ten times as many as US casualties. And the damage to the economy goes into the hundreds of billions of US dollars. Pakistan does not want financial assistance: Pakistan wants the world to acknowledge its sacrifices in the war on terror, which surpass every other nation.

To bring peace to South Asia, the multinational asymmetrical war must end. We don’t need the US administration to bully us into stopping aid to the Afghan Taliban; but it is in the interest of the people of Pakistan that this seemingly duplicitous policy should be appropriately dealt with

And even if the world doesn’t, Pakistan needs to rebuild its economy to survive. The government in Pakistan believes that they can checkmate US pressure with China’s economic and political support: the quick response by the Chinese administration in favour of Pakistan obliquely indicates that Pakistan has outsourced its geostrategic interests to China. Today, China is more important to Pakistan than the US: a guarantor of Pakistan’s integrity who is already engaging threats from India in its own Doklam/Donglang region.

President Trump also reminded Pakistan that the US gave in billions of dollars to Pakistan: the facts are that the US itself initiated financial and military assistance, and from 2002 to 2012, it pumped in around $23.6 billion into Pakistan. Out of this, $15.82 billion was military assistance and $7.77 billion categorised as economic assistance. Pakistani finance ministry sources say that $8.8 billion was not mutual assistance as it came for the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), so that should be deducted from $23.6 billion grand total. This leaves the real assistance to $14.8 billion; and according to US Congressional Reports, all of this money has not been disbursed to Pakistan. But even if the figures are accepted, it means that Pakistan has received over $43 billion from the US since 1948, out of which more than $23 billion was allocated in the last 10 years — when the US foolishly unleashed a war in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s military chief has made it clear that Pakistan should be trusted by the US and Afghanistan in that it is not providing financial or strategic support to the Afghan Taliban. These are not words: these facts are evident from the deeds of the Pakistan army when it comes to fighting with home-grown Jihadi groups. And while the world appreciates our counter-terror activities against local Jihadis, they don’t talk about the terrorists who are a clear and constant threat to Pakistan. So when we talk about sacrifices of fighting against terrorism, the US and world leaders are talking about different sets of terrorists.

Pakistan should take an initiative to reconstitute the Quadrilateral Coordination Group’s peace dialogue on Afghanistan, which included China and the US. The last session of the QCG dialogue was stalled — and some say deliberately sabotaged — when news about Mullah Omar’s death in a Pakistani hospital was leaked by the Afghan sources. It is high time that to bring peace, this asymmetrical war is brought to an end. We don’t need the US administration to bully us to stop aiding the Afghan Taliban. It is in the interest of the people of Pakistan that this duplicitous policy should be dealt with.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/28-Aug-17/bring-afghan-taliban-on-the-negotiation-table

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Former PM’s Disqualification: A Bane or a Boon?

By Inamullah Marwat

28-Aug-17

Former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification in the wake of Panama leaks has created ripples in political milieu of Pakistan and has brought Pakistan on the verge of political conflict between different stakeholders, be they political or non-political actors, as they are all are trying to extend their jurisdiction more assertively in order to occupy greater space in a political system that is in transformation post-Panama Papers-instigated Prime Minister’s disqualification. Conflict, on the face value, might be considered a bane for any political system but, in the light of historical developments and theory of social change, conflict is a boon for any political system. This is not what I assert; rather, it is the crux of an article published by Lewis A. Coser in “The British Journal of Sociology” titled “Social Conflict and the Theory of Social Change”.

Post-Panama ensuing political conflict - which engulfed the former prime minister and has allowed all the stakeholders to flex their muscles on the political chessboard - that is in transformative phase has, I think, turned out be a boon for Pakistan; it helps us subscribe to postulates of Lewis vis-à-vis the role of conflict within any society. Following are the sound reasons which help us to look at ensuing political conflict in the wake of post-Panama PM’s disqualification with half-glass full approach, and with the hope that the looming political conflict has seeds of innovation and creativity which will make political system in Pakistan more resilient and more sensitive to public concerns.

The foremost upside of the political conflict instigated by the Panama leaks was that it not only brought one of the perennial issues that had been gnawing at its development for decades - which is corruption - into the spotlight, but also resulted in the ouster of a prime minister who was on his way to completing his third stint in order to make his way to the fourth one. The other positive aspect of this political conflict is that top judiciary’s verdict was inspirational; it was obeyed in letter and spirit, and had popular backing. Very few times has this happened in Pakistan’s history that the judiciary could assertively act in its jurisdiction without interference? A strong and neutral judiciary is good omen for a stable, democratic political system in Pakistan.

Moreover, the media, though, at times, seemed playing to the gallery of their vested interests stewarded by particular political parties in the unfolding of this conflict; yet the media’s 24/7 coverage of the issues brought everything into public’s own homes and informed the masses about every latest development, thus making them completely aware about the political system of which they were a part. This is what happens in any ideal political system in which the public is not an object, but rather, it is a subject. Dissemination of information on the part of plethora of media channels did not let politicians play with the masses over the issue (even when they tried!) and, thus, the former prime minister - even though he had a thumping majority in parliament - could not save himself for which the credit goes to the media which helped build an informed public opinion about the issue. Rarely has this happened in Pakistan!

Most importantly, the check that the media kept over the unfolding of the issue helped not only in ouster of the former prime minister through legitimate means (unlike the past in which a prime minister would get deposed through collusion of political parties with the establishment or through a military coup), but has also given birth to precedent in the making: in the sense that the former prime minister has, instead of hijacking the system for vested political interests through popular protests, decided to make his way back into the system through legitimate way by appealing against the verdict of the court in the same court.

Conflict, on the face value, might be considered a bane for any political system but, in the light of historical developments and theory of social change, conflict is a boon for any political system

Whether that conflict will morph into a more violent form and more radical cleavages, or will it translate itself into more innovative and creative way, according to Lewis, depends upon rigidity of the political system. A rigid political system, that does not allow expression of grievances in any conflict, gives birth to violent conflict. In the case of elastic political system, the conflict brings about positive changes.

So far, the ensuing political conflict in the wake of former prime minister’s disqualification has, through creating ripples in the status quo, brought much needed changes which have been illustrated in the above passages in detail, but, in the coping with vicissitudes of the political conflict that are still to come, there is a dire need that those who are at the helm, through political acumen, show due consideration for law and do not cap the organic growth of political conflict through any approach dictated by vested interests so that the ensuing changes that the political system has been getting in its wake keep coming and let the political system grow in innovative ways.

