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DE-COLONIZING EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN

Established initially as institutions of higher studies, Madrasahs taught law, Islamic sciences and philosophy. Prior to the arrival of British, both religious and secular education was taken care of for Hindus and Muslims by their respective religious institutions together. Madrasahs taught Quran together with Tafsir Mantiq (logic), Kalam (theology) and Hikmah (philosophy). In addition, mathematics, astronomy and medicine were taught in some Madrasahs. Hindus studied their religion together with secular subjects in their Maktabs and Panthshalas.

The British East India Company (EIC) gave attention to education in India only after the Charter issued to them by King George III in 1813 obligated them to spend money on education. EIC’s early representatives tried to keep indigenous education based on Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit intact but Baron Thomas Babington Macaulay’s educational “Macaulay Minute” in 1835 reversed the situation. Looking with disrespect at traditional education he supported replacing Persian with English Language. Introducing secular western education, “Macaulism” separated it from religious education in India. Without knowledge of either Arabic, Persian or Sanskrit he instituted an education policy in support of the  British  Raj  which denigrated  Indian  languages  and  knowledge,  established  the hegemonic influence of English as medium of colonial ‘instruction’ (not education) and used limitation  of  resources as a ploy  to  “form  a  class who  may  be  interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern – a class of persons Indian in blood and colour,  but  English  in  tastes, in  opinions,  in  morals  and  in  intellect  …”

Regarded as standing in the way of knowledge and progress, religion was relegated to religious institutions only. Today’s Madrasah (plural “madaris”) is an Islamic religious school (seminary) where students, as young as nine or ten, and even younger, go to get religious education, to be schooled first in reading and then in religious studies. Initially part of a mosque, Madrasahs only later became separate institutions. While educational values like the infusion of a spirit of piety and righteousness, the formation of high character, development of personality, the inculcation of civic and social values, promotion of social efficiency and the preservation and spread of national culture that traditionally were taught based on the tenets of religion vanished from education ever since it has been reduced to ‘instruction’ only.

The Ottoman Empire’s reform period “Tanzimat” created a modern school system introducing modern ideals instead of Islam that was the foundation for earlier school systems. The General Education Regulation of Sept 1, 1869 covering primary/secondary education, recruitment of teachers, etc ensured the entire Empire was educated. Primary education was made mandatory and the network was systematized with a four-year primary (sıbyan/ibtidaiye) school, a four-year upper primary (rüşdiye) school, a three-year lower secondary school (idadiye), a three-year higher secondary (sultaniye) school, and then the high schools (aliyye). The Sibyan schools taught the alphabet, writing skills, calligraphy, arithmetic, Ottoman history, etc. The admission age was three years and after four years of schooling a final exam had to be taken. Funded by wealthy individuals and existing in every town, city and village. Some aspects of the Sibyan schools are found even today (1) co-education (2) food and clothing were provided with financial assistance to poor families (3) “Amen Parade” known to a ceremony of starting school was unprecedented at that time (4) when intelligent children were maneuvered towards education of music and reciting the Quran, to the sciences, and to more reputed educational institutions (5) children could choose the role of their adult life and (6) culture of social tolerance was encouraged among children of ethnic and religious sects or groups, etc. Next came “Rusdiye” level with advanced subjects such as bookkeeping, advanced geometry and memorizing all scriptures of the Qur’an.  At the “Idadiye” level students specialized in advanced humanities or advanced sciences followed by the “Sultaniye” school (colleges modelled on the French Lycees) where students learnt humanities or science. The last tier was the high school (Mekâtib-i Ȃliyye).

Madrasahs in Pakistan are mostly registered with the government as charitable corporate bodies with acquired tax exemption. The majority among the Sunnis are Barelvis, moderates seeking to be inclusive of local rituals and customs. The seminaries run by the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) are non-sectarian but politically very active.  In the context of extremism, the remaining two streams of Madrasahs are considered most important. The Deobandi movement from the Indian town of Deoband (near New Delhi) school of thought has long sought to purify Islam by rejecting “un-Islamic” accretions to the faith and returning to the models established in the Holy Quran. The Ahle-Hadith (followers of the way of the Prophet) have a similar emphasis “purifying” the faith as the Deobandis.

An irresistible option for the impoverished, where their children also get free boarding and food when compared to crumbling or non-existent government-funded secular schools and an opportunity to gain literacy and employment. With no thought was given to the education needed to create truly dedicated citizens, the mess we are facing now is a result of this negligence. Our Public Service Commission demands the aspirants to study British history in ridiculous detail thus perpetuating Macaulay’s spirit. Much lip-service has been given to reforming Madrasahs without success. The sheer magnitude of an enormous increase can be seen by this simple statistic: only 7,000 Pakistani children attended Madrasahs 30 years ago as compared to closer to 2 million today even by conservative estimates.

Violent interpretations of Islamic texts and militant pamphlets or magazines advocating violent jihad against other religious sects form part of the curricula in certain Madrasahs, especially those openly aligned with particular militant groups. A study in 2009 found about 18% of the Madrasahs were affiliated with sectarian outfits Sipah-e-Sahaba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, etc. Research finds a disturbing connection between Pakistani Madrasahs and Islamic extremism including sectarian violence. However while vast majority of Madrasahs, almost 80% do not subscribe to this virulent hate but may be far from rendering adequate education, it is wrong to condemn most Madrasahs outright as supporting Jehadis.

Concerned that only religious education is being imparted to the students at the Madrasahs, the Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at a recent seminar in Quetta called for widening the scope of their curriculum  to enable the students to play a more positive and productive role in society. Whether Islamic and/or secular we must revise the concept where the role of character building of the student in education is neglected. What Pakistan really meets is ensuring education across the board that in addition to modern knowledge makes the student a better human being.

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STOKING RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS

The Indian War of Independence (or the 1857 Indian Mutiny as the British call it) did not start as a “War of Independence” by the Indians against their British masters. British East India’s war machine was primarily composed of Indian native troops officered by the British, pure British-manned regiments were a handful in numbers compared to the vast Indian rank and file. The many causes for the war i.e. political, social, economical, military and religious notwithstanding, all that was needed was a spark. This was provided when Indian Hindu sepoys refused to use rifle cartridges suspected to be greased with cow fat that had to be bitten off using their teeth, muslims similarly were led to believe that pig fat was being used. This was unacceptable to the religious feelings of both the Hindus and Muslims respectively.

Forced to use these greased cartridges, a Hindu sepoy killed two British army officers at Barrackpore on Jan 23, 1857, he was arrested and hanged in April. The news spread like wildfire, affecting all the regiments. Subsequently in May 1857 more than 80 Indian soldiers stationed at Meerut refused to bite the greased cartridges, thereafter entire regiments mutinied or were disarmed by the British. Anyone with a grouse against the British joined the revolt, even those without a grouse but only intent on pillage and rape also did so.   New leaders appeared everywhere, some with pure motives and some without. The mutiny remained limited to only a few cities such as Meerut, Delhi, Lucknow, Kanpur, Bihar, Jhansi, etc. Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar at 82 years and in poor health, whose authority did not extend much beyond Delhi and an apology for the great Mughal dynasty he was the heir of, became a rather reluctant symbol of freedom for the mutineers. He remained a mere figurehead.

