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  #21  
Old Friday, January 28, 2011
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Default Poor governance & poverty - Shakeel Ahmed

Poor governance & poverty - Shakeel Ahmed

Theoretically governance is defined as the manner in which political and administrative power is exercised in the management of a country’s social and economic resources for development. In the case of Pakistan this need not be the case as political and administrative power can be and is in fact utilized for the economic and financial well being of the leadership in power. Good governance requires a vision and an executive and administrative understanding and capacity to utilize public revenues for human development such as education and health. Measured on this yardstick the government of President Zardari does not get even a passing grade. Good governance is held to be an essential pre-condition for pro-poor growth as it establishes the regulatory and legal framework essential for the sound functioning of land, labor, capital and other factor markets. This agenda is missing from President Zardari’s radar screen.

The overthrow of an elected government in 1999, the scrapping of the Constitution and the adoption of other unlawful actions clearly established that governance including adherence to the rule of law was the country’s foremost problem. The discontinuity in the democratic process accelerated corruption. Political instability resulted in disastrous consequences for the economy. For the first time in Pakistan’s chequered history, poverty reared its ugly head. Notwithstanding the import of private banker Shaukat Aziz as the country’s Finance Minister, and the installation of another World Bank import as the Governor, State Bank of Pakistan business confidence continued to wane, economic growth continued to worsen, and the country’s debt profile continued rising despite major debt relief granted by the donors in the wake of 9/11. The rich began to grow richer. Nearly one third of the country’s population fell below the poverty line.

The right to education and health is a basic entitlement. Development allocations in these sectors showed no improvement. With the introduction of devolution, there was a visible decline in the governance abilities. The deterioration is evident from the fact that funds allocated for education and health could not be fully utilized. The surrender of scarce funds at the end of the financial year was not treated as criminal negligence. No action was ever taken against those failing to fully perform this nation building task. Corruption flourished in the delivery of public services. There were hospitals and basic health units without medicines. Medicines meant for these health facilities were regularly sold in the market. The existence of ghost schools was endemic. Salaries were drawn regularly. The teachers never showed up for work. Artificial enrollment reports were sent to those who cared to receive them. Women and girls were the worst to suffer in this situation. The rich could afford to send their children for studies abroad or in expensive English medium private institutions at home. Children of the poor had nowhere to go. Those who have somehow managed to go on to colleges and universities are ill-motivated and abhor the acquisition of knowledge. Pakistan has rapidly fallen behind in the human development index.

Poverty is considered intolerable where strong state institutions exist. There was a serious undermining of state institutions when in the name of devolution, the age old and well established institution of the Deputy Commissioner and the Divisional Commissioner was abolished. Governance took a nose dive. The familiar and functional police system was also tinkered with in the name of reforms. The lack of public confidence in state institutions, including the police and judiciary, eroded their legitimacy and directly contributed to worsening conditions of poverty, public security and law and order. The present Government has been unable to carry thorough reforms to restore the legitimacy and performance of many institutions that are in desperate need of rehabilitation. These include the executive, administrative, and magisterial organs of the state. Its focus of attention is in promoting cronyism and ignoring their rapacious tendencies.

Investment helps generate employment and alleviate poverty. A stable and well functioning democratic system and an independent judiciary is fundamental to the creation of an enabling environment for domestic and foreign investment to take place.. The lack of transparency in public sector planning, budgeting and allocation of resources in Pakistan has ensured that those who do not constitute the political elite (read the poor and the vulnerable) are unable to make political leaders and the Government responsive to their needs or accountable to promises. This has led to a supply driven approach to service provision, with development priorities being determined not by potential beneficiaries but by an inefficient, dishonest and incompetent bureaucracy and a political elite which appears to be completely out of touch with reality. In order to tackle the rising trend of poverty, the government of President Zardari should re-arrange its priorities and assign improvement in governance as the foremost task. This is a key determinant of long term poverty. Poor governance tends to exacerbate the vulnerability of the lowest income groups in times such as those that have been ushered in by President Zardari”s government.

The writer is a member of the former Civil Service of Pakistan.

Source:
Poor governance & poverty - By Shakeel Ahmed @ Pakistan Herald
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  #22  
Old Wednesday, February 02, 2011
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Arrow Licensed to kill?

Licensed to kill?


Asif Ezdi
Wednesday, February 02, 2011

You only have to read the three press releases issued by the US embassy on the shooting to death last week of two Pakistanis by an American employee of their consulate at Lahore to see through the sheer flimsiness of the claim of his diplomatic immunity.

The first press release described the perpetrator as “a staff member of the US consulate general in Lahore”. Crowley, the spokesman of the US State Department, also designated him as “an employee at the US consulate in Lahore.” The killer himself told the Lahore police and the magistrate’s court that he works as a technical adviser at the consulate. (Since Crowley denied categorically that the person in question was named Raymond Davis and since US officials refuse to divulge his true name, we will call him the first killer, to distinguish him from the second killer, unnamed and unidentified, who knocked down and crushed a Pakistani motorcyclist to death the same day, while trying to reach the first killer.

