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Pakistan Press (14 May 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 By Iftikhar Ali: New Age Islam's Selection, 14 May 2018

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

14 May 2018

Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018

By Iftikhar Ali


By Zarrar Khuhro

What Do The Pakistani Youth Want?

By Shahid Javed Burki

Accidental Nationalism

By Syed Talat Hussain

A Road Map for Rule of Law

By Tariq Khosa

‘Come Baba Come’

By Shahzad Sharjeel

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018

By Iftikhar Ali

May 14, 2018

New wine in old bottle is one of Jesus’s parables but the message it conveys is deep with reference to Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 proposed by the outgoing government of PML (N) in the name of so-called political empowerment and good governance in GB. If this order gets passed in the current shape, it is expected to have severe consequences for both the state, government and the citizens of GB because nobody in GB ready to accept it except some poodles and stooges of the current ruling party. The Speaker of GBLA has repeatedly issued statements that the unanimously passed resolutions by the GBLA be honoured which have no effect or reflection on the proposed new order. The provincial president of PPP Amjad Hussain Advocate along with other opposition leaders from religio-political background have rejected and rubbished the proposed order.

Apparently, GB Order 2018 looks like a hurriedly done cut and paste bureaucratic assignment from Constitution of Pakistan and Governance Order 2009. What is new in the ipso facto provisions are such that it has an additional definition of citizen from GB domicile holders as well as those who hold citizenship under Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951 (II of 1951) which makes every citizen of Pakistan a citizen of GB. Article 5 of the Order requires inviolable obligation of every citizen to remain obedient to the order contrary to Article 5(1) of the CoP which requires the loyalty with the state. The definition of State under Article 7 of the CoP has been changed as to definition of the Government in the new order. Similarly, the powers of State under Article 8(2) of the CoP are transferred to Government under Article 7(2) of the order. In both Articles, the Powers and Provisions granted to “State” under CoP are placed under the “Government” in the new order which also reads the mind of the drafting machinery. One can deduce to the fact that the constitutional obligations and responsibilities of state in four provinces of Pakistan are to be performed by the government in GB and citizens of GB are to remain loyal with Government instead of State.

Freedom of association cherished in Article 17 of new order contains an additional clause which is not obligatory for the citizens of Pakistan under Article 17 of CoP whereby the persons or political parties of Gilgit-Baltistan are restrained to take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to the ideology of Pakistan. Once CoP is silent about such a clause, makes it clear to the people of GB that even the fundamental rights granted in the new order are not in consistent with the persons or political parties in other provinces. Article 19 of the CoP deals with the freedom of speech and freedom of press whereas from Article 19 of new order, the phrase “there shall be freedom of press” has been dropped. However, Principles of Policy set out in Chapter 2 of the Part II of CoP are pari passu extended to GB.

What is totally contrary and ultra-constitutional is the extent of executive authority of Government in any matter with respect to Prime Minister who has been given powers to make laws whereby the executive authority of the government shall be subject to, and limited by, the executive authority expressly conferred by this Order or by law made by the Prime Minister. Under such imperial provisions, the position of Prime Minister for the people of GB gains similar status to the British Crown for their colonial subjects because under the disempowerment Articles 41, 46, 60, 61, 62, 99 and 105 the position of the Prime Minister gains the final authority over the legislative and administrative matters having the Governor, Chief Minister and GB Assembly be subservient to him.

Other burning issues of GB in the recent times are the acquisition of land and imposition of taxes against which massive and unprecedented protests were observed in GB and across Pakistan due to which the government was forced to retreat. Under the articles 60(2) and 65, the PM is empowered to levy all taxes in the region as prescribed the third schedule. These clauses are inviting the readymade sentiments to be flare-up once again. The custodians of state must take precautionary notices because the new imperial order adds deprivation to already deprived. The legislative list under Part-I of the third schedule enlists 62 subjects out of which most of the subjects are beyond capacity and capability of legislation of GB Assembly and federal ones.