Movements starting with religious connotations tend to end up far removed from whatever aims and objectives were originally envisaged.  In today’s environment of modern technological advances religious activism can be manipulated by motivated interest with considerable ease. Charlatan-ism among the leadership cadre has been endemic through the ages. Pure unadulterated motives are easily overwhelmed by those who do not share the same altruism. When Muslim protests started in sincere interest against the publishing of the Danish outrage in late 2005, mindless motivated interests provoked it a few months later into becoming an outrage by itself that spawned violence leaving nearly 250 dead and 800 or so wounded.

Starting on Nov 8 the ‘Dharna’ in Faizabad was called by an hitherto little-known political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLYRAP). Led by little known cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi it lasted 21 days and heaped untold suffering on the people of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The situation exacerbated by the incompetence of the govt and its machinery, the 2000 or so protesters demanded that Law Minister Zahid Hamid resign for allegedly amending the “Khatm-e-Nabuwwat” clause in the Election Act 2017. Sparing only the Army, Rizvi used abusive language unbecoming of a religious leader, spewing extreme vitriol against every institution, the government, the judiciary, the civil administration and the media.

The operation launched on the morning of Nov 25 was a ham-handed and amateurish attempt that was bound to fail. Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal distanced himself saying the decision was made by the local administration in light of the Islamabad High Court (HC) orders. With reports of casualties coming in, the operation was stopped. Six precious lives were lost and hundreds were injured. With this action protest dharnas also started in Karachi, Lahore and a number of other places. The general consensus among commentators was that the PML-N govt’s handling of the affair was not only unsatisfactory but disastrous. Untold damage was done to property all over the country and quite a quantum of livelihood was affected by a minority of extremists that no one had really heard of six months earlier. Becoming a direct threat to the writ of the state the protestors demonstrated how the government, despite all its authority and the means to impose then, remained helpless against a unified front posed by a hard-core religious group. That in the end proved to be pivotal to the resolution of the matter. The protest was called off on Nov 27 only after the resignation of the Law Minister but the perception that emerged was one that actually looked like an abject surrender.

Even if the perception was that the writ of the State was being abdicated, the govt’s first course of action should have been to try and defuse the situation. Once the situation came under control, the next step would have been to collate the intelligence to address what the protestors really wanted, who their leaders are, their background, their actual motives, who were supporting them, etc, etc.  The temptation to use force is a two-edged sword, once force is used casualties will occur and protestors will react strongly, and if the protest is spread across the country as was the case with the Faizabad protest, such reaction will be swift and violent. This can get out of hand very quickly as the State uses more force to quell the uprising, more people will be killed, it could well spiral into an “Arab Spring”  type civil war-like situation.

Through the three weeks a constant supply of food, warm clothing, blankets, water, tea, etc, etc. kept the protestors going. The efficiency of this logistics aside, how could a few hundred protesters operating like de facto police set-up checkpoints so easily in the capital so that they could cripple the city? Management expertise notwithstanding these expenses would surely have run into tens of millions. Surely not from the business community of the twin cities, as was suggested by a private TV channel! So what was the source of the funding and motive thereof? It is extremely curious how only during the PML-N tenure that protests completely shutting down the capital have become an almost regular feature.

Having survived one crisis because of religious connotation we are now faced with another, that of Jerusalem being recognized as Israel’s capital by the US.  Though not mentioned specifically by name Jerusalem has been referred to many times in the Quran. You can take an educated bet that religious extremists will try to exploit the situation. The handling of this stoking of religious sentiment with mass appeal among the population have both domestic and international ramifications. This particular crisis must not be allowed to be blown out proportion.

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FORGING A POSITIVE ALLIANCE

It was a unique privilege (for  many different reasons) to be  invited alongwith a handful of senior media colleagues to attend the inaugural meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) under the theme “Allied Against Terrorism” on Nov 26 in Riyadh. With the Ministers of Defence,  Senior military officers of 41 Islamic and Muslim-majority countries Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (known as MBS) pledged in his inaugural address not to allow extremists “tarnish the name of our beautiful religion” and vowing to “pursue terrorists until they are wiped from the face of the earth”. The Acting Secretary General IMCTC Lt Gen Abdulelah Al Saleh described the Coalition as providing an open platform for member countries willing to exchange best practices and coordinate their counter-terrorism efforts. Representing Pakistan in the IMCTC meeting, Khurram Dastgir Khan, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Defence was quite eloquent highlighting Pakistan’s successful counter-terror operations and appreciating the Saudis for their leadership efforts in building partnerships. The pan-Islamic unified front conveyed a very strong message to the forces of terror.

The formation of a (then) 34-member ‘Islamic Military Alliance’ with a joint operations center in Riyadh was announced in December 2015 by MBS (then)  Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister, with the aim to ‘coordinate’ efforts to “protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organisations’’ because terrorism “should be fought by all means and collaboration should be made to eliminate it”. This generated confusion within Pakistan because the alliance having states with majority Sunni muslim populations and with Iran, Iraq, and Syria being excluded, it gave the perception of it being a ‘Sunni’ coalition. Pakistan decision not to send any “boots on the ground” to Yemen countered the perception of Pakistan being engaged in an anti-Shia agenda. However, given the sensitivities of the very special nature of the Saudi-Pakistan relations and our good relations with Iran, this remains a very sensitive subject.  We cannot ever be part of an anti-Iran coalition, for its part Iran also has to exercise restraint or one gets a perception of their forging an anti-Sunni initiative.  In that case the Sunnis have a right to defend themselves!

With the Islamic State (IS), Daesh and other groups with agendas of spreading violence in almost every Muslim country, terrorism is currently being battled individually by each of the affected counties, mostly not very effectively. The IMCTC could play an extremely potent role by coordinating efforts against a common enemy by working with various countries and other international countries to support counterterrorism efforts.

Agreeing to be part of the coalition Pakistan had withheld its decision about the extent of its role till the Terms of Reference (TORs) were finalised. Our principled stand was that our troops would not take part in any military initiative aimed at any other Islamic country.  The final declaration putting the responsibility on the member states to decide themselves the extent of their participation in the coalition effectively provided Pakistan much needed space to maintain balance in its ties with Saudi Arabia and Iran, both good friends. With this ambiguity lifted, it is clear that participation of coalition states will be defined in accordance with their capabilities and resources, as well as in accordance with each country’s desire to participate in a given military operation.  The Pakistanis’ official “show of force” was very visible with the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, accompanied by the Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, taking part in the IMCTC dialogue the next day on Nov 27, 2017.  Earlier Gen Bajwa had made a very visible and much needed visit to Tehran to meet with the entire Iranian hierarchy, this visit was tremendous, it underscored our commitment to a unified muslim Ummah.