The second press release, issued a day later, had a different story. It described the first killer as a “diplomat assigned to the US Embassy in Islamabad”. Overnight and without any explanation, a member of the staff at the Lahore consulate became a diplomat at the Islamabad embassy.

A third press release then made another change - or refinement. It describes the first killer not as a diplomat but as a member of the “technical and administrative staff” of the embassy.

This is also not correct. A person does not become a member of the “technical and administrative staff” of an embassy just because the embassy claims that status for him; or because he holds a diplomatic passport; or because a visa, even an official visa, has been issued to him on such a passport. He becomes a member of the staff of an embassy only if it notifies to foreign ministry of the receiving state (ie the host country), in accordance with Article 10 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, that he has been assigned that position. There is no mention in any of the press releases that such a notification was issued.

The reason why a consular employee mutated overnight into a member of the embassy’s staff is obvious: A member of the technical and administrative staff of the embassy enjoys full immunity from local criminal jurisdiction under Article 38 of the Convention on Diplomatic Relations and cannot be lawfully arrested or detained, while a consular employee enjoys no such privilege under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which governs consular missions. As regards liability to criminal jurisdiction, he is in the same position as a citizen of Pakistan and can be proceeded against, tried and punished for criminal acts in the same way as a Pakistani.

The claim made by the US embassy on his behalf that that he acted in self-defence is also of dubious validity. It is not enough, as the embassy states in its press release, that there were armed men who he had every reason to believe “meant him bodily harm”. It will have to be established that they were targeting him, that he was in grave danger and that the shooting was not an excessive response. The burden of proving all this will rest on him.

So far, at least as far as public statements are concerned, the Pakistan government has refused to bow to the US demand for giving immunity to the killer. But our past record, and not simply that of the present government, is not reassuring. One example is the surrender to the Americans of Aimal Kasi by Nawaz Sharif in 1997 during his second term as prime minister without fulfilling the legal requirements, simply upon a phone call from the then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Rehman Malik said in the National Assembly: “This is Pakistan... The law will take its course.” That is precisely the problem. Our leaders say one thing for public consumption in Pakistan and quite another thing privately to the Americans. And then they do as promised to the Americans. Gilani’s famous conversation with the US Ambassador in 2009 on drone attacks is just one example.

True to his record, Gilani once again has been trying to run away from his responsibility in this matter. He told a press conference that since the matter was in the court and the Punjab government was conducting an inquiry into it, he would not comment on it. Gilani is right that the investigations have to be conducted by the Punjab Government and that the courts have to take a decision on the criminal liability of Davis. But it is for the foreign ministry (ie the federal government) to make a determination whether the killer is a member of staff of the embassy or of the Lahore consulate, the central issue upon which his immunity depends.

Clearly, heavy pressure is being exerted on Pakistan to let him go scot-free. It may be the US is not concerned only about the welfare of one of its nationals but, more important, it fears that a trial of the killers might bring into public knowledge some unsavoury facts about the activities of US security companies and US officials (spies?) in Pakistan. The first killer was certainly no diplomat in the conventional sense. According to the ABC News and The Huffington Post, he was an employee of a fly-by-night private security company, a small-bore version of the more famous Blackwater. He certainly acted in a cold-blooded manner. After he had shot his victims in the back, he pumped some more bullets into their bodies as they lay on the ground.

Even more outrageous than the misrepresentation of the first killer’s status is the complete silence of the US embassy on the motorcyclist who was crushed to death by the second killer. It was not just an accident or a hit-and-run offense but an act of recklessness showing complete disregard for the lives of ordinary Pakistanis. Anyone who breaks a road barrier and drives in the wrong direction on a one-way street bears full responsibility for the consequences and if a death results he is as culpable as a person who shoots his victim dead.

The US embassy has not offered even one word of regret or sympathy for this killing. They have even refused so far to identify the killer despite the repeated requests of the police. It is to be suspected that an attempt will be made to whisk him away, if he has not left the country already.

Pakistan must make a demarche immediately that if that happens all those members of the embassy and the Lahore consulate who are complicit will be asked to pack up and leave the country.

What happened in Lahore last Thursday was not an accident. It was a disaster waiting to happen, given the impunity with which we have allowed US diplomats and “security guards” to violate our laws. They behave as if they have a license to kill. We have given them tacit permission to carry unauthorised weapons, travel in vehicles with darkened windows and false number plates and even to threaten our police when they ask them to submit to security checks. There are killers on the loose on the streets of Pakistan masquerading as diplomats. They will become even bolder if we fail to bring the Lahore killers to justice.



The writer is a member of the Pakistan Foreign Service. Email: asif ezdi@yahoo.com
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  #23  
Old Friday, February 04, 2011
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Default Davis and our blundering Foriegn Office - Zafar Hilaly

Davis and our blundering Foriegn Office

The Foreign Office’s (FO) pathetic attempts to find a policy are, once again, on display in the case of Raymond Davis. Watching it perform is like watching a third-rate review in some backstreet theatre where performers appear in various guises and dance, with despairing vigour, the same old jig (of evading facts and keeping quiet when they need to speak up).

