NISAR A. MEMON’S BOOK
Insight into the Senate of Pakistan
The book by Nisar Memon fills that gap and provides an interesting and readable account by an insider who took active part in debates and activities of the Senate. His book becomes more interesting as it is personal account and captures the interest of the reader as he goes through the various issues and activities which are debated and discussed by the writer. …Wasim Sajjad (Former: President & Chairman Senate of Pakistan)
To Request Free Online Copy:
A chapter on ” Impact of Climate Change on Human Life Due to Rains and Floods ” has been contributed by Nisar A Memon in this book number 978-1-4665-7749-7 edited by Velma I. Grover and published in 2013 by CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Rayon, FL, USA.
The chapter focuses on the impact of climate change in Pakistan in general and incidents of unprecedented rains in 2010 that flooded a huge territory of Pakistan leading to tremendous damage to infrastructures, loss of human life and creating health problems for people, in particular.
Pakistan witnessed, from 27 to 30 July 2010, heaviest rainfall particularly in Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. KPK recorded July rainfall of 179.5 percent above normal, even northern Punjab received heavy rains.
The chapter after introduction describing terrain and historic environment situation talks of Climate Change and Pakistan, deliberates on question of Is the heavy rain the results of climate change? talks of Trends and Impact of the changing global climate. It then talks of detailed damages causes by Pakistan 2010 rains and floods and damage of safe drinking water system brings water-borne diseases. It ends talking of national and international efforts needed to save mother nature. It ends with providing all the references used in writing this chapter.
INTRODUCTION TO BOOK HINDUTVA
Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be at the Institute – a place of learning, in an august gathering with distinguished speakers, among them – an accomplished soldier, a fine diplomat and man of letters, on an occasion of book launch on an important subject.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Various subjects are addressed in the book but I shall briefly comment on Hindutva & Hindus, Security & Intelligence, Water & Climate Change, India & its neighbors.
Hindutva & Hindus
- Hindutva history of over a century, its actions, impact and myths have been documented in this book in a scholarly manner giving reference of Hindu writers and their books.
- A learned Indian politician Shashi Tharoor expressed his views on Hindutva, as referred in this book, and I quote, “Hindutva seeks to impose a narrow set of beliefs, doctrines and practices on an eclectic and loosely-knit faith, in denial of the considerable latitude traditionally available to believers.” Unquote
- The Indian Constitution, given by its founding fathers, clearly envisages a socialist, secular and democratic republic. However with the rise of Hindutva to power we see India’s transition from its multi-religious heterogenous culture to Hindu Cultural Nationalism, striking at the very foundation of its Constitution.
Security & Intelligence
- Hindutva has been used as a creed to get political control, like many other extremist philosophies like Nazism, Zionism, and Daesh.
- Worldwide, the intelligence plays a vital role in foreign and security matters. The author has studied and analyzed it with specific mention of Ajit Doval the Indian NSA who is a key practitioner of Hindutva towards destabilizing the region with terror operations.
- In line with the Chanakyan guile & deceit, India has extensively used and using state terrorism as means to achieve its hegemony in the region. Book deals it in great detail and makes assertion that RAW has used communication including the fiction writing, cinema, false flag operations as ‘weapons from its arsenal’.
Water & Climate Change
- Challenges like river water, environment & climate change can best be addressed for the benefit of two countries by a dialogue. It was in 1960 that the two countries inked Indus Water Treaty after a protracted negotiation to end the water disputes that erupted after 1947 independence.
- IWT which survived several wars, and referred as a model of water division, came under full attack when Hindutva regime came to New Delhi after the last elections. The book has dealt this under title ‘Unleashing water terrorism on Pakistan’ and goes on to share the threatening statements by Hindutva PM Modi who even gave ultimatum in 2016 to use ‘water as a weapon’.
India & Neighbors
- In foreign relations, India’s record with its neighbors is dismal and disappointing. India did not rest with annexing part of Jammu & Kashmir and Sikkim by force and deceit, but created disputes with all other neighbors, powerful or weak.
- This book gives glimpses of how Hindutva elements in Indian polity have impacted relations with China on Doklam Bhutan, Xinjiang, Tibet and South China Sea.
- Chapter 11 takes the reader on a tour of troubled Region and shows the involvement of Hindutva creating disputes of India with all its neighbors Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan & Sri Lanka. The tour includes BRI & Maritime Silk Road initiatives of China, even these development initiatives are being targeted by Hindutva leadership.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
- I will say he is a Pakistani – East, West, South and North all emboded in one.
- He is recognized, for his contribution to foreign policy, foreign relations and security subjects, irrespective of governments in Islamabad, and is our China expert.