The reason for why I advocate the dire need for not tampering with current political conflict on the part of those, who are at the helm, for vested interests is informed by two quotes. One is by Lewis who posits that “A well-integrated society will tolerate and even welcome group conflict; only a weakly integrated must fear it.” The English liberal Jhon Morley also said it very well. “If [the men who are most attached to the reigning order of things] had a larger faith in the stability for which they profess so great an anxiety, they would be more free alike in understanding and temper to deal generously, honestly and effectively with those whom they count imprudent innovators.”

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/28-Aug-17/former-pms-disqualification-a-bane-or-a-boon

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Enumerating Pakistan

By Umair Javed

August 28, 2017

ON Friday, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics shared a provisional results summary of the country’s sixth population census. The headline result is that in 2017, this country (excluding Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan) hosts 207.77 million people, up from 132.3m in 1998. Between 1998 and 2017, the population grew at an average annual growth rate of 2.4 per cent, which is only 0.29pc lower than the same figure between Census 4 (1981) and Census 5 (1998). In short, our efforts to reduce population growth have been largely ineffective.

Nothing captures this failure better than a simple comparison. In 1971, erstwhile East Pakistan had a population greater than its western wing. Today, Bangladesh’s population is a full 30 million less than Pakistan’s.

While we wait for district-level results to gain a better idea of how demographic dynamics have changed these past 19 years, the numbers we currently have raise a few points worth commenting on.

Firstly, the sheer size of the population, and its purported age structure — with up to 60pc under 30 years old — has strong implications for our development prospects. Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, but with only the 40th biggest economy. While some progress has been made in eradicating absolute poverty over the last two decades, ensuring a better standard of living through stable, mobility-generating jobs for young people remains largely elusive.

The sheer size of the population and its purported age structure has strong implications for our development prospects.

This has been known to policymakers and the state elite for a while now, but having hard census data lays out the scale of the task ahead. It is not hyperbolic to suggest that the stability of the country, from a security and conflict perspective, is tied to how well this burgeoning mass of young people is incorporated into a beneficial state-society compact.

Secondly, the urbanisation rate appears to have tapered off compared to the previous intercensal (1981-1998) period. Population growth rate in towns and cities between 1981 and 1998 was 3.53pc on average per annum. Since 1998, it’s fallen to 2.7pc, while the rural population growth rate has remained roughly the same these past 36 years. The slowdown of urban population growth could be because of several factors: the natural rate of growth ie more births tends to fall at higher levels of economic growth and urbanisation. Smaller households gradually become the norm in urban areas in Pakistan as families fragment, living costs go up, and childcare responsibility gets fixed on one member instead of the extended family, thus disincentivising more children. Therefore the bulk of the increase registered in urban areas is on the basis of domestic rural-to-urban migration.

Another, far likelier reason, however, is the very definition of urbanisation in Pakistan. After the 1998 census results were published in full, researcher Reza Ali analysed that the egregiously flawed definition used to differentiate rural from urban underestimated urbanisation in Pakistan by a full 10pc. That would mean that the urban proportion of the total population in 1998 was not 32pc as officially designated, but actually 42pc. By the same token, the actual proportion in 2017 would be far higher than the 36.71pc declared by Friday’s results.

The provincial breakdown of urban and rural raises similar definitional questions. Sindh’s rural population growth rate over the last 19 years has been quite high (2.36pc), despite all other accounts pointing to a greater growth of the province’s population in urban centres. Islamabad’s urban share has actually fallen because much of the suburban development of the past two decades has been counted as rural, rather than urban. It is mystifying how residents of DHA and Bahria Town Islamabad can be counted as rural compared to the ‘urbanites’ of F-6 or G-10.

These are not just stand-alone statistical concerns, but in fact carry real political implications. Underreporting urbanisation through definitional interventions could be of benefit to particular political actors since it impacts how constituencies are redrawn and apportioned within each province. In particular, Karachi’s size and its demographic weight in the province overall may prove to be an early source of contention once district-wise data is released.

Lastly, and perhaps of direct significance, is that a fall in Punjab’s rural growth rate to a fairly low 1.8pc means that while the province is still a populous behemoth, its overall share in the country’s population has fallen by 3pc to 52.6pc. This fall has been picked up by KP and Balochistan, both of which have seen their shares rise.

Of immediate concern is the implication of this fall on the federal government’s divisible revenue pool and the next NFC award. Based on 2016/17 revenue collection, the percentage drop in population translates roughly into a Rs70 billion loss of transferable revenue for the province. How the province deals with this expected drop in proportion will be of great relevance to the health of Pakistani federalism. Possible damaging outcomes include further delays in setting up a new award or a revision in the formula that reduces the weight of inverse population density and poverty/backwardness to keep the province’s share closer to its current position.

The political impact of the census will be far-reaching and will become clear over the next year. Things to watch out for over this period will include the NFC, the redrawing and urban-rural apportionment of constituencies within provinces, and perhaps even question marks over the fairness of the exercise itself. From a policy and research perspective, however, there is relief at the availability of fresh data after decades-long reliance on loose estimates. For this, one can only thank the Supreme Court of Pakistan for deploying its discretionary powers, which finally ensured that the government fulfilled its constitutional obligation.

Source: dawn.com/news/1354458/enumerating-pakistan

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Donald Trump's Desperate Surge

By Lal Khan

28-Aug-17

President Donald Trump has ruled out withdrawal from Afghanistan. He initially resisted his advisers and was adamant on taking out US troops. Trump’s Chief Political Strategist Steve Bannon was fostering a scheme devised by Erik Prince, the owner of the notorious security contractors firm Blackwater, to replace US troops in Afghanistan with 5,000 highly paid mercenaries. However, on August 18, Trump conceded to his national security team’s plan for a surge of US troops to Afghanistan. Under a crisis-ridden system, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Bannon had to resign from his post. Vice-president Mike Pence told Congress that 3,900 extra soldiers would be sent to bolster the 8,400 there already.

Trump also warned Pakistan:”We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations... Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbour terrorists... we have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting.”

Trump removed the garb of diplomatic hypocrisy most US presidents veiled in the past.” He didn’t even spare the Afghan regime.”Our support is not a blank cheque... our patience is not unlimited. We will keep our eyes wide open.”