It beggars the imagination that the FO does not know whether a member of a foreign mission is a diplomat or not. Actually it knows, but the man who heads the show will sing you any song that you want him to sing. His short-sighted policy — not to confront reality for the sake of cheap popularity — is the very nature of this government. Time and again we have seen how it bends to ‘lick its own spit’ because reality is unavoidable, which is what will eventually happen in this case.

The fact of the matter is that Raymond Davis is, by the reckoning of most neutral observers, a ‘diplomat’ for the purposes of Article 38 of the Vienna Convention and hence entitled to diplomatic immunity. No court needs to decide that, only the Foreign Office does, because his status is a question, not of law, but of fact, and by refusing to do so the FO has landed the government in a far greater mess than it would have been in had it alluded to international law and said that, given the circumstances, it was helpless. Our politicos, too, would have had to lump it. Because what is likely to happen is that either the US shuts shop and stops dealing with Pakistan or, alternatively, informs Pakistan that the immunity of its diplomats in the US will be withdrawn. Of course, for good measure, it can stop issuing visas for the 1,800 or so diplomatic and official Pakistani passport holders who travel to the US annually.

There are many other courses of action open to the US, and for that matter to Pakistan, to demonstrate their respective displeasure, but what is clear is that the former would have to react in some manner or lose face to an extent that would be insufferable and, frankly, counterproductive. Besides, Congress would step in somewhere down the line to further muddy the waters if Washington does not react strongly.

Of course, it is lamentable that nations lie and dissemble, and want gunmen and sleuths to be treated on par with diplomats in order to enable them to claim immunity from prosecution. But then, welcome to the real world. Lest we think we are any better, we have several Raymond Davis types in our missions abroad, trying to collect the same kind of information that he was. And, now and then, they too get caught and end up being repatriated, albeit without anyone being any the wiser.

The court would do us all a favour by insisting that the Foreign Office determine whether Raymond Davis has immunity, rather than to let the government off the hook by coming to the same decision itself after proceedings, during which our relations with the US will be greatly strained. Of course, there is no reason why we should not take on the US, but surely when international law is on our side, not merely to court cheap popularity. Meanwhile, all should focus on getting maximum compensation for the families of those killed by Davis.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2011.

Source:
Davis and our blundering Foriegn Office – The Express Tribune
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  #24  
Old Tuesday, February 15, 2011
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Default What next for Egypt?

What next for Egypt?

President Hosni Mubarak, who ruled over Egypt like a pharaoh for nearly 30 years, resigned on February 11, 2011, after an unprecedented popular uprising that lasted almost three weeks. Thank goodness, because if he had not, as he had said in a TV address the night before, the country would have plunged into bloodshed and utter chaos. So what happened in less than 24 hours to make him change his mind? It seems to me that the higher echelons of the military, recognising the grave consequences of his refusal to quit, told him to go.

I met Mubarak a few times during my three-year stay in Cairo. When I presented my credentials — when I went with our prime minister to meet him — I found him to be one of the stiffest of the 13 heads of state I had met in the last 15 years of my diplomatic career. He never smiled, hardly ever shook hands, never attended a diplomatic reception or received any ambassador alone, except perhaps the American, the Russian, the Saudi and one or two others.

My other indelible memory of Egypt is that of oppressing poverty, huge disparity of wealth and a large number of beggars of all ages, thronging every historical site, cringing for ‘bukhshish’ from tourists. It was embarrassing, even to me, a Pakistani. Egypt earned twice as much foreign exchange, had less than half of Pakistan’s population, yet its poverty was as great as Pakistan’s.
Torture, death in prison and long jail sentences were common, and these had created such terror that all of Egypt seemed wrapped in a blanket of silence. People went about their business on tiptoe, even students and labourers, normally vibrant elements in any society, did not dare utter a word of protest.
So if anyone had asked me in June 1997, when I left Egypt, about the present uprising, my honest answer would have been a firm no. I could not even imagine the current situation. In that sense, what has happened in Egypt is truly revolutionary and not just a revolt.

Hence, it is to the credit of the Egyptian people that they forced Mubarak to resign, though he tried hard to stay in power. The question is, what now? The first challenge for the Supreme Military Council (SMC), now in charge, is to manage the withdrawal symptoms among the Egyptians caused by the diminishing intoxication of victory and the impatience for a new civilian government in the shortest possible time. Therefore, to keep the Egyptians’ hope of a real change alive and avert another round of uprising and a bloody confrontation between the Egyptians and the military, the SMC should take the following measures at once.

All its members must declare their intentions not to be candidates in the next election, even as a civilians; set up a commission of eminent Egyptian intellectuals/thinkers to frame a new constitution; encourage people to form new political parties, but pass a law that no party with less than a million verifiable members will be allowed to contest elections; make this applicable on all parties, new and old; form an independent Election Commission; announce the date of the next election, which should be held between three to four months from the day of Mubarak’s resignation.

It is obvious that the Egyptian revolution will have an impact throughout the Arab and Muslim world, including Pakistan. The militaries of all these countries will be forced to resist the temptation of carrying out a coup and the monarchies will have to move towards constitutional rule.