- Above all he is a Humble human being: Researcher, historian, man of letters, and a diplomat.
- People of India are again going for elections and will decide their future. Whether they will go the path of peace, prosperity, development or war, misery, and deprivation is for them to decide.
- I quote from my Introduction in the book, “It is for Indians to decide about their destiny but Christians in the region, Buddhist of Bhutan and Muslims of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan need to take cognizance of this creed for protection of their faith, sovereignty and future”.
- People of my generation who desire peace between the two countries are now asking: ‘Will the peace, between the two countries, come in our life time.’ If not, than the coming generations – who have neither known each other and are fed on propaganda and fear – how will they achieve the peace?
- Although 70 years have been lost, we still can make amends and bring the much needed peace for our people.
Contribution in Atraaf Magazine
August-2020 – Nisar A. Memon Contribution to Atraaf – an International Urdu Magazine
For best reading please click here to view in PDF
LOOKING AT THE INDUS BASIN
Nisar A. Memon
03-July-2019 – The News International
Human history records settlements around the rivers which flow from snow-peaked mountains. The Indus River basin is one such basin; and on it depends the survival of Pakistan.
This basin is truly transboundary since it is shared by Pakistan (47 percent), India (39 percent), China (8 percent) and Afghanistan (6 percent). The Indus River basin is identified as the Upper Indus Basin (UIB) in the mountain ranges and the Lower Indus Basin (LIB) flowing in the plains of Pakistan and flowing into the Arabian Sea.
The Indus Basin has witnessed common history, shared culture, ancient civilization and faced common challenges. It is for the people and leadership of the countries of the basin to convert these challenges to opportunities. The countries must understand that the positioning of heavy armaments in the high glaciers is detrimental to the glaciers, and in turn affects the water security of the human settlements for which they move in those difficult terrains at a high financial and human cost.
The Indus basin is home to about 215 million people with six large rivers originating from the glaciers of western Himalaya, Karakoram and the Hindukush. The basin is already water scarce with 1,329 m3 per capita due to increasing population, improper management of water resources, and meagre resource allocation to combat the global climate change challenges. It irrigates over 39.5 million acres of agricultural land.
The basin is estimated to have the potential to provide clean hydropower of 55,000 MW; and currently about 15 percent potential is harnessed. These facts speak clearly of the importance of the basin to the socioeconomic development of the basin countries and the need for optimal utilization and prudent management of the precious water resources of this basin. This is only possible with close communication and collaboration within the region.
Burning of fuel and cutting of trees for livelihood deprive the natural cover of oxygen and release of carbon in the atmosphere and increase temperatures, resulting in glacier melts and glacier lake outburst flood (GLOF) which engulfs living human and animal population and natural fauna and flora, causing untold miseries of death and destruction to the already under-privileged people, and forcing them to migrate from their way of life. In 2010, the Attabad Lake formation in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region is one such occurrence.
Besides these floods, the reservoir of water in the form of glaciers and ice is decreased. In addition, the movement of large glaciers also occurs, compounding the threats and depleting the neglected natural treasures – assets which truly belong to our future generations.
National, regional and international governments have come together to address the global environmental neglects that cause climate change which further exacerbates the problem with the impact of temperature increase affecting all humanity irrespective of whether they are in mountains, plains or coastal areas. Efforts by the UN have brought countries to sign various protocols starting with the 1992 Rio Declaration and finally the 2016 Paris Agreement signed by 195 countries, with the commitment to face these challenges with action.
At home, various national and international institutions have been addressing the UIB challenges. The national institutions engaged in the Upper Indus Basin are: the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Wapda, the Global Change Impact Studies Centre, Karakorum International University, National University of Science & Technology, Mehran University Centre for Advanced Studies, University of Agriculture Centre of Advanced Studies, the Federal Flood Commission, and the national and provincial disaster management authorities.
In addition, international organizations like the Aga Khan Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, The Asia Foundation etc are engaged in the UIB. The private sector has also been participating with their programmes in these national efforts.
There is also a regional and global convergence on programmes with ongoing efforts on the objective to help the communities face these challenges, based on extensive research and sharing of the knowledge. The funding of which is sourced by various governments, the key being: Australia, China, Norway, US, UK, Switzerland, Germany.
The experts working together on the UIB have identified that the challenges can best be addressed by technical undertakings in the following areas: framework of data collection; quality and standardization; climate change, air pollution variability and black carbon; cryosphere monitoring and modelling; surface and groundwater hydrology, water availability and demand; understanding and managing hazards and risks; and managing gendered socioeconomic impacts through adaptation measures.
