December 28, 2018
An article I would like to share. I hope the joint effort of these few people of integrity will bring the corrupt to face accountability:
24 Dec 2018 is a day which may well decide whether it is Pakistan that is to survive, or the grand masters of mega theft who fairly cleaned it up to the bone before being hauled up to the courts.
Nawaz Sharif is back in jail on one count, though his sentence is mere mollycoddling compared to the scale of his crimes viewed in light of the office of trust held by him when these crimes were committed.
In a second case he has gone scot free! Whether this was because of excessive kindness or incompetence, deserves to be investigated.
It also needs to be investigated whether a fraction of the theft committed by him and his family could have sufficed to give clean drinking water to the poor of Lahore, and if so, how many hundreds of thousands could have escaped the sentence of hepatitis as a result.
It was on the same day that the report of the “Omni” JIT broke cover with its presentation in the Supreme Court. We all knew about the dedication of effort which went into the debasement of Pakistan by the two essential signatories to the “Charter of Democracy”. Yet only when the contents of this report began to get registered did its sheer “professionalism” become apparent.
There is a direct line connecting the deaths of helpless children in Thar to the belly of Zardari which defies satiation.
The scale of plunder visited on Pakistan by Zardari and the Sharifs can only be brought into balance by the fulsomeness of their sycophants standing unabashedly behind them in a state of willful blindness, while denying their sins against the state. The “loyalty” of these sell outs can only be upstaged by those considered “honest” in their ranks–men like Chaudhary Nisar, Malik Ahmad Khan, Raza Rabbani, Aitzaz Ahsan, Farhatullah Babar etc–men who for years had ringside seats witnessing the rape of their country by their “leaders”, but could never once pluck up the courage to speak a single word against the outrages being so brazenly committed against their country!
It is this attitude which helps one understand the collective character of the people of the subcontinent where personal interest has always trumped the interest of the state. This is what explains Raja Ambhi of Taxilla sending gifts to Alexander [while he was still fighting in Sogdiana] inviting him to India where they would together subdue Porus!
This, with notable exceptions, is the story of 3000 years of the history of the subcontinent. And this explains the rape of Pakistan by the Zardari-Sharif combine to the accompaniment of applause by an army of camp followers who continue to justify it on account of “democracy”!
The first chinks in this solid wall of moral degradation began appearing on our horizon in 2017. The men most responsible for this were Imran Khan with whom patriotism was always an article of faith: our Supreme Court led by Mr Justice Saqib Nisar, who seems to have decided to stand by the call of his conscience after taking cognizance of all that was happening all around him; and General Bajwa whose laid back manner obviously hides a core of steel–and this steel began to show when it became apparent to him that the depredations of the men at the helm had virtually rendered the country defenseless.
If Pakistan turns a corner and moves from mere survival on to a trajectory of hope and progress, the debt of gratitude owed by our children and grand children to these three men will be immense indeed.
One of these three is due to retire in a fortnight. To say that Mr Justice Saqib Nisar will be missed would be an understatement of the century. He and his brother Justices could not have brought justice to the many millions craving it. But they did the second best thing. They brought alive the dream of justice and its possibility. And Justice Nisar came to symbolize this dream. He gave to the common man a consciousness of his rights: and to the utterly powerless, he gave the confidence to knock at the doors of the supreme court, walk into it, look the C.J in the eye, and say his piece; while he gave to the most powerful, cause to shudder in their boots. No one man will ever be able to do this again. But a hope lingers that of the many who follow him, some of them men of excellent repute, will keep alive the flame of justice and hope lit by Justice
But just before he walks into the sunset let me make bold to make a few requests of him:
–Please stifle the power of “stay orders” which accompany the unfortunate from the cradle to the grave.
–Set in motion JITs to investigate the NICL and the Islamabad Safe City cases so that Chaudhary Qamar Zaman, the greatest facilitator of grand larceny will also be brought to the book.
–Give a definitive judgement on the presentation of forged documents to the S.C in the Avenfield Apartments case, so that no one dares to fall back on such devices in the future.
–Put in place the building blocks of a law whereby cash and properties built through mega corruption, become properties of the state–i.e properties of people like Malik Riaz Hussain, Asif Zardari, the Sharif family, Khwaja Saad Rafique etc.
–And this law should be extended to ensure that people who have taken Pakistan to the cleaners, will never be allowed to leave the country to enjoy the fruits of their theft abroad.
With this, and with a heavy heart, I wish Mr Justice Saqib Nisar’s walk into the sunset the splendour and serenity that great accomplishment and noble deeds deserve.