The writer served as Pakistan’s ambassador to Russia, Mexico, the UAE and Egypt

Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2011.

Source:
What next for Egypt? – The Express Tribune
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  #25  
Old Tuesday, March 08, 2011
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Modern forensic tools


By Sharjil Kharal
08 March, Tuesday 2011


CRIME detection is one of the main concerns of modern police forces. Across the world, law-enforcement bodies strive to obtain evidence through scientific means.

One of the first scientific developments in this regard was that of the fingerprint system as an investigative tool in the detection of crime. Since this technique was adopted, crime patterns have changed. Now, there is an electronic signature. The advent of cyber crime has led to the evolution of the discipline of computer forensics. Today, it is possible to detect the computers used by perpetrators for carrying out the offence. Similarly, the increased use of cellphones in the commission of crimes has compelled the police to focus on developing cellphone forensics through which one can establish a person’s presence at a crime scene where no material evidence may be available.

Other sophisticated gadgets such as polygraphs and voice stress analysers are used for verifying suspects’ statements. Almost all police forces increasingly rely on video footage acquired of any significant incident, such as an accident, a crime or an incident of terrorism. Police forces have been able to positively identify terrorists in post-blast incidents through the images captured on state-of-the-art cameras.

Earlier, fingerprint examination was done manually. The Sindh police have been using this tool through a fingerprint bureau where images of the fingerprints of suspects were prepared on a print card using roller ink. With the introduction of the Pakistan Automated Fingerprint Identification System (PAFIS), fingerprints are secured and processed electronically through biometric technology.

The current PAFIS database has a record of around 200,000 digital fingerprint impressions of suspects arrested and charged in various cases. The centralised PAFIS database has helped check the inter-provincial movement of suspects. Fingerprint impressions that are stored in the database can easily be matched against the latent impressions lifted from a crime scene as well as with the impressions already stored in the national databank. DNA-typing is a revolutionary technology currently being used by the Sindh police. The value in DNA-typing lies in accurately being able to establish the identity of a suspect or other person. Such analysis also helps in identifying potential suspects whose DNA may match with evidence left at a crime scene. Furthermore, it helps exonerate wrongly accused persons.

Investigators of the Sindh police successfully identified several victims of the 2007 Karsaz bombing through DNA analysis. Then in 2008, in the much-publicised case of the rape of a young girl near the Quaid’s mausoleum, the suspects were traced through this method of analysis. The DNA samples of four suspects matched with samples secured from the crime scene. DNA analysis also proved beyond doubt the involvement of the ‘white Corolla’ rapist who used to stalk his victims in Karachi’s Defence Housing Authority area in 2008.

It would be fitting to put in a word about the digital forensic capabilities of the Sindh police. Digital forensics involves the accurate analysis and presentation of computer-related evidence. It is a tool and technique to recover, preserve and examine digital evidence found on or transmitted by digital devices. The Sindh police forces existing capability includes the recovery of deleted data from cell phones, SIM cards, hard drives and the retrieval of Internet history, IMEI numbers, email records, messages, call logs, call data records and SIM forensics. The investigation units of the Sindh police have successfully traced several cases with the help of these modern tools.

The much-awaited video surveillance system for Karachi is to be implemented soon. This system will help in deterring terrorist acts and street crime, traffic monitoring, the enhancement of VIP security and of overall levels of public safety and security. The existing CCTV system can only show a video recording of the incident and cannot be used to retrieve or magnify certain other aspects of the footage. With the video surveillance system, such limitations will be removed through image-enhancing features.

Despite the availability of the tools, the Sindh police force still faces tough challenges in crime detection. Some of the techniques involve cost-intensive equipment and training of officers. Similarly, the absence of a laboratory for testing DNA samples is a hurdle — samples have to be sent to Islamabad. DNA testing is costly and the police must be very selective about getting the analysis done in high-profile cases alone.

The fact that the National Database and Registration Authority does not allow the police access to its family tree or fingerprint data — the latter numbering over 80 million — leads to great difficulty in tracing suspects. Similarly, the lack of access on an urgent basis to cellphone data by the companies is also a handicap. It is true that these organisations have provided some access, but it is selective and procedural delays hamper police investigations. Time is of the essence in the detection of crime and in some cases the police must act instantly to apprehend suspects.

What has been witnessed in modern jurisdictions around the world is across-the-board support provided to law-enforcement agencies by various organisations, both state-run and private, in crime investigation. In Pakistan, however, such institutions have displayed a myopic approach whereby facilitation is the exception rather than the norm, which brings about delayed results. There is no denying that the law and order situation in the country is a matter of concern and efficient and effective policing is what is needed.

It is time the authorities took notice of the issues outlined above and streamlined this very important and procedural aspect of local law enforcement. If the problems related to the use of forensic technology and procedural matters were to be resolved, the police would be facilitated in crime detection in a tremendous way and the cause of justice would be better served.

The writer is a senior superintendent of the police currently heading the Forensics Division of the Sindh police.
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  #26  
Old Thursday, March 24, 2011
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Civil servants’ behaviour


The PCS officers must learn to live with the history, concept and structure of the civil services.