The key challenge which needs our attention is to link all researchers to make them aware of each other’s work and avoid duplication and also increase the productivity of each dollar spent on research whether funded by the annual budget, PSDP or foreign countries. This must be coupled with connecting scientific community with policymakers to share their work. Lastly, people – the key stakeholders – must be in this entire loop to get the necessary results for them.
We ought to know the tremendous human resources we have both in the country and outside the country who are engaged in research projects; for this we could create a portal. This will help create a knowledge-based merit society with openness and trust. A good practice within the country will also help build regional collaboration for the benefit of communities.
The UIB is one part of the Indus Basin; the Lower Indus basin (LIB) is another part which will make the story of this mighty River Indus basin complete and should be reviewed separately.
Are we looking at the Indus Basin with the attention it deserves for national security? I believe closed focus on it in our discourse, policies, programmes and national narrative shall help overcome the enormous socioeconomic and climate challenges we are facing today.
The writer is chairman of the WaterEnvironment Forum, Pakistan and former federal minister and senator.
Water for peace and development
Nisar A. Memon
17-June-2019 – The News International
Life without water is inconceivable. Humans are born in water and their body contain about 65 percent water. Life on any planet is not viable without water. Water provides security in more ways than one and clean drinking water forms an essential requirement for human survival and is a prerequisite for agriculture for food production, while hydel energy and its nexus with water is key to sustainable development.
Pakistan is blessed with water resources from about 7250 glaciers in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; the western and eastern rivers flowing from India and Afghanistan; rain in large areas of the country; and a coastline of 1,046 kilometres in Sindh and Balochistan. It has water infrastructure comprising the Indus Basin Irrigation System – the world’s largest contiguous irrigation system stretched over a distance of about 2,880 km; large dams like Tarbela and Mangla; barrages at Guddu and Sukkur; network of canals; and several smaller dams, barrages and canals in its large territory of 881,917 sq km irrigating an estimated 45 million acres of farm lands.
The country has educational institutions producing engineers, scientists, business and public policy graduates to manage its water resources. This human resource has manned our globally recognized institutions like Wapda. In 1960, the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) was inked with India to share river waters. There are laws in place for the management, preservation and development of water resources, as well as several policies to plan, implement and govern. The country has reasonable infrastructure, institutions and instruments to manage its water resources for providing security and sustainable development of life for the people of the federation.
In the last five years – 2014-2019 – significant progress was made in the water sector with construction and commissioning of small reservoirs, building of barrages, and lining of canals for seepage control and to provide for the over 210 million population with yearly growth rate of about two percent. In early 2018, a comprehensive National Water Policy was released and is being implemented by the federation and its provinces. Later in 2018, to protect the environment, a five-year 10 billion tree plantation project was launched. However, this period (2014-2019) faced several challenges.
The first and most threatening challenge has been the population explosion, bringing down water availability and directly affecting agriculture, food, and energy. A 2015 IMF report indicated the increasing demand of water which is projected at 274 million acre-feet (MAF) by 2025, while supply is expected to remain stagnant at 191 MAF, resulting in a demand-supply gap of approximately 83 MAF. Therefore, it is imperative to control population growth by launching incentives, creating awareness of family planning and strict management of our borders for illegal inward migration, since that too places an additional burden. This and several policy measures, especially the appropriate pricing for use of water in agriculture, industry, homes and offices, need to be addressed on a war footing.
The total river inflow between 1979 and 2015, reported by Wapda, is an average yearly of 193.3 Million Acre Feet (MAF). Out of this water availability, a yearly average of 15.6 MAF is reportedly lost due to evaporation and ‘others’ as it reaches Kotri barrage. This water transmission loss is equivalent to two to three large storage dams, while we have been clamouring for additional dams. In 2005, the Parliamentary Committee on Water Resources tabled in the Senate of Pakistan a unanimous report endorsed by the then four chief ministers and federal water power minister. The key recommendation was to build the Diamer-Basha (DB) Dam with 6,500 MAF water storage capacity. Even though accepted by the then governments, it has been delayed for all these years resulting in adverse economic and human consequences.
Budget 2019-20 with a total outlay of Rs8,238 billion has allocated Rs16 billion for the Diamer-Basha Dam. If we believe water is an important security element, then just like we spend on our security, we need to strongly invest on water to build new reservoirs for increased water availability and also invest in the old water infrastructure for their protection.
In the next five years, our challenge is to implement the country’s vision and plans for water development with singular attention – without regard to party, regional and personal considerations. A serious commitment is needed in the water sector by the government, supported by parliament, for our security and survival. Urgent action with strong leadership is needed to raise the quality of life of people. The following must be the focus: population control for increased water availability; stern actions against officials involved in losses and leakages of water, similar to actions when defence information is lost or leaked; make clean drinking water available for all to fulfil our national and international commitment; train the youth and women for water preservation, on the lines of compulsory military training for defence as practised in many countries. We must focus on water not with two eyes, but with the five I’s – Infrastructure, Institutions, Investment, Innovation and Information.
