Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Radicalisation abroad

FOR decades Pakistan has re lied on remittances from its workers abroad to finance eco nomic and social development at home. In 2009, one of the most difficult years for the Pakistani economy, the only thing that showed some improvement was the level of remittances.
While exports declined by six per cent and imports by 10 per cent, remittances increased by 22 per cent. Without an in crease of this magnitude Pakistan’s ex ternal situation would have been even more difficult today. The fact that the State Bank of Pakistan was able to re build its external balances to a comfort able level owed a great deal to this steady increase in the then level of re mittances. Any disturbance in this trend will have grim economic consequences.
For years the US had become the largest source of remittances from abroad, as the people who traced their origin to Pakistan became more involved with the development of what was once their homeland. However, much to the concern of many, the Pakistan-US link seems to be providing another type of flow: there are some among the Muslim community in the United States who seem to have decided that they should join what they view as the Muslim world’s fight against the Christian West. Some of these misguided people are heading towards Pakistan.
The arrest in Pakistan some time ago of five young men from the suburbs of Washington on suspicions that they were planning to fight against the Pakistani state and the US has raised a number of disturbing issues. They need to be addressed seriously by the people of Pakistan, by the Pakistanis in the United States, by Washington and by Islamabad. If what we are witnessing is a trend it will have worrying economic, political and social consequences for Pakistan. It will, most certainly, isolate the country even more from the world at a time when it needs external support for dealing with an unprecedented economic crisis.
A comforting conclusion was reached by many analysts and possibly also by Washington that there were good reasons why the United States was spared another terrorist attack following 9/11. It appeared that the focus on homeland security kept potential troublemakers out of the country. And there was the belief that the Muslims in the United States were not vulnerable to radicalisation.
Was the latter conclusion incorrect? Are the American Muslims susceptible to the kind of influences and pressures that have driven so many of their co-religionists in Europe to take desperate action against the countries in which they reside? According to one analyst, “the notion that the United States has some immunity against terrorists is coming under new scrutiny”.
The conclusion that the American Muslim community has not been radicalised seems not to be entirely correct although by and large it is better integrated in the US economy and society than is the case with the one in Europe. This is in part because a large number of Muslims in the United States have different socio-economic backgrounds than those who went to Europe.
Are the Pakistanis in America more inclined towards radicalisation than Muslims from other communities? There have been disturbing incidents of terrorism in America lately, as well as apparent intentions of committing them. Many have either involved young men from Pakistan or visits to Pakistan for training to commit violence. The fact that Pakistan has become the hub of global terrorism inspired by various Islamic causes should be of considerable concern to Islamabad.
What are the various choices available to the makers of public policy to stop this situation from deteriorating? First, Washington needs to ensure that in its zeal to protect itself, it should not further limit access to the country to Pakistani youth. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Pakistanis to get visas to attend colleges and universities in the US.
This is unfortunate since Pakistan’s educational system is extremely weak and one way of compensating is to send the youth to institutions in America. Restricting this will alienate the Pakistani youth even more. Washington should also encourage non-radical imams teaching and giving sermons at the various mosques in the country to stop the young from drifting towards extremism.
While the US has a role to play, much of the action needs to be taken by Islamabad and the country’s provincial governments. There are two obvious areas of policy intervention. The first, of course, is improving the educational system. This needs to be done at all levels.
Not only has Pakistan neglected primary education, it has also paid relatively little attention to higher education. Without improving the skill base of the vast army of the young in the country — Pakistan with a me dian age of 18.2 years has one of the youngest populations in the world — the youth will continue to be attracted to radical causes.
Of equal importance is the action by the state against organisations in the private sector that have openly recruited the young for pursuing extremist causes. There is no point in denying that this was being done by the state to compensate for India’s growing military strength. The jihadi groups were being prepared to do battle in case the two countries went to war again.
This strategy has massively backfired. These groups have turned on the Pakistani state and the Pakistani people. The state policy has taken a 180-degree turn. These groups have to be eliminated by the use of all means, including force, available to the state. Keeping them in reserve as insurance against India will not work. This is now the time for Pakistan — the government and the people — to move against extremism. Not pursuing this objective with the full might of the state and citizenry will do the country even more harm.
By Shahid Javed Burki
Source DAWN
Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 18, 2009