December 18, 2018
While discussing the water policy, I had proposed to develop a water harvesting policy. Our water shortage for the fast growing population is substantial. Therefore, besides constructing dams, we also need to reduce water wastage as well as utilize rain water to the maximum. I am attempting to suggest its first draft to the forum:
1. Each province should have a Rain Water Harvesting authority or department; with focus on harvesting in the cities and towns. 2. Each residential, commercial and industrial building should have secondary water tanks to store rain water falling on its roof. These secondary water tank(s) for the purpose be installed in all new buildings at least 6 feet above ground lever for use of the collected water through gravity for watering plants, gardens and car washing etc. Use of hose pipe for these purposes should be banned and attract heavy fine. Existing buildings should install water harvesting tanks within one year of approval of the proposed policy.
3. Technology should also be developed in-house through international collaboration for charging aquifer by diverting rain water underground.
Water Harvesting Techniques
Water Harvesting Methods
Types of Rainwater Harvesting Systems
December 16, 2018
16 Dec 1971 was a painful day for Pakistan; specially for those in the military. While looking for reasons, it was a chain of events, actions and inactions that led to the separation of East Pakistan. To me following were the major reasons:
1. Inexperienced and incompetent bureaucratic leadership that took control from the political leadership (after death of the Quaid) that lacked finesse; eventually followed by the military take over.
2. Lack of control on ‘fake property claims’ at the time of partition. That set a trend for the loot that followed.
3. Shrewd Indian politicians who planned disintegration of Pakistan; and relentlessly worked towards their aim in coordination with their military and international Allies. In the end, it was just that easy to walk into Decca while we waited for the US fleet, our political elite fought for power in West Pakistan and military high command failed to understand gravity of the situation.
4. Post 1971 political maneuvering saw start of an era of favouritism that continued in both the military regimes; and was ultimately perfected in the two democratically elected government after 2008. It is evidently clear that India continues to work towards further disintegrating Pakistan.
If the 1971 debacle has any lessons to offer, we must remain alert against the India efforts to damage Pakistan’s credibility at the international forum with aim to further divide Pakistan through all possible means.
Our answers to continued Indian aggression are limited which are:
(1) Control on corruption of the people in power through ruthless accountability.
(2) Beware of the emerging foreign links in our political turmoil; e.g. the reported Indian political interference in Kalabagh Dam and Indian labour employed in sugar mill in Pakistan are just two to mention.
(3) Closely monitor the Indian hand in Pakistan’s internal affairs, specially in Balochistan and on border with Afghanistan. If India continues on the current path, Pakistan should not think twice to pay back in the same coins.
Let me conclude by saying that the politicians blame all ills on the military while the military thinks our political elite is to blame for looting the national wealth. In my view, the answer lies in giving the military a constitutional role for 10 years; if it can work for Turkey, it can work for us too.
… Iftikhar Siddiqi
December 14, 2018
2 Aug 2018
Afghanistan is the most important foreign policy area to handle for the new PTI government. Imran’s pre-election stance to only become ‘partner in peace’ with the US is the most sensible policy statement from our leaders in decades.
Pakistan is the only country to assist the US in developing their exit strategy. India, Russia and even Afghanistan don’t want the US to leave Afghanistan because war in Afghanistan suits their respective national strategies.
Therefore, the US should get out of the Indian influence and partner with Pakistan for developing an honourable exit from its longest war in the history.
December 14, 2018
24 August 2018
There are no two opinions about need to increase the tax base. Apparent inability of FBR to increase the tax base is also confirmed. It is also a reality that the agriculture land owners don’t want to pay any taxes; and over the years industrialists, businessmen, government servants and military men have become engaged in agriculture. That means anyone can show his income as agri-income and be exempted. It is also a misnomer that there are limited number of tax payers. Practically, over the last decades, successive governments have levied numerous indirect taxes on almost the entirevworking class; including taxes on mobile hardware & SIM, restaurants, electricity bills and so on.
Some ideas to consider:
(1) FBR should be responsible only for initial tax assessment and collection; appeals for reassessment be done by another body (may be ombudsmen);
(2) Tax on agriculture must be imposed, may vary according to size of land holding;
(3) Tax audit activity of FBR be reassessed; if not found productive be shifted to AGP.
(4) Local governments should be assigned a suitable role in tax collection. I am sure this forum can come up with a suitablevsolution as suggested earlier by a worthy colleague.
December 14, 2018
27 August 2018
After another Eid-ul-Azha, citizens of Karachi and many other cities are fighting hard for disposal of the animal waste. Precious manpower and vehicular resources are being used to clear the mess. With new legislatures in place, each province should enact law that Qurbani will be done ONLY at designated places. Local governments should then designate slaughtering compounds in each area. This will lead to systematic disposal of blood & waste as well as collection of hides. Such facilities can even be outsourced to private sector who should also be made responsible to provide professional slaughtering facilities. If such laws can be followed in Saudi Arabia and Europe, we can do the same.