In 2015, the UNDP established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), of which Goal 6 is ‘Clean Water & Sanitation’ to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Goal 2 is ‘Zero Hunger’ and Goal 7 is ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’. Thus, in the form of these SDGs the international focus on water and its nexus with food and energy becomes clear. Let’s remember that climate change is an overarching challenge to water, food and energy and is important for human life and requires a separate deliberation, thus not dealt herein in detail.
Water resource governance is summed up well by the Global Water Partnership in these words, ‘Managing the world’s water resource is foundational to development. If you want to feed the world – and contribute to poverty reduction, human health, and economic prosperity – pay attention to water.’
Water governance requires fair distribution of water, both within the country and within the transboundary. At the regional level, we must continue to build on the Indus Waters Treaty, irrespective of the election mongering and threats by Indian PM Modi to stop waters flowing into Pakistan. We are on high moral ground and our Foreign Office must mobilize international support to strengthening the Treaty.
Not only that, we should also engage in earnest with Afghanistan for use of about 18 MAF from Kabul River we receive from our brotherly, western, upper riparian neighbour. In case of River Kabul, we are the upper riparian when the Chitral river enters Afghanistan to join the Kunar river which then flows into River Kabul which later enters Pakistan from north west. A joint study, plans and any future structures should be undertaken with Afghanistan for a win-win situation for both countries which will also bring the two people together for peace, development and progress in the region.
Water is a trust for our coming generations and therefore we should invest in it for development and progress to preserve our sovereignty, particularly in the current self-inflicted difficult times of economic hardship and uncertainty.
Water is a development tool and if any adversary was to use it as weapon, we must desist with all might and determination. Water is an instrument of peace and development and the governments should recognize this to fulfil their international obligations. Let history judge this generation as a responsible custodian and not a plunderer.
The writer is chairman of the Water Environment Forum, Pakistan and former federal minister and senator.
Published in SOUTHASIA monthly magazine June-2019.
Cleaning the environment
Nisar A. Memon
05-June-2019 – The News International
Pakistan contributes less than one percent of global warming but is among the 10 most affected countries due to climate change. The country participates in various global programmes to fight these challenges, with our scientists actively contributing to the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC), government and civil society participating in the Conference of Parties (COP). We signed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015 along with 193 countries and observe World Environment Day on June 5 each year.
This year’s theme for World Environment Day is ‘Air Pollution’ and China is hosting the main event in Hangzhou. The day will urge governments, industry, communities, and individuals to come together to explore renewable energy and green technologies, and improve air quality in cities and regions across the world. The global challenge is to fight the facts that about seven million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution with about four million in the Asia-Pacific region; 92 percent people worldwide do not breathe clean air; air pollution costs the global economy $5 trillion every year in welfare costs; and ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reduce staple crop yields by 26 percent by 2030.
Pakistan was among the first countries to create a separate federal environment ministry, and started a federal campaign for tree plantation – which continues till today. We enacted an Environment Policy in 2005 which was updated and evolved to the Climate Change Policy, 2012. We have several institutions such as the Environment Protection Agency, the Global Change Impact Studies Centre, Pakistan Meteorological Department, Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission etc. In addition to these institutions, parliament has been working on addressing societal challenges. In June 2007, the Senate Defence Committee tabled its report following the crash of a PAF aircraft near Masroor Base Karachi, caused by a bird flying in its engine from nearby solid waste dump. The then prime minister invited the committee with all the stakeholders and accepted all its 19 recommendations. The prime minister appointed an implementation committee to ensure that all recommendations saw the light of day.
The civil society has also been active on the subject of the environment. The Environment Stakeholders Action Committee under leadership of a young Karachi businessman Ziad Bashir produced a valuable report on ‘Karachi Waste Management – A Challenge for Progress’ – proposing various reforms and projects. In summary, lot of analysis, reports, actions but yet the challenges remain.
Pollution caused by solid waste, plastics and untreated sewerage and chemical discharge in rivers and sea affects not only humans but life under water as well as valuable equipment, including expensive naval vessels. The air pollution impact of burning diesel from transportation on the roads continues unabated. These emissions as well as the unchecked methane from agriculture and arsenic presence in ground water are all causing immense health costs.
The opportunity of eco-friendly inland transportation and eco-tourism in our northern mountains and southern Indus delta is a source of earning and wellbeing of the people, but the potential remains to be fully exploited.