Whereas, Part-II of the legislative list comprised of 5 provisions for the PM to impose taxes in consultation with the Governor and CM of GB. In a nutshell, this order has neither honoured the unanimous resolutions passed by Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly nor acknowledged the aspirations and sacrifices of the people of GB. The inhabitants of GB accept nothing less than full integration with Pakistan and if the full integration otherwise harms the Pakistani stance on Kashmir issue, the people of GB demands nothing less than what India has given to the people of IoK and what Pakistan has given to the People of AJK.

Source; pakobserver.net/gb-order-2018/



By Zarrar Khuhro

May 14, 2018

WITH his penchant for pomp, his nods to nepotism and his tendency to label opponents as ‘enemies’, President Donald Trump is quite the caricature of a third world autocrat — except for the fact that he is in charge of the most powerful country in the world.

Trump, much like garden-variety megalomaniacs, delights in reversing the key projects and agreements set in place by the previous administration. He has pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, has gutted Obamacare and has now withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, which was the signature foreign policy achievement of his predecessor Barack Obama.

Given that the US isn’t the only signatory, the eventual fate of the deal remains unclear, with Iran expressing anger and European capitals going into damage control. Nevertheless, Trump is unfazed and determined that this "horrible" deal is now off the cards, that sanctions against Iran will be reimposed and that Iranian "expansion" will be checked.

The effects have been immediate: oil prices and regional tensions have gone up, and US credibility has gone down. The first provides a boost to the oil-dependent Gulf economies that are arrayed against Iran and — unintentionally — also gives much-needed relief to Russia whose geopolitical ambitions don’t quite match up with its economic strength.

As for the second, Israel took the opportunity to launch its most wide-ranging attacks on Syria to date, targeting dozens of sites it claims hosted Iranian military sites and installations.

Israel has struck targets in Syria before — interdicting logistical supply lines and recently striking the T-4 airbase as well as bombing a Syrian air force base in April, reportedly killing several Iranian advisers.

The latest attacks, Israel claims, were in retaliation for alleged Iranian missile attacks on Israel — all of which Tel Aviv claims were interdicted with no damage.

Israel is trying to drive a wedge between Iran and the Assad regime.

Iran denies having launched any assault on Israel, calling such claims “fabricated and baseless excuses”, and indeed there seems to be little logic in their having done so, except as an attempt to salvage pride and make a show of defiance in the aftermath of Israeli strikes. But then if that were the case, it seems unlikely that Iran would deny it in the first place.

What is more likely, and this is hardly a revelation, is that Israel seized the opportunity granted by the US withdrawal to advance the long-desired strategy of rolling back Iranian entrenchment in Syria.

As always, there is contradiction in Israel’s claims: on the one hand it paints Iran as a nigh-unstoppable hegemonic power, but simultaneously claims that one day of strikes has set back Iranian plans by ‘months’.

Along with physically bombing Iranian targets, Israel is also trying to drive a wedge between Iran and the regime of Bashar al-Assad. In the aftermath of the Israeli strikes, Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman called on Assad to “throw the Iranians out … they only do harm and their presence brings only damage and problems”.

While this is unlikely to happen in the short term, given how beholden Assad is to Iran for its help in securing his rule, this may change as Israel ups the ante — and the pain inflicted on Assad’s regime.

Ironically, Iran’s success in buoying the Syrian government may prove a liability for Tehran as an increasingly secure Assad may become less dependent on direct Iranian support. The friendship of princes is notoriously fickle.

The same goes for czars; prior to launching the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, reportedly walking away with assurances of Russian non-interference in the Israeli campaign against Iran.

One should note that none of Russia’s vaunted air defence systems were engaged in any of these strikes and that, following Netan­­yahu’s visit, Russia backtracked on providing its advanced S-300 air defence system to Syria, something Moscow had hinted it would do last month after Western strikes on Syria.

For Russia, which used the Syrian conflict to shore up its international standing and reach, being caught in the crossfire is not a desirable scenario, and it seems strategic ambiguity is a far more preferred stance.