Permissibility of music

THE other day I read an article in the Friday edition of an Urdu newspaper which quoted a few traditions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to argue that music is strictly prohibited in Islam, and that Allah will send those who burn musical instruments to paradise. Many non-Muslims also ask this question frequently as to why Islam is opposed to music. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb is also said to have strictly prohibited music. But is music really prohibited in Islam? My study into the matter shows it is not prohibited per se. The Quran denounces what it calls lahw wa la’b (i.e. fun and play), and there was a background to it. Arabs in pre-Islamic times had no serious religious faith and used to indulge in drinking, singing and dancing as we often witness in our societies also. Islam wanted to engage people in serious activities of containing social evils and make them obedient to Allah thereby becoming good, just and compassionate human beings, undertaking fight against all prevailing social evils. For such way of life naturally lahw wa la’b was a serious obstacle; hence the Quran warned people against it.However, many Muslims could not distinguish between the two and declared music prohibited, whatever its form or context. While traditional ulema denounced music, Sufi saints generally approved of it, and distinguishing between lahw wa la’b and harmless fun, they allowed music as a tool to God-realisation. Music could induce a sort of ecstasy which in turn helped in being closer to God. Thus sama’ which literally means listening to music was practised by Sufis.It was for sama’ that qawwali was invented, as far as my knowledge goes, by Khusro, the celebrated disciple of Nizamuddin Awliya who used to have sama’ (i.e. congregation for devotional music). Those traditional ulema who were jealous of Nizamuddin Awliya’s popularity issued a fatwa against him for attending sama’ and the sultan asked him to come to his court to defend himself. He went to the sultan’s court (otherwise he never paid a visit to any sultan) and defended himself by reciting certain ahadith and came away. Maulana Rumi had gone a step further and even resorted to dancing to induce such divine ecstasy. His followers regularly resort to dancing, and are known as the whirling dervishes.It was because of such controversies created by a section of the traditional ulema that an eminent scholar like Ghazali wrote an epistle on Status of Music in Islam — Discipline and Rules of Music and Ecstasy. It is worth reading for all those who want to understand whether Islam prohibits music or not; or if prohibits, what kind of music it prohibits.Al-Ghazali begins his Risala on music with these words, “Know this my dear about the fact and situation of man that there is a secret of God which is hidden in the human heart; which is similar to the one that is between iron and stone. Just as fire emits when iron strikes stone and sets forest on fire, a movement occurs in the human heart when it hears good and rhythmical sounds. And unconsciously a new situation comes into existence in the heart.”He further says, “The upper world of beauty and grace and the fundamental of beauty and grace is due proportion. And, whatever is proportionate is the manifestation of the beauty of that upper world. The beauty and proportion that we see in this world is the product of the beauty and grace of the upper world. Therefore, good, rhythmical and proportionate sound has a similarity with some of the wonders of the upper world. And it provides new informations in the heart in the form of a movement and eagerness.”Further, Ghazali says, “Whoever’s heart is filled with the fire of the eagerness of God, music becomes necessary for him, so that the fire may be brighter. The same music becomes haram (prohibited) and poisonous for a man whose heart is full of the love of wrongful matters.”What is this wrongful matter that Ghazali refers to? It is lust, frolic and music meant for worldly pleasure like the ones youngsters indulge in after drinking in clubs and such other institutions. Of course Indian classical music does not fall in this category; it is great art and a discipline in itself. Even qawwali and ghazal singing are based on Indian classical music. For that matter, western classical symphonies are also well cultivated art representing the best in human beauty and grace.Of course, Ghazali does not base his epistle only on such arguments but also on ahadith which tell us how the Prophet himself listened to music on occasion along with Hazrat Ayesha, his beloved wife. This can be discussed further in another article.
By Asghar Ali Engineer
The writer is an Islamic scholar who heads the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai.
Source: DAWN
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Source of Terrorism

ALTHOUGH there are still a couple of weeks to go before the new year, 2009 will go down in Pakistan’s exceptionally turbulent history as the country’s bloodiest year — bloodier than the time of ‘Operation Cleanup’ in the early 1990s in Karachi.
The security forces then dealt with a situation that was confined to one city, albeit the largest in the country and that was the result of warring groups seeking to establish their political and economic writ. It was not aimed at destroying the Pakistani state or establishing a new political, economic and social order. It was about control of the city. This time the state is the target. Pakistan is dealing with an insurgency that poses an exis tential threat.
Complicating the situation is the fact that the germs of this insurgency were planted by operators both within and outside Pakistan. According to popular belief the main reason for the development of extremism in the country was the involvement of the US in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the decision by Washington to pull out of the area that, in policy terms, it now refers to as AfPak.
The US left once the Soviet Union withdrew its forces from Afghanistan. But that is only a quarter of the explanation. There were several others. Among these was the social and political engineering of Gen Ziaul Haq who decided on his own and without the aid of public support that Pakistan needed to adopt Islam as the basis of its economic, political and social systems.
Under him, the country went through a wrenching change which was aided and abetted by the several Arab states with which his government had become closely associated. Saudi Arabia was particularly important in pushing Pakistan in that direction. It had helped finance Mujahideen efforts in Afghanistan and also financed the founding and development of a number of madressahs in large cities.
These madressahs taught a version of Islam that was mostly foreign to Pakistan. This is how Wahabi Islam struck roots in Pakistani soil. It flourished in particular in those areas whose people had been exposed to it because of their sojourn in Saudi Arabia.
One relatively less understood reason for the rapid growth of this more orthodox interpretation of Islam is the channel it found through the temporary migration to the Gulf states from Pakistan’s northern areas. This lasted for a decade and a half, from the mid1970s to the early 1990s, and involved several million people from northern Punjab and the NWFP. These workers were hired on fixed contracts, stayed in camps near the construction sites, and spent a good deal of their spare time in the mosques. They thus came under the influence of the local imams steeped in the Wahabi tradition. They brought this interpretation with them when they returned to Pakistan.
Also contributing to the problem is the fact that Pakistan’s political development was arrested because of the repeated involvement of the military in politics. The state’s priorities kept on changing as the leadership provided by the military in politics changed. But there was one thing common in the way all four military dictators governed. They had little confidence in the political will of the people they governed; all knowing, they ruled the country according to their particular whims.
Ayub Khan believed in limited democracy. He called it basic democracy. Ziaul Haq believed in what he thought was the Islamic way — the people should be governed by a pious leader who should not be constrained by the expressed wishes of the people. His only obligation was to consult a group of wise people chosen by the pious leader and assembled in a forum he called the shura.
Pervez Musharraf went back to the Ayubian formula by limiting democracy to a system of local government and a king’s party controlling a largely inconsequential national legislature. Being military men, these leaders believed in strong command and control systems in politics and economics .Since they were distant from the people they could not build popular support for their policies.
By far the most important contributor to the rise of extremism was the way a series of administrations managed the Pakistani economy. For many decades Pakistan experienced one of the sharpest increases in the rate of population growth. The country’s population at the time of independence was only 32 million of which 10 per cent lived in urban areas. It has increased almost five and a half times to 170 million on the eve of 2010.
This implies an average rate of growth of over three per cent sustained over a period of 60 years. Although the country has not held a population census for many years, I believe that nearly a half of this large and growing population is now urban. The urban population has increased at the rate of 4.5 per cent a year, again one of the highest in the world.
Unfortunately these demographic developments were not factored into the making of economic policy. Islamabad should have focused not only in getting the economy to grow rapidly — which it did on occasions and during the periods when the military was in charge – but also on ensuring that the rewards of rapid growth were widely distributed. The result is that the country now has millions of alienated youth with little faith in their future. They have been successfully recruited to jihadist causes. The latest of these is the destruction of the Pakistani state.
In developing an approach towards growing extremism and terrorism it is breeding, policymakers as well as the citizenry must first understand its complex causes. By focusing on just one aspect — the American pressure to go after the perpetrators of terrorist activities — the country will not be able to evolve a cogent response.
by Shahid Javed Barki
Source: Dawn
Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 11, 2009

