EDITORIAL: ‘Foiling’ terror attack in Europe - Thursday, September 30, 2010

Source : www.dailytimes.com

According to reports in the British media, the American CIA has attempted to foil Mumbai-style terror attacks in France, Germany, the UK and the US by ramping up missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The source of this information is a German citizen of Afghan descent. A US official confirmed the reports of an al Qaeda plot to carry out attacks in western Europe and the US. He said: “The threat is, at this point, credible but not specific.” Just this year, there was a failed attempt to bomb Times Square in New York by Faisal Shahzad, a naturalised US citizen of Pakistani descent. The US took a hard stance after the Times Square incident and warned Pakistan of dire consequences if a terror attack originating from our soil takes place in the US. In the light of the rise in attacks in Afghanistan by the Taliban, the US appears to be losing patience with Pakistan.

US top commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus has given a veiled warning that the US can eventually launch ground operations in FATA. According to a New York Times report: “Petraeus wants to turn up the heat on the safe havens...He has pointed out to the Pakistanis that they could do more.” Such thinking brewing within the US security establishment could have serious consequences for our country.

North Waziristan has been a hot issue for quite some time now for the western forces. The notorious Haqqani network is accused of providing safe havens to foreign terrorist networks. It has also been alleged that the Haqqani network has the covert support of Pakistan’s military establishment. With endgame in Afghanistan approaching, the military establishment thinks that it can pursue its ‘strategic depth’ policy without any repercussions. What it does not envisage is any international terror plots emanating from our soil. The Haqqani network itself may not be involved in pursuing such attacks outside the region, but its affiliates like al Qaeda are being provided with shelter and training in North Waziristan. Now that such plots are being uncovered, it is time to scrap this deadly foreign policy. A recent drone attack killed al Qaeda’s operational chief, Sheikh Fateh, in North Waziristan. It shows that the al Qaeda leadership is indeed hiding inside Pakistani territory. It is time that the Pakistan Army stops giving a free rein to the Haqqani network and launches a crackdown against all such elements that can lead to the destabilisation of the country, the region and the world at large.

The shelf life of our policy of protecting the Afghan Taliban has ended. If any terror attack takes place in any part of the world and has its origins in Pakistan, it could lead to serious consequences. We can hardly afford this. Pakistan is a dependent country. Our economic model is such that if the west decides to stop giving us loans and monetary aid, our economy will collapse. A ‘client state’ like Pakistan cannot afford to annoy its benefactors. Besides, by rooting out terrorism from our soil, we will be helping ourselves the most. Terrorist attacks on our soil have crippled the economy and made the life of every citizen all the more difficult. Political stability will be ushered in as well when we are rid of all extremist elements and can then work on getting our act together. Let this anticipated terror attack in Europe incident be a lesson for us to move forward and scrap all such policies that have increasingly diminishing returns. *

SECOND EDITORIAL: Indefinite postponement?

Although the Sindh government indefinitely postponed the local bodies’ elections in view of the devastation caused by floods in interior Sindh, it cannot overlook the first and basic tier of governance at the grassroots level for too long. Coalition partner in Sindh MQM, which is a keen supporter as well as the past beneficiary of the local government system introduced by General Musharraf, could not have been very happy over this development, although it voted for the Sindh Local Government (Fifth Amendment) Bill, 2010, on the consideration that it would be impossible to hold elections in a situation when entire villages have been wiped out and large swathes of population stand displaced. Even holding elections partially may not have been feasible. The entire government machinery is focused on providing relief and rehabilitation to the affected. The people of the non-affected areas are also involved in relief efforts and the dynamics of elections would have distracted attention from the job at hand. Opposition PML-Q members, on the other hand, urged the government to announce a tentative date and also tried to move a motion to this effect, which was rejected on technical grounds.

It is hard to understand the logic of indefinite postponement. Pakistan does need a local representative system. Over the years it has been demonstrated repeatedly that federal and provincial authorities, in and by themselves, cannot deliver at the doorstep of the citizen. The most immediate example is that of flood relief efforts, which were made doubly difficult because of the absence of local bodies to deliver goods and services to the affectees. Without a local representative system, the problems of the people remain unheard and unaddressed, and service delivery through the bureaucratic system inefficient. The government might like to amend the system crafted by Musharraf’s National Reconstruction Bureau; it is nevertheless necessary to have a system in place. Agreement on a tentative date of elections would have been far more practical than postponing them indefinitely. As soon as the crisis abates, it would be advisable to announce a schedule of elections and go ahead with it.

COMMENT: Averting catastrophe in South Asia —Harlan Ullman - Thursday, September 30, 2010

Source : www.dailytimes.com

Even the possibility of the floods putting Pakistan in extremis is strong enough a rationale to get this vital strategic relationship back on track while closing the trust deficit and mitigating the legitimate differences that deeply divide us

We can joke that the US and Great Britain are two nations divided by a common language. But the gap between the US and Pakistan is neither humorous nor easily reconciled. Only a fundamental improvement in mutual understanding can rectify the enormous misunderstandings and misperceptions on both sides that threaten this crucial relationship and our mutual security.

Despite two American presidents declaring Pakistan a major non-NATO ally and promising to implement a new strategic relationship, from Islamabad’s view, the flowery prose has not been accompanied by deed. And, seen from Washington, Pakistan is often a truculent, uncooperative and difficult partner.