For the Pakistan invitees the highlight was the announcement by the Saudi Crown Prince of Gen (Retd) Raheel Shareef’s appointment as the Military Commander of the Alliance, a decision taken on merit and with consensus, said the Saudi Crown Prince. It was a matter of great pride that in the presence of so many distinguished generals from many countries as candidates, a Pakistani was chosen for this singular honour. In his maiden speech Gen Shareef dispelled the impression that the IMCTC was sectarian in nature, that it was directed against any country or had any ulterior designs.  Not mincing words he confidently asserted strongly that the sole objective of the alliance “is to counter terrorism” and the additional aim is to promote the moderate image of Islam. While one or two of the attending Defence Ministers did hint about a hidden agenda during their turn to speak, this clear and unambiguous message should assuage apprehensions.  Minister after minister agreed with Gen Raheel’s submission that the individual states lacked the required level of synergy and resources. The IMCTC was being geared under Gen Raheel’s command for intelligence-sharing and building the counter-terrorism capacity of its parties. The deference given to Gen Raheel Shareef’s stature and reputation by MBS and other dignitaries confirmed that he would play an important role in coordinating with international bodies to build alliances and cooperation on a global scale. All Pakistanis should be proud of the visible respect and honour given to him.

Despite Pakistan’s joining the alliance in April 2017 conditionally till the TORs was defined it clearly did give the go ahead for Gen (Retd) Raheel Shareef to head the coalition as per the Kingdom’s specific request  confirming his outstanding personal qualities and caliber as a leader and services to Pakistan as a soldier. One of the most popular of armed chiefs in recent times, Gen Raheel Shareef’s reputation soared after the army crackdown on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which led to sharp decline in violence in Pakistan in general and in Karachi specifically. Renowned as a person of great integrity and steely resolve Gen Raheel Shareef inspired confidence and loyalty in the troops.  The stature of Gen Raheel also received a boost in the aftermath of the horrendous Peshawar Army school attack and the 21st Amendment to the Constitution in 2015 allowing establishment of speedy trial military courts for terrorist offences and act threatening the security of Pakistan.  As a man of principle, Raheel Shareef was true to his word, much before his retirement date in Nov 2016, that he would not accept an extension to his tenure, such speculation being rife in Pakistan. Immensely popular with the masses, Gen Raheel Shareef’s portraits can be seen on the back of trucks, auto rickshaws and private cars, in banners and billboards on the streets of almost every big city, one sees this particularly in Karachi that once reeled under a wave terror and crime. One does not doubt that Raheel Shareef will lead the Coalition forces by personal example and ignite in them the fire of passion, commitment, service and honour  just as he did while he was COAS Pakistan Army.

Meeting a number of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia, one got the distinct feeling that they were looking up to Gen Raheel Sharif to intercede with the Saudi authorities to improve the lot of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia who feel being treated as third and even fourth class citizens. They look upto the Crown Prince to deliver on his promises of equal treatment of all muslims irrespective of their race and sect.   While Raheel Sharif’ symbolizes the Pakistani soldier’s grit, determination and loyalty, one expects MBS to reciprocate the same attitude to the many hundreds of thousands Pakistani eking out a living in the Kingdom while striving hard to bring Saudi Arabia to where it is today, an potent leader of muslim  countries getting willing respect in the world. Talking to a disparate cross-section of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia one believes will MBS live upto the great promise he exudes, not only for Saudi Arabia but for the entire muslim Ummah.

The Arab world has been trying since decades to develop effective military alliances but these have been Arab-specific rather than being for the entire muslim world. Unfortunately because of the many groupings (economic, political, etc) differing national objectives and given the nature of the threat faced and the fact that some of the members are beset with their own wars, insurgencies and endemic corruption this has not had any success. For our part we have to understand that Iran must not remain out of the Coalition, this would be a potential disaster for Pakistan as a well-integrated muslim nation. With our foes gathering strength and spreading their tentacles silently but surely, this is not the time for differences but to strive for unity. While disagreement among member states exists about which non-state actors are ‘terrorist’ organizations, these differences must be put aside and the IMCTC must be allowed to take root. Gen Raheel Sharif has a unique position to act as a catalyst to effect reconciliation in the Ummah.

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PREVENTING SLIDE INTO ANARCHY

Once known as the ‘City of Lights’ for its vibrant night life, a good part of Karachi lives in almost darkness, devoid of continuous power. This mega city’s momentum has led the nascent nation’s economy as the financial and commercial hub of Pakistan, Karachi accounting for a lion’s share of Pakistan’s revenue (some even claim 65% to 70%).

Not too long ago Karachi was held hostage to all manner of criminality of the murderous kind. Militants unleashed by political parties blatantly ran riot in both urban and rural areas, indulging in outright crime, killings, extortion, kidnapping for ransom, etc. All the three political parties PPP, MQM and ANP running the ruling coalition in Sindh were part of this version of “good governance”. Karachi would come to a virtual halt on the whims of Altaf Hussain, with MQM militants running amok, threatening the citizens openly, ambushing police patrols, using rocket launchers on govt offices and police stations and fighting pitched battles with paramilitary forces in the streets. Even though PPP kept MQM somewhat in leash, courtesy bags of money delivered to Altaf Hussain by Rahman Malik in London to feed his gambling addiction, for decades Karachi was in a state of internal siege.

Maj Gen Ijaz Chaudhry, than DG Rangers Sindh, really deserves the credit for initiating the enhanced gathering of real-time intelligence while re-organizing the Rangers to carry out targetted operations, and then starting it in 2012.  The situation started to show moves towards normalcy. With Ijaz promoted as Corps Commander Karachi he kept the momentum going, Rizwan Akhtar just got the credit. There was brief period of about 8-10 months of “no action” when Ijaz’s undeserving successor had personal “priorities” before retiring in 8-9 months, countering terrorism was not anywhere one of them.  This individual’s successor as Corps Commander, Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar, not only restored the process but through the DG Rangers Maj Gen (now Lt Gen) Bilal Akbar he substantially increased the momentum.

Matters came to a head on Aug 22,2016 when MQM chief Altaf Husain’s vitriolic speech calling Pakistan “a cancer for the entire world” instigated a gameplan to defame the Rangers and by default the Army. Armed to the teeth, MQM activists took up ambush positions in and around Zainab Market, a heavily congested area, within minutes of Altaf’s speech hidden in nearby buildings, including banks because of bank officers affiliated with MQM’s Labour Wing. This was not a spontaneous reaction but method in Altaf Hussain’s.  Had the Rangers had not been delayed reaching Zainab Market because of traffic, hundreds of innocent civilians would have been deliberately murdered, would have been blamed on the Rangers, and by extension the Army. Playing the politics of dead bodies whether they were his followers or others was immaterial to Altaf Hussain as long as they fulfilled his nefarious designs.

With MQM being openly used as an aim of RAW, Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar consulted with his commanders and decided that enough was enough. MQM’s had 102 sector/unit offices in 212 different locations across the city, 100% illegally occupied and encroached upon, they were serving as centers of training, safe houses/hideouts, storage facility as and when required. Each location was occupied by hundreds of MQM cadres, trained in combat, weapons handling, urban fighting, etc, more or less like an Army unit. Headed by a Sector Incharge on whose one command hundreds of MQM activists could firm out in their localities to do bidding, they had the capacity of killing scores throughout Karachi simultaneously.  Taking permission from the COAS Gen Raheel Sharif the day after Aug 22, 2016, Naveed Mukhtar ordered the demolishing of all MQM unit/sector offices in Karachi with the tacit political and administrative support of the Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. The real irony is that many of the area’s residents, ostensibly MQM supporters, looted the premises before the offices were bulldozed. Coupled with the physical demolition of the offices, the psychological effect put paid to the MQM’s vaunted capacity to mobilize power over Karachi at will.