Consensus reached on NFC Award

LAHORE: The 7th National Finance Commission Award has been announced. The provinces are all set to get 12.5 per cent more from the federal divisible pool in the next five years. They will get 56 per cent in 2010 and 57.5 percent for the following four years.
All provinces had already agreed on a vertical distribution. But for the first time they have agreed on a horizontal distribution based on a multiple-criteria formula.
The criteria include population which consitutes 82 per cent of the share, poverty which will get 12 per cent and area and revenue generation that are to get three per cent each.
Announcing the award, Finance Minister, Shaukat Tarin said that in accordance with population density, Punjab will get 51 per cent of the share, Sindh will get 24 per cent, NWFP, 14 per cent and Balochistan 9 per cent.
NWFP will get one per cent from all provinces for fighting the war on terror.
Balochistan will get 83 billion rupees which is 10 billion more than the 6th NFC award.
Hailing the decision as the second achievement of democracy following the restoration of the judiciary, Punjab Chief Minsiter Shahbaz Sharif thanked all provinces for reaching a consensus on the issue.
Balochistan CM, Aslam Raisani, Sindh CM Qaim Ali Shah, Balochistan CM, Ameer Haider Hoti also hailed the mutual agreement on formulae for division under the NFC as a great acheivement. -DawnNews
Bookmark and Share

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Plan for 1,500MW rental power plants

The Economic Coordination Committee approved on Friday plans to set up rental power projects to generate 1,500MW and sent a summary to the cabinet for approval.
Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told journalists after the meeting that in view of a requirement of 2,700MW generation through rental power plants (RPPs), the ECC had asked his ministry to arrange 2,200MW from 14 companies in order to get rid of loadshedding.
‘The ECC meeting today approved 1,500MW to be generated through the RPPs and directed the power ministry to seek 200 mmcfd of gas from the petroleum ministry to generate 700MW from the existing system,’ Mr Ashraf said.
He said that if the petroleum ministry failed to provide the required gas more electricity would be generated through the RPPs.
He said the average tariff for IPPs was 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour while that for RPPs was 13.5 cents per unit. He rejected opposition’s allegations and said no one had provided any concrete evidence of misappropriations against his ministry over the RPP issue.
The plan had been approved by parliament after four days of debate on the RPP issue, he added. ‘Maximum tariff for any RPP is 15 cents per unit and that too for the barge-based generation plant for Karachi.’
In reply to a question about the financial impact of the RPP, Mr Ashraf said that when the plants came online the overall tariff would rise by six per cent.
However, he said, it would be the decision of the government to pass on the increase to consumers or to provide subsidy.
Mr Ashraf said the RPP policy had been adopted over the world and countries like Saudi Arabia and India were also getting electricity through RPPs. ‘We have to decide weather to get electricity or face loadshedding which is resulting in unemployment, low economic growth and protest demonstrations.’
The minister said that the energy mix consisted of hydel, thermal (both public and private sectors), nuclear and limited quantity of coal and wind.
He said the hydel power generation depended on water which was mainly controlled by the Indus River System Authority for irrigation and a new hydel project required at least eight to 10 years.
‘A thermal power plant requires five years and a coal-based plant six years. The country has no other option but to go for rental power plants.’
Mr Ashraf said that 14 per cent mobilisation advance payments were being made to the RPPs and the amount would be deducted from tariff payments when plants became operational.
He defended the advance payment and said it was being done to expedite the commissioning of the plants.
He said the government was also working on hydel power plants and projects like Bhasha Dam and Neelum-Jehlum power plants and it would soon start work on the Bunji dam project.

Source: The Dawn
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Solar eclipse shrouds Asia in daytime darkness

A partial solar eclipse silhouettes birds surrounding a minaret of the shrine of Sufi Saint Bah-ud-din Zakria in Multan, Pakistan on Wednesday, July 22, 2009. The longest solar eclipse of the 21st century pitched a swath of Asia into near-darkness after dawn, as millions watched the once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon Wednesday. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)