Pakistanis believe that American presidents have virtually unlimited power and authority to make things happen and are angry over what is seen as non-delivery of promises. The Americans do not appreciate that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is in a coalition government needing 42 additional seats to hold a majority in a National Assembly of 342 members. Unfortunately, the White House has reversed the pitfalls of a coalition government (as in Britain or Iraq) with a perception of an absence of political leadership in Islamabad. Perhaps the loss of both Houses in November will change its mind.

Pakistanis ask what their country has gotten out of its relationship with the US so far. The US’s war on terror has cost them dearly: more than 31,000 civilian and military casualties; a spreading insurgency; and a haemorrhaging economy even before the super floods ravaged the nation.

The Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act approved $ 1.5 billion a year in support for five years or a total of $ 7.5 billion. But, only about 10 percent has been transferred for year one and most Pakistanis believe no money has arrived. Since September 11th, the US has underwritten the Pakistan Army to the tune of about $ 1 billion a year. Unfortunately, that funding has come in drips and drabs. Further, from Islamabad’s perspective, the US has done little to facilitate better relations between India and Pakistan and the $ 3.5 billion arms deal signed between New Delhi and Washington did not help.

Finally, given its stand on human rights, American silence over India’s martial crackdown in Kashmir signals to Pakistanis a double standard. The conviction and sentencing by a Federal Court in New York of Dr Aafia Siddiqui to 86 years in prison for terrorism and attempted murder have precipitated a huge backlash intensified by NATO’s hot pursuit of Afghan terrorists into Pakistani territory this Monday. These and other incidents underscore profound Pakistani doubts over US reliability and sincerity in defining a new strategic relationship.

The Americans have equally powerful points of contention and legitimate grievances with Pakistan. The White House worries that excessive cronyism prevents competent people from serving in Pakistan’s government. Corruption remains a divisive issue. And, US leaders do not see that its strategy in Afghanistan is fully supported by Pakistan, and perceive it as even opposed. Repeated delays in obtaining visas for US military and government personnel have disintegrated into full-blown mini-crises. And Pakistan’s longstanding policy on “fraternisation with foreigners” precludes Pakistan Army officers meeting socially with foreign contemporaries without permission, which further contributes to this trust deficit.

But Pakistan is in or close to extremis precipitated by simultaneous security, economic and now humanitarian crises. Worse, a fourth, politically charged showdown between the chief justice and the government looms. The consequence could be political chaos if the chief justice rules part of the 18th Amendment unconstitutional and denies presidential constitutional immunity over allegations of wrongdoing prior to taking office.

Parallels are inexact. Watergate and the impeachment of Bill Clinton over the Affaire Lewinski crippled our government. So too, Pakistan’s government could effectively be shut down or dissolved by a chief justice preoccupied with enhancing his own authority rather than focusing on the destructive consequences for the nation.

Some misunderstandings and grievances may not be resolvable. That does not mean we cannot try. The last chance may be a very serious meeting between the two presidents to work out these differences and begin re-strengthening this strategic relationship that is absolutely vital to achieving even a modicum of peace and stability in the region.

After Pearl Harbour and US’s entry into the war, Roosevelt and Churchill understood the need for intense, intimate and continuing dialogue. A weekend meeting at Camp David or some other remote location for the two leaders could begin such a process. Careful, advance preparation by both sides, of course, must be assured.

The driving force is the explosive ignition of Pakistan’s security, economic and political crises by the humanitarian catastrophe that Pakistan cannot handle alone. Here, even the possibility of the floods putting Pakistan in extremis is strong enough a rationale to get this vital strategic relationship back on track while closing the trust deficit and mitigating the legitimate differences that deeply divide us. Otherwise, the US and Pakistan will profoundly suffer. The only question will be how much.

The writer is senior advisor at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC and Chairman of the Killowen Group that advises leaders in business and government

The Deep State and technocrats - Kamran Shafi September 28, 2010

Source : www.dawn.com

ANYONE seen the list being circulated on the Internet containing the names of the `technocrats` who are being touted as our newest saviours in the “national government” that is to take over after the present dispensation is kicked out? Makes your skin crawl, I`ll tell you.

Most of them have been in the various and varied engineered dictatorial/caretaker/ so-called governments of which we`ve seen more than our fair share; governments that failed in every which way, made a bigger mess of things every single time that they “rescued” us, and after whose failure and subsequent departure the political leaders thrown out came back into the assemblies with larger majorities than they had when they were shown the door.

So why are these names making it to the lists being “prepared and finalised” when they were such abject failures in their earlier incarnations as ministers and advisers to dictators? It is not as if manna fell from heaven when they were ruling the roost, nor was there a chicken in every pot in the land. So, who are these people that pop up every now and again whenever the Deep State decides democracy has to take yet another setback?

No prizes for guessing, reader, for the matter is a simple one for any Pakistani who knows the shenanigans of the powers that be in the Land of the Pure: they are the handmaidens of the Deep State, who are always waiting in the wings in the `sit/stay` position, ready to leap at the next command. They are the darlings of the establishment, the actual inheritors of this country who can do no wrong, who are pure as driven snow. And whose acts of omission and commission when in (extra-legal) occupation of their offices have never been inquired into, let alone being prosecuted. Never mind that one of them virtually bankrupted Pakistan Railways.