Because of Naveed Mukhtar’s decisive action the MQM’s ceased to be the force it once was. Breaking up into factions each has been trying to re-enter politics and regain some significance, engaged in a strategy to remain politically alive. MQM Pakistan is desperately trying to woo the Federal govt into reopening the sealed or demolished MQM offices, potentially subjecting the city to a one-way descent into chaos again.  Naveed Mukhtar has carried this capacity for faceless ruthless purpose and efficiency into his post as DG ISI. Carrying out Qamar Bajwa’s decisive instructions, he eased the crisis at Faizabad without carrying out bloodshed to thwart the gamplan of our enemies and their agents desperately wanting to provoke a civil war.

Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) indirectly contributed to MQM’s agenda of violence, it being MQM’s cash cow. MD KESC Shahid Hamid was assassinated in April 2005 because he was undertaking action against a ‘corrupt MQM mafia in his organization’. Many MQM favourites or those related to MQM leaders, all undeserving, were appointed in KE on huge salaries, while in fact working for MQM, this further bolstered the Sector units. MQM’s vice-like hold over KESC was first questioned in 2009 when Abraaj Capital acquired a controlling stake in KE, subsequently renamed K-Electric (KE).

The injection of US$ 361 million of equity into the company by Abraaj resulted in marked improvement in KE’s performance, ultimately benefiting the consumers. The Chinese State-owned Shanghai Electric Power Company Limited (SEPCL) is now keen on purchasing KE, the deal is estimated at US$1.77 billion. Augmenting confidence in the economic indicators, SEPCL will invest US$9.5 billion towards upgrading/development of infrastructure, particularly the transmission and distribution system.

Because of an explosive mix created by ethno-political and sectarian interests, influx of terrorists, illegal weapons, drugs, etc, combined with lack of good governance, Karachi could easily cross the fail-safe line into chaos and anarchy if there is load-shedding again of the scale before Abraaj took over. Without the Chinese investment to increase the KE capacity, to end load-shedding and power outages. With its citizens thirsty and without power (no pun intended), this could lead us to power and water riots (water-pumping machines becoming inoperable). The MQM Pakistan demand for re-opening their offices and attempting to stop injection of the Chinese investment in KE is a part of the sustained hybrid warfare by India’s RAW against Pakistan. The consequences of a descent into total anarchy can only be imagined. Karachi’s future would then be quite dark.

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CORRUPTION WITHOUT BORDERS

The Nawaz Sharif episode shows that pervasive corruption has not only acquired respectability in a perverse manner in Pakistan but left to the National Assembly (NA), may even acquire legality. Political instability, poverty, unequal structure of society, unemployment, lack of accountability, weak political institutions, absence of rule of law, etc, are contributory factors causing an unequal distribution of resources, sapping of confidence among local and foreign investors, weak governance, etc. A leading expert on corruption, J.G. Lambsdorff says, “The abuse of power in order to serve private interest is widespread in Pakistan. Corruption will thrive particularly in a setting where accountable governance structures and processes are weak, very much the case in Pakistan.  For corruption to flourish certain key pre-conditions such as imperatives and incentives must exist that encourage corrupt practices, availability of opportunities for personal gains, access and control over the means of corruption with limited risks of exposure and punishment”, unquote.

Pakistan’s centralized system of bureaucracy inherited from the British but without the inherent checks and balances facilitates corruption by politicians, the military once they become comfortable in power and for themselves. The constitutional security given to civil servants having been taken away by ZA Bhutto when lateral entry was introduced in place of merit-based competitive selection, motivated promotions and postings made political interference possible. Politicians became all-powerful on this Client-Patron relationship. Tasked to serve vested interests at the cost of the national interest, the major task of “political” bureaucrats included ensuring a favourable vote count for politicians irrespective of the real voter preference. With their knowledge of rules and regulations our “politicized” bureaucrats help the incumbent rulers by changing or amending them in innovative ways to circumvent “problems”.

The regime changes of the 1950s was repeated between 1990 and 1999 when four democratic govts were either dismissed or overturned on charges of corruption and allegations of misuse of power. Despite corruption being rampant no one was punished for being corrupt in this game of musical chairs between Ms Benazir and Mian Nawaz Sharif.  With off-shore companies becoming fashionable, the leaked Panama Papers (and now Paradise Papers) exposed the illegal accounts of public officials, drug kingpins, money launderers, etc. Claimed as not illegal by some of our renowned lawyers and chartered accountants, why help the corrupt escape accountability by setting up such offshore companies/accounts at secretive locations to hide illegal wealth and avoid taxation except to collect huge fees? These “professionals” camouflage their illegality by technical rhetoric and legal jargons but like financial institutions play an integral role as fulltime accessories to the crimes of their clients.

Effective laws for anti-money laundering notwithstanding, corrupt politicians and others, criminals included, will always find loopholes in the banking legal system around the world and banks willing to handle their ill-gotten money and bribery payments in safe havens. They then set-up anonymous off-shore companies and trusts that allow them to hide their identity.  This is done without technically breaking any rules to access the global financial system with almost impunity. Failing in their due diligence they are complicit in corrupt practices in the transfer and deposit of stolen funds.  Millions have been stashed abroad with no questions, whether tax was paid at its source in Pakistan. Many expensive apartments in London are owned by known white-collar criminals comprising former dictators, bank defaulters, tax evaders, money-launderers, etc. The utter hypocrisy of the British legal system is exposed by Scotland Yard protecting Altaf Hussain to hide his connections with India by covering up the money-laundering and murders done on his express instructions.

Crooked real estate agents aid the corrupt by showing ways to invest ill-gotten wealth in land holdings, within Pakistan and abroad. According to a 2015 expose in The Daily Beast, “London, the World’s Money Laundering Capital”, “London has become the money-laundering capital of the world with billions of dollars in stolen funds illegally hidden in the city’s booming property market. A team of undercover reporters, one of whom was disguised as a corrupt Russian politician, secretly recorded some of London’s top real estate agents offering to help facilitate illicit transactions despite British laws that require the agents to report suspicious activity to the authorities. The real estate agents selling properties worth up to $25 million said they didn’t want to know the details, others offered detailed advice about how to funnel the cash through shell companies operating anonymously.” Unquote.

To keep their appointments and status the close associates of corrupt public office holders simply look the other way. Consider the Constitutional Amendment allowing a person disqualified by the Supreme Court (SC) from holding public office, the oath of allegiance of those who voted for Nawaz Sharif is not to the State but to their dependency and servitude to their Patron. Quite possible these people may not be corrupt themselves but by actively carrying out the instructions of their boss or passively condoning it they are facilitators of corruption and thus guilty as willing accessories to the crime committed by their bosses. Forgetting their past association conveniently these hypocrites spout rhetoric about high ideals and lofty principles forgetting they had turned a blind eye to the illegal activities of their superiors. Why does the Opposition refrain from making the entire proceeds of the Supreme Court (SC) judgment (and subsequent review petition) a part of the records of the NA?