Source: The Associated Press: Solar eclipse shrouds Asia in daytime darkness

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Universalism of Islam

THE cardinal principle of Islam is belief in the absolute oneness of God, or tauhid. In the opening chapter of the Quran, God is described as Rabb al-‘alamin. As pointed out by Dr Fathi Osman, in the Quran, God is not related to any particular place or people but to all creation.
Whilst the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament refers to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Quran does not refer to God as the God of a particular prophet. God is the one and only creator of everything that exists and from God’s unity comes the unity of creation. The Quran points out that God not only creates and sustains all creatures but also gives moral guidance to humanity which has been made “in the best of moulds” (Surah 95:4).
The Quran affirms that God “cares for all creatures” (Surah 2:268), and testifies that the message it contains is universal as may be seen from the following verses: “Hallowed is He who from on high, step by step, has bestowed upon His servant the standard by which to discern the true from the false, so that to all the world it may be a warning” (Surah 25:1).
“[The Quran] is but a reminder and a divine discourse, clear in itself and clearly showing the truth, to the end that it may warn everyone who is alive (of heart)” (Surah 36:69-70). “This (divine writ) behold, is no less than a reminder to all the worlds” (Surah 38:87). “This (message) is no less than a reminder to all humankind — to every one of you who wills to walk a straight way (Surah 81: 27-28).
The Quran also affirms the universal mission of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) as, for instance, in Surah 34:28, it states: “Now (as for you, Mohammad) We have not sent you otherwise than to mankind at large, to be a herald of glad tidings and a warner.”
Islam’s non-exclusive spirit is embodied in many Quranic verses, such as the following: “Verily, those who have attained to faith (in this divine writ) as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians — all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds — shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve” (Surah 2:62; this verse is repeated in an almost identical form in Surah 5:69).
“And they claim, ‘None shall ever enter paradise unless he be a Jew’ — or ‘a Christian’. Such are their wishful beliefs! Say: ‘Produce an evidence for what you are claiming, if what you say is true!’ Yea, indeed: everyone who surrenders his whole being unto God, and is a doer of good withal, shall have his reward with his Sustainer; and all such need have no fear, and neither shall they grieve” (Surah 2:111-112).
“And be conscious of the Day on which you shall be brought back unto God, whereupon every human being shall be repaid in full for what he has earned, and none shall be wronged” (Surah 2:281).
Since God is the universal creator who sends guidance to all humanity, Muslims are commanded by the Quran to affirm the divine message given to all the previous prophets. It is stated in Surah 40:78: “And, indeed, (O Mohammad,) We sent forth apostles before your time; some of them We have mentioned to you, and some of them We have not mentioned to you.” While only 25 prophets are mentioned in the Quran, the above-cited verse indicates the passage of other prophets as well. Indeed, Surah 16:84 tells us that God “shall raise up a witness out of every community”.
The Quran enjoins Muslims to affirm the continuity of Islam with previous revelations and prophets and not to make a distinction amongst them, as can be seen from verses such as the following: “Say, We believe in God, and in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed to Moses and Jesus, and that which has been vouchsafed to all the (other) prophets by their Sustainer: we make no distinction between any of them. And it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves” (Surah 2:136).
The injunction is repeated in the third surah in identical words: “Say, We believe in God, and in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed by their Sustainer unto Moses and Jesus and all the (other) prophets: we make no distinction between any of them. And unto Him do we surrender ourselves” (Surah 3:84).

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NATO gets its supply route from Russia: What it means for Pakistan?

The summit between Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev at the Kremlin on Monday has produced an agreement that will let the NATO-US forces fly their troops and weapons across Russian territory. The agreement allows 4,500 US military flights annually over Russia “at no extra charge”. A White House announcement stated: “This agreement will enable the United States to further diversify the crucial transportation routes used to move troops and critical equipment to re-supply international forces in Afghanistan”.The joint statement issued after the summit had the following comment bearing on the situation in Afghanistan: “The two countries will work together to help stabilise Afghanistan, including increasing assistance to the Afghan army and police, and training counter-narcotics personnel. They will work together with the international community for the upcoming Afghan elections and they will help Afghanistan and Pakistan work together against the common threats of terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking.” President Obama’s own comment after the summit made it clear that the two countries had resolved “to reset US-Russian relations so that we can cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest”.The highlight of the summit, of course, was the supply route for NATO which Russia had opposed in the recent past. The next highlight of the summit, not spelled out but certainly a subject of mutual understanding, was NATO policy towards Russia, especially its US-led move to include under its umbrella those states that Russia considers within the orbit of its own influence. The Americans may therefore have agreed to soft-pedal on the Ukraine front, and policy rollback in Georgia, also a former member republic of the USSR, which Russia had attacked last August to target the military installations the Georgians had built according to NATO standards.The transit route issue has clearly forced the Obama administration to step back from the Russia policy of the Bush administration, signalled by the Monday summit’s new agreements on nuclear arms cuts and replacement of a key disarmament treaty, including figures for reduction in nuclear warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675 within seven years. This came under the unspoken rubric of undoing the Bush administration’s decision to renege on disarmament with Russia. Before the summit Kyrgyzstan had already indicated that it would “renegotiate” the American bases on its soil and will not insist on their immediate removal. Russia had been mollified and this mollification must have embraced Russia’s complaints in relation to the expansion of NATO in particular and the general feeling in Russia that America was spreading its tentacles eastward after destroying a Slav state in the Balkans in 1999. The consequent thaw will have direct bearing on the situation in Afghanistan; and it will include a nod from China which fears the terrorists more than the expansion of American influence in the region.Will this mean a reduction of Pakistan’s leverage in any way? Islamabad remains important because of the land route it provides for NATO supplies. If there is any reduction it will be bought by the US only at a big financial cost. But far more than that is the developing consensus in the neighbourhood of Pakistan behind the NATO presence in Afghanistan and the success of its mission against terrorism. This development will affect Pakistan’s policy of assistance to this mission conditional to rolling back the Indian encroachment in Afghanistan and resultant interference inside Pakistan. No one at the international level seems to worry about Governor NWFP Owais Ghani’s warning about “dangerous” American activities across the Durand Line.The summit will disabuse a lot of Pakistani analysts who have been hoping that Russia would defeat America, now that it is stuck in Afghanistan, the same way America had defeated Russia when it was stuck in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The other jolt the development will deliver is to the strategists who think nothing of the regional consensus gelling against Pakistan’s lingering policy of “strategic depth” and its permanent posture of deterring and challenging India. The general feeling in Pakistan is that if the NATO-US forces leave Afghanistan, the power vacuum thus created would be filled by Pakistan. That may be an erroneous conclusion. *