The impact of human activity on the environment is mostly due to population, affluence and technology. The higher the population, the greater is the impact by use of land and resources affecting pollution, climate change and biodiversity. Even though higher population could bring greater affluence in the form of higher GDP, nevertheless it would result in higher consumption – increasing the demand for resources like water, electricity, gas, transportation etc and adversely affecting the environment. These increases are capped by politically motivated planning, weak governance, insufficient investments in institutions and archaic systems, and non-matching civic services. Technology can bring improvement but it requires investment. In the current hard times of economic downturn, immediate programmes to launch birth control and plug illegal inbound migration require our immediate attention.
Today, on World Environment Day we need to remind ourselves of the 17 SDGs which address the whole gamut of life on the planet. These include: water, energy, food, life on land, life under water, health, education, gender equality, economic growth, inequalities, climate actions, etc. In so far as the environment is concerned; several SDGs address these challenges but SDG 11 ‘sustainable cities and communities’ is more relevant since many issues faced in cities are similar to those in peri-urban, rural and mountainous areas. Nearly one billion urban people living in informal settlements are putting a pressure on the environment and consequently face the same challenges. SDG 11 must be seen in conjunction with SDG 7 (‘affordable and clean energy’), SDG 12 (‘sustainable consumption and production’), and SDG 13 (‘climate actions’).
Pakistan has installed clean energy; we have a good base and must build on it without political considerations. Our mega city Karachi and other large cities in each province need specific focus, where CO2 emissions from consumption and flaring of imported fossil fuels has increased over the years, thus the urgency to employ clean solar, wind and hydel energy.
Air quality in Pakistan is reported to exceed safe limits in all major cities, with Lahore worst than the national guidelines. Apart from the thousands of deaths due to air pollution, over 5.88 percent of GDP or $47.8 billion is the estimated economic burden of air pollution in Pakistan as reported by the Pakistan Air Quality Initiative – which is one of several professional organization helping to bring awareness regarding air quality in the country. The new UN report on air pollution encourages us to implement new technologies which could see up to a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide and a 45 percent reduction in methane emissions globally, leading to a third of a degree celsius saving of global warming. Pakistan will do well to create a better environment by investing in it, since the environment and the economy are two sides of the same coin and to sustain ourselves, we must sustain the environment.
The right to a clean environment is a fundamental right of all citizens of Pakistan. The constitution of Pakistan recognizes it in Article 9 – right to life – and Article 14 – right to dignity. The Pakistan Environment Protection Act, 1997 and many laws relating to environment have already been enacted for judicious implementation. The government has the constitutional responsibility to provide a clean environment to its citizens but we the citizens cannot absolve ourselves of our responsibility and as Margaret Mead the renowned anthropologist said, ’Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’
The writer is chairman of the WaterEnvironment Forum, Pakistan and former federal minister and senator.
WATER LOSSES AND LEAKAGES
Nisar A. Memon
04-May-2019 – Pakistan Observer
Pakistan does not have problem of water; but that of management and governance of water. Pakistan does not need any policies in addition to National Water Policy 2018, National Climate Change Policy 2012, National Sanitation Policy 2006; National Environment Policy 2005; but what we need is the execution of all these policies.
Pakistan does not need any more water laws; but implementation of the existing laws. Pakistan does not need any new water goals as we were the first country to sign the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); but we need to walk the talk. Pakistan does not need to think of water and water related days apart from the well thought out days by international agencies; but we need the conviction, commitment and time-line action plans tailored to our country.
We do not need any outside funding which compromises our sovereignty; because we have our 220 people to pay indirect taxes and who even contribute voluntarily in response to appeals. However, what we need is the water accounting, auditing and accountability.
Big question is: who is going to do what is needed to be done? The implementation of policies, international commitments and execution of programs is responsibility of the people who offered to be elected and accepted to form the governments at federal, provincial and local levels. In addition to the executive branch which includes civil and military services; the judiciary is an important player since they decide on implementation of laws, punish those who violate laws and the most important the judiciary ensures compliance of constitutional provisions, on matters as important as disqualification of parliamentarians, vis-a-vis Articles 62 and 63.
The executive machinery, including National Accountability Bureau, comes into play on misuse of authority and misuse of resources. It is high time for them to come forward and share with the nation their position on water losses and leakages. Water losses and leakages are depriving the nation of important and expensive water resource and expose the security and sovereignty of the country. Judiciary with their Suo Motu powers, cannot absolve itself of the responsibility on this national issue.
Water losses cannot be ascertained without accurate measurement, transparent accounting and objective auditing of water from the glaciers, rivers, rains through the dams, barrages, canals at each entry and exits point to the final discharge in the sea. It is reported that Indus Water losses, in a year over a period of time, have been more than the Tarbela and Mangla’s original capacity.