The wishful perception being propagated by the PPP is that the Army is preparing Asif Zardari as an anti-dote to Nawaz Sharif. On the scale of accountability not only for corruption but for murder and mayhem, Nawaz Sharif comes out a “patron Saint” as compared to Zardari.  The convoluted logic behind this motivated story notwithstanding, no one in his right mind is about to commit “hari-kari” by and reverse the progress that the Superior Judiciary has had the courage and conviction to adopt.

Facilitating illegal activities such as money-laundering and tax evasion, many of Pakistan’s laws prevent the authorities from taking meaningful action against the culprits. Mian Nawaz Sharif’s indictment indicates a change may be in the offing but maybe it is too early for anyone to start celebrating. Calling himself an “ideology”, Nawaz Sharif is openly projecting “corruption” as the new ideology for Pakistan. When you facilitate, tolerate and/or salute corruption, this makes you not only a hypocrite but a willing accessory thereof.  Those blatantly condoning and facilitating of corruption must be taken to task or the Sharif ideology “corruption without borders” (with apologies to Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors without Borders) will really become Pakistan’s new ideology.

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A FEUDAL ELECTORAL SYSTEM

The Magna Carta, or the “Charter of Liberties”, limiting the King’s power and strengthening the rights of nobles was signed by King John at Runnymede near London on June 15, 1215. Brokered by the Archbishop of Canterbury and meant to rein in rebellious barons, without any sincere intent John was simply playing for time to consolidate his despotic rule. Contrary to popular belief Magna Carta did not initiate the decline of feudalism but did establish the principle in the than western world that everyone including the king was subject to the law. The guaranteeing of the right to justice and a fair trial to any individual were already articulated and implemented in Islam as articles of faith 500 years earlier.

With the peasantry dependant upon landowners holding large tracts of lands doled out to them by the British between 1858 and 1947, feudalism is alive and well in Pakistan today. By bequeathing land which was not theirs in the first place, the British created a core of feudal lords, bureaucrats and military personnel, camouflaging the rule of their “Commonwealth” in the 20th century with different democratic models.  Ingratiating themselves to the British overlords the crown’s loyal native servants facilitated the crown rule over their fellow natives. Agrarian reforms did away with feudalism in India soon after 1947, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) followed suit a few years later. ZA Bhutto’s Houdini-like brand of “mixed-bag socialism” combined die-hard socialists like JA Rahim, Mairaj Mohammad Khan, Sheikh Mohammad Rashid, Meraj Khalid etc with hard core uncompromising feudals like Khar, Jatoi, Mumtaz Bhutto, etc, With the pendulum swinging right under Gen Ziaul Haq’s 1977 Martial law, feudalism further became entrenched in Pakistan.

Blatantly camouflaging their inherent feudalism over the centuries as a democracy, the British successfully call theirs a constitutional monarchy.  Can they explain the travesty of the un-elected House of Lords? The basic principle “of the people, by the people and for the people” was mutilated by our democracy being intrinsically more flawed than a “constitutional” monarchy. Leo McKinstry was scathingly critical in The Telegraph in Aug 2015, “the continuing survival of the Lords is an indictment of the cowardice and inertia in British politics. Such an obese, obsolescent body should have no place in a modern democracy. …. every argument used to justify its existence is wrong. Its supporters like to pretend that it is packed with wise elder statesman, brilliant experts and distinguished public servants. This could not be further from the truth: most if its members are souped-up councillors, political apparatchiks, failed MPs and party donors.” McKinstry could well be talking about our “indirectly” elected Senate. Subject to fraud and manipulation, indirect election to this enduring disgrace only serves to perpetuate feudalism, it is an insult to the concept of democracy.

Freed of British bondage in 1947, feudal lords and bureaucrats continue to hold wise-like grip over Pakistan today, almost all political parties being run like feudal estates. The present form of elections is a mere ritual-like exercise with those elected to Parliament considering power to be a free licence to loot, plunder and oppress the people, all in the name of the Constitution. Those elected depend upon “special interest groups” (and individuals) for survival rather than those who voted them into office.

The ‘first-past- the- post’ (FPTP) proliferating through the Commonwealth is the “democratic” formula devised by the British to perpetuate the feudal system. This system favours the winner securing the highest number of votes, not necessarily the majority of votes in a constituency. This excludes smaller parties from ‘fair’ representation. This FPTP allows a small powerful minority to always come to power and rule over the majority with potential to spawn and sustain anarchy by creating divisions among sects, biradiris, castes, etc. Meant to foment strife FPTP is the democratic version of the British “divide and rule” policy. With this the case in more than 80% of the seats in our National and Provincial assemblies, it is vital to have a mandatory “run-off election” without an absolute majority in the first vote in a single constituency. This way the voters will ultimately have two stark choices instead of the multiple ones in the first round. Besides exercising the will of the majority and make elections difficult to rig and manipulate, a run-off election will encourage diverse groupings to compromise to join together to get a majority.

Marginalising the smaller parties causes frustration, voters deserve a voice in Parliament in proportion to the strength of the political groups in the electorate. For “Proportional Representation” 20-25% of additional seats in Parliament should go to the losing candidates of the political parties on the basis of the percentage of the total votes cast for the losing candidates. The percentage of votes a party receives will then be more closely reflected in the number of seats it attains in the National Assembly (NA). In 2002, the PPP got lesser NA seats than the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) despite having a greater number of votes. In 2013 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) was the second biggest party according to votes cast after the PML-N, it was ranked third in terms of NA seats.

Not held based on population alone, for elections a formula balancing population with land must be devised. Balochistan constitutes 43% of Pakistan’s total land mass with its wealth of natural resources, its vast rangeland, its coastal belt and rich mineral and hydrocarbon deposits. Disenchantment among the local populace because of being treated negatively persist because of unrealistic policies by successive govts.  The low level insurgency has since been brought under control by the Pakistan Army. Out of the 342 seats in the National Assembly, Balochistan has just 14 seats. Balochistan must have more representation in the NA (least 45-50 seats) to make the population feel that their voice will be heard.

Providing governance at the doorstep of the people is vital for any civilized society, without people participation at the grassroots level democracy becomes a farce. Functioning Local Bodies (LB) encourage self-participation, ownership, debate and involvement of local communities, stakeholders in the welfare and wellbeing of a unified society. Rampant feudalism in this modern world keeps us as prisoners in the heart of darkness. Our imperfect democracy is a ready-made recipe for fomenting strife and undermining good governance at every level. Democracy will not be only possible in a hundred years unless the “Local Bodies” system coupled with “Proportional Representation” gives a voice to the people to overcome the feudal system making Pakistan’s present democracy a farce.

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COMBATING CORRUPTION FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE

Transparency International’s (TI) 2017 report ‘People and Corruption: Asia Pacific” voices concerns across the globe about growing inequality, poverty and exclusion of the most vulnerable. As a diverse and rapidly developing region, “it is essential that the countries in the Asia-Pacific region achieve sustainable and equitable development – this can only be done by ensuring that public decision-making promotes the common good. Corruption undermines this, as it distorts democratic processes and promotes private over public interests”.  Ranked among the highly corrupt countries in TI’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for a straight 22 years (1995-2016), corruption in Pakistan derails governance by being deeply entrenched in almost all State organs and in public institutions. Effective anti-corruption has failed to be implemented because the role of the State’s anti-corruption bodies is wanting and questionable.