Source: Daily Times
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Water scarcity and disputes

WITH unprecedented challenges of water scarcity facing the world, some new approaches have surfaced to tackle this problem.
The terms like ‘river diplomacy’ and ‘environmental peacekeeping’ are commonly used in non-traditional human security studies as tension between riparian states mount on water sharing, environmental degradation, irrigation and drinking water shortage and decline in food security.
Recent research studies on water related bodies warn that the world may be very close to its first water war due to the adverse climate change, energy and food supplies and prices, and troubled financial markets. Water scarcity is leading to political insecurity and inter and intra-state conflicts.
Glacier melting, global warming, water reservoir and dams affect shared ecological resources, upsetting political relationships between riparian states. Building of Kishanganga and Baghliar dams on river Chunab and Jhelum is an example of trans-boundary water dispute between two hostile neighbours: Pakistan and India. The future of peace and economic stability in South Asia also depends on the flow of water from Indian held Kashmir to the downstream Kotri, Pakistan.
The two states have also been locked in a dispute over the project for years. The Kishanganga or the Neelam River is the largest tributary of Jhelum. Pakistan believes that this project will not only impact its hydropower potential, but will also adversely affect the agriculture in the Neelam valley and the Muzaffarabad district. Experts on strategic studies and diplomacy are now terming water as oil of 21st century. Water is going to determine the foreign policy discourses of nationstates with their neighbouring countries that are sharing water resources. The future of political relationships of lower and upper riparian may be shaped by the water flows, both in terms of quantity and quality.
Pakistan and India are no exception to this. Per capita water availability is fast approaching the threshold of 1000 cubic meters of water per person per year in both countries. Pakistan at 1200 cubic meters per capita is slightly above this water stress threshold.
The Indus River Basin comprises of almost 1.2 million square km in Tibet, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) of 1960, three eastern rivers, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej were handed over to India.
In the IWT, India has also been allowed to develop 13, 43,477 acres of irrigated cropped land on the western rivers without any restriction on the quantum of water to be utilised. India has already developed 7, 85,789, acres for which 6.75 MAF has been used. Thus, for the remaining area of 5, 75,678 acres, 4.79 MAF would be required on pro rata basis.
Whereas three western rivers, Indus, Jhelum and Sutlaj were given for the exclusive use of Pakistan which irrigate 20 million hectares land out of total 69.6 million hectares land; four million hectares of land is rain-fed.
The source of water for these two nuclear rivals is Kashmir, which is a ‘jugular vein’ for Pakistan and for India "an integral part". In the Himalayan mountains of Kashmir high altitude glaciers are melting an at unprecedented rate.This phenomenon threatens the security of water supply of hundreds of millions of people.
The local environment of Kashmir and Himalayan range is suffering from the decades of military presence--habitats of snow leopards, brown bears, ibex are also under threat and garbage is being dumped into mountain crevasses. Conservationists and ecologists suggest that Siachan Glacier mountains be declared as ‘peace camp’. This would not only ensure protection of the landscape, but would offer the possibility of political peacemaking as well.
Kashmir’s strategic position is turning into a non-traditional human security protection zone in terms of water and environment.
Dawn photo library Pakistan is a rain scarce country and most of its water depends on melting Siachen Glacier in the Himalayan mountains in Kashmir.
In 1990, General (rtd) Pervez Musharraf, then a brigadier under training at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London, in a presentation, argued that the issue of Indus waters had the "germs of future conflict".
On June 18, 2002, Syed Salahuddin, chairman of the United Jihad Council and the leader of Hizbul Mujahideen, said "Kashmir is the source from where Pakistan’s water resources originate. If Pakistan loses its battle against India, it will become a desert." Few months back in Srinagar the chief of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti asked New Delhi to compensate Jammu and Kashmir on account of the Indus Water Treaty. She described the treaty as "discriminatory" and blocking the progress and economic development. She also came down heavily on the New Delhi-owned NHPC for its "arbitrary" exploitation of the state’s water resources. She said the NHPC was producing 1,500-MW of power from its projects in Jammu and Kashmir, but it was sharing just 180-MW with the state.
Pakistan realised this very late that except for Indus main and Kabul rivers, all the five vital tributaries of Indus river system (Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej), originate in Kashmir. Perhaps India knew all along, the importance of Kashmir and therefore it lied to the United Nations that it was prepared to hold a plebiscite in the valley. This realisation has given a new and a dangerous, twist to the Kashmir dispute.
India is also in the process of building the 330 MW Kishanganga dam on river Jhelum and the 450 MW Baglihar dam on river Chenab for hydro power generation, beside Tulbul (Wollar) barrage on Jhelum for navigational purposes.
Apart from these, Uri II hydro-electric project on Jhelum, and Pakul Dul and the huge, 1020 MW Burser hydro dam, both on Marusunder, a tributary of river Chenab, are in various stages of planning and execution.
According to the Indus Water Treaty, the country which completes the project first, will have the first rights on the river water. Pakistan has recently awarded a $1.5-billion contract to a consortium of China’s Gezhouba Water and Power Company and China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation to build the 960-MW project in eight years. Against the estimated Rs13.36 billion cost, the NHPC received the lowest bid is of Rs29.60 billion. Officials said they are still negotiating with the lowest bidder.
On the other hand, the water availability in our rivers is highly unreliable. The highest annual water availability in the recorded history 1922 to date was 186.79 MAF (million acre feet) in the year 1959-60 as against the minimum of 95.99 MAF in the year 2001-2002. This includes the Kabul river which contributes a maximum of 34.24 MAF and a minimum of 12.32 MAF with an annual average of about 20.42 MAF to Indus main.
The conflict for controlling Indus river basin between Pakistan and India is increasing. In future, water is going to be a crucial issue in relations between the two countries, perhaps at par with the Kashmir question.
President Asif Ali Zardari has warned: "The water crisis in Pakistan is directly linked to relations with India."