Just hours before Trump´s remarks, there was a stark reminder of the Taliban´s reach when a missile hit Kabul´s heavily fortified diplomatic zone. A specially appointed congressional committee on Afghanistan has reported that the proportion of the country under government control had fallen during the 12 months from 72 percent to 57 percent, and 6,785 Afghan troops were killed with another 11,777 wounded. The Afghan National Security Forces have 370,000 troops and police. Between 2015 and 2016, 19 Americans were killed in action.

After the imperialist aggression in 2001, there has been a harrowing devastation of the already traumatised Afghanistan masses. The US puppet regime cannot expand its writ much beyond Kabul and the Taliban keep attacking but cannot return to power. Al-Qaeda still lurks in the shadows. The Islamic State is gaining ground in some regions. All kinds of power brokers jockey for their share of the lucrative opium trade that continues to reach record levels, in this stalemate. The imperialists have been looking for an exit strategy for at least a decade.

A specially appointed congressional committee on Afghanistan has reported that the proportion of the country under government control had fallen during the 12 months from 72 percent to 57 percent, and 6,785 Afghan troops were killed with another 11,777 wounded

PJ Crowley, a former US Assistant Secretary of State, commented on Trump’s speech and said, “The Afghan war is not going to end any time soon, certainly not in his first term. He needs to tell the American people that US and NATO forces will still be in Afghanistan in 2021. Both Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s leader at the time of the 11 September 2001 attacks, and Bin Laden died (the al-Qaeda leader killed by the US) on Pakistani soil. That is not a coincidence. There is no prospect of success in Afghanistan without dealing with Pakistan’s duplicity.”

Donald Trump could only muster a hollow warning against Pakistan. In the past, withholding US aid has had little effect on the country’s deep state. American administrations have been accusing Pakistan for years of ‘running with the hare and hunting with the hounds’. US imperialism’s criminal launching of CIA’s largest covert operation in connivance with the Saudi and Pakistan’s spy agencies to destroy the 1978 Saur revolution in Afghanistan comes back to haunt them. Their Frankenstein monsters created in the name of Islam are striking back with a vengeance.

Pakistan’s spooks are not only aware of this intrinsic weakness of the US but are conscious of their relevance in this conflict’s resolution, if any. They are not going to heed Trump’s shallow warnings with their embrace of Chinese patronage. Nor will they give up their policy of ‘strategic depth’ particularly when everybody else is preying in the territory that is perceived by them as Pakistan’s domain. The largest investor in Afghanistan with stakes in oil, gas, copper and other projects is China. Hence it is a principal participant in the conflict, but has avoided getting directly involved in Afghanistan’s internecine war. However, China’s swift rebuttal against Trump’s remarks on Pakistan shows the former will try its best to fight any threat to its One Belt One Road project in the region with a massive investment of 900 billion dollars. But troubles of the western imperialists are intensifying. The Economist wrote, “Perhaps most worryingly, Iran and Russia, always on the lookout for opportunities to undermine Western interests, are now working together to fund, arm and shelter the Taliban.”

Indian bourgeois has its hegemonic designs on Afghanistan. Saudi monarchy and other Gulf and Arab states nurture their proxies. One wonders how many great games the tormented people of Afghanistan can endure. All these stakeholders operate with their proxies comprising of the so-called non-state actors that are bestial terrorist mafias ravaging the region.

To achieve peace and prosperity, youth and toilers shall have to rise and take their destinies in their own hands. The victimised classes will indubitably rebel and enter the arena of mass revolt. Only through a revolutionary victory can peace and emancipation be guaranteed.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/28-Aug-17/donald-trumps-desperate-surge

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Rationalisation of Afghan Policy

By Dr Muhammad Khan

August 28, 2017

Once President Donald Trump was outlining new US Policy for South Asia (Afghan Policy) in his address at Fort Myer military base in Arlington, he was very blunt and irrational in making accusations against Pakistan. In his address, he said that, Pakistan provides, “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror” and that, his new Afghan strategy will “change the approach in how to deal with Pakistan”. While making these charges, President Trump did not make a mention of safe havens, formally established by US backed Kabul regime in its bordering areas along Pak-Afghan border. These safe havens house thousands of terrorists, which include; TTP, terrorists of Afghan origin and now the IS elements. They have posed huge threats for the state and society of Pakistan as witnessed in the form of attacks, ever since 2014.

Had Trump been a rational personality, he should have at least made a mention of these elements with their perpetrators, objectives and particularly usage. A one sided approach of allegations against Pakistan has exposed the US prejudices towards Pakistan. If there are only accusations against Pakistan, the presence of terrorist’s hideouts on Afghan soil is a reality. These terrorists carryout terrorism in Pakistan with help of their abettors in Afghanistan. These abettors include; the Afghan spying network (NDS) and Indian intelligence agency (RAW) and they are fully supported by the spying network of occupation forces. It could have been a balanced approach had President Trump highlighted causes of instability in Pakistan along with the forces of this instability. The one sided picture has prematurely exposed the US biases against Pakistan.

The elements targeting US forces in Afghanistan (Taliban or Haqqanis), as indicated by Trump, are Afghans and reside inside Afghanistan. It is worth mentioning that, over 50% areas of that country is still under the influence of Taliban, who consider US as an illegal occupant of their homeland. Therefore, Trump’s warning that, ‘partnership with Pakistan could survive its “harbouring of militants and terrorists who target US service members and officials” is virtually incorrect and based on misperceptions, since he is not a statesman. Besides, Pakistan also feels that, it has gone extra mile in fulfilling its commitments of combating the terrorism and lost over 70,000 people in the process. Therefore, the Trump’s counselling like; “it is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order and to peace” is against the diplomatic norms, once assessed from the point of view of international relations. This threatening sentence is a direct threat to the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan.

Pakistan cannot be accused of failed US strategies in Afghanistan. Despite Pakistani advices to US for resolving the Afghan problem through negotiations and peaceful means, US opted to use hard military power for one and half decade now. In the process, Afghan problem got further complicated and now US is scapegoating Pakistan for its failed strategies and ill-conceived policies in Afghanistan in particular and South Asia in general. Throughout his election campaign and thereafter till-date, Trump has been trumpeting for a disengagement from Afghanistan. And now, what forced the reversal of his original plan and policies. Perhaps, he could not sustain the pressure of powerful US establishment; the Pentagon, CIA and hawkish congressmen and senators. This mantra of doing more and accusation against Pakistan is an old rhetoric, coined by US establishment, to hide its failures and policy flaws or else to further the strategic objectives of United States.