Iran, it seems, has now reached a major hurdle in its plans to project influence in the Middle East. While domestically the US tearing up the nuclear deal has validated the stance of hardliners, boosting them in the short term, the economic pain from the reimposition of sanctions (European corporations are unlikely to give up doing business with the US for Iran’s sake) might cause serious political problems at home.

Pushed to the edge, Iran is now threatening to start uranium enrichment on an “industrial scale” even as it seeks to salvage the agreement by negotiating with European nations.

Were the former to take place, it is entirely likely that we will see Israeli strikes on Iranian soil in the near future, with all the chaos and conflict that will bring.

Source: dawn.com/news/1407579/endgame


What Do The Pakistani Youth Want?

By Shahid Javed Burki

May 14, 2018

Those who watch political developments in Pakistan should note a number of things happening that are relatively new. These will disturb the status quo which was based on traditional associations. The most notable of these is the age-old beradari system that the author Anatol Lieven in his book Pakistan: A Hard Country thought gave the country and its people exceptional resilience as they dealt with recurrent crises. The youth’s rise in the country is likely to shake the economic, political and social structures. This will upend the old alliances and push them towards redundancy. This will be the case especially in the urban areas, in the country’s large cities in particular. With this as the background, I get back to the question I asked in this space last week. Who are the young people who will bring about enormous changes in the way Pakistan works, where are they located, what are their aspirations and what do they need from the country’s economic and political systems?

In answering these questions, I am helped enormously by the recent UNDP report on Pakistan authored by two scholars of great repute, Adil Najam and Faisal Bari. However, the census data from the 2017 count does not provide much help since it continues to underestimate the urban population. The reason for that is political. A correct estimate of the size and distribution of urban population would reduce the power of the rural elite. This group continues to exercise influence over the public sector far greater than would be justified by the popular support it can muster in an election. I would say that if some of what I predict is likely to happen as a result of the 2018 elections, when the next census is conducted perhaps in 2027, it will provide more accurate data on the urban-rural distribution of the population.

Let me get back to the question posed in the title of this article — what do the Pakistani youth want? The work done by Najam and Bari for the Pakistan National Human Development Report is extremely helpful in providing the profile of the youth. They tell us that 55 per cent of the youth live in Punjab, another 23 per cent in Sindh, 14 per cent in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and four per cent in Balochistan. The remaining four per cent are to be found in Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Fata. As many as 30 per cent are illiterate, not able to read or write. Only six per cent have 12 years or more of education. But lack of education will not hold them back in expressing their aspirations. They are taking full advantage of the enormous technological developments that have occurred in the country over the last decade or two. Well over one-half of the youth possess mobile telephones. Although only 14 per cent have access to the internet, they are able to connect to the world by using the social media.

I estimate that the size of the population eligible to vote in 2018 to be between 135 and 140 million. If we define the youth among these to be between 18 and 30 years, their number will be about 50 million, or 35 per cent of the total voting population. It appears to me that two political parties, the PTI and the MQM, are likely to focus on mobilising the young for the election, the former in Punjab, K-P and Karachi and the latter in Karachi and Hyderabad. Mobilisation will bring political success. According to Najam and Bari, 90 per cent of the male youth and 55 per cent of their female counterparts are likely to vote in 2018. If the youth are able to put in power the people in whom they have trust, what would they want?

The UNDP’s answer to this question is 3Es — quality education, gainful employment and meaningful engagement. How will these aspirations be met by the new leadership to whom the youth will hand over the reins of power? This question will need to be answered by the political parties as they begin to write their election manifestoes. I think I can provide them with some help.

In education most of the needed effort will have to be made by the private sector. Private entrepreneurs, most of whom are women, have already shown their ability to educate most segments of the population: urban and rural; male and female; pre-school and of school-going age; and in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and social sciences. The public sector could partner with private entrepreneurs by investing in physical infrastructure, leaving school and university management to private entrepreneurs.

The aspiring youth are not looking to such traditional activities as agriculture, retail commerce, transport and construction for employment. The operative word in this context is ‘gainful’ and this means jobs in the modern sectors of the economy. Here the new set of rulers should take full advantage of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor programme being financed by Beijing. The Chinese have a lot of experience in generating employment in modern sectors and they could bring that to Pakistan.