Source: Daily Dawn

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day (United States)

In the United States, Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, picnics, concerts, baseball games, political speeches and ceremonies, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day of the United States.

Sponsor's Ad:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Singer Michael Jackson dead at 50

Michael Jackson, the sensationally gifted child star who rose to become the “King of Pop” and the biggest celebrity in the world only to fall from his throne in a freakish series of scandals, died Thursday. He was 50.

Michael suffered a cardiac arrest earlier this afternoon at his Holmby Hills home and paramedics were unable to revive him. We're told when paramedics arrived Jackson had no pulse and they never got a pulse back.

Jackson’s death brought a tragic end to a long, bizarre, sometimes farcical decline from his peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music’s premier all-around performer, a uniter of black and white music who shattered the race barrier on MTV, dominated the charts and dazzled even more on stage.
His 1982 album “Thriller” — which included the blockbuster hits “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Thriller” — is the best-selling album of all time, with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide.
The public first knew him in the late 1960s, when as a boy he was the precocious, spinning lead singer of the Jackson 5, the music group he formed with his four older brothers. Among their No. 1 hits were “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “I’ll Be There.”

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


An ecosystem is an area on the Earth that is a community of living organisms and their surrounding environment. Every person, animal, plant, rock, stream, and piece of land belongs to one or more ecosystems. For example, imagine an ecosystem made up of a freshwater pond that serves as a home for frogs, lily pads, fish, cattails, dragonflies, algae, and protozoa. Each of these organisms, along with its sources of food, sediments, nutrients, and the water itself, is a part of the pond ecosystem, which functions as a unit or a single community. Ecosystems on Earth are incredibly diverse, both in size and in form-a large city that contains millions of people, their homes, and a built-up landscape is an urban ecosystem, while a small wildlife preserve within that city serves as a natural ecosystem.

Much like a person, an ecosystem has a given level of health. A healthy ecosystem performs many valuable functions, such as flood control, water purification, seed dispersal, pollination, pollutant removal, nutrient cycling, and habitat provision. These functions are beneficial to both humans and other inhabitants of ecosystems. Consider the value of one wetland ecosystem that helps remove toxic substances from drinking water, provides a nursery for baby fish, and supplies shelter for clams and mussels-and these are only a few of the services provided by this ecosystem. Many ecosystems experience the effects of disturbances. These disturbances can be caused by human actions, such as bulldozing a forest to build a highway, or they can be a result of natural events, such as soil erosion from heavy rains. Disturbances often decrease the ability of an ecosystem to provide valuable function, and thereby decrease the health of the ecosystem. A feature of ecosystems, from the smallest backyard to the entire globe, is that they tend to be resilient. Given time, ecosystems can often recover from disturbances, maintain their health, and continue to provide the functions necessary to sustain life on Earth.
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pakistan Jumps 10 Spots on Attractive Outsourcing Countries Index

Pakistan has been ranked at number 20 on the 2009 A.T. Kearney Global Services Location Index of the most attractive outsourcing destinations in the world. Pakistan went from 30th in 2007 to 20th in 2009 on the report released May 18th. There are plenty of companies in the Middle East, for instance, that outsource work to Pakistan. Even as concerns increase about Pakistan’s stability and the growing displaced population due to ongoing military operations with the Taliban, the country made a significant jump. Yet, cost is a huge motivator for many companies and is one reason that places like Pakistan score so highly. Countries are measured on 43 different attributes related to financial attractiveness, people and skills availability and business environment. In fact, the report says that as a region, the Middle East and North Africa are becoming more attractive in the ever-shifting geography of popular outsourcing places. Both enjoy large, well-educated populations and proximity to Europe. The index ranks the top 50 countries worldwide for locating outsourcing activities including IT services and support, contact centers and back-office support.

Source: PakPositive

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


An Earthquake is in fact the shaking of the ground caused by sudden movements in the earth's The biggest earthquakes are set off by the movement of the geological plates that make up the earth's crust. Some plates slide past each other gently, but others can cause a heavy pressure on the rocks, so they finally crack and slide past each other. By this, vibrations or shock waves are caused, which go through the ground. It is these vibrations or seismic waves which cause an earthquake. The closer to the source of the earthquake (the focus or hypocenter), the more damage occurs. Earthquakes are classified according to the depth of the focus.

0-43 miles (0-70 km) below ground → Shallow Earthquakes
43-186 miles (70-300 km) below ground → Intermediate Earthquakes
Deeper than 186 miles (300 km) below ground → Deep Earthquakes

The closer the focus to the surface, the heavier the earthquake. The earthquake is always the most intense on the surface directly above the focus (Epicenter). In general big earthquakes begin with light vibrations (foreshocks). These are the initial fractures in the rocks. After the main shock, there may be minor aftershocks, most of the time for months. This occurs as the rocks settle down.