Leakages in the form of corrupt practices in releasing water over and above the allocated water, to privileged areas and VIP farms by all concerned institutions; ungoverned pumping of ground water; general wastage in government and private offices, government colonies and private houses; and extravagant use due to lack of appropriate pricing mechanism. The private sector, private research and their corporate social responsibilities programs can play its due role.
Agricultural is the major user of water to the tune of almost 95%; as such use of sprinkler technology and other water saving techniques as well as the right choice of seeds and zoning is essential in plugging the leakages and losses. The fair pricing however remains a major challenge in conserving the water in this sector due to powerful ruling elite.
Industries, municipalities which are discharging their chemicals and effluence in public water system as well as rivers and sea should remember SDG Goal 14 to avoid any negative impact on “Life below Water” to save marine life, fishing business and adverse impact on our commercial and defense vessels.
Special focus on Kabul River water is essential since it constitutes significant water which joins into River Indus in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. We are upper riparian when our Chitral River joins Kunar River in Afghanistan which later joins Kabul River in Afghanistan before entering Pakistan to join Indus River, therefore Afghanistan becomes upper riparian to us. This special upper/lower riparian and historic relationship between the two Muslim countries sharing a long border of 2,430 km, is expected to move to closer relations.
Nisar A. Memon
April 24, 2019 – Pakistan Observer
“Friendship between China and Pakistan is based on trust and mutual support, and we have been devoted friends through both good and hard times,” said the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Pakistan was amongst the first countries in 1950 to recognize People’s Republic of China as the sole representative of Chinese people, by ending its relations with Taiwan government. Since then, both the countries have maintained and consolidated relationship in socio-economic areas leading to establishing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as part of President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative. CPEC is central to Pakistan’s strategic plans and builds on already completed Gwadar Port and all weather Shahra-e-Resham (Silk Road) entering from China through Khunjerab Pass in Karakorum Mountain into Gilgit region in Pakistan.
Pakistan appreciates support of China on Kashmir and in our fight against terrorism, while China remembers Pakistan’s diplomatic endeavors of linking it with USA. On the occasion of Pakistan Prime Minister’s visit to China, the people of Pakistan hope to see socio-economic development under CPEC with establishment of Special Economic Zones and various other projects en-route Gwadar in our four provinces, starting with Gilgit Baltistan.
The Pakistan’s trade deficit with China of US$ 9.7 billion in FY18 could be reduced by enabling greater exports from Pakistan and Chinese investment in our export and service industries. The joint ventures in world class hotels in Pakistan where Chinese tourists will feel home, is a good first step that can be announced to attract Chinese tourist to beautiful GB mountains and many historic sites and cities of Pakistan. In addition, many past MOUs should see the light of the day during this visit.
BRI and CPEC commenced in 2013 has already extended from South Asia, through the Central Asia to Europe, to Africa and now to South America and BRI is envisioned to connect all the Continents. In 2018, the Chinese leadership announced Digital Silk Road (DSR) which aims to construct communications networks across the developing world. China is looking to build fibre optic cables, international trunk passage ways, mobile structures and e-commerce links.
The submarine fiber optic cables of China, when completed in 2020, expected to become the shortest route for high-speed internet traffic between Asia and Africa. The cable planned to begin in Gwadar which is a key part of CPEC – a flagship, and said to be ‘probably the flagship corridor of China’s Belt and Road.’
China’s launch of 5G technology is estimated to cover about half the globe in five years with over a billion people will actually be using 5G technology. Therefore the fibre optic cables, satellites and other hard infrastructure that is supporting the information and communications technology business, along with 5G mobile technology will enhance the e-commerce which is expected to unite the world in a digital economy.
Pakistan’s existing telecommunication infra structure of internet with spread of computers achieved over the years and estimated 50 million smart phones; provide an opportunity for e-commerce. Our Prime Minister and his team should take the opportunity to grab this mega business opportunity for which we are well positioned. This will also mean yet another flagship of Digital Silk Road like CPEC is flagship for BRI. Based on this, we can build the Smart Cities using the technologies to improve the quality of life for our people. While the Chinese government promotes Digital Silk Road initiative, the Chinese private companies have taken the lead in materializing concrete projects.
Digital Economy will link not only the people of our country; young or old, men or women, rural or urban, agro based or industry based, developed or developing into its fold but bring the people of China, Region and the World closer for better quality of life, in peace and harmony.