The third aspiration — engagement — is of critical importance. This is the lesson learnt from the Arab Spring of 2011. The youth wanted governance to be inclusive, not exclusive. While they were able to topple long-enduring authoritarian regimes, they were not able to bring about permanent change. The result was several civil wars.

Neglecting the youth can be problematic. I will end by quoting from a review of the performance “Dance Nation” by The New York Times theatre critic. “Whether you admit it or not, your 13-year-old self is still living somewhere inside you like a feral demon-child whispering in the dark. It is a creature of frightening extremes, this being you once were: more hopeful and hopeless, joyous and despairing, loving and hateful than you have ever been since. Most likely, she or he is someone you try to avoid talking to.”

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1709486/6-pakistani-youth-want/


Accidental Nationalism

By Syed Talat Hussain

May 14, 2018

The country’s ruling elite and some sections of the population are in a fit of extreme anger at the way Washington has pushed a hard line on our diplomatic mission in Washington, restricting the movement of our diplomats and creating hurdles in the course of normal social and official operations. To these sections, the reciprocal riposte from Islamabad, introducing a broad range of limits on US diplomats in the country and withdrawal of various concessions granted to the embassy staff, is most befitting.

The anger and the joy of seeing the US getting the right end of the stick are justified. As always Washington has acted as a bully on the block, ignoring diplomatic, moral and public sensitivities in the wake of the fateful accident that killed a Pakistani citizen and triggered the present row. Legal proceedings in the wake of the accident have now placed the indulgent driver of the vehicle, an American defence and air attaché, in the legal dock as the Islamabad High Court has recommended his name be placed on the Exit Control List. As any middle ground shrank in the wake of this crisis, and Washington attempted to browbeat Islamabad into accepting its demands, the reaction from Islamabad makes perfect sense.

What does not make sense, however, is to believe that by responding in kind to Washington’s strong-arm tactics we have suddenly discovered the true path to national honour and dignity. Even while we are hearing words like ‘equal treatment’, ‘reciprocity’, ‘mutual respect’ with the speed of light followed by thunders of applause for our own response to the US State Department’s extravagant moves, the reality is that this crisis, like all similar or other crises involving spats with Washington, holds up a big mirror to us. And it is an ugly sight.

The list of withdrawn ‘facilities’ – talk of self-deceiving sophistry – from the US embassy and consulate staff that the Foreign Office has issued is a list of shame and disgrace. From getting mobiles without biometric verification to hiring and shifting property to running ‘safe houses’ loaded with radio and communication networks, US embassy officials had the kind of free lunch available to them that would make the British in colonial India go green with envy. Un-restricted movement, tinted glass vehicles, fake number plates, and – the mother of all dirty facilities – un-scanned cargo make Pakistan look like an informal Diego Garcia. All this is apart from the large (one of the largest in the world) CIA presence and humanitarian, development and other networks spread across the country whose staff has concessions that are unavailable to any other national including to us, the Pakistani citizens.

All these concessions by the way are neither ordained by the Vienna Conventions governing the rights and responsibilities of diplomats and emissaries nor are they reciprocal. No Pakistani emissary can even dream of running a safe house in the US, or get a communication setup that is not registered, or get through airports without getting scanned. Remember how Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi was subject to pat downs? Getting cargo into the US that has not been checked or approved by the relevant departments many time over? Forget it.

But the Americans had it all here and more. Who allowed them these ‘facilities’? What were governments (these are old facilities) and state institutions thinking when they approved opening national doors to the Americans without let, hindrance and filter? What do you think the Americans would bring into Pakistan in un-scanned cargo? Dog food? Cutlery? Of course the most sophisticated instruments possible to run an expansive ground-based digital and spying network. And why do you think they would have this cosmos of intelligence in Pakistan? To find out what journalists talk about in Islamabad’s coffee corners? Of course, to keep timely and deep tabs on our nuclear capability, among many other things.