Plate Tectonic

Geologists came to the conclusion in the 1960's that the Earth's rigid outer layer (crust and outer, rigid layer of the mantle) was not a single piece, but was broken up into about 12 large pieces called plates. There are three types of plate boundaries divided on the basis of their movement during an earthquake.

Convergent boundaries - two plates collide to form mountains or a subduction zone.

Divergent boundary - two plates are moving in opposite directions as in a mid-ocean ridge.

Transform boundary - two plates are sliding past each other as in the San Andreas fault of California. A transform boundary is like a tear in the Earth's crust. These plates move very slowly across the surface of the Earth as though they were on a conveyor belt. The convection currents in the much hotter mantle continually move the plates about 1/2 to 4 inches per year.

When the plates move they collide or spread apart allowing the very hot molten material called lava to escape from the mantle. When collisions occur they produce mountains, deep underwater valleys called trenches, and volcanoes. As mountains and valleys are being formed natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic activity can occur which has affected humans for thousands of years.


Seismology is the study of earthquakes and seismic waves that move through and around the earth. A seismologist is a scientist who studies earthquakes and seismic waves.

Seismic Waves

Seismic waves are the waves of energy caused by the sudden breaking of rock within the earth or by an explosion. It is the energy that travels through the earth and is recorded on seismographs.

Types of Seismic Waves

There are several different kinds of seismic waves, and they all move in different ways. The two main types of waves are body waves and surface waves. Body waves can travel through the earth's inner layers, but surface waves can only move along the surface of the planet like ripples on water. Earthquakes radiate seismic energy as both body and surface waves.

P Waves

The first kind of body wave is the P wave or primary wave. This is the fastest kind of seismic wave. The P wave can move through solid rock and fluids, like water or the liquid layers of the earth. It pushes and pulls the rock it moves through just like sound waves push and pull the air. Have you ever heard a big clap of thunder and heard the windows rattle at the same time? The windows rattle because the sound waves were pushing and pulling on the window glass much like P waves push and pull on rock. Sometimes animals can hear the P waves of an earthquake. Usually we only feel the bump and rattle of these waves.

S Waves

The second type of body wave is the S wave or secondary wave, which is the second wave you feel in an earthquake. An S wave is slower than a P wave and can only move through solid rock. This wave moves rock up and down, or side-to-side.

Richter Magnitude Scale

The Richter magnitude scale was developed in 1935 by Charles F. Richter of the California Institute of Technology as a mathematical device to compare the size of earthquakes. The magnitude of an earthquake is determined from the logarithm of the amplitude of waves recorded by seismographs. Adjustments are included for the variation in the distance between the various seismographs and the epicenter of the earthquakes. On the Richter Scale, magnitude is expressed in whole numbers and decimal fractions. For example, a magnitude 5.3 might be computed for a moderate earthquake, and a strong earthquake might be rated as magnitude 6.3. Because of the logarithmic basis of the scale, each whole number increase in magnitude represents a tenfold increase in measured amplitude; as an estimate of energy, each whole number step in the magnitude scale corresponds to the release of about 31 times more energy than the amount associated with the preceding whole number value.

At first, the Richter Scale could be applied only to the records from instruments of identical manufacture. Now, instruments are carefully calibrated with respect to each other. Thus, magnitude can be computed from the record of any calibrated seismograph.

The Richter Scale has no upper limit. Recently, another scale called the moment magnitude scale has been devised for more precise study of great earthquakes.

The Richter Scale is not used to express damage. An earthquake in a densely populated area which results in many deaths and considerable damage may have the same magnitude as a shock in a remote area that does nothing more than frighten the wildlife. Large-magnitude earthquakes that occur beneath the oceans may not even be felt by humans.

Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act (PEACE)

A general description of the performance goals established under section 302 of the legislation, includes:

(C) An evaluation of efforts undertaken by the government of Pakistan to —
(i) disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other extremist and terrorist groups in the Fata and settled areas;
(ii) close terrorist camps, including those of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Jaish-e-Mohammed;
(iii) cease all support for extremist and terrorist groups;
(iv) prevent cross-border attacks;
(v) increase oversight over curriculum in madressahs, including closing madressahs with direct links to the Taliban or other extremist and terrorist groups; and
(vi) improve counter-terrorism financing and anti-money laundering laws, apply for observer status for the Financial Action Task Force, and steps taken to adhere to the United Nations International Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism.

(D) A detailed description of Pakistan’s efforts to prevent proliferation of nuclear-related material and expertise.

(E) An assessment of whether assistance provided to Pakistan pursuant to this Act has directly or indirectly aided the expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, whether by the diversion of US assistance or the reallocation of Pakistan financial resources that would otherwise be spent for programmes and activities unrelated to its nuclear weapons programme.

(F) A description of the transfer or purchase of military equipment pursuant to title II of this Act, including: (i) a list of equipment provided; and (ii) a detailed description of the extent to which funds obligated and expended pursuant to section 203(b) meet the requirements of such section.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Failure of Democracy in Pakistan