No country in the region would be benefitted more than Pakistan, if there returns; peace, stability and economic prosperity in Afghanistan. It is considered view of the political leadership, the military establishment and people of Pakistan that, peace in Afghanistan is a pre-requisite for peace in Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan cannot promote instability in Afghanistan by sheltering the militants on its soil. Nevertheless, Afghan Taliban is a reality which still control and influence a sizeable portion of that country. The best way to tackle the Afghan Taliban is to bring them on a negotiating table, the way Pakistan persuaded them to Murree round of talks in July 2015. US should be well aware of those, sabotaged the dialogue and why.

US has not given billions of billions of dollars to Pakistan in charity. Rather, U.S and NATO has used the Pakistan infrastructure for decades without paying the due amount. U.S has not given Pakistan, what it has promised in term of; Coalition Support Funds, the weapons and equipment needed to fight against terrorism. Above all, US military engagement in this region has retarded the economic opportunities, particularly the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan.

Pakistan can no more take dictation from US and West. Compare to threatening language of President Trump, Pakistani Army Chief, General Bajwa has politely told US Ambassador, David Hale, that, “We are not looking for any material or financial assistance from the US, but trust, understanding and [an] acknowledgement of our contributions.” Indeed, a limited amount (the peanuts), Pakistan received from US during last sixteen years neither raised its economic status nor gave it an edge on military sphere. Gone are the days when Pakistan used to bank on US military hardware. It has grown its own military complex(s), sufficient in number and superior in qualitative to support any military operation for the defence of its motherland.

Let there be a rational thinking at Whitehouse and among the powerful US establishment about Pakistan and its strategic partnership. US need to take care of impoverish Afghan masses through a rational and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan, rather promoting its strategic interests and those of Indians by making use of its handpicked Kabul guards. US military might cannot engulf Pakistan, since it is a nuclear state, supported by China and Russia at strategic level.

Source: pakobserver.net/rationalisation-afghan-policy/

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Response to Trump’s Afghan Strategy

By Mirza Aslam Beg

August 28, 2017

Pakistan needs to develop a well-thought-out, cool and calculated response to “Trumps Strategy” on Afghanistan, which is a vague plan, and cannot be called a strategy, but the fact is that, Trump is on the back foot and on the wrong side of history. He doesn’t have to be pushed to fall, because he would fall in any case, under the weight of his lop-sided decisions:

*        “Doubling down on an unsuccessful war is not an act of strength or persistence. It is a sign of insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect different result.”

*        “To make Afghanistan safer and more secure, this strategy ranges from bad to worse. It is a mess because it has no diplomatic component.”

*        “Trump is now so enfeebled that Generals and Admirals are not just emboldened to ignore his orders with contempt, rather are dictating foreign policy, directly undermining his own support base.”

Pakistan therefore has to take some deliberate steps to challenge the consequences of ‘Trump’s anti-Pakistan Afghanistan strategy. Step One: Evolve a realistic Afghan Policy, because we have been acting as a rentier state following American dictates from General Ayub to Nawaz Sharif. During the 1950s, Pakistan joined the Cold War against the Soviets. In 1990 when the Soviets retreated from Afghanistan, America denied power sharing to the Mujahideen, and induced civil war. Both Benazir and Nawaz Sharif, treated Afghanistan as the back burner issue and purged ISI, to cut-off contacts with the Afghan freedom fighters, thus leaving space for India to establish its roots there. Musharraf took the worst decision of the time to join American war on Afghanistan, pushing Taliban towards Iran, Russia and China. Thus, for us there is no love lost in Afghanistan and there is a trust deficit, which must be corrected on priority.

Step Two: Trump’s ‘sign of insanity’ and the jingoism of his generals, such as Mad Dog Mattis, present a very serious unpredictable threat to Pakistan. Pakistan has been warned of dire consequences if it fails to meet the demands of eliminating terror from its soil. The punitive actions could be in the form of drone attacks, air strikes or the use of Dirty Bomb on suspected terror hide-outs inside Pakistan. Our armed forces have to be fully prepared not only to defeat such aggression, but also to respond with punishing blows at targets inside Afghanistan.

Step Three: The situation demands robust political and diplomatic initiatives to reach understanding with Iran and Russia for developing meaningful contact with the Taliban, who are the real arbiters of peace and have resolved “to make Afghanistan the graveyard of American forces.” They are prepared to talk only on one condition that, “the occupation forces, one and all, must leave Afghanistan to create space for peace talks.” There is no other way to peace, which Pakistan could follow. Pakistan, Iran, Russia and China, together could play the pivotal role in this regard.

Step Four: The Americans have been trying to build-up India as their proxy in the South Asian region, as the dominating force from Afghanistan to Bangladesh. For this purpose USA allowed India to establish a large spy network in Afghanistan, mainly focusing on Pakistan and in 2005, entered into Strategic Partnership with India, with declared objective to contain and curb rising Muslim extremism and the increasing Chinese economic and military influence in the region. And now it has entered into Strategic Defense Partnership, to provide India with high tech weapon and equipment, for maintaining India’s military domination in the region. This is a serious emerging security threat to which our armed forces are cognizant of, and are prepared to accelerate efforts to maintain balance, with full support from the government, and friends like China.

Step Five: Trump’s Strategy for Afghanistan is purported to create conditions for turning Afghanistan into Daeshtan, that would destabilise all the countries in the region including Central Asia, Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran. It is estimated that by holding-on to Afghanistan till end 2018, America would succeed in its sinister design. Literally speaking “there is no insanity in Trump’s design, in not leaving Afghanistan. His troops are staging in Afghanistan to achieve “the purpose” of destabilising the target countries, with means other than fighting a full fledged war, which is a clear example of a hybrid war strategy. What answer do we have to this madness?

The complex situation developing in Afghanistan demands that Pakistan must develop a meaningful system of study and evaluation of threat to national security and evolve strategies to meet the challenges. The adhocism, personalised decision making and relying on the so called NSC, which is more of a crisis management team, is taking us nowhere. The new team at the helm of affairs is the hope. They are engaged in deliberate consultations to evolve appropriate response to the impending threat. From “Friends Not Masters” to “Trust – Not Aid,” a period of six decades, should be good enough now for us to take the right decision. This is a good sign of reasoned exercise of sovereignty, by Parliament from decades of a petty rentier state of the United States of America. Thank you Mr. Donald Trump for providing that opportunity.

