Archive for April, 2011


Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster gave the picture of Japanese to the world which has a lesson for all other nations. Pakistan has many things to learn from this great nation of the world as in one decade it has faced two major natural calamities, earthquake (2005) and flood(2010), and many man made crises in the form of terrorist suicide attacks.

In internet I found an article named Ten Things To Learn From JAPAN which got my  appraise as I made a video on it. I believe, people prefer to watch than to read.

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THE 9 BILLION PEOPLE QUESTION is the title of special 14 page report of The Economist, American weekly journal, published on 26th February, 2011. The report discusses reasons of the current rise in food prices, raises a question about feeding growing population and suggests few solutions to be implemented on wide scale depending on their successful results after implementing in smaller scale in the different parts of the world. Food prices have shot high twice in less than four years which is the reason of global food crisis and towards which the report draws our attention. Higher food prices have resulted in addition of millions of additional people below the poverty line across the globe. These volatile prices of food items are becoming the reason of upheaval in many countries, like Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries, and can be reason of many upcoming revolutionary movements in other developing countries with large poor population.

Report says that many of the reasons of second highest spike in the food prices after 1984 are temporary but other reasons, which always have been the prime mover of food crises in the world, cannot be ignored. These hidden and always present factors must be brought into consideration and panacea to the food crises must be concocted by the world leaders and leading organizations to prevent the large portion of the world population from falling in the abysmal chasms of abject poverty and to avoid the crisis which will originate with the growing population in coming years.  Recent highest price spike after 2006 world’s food crisis has many temporary reasons including drought in Russia and Argentina; floods in Pakistan, Australia and Canada; weak value of dollar, trade restrictions and policies; restocking and hoarding by exporters; high oil prices in global market and increasing demands of two giant devouring nations India and China. This year wheat crop in China has been severely affected which has generated the threat of drought in China which will exacerbate the food crises and poor nations will have to absorb the shocks of further spikes in food prices. World population is increasing with the rate of almost 1 percent per year and by this calculation the world’s population will approximately reach to 7 billion in the end of 2011 and will become 9 billion in 2050. In coming 40 years the production rate must rise by 70 percent to fill 9 billion stomachs but it seems difficult because of many factors, as enlisted by report, like little available unformed land, shortage of water, change in the world’s climate and many other factors related with agriculture. These are the obvious causes which can be controlled, to some amount, and avoided, to a smaller level, in many parts of the world but many other factors including farmers’ income, distribution of food, consumerism, policies and democracies causes famine in the world.  Moreover, low production rate of wheat and rice, two important constituents of food, as compared to the world’s population growth rate alarms of the further increase in food prices and global food crisis.

The main target of report is on feeding 9 billion people in 2050 but these questions are also related to feeding 7 billion current population of the world. Current global food crisis has drawn world’s attention towards the deficiencies in the current agriculture system of the world and climate change in the form of global warming and demands change in the current agriculture system and implementation of modern techniques and effective policies to help poor countries to feed their people. Rise in food prices has devastatingly affected the poor people’s living standard as large population of the world spends more than 50 percent of their income on food. People are becoming poorer and disturbances among nations are escalating. Current springing up of rebellious movements in many countries, like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Middle East, are outcome of growing poverty, severe food crisis, higher unemployment and corruption catapulting their lands. Similar kind of revolution, in headlines of mainstream Pakistani media, is discussed to be erupted in the land of the pure as people are suffering from higher prices of food items, utility bills and oil products. Unemployment and abeyant business opportunities in the country have frustrated the youth who are sick of mis-governance, nepotism, corruption and indifference of the ruling party in Pakistan. Most of the reasons of these crises are domestic but many global factors define the complexity of our crises equation as spike in food prices globally has caused rise in food products in Pakistan.