To combat corruption and resolve the problems of governance, it is essential to look at the impact on social development. Social development is meant to improve the living conditions of the people, enabling them to become useful members of society, so they can benefit from changing living conditions. This means progress in its economic and all other definitions needs to benefit people and recognition that people shape development processes. The major indicators of social development are poverty rate, infant mortality, general life expectation, literacy rate, health care factors, gender equality, etc. It is very clear that Pakistan lags behind in most, if not all of these indicators.

Corruption undermines structures of governance that are already weak and hampers the State’s service delivery.  Weakness of State institutions is often blamed on repeated army rule, but what about our many civilian govts who came into power through the ballot but not one of them exhibited even an iota of intent in improving governance? This become clear from the apathy of successive govts relating to a 2008 report ‘National Commission on Govt Reforms’ (NCGR) authored by Dr. Ishrat Hussain. This contained a comprehensive analysis of the problems of governance and offered a very well-thought out and carefully planned roadmap of solutions. Swept under the carpet this report, thus remains dormant even today.

Pakistan’s social indicators are abysmal, human development has never been a priority in Pakistan. In the 2016 Human Development Index (HDI) Pakistan has been ranked at 147 out of 188 countries ranked. In order to improve human development, Pakistan will have to invest heavily in employment, engagement and empowerment of youth whose numbers are growing and also provide basic social services and safety nets that will  empower people to live lives they yearn for. Recently there has been a spate of incidents of civil unrest by opposition political parties and other groups, these were fuelled by a growing perception about the govt failing in its policy-making and has not prioritizing the people’s needs nor listening to their voices and grievances – all these are negative indicators of governance.

Given the connection between governance, service provision and social development, there is a dire need for reforms in governance in Pakistan. This has been conveniently neglected and downplayed especially by our political rulers who fear for their reliable power structures that can be used to win next elections. Given the appalling situation in the social sector, the national interest and the interest of the people require the govt to take measures for improving living conditions. While the NCGR report will need some updating it can otherwise be used as a starting point for reforms. To quote Dr. Ishrat Hussain, “Government reform has to be comprehensive, concurrent and coordinated as partial, isolated and adhoc efforts will not produce the synergy required to achieve the desired results.”

Devolution of power must be the focus of governance reforms. While our centralized system of govt has positive aspects, its negative factors include the break-up of Pakistan, dissatisfaction among provinces, demands for autonomy and secessionist movements. We must have the reorganisation of the federal set-up with a stronger role of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) and a new basis for the National Finance Commission Award (NFC). Such measures will discourage ethnicity–based policies and movements and strengthen unity of the country.  Devolution of power must reach down to the grassroots level and create, expand and improve a local govt system which is covered in the Constitution under Article 140A. Almost no one talks about the lack of local govt structure at the lowest tier through which the State is supposed to provide essential services to the people. The media rightly focuses on the PanamaGate or the Swiss cases, however these are remotely connected to the masses. The absence of local govts or the shams being run as “grassroots democracy” do not seem to warrant serious media attention. The implementation of the devolution of power plan of 2010 in the provinces was lacking, real devolution of power means the higher levels should give way and transfer powers to a lower level. With the system in full control of feudals, old and nouveau alike, this will never be allowed to happen.

As highlighted in the NCGR report, institutional reforms at the federal, provincial and local levels are clearly defined and overlapping avoided. The British civil service strength is the strong ethical commitment of service members, sadly this was lost. There is a need to re-install such ethical commitment into the services through training but also through a transparent system of accountability in all spheres of govt. Such accountability would not only be means to fight and prevent corruption, it will also promote effectiveness of governance and create trust in the govt. Equal treatment by the State will create feelings of equality and commitment that is the basis of democracy, unlike recent experiences with political accountability where a gap is seen between legal and moral accountability. Given our special identity, ethical aspects of governance must be grounded in general principles of Islam to bridge the gap between legal and moral rightfulness and join the two together.

Crying out for change and resolution of issues faced, today there is dismay among the people of this impoverished nation in the air with negativity, gloom and distrust assuming threatening proportions even as the nation faces challenges, some quite formidable. While accountability cannot happen overnight things seems to be changing.  The Supreme Court verdict explicitly damning Mian Nawaz Sharif for his recurring penchant for untruths and evading facts is most refreshing.   Coinciding with the Saudi Crown Prince’s onslaught against corruption, would Maryum include Saudis alongwith the superior judiciary and the Army in the “conspiracy against the Sharifs”? (the writer is a defence and security analyst).

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A FLAWED SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE

A Muslim majority State was envisaged by its founder Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to ensure conducive conditions for the Muslims of British-India for socio-economic, cultural and religious development. Pakistan geographically being situated at the fringes of former British-India, many of the features inherited from the British and the lack of basic infrastructure made its beginning difficult and prone to adhoc arrangements, institutions were thus weakly developed. Pakistani society remains characterized by pre-modern social structures such as castes, biradaris and tribes that rely on age-old alternative judicial institutions like jirgas or panchayats and laws about how to uphold ‘honour’. Feudal landholding regards peasants and other villagers as property of the landowner is another problem. Seventy years later the Quaid’s vision is far from being fulfilled.

The close interdependence between governance and social development brings into focus the weaknesses in governance in Pakistan and the reasons for them.  Governance refers to structures and processes designed to ensure accountability, transparency, responsiveness, rule of law, stability, equity and inclusiveness, empowerment, and broad-based participation. Apart from securing the lives and property of its citizens, a modern state provides basic amenities such as clean drinking water, electricity, health care, education, etc. Fulfilling this responsibility, the State designs and installs institutions to plan and provide them. Pakistan needs to improve both governance and its social development indicators, the gap between the modern state and govt and the pre-modern character of society makes it a problem. ‘Modern’ means a state run by an elected govt based on democratic principles with all state institutions running on those principles. The people who run the state and its institutions must be democratically-minded, with equal opportunities for all and merit the basis for job selection and promotion – not the case in Pakistan. Positive reforms in the institutional set-up would hopefully help improve governance, in view of the fast developing globalization the recommendations by Dr Ishrat Hussain-led “National Commission of Government Reform” (NCGR) must specially be implemented.

Instead of a policy devising and law-giving institution Parliament is more of a debating club, its role in decision-making process is thus limited. Parliamentary seats consisting of the feudal political elite of landowners, religious personalities and tribal leaders, the feudal and tribal character of society interferes with the spirit of the system. Feudalism and tribalism dominate the thinking of not only the technical feudals  – the big landowners – but also of industrialists (or nouveau feudals) like Mian Nawaz Sharif. His dynastical approach to power, support for clans and biradaris demonstrate the point. Apart from the Jamaat-e Islami (JI) political parties in Pakistan country are run like private estates and inner-party democracy.