No, sirs; no, prosecution is only for the elected representatives of the people who stand against dictatorship and the dark doings of the Deep State. Prosecution is only for those who get elected — never for those who inveigle their way into power through the back door, through the dictator`s pantries. But, really! Are we Pakistanis so naive that we simply cannot understand what is happening around us and to us? Are we so far gone that we haven`t had our fill, and more, of these false prophets? Don`t we know that to a man (and woman) that these people were against the restoration of the superior judiciary to please their boss, the Commando?

Hold on, though. I have only brought up the matter of a new dispensation because it is being bandied about. Let us see who wants this so-called `change`? I see no great demonstrations in the streets, neither against provincial nor the federal governments. So why this tsunami, this cacophony for `change`? What, and who, drives this demand? Again no prizes for guessing: it is the Deep State itself which wants this change primarily to puncture the democratic balloon one more time and relegate rule by parliament to the backstage so that any advances made are brought to naught. And, secondly, wants to have absolutely untrammelled suzerainty over foreign affairs as the Afghanistan imbroglio heats up. The Deep State would want no interference whatever from an independent parliament as it goes about playing the Great Game, no matter how disastrously.

And now for a bit of fun. According to this newspaper of record, Rehmatullah Memon, an official of the Pakistan Standards Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), raided the army`s CSD superstore in Karachi along with a team of inspectors and found several consumer products such as chilli powder, cooking oil, ghee, turmeric powder, CSD tea and other such items being sold illegally because these products had not been registered with the PSQCA. The worst news for customers of the superstore was that the CSD cooking oil manufactured in Multan was found to be substandard, containing higher quantities of Free Fatty Acids (FFA) than permissible.

For his pains, Mr Memon and his team were harassed by the CSD management and even held hostage for a while after being berated on the telephone by an angry Col Zakaria, probably the manager. The management also pulled down the shutters and shut the doors to the store, panicking the customers that included women and children. Sense soon prevailed, however, and Mr Memon and party (which included media persons and representatives of NGOs, which was probably why he and his team weren`t beaten black and blue!) left the CSD. Mr Memon should immediately be awarded the Sitara-e-Khidmat for entering what is virtually a lion`s den, a Pakistan army retail shop, and doing his duty.

A word about the Omar Cheema case: a round of applause for my friend Najam Sethi who, during a protest meeting in Lahore, quite rightly called upon the ISI to tell us just who kidnapped, beat and humiliated Cheema. It is my experience from the time that I worked for Benazir Bhutto so many years ago that the ISI was indeed the Mother of All Agencies, even in those far off days. The IB is but a poor relative, its spooks followed and observed relentlessly by ISI operatives. Those were the days when the ISI was notionally reporting to the prime minister, mark; it now reports to the COAS and as such is a far more powerful organisation. So who would know better than the ISI who was responsible for Omar Cheema`s kidnapping and torture?

I have made this observation before and I will make it again. We, all of us, are citizens of Pakistan. The ISI is a department of the government of this country and therefore belongs to us. Can it please civilise itself, and consider lesser mortals human beings too? If it has a problem with one of us citizens, can it please open a dialogue on the basis of respect and mutual esteem? Can it please get off its high horse?

A landmark verdict - Kuldip Nayar - September 24, 2010

Source : www.dawn.com

It was a laudable judgment of the Supreme Court which upheld the right of Indian Muslims to inherit the property that their fathers and forefathers had left behind before migrating to Pakistan.

I went to town to say that no other country could have delivered such a landmark verdict to prove India’s secular credentials. It was another nail driven in the coffin of communalism.

It made sense that those Muslims who did not leave the country and had retained Indian citizenship through thick and thin should be the rightful owners of the property which belonged to their family. Still the properties remained vested in the custodian, under the tag of ‘enemy property’ even when the owner who had migrated had died.Yet, it took 32 years for M.A.M. Khan, who is a distinguished son of the soil and once a UP assembly member, to establish the simple truth, his right to the property after the death of his father Raja Mahmudabad. The court rectified the wrong. He had never left the country and had retained his Indian nationality all along. In 1981, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s cabinet decided to return properties to all such Muslims who had never left Indian shores. But the decision could not be implemented because of political wrangling.

The same elements, the communal fringe in the Congress party and the BJP, came to the fore when the Supreme Court upheld the judgment by the Bombay High Court that Khan and his mother Rani Kaniz Abdi (since diseased) continued to reside in India as Indian citizens. The Supreme Court also bemoaned the wrong done by those who were in “the possession of property illegally and in a high-handed manner for 32 years.”

Had the petition been from an ordinary Muslim, not M.A.M. Khan, the son of Raja Mahmudabad, the treasurer of the Muslim League before Partition, the judgment would have probably gone unnoticed. But he was a mote in the eyes of communalists because Khan had stayed on in India and had stuck to his proud position of Indian nationality. He had to be chastised.

The Indian government brought before the last session of parliament a bill to extinguish the rights of Indian Muslims to inherit property even after the deaths of their fathers in Pakistan or abroad. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saw through the game to deny the right to Indian Muslims to inherit what their forefathers had left behind. And he acted. The fact that the families had migrated to Pakistan did not mean that their children too had become Pakistani nationals. Since the bill required some time to become an act, an ordinance was issued for the same purpose. But the prime minister’s intervention allowed the ordinance to lapse so that the right of Indian Muslims was not usurped by the custodian.

However, the problems of Khan and other Indian Muslims have not ended. Prejudiced politicians and the ‘interested’ bureaucracy do not want to release the properties on the ground that the bill would come in the next session of parliament or subsequently. What the officials, probably encouraged by some politicians, are doing amounts to contempt of court.