China and Russia now ‘are with us.’ Iran has rejected Trumps policy of “pressuring the regional countries” on the issue of war in Afghanistan. Now, we must reach-out to Iran, to complete the “Eastern Front,” to provide the much needed Strategic Depth of Security, against foreign ingress and intrigues.

Source: pakobserver.net/response-trumps-afghan-strategy/

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Reflections on US Racism

By Paul Street

August 28, 2017

The United States, where median Black household wealth is less than 7 cents on the white household dollar and where the mild slogan ‘Black lives matter’ is considered controversial, is still very much a racist nation. Grasping the nature of this national racism in 21st century means looking at the different levels on which race operates here. One level is at the nation’s discursive and symbolic surface. It is about language, imagery, signs, the color of elite personnel, representation, and, well, symbols.

A different and deeper level is institutional and structural. It’s about how labor markets, the financial sector, the real estate industry, the educational system, the criminal justice complex, the military state, the corporate system, the dominant media, and capitalism more broadly all work to deepen, maintain, and/or reduce racial oppression and inequality.

At the surface and symbolic level, racism has experienced significant defeats in the United States since the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in the middle and late 1950s. Open public bigotry has been largely defeated in the nation’s corporate-crafted public culture. Prejudiced whites face public humiliation when they voice openly racist sentiments in a nation that took ‘Whites Only’ signs down half a century ago. Favorably presented Black faces are visible in high and highly public places across the national media and political landscape. The United States, the land of slavery, put a Black family in the White House in November of 2008.

Even in the South, a racially mixed Black couple now does not generally have to fear white violence and insults as they walk down a city street. The formerly all-white University of Kentucky basketball team now routinely competes for the NCAA championship with nearly all-Black teams before tens of thousands of screaming white fans and white cheerleaders.         Black players dominate on the perennial college football champion in the heart of Dixie – the Alabama Crimson Tide.          Nightly television news teams are racially mixed across metropolitan America. Images of smart and handsome Black people are standard in commercial advertising, public relations, and human resources programs.

At the deeper institutional and societal level, however, racism is alive and well beneath the public and representational surface. It persists in the more impersonal and the more invisible operation of social and institutional forces and processes in ways that ‘just happen’ to reproduce Black disadvantage.

This deeper racism is so ingrained in the social, political, and institutional sinews of capitalist America that it is taken for granted – barely noticed by the mainstream media and other social commentators. It includes widely documented racial bias in real estate sales and rental and home lending; the funding of schools largely on the basis of local property wealth; the excessive use of high-stakes standardized test-based neo-Dickensian “drill” and grill curriculum and related zero-tolerance disciplinary practices in predominantly black public schools; the concentration of black children into over-crowded and hyper-segregated, pre-incarceratory ghetto schools where a highly disproportionate share of the kids are deeply poor; rampant and widely documented racial discrimination in hiring and promotion; the racist ‘War on Drugs’ and the related campaign of racially hyper-disparate mass black arrest, incarceration and criminal marking.

The technically colour-blind stigma of a prison history and felony record is ‘the New N word’ for millions of Black Americans subject to numerous ‘new Jim Crow’ barriers to employment, housing, educational and other opportunities.

Souce: .thenews.com.pk/print/226455-Reflections-on-US-racism

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Missing Persons Nightmare

By Faisal Siddiqi

August 28, 2017

WHY does the practice of enforced disappearances, generally referred to as ‘missing persons’, continue to persist in Pakistan, eg the recent disappearances in Sindh? Is it because there are doubts about the unconstitutionality of such practice? Is it because there are doubts about which mysterious or hidden forces engage in it? Is it because the practice is an essential tool for preserving national security? Is it because it is an extremely difficult problem to solve and there are no implementable solutions?

Unjustified doubts: The various doubts created regarding the phenomenon of missing persons are not grounded in legality, reality, institutional requirements or practical solutions.

Firstly, there is absolutely no constitutional or legal doubt about the complete unconstitutionality of the practice of enforced disappearances. The fundamental right enshrined in Article 9 of the Constitution guarantees that no person can be deprived of his liberty or freedom without due process of law. Article 10 further guarantees that every person who is detained shall be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of such detention, and also provides an elaborate procedure for detention without trial of persons acting in a manner prejudicial to Pakistan’s security. In the presence of such constitutional protection, any state organ engaging in the practice of enforced disappearance is, quite simply, guilty of kidnapping and abduction.

Secondly, there is not some but overwhelming evidence of the involvement of state officials, including intelligence agencies, in cases of enforced disappearance as the findings of the following show: government commissions of inquiry on enforced disappearances, the Supreme Court judgement in the Muhabat Shah case (2013) which declared such enforced disappearances as “crimes against humanity”, the detailed documentation of enforced disappearances in Balochistan by the Supreme Court in Constitution Petition No.77 of 2010 and even an official ISI statement attached as Appendix I to the book The ISI of Pakistan by Hein G. Kiessling, recognising this practice and detailing efforts made to solve it. Thus, there are no hidden or mysterious forces involved in this practice of enforced disappearances.

How can the anti-militancy fight to establish constitutional supremacy coexist with the denial of rights?

Thirdly, the practice of enforced disappearances is not a strategic requirement for intelligence agencies to protect national security but merely a tactical tool adopted in the post-2003 and post-2004 period because enforced disappearances on a large scale only began during the Musharraf dictatorship. It was an accidental product of the intelligence agencies collaborating with the American imperial power in the ‘war on terror’. Before 2003, national security was protected by the intelligence agencies even without this tactical tool.

Fourthly, between 2009 and 2013, the practice of enforced disappearances was radically curtailed by aggressive judicial interventions especially by the Supreme Court and efforts by the Pakistani state to try and solve this problem. This grand opportunity slipped away at the end of 2013. Thus, the solutions are known and can be practically implemented.

Reasons for persistence: Firstly, although the practice of large-scale enforced disappearances was a tactical tool adopted by the intelligence agencies and other state officials in the post-2003 period, it now also serves the purpose of maintaining the immunity and the public’s fear of the intelligence agencies. More than even extra-judicial killings, the fear that anyone can go missing at anytime has terrorising psychological and physical implications. It symbolises the unconstitutional immunity of the state and the fear that it generates ie it is a terrorising instrument of control.