Only the rich can afford an election in our electoral system. Having invested millions to get elected, they first recover the money spent  once elected and then accumulate more for the coming election. The ‘first past the post’ is the “democratic” formula devised by the feudal system to perpetuate itself, this favours the winner of the majority of votes only, not the majority in a constituency. A powerful but united minority thus invariably rules over a divided majority of the population.  With 13 million votes of the 200 million populations (6.50%), Mian Nawaz Sharif repeatedly claims an “overwhelming mandate”. With political decision-making highly centralized and personalized, minority interest groups have no chance to get representation. This system is tailor-made for strife as the various minorities compete to get ascendancy. An Constitutional amendment makes it incumbent for any elected representative of Parliament to strictly follow the dictates of the party leader in voting, making Parliament a rubberstamp both at the National and the Provincial level. This is a camouflage for dictatorship with “democratic” trappings.

The local government provided for in the Constitution under Article 140A has never materialised since Pakistan’s birth. Only at the lowest level of governance people can observe the state first-hand and identify themselves with it to solve those problems.  Gen Ayub Khan failed the first attempt through a “Basic Democracy” system, because he did not cater to improvement of services to the population but designed the basic democrats as an Electoral College which would vote for him. Similarly Ziaul Haq’s local govt system formula was intended to legitimize his rule. The best designed was Gen Musharraf’s local govt system in 2000 as it included financial self-sufficiency of the Local Bodies. The Local Bodies system is the crucible of democracy, giving power to the stakeholders at ground zero level to devise what’s best for themselves at the community level. Remarkable success was achieved under Karachi’s Mayor Mustafa Kamal. Musharraf’s system also aimed to create a new generation of politicians from poor and middle class families without any previous connection to politics to enable them to substitute traditional feudal elite in politics. Neither system survived when Musharraf fell from power. Fearful of losing the power they wield, none of the ‘democratically elected’ civilian regimes of Z.A. Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif ever tried to implement “Local Govt”. Consider the sham of “grassroots democracy” practised by the PML (N) in Punjab and Balochistan, PPP in Sindh and even PTI in KPK.

Provision of justice is a central governance demand for a State to fulfil, access to courts and to justice is not only a governance issue but also supports social development in as much as it secures contracts, provides relief in case of misconduct and gives security to the property of the people. The justice system, especially at the lower levels is slow, inefficient, expensive and corrupt,  the poor who cannot afford find it difficult to approach courts and even if they do, it usually takes a lifetime for a verdict. In other cases verdicts cannot be implemented for the lack of institutions to do so or their unwillingness to do so.

Application of laws are different for the rich and the poor but this could be changing. Consider the contents of the damning SC verdict rendered about Mian Nawaz Sharif, calling him virtually a perjurer and a liar.  Maryam Nawaz should stop flouting her wealth and beauty to test our patience by spouting untruths.  To quote the Saudi Attorney General Saud Al-Mojeb on the arrest of powerful Princes, ministers and even businessmen of untold wealth like Waleed Bin Talal in the present drive against corruption in Saudi Arabia, “a suspect’s position or status does not influence the firm and fair application of justice”. A profound observation in a moment of truth for good governance, only possible if our feudals posing as democrats are held accountable (the writer is a defence and security analyst).

 

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HYBRID WARFARE AGAINST CORRUPTION

Anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) in line with Pakistan’s action plan agreed with Financial Action Task Force (FATF), continues to be a serious problem. The Oct 31 World Economic Forum’s (WEF) “Partnering Against Corruption Initiative” (PACI) Fall Meeting in Geneva agreed that without conforming to international standards there can be no effective implementation of laws. Without adequate proof of assets and money trail it is almost impossible to prove a crime in court when our methods and tools of investigation in the emerging countries remain outdated. Developed countries, where most of the ill-gotten money/assets reside, pontificate endlessly about adhering to the “rule of law”, where is the morality of not practicing what they preach by not cooperating in implementing the laws on their own statute books? The prosecution process being weak is further compounded by our criminal investigations/indictment invariably being waylaid by political influence and/or outright bribery.

The “Panama Leaks” set off a national furore when Nawaz Sharif and his children were discovered controlling shell companies through which they own expensive residential properties in London. Essentially not illegal, offshore companies are still unethical because they are meant for tax evasion by exploiting loopholes in tax laws. Invariably meant for hiding illegal wealth, money laundering, etc it can be manipulated for illegal dealings.  Despite foot-dragging by various tax and/or asset havens in the developed world, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) mandated by the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) managed to obtain substantial evidence. The criminal indictment subsequently brought by an Anti-corruption court on orders from a five member SC Bench and denial of the Sharif’s review petition was appreciated by PACI members as a bold move to fight corruption and the prevailing impunity of the powerful. Members recognized that the court ruling has the potential to curb to some degree the level of corruption by those untouchables who while exercising power and influence would also publicly thumb their noses at the rule of law.

PACI emphasized overcoming the difficulties or even impossibility of getting information from countries like UK in such cases, this obduracy being a sad reflection on their subscribing to rule of law. Expensive apartments in a square mile around Hyde Park in London are full of known white-collar criminals in the form of former dictators, bank defaulters, tax evaders, money-launderers, etc. This continues unabated despite former PM David Cameron’s much-hyped International London Conference in May 2016 defining ways and means to deal with corruption. Hiding the means of criminal activity is sheer hypocrisy. Once considered unthinkable, even Switzerland is now providing bank details of customers. Real-time cooperation on a fast-track and coordinated basis must use all the means and resources available. The latest available technologies are effective but can be misused if those who have responsibility of operating them are not honest. Another problem is that legal lacunae that makes a deal formally okay may be morally wrong and harmful; efforts have to be made to develop rules for holders of public positions and businesses bridging the gap between legally and ethically right action.

A one-of-its-kind global, multi-industry anti-corruption initiative, WEF’s PACI is now recognized as one of the world’s leading business forum on anti-corruption and transparency. Establishing multi-industry principles and practices will enable creating of a level and competitive playing field based on integrity and fairness. Corruption scandals are major impediments to conducting business in advanced and emerging market economies, involving significant economic and social costs.  PACI provides an exceptional and safe space for practitioners to improve their compliance efforts and share best practices at the organizational level. To this end PACI is attempting to raise business standards and contribute to a competitive, transparent, accountable and ethical business society. Privileged to be a speaker on “Re-focussing trust and integrity in a fractured world” panel facilitated by Ramya Krishnaswamy, Head of PACI, we explored ideas on what impact one could see on local security and stability in the unfolding of recent corruption scandals/efforts to tackle corruption.

“The Future of Trust and Integrity” panel facilitated by Isabel Cane, Project Lead PACI, gave an input on how to invest low levels of trust at the interface of business and institutions while maintaining confidence, stability and growth. Session III: “Catalyzing impact through Public-Private Cooperation” facilitated by Nicola Bonucci, Director for Legal Affairs, OECD addressed emerging collaborative solutions between stakeholders to design trust and integrity back into the system, while in Session IV “The next compliance frontier: integrity by design” Gemma Aiolfi, Basel Institute on Governance, discussed different stakeholders designing integrity into their respective operations. Penelope Lepeudry, Partner, Deloitte, facilitated Session V, “Anti-corruption in the 4th Industrial Revolution” which deliberated on whether disruptions generated by technological innovations could be a game-changer for anti-corruption and how to leverage these changes to improve governance and accountability. PACI has succeeded in many more multinational companies (MNCs) strengthening their “Compliance Departments,” vesting them with vast and extraordinary powers.