But in a country where there is a selective implementation of rules and regulations, the contempt proceedings of the court mean little. Even if they are started, the authorities take them in their stride. Khan and Muslims like him are made to run from pillar to post and are at the mercy of the same people who withheld the implementation of the Supreme Court judgment in 2005. They are determined not to allow the properties going back to their rightful owners.

My worry in the whole matter is over the communal angle which had pushed justice and fair play to the background. Such examples evoke a feeling among the Muslim community that when it comes to recognising their legitimate demands, an unexplainable bias takes over. This means that even the claim to establish a secular society remains on paper after 63 years of independence.

It is not only the denial of employment to a Muslim or the refusal to rent him a house, it is something more — the entrenched prejudice which expresses itself too often and too blatantly. The fact is that the India has not been able to establish a secular polity which the freedom fighters and the Nehru era had promised. A democratic country, taking rapid strides in the economic field, is yet to imbibe respect for the rule of law.

This is the reason why there has been so much uncertainty and fear over the judgment on the title suit of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site. The number of cabinet meetings that the Manmohan Singh government held before the verdict showed that despite all the precautions the government took, it lacked conviction in its ability to enforce the judgment. This is the case of all reports and judgments touching upon controversial subjects, particularly those which relate to communal matters.

The statements by the RSS and BJP leaders, less inflammatory than before, were expected to be one-sided. But their agenda is clear and purpose too well known. They think that the Hindus, a majority in the country, have the right to expect the minorities to bow to their wishes. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has no compunction in saying that the Muslims should voluntarily give up their claim to the disputed Babri Masjid site to prove their credentials to Hindus. How can such a statement go unchallenged?

L.K. Advani is once again going to speak from Somnath, the place from where he took a rath yatra to collect money which remains unaccounted for and more so to incite the Hindus. Hundreds of Muslims died in the wake of Advani’s yatra. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has coined apt words for them, mout ka saudagar (merchants of death). Fortunately, the response of the Muslim extremists has been less provocative, although their counterparts across the border are as shrill and furious as before.

The Raja of Mahmudabad is a victim of bias which is taking the toll on many people in the country. However exasperated and personally hurt, he must go on and see that the Indian Muslims who did not go to Pakistan do not have to wear the cross of Partition all their life.

Jaswant Singh, the BJP leader who has refurbished his liberal instincts, has rightly appealed to the BJP to move on and not remain stuck in the Middle Ages. But his plea has not evoked any attention. The RSS militant wing, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has collected sadhus at Ayodhya, where the demolished Babri Masjid stood. All these things tell upon India’s pluralism which is becoming more and more elusive.

The writer is a senior journalist based in Delhi.

Fact or fiction? - Ardeshir Cowasjee - September 22, 2010

Source : www.dawn.com

Field-Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, first Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, aka Monty, victorious commander of the Allied forces at the Battle of El Alamein (a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign against the German Afrika Korps) and leader of the Allied ground forces during the invasion of Normandy culminating in the end of the Second World War, observed, “I have spent much of my life fighting the Germans and fighting the politicians. It is much easier to fight the Germans.”

Pouring salt on the wounds of the millions displaced by the floods, arch-politician of Pakistan and accidental head of state, Asif Zardari, has announced that “reports on the alleged breaching of embankments are merely a fiction, and only political actors are talking about breaking of dykes.”

In the 1950s, Pakistan experienced severe floods in the Indus Basin rivers, but it was not until 1977 that the Federal Flood Commission (FFC) was created.

Reportedly up to Rs80bn has been spent so far in order to reduce flood losses; give priority to flood protection to areas of greatest economic risk; provide protection to areas outside the flood plains, i.e. cities and vital infrastructure; and improve existing flood protection/control facilities.

With Asian Development Bank help in pre- and post-millennium decades two flood protection sector projects to strengthen and increase the scope of flood forecasting and warning capability were implemented.

A flood warning manual was prepared which laid out flood-wave routing downstream to avoid flooding in susceptible populated districts and minimise damages to barrages, bridges and hydraulic structures.

Theoretically, the breaching section and decision required the involvement of elected representatives — this is practised in the breach!

The projects, completed in 2008 (six years behind schedule), had the ADB rating the performance of the FFC as ‘partly satisfactory’, the Met department as ‘unsatisfactory’, Wapda (water wing) as ‘highly satisfactory’, and irrigation departments as merely ‘satisfactory’.

My friend, Illahi Bukhsh Soomro, once speaker of the National Assembly, confesses to having an “‘emotional attachment” to Sukkur Barrage, a project that made an economically depressed Sindh into a province, and Karachi into a leading port city of the era.

After obtaining a Masters in civil engineering from Columbia, he joined the irrigation department and was posted as SDO at Sukkur Barrage in 1951, soon becoming XEN (executive engineer).

In 2008, while visiting the area he was appalled to see the severe deterioration in the barrage and its environs. His efforts to convince irrigation department officials and other provincial functionaries to act failed. On Jan 2, 2010, Soomro appealed to Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah:

“Immediate measures required to save the functioning of Sukkur Barrage: (1) While driving over the Barrage Road Bridge, I was alarmed to see the water overflowing the gates of the left bank pocket. It was difficult to believe what I saw. The senior engineers of Sukkur Barrage were immediately contacted, they said that the water level had thus to be raised to meet the indent of Rohri Canal, ignoring the consequence that such a regulation will silt up the approach to the barrage and off-taking canals. I was most disappointed to hear that kind of explanation.