This is not surprising. All countries do this. Americans do this more than others, perhaps because of the nature of their role in the world or perhaps because of their way of working. So there is nothing new in this jar as far as US actions are concerned. What is amazing is that the Americans had an official sanction (which we call facilities) from Islamabad to do this. We welcomed them as they spread their wings and enhanced and deepened the roots of their dicey network just like we allowed Blackwater to move in with its massive presence. Now that we are immersing ourselves in self-praise for ‘taking a stand’ we are being totally hollow and hypocritical. The real story is not that we have withdrawn these facilities from the Americans; the real story is that we had given these facilities to a power that has, like all big powers, a track record of using diplomatic covers to carry out undercover operations.

The most disconcerting aspect of the present spat is that we have learnt nothing from our past experiences and are happy finding refuge in another bout of accidental nationalism that is driven by events beyond our control and defined by momentary fits that alternate between anger and submission. In the immediate past, we have seen this accidental nationalism at work after the Salala and Angoor Ada attacks; after the OBL operation; during the Raymond Davis episode; and repeatedly after drone attacks (though we choose to be angry or quiet, depending on who is getting killed on our soil.) In all these events, we had the same cycle of ‘get them out of our hair’ to ‘let’s cool it’, leading to ‘back to normal concessionary behaviour’. We heard deafening roars of ‘you can’t do this to us’ to informal agreements struck in silence to ‘get on with life as before.’

In the more distant past, we see Ayub Khan having served the most vital cold-war objectives of Washington to discover national dignity rather late in the day. Ditto Ziaul Haq who, towards the end of his oppressive career as US pivot in South Asia, thought of creating ‘balance in engagement with Washington.’ General Pervez Musharraf has been different. He started off as a friend and continues to be a friend, and therefore is thriving. Benazir Bhutto lobbied in the US to re-enter national politics and Nawaz Sharif under domestic duress, Kargil or impending dislodgement from power, ran to Washington for audience. Asif Ali Zardari was fond of giving free advice to the Americans and had a love for one-on-one meetings without note-takers.

From Shaukat Aziz to Moeen Qureshi to a long list of our finance ministers and other important members of the ruling establishment, generations have been the voice of America in Pakistan. From settling families in the US to running businesses in the land of opportunity, the governors of Pakistan have been and continue to be diabolically bipolar in dealing with Washington. They dream of America, offer their services, allow this land to become Washington’s base of operations and then suddenly when an event wakes them up to the glory of independence and they start to sing the anthem of honour and dignity.

If this system had any honour or any dignity, it would have formed a commission on omission and commission spread over decades in allowing Americans free access to our inner sanctum. It would have asked for details of commitments that that we fulfilled for Washington and the rate at which we charged them for these tasks. However, rest assured, we won’t do that.

We would rather give out a press release, sounding so proper and dignified and honourable in our conduct and quoting conventions and best international practices – forgetting totally how self-incriminating we come across when we admit what all the US diplomats were allowed here and how Washington had always had these special passes from us in its back pocket. If the Americans have indulged themselves in our land on account of our concessions, compromises and weaknesses, the blame isn’t theirs. Any country would lap up these opportunities. The blame is with the culprits who sat in their easy chairs and signed on these concessions of shame in the present and in the past. Catch them. But that won’t happen. That is tough. That is where the truth is. That is where the crime is. And no one is interested in solving the real crime.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/316365-accidental-nationalism


A Road Map for Rule of Law

By Tariq Khosa

May 14, 2018

IN order to defeat the forces of violence, terrorism, extremism and militancy, the state must invest substantially in the justice system. This is a precondition for resolving disputes, guaranteeing security of contracts and ensuring that people look to the state and not to outside interest groups for social, economic and political protection.

The bottom line of the recently held eighth Judicial Conference in Islamabad was that the state cannot afford to falter further and its dangerous drift towards lawlessness and violent extremism must be arrested through the ascendancy of the rule of law, a culture of tolerance and ensuring justice. Many speakers at the conference emphasised long-term measures to improve the criminal justice system.