Secondly, the intelligence agencies believe that the new kind of militancy persisting in Pakistan cannot be controlled without detention laws, which are both flexible and allow for long-term detention without trial. By not using the detention procedure under Article 10, they have shown their mind about the impracticality of such procedure. No doubt, flexible long-term detention laws are potentially dangerous but they might be a hard necessity in order to eliminate the unconstitutional evil of enforced disappearances.

Thirdly, in a revealing statement, the ISPR stated that the “COAS directed that efforts must continue, in concert with other elements of national power to defeat terrorism/militancy in order to establish rule of law and uphold supremacy of Constitution”. But how can the fight to defeat militancy to establish constitutional supremacy coexist with the denial of the fundamental constitutional right to liberty? This captures the culture of selective constitutionality still prevalent in the armed forces and the public discourse especially in the media. Sadly, the unconstitutional evil of denying people their liberty is never given the same urgency, attention and implementation as the unconstitutional evil of political corruption.

Fourthly, even during 2009-2013, when aggressive judicial intervention against enforced disappearances was at its height, there was not a single successful prosecution of any intelligence official involved in the practice. This shows that the courts have gone to great lengths to show judicial restraint and after 2013, this restraint has been converted into judicial quietism in such matters. It is interesting to compare such judicial restraint with the recent decision of the Supreme Court to disqualify prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the basis of a very literal reading of the law. Thus, this prevalent judicial quietism on enforced disappearances reinforces the culture of impunity that allows intelligence agencies to continue with such practices.

Confronting unconstitutional evil: Such a confrontation has to be three-pronged. This would involve: firstly, reviving active judicial intervention against enforced disappearances without showing judicial restraint against officials committing such acts. If a JIT can investigate the prime minister then surely officials engaging in such practices should also be prosecuted with the same rigour. Secondly, legislative action is needed to enact a comprehensive law against enforced disappearances including provisions to prosecute intelligence officials, and also enact new flexible detention laws. Thirdly, there’s an urgent need for debate within the army leadership on whether their valiant efforts against religiously inspired militancy and the MQM’s militancy and their desire to bring order to Balochistan are being sabotaged by the toxic tactical tool called ‘enforced disappearances’.

Will the missing persons phenomenon end? Only if the silent majority and the judiciary break their quietism on this issue making the ruling elites realise the strategic folly in employing this tool.

Source: dawn.com/news/1354459/missing-persons-nightmare

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CPEC and the Chinese Interests in Pakistan

By Abdur Rehman Cheema and Muhammad Haris

28-Aug-17

Though an industrial giant, Chinese interest in Pakistan’s varied hinterland and agricultural produce draws on her need to feed a population of 1.37 billion. The USA with population of 321 million, has six times more arable land than China. In 2012, China surpassed USA to become world’s largest importer of agricultural products. Despite achieving high per acre yield, only 15 percent of China’s land area can be cultivated. China’s limited space for farming has been a problem throughout its history, leading to chronic food shortage and famine. While the production efficiency of farmland has grown over time due to modern agricultural technologies and genetically engineered crops, it is still insufficient to meet the demands of burgeoning Chinese population.

China’s aspirations of fulfilling its food needs utilising Pakistani land should prompt Pakistani authorities to do their homework, so they can also benefit from this opportunity. Some of the basic steps include registration and preservation of top Pakistani produce varieties of cereals and fruits such as rice, mangoes and dates at international forums

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) unveiled in 2013,is frequently referred to in Pakistan as a potential economic game changer. Now expected to have an outlay of $62 billion, the Chinese money will be mostly spent to improve transport links and energy cooperation between China and Pakistan.

However, with more details becoming public, CPEC has a large agriculture aspect with Chinese expected to invest in seeds, fertilisers, supply chain, livestock and agri-business chain. Large tracts of land will be leased out to Chinese firms for developing advanced planting and breeding bases.

Pakistan’s agriculture main issues are low per acre yield, soil erosion, water logging, subsistence farming, large post-harvest losses and low value addition with lack of innovation.

Now is a definite opportunity for Pakistan to learn from Chinese agribusiness technology, capacity and skills. With concentrated poverty (56 percent) in rural areas, Pakistan needs to achieve agriculture driven economic growth as nearly 40 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty. Over 75 per cent of people living in poverty depend on agriculture for their livelihoods all over the world. To ensure inclusive growth that contributes to poverty alleviation, agribusiness can serve as the main key as growth in agriculture is two to four times more powerful at reducing poverty than growth in other sectors.

Unlike subsistence farming to which the poor subscribe and live from hand to mouth, agribusiness involves collective agriculture activities including supply of agricultural inputs, production and their distribution to final consumers at a commercial level.

How Chinese involvement in agriculture will benefit the poor and help reduce poverty and would not further exacerbate inequality is yet to be seen. Of course, Chinese will look for large tracts of land where commercial farming activities can be undertaken. In Pakistan, the landholding is extremely unequal with 61 per cent of the total private holdings are under five acres and ownership of 50 acres and above are only two per cent. Majority of the landholdings, 94 per cent are in the category of less than 25 acres while only six per cent of the holdings are in the category of 25 acres and above. In Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), majority of ownership holds in category of under 5 acres, but Sindh and Balochistan have the majority ownership holds in category of five to under 25 acres.

The government and the people of Pakistan, and not the Chinese, will have to think and devise a mechanism to ensure that equity and distribution concerns of the poor are addressed. CPEC agriculture divided will also have to be leveraged, as it will help create income opportunities for the deprived and the marginalised segments of the society.

Some in Pakistan may not be happy to see the Chinese in agriculture sector and having big tracts of land — but Pakistan is not the only country where Chinese enjoy this kind of ownership. In New Zealand, the world’s largest dairy producer, China has become the third largest dairy producer by purchasing dairy farms through its conglomerate Shanghai Pengxin Group since 2011. However, the fact is publicly known and the government has set a criterion for purchase of agriculture land by foreigners — making sure that the country’s interests are protected.