By Kunwar Idris
24 March, Tuesday 2011


THE PCS (Provincial Civil Service) is a perpetually angry and aggrieved cadre of Pakistan’s civil servants. The roots of their discontent lie in the competitive system of entry into the civil services dating back to colonial times. It is not a new phenomenon — only, they have lost discipline.
The feeling of injustice that the PCS officers nurture has been finding expression, over the years, in representations, litigation and sometimes even in protest, but never in the breach of public order of the kind that was witnessed in Lahore recently.

It was at once amusing and disgusting to see a lot of them — including some young women — being herded into prison vans by policemen as they revelled in the defiance of law and decency.

For once, the custodians of the law were seen violating the law across the country and beyond on TV channels. Their ranks already weighed down by nominations, corruption, political affiliations or pressures, the agitating civil servants seem to be driving the last nail in the coffin of professional administration, thereby handing over, quite unwittingly, the responsibility of making decisions to the politicians, who would like nothing better.

The grievances of the PCS officers may be legitimate and their aspirations justified. But they must not compare their career path and promotion prospects with the DMG — the District Management Group which, though much diminished in worth and authority, is still a successor to the Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP) and before that the fabled Indian Civil Service of colonial times.

Z.A. Bhutto, fearful of the recognition and powers that the CSP officers had come to enjoy, split up the service into three groups. The district, being the hub of Pakistan’s field administration, and the District Management Group (combined with the tribal group), in the course of time have emerged to regain the stature that Mr Bhutto loathed.

Nor have the promotion prospects of DMG officers diminished to any significant extent. The cadre not only survived the later depredations of Pervez Musharraf but seems to have emerged even stronger after his departure.

The PCS officers must learn to live with the history, concept and structure of the federal and provincial civil services. They must also not forget the increasing spread of their postings and ever-improving prospects of their promotions. Here let me recall a personal example in support of this statement, if it is of any consolation.

My father joined the PCS in the year I was born. When I joined the CSP in 1957 at the age of 23, as additional sessions judge he was just one grade ahead of me. Seven years later, when he retired at the age of 60 and I was barely 30, both of us were in the same grade. But I held an allpowerful (call it lucrative if you will) post of political agent while he was an austere, slogging sessions judge.

Not much different was the situation of three or four of my batch mates who also happened to be the sons of PCS officers.

My father would sometimes mention, without making a grievance of it, that were he not over age by a year for the ICS examination in 1934 he, too, like his friend and class fellow N.M. Khan in Lahore’s Law College (both always competed for the top position) might have made it to the ICS and ended up as secretary to the federal government at the age of 50 or even less. He never let it bother him. He made up for it by writing law books alongside, that came to be relied upon by the superior courts.

Fate, time and accidents determine the course of a civil servant’s career as much as his competence, integrity or capacity to win the patronage of senior colleagues or politicians. Some officers who initially joined the PCS later rose as high — some higher — as the CSP officers. Familiar names that instantly come to mind are Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Nawabzada Sher Afzal Khan. I had the privilege to know both and worked under them. In competence and grace both outshone the best among their contemporary ICS/CSP officers.

Promotions in the PCS cadre in the normal course are much faster now than in my father’s time and for many years after independence. Now they hold many more jobs they could only dream of in the ICS or even the CSP days.

In colonial times, a PCS officer becoming deputy commissioner made news. It created quite a stir when some years after independence a PCS officer became deputy commissioner of Lahore or Karachi. Now perhaps there are as many PCS DCs (or by whatever other name the post is now called) as there are DMGs.

In this historical background and inherent limitations, all that the agitating PCS officers of Punjab can be advised is to seek remedy for their genuine grievances (where it is denied within the official hierarchy) by appealing to the tribunals, ombudsmen and courts — even the Supreme Court would take cognisance if a guaranteed or fundamental right is being denied.

In any case, they must not stoke fires on the streets which tomorrow they might be called upon to extinguish, only to find their moral authority undermined.

The writer is a retired civil servant.
EMAIL :- kunwaridris@hotmail.com

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Old Thursday, June 16, 2011
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All is not well


By Syed Saadat.
16th June, Thursday 2011.

THOSE readers who have visited the marvellous Mohatta palace in Karachi must have noticed a couple of lion statues sitting there since 1920, the year the palace was built.

Had the palace been a government office, these lions would have made it to the top echelons of bureaucracy. Why? Because the performance evaluation system in vogue is such that you just have to be there and sit idle to rise to the top.

I admit I might have exaggerated the scenario a bit, but only a bit. In Pakistan’s civil service the years of service an individual puts in matter a lot more than the quality of those years.

In a meeting some time ago, the finance minister gave senior officers of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) a piece of his mind regarding their performance. A fly on the wall tells us that he went to the extent of saying that they should leave if they could not meet revenue-collection targets and let someone competent take their place. However, have no doubt that their Performance Evaluation Reports (PERs), previously termed Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs), will give the ‘all is well’ verdict this year, just as in the previous so many years.