“(2) Your intervention is required because my verbal submission to your government functionaries has failed to obtain any action.

“(3) A few surviving engineers, associated with the regulation and maintenance of Sukkur Barrage in the 1950s are still available to be consulted (Taj Mohamed Shaikh, Rashid Sheikh and myself).

“(4) It was Sukkur Barrage which transformed the Sindh desert into a green valley. We are always available for consultation at Karachi or better still at the site. Please accept this offer seriously.

“(5) It is hoped that you will appreciate the severity and urgency of the problem and initiate immediate and urgent measures…. Your government also enjoys the services of a very able irrigation advisor, Abdul Wahab Shaikh.”

Eight months later, no action having been taken in the interim, the Tori bund upstream of the barrage was breached, allegedly to save the barrage.

This action generated a parallel river through the districts west of the Indus, with various meanderings created by arbitrary additional breaches in canal banks along the way made by feudals trying to save their lands.

This new stream has reached Manchhar Lake and will rejoin the Indus —– but not before inundating more land (on the advice of experts, the chief minister informs us!)

Soomro explained that water flowing over (instead of under) the barrage gates in 2008 showed that the structure had silted up and was not being cleared out by engineers.

This restriction on the throughflow of water and the constriction caused by riverbed encroachments on the inside of the two-mile-long upstream stone guide-walls up to Rohri Bridge (including katchi abadis south of Bunder Road, leased kutcha farmland — surrounded by bunds — on the opposite side, and expansion of the Sadhu Bela and Bukkur islands) have caused a 70 per cent reduction in channel capacity, forcing floodwaters to back up and exert dangerous pressure on the bunds/dykes miles upstream.

Ilahi Bakhsh also feels that the government should have made greater efforts to quickly train and bring back to the Indus the water that had gone through the breach. The gap could have been swiftly repaired with a number of metal 20-foot containers filled with rocks.

Said Altaf Bhai of London Town: “The floodwater course was deliberately changed by breaching the embankments. This act by the influentials caused millions of acres to be inundated. If no action is taken by the authorities concerned then the MQM may appeal to the people to forcefully occupy their properties.”

Who determines fact from fiction?


After Turkey's plebiscite Rizwan Asghar, Tuesday, September 21, 2010


With Turkey passing through another critical period in its modern history, the incumbent government in Ankara has come to be viewed as the herald of greater democracy in the country, free from military interference. On September 12, 30 years after the military coup of Gen Kenan Evren, a referendum in Turkey approved a 26-point constitutional amendment package presented by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, or AK Party, with 58 per cent of participants voting in its favour.

The constitution had been altered many times, but the military's influence could never be eliminated. This is the largest set of amendments since the present constitution was adopted in 1982. The amendment package represents a long-overdue revamping of a military-imposed constitution and is intended to bring the constitutional framework in line with European standards of law and democracy. 

The constitutional reforms designed to strengthen democracy include a number of articles boosting democracy, like those strengthening individual rights and civil liberties, supporting more reforms giving greater rights to Turkey's ethnic minorities, curtailing the role of the military in politics and bringing the standards of Turkish democracy closer to those of the member countries of the European Union, in which Turkey is seeking full membership. The deletion of Article 15 of the constitution strips the military of its existing immunity against prosecution in civilian courts. It opens the way for the trial of army generals who were directly responsible for the staging of the 1980 military coup.

Likewise, some of the amendments made relate to the expansion in the structure of the Constitutional Court and the High Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors. The membership of the Constitutional Court has been increased to 17, and the Turkish Grand Assembly will be able to elect three members to the court from amongst candidates proposed by independent bar associations. These changes will allow the government to reorient the judicial structure to bring it in accord with democratic standards. In the past, the obstructionist role of the Turkish judiciary has always prevented the country's transition to full democracy. At the same time, the recent amendments propose the establishment of ombuds-persons, ensuring affirmative action in favour of children, women and the handicapped, and also collective bargaining for workers.

Prime Minister Erdogan has dubbed the referendum "a key to open the door to a new constitution," which he is determined to push through in the months to come. The most important element in the change produced by the referendum is that the Turkish people have expressed a collective desire for the transformation of the country's political-legal system, and thereby furnished ultimate proof of their support for complete democratisation. Therefore, this referendum was in no small measure an expression of wide popular support for the government of Prime Minister Erdogan. 

These changes are expected to raise the standards of democracy, political transparency and civil liberties in Turkey. EU officials and European political leaders have hailed the changes as a step which will bring Turkey closer to its goal of EU membership. The referendum will transform the dynamics of Turkish politics. The Turkish people will go to the ballot box in less than a year, with the next elections scheduled for July 2011. 

Since coming to power, the AK Party had been charged with undermining the foundations of secularism in the country. Some Turkish analysts believe that the vote will strengthen Mr Erdogan's increasingly assertive foreign policy. The Turkish leadership now has the opportunity to present itself as a major player in regional politics. 

Email: rizwanasghar7@yahoo .com

Nuclear manoeuvres Dr Maleeha Lodhi, Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The writer is a former envoy to the US and the UK, and a former editor of The News.