China’s aspirations of fulfilling its food needs utilising Pakistani land should prompt Pakistani authorities to do their homework, so they can also benefit from this opportunity. Some of the basic steps include registration and preservation of top Pakistani produce varieties of cereals and fruits such as rice, mangoes and dates at international forums. Also, the government should open up details of the total CPEC plan including its agriculture outlay for public debate and to involve agribusiness food chain stakeholders. Making it fully transparent, not through hiding and fear but through deep and loud thinking to set up the regulatory framework for foreign investors that the country should to be taken forward.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/28-Aug-17/cpec-and-the-chinese-interests-in-pakista

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Pakistan Census 2017 and Right Questions to Ask

By Quratulain Fatima

28-Aug-17

The provisional results for Pakistan’s sixth population census, carried out in 2017,are out! Some significant takeouts from the Census are that Pakistan’s men are more than women; that there are 105 men to 100 women. Moreover, Sindh is the most urbanised province having 50.02 percent urban population. This census is very important for Pakistan: its results will impact the provinces’ financial share in the National Finance Commission award and in provincial job quotas. It will be responsible for redrawing battle lines or, in simple words, redistricting electoral constituencies for upcoming general elections of Pakistan. Census 2017 results are already generating heated debates. They are likely to remain doing so for a long time to come.

Census data is government-collected data. Notwithstanding right of logical debates, there is a difference between veracity of numbers suggesting 1 in 5 women advocating use of a particular fairness cream for miraculous results, and government census numbers for population increase over past 19 years. We have every right to roll our eyes over fairness cream statistics, but the attention and emotion is quite different when we question that Pakistan’s population ballooned 57 percent from last 1998 census. The difference is that the later claim

does not come from a private company but a formal government. Statistics gets its name from the discussions of state, called ‘statisticum collegium’ in Latin. The aim has been to better measure the population to better serve it. That is why we need governments conducting surveys and generating numbers, drawing trends and making policies based on them. But we need to move beyond blindly accepting or rejecting any statistics, or even their offered analyses and official interpretations. We all need to learn the skill to spot bad numbers.

Numbers can make us wary and sceptical, but one should always be able to differentiate between reliable and unreliable numbers. This is all about swimming in huge pool of big data. Large statistics look formidable and impressive, and most of the world’s population is in equal awe and fear of numbers. Scientists and policy makers throw averages and other numerical quantifiers at us, because we cannot deconstruct them so we blindly accept them. This happens due to quantification bias: which is the natural human preference of measurable over immeasurable. But the fact is that numbers can lie, and more often, they do. The climate change debate is a clear example of manipulation of numbers by people denying objectively measurable physical data. Now how can a simpleton understand if the census, or any big data results for that matter, is true or not?

Numbers can make us wary and sceptical, but one should always be able to differentiate between reliable and unreliable numbers. Large statistics look formidable and impressive, but the fact is that numbers can lie, and more often, they do

Remember! Data is not important, facts are important. They convey realities. For example, data tells us that number of men is more than women; a fact is that around 1.2 million female foetuses were aborted between 2000 and 2014, and that the man to women ratio of 1.05 for that period is a genuine statistic. Is this numerical proof that Pakistan’s strong preference for sons is a fact?

In order to understand the census, or any big data findings, we need to ask a few fundamental questions. The list can be longer but some basics need to be always there. First question should be “How was the data collected”?

In case of Pakistan’s census we know that Pakistan Bureau of statistics (PBS) was responsible for the exercise. PBS has collected data manually while using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology for conversion in machine readable date. OCR is not extremely accurate and the data was thus also double-checked manually by the data operators before conversion to machine readable format. Manual collection means that at many occasions the data was orally collected and filled into forms by the teams. This methodology can create bias in data. How was this bias accounted for? And how much of the data been affected by it needs to be questioned?

The second question that needs to be asked is “how is the data being communicated?”

They say devil is in the details, and it usually is. We have been presented the larger trends like Sindh is more urbanised, or Islamabad’s rate of urbanisation has stalled. This is selective communication of the census data by the media. It is not very wise to draw conclusions from this alone. The axes are everything; once you change the scale, you can change the story.

Lastly, in the list of non-exhaustive questions to spot bad numbers is “Where do I see myself in this data”. This is a very interesting aspect of data. This shows that the data is representative and is not skewed or missed certain segment of the population, that is, you. It may not be applicable readily to your immediate self, but you should be able to relate to the data. If you are an above 30, married female, try finding out how many of the females like you filled in the specific form. You may be able to see a trend that you can relate to.

Whether it is census data or any other big data, being a layman shouldn’t stop anyone from differentiating between good and bad data. Training one’s self by verifying the evidence behind big claims is the key. Evidence-based thinking is not only required in assessing big data, but for evaluating every aspect of life.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/28-Aug-17/pakistan-census-2017-and-right-questions-to-ask

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Planet’s Warning

By Huma Yusuf

August 28, 2017

QUESTION: what’s the best way to ensure that an issue gets state attention? Answer: make it a matter of national security. So here goes.

The world last week focused on a Russian tanker floating through the Arctic without an icebreaker, the latest sign of the rapid pace of climate change. Unfortunately, Pakistanis have problems to worry about closer to home.

A recent paper in Science Advances argues that by the end of the century — when my grandchildren will be in the prime of their lives — South Asia, particularly parts of southern Pakistan, northern India and Bangladesh, will experience levels of heat and humidity higher than what a human can survive without protection. Ours will not be the hottest part of the world in a few decades but it will be the hardest hit because climate change will affect food supplies in the Indus and Ganges river basins, and because our agrarian societies have a high number of poor workers who must toil the fields without any protection from the sun. We have already had a glimpse into this bleak future. Remember the 2015 heat wave that killed more than 3,500 people in Pakistan and India? Now imagine that to be the norm.

The paper should not come as a surprise. Thanks to its location, Pakistan is vulnerable to flooding and drought, monsoons and heat waves, glacial melt and rising seawater. The alarm bells have been ringing with growing stridency in recent years. The country is forecast to face water scarcity by 2025 — that’s in eight years, the predictions no longer a distant threat for another generation. Karachi is already the sixth most water-stressed city in the world.

Pakistanis remain silent on the impact of climate change.

And yet, we remain silent on the impact of climate change. The issue is not raised at Dharnas or tackled during prime-time talk shows. There are no Fatwas or Khutbas on the topic. No one takes to the Grand Trunk Road to make a point about environmental degradation. And so here’s a bid at securitising the issue in the hopes of increasing its relevance for a nation obsessed with national security and particularly amenable to existential crises.