The void created due to poor governance and ineffectiveness of civilian law-enforcement agencies was filled by the armed forces and its affiliated intelligence apparatus, which led to a militarisation of the internal security strategy. The moot decried the phenomenon of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, stressing that “custodial killings are a crime and those guilty of committing it should be prosecuted as criminals”.

The deliberations of professional experts at the conference produced very sound recommendations in the shape of a declaration. Its implementation will be a huge challenge in an environment beset with the coercive mindset of certain state institutions. However, the best feature of the debate amongst the judges, jurists, academia and practitioners was the inclusion of pragmatic and practical steps that do not violate due process. Human rights, dignity and protection of life and liberty of citizens are inviolable fundamental principles that the state cannot be allowed to abandon.

The bottom line at the recent Judicial Conference was that the state cannot afford to falter further.

The Islamabad Declaration for Justice includes several recommendations for the police, prosecution, prisons, courts, lawyers and other key components of the state. Here are some for justice sector practitioners. All crime scenes should be properly secured, forensically examined and extensively photographed as soon as possible. If investigating officers do not properly collect evidence and investigate crimes, their failure or negligence should be recorded as a red entry in their professional record or personal files, and stringent disciplinary action should be initiated against them.

The declaration, while stressing the importance of depoliticisation, says the police is meant to “be specialised, held accountable; should have operational autonomy, functional specialisation — in investigation, to better serve the community”.

Rejecting a proposal recommending admissibility of evidence in terrorism cases recorded through a confessional statement before a supervisory police officer, the moot, however, suggested that where “witnesses may be vulnerable, mechanisms be developed to ensure recording of evidence promptly and concealment of the identity of witnesses, if necessary. Testimony of such witnesses may also be recorded electronically from a location where the witness feels secure”. This needs to be followed in high-profile cases of terrorism.

The suggestion to develop SOPs with the help of experts to guide law-enforcement agencies’ responses to terrorist attacks is the need of the hour. The CTDs of police, civil armed forces and the army school in Kharian have already developed these modus operandi. Implementation of such professional responses should be stressed.

Another proposal, especially on the eve of the soon-to-be-held national elections, calls upon strict enforcement of the Anti-Terrorism Act by calling upon the state to act against terrorists and banned terrorist organisations by not permitting them to hold meetings or propagate their views. Those identified as members of such outfits must not be allowed to contest elections and instead be prosecuted in accordance with the ATA. In fact, they can be effectively dealt with under the ATA provisions by restricting their movements, freezing their bank accounts and assets, stopping them from disseminating hate speech and detaining them if they violate these terms. Unlike in 2013, the state must show its resolve against militancy during the election campaigns.

It has also been suggested that those under trial or convicted for terrorist acts must be “weaned away from the extremist ideology espoused by them”. Incarcerated militants run their show from behind bars through mobile phones and messengers, which must be effectively curbed. Linked with this is the recommendation that hardened criminals should not be kept with first-time offenders. Prisons should not become nurseries for breeding more criminals.

The declaration reiterates one the main objectives of NAP, that “to counter extremist ideology a counterterrorism narrative must be developed and disseminated”. Nacta has done well recently to come up with a counter-extremism strategy document after extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders. Its efficacy will be tested in the coming weeks and months to challenge the extremists’ narrative by not allowing the writ of the state to be undermined.

The relevant stakeholders responsible for security, justice and rule of law cannot and must not operate in silos. They should dare to share the common cause of peace and order in society. However, citizens’ fundamental rights of life, liberty, freedom and dignity should not be sacrificed in the process.

It is high time that parliament, executive and judiciary fulfilled their constitutional obligations to ensure that a long-term rule of law road map is developed for sustainable reforms in the justice sector.

The following six-point framework for this road map may be considered: one, a whole-of-government approach, entailing political ownership and collaborative strategic partnership of all justice-sector stakeholders. Two, every component of the criminal justice administration is vital and cannot be ignored at the cost of the others.

Three, the rule of law road map should be based on the partnership of state and society. All elements of national power are at the service of citizens. Four, gender equality and women empowerment, and the rights of the disadvantaged, should be the enduring principle. Five, independence of judiciary has to be honoured for the ultimate objective of justice for all. Finally, all state institutions must operate within the constitutional framework where there is no ambiguity in the letter and spirit of governance, and in the concept of a neutral umpire.