An in-depth analysis would conclude that the system of performance evaluation of government officers is flawless but any rule, law or procedure is only as good as it is implemented. The problem lies in the fact that government officers are mostly so jaded that unless or until there are personal scores to settle, superiors just rate everybody as very good in his PER. For them every officer is fit for promotion, thus undermining the very logic behind a performance-appraisal system.

The reasons behind this are multifaceted, including the tendency to want to stay away from controversy and so-called courtesy. The latter is extended at the expense of efficiency or something as trivial as the fact that if you rate an officer as below average or as extraordinary in his performance report, you have to provide a citation as to why you think so. Citations mean extra work, something which most government officers simply hate.

Then there are prejudices, irrespective of what is fair and what is not, CSS officers would side with their tribe, doctors would stand by doctors and so on and so forth. The recent rift between the District Management Group and the officers of the Provincial Civil Service officers and strikes by the doctors in Punjab stem from these complexes. This cadre addiction can go to great levels and a nexus exists among people who have a grip on ways to manipulate government rules and procedures.

Everybody protects their own kind.

However all is not lost. There are slight changes that can be introduced in the system to make it more effective. First and foremost in that list would be making the system more interactive. The so-called ACRs are confidential documents. The officer whose performance is being evaluated is not supposed to have a clue about the content of the review, but the fact of the matter is that almost everybody who is even remotely interested knows what is in the ACR. If you can tip a clerk in the relevant department you can even get a photocopy of the report.

I don’t see a reason behind the confidentiality any longer; modern management concepts call for progressive improvement in employee behaviour and performance through constant feedback. You cannot hit a target if you cannot see it, so if the target is to eliminate shortcomings in an officer, one has to ensure that he knows these. Government organisations with considerable employee strength are usually so well structured that the system of interactive evaluation can be introduced without any burden on existing resources.

Secondly, accountability has to be inculcated in the system, both in letter and spirit. Somebody who is not up to the mark should suffer for incompetence; somebody accused of corruption should be sidelined until proven clean and not decreed clean by something like the NRO. A slack evaluation system has a domino effect; if people committing blunders continue unfettered then the system is bound to rot. Blunders should be reflected in PERs which in their turn should be reflected in the postings of civil servants.

The reality, however, is that connections and loot are the most lethal combination to win lucrative postings in this lovely land of the pure. A lot of examples can be quoted from recent as well as distant history but let’s just leave it there.

For curious readers, I would suggest researching any incident related to law and order, corruption or dereliction of duty this country has been confronted with and you would find that being found guilty aside, the responsible are not even feeling guilty.

The rise of the media has made life for such elements uneasy; but not to worry, we as a nation suffer from amnesia so it’s just a matter of time, usually a fortnight, before all is forgotten. However, if during your research you find an officer in trouble for his deeds, wait a couple of months and you’ll find him singing, “All is well”.

The writer is a civil servant.

s_a_h_2@hotmail.com


Excellent Article.
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Agenda of terrorists


By Iqbal Jafar
28th of June, 2011


WHO are the terrorists, and what do they want? There are many answers to these questions that have kicked up so much bitter controversy that there hardly is any possibility of consensus.

The confusion about terrorists and terrorism is mainly because three different sorts of activities by three different groups have been lumped together, ignoring their separate concerns and objectives. Those three groups are clearly distinguishable: Al Qaeda and its affiliates, the Pakistani Taliban and their affiliates, and the Afghan Taliban.

Al Qaeda, born during the ‘jihad’ against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, is mainly an Arab-led organisation that felt betrayed when the US established a strong military presence in many Arab lands soon after the release of Afghanistan from the Soviet bear hug. It has an anti-US and anti-West agenda, and a global network. But having been hunted down in many parts of the world for the last 10 years, it now reportedly has diminishing resources and arguably weakening support in the Arab world and elsewhere.

The Afghan Taliban, on the other hand, have no global agenda or network. Like their precursors, the Mujahideen, they are fighting against the occupation of their land. They have never attacked any American or European asset outside Afghanistan.

They do, however, have sympathy for Al Qaeda, an organisation of their brothers-in-faith.

As Pashtuns and Wahabis they do have close affinity with the Pakistani Taliban, but they have never been directly involved in any unprovoked acts of violence in Pakistan. Calling them terrorists doesn’t belittle their objective nor does it diminish support for them in Afghanistan.

Finally, there is the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and its affiliates. Accepting the reality of what the Pakistani Taliban did in the areas that fell under their operational control, such as Swat, and what they claim to aspire to, we should have no doubt that their goal is to capture the state apparatus by force and establish in Pakistan a regime dedicated to imposing their version of Islam on the model of the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. While the story of Al Qaeda can be said to be almost over and the story of the Afghan Taliban will reach a predictable end in the near future, the story of Pakistani Taliban has just begun.

Even from those few things that we know for sure about the Pakistani Taliban, it is clear enough that what we are facing today in Pakistan is a raging ideological civil war, not merely terrorist activities by criminals or semi-literate mullahs. The Pakistani Taliban are, in fact, well-trained, well-equipped, overly motivated and generously funded. They also have significant support in every section and strata of society directly or through their affiliates and sympathisers.