When the climate changes, people are deprived of food and shelter. They lose their sources of income and migrate from the countryside to cities. They become poorer. They must resort to desperate measures.

Ours is a weaponised society that is fragmenting along ethnic, linguistic, tribal, sectarian and class lines. It is populated by bigots and ideologues who will use any opportunity to co-opt vulnerable people and deploy them in a violent way to serve an agenda. Growing resource scarcity in Pakistan will no doubt translate into growing levels of violence between groups that seem always to find new ways to emphasise schisms. Consider the example of Karachi, where ethno-political violence has for decades been driven by the underlying issues of land, water and energy shortages. Imagine the levels of violence witnessed in Karachi replicated in all our major cities. If today we hesitate to use the phrase ‘civil war’ to describe the violence within Pakistan, in a few decades we may have no choice.

It is tragic that the issue of climate change needs to be securitised to demand attention. The trend began with former army chief Ashfaq Kayani arguing that Pakistan’s water shortages were the driver for the country’s India-centric security policies. While there is some merit in having the most powerful person in the country stop to think about resource scarcity, securitising the issue risks dialogue around climate change being limited to concerns about water disputes with India, and a deepening of the current security paradigm, when in fact the problem is much bigger than that and demands a holistic solution. For example, will we have the courage to revisit coal-based CPEC projects?

The government will point to the passage of the Climate Change Act in March and the introduction in 2013 of the National Climate Change Policy. Various incentives for homeowners to install solar panels have also generated much buzz. But these efforts are limping at best.

We need more, much more. Media awareness campaigns. Funding for climate science research. Capacity building to implement environmental policies at the provincial level, and greater centre-province coordination. Less cynicism from politicians regarding commitments to redress climate change (Nawaz Sharif’s trick of reducing the climate change ministry to a division and slashing its budget on coming to power, only to re-elevate it to the status of a federal ministry ahead of the Paris conference in 2015 is the kind of antic that demonstrates our state’s non-serious approach). Most importantly, we need to generate momentum around climate change without securitising the issue because this is one battle a military can never win.

Source: dawn.com/news/1354456/planets-warning

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Public Spaces

By Hajrah Mumtaz

August 28, 2017

PAKISTANIS love their food, and over the years in each city have developed ‘food streets’ or areas where the menu is famous. If Karachi has Burns Road, one of Lahore’s culinary kaleidoscopes is Gawalmandi. It used to be though, that despite being a favoured destination for foodies, a trip there was not the most pleasant of excursions. Quite apart from the traffic congestion and encroachments, the area was characterised by open drains, piles of trash, etc.

Its fortunes changed around the turn of the millennium, when city authorities decided to clean it up and formally turn it into a pedestrian-only food street. A section of the historical area was selected, the pre-Partition buildings lining it were spruced up and lit artfully, and non-food-related shops and businesses cajoled into relocating. And literally overnight, one of the most pleasant things to do in the evenings became heading out to Gawalmandi to sit under the stars. Needless to say, the makeover was a positive not just for the customers — the area’s economy was also spurred on.

Over the following years, Lahore followed this success up with more food streets in Anarkali, and the Fort Road adjacent to the Badshahi Mosque. Obviously, a clean-up, improved sanitation and lighting, and the creation/promotion of public spaces that are welcoming attracts citizens and tourists by the droves, improves a city’s image, and promotes in its residents a sense of ownership.

Karachi is generally seen as an orphaned city; rarely do city authorities show much desire to upgrade its tattered civic infrastructure. While millions walk the streets of what is often referred to as the country’s economic hub, most appear to simply close their eyes to the ugliness and circumvent the garbage heaps.

Most shut their eyes and avoid the garbage heaps.

Even so, there are from time to time efforts to create attractive public spaces. A couple of years ago, a group of prominent citizens came together to undertake initiatives such as the cleaning up and aesthetic improvement of the City Railway Station. Where city authorities now and then set into motion drives to clean offensive or sectarian-oriented graffiti from public spaces, this initiative went one step further and organised ‘I love Karachi’ and environmentally-educational murals along some major roads.

The latest such venture in the metropolis also appears promising. A house built in the 1930s, in Jamshed Quarters on the historic M.A. Jinnah Road, has been lovingly restored to its erstwhile grace by a philanthropic foundation. Reportedly, it is adorned with hand-crafted tiles and decorated with antiques and collectibles, the concept being part-museum and part-café. One of the TDF Ghar’s attractions is the fact that its roof provides a rather stunning view of the Quaid’s mausoleum. The idea was to create a safe, inclusive space where people can come together and share ideas and opinions, much like T2F was conceptualised.

Similar initiatives have been undertaken by the authorities as well as private citizens in several cities. Even so, cumulatively they remain a drop in the ocean for our urban areas, which overwhelmingly remain littered, dilapidated and lacking in aesthetics. Though millions of lives are conducted in public (as a result of the shortage and cramped nature of most urban dwellings, and large family sizes), there are hardly any public spaces that are clean, attractive, and conducive to measured exchange.

At the same time, our cities are marked by distinct class and economic divides. The residents, especially the younger ones, of outrageously expensive housing in pockets of wealth live lives that are increasingly cut off from the rest of the city where, so to speak, the ‘real world’ exists. Being from the wrong side of the tracks is an everyday reality in our country.

This is unhealthy because it stokes divisiveness and the ‘othering’ of fellow citizens. The problem is to some extent recognised. For example, in Karachi on the weekends, those with money to spare can book a seat for a tour of the city’s old areas and heritage buildings in a shiny, cleaned-up, gentrified bus. But, as one sarcastic article that appeared in the foreign press put it, should there really be any need for armed escorts to visit one’s own city?

Seen through this lens, public spaces that invite intermingling and conversation are an invaluable aspect of city-building and promoting peace. Think of the role played by the Pak Tea House in nurturing ideas and a vibrant literary scene. But then it was allowed to die and for a long time, the space it had occupied functioned as a tyre shop. Now I hear that the institution has been resurrected, and that is a relief. Pakistan’s cities need more such places, as many as we can build — not just places to eat, but those where conversations take place.

Source: dawn.com/news/1354455/public-spaces

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/the-white-part-in-our-flag-by-yasser-latif-hamdani--new-age-islam-s-selection,-28-august-2017/d/112350




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