This report is helpful for Pakistanis to know about the factors causing food crisis globally and concerns of feeding growing population which will add 2 billion more persons in next 40 years. In Pakistan agriculture accounts for 23% of the GDP and employs 44% of the labor force and 25% of total land is under cultivation with world’s largest irrigation system. Pakistan must not be affected so easily by exotic food crisis due to strong agricultural infrastructure and nature’s favor. But the reality is opposite to the expectations. Pakistan is facing double-digit inflation rate which is increasing with passage of time. The ruling Pakistan’s People Party famous for its electioneering slogan “roti, kapra aur makan’’ has become notorious for the same slogan as it has not only failed to provide basic necessities of life,  food, shelter and job, to the people of Pakistan but also has narrowed their sources of income by levying heavy taxes.

Shocks of global food crisis felt in Pakistan also but it is not the only reason of current price hike of food items in Pakistan. There are multiple intricate factors which need to be brought to the parliament and tables of the policy makers if they really want to work for the welfare of the people.


Terrorism has become Pakistan’s domestic problem and concern after owing the war on terrorism triggered by America and its allies to curb the momentum of Islamic militant organizations, al-Qaeda and Taliban, bolstered and funded by America in the cold war era to fight against the Soviet army invading Afghanistan. Thousands of citizens have lost their lives in last eight years in terrorist attacks conducted in different parts of the country by asinine and roughshod militants targeting mosques, shrines, markets and political and religious processions mostly. Suicide bomber has become the greatest threat to the people’s lives than any weapon invented by cynic minds. People in Pakistan are under the threat of suicide bombing all the time and it has installed perpetual fear factor in their minds. This fear factor is rooting deep in Pakistan’s social setup and is anticipated to be characteristics of the nation if check on terrorism is not made sure and stringent.

Terrorism has deformed the whole face of the country and is pushing the country towards the point of no return. The year 2011 started with sad news of the assassination of the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, by his own security guard in the capital of the country. The assassination itself was condemnable and excruciating but people’s response on it worried liberals and intellectuals of the country as this event will be the turning moment in upcoming history of the region. Assassin of Salman Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri, got people’s applause and was showered with rose petals as he reached the central court for judicial trial. People of Pakistan regard Qadri, murderer of the Governor, their hero as he took ‘courageous’ and ‘audacious’ step to ‘teach lessons’ to people seeking reforms in the Blasphemy Law. Salman Taseer started a dialogue on reforming controversial and mis-used Blasphemy law and supported a Christian poor woman, Asia Bibi, accused of committing blasphemous activities and got death sentence as penalty from Lahore High Court. The public reaction was not new in its spirit as throughout the history of Pakistan people of Pakistan have gathered on streets for the sake of honor of the religion. Riots of 1952 against Ahmadi community in the length and breadth of the country and public ire against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, former prime minister, which turned into mob protests in every nook and cranny of the country in 1978, two major events in the history, are epitomes of religious fundamentalism integrated in Pakistani society. Religious fundamentalism is less fatal than religious fanaticism. People’s jubilation over assassination of Taseer and appreciation of Qadri over taking law in his hands is fanaticism and lunacy. It removed mask from the hidden face of the society condoning fundamentalism and fanaticism.

Pakistani people, divided into different sects and factions, are not religiously zealots but they have always gathered as religiously fundamentalists for honor of their religion. It is characteristic of Pakistani Muslims irrespective of their sect and ethnic identity. This characteristic fundamentalism was misused by America against soviet forces in Afghanistan when Mujahedin factory was established and flourished in the northern mountainous areas of Pakistan by then government of tyrant General Zia ul Haq with the support of military intelligence agencies most notably ISI – Inter Services Intelligence. Fundamentalism and adherence to religious values were geared and lubricated by Jihad mantra and people of Pakistan fought proxy war in the name of religion. It will be unfair to say that Pakistani people were manipulated by anti-Soviet forces. India has always been considered as the biggest enemy of Pakistan and before war in Afghanistan Pakistan has fought three wars with India and many people were fighting voluntarily as Mujahedin in disputed Jammu and Kashmir to ‘help their Muslim fellows’. So taste for jihad or ‘holy war’ was in their blood and religious fundamentalism has always been the characteristic of Pakistani people. This fundamentalism proved vital and effective for the proxy war which Pakistani guerrilla fighters (mujahedin) fought against soviet army.