The way this insurgency is proceeding in its early phase is so well-orchestrated that we cannot be sure whether we are in the midst of a civil war. Most of us have the uncomfortable feeling that we are in the midst of some kind of war. But whose war? We keep asking this question with the detachment of an unconcerned onlooker.

In the ongoing insurgency the classic tactics of guerrilla warfare are already observable: harass, weaken, infiltrate, confuse and sow the seeds of discord, and harvest the countryside for associates. The insurgents have done all this and more. Their technical and organisational competence has been displayed in the raids on such military strongholds as the GHQ and PNS Mehran where almost all the aforementioned tactics can be seen in operation.

The insurgents operate from behind the smokescreen of anti-US, anti-India and anti-Israel slogans and have probably assimilated a bit of the ideologies dictated by all these slogans. But their persona is not the sum total of all those negativities.

They have seemingly assigned to themselves a much larger task: overthrow the existing state apparatus and inaugurate a theocracy of their definition. During the course of an evolutionary period of more than 30 years, they have evolved into a formidable weapon.

This brings us to the most disturbing question of all: who wields this weapon? It is difficult to believe that any of the known present or past leaders of the Taliban could possibly plan and execute such professionally conducted raids as the ones on the GHQ or PNS Mehran. Could it be that all those names that we keep hearing are no more than the public face of so far unknown persons who operate from behind the scenes? Could it be a cabal of highly educated, trained and experienced zealots that are well-versed in the art of unconventional warfare?

It could be that the truth, if and when revealed, will turn out stranger than fiction.

Who can stop the insurgents, whether or not led by a hidden cabal? Obviously, the armed forces — not unarmed civilians. It is time, therefore, for the armed forces, politicians and civil society to stop slinging mud at each other and come together. It is also time that the security forces cleansed their own ranks of infiltrators and zealots, instead of behaving like a harassed and embarrassed giant flailing at outspoken politicians and a hostile media.

Finally, the enigmatic role played by the US administration and think-tanks in providing fuel to the anti-US bandwagon, driven by the Taliban, on which all sorts of people are trying to clamber. Consider just two of the many examples. The US administration continues to rebuke and humiliate the Pakistani leadership publicly, while drones continue to pound the tribal areas. US think-tanks keep rolling out all sorts of anti-Pakistan prescriptions, including the break-up of Pakistan.

A number of analysts have joined the band of political cartographers in Washington that feel that an independent Balochistan would be a good idea. Yet, even better would be an independent Pakistan.

The writer is a retired civil servant.

Iqbal.jafar1@yahoo.com
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Unchanging agony


By Kunwar Idris
Tuesday, 12 July, 2011


‘PAKISTAN struggles for survival’ was the headline of the lead story of America’s well-known magazine Life in its issue of Jan 5, 1948. The subsidiary headline of the story ‘Religious warfare and economic chaos threaten the newly born nation of 70 million Moslems’ might as well have been printed today if ‘newly born’ were changed to 60-plus years old and 70 million to 180 million.

Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) included, the population figure should be 350 million. From 30 million to 180 million in 64 years is a ‘great leap forward’ of its own kind.

In an era of fast change, the agony of Pakistan and the world’s perception of it has remained unchanged. Religious warfare, then restricted to the borderlands and Kashmir, today devastates the whole country and is getting deadlier. Pakistan was then said by Life to be “fighting a close battle with economic bankruptcy”. If it has not yet lost that battle it is only because of foreign doles and routine rescheduling of its huge debt.

Life then noted: “except for ailing Jinnah, Pakistan has few national leaders”. The only other noteworthy public figures for the magazine then were Lady Nusrat Haroon, the ruler of Khairpur state Mir ‘George’ Alimurad Khan Talpur and a “more forceful, toothless, nearly blind, barely literate” wali of Swat who kept track of his warring subjects with an “efficient field-telephone system”.

That brings back the memory of an evening in Malakand after the states were abolished. A more vigorous, better educated son of the founding wali, Jahanzaib Khan, then told the political agent of the merged states that Ayub Khan had taken over his state only to hand it back, sooner than later, to the warriors whom his father had tamed with a combination of cunning and brute force. A generation later, he was proved right.

The relaxed mir of the desert and the warrior wali and mehtar of the mountains have since made way for regionalists and terrorists. The national scene remains denuded of leadership more than it was in 1948. The extinct hereditary nawabs or tribal chieftains were closer to the people and more caring than are today’s elected representatives. If yet another reason is to be found for discontent spreading wide and fast, it is corruption in public services and the long delay by the courts in punishing
criminals, settling civil disputes and enforcing the rights of the poor.

Disputes of all kinds that in the frontier regions were decided by the princes, political agents and their jirgas in hours, days and weeks — and gratis — now linger for years and cost a fortune.

To compare the state of the economy or the infrastructure in 1947/48 and now is not easy nor would it be an accurate exercise. But a humiliating comparison must not go unmentioned. The rail route in miles may be the same today, or less, but the extent and quality of service rendered by the railways then was a matter of pride. Now it is a matter of shame.