December 14, 2018
3 September 2018
Forthcoming visit of the US Secretary of States. Few thoughts on the US relations: There are basically two views about US interests in the region.
One, that the US wants to honorably disengage from Afghanistan lest it faces the same fate as the Soviet Union.
Two, that the US wants a permanent presence in Afghanistan to counter the growing Chinese and Russian influences.
I go by the first scenario where in my view the US is ‘crying’ for help for developing a strategy to disengage in next 5 years; which can only be done with full assistance from Pakistan. India, on the other hand, has their own axe to grind from the situation but are not ready to fully involve their military in Afghanistan. The US can also not fully utilize the mineral resources of Afghanistan due to deteriorating security situation with Taliban now controlling almost 50-60 % of the area. With this situation in mind, the US has probably come to the conclusion that Pakistan should be engaged for finalizing a political strategy to get out of Afghanistan after bringing Taliban into some type of national government. Pakistan should, therefore, expect that the US Secretary of State will pressurized her on following point:
1. Verifiable actions against Hafiz Saeed and other ‘terrorist’ organisations as symbolic measures for their credibility.
2. Engage the Saudi based anti-terrorism force (headed by Gen Raheel Sharif) in Afghanistan to allow NATO forces to disengage in next few years. There is no other force that can be inducted in Afghanistan except UN force for which not many countries will be willing.
3. Limit the scope of CPEC and Russian relations with Pakistan.
4. US demand to restrict our nuclear as well as missile program on the lines of US negotiations with North Korea.
Lastly, there has been unreasonable media talk of PM not meeting the Secretary of State. The official talks between the two delegations should be headed the the two foreign ministers. PM must meet the visitor before the formal meeting due to the earlier controversy on their telephonic conversation. But their formal meeting after the negotiations will be even better so that the PM is ready with his considered response after the meetings are over.
December 14, 2018
PTI government has ventured into constructing 5 Mn houses in next five years. Their plan is envisaged to further expand the housing sector related industry, thus creating additional jobs in Pakistan. We needs to formulate a comprehensive housing policy including following:
Firstly, federal and provincial governments should never engage in construction activity directly otherwise we will get into issues like in Aashiana housing scheme. Construction work should be outsourced with a strong system of monitoring.
Secondly, new towns should be developed away from existing cities but close enough to be connected by road and rail. The best way will be to develop such towns along the motorways.
Lastly, new housing colonies and towns should be powered by solar power; a decision that will not only reduce electricity demands and bills but will also generate electricity for the National grid through net metering.
December 14, 2018
Punjab bashing has been a favourite topic of Pakistani politics during its 70 years history. India has taken full advantage of the crack and exploited the theme to create Bangladesh. Indian propaganda of 1971 now must terminate. Let’s see the facts; none of the dictators was Punjabi nor was Bhutto, Benazir, Jamali or others. Nawaz Sharif is the only notable Punjabi politician to head the federal government. All provinces are getting proportionate share in judiciary and bureaucracy as per the constitution. In the parliament, national assembly members have to be based on the population basis and equal representation in the Senate. Where is Punjab doing wrong with others; it is just getting it’s due share? Punjab has already given the go ahead to make another province from within to ease the formula for governance. MNS gave 1% share of its water to Sind in his previous tenure; a decision I consider as wrong and must be reversed. Are we aware of the shortage of irrigation of water in Punjab? We must understand, and earlier the better, that Punjab factor is a propaganda and must be shunned. I would like to be educated if the situation is otherwise.
December 13, 2018
Pakistan has huge potential for industrial growth due to its competent planners and business houses. However, we need to evolve a sound policy for power generation and distribution from hydro and other renewable sources so that the industries can be given space to grow. Attempt to put all the generated hdyro power to grid may not be the right thing to do.
Following policy parameters may be considered:
(1) Depending upon size of a hydro power project, an area around the plant be designated for utility of the generated power; keeping any existing grid connection as standby.
(2) Solar parks be developed in far flung areas to supply power to isolated localities during day hours. UPS will accordingly be procured by users for limited night time utility in due course.
(3) With net metering facility already available across Pakistan, it should be now made mandatory to install solar panels on all new constructions up to 50% for factories, minimum 5kWh solar system on 1 Kanal or bigger houses and 2kWh solar system for smaller houses. Net metering has the potential to give several hundred megawatts to the grid without any investment from the public sector. If the government can provide low interest leasing facility to the general public from public sector banks and financial institutions, the issue of expensive power generation will be solved within 5 years.