After 911 the world’s history started getting changed and so the Muslim world’s also. Pakistan, being the epicenter and factory of global terrorism, appeared on the global radars as a key player to curb the terrorism. Pakistan had choice no other than joining war on terrorism to maintain its role in global politics. Joining the war divided Pakistani people into two fringes – one who were against terrorism and thus in favor of the war and second faction who were opponent of fighting America’s war in Pakistan’s land. From 2004 momentum of domestic terrorism increased every year and people further divided into factions. Few people keep the opinion that the current spate of terrorism is the retaliatory activism against drone strikes in the Northern areas by American spy agencies and thus they in silent words condone or legitimize terrorism. Another group has the similar opinion about the cause of terrorism but they condemn overtly it. But brighter part of this picture is that many people from all circles of life strictly condemn this activism and demand from Pakistan government and military to curb this menace as early as possible to bring normality and stability in the country back. Stance on terrorism is clear by a large population of the Pakistan so the world must not be skeptic on the aim of Pakistan to end this scourge.

Stance on terrorism is by liberal, enlightened and intellectuals of the country. Majority of the country is mostly illiterate, gullible and manipulated by the local clerics. So, fundamentalism is still present in every part of the country but in different shapes and forms. Anti-Americanism is one shade of it. Heroism of Mumtaz Qadri is another and newest one. Every incident opens a veil from the society and denudes the actual facade of the society. Religious fundamentalism is not taught only in madrassas and mosques rather it is implanted in the textbooks of school going children in which animosity against India is bred.

Pakistan is facing new challenges among which countering religious fanaticism needs a large portion of the national attention. If intellectuals and clerics do not realize the gravity of this threat, Pakistan will become the most intolerant nation on the earth and it will be less dangerous to the outer world than its own nationals as Pakistan is the hub of different religious and ethnic factions. Religious tolerance and ethnic pluralism is the only way following which will lead the country to come out of the quagmire of the conundrums. Intolerance, fundamentalism and fanaticism will only worsen the situation and push the country to dystopia. Countering terrorism is not possible without checking growing fundamentalism in the society and discouraging people’s response as seen after the assassination of Salman Taseer. No nation in the history has murderer their hero. Only Pakistan will have if people of Pakistan do not give place to tolerance and freedom to open dialogue in their society.

So the greatest threat to Pakistan is by its own nationals.


British Prime Minister, David Cameron, came on day-long visit on first week of April. I as a Pakistani citizen welcome the British premier on change of Britain’s mood towards Pakistani people and the government. Fresh change in the strategic dialogue between two countries is welcomed by the whole nation. Pakistan is facing wide swath of problems among them terrorism and poverty are iterated frequently on national and international platforms.  During this crucial period, Pakistan needs more friends and no foes.

 

David Cameron’s day-long trip, signing of a document titled ‘Enhanced Strategic Dialogue’ with his Pakistani counterpart and announcing education aid of £650m are surely signs of his changed perception and policy towards Pakistan. Our government should step forward to handshake with him to give Britain the gesture that Pakistan believes in keeping good relations with the outer world to play its part in the global village as a responsible and earnest player.

 

Pakistan always needed some foreign assistance for its military and economic development. David Cameron announced the education aid for Pakistan with his concerns over the lack of good governance in Pakistan. In his own words,

“My job is made more difficult when people in Britain look at Pakistan, a country that receives millions of pounds of our aid money, and see weaknesses in terms of government capacity and waste.”

This statement is the most important thing that Pakistani government must consider before going abroad to seek financial assistance from the international community. Pakistan’s image in the international community has severely been contorted by domestic corruption and mis-governance. Any government of foreign country announcing financial aid for Pakistan is answerable to its people if the purpose of supporting Pakistan is not fulfilled. David Cameron pointed out the same concern.

 

Pakistan’s premier, president and parliamentarians must take it as a lesson and stand against corruption in national institutions if they want to get support of the foreign governments and nations. In addition, Pakistan must ameliorate its image by using foreign aid for the right purpose.