WATER ACCOUNTABILITY AND ACCOUNTING
Nisar A. Memon
March 30 2019 – Pakistan Observer
In Pakistan, the change of guards at the helm of affairs took place in August 2018. Considerable discourse has taken place on governance, especially on economy. Innumerable ministers, advisors, assistants, committees, experts have been appointed. Media proactively participated with news and views on economy along with the statements of international donors and advises from the visiting dignitaries in print, electronic and social media.
Solutions after solutions, being implemented to create additional revenues to meet the government spending causing inflationary burden on citizens which is giving rise to dissatisfaction and even disillusionment. The burgeoning cost of living increases is bringing in new forms of corruption. Despite prevalent democratic dispensation with open media, Parliament and laws such as right to information, nation is groping in dark on quantum of various security assets.
We shall here focus on the most important security asset – the water. Water is life giving and life sustaining. Food sourced from agriculture requires fresh water. The source of fresh water are rains, snow melt, rivers. We are mainly dependent on four rivers – Indus, Kabul, Jhelum and Chenab. We have Indus River System infrastructure, even though old and outdated; we have1960 Indus Water Treaty which partitioned water by assigning most of the water of Sutlej, Beas and Ravi for use by India while Indus, Jhelum and Chenab for Pakistan.
Notwithstanding the fact that we have telemetry installed in our Punjab province for measurement and reporting of water flows into barrages and canals; we continue to have manual measurement and reporting in Sindh, Balochistan and KP for the water flows. These systems, whether technology based or otherwise, are subjected to political and administrative influence resulting in manipulated reporting beyond imagination and understanding of not only of the common citizens, but even of technical professionals, executive and political leadership.
Data manipulation resulting in incorrect and misguiding figures of water flows, as well as water losses causes inaccurate assessment of real status of water, an important security asset. Human societies are best governed by trust which emanates from well-designed management systems to deter mischief and manipulation. The first step towards eliminating it is to take the readings of all indicators when new management takes over.
Even though many months late, it’s never too late to make honest endeavour by putting in place system of Water Accounting and Audit (WA&A) which is key to water resource management, specially in countries like Pakistan where water scarcity looms large with associated risks and uncertainties for teeming millions. I understand, WA&A has never been undertaken in Pakistan even though Sindh requested IRSA for water audit.
Worldwide, WA&A is considered vital element of planning procedure and is practised extensively in societies desirous of developing their water economies. In 2016, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released its Water Report 43 which Water Accountability and Accounting sets out the concepts of WA&A and provides practical advice for its planning and implementation. Strategies addressing water scarcity need to be based on a thorough understanding of the water balance, including water supply and demand and its spatial and temporal dimensions.
This can help achieve the objective of better use of water related information for matching and adopting strategies to differing biophysical and societal contexts. Water accounting is the systemic study of the status and trends in water supply, demand, accessibility and use in specified domains.
Water auditing on the other hand is a step forward by placing trends in water supply, demand accessibility uses in broader context of governance, institutions, public and private expenditure, laws and wider political economy of water in specified domains. Besides aligning the needs and priorities of key stakeholders, WA&A can bring standardization for rapid water accounting through remote sensing for productivity and trust building between the provinces. We do not need to invent the wheel since FAO has applied these in various river basins.
In November 2017, FAO released a comprehensive ‘Water accounting and auditing – A sourcebook’ which can guide us in protecting this vital resource to enhance our security. The adoption of this kind of open and transparent system will result in needed standardized system in all the provinces within Pakistan for adopting strategies for making raw data, outputs, findings and recommendations for implementing in letter and spirit the 1992 Water Apportionment Accord between the provinces by Indus River System Authority (IRSA) and water decision making by Council of Common Interests (CCI).
It is pertinent to recall that a similar situation existed in stock exchanges in Pakistan. However with introduction in the 90s, one of the most comprehensive and successful Central Depository System (CDC) developed in Pakistan by private sector; which today is handling millions of transactions in Pakistan Stock Exchanges and considered reason for growth of stock market over the years. Once we have water accounting and auditing system in place, we can even introduce Water Exchanges like in Australia for trading the allocated water of users for efficient use of invaluable water resource.
In the last several years, we have witnessed the axe of accountability falling on politicians, bureaucracy and business persons; but we have not heard of any significant accountability of water mismanagement or misappropriation. Does this mean that the water sector is free from irregularities? If it was, water demand and supply would have been met and scarcity not a challenge.
The WA&A is just one way to account for our approximate 144 million acre feet (MAF) of surface water annually available to Pakistan on an average by nature. If accounted and audited well, the required environment flows to sea will help marine life and combat the climate change effects of the sea eroding the agriculture fertile lands along the 1100 km coast with 350 km in Sindh and 750 km in Balochistan.