Source: dawn.com/news/1407576/a-road-map-for-rule-of-law


‘Come Baba Come’

By Shahzad Sharjeel

May 14, 2018

WE sure have come a long way from the bad old days of ‘go Baba go’ slogans in parliament to the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s acquisition of our very own Daraz.com. For those of us whose introduction to the World Wide Web was through a baba of another kind, this is a truly positive development, with much economic potential.

We don’t tire of reminding ourselves that we are a young nation with a huge segment poised to enter the job market and with an equally large chunk getting ready to join the workforce. While economists will argue that growth without jobs is possible, there is no way to keep two million youngsters, who become eligible for work every year, out of trouble without giving them opportunities for employment.

In a world of less government controls on public expenditure, no government can provide jobs to everyone. Since growth is supposed to be private sector-led, it is imperative that both federal and provincial policies are business-friendly, geared towards private-public partnership and aimed at entrepreneurship instead of turning state-owned enterprises into employment exchanges for party cadres.

It is encouraging to note that provinces are setting up technology incubation centres; some are also enabling the youth to access seed money for start-ups. However, the private sector’s presence in the field of venture capital and angel funds is negligible if not outright disappointing. The Daraz success story is underwritten by Germany’s Rocket Internet. Nothing wrong, but one would want our rocket-scientist investors to think beyond manipulating the stock market and launching golf cities in water-scarce towns.

We Need To Create Our Own Versions Of Alibaba.

The jamborees held in the provinces in the name of information technology events too need to show more for the millions of dollars they get the foreign donors to spend on them. More often than not, these are eyewash events for party leaders, floating from one gala to another amid the tumultuous applause of party workers and adulating hordes of diplomats and donors. There is no information as to how many start-ups come up as a result of these events. How many ideas attract crowd sourcing? How many jobs were created? So far it has sadly been a case of ‘he came, she saw, some danced, and they went away’.

Without getting into the merits and demerits of impulsive spending that comes with the turf, the numbers — running into billions of rupees on a single day, our version of Black Friday — associated with e-commerce are encouraging. And this while it is still mostly cash-on-delivery mode of payment. Imagine what the scale could be and the expansion and jobs to go with it, if e-payments through credit/debit cards were made easier/safer.

This leads one to ask, what are the regulators and enablers in promotion this and promotion that bureaus doing? What are the tech developers in the private sector, unburdened by the public-sector bureaucracy up to? Why are these payment gateways so difficult to create and run that we cannot switch to more e-payments? What needs to happen for more mobile payments penetration in Pakistan? Are stakeholders like the Pakistan Software Houses Association, National Information Technology Board and its provincial variants, the Board of Investment, Pakistan Software Export Board, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry even talking to each other to boost e-commerce and a knowledge-based economy?

We need to come together to help create our own versions of Alibaba if we do not want our streets to throw up another Baba Ladla. Though the literature on the National Counter Terrorism Authority website pays scant attention to the political economy of militancy and the confluence of extremism and organised crime, a more tenacious read of sub-sections like the ‘National Counter Extremism Policy Guidelines’ does make passing references eg “it is clear that over the past seventy years material progress and economic development leading to employment opportunities in the tribal areas, large parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have remained well below those available in the more developed areas of the country” and “in the less developed parts of the country, private-sector investment is not readily forthcoming”.

Similarly, under the ‘Strategic Planning’ section, the same document notes the importance of employment generation everywhere in the country through education, particularly through vocational and technical training.

The fight against extremism and militancy, and socioeconomic progress need not present a chicken and egg conundrum. They can go hand in hand. All citizens need to feel they have a stake in the system and a fair chance of getting ahead in life through hard work and innovation. Alas! For now, the public imagination seems to have been captured more by the ladla debate and ‘Baba Rehmat’ than Alibaba and jobs.

Source: dawn.com/news/1407578/come-baba-come


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