Sept 24 seems to have become a significant date in multilateral arms negotiations. It was on that day in 1996 that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which banned nuclear testing, was opened for signing at the UN in New York. On Friday, Sept 24, a high-level meeting proposed by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon is to convene in New York with the ostensible aim of promoting multilateral disarmament. 

There are other parallels between 1996 and 2010. In 1996 the NPT-recognised nuclear states, or the Permanent Five, along with their supporters, faced a deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva when India blocked the adoption of the test-ban treaty in the world's sole multilateral negotiating body. To overcome this impasse, as the CD operates by consensus, the negotiated treaty was "transmitted" to the UN in New York, where it was submitted as a draft resolution in a special session of the General Assembly. This was adopted (with India voting against and Pakistan for), and then opened for signature. The treaty has yet to enter into force, as a key provision requires 44 specified "nuclear-capable countries" to ratify it before it can take legal effect. The US has signed but not ratified, Russia and China have also not ratified, and none of the non-NPT nuclear powers (India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea) have signed.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's call for a meeting at UN Headquarters later this week represents an effort to bypass the CD in an echo of what happened on the CTBT. His proposed meeting is less about the broader disarmament agenda than to break the stalemate in the CD's discussions on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), or Fissban, as it is sometimes called. Negotiations for this treaty, which seeks to ban future production of fissile material, have stalled over the insistence by Pakistan and other non-aligned nations in the G-21 that the agreement take account of stockpiles -- i.e., previous production of bomb-making material.

The FMCT negotiations mirror the CTBT discussions in another way: in disagreement over the treaty's aims and purposes between countries that give priority to the non-proliferation aspect and those from the developing world who feel they should also be negotiated as disarmament measures (to reduce weapons and stockpiles). Debate about the balance between non-proliferation and disarmament objectives has long characterised arms negotiations. 

On the FMCT, for example, the official nuclear powers are only prepared to support a ban on future production, while Pakistan has led the G-21 countries to argue that the treaty should also promote disarmament by including prior stocks. 

The parallels, however, end there. When the CTBT was transferred from Geneva to New York to circumvent India's obstruction it had been fully negotiated in three years of intense talks. The high-level meeting that the UN secretary general is calling now is at the start point of FMCT discussions, with substantive negotiations still to begin. The CD has yet to start on a programme of work that was adopted in May 2009.

While it is Pakistan's and other G-21 nations' demand to include stockpiles in the negotiating mandate that is the reason for the current deadlock for eight years, it was the US that had blocked talks in the CD by its refusal to consider an international verification mechanism in the proposed treaty. Only after there was a change of administration in America that Washington agreed to verification and talks were able to resume in Geneva. 

The secretary general's letter to member states inviting their representatives to the New York meeting says that the focus will be on the CD's work. This move comes after the decision reflected in the final document adopted by the review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May calling on him to convene a high-level meeting "in support of the work of the CD." Indications are that the outcome of this meeting -- if consensus is evolved -- could furnish the basis for a resolution in the UN's First Committee (which deals with disarmament and international security) during the upcoming General Assembly session. Such a resolution is expected to call for FMCT negotiations to begin immediately. 

While the Sept 24 meeting has been welcomed as a timely move to inject impetus to the disarmament process, its main emphasis has already been questioned. The Group of 21, which comprises 35 members -- more than half the membership of the 65-nation CD-reaffirmed in a Sept 7 statement regarding the secretary general's meeting that nuclear disarmament remained its highest priority, and that an ad hoc committee should be established as soon as possible to start negotiating a treaty.

G-21 members have also been reiterating that the CD's work should not become hostage to one issue (the FMCT) and should proceed on disarmament matters, so that its work is predicated on equal and balanced treatment of all issues, not just those of concern to the recognised nuclear powers. Moreover, and most importantly, negotiations must take into account the security concerns of all states, not only the priorities of the powerful few.

A G-21 statement incorporating these principles has been adopted, which will be sent to the secretary general prior to the meeting. A similar position is also expected to crystallise among the non-aligned group of nations at the UN in New York. It will urge the secretary general to put the focus on the entire disarmament agenda, including nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances (for nuclear weapons not to be used against non-nuclear-weapons states). It will also suggest that the basis for reinvigorating the CD should be a special session of the General Assembly, not the high-level meeting he has called. 

Behind these procedural manoeuvres is the mounting pressure being mobilised by P-5 countries (minus China) to isolate Pakistan -- and countries hiding behind it that include Israel and India -- on the FMCT issue. Islamabad's position was mandated by a meeting of the National Command Authority (NCA) in January and rests on the contention that negotiations on a treaty that only bans future production of fissile material will jeopardise Pakistan's security. This would undermine stable deterrence in the region by freezing the asymmetries in stockpiles with India, putting Pakistan at a permanent strategic disadvantage. As Pakistan's permanent representative in Geneva, Zamir Akram, stated in the CD last month, "the discriminatory nuclear cooperation arrangements in our region concluded in the recent past will further widen these asymmetries and accentuate our security concerns."

Pakistan believes that the treaty, as currently envisaged, will upset the strategic equilibrium in the subcontinent by limiting its deterrent capability, at a time when India has been provided the means to escape a similar cap on its nuclear arsenal. The Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, and the consequent Nuclear Suppliers Group's waiver that has allowed Delhi to conclude agreements with eight countries for the supply of nuclear fuel, enable it to increase its fissile material stocks qualitatively and quantitatively -- and if it wants, to divert most of its indigenous stocks to its weapons programme. 