The concept of a welfare state was cast aside. Deliberate destruction of the railways that served the masses is one instance of this, and the low per cent of the budget spent on education another. Here is yet another less quoted example. The production of cars over the years has gone up from 33,000 to 176,000 (more than five times) but the number of buses produced has fallen from a peak of 1,500 to less than 500. The Punjab chief minister, the other day, inaugurated a car taxi service aided by the government. A taxi ride costs no less than Rs10 a km. But not one bus has come on the street in three years out of the 8,000 promised with subsidies in fares from the federal government for the capital cities.

The blame for religious strife, lawlessness and a faltering economy lies squarely on past and present leaders. Religious radicalism that found its first expression in raids to liberate Kashmir at the dawn of independence now pervades the constitution sparing no sphere of life or institution.

Ziaul Haq’s slogan for the army was Jihad fi sabil lillah. If the army has to defend not just the physical frontiers of the country but the faith of the people as well, it can only do so by taking over state power. In fact, that is what it has been doing in the past. Unfortunately, even now justifications have been provided by some political leaders for the army to take over the reins of power.

As per its duty, the army should guard the country’s borders and the state should work for the well-being of the people of the country. The people can take care of their own beliefs. The ongoing ‘Arab Spring’ is not about faith but about democracy, civil rights and ending decades of oppression. There is a lesson to be learned here.

The writer is a retired bureaucrat.
kunwaridris@hotmail.com

Unchanging agony | Opinion | DAWN.COM
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A diversion to nowhere



By Tanvir Ahmad Khan
Published: August 21, 2011


While a cacophony of incomprehensible voices dominates the so-called daily debates on dividing existing provinces in Pakistan in TV talk shows, a more serious discussion has fortunately begun in the print media. In a multi-lingual and multi-ethnic state like Pakistan, such reorganisation and the distribution of powers between the centre and the federating units are valid issues. In our case, the debate has erupted in the wake of long-awaited steps towards greater provincial autonomy but without being an organic extension of that devolution. More likely, its roots are in a Machiavellian group in the regime that raises issues to divert attention from poor governance, deepening economic malaise and unprecedented levels of corruption.

Prominent amongst the bits that can be understood in the TV talk shows are references to the large number of provinces in Afghanistan and Turkey and the considerable increase in the number of federating states in the Indian Union. The references to Afghanistan and Turkey are irrelevant as, in their cases, the word is a poor translation of what is called an administrative district in India and Pakistan. References to India betray a conspicuous lack of understanding of the processes that led to the multiplication of states.

The first major reorganisation of states in India took place in 1956. The Congress had been seized of the issue since the closing years of World War I. Gandhi was an ardent supporter of linguistic re-demarcation and the development of India’s 22 or more languages. He demanded it publicly in October 1947. Nehru disagreed at first as his plan for modernisation, rooted in his own brand of socialism, envisaged central planning for larger inherited administrative units. It was the language-driven unrest in the south, especially in the huge province of Madras, that made him accept the creation of new states. Subsequently, India carved out more provinces and autonomous territories to meet other expediencies particularly on its periphery. Invariably, there was resort to the time-honoured British practice of establishing high powered commissions of eminent people to study and report on the matter. It has not been a linear process. The Sarkaria Commission of 1983, for instance, investigated, amongst other things, if decentralisation had unnecessarily weakened a strong centre that India needed. The centre asserted its dominance by invoking Article 356, the real nemesis of state governments, frequently till some moderation was introduced by the checks and balances prescribed in the landmark Bommai Judgment of the Indian Supreme Court.

Unlike India, where empirical factors such as the rise of powerful regional parties and old traditions shaped decisions, Pakistan has seen arbitrary reorganisation such as the infamous One Unit that made any subsequent consideration of new provinces a highly explosive issue. Balochistan and Sindh are the foremost examples where the proximity/kinship argument discussed in Ejaz Haider’s enlightening two-part analysis in this newspaper would, in today’s inflamed situation, lead to reactions likely to rip the federation apart. Awami National Party’s gratuitous proposal to create a pseudo-Pashtunistan in Balochistan is both ill-timed and ill-considered. The situation of Punjab does not have the same incendiary emotions but it has not been scientifically studied. The plausible idea of a Seraiki province has been hyped up only to create a rival dynasty that could curtail the Sharif brothers’ realm. This is the surest way of vitiating this idea, a clear case of mala fide intentions.

Pakistan does not have the unifying and centralising agency of big internal ‘multinationals’ that knit the burgeoning private sector in India to the Union government and through it to its ‘neo-liberal’ international partners. Though the imperfect Indian economic model has sharpened disparities amongst the federating states, it does dilute centre-state polarisation.

Pakistan’s best option is for the government to abandon its diversionary tactics and focus on the restoration of law and order and the revival of the economy. It should be much more deliberate on the reorganisation of existing provinces and appoint a commission of public representatives and experts under a judge of impeccable credentials to formulate viable recommendations to satisfy local aspirations and make governance vastly more efficient, honest and creative. This is no time to create new Frankensteins that the government has hardly any capacity to flirt with.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2011.

The writer was foreign secretary from 1989-90 and is a former chairman of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad

A diversion to nowhere – The Express Tribune
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