A powerful sitting PM being ousted from office has considerably strengthened the credibility of the superior judiciary. This investigation conveys a strong message that nobody is beyond reach of the law any more, everyone will be held accountable. The “Al Capone” Formula being applied did skirt the fail-safe line about rule of law parameters but was necessary so as not to hinder investigation. Across the broad accountability that includes the bureaucracy, judiciary and military can bring credibility to a system hounded by influence protecting criminality and corruption. The extreme necessities of national security aside, everyone should be open for detailed public scrutiny, a top-down approach first targetting those involved in big frauds.

Democracy must not camouflage crimes of those in power. In a Guardian article in April 2011, Bilal Hussain said that many countries are corrupt but at least they are competent. “Today a terrifying level of incompetence pervades the entire sphere of governance in Pakistan. Because of bribery, jobbery and nepotism, the lower ranks of our civil bureaucracy are filled with incompetent and under-educated people.” Add to that the private sector, in a recent “Night of the Long Knives” a whole bunch of mostly inefficient associates of a white-collar criminal were forced to resign from a renowned financial entity.

Remaining hostage to inept and corrupt rulers and their cronies is not an option anymore. For anti-corruption measures to succeed, re-focussing PACI’s “trust and integrity” has to be connected with character building. Fighting corruption we must use all our resources combined, civil and military by cooperating universally in a corporate version of a “hybrid war” against corruption (the writer is a defence and security analyst).

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LETTING A 100 DAMS BLOOM

For a country blessed with many rivers, the perennial scarcity of water in Pakistan is because of the shortage of storage capacity. While problematic presently, a full blown crisis is not so far in the distant future. While all provinces face shortages of water, Balochistan stands out as the most affected. This looming disaster can be overcome by (1) conserving water and maximizing its effect (2) eliminating, or at least minimizing wastage and (3) apportioning it judiciously on a need-to-have basis.

The little sources of water aside, scanty rainfall in land and resource-rich Balochistan is a harsh and permanent feature. Monsoon rainfall averages less than 200 mm annually, the western parts receiving less than 50mm.  Eking out a precarious existence in a badly flawed feudal system, water deprivation adds to the complicating factors feeding militancy.  Severe drought and man-made famine adding to the population’s deep-rooted necessity in some areas is because of the govts failure to (1) preserve rain and (2) decreasing groundwater levels caused by deep well pumping. Dr Ainuddin, chairperson of the Disaster Management Department at the University of Balochistan says that “Noshki, Chaghi, Kharan and Makran, among other areas, are more prone to drought, and it has affected land, water resources, water, wildlife and plants.” The Federal Govt (and even the media) appear not interested even in discussing the problem for solutions. Less than 15% of the population has access to clean free, running water. Alarmingly, Quetta is facing a perilous situation with the water level decreasing three-and-a-half feet every year, the average groundwater level being just 180 feet. Despite being banned deep-dug tube wells numbers exceed 2000, of which only 450 are registered, this is a major factor behind the dropping water level.

Balochistan wasteland comprises of mountainous ranges and deserts in Chagai, Kharan, Mekran coastal region, Lasbela and Marri – Bugti tribal areas. Spread over an area of about 347,000 sq km the land mass is around 43% of Pakistan, why have our planners never seriously wanted to exploit more than 20 million acres of highly fertile land for cultivation and production of crops every year? Owning arable land is the ultimate dream of the human being, the poor downtrodden population of Balochistan can really benefit by becoming truly self-sufficient. Balochistan’s irrigation system is in bad shape, the centuries-old traditional irrigation systems, including Karez (underground water channel linked with open well system) have become dysfunctional owing to depleting groundwater resources.  Concerted efforts must be made to tame the floods, build water storage facilities and construct dams, even small ones on a priority basis. The once mega irrigation infrastructure — especially the dams damaged by the floods of 2010 – remains in shambles. The ‘100-dams’ project of the Federal Govt was greatly publicized and accommodated in the Federal PSDP 2007-08, has hit bureaucratic snags.

Specialists and experts are of the view that dams are the only solution to the growing threat of water shortage, drought and famine.  Only a handful has been built by successive provincial govts over the years. Consequently, a large amount of water goes to waste while the people thirst and even die for want of this precious commodity. According to the Agriculture Dept of Balochistan, “8.57 bn cubic metres of water out of 10.69 bn cubic metres (almost 80%) is being wasted every year because of the lack of dams. Lack of infrastructure renders water coming from the mighty Indus of little use”, warning that “if this misuse of water continues, the population might have to migrate in near future”.

A model exists next door, Iranian Balochistan solved its water shortage problem by investing in developing water resources, this included building dams. Iran could thus launch its Chahbahar Port and adjoining areas where an industrial complex is being developed. Even Gwadar Port city, the focus of CPEC, faces severe shortage of water, even for drinking and domestic use. Prospects for building dams and water storage facilities in Balochistan are very favourable but after Mirani Dam no new dams or water storage facilities were constructed. Proven to be a failure, funds spent on small check dams is being wasted.  The Kachhi Canal taken up during the Musharraf regime would have irrigated more than 0.7 million acres of land in the Kachhi and Sibi Plains when completed but WAPDA is yet to complete the first phase of Kachhi Canal, with construction delayed for more than a quarter of century, it will now cost twenty times more, more or less true of all other water-management projects delayed for no apparent reason but sheer apathy and neglect.

Successive Federal and Provincial govts have remained indifferent to this matter of life and death.  The residents of the small coastal town of Pasni faced acute water shortage for over half a century, however once a small dam was built on Shadi Kuar River, the first rains filled its catchment with more than 40,000 acre-feet of water. Similar was the case with the Akra Kaur Dam and Saiji Dam near Gwadar, both adjacent townships are now self-sufficient in drinking water.  What the coastline needs are several desalination plants, compare the capital and recurring costs to catchment dams!

The last major dam built in 2002 is the medium-size multi-purpose Mirani Dam located on the Dasht River in Kech District, this also recharges hundreds of major Karez and wells upstream. Supposed to irrigate up to 33,200 acres of land but only a fraction land is being irrigated and developed. WAPDA has recently started making efforts to start work on four dams i.e. Naulong, Hingo, Badinzai and Sukliji. While construction work on Naulong dam would be initiated soon as funding options are thrashed out with Asian Development Bank (ADB), the other three dams were in the planning stages and PC-IIs were awaiting approval from Planning Commission.

CPEC will open up new avenues of economic development for Balochistan. The estimated $7.1 billion initial investments in energy, transport, development of Gwadar city and port notwithstanding, it is vital that not only more dams are constructed on a fast-track basis but Gwadar, Pasni and Ormara must have desalination plants, possibly powered by wind turbines and solar projects.  CPEC must not be confined to power projects and road/rail infra-structure, a minimum of 10-12 more dams must be built on a crash basis. The world has stopped building big dams, one can only ignore the province’s potential at the cost of Pakistan’s future.  Either we let a 100 dams bloom in Balochistan or we damn its population to water scarcity and starvation (the writer is a defence and security analyst).

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