Pakistan's position is not the first, or only, example of a country insisting in multilateral arms negotiations that its security interests be accommodated in the crafting of a binding treaty. Arms-control efforts over the decades have had to reconcile the security concerns of states with evolving global legal norms. Therefore, the effort by some to depict Pakistan's stance as deviant is not only misleading but unhelpful for the process of building consensus.

Accommodating Pakistan's strategic concerns and those of other developing nations in the CD provides the best-and only-way forward if disarmament is to be pursued on the basis of the principle of equal security for all. Where hard calculations of security are involved nations have to be engaged to forge agreements, not circumvented or coerced.

The technocrats' domain Mosharraf Zaidi Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The hope that individuals of competence and integrity that enter government laterally can affect serious and meaningful change, has to be tempered by the structural and institutional realities of the business of government in Pakistan. 

Technocrats are not a new phenomenon in government. As early as the mid 1990s, in order to prepare the Pakistani economy for an era of deregulation and competition, the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and the Nawaz Sharif governments brought in outside help to run state-owned enterprises -- both proven champions in the private sector, like finance wiz Shaukat Tarin, and subject specialists of global repute, like oil and gas guru Gulfaraz Ahmed. The Musharraf era saw an unprecedented dependence on technocrats with an economic team made up of World Bank staffers Ishrat Husain and Khalid Mirza, and of course Citibanker extraordinaire, and eventual prime minister, Shaukat Aziz. Musharraf spread the use of technocrats to every aspect of governance -- human development, technology, and even the sciences. The current government has continued the trend, and expanded its application since taking office. After two years in office, no one need be reminded of the extraordinary team assembled by President Zardari to manage key areas of governance -- suffice it to say, bringing in technocrats is neither a new trend, nor one that guarantees any kind of success. 

Whether technocrats are drafted in to run government-owned businesses, or to manage government departments or ministries, if their impact is measured by the short-term benefits they bring to the government because of their competence, independence or their integrity, then they do indeed tend to deliver value -- in the short-term. However, if we're interested in the broader framework within which the government operates, one important measure of the success of the use of technocrats is to ask the simple question: has the use of technocrats made a contribution to an improved system of governance? 

One could make the argument that technocrats inject a professional ethos into the system, and often their very presence serves as an inspiration to others in regular government service. One could make the argument that technocrats are an absolute necessity, are used everywhere, and so to start expecting them to stimulate systemic change is unfair and out of context. Indeed, a whole spectrum of valid points exists between these two reasonable arguments. While it may be true that technocrats inject a different kind of energy into the workplaces they occupy, it is also true that their presence serves as a double-edged sword. For every civil servant inspired by a fly-by expert, a dozen civil servants wonder what crime they committed for having to serve under the shadow of already independently wealthy technocrats, who get paid a boatload of money to do things they could have done with the right training and opportunities. 

Similarly, it is true that technocratic expertise is a necessity, and no government in the world exists solely on the basis of the work of politicians and bureaucrats. Asking questions about the long-term impact of the use of technocrats in government however, is not a criticism of their use. The question of long-term impact is important because the practice of flooding technocrats into the system is expanding, and concurrently, it is quite clear that the quality of governance in the country is declining. Far from making spurious correlations (implying causality that may not exist), it is important to ask simple questions, beyond defending or opposing the practice. What impact does this instrument of governance -- the use of technocratic expertise -- have on the existent systems, processes, and mechanics of governance? 

Without detailed empirical data, we have only anecdotal evidence to go by. The picture is not pretty. The use of technocrats in government has accompanied an era in which the quality of the civil service has dramatically declined. There's a chicken-and-egg problem with this analysis of course. Did the decline trigger the use of technocrats, or did the use of technocrats, beyond a certain critical mass, trigger a decline in the quality of civil servants and their work? 

We can't say for sure. But there are a number of things we can say for sure. An alarmingly large number of the next generation of Pakistan's technocrats are all actually civil servants who are either on a long-leave from the government of Pakistan, or have spent less than fifteen years in government, before leaving the government. Nearly all of the examples of civil servants who have taken long-leaves or left the government, that I know, are currently working, either directly or indirectly for either one of the three big multilateral organizations: the United Nations and its agencies, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank, or the smaller bilateral donors. The overwhelming number of these officers work in Pakistan, on "reform" conceived of, and financed by both grant and loan money from Pakistan's donors. What does all this mean? It means that somehow, in the strange world of governance in Pakistan, a change of employer transforms an entire generation of Pakistani civil servants from being poorly motivated, unskilled, technically inept to becoming motivated, skilled and technically able. How is this possible? 

It is possible because the incentives-structure in place for civil servants working for the government is designed to create total dysfunction. Being a civil servant means you have poor pay, a poor image, poor job security, and that you are subject to deeply embedded and symbiotic rent-seeking with politicians. Simply put, the incentives-structure is designed to stimulate young officers wanting to leave government. Conversely, the overall governance narrative, particularly, a dependence on donors and on Washington Consensus ideas of reform has generated a parallel incentives-structure designed to stimulate those same officers to seek employment in government as consultants, and advisers -- who are paid internationally competitive rates and salaries, not by the government itself, but by donors. 

This systematic decimation of Pakistan's proud tradition of civil-service excellence is at the heart of the growing demand for and dependence on technocratic input. As a frequent consultant and adviser to the government, paid by donors, I speak from first-hard experience. There is almost nothing that a consultant can offer, in terms of skills, knowledge and passion, that does not already exist within the Pakistani civil service. 