Almost 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as a Government of the people, by the people and for the people. Democracy is a form of government in which the authority of government is based on the will of masses. Democracy aims at defining the relationship between the ruler and the masses in such a manner that primacy is assigned to the latter. After sixty years of its existence as an independent country democracy has remained an elusive dream in Pakistan. Let us try to dig deep into the factors which have hampered the growth of democracy in our country. First of all, the overdeveloped rule of military institution has remained an impediment in the way of the development of democracy. Once a military general comes in power he has no mood to go back. In this way the dictatorial rule for a long time results in the atrophy of democratic forces. Dr. Hassan Askari rightly pointed out in his book. The Military and Politics in Pakistan that initially after the inception of Pakistan the civilian governments were confronting a host of problems including communal riots, poor law and order situation, problem of refugees etc. which they were unable to solve through the civilian administration so they kept on inviting military to solve internal and external problems. This inability of political forces led to an increased military role in the process of decision making. After the assassination of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in 1951, military emerged as a strong institution and it was in the position to assume powers through the imposition of Martial Law in 1958. Since then military forged a partnership with bureaucracy to run the country. During last 60 years our military has become addicted to power and no amount of sermonizing will cure it. The second obstacle in the way of democracy is the culture of feudalism. Democracy cannot develop in the suffocating atmosphere of feudalism. The history of feudalism in the subcontinent is not very old. It owes its origin to the war of independence 1857, when different people were awarded large swathes of land by the British government because of their treacherous cooperation with the latter. Those feudal families joined Muslim League when they saw that Pakistan was going to be a reality and inherited power after the death of founding father. Feudalism has now become a severe migraine for the nation. Democracy and feudalism are incompatible. Change of faces at the wheel has not served any purpose. There is a crying need to bring some structural changes in order to strengthen the political system. Industrialization has also played a significant role in the strengthening of democracy across the world. Great Britain is considered as the mother of democracies on this planet. Some analysts are of the view that democracy has its origin from Magna Carta, Bill of Rights and Habeas Corpus etc. But even after these developments very mighty rulers have ruled Great Britain. In fact the invention of steam engine led towards industrial revolution which eradicated the roots of feudalism and evil of absolute monarchy. All this resulted in the development of democracy. In Pakistan there is everything from adult franchise to separation of powers between the three organs of government but no plan for that kind of industrial revolution. An active civil society has a significant role towards the success of democracy in a country. A civil society is a law governed society where the citizens are politically conscious of their rights and they are organized in multifarious institutions. There is no gainsaying the fact that the presence of a well-aware civil society helps in the development of social capital in a country. A civil society is not mere an association of people. It refers to the presence of democratic culture where tolerance is the most prominent feature. There is hardly any doubt that in Pakistan the civil society has remained deficient, insignificant or absent from the scratch. Lack of education has remained an important impediment to the democratization of countries. This is not just a problem of Pakistan but of the whole Third world. Laski, a famous political thinker, said that education is the backbone of democracy. Democracy is a system of governance in which the people choose their representatives through elections. Their strength lies in the ballot box. If people are not vigilant and educated enough to make a better choice, the democracy will not flourish in that country. This is the main reason that even in the countries apparently practicing democracy but with majority of uneducated people are among the under-developed nations. Masses in Pakistan have not found ways of compelling their rulers to be mindful of their duty. Their failures in this regard results from insufficiency of experience and training in operating modern democratic politics. Democracy puts the highest premium on constitutionalism, which is possible only with the predominant majority of people. Pakistan’s democracy can neither improve nor become viable as long as the majority of population remains uneducated. Judiciary is one of the most important pillars of a state and a country where judiciary is not imparting justice, democracy cannot develop. During Second World War someone asked British Prime Minister Winston Churchill whether the British would win the war. The Prime Minister laughed and replied that if the British courts were dispensing justice, no one would trounce the United Kingdom. In Pakistan since 1954 judiciary has remained docile to the wishes of executive. As Shelley says. If the winter comes; can spring be far behind. There is always light at the end of tunnel. However recently a landmark step has been taken by the lawyers and political forces of Pakistan towards the restoration of judiciary but more efforts are needed to be taken towards the independence of judiciary in order to make democracy successful in Pakistan. The challenge that we face today is that how to make the fragile plant of our nascent democracy grow into a full-blown tree of real participatory democracy. We must pay heed to Benjamin Franklin’s advice at the time of signing the Declaration of Independence. We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall hang separately.

Federal Budget 2009-2010

Download it!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

President confers Hilal-e-Shujaat on veteran politician

ISLAMABAD, June 10 (APP) ‑ President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday conferred Hilal‑i‑Shujaat on veteran politician and former federal and provincial minister from NWFP Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala at a special investiture ceremony held at Aiwan e Sadr on Wednesday. The investiture ceremony was attended among others by Chairman ANP Asfandyar Wali Khan, Governor NWFP Owais Ahmad Ghani, Cabinet members, provincial ministers, parliamentarians and other high officials.
Hilal‑i‑Shujaat has been conferred on Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala in recognition of the great courage and steadfastness demonstrated by him in the war against militants in Swat region.
The citation read out on the occasion also said “With granite determination he refused to abandon his village and inspired his people to stand up to bigotry, fanaticism and extremists.
Talking to media, Spokesman for President former Senator Farhatullah Babar said about three months ago, the provincial assembly of NWFP adopted a unanimous resolution urging the President to immediately confer Hilal‑i‑Shujaat on the “courageous and respectable Pukhtoon leader Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala for courage in fighting against militancy and for the survival of Pakistan”.
Afzal Khan fondly called Lala in Frontier belongs to village Drush Khela in Swat. When the victims of militants’ brutalities were streaming out of Swat for safety, the 78 years old Afzal Khan stood up against the militants and refused to abandon his ancestral home for fear of life, he said.
Afzal Khan stood like a rock against the militants and refused to heed the advice to migrate to a safer place. He miraculously survived several attempts on his life by militants who wanted to eliminate him to remove from the scene a symbol of defiance and courage. He and his nephew were seriously wounded in the attack. In another attack his two grandsons were assassinated and body guards seriously injured.
The conferment of Hilal‑i‑Shujaat on Afzal Khan also signifies determination of the President to honour symbols of courage in the fight against militants and to assure the victims that the state will not abdicate its duty to protect them.

Global Warming

Global Warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface and oceans.

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...