No matter how good a technocrat is, she or he has no stake in the system of governance. A good, honest technocrat can fly in, fix what seems broken, and leave. Technocrats are not responsible for sustaining an overarching system, they are responsible only for the small domain they occupy. The sustenance and vitality of change and reform in Pakistan is wholly dependent on this country's civil service. The fact that there is no public discourse, on what changes this essential national resource required to meet today's challenges, should worry us all deeply.

The writer advises governments, donors and NGOs on public policy. www.mosharrafzaidi.com

Death of higher education Dr Ashfaque H Khan Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The universities of Pakistan are facing severe financial difficulties. Their budgets have been slashed mercilessly over the last three years -- down from Rs 33.4 billion in 2006-07 to perhaps Rs 8-9 billion in 2010-11. Such a senseless reduction is in complete disregard to the importance of higher education in economic development -- more so in an era of globalisation and competitiveness. 

Frustrated by the attitude of the economic team, 68 vice-chancellors of Pakistani universities gathered at the Higher Education Commission (HEC) last week and confronted the finance minister and his team. They presented their case for enhancement of the allocation for education in the budget. But they were told to generate their own resources, by selling the universities' properties and lands, convert the universities into commercial ventures and raise tuition fees. What a great piece of advice given to the vice-chancellors by the "educated" economic team.

It appears that the government has decided to shift the responsibility of financing universities to the provincial governments in the aftermath of the new NFC Award. Who would know better than the finance minister about the fiscal indiscipline of the provincial governments? Does he believe that the provincial governments would be providing adequate resources to the universities? 

Acquiring a university degree has emerged as a form of human-capital investment. The world is witnessing the emergence of a knowledge-based economy where the role of knowledge is recognised as a critical input to economic growth. The concept of a knowledge economy is often used to illustrate the shift from an economy based on low-skills industrial production to knowledge-intensive production and services. A competitive economy can only be based on a well-educated workforce, as well as a dynamic R&D sector. 

The state of higher education in Pakistan was in a pathetic condition prior to the establishment of the HEC in September 2002. In 1999 we had 48 universities, and access to higher education was only 2.6 per cent, compared to 10 per cent in India and 68 per cent in South Korea. The number of PhDs and engineers per million population was only 112 -- about one-third of the minimum standards prescribed by UNESCO. We had only 2,600 science PhDs and the country was producing barely 50-60 per annum.

It was in this background that the then government launched a multi-pronged strategy, including the establishment of the HEC, with a view to guiding the higher education policy and assisting universities and other degree-awarding institutions in the pursuit of quality education, and thereby facilitating efforts to transform Pakistan into a knowledge economy.

In order to achieve the objectives, the government provided substantial resources to higher education. The development budget for higher education increased from Rs500 million in 1998-99 to Rs14.4 billion in 2006-07. Such a massive increase in resources to higher education resulted in the rise of number of higher-education institutions, in both public and private sectors. The number of universities increased from 59 in 2000-01 to 132 in 2009-10. Through the addition of sub-campuses, the number increased from 116 to 258 during the same period. The number of students enrolled in 2001-02 was 276,274, but increased to 948,364 in 2009-10. The number of PhDs produced by Pakistani universities increased sharply, from 176 in 2000 to 624 in 2009. 

Three thousand eight hundred students are enrolled in PhD programmes in foreign universities, of which 303 have completed their programme; 3,508 students are enrolled in PhD programmes in Pakistani universities, of which 336 have completed their programmes. Most importantly, teaching in universities has emerged as a prized profession in the country. Such an impressive achievement in such a short period was unprecedented.

After a beginning had been made to correct historical imbalances in higher education, the present government began to de-emphasise higher education and slashed its development budget to Rs11 billion in 2009-10, even prior to the recent floods. Higher education was allocated Rs15.7 billion in the 2010-11 budget, but the finance team is bent upon cutting it further to Rs9 billion. There is no guarantee of the release of even this insultingly low amount, with the floods as the excuse for the failure. 

Such a sharp reduction in the universities' budgets has created enormous difficulties for on-going programmes, including those of PhD students studying abroad. The foreign universities were not paid the students' tuition fees, nor the students provided their living expenses. Hundreds of ongoing development projects in various universities have been suspended, and the contractors have not been paid their bills for work already completed. This is a completely unacceptable state of affairs. 

Should we starve our universities and kill higher education in Pakistan, and with it the dream of the country's becoming a knowledge economy? Finding Rs10-15 billion's additional resources for higher education should not be a difficult job, provided the finance team has no ulterior designs. 

Can't we divert several of the billion rupees allocated for Multan under the budgets the ministry of finance, the NHA and PEPCO? Can't we defer the People's Works Programmes of the MNAs and divert at least half the allocation (Rs15 billion) to higher education? Are the People's Works Programmes or the "development" of Multan more important than higher education in the country? Many more billions can easily be diverted to the funding of Pakistani universities. 

The finance minister and his team should look into this affair without prejudice. It is the government that needs to reprioritise its expenditure, and not the universities. It is the government that needs to sell the bleeding and rotten public-sector enterprises to raise resources, and not the universities being required to sell off their properties and lands. I am sure the finance minister would never like to be known in Pakistan as the slayer of higher education. 

The writer is director general and dean at NUST Business School, Islamabad.

Email: ahkhan@nbs.edu.pk