Can we do it? Yes, we can with decision makers genuinely realizing the importance of water and all stakeholders bringing the necessary pressure on the decision makers they have sent to assemblies and government. The government need to take initiative in bringing all stakeholders on one platform and put an end to the age-old contest and acrimony amongst the provinces to bring amicable solution with win-win for all.
— The writer is Former Federal Minister & Senator, Chairman: Water Environment Forum, Pakistan.
Short Term Plans Needed to Avoid Water Scarcity
Nisar A. Memon
March-22-2019 -Pakistan Observer
JINNAH led the Muslims of the subcontinent to pass the historic Pakistan Resolution in 1940 which resulted in creation of a sovereign nation, seven years later. In all these years, we have come a long way but lot remains to be done. Our challenge is the sustainability of our four capitals namely: natural capital- water, biodiversity, climate; human capital – health and skills of citizens; social capital — institutions and trust; financial & physical capital — infrastructure, housing, financial, and wealth. Water is one capital, which is life giving and life sustaining.
UN recognized this and announced March 22 as World Water Day which is being observed since 1993. A quarter of century has passed, yet one billion humans in this planet still remain without safe drinking water. Every year, a different area of water is highlighted by a theme.
This year the theme is: ‘Leaving no one behind’. For us, it should be a day to make a resolve like we did in 1940 that none of the 220 million, governed by the Constitution of Pakistan, will be left behind in so far as the water in concerned. Water being fundamental to sustainability of life, yet we continue to face water challenges in ways more than one.
Today, all around the country, this day will be observed by various institutions including: governments, NGOs, INGOs, universities, businesses; mostly in comfortable city surroundings with government making policy statements and recounting their achievements.
They will point out to scarcity of water, increasing demands due to population, reduced supply due to high transmission losses, climate change causing glacier melts, reduced level in storages and ground water with not enough water charging, no consumption wastage control, weak governance with institutional weaknesses and not enough investment in old water infrastructure, reduced flows from Indus and Kabul Rivers due to upper riparian water diversion and utilization. Many speakers will repeat figures and talk about stakeholders.
However, the real stakeholders the bulk of people with non-availability of clean drinking water will not be there since these 220 million stakeholders are spread around 881,913 square kilometres of landmass from glaciers through the plains and desserts to sea.
We have had plenty of water flowing from rivers and stored in our glaciers but like all assets if not protected will reduce causing hardships to the people dependent on it. What is needed is to implement policies and rules laid down so far for water management and create awareness amongst all.
This will help achieve the constitutional obligation of human fundamental rights as well as help implement UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) we are committed to as citizen of the world by 2030. The SDG 6 for Water & Sanitation, SDG 12 for Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG 15 for Life on Land as well as other SDGs too is kept in focus. Apart from this, we need to adopt short-term immediate plans and commence long-term plans.
Key Short-term Immediate Actions needed are: control of transmission water losses equivalent to 3 large dams, initiating reforms in governance for productivity, introducing water pricing for cost recovery, launching massive awareness campaign and upgrading the current infrastructure.
The Long-term Actions which must be initiated forthwith are: commence building storages, invest in all four capitals: natural, human, social and financial, encouraging science based planning using technology, identifying good practices within country for national and regional trust building, moving away from dividing water to benefit sharing of water amongst the provinces and transboundary neighbours.
We must reorganize that the link to people are their representatives; therefore the concerned government ministers and parliamentarians should have: the clear understanding of water issues, have valid reliable information and data on water agreements and policies, participate in short term and long term focus and the important environment nexus with water.
We should move away from rhetoric to real issues using transformative solutions in governance of water to fulfil national and international obligations towards our people who deserve better and sustainable life by moving towards ‘Blue Economy’ which will result in sustainable water for all, ‘Leaving no one behind.’
3. FUTURE OF FOOD SECURITY
by Nisar A Memon – Published in SOUTHASIA December, 2016
Please go to: News under Nisar
2. SELF-DETERMINATION OF KASHMIRIS
by Nisar A Memon – Interview published in SOUTHASIA November, 2016
Please go to: News under Nisar
1. THE GREATEST CHALLENGE
by: Nisar A Memon
JINNAH’S Pakistan, after 63 years, continues to remain overwhelmingly illiterate without any serious reflection or debate taking place in the national parliament, the provincial assemblies, the print and electronic media, think tanks, the educational institutions and political parties on the consequences of illiteracy.
Even the judiciary has not invoked its power to come to grips with this constitutional right. The fact that the Mundi Index of literacy rates us at 49.9 per cent and shows us at 182 amongst 201 countries in international rankings, with 63 per cent of the female population and 35 per cent of the male population unable to read or write in any language, does not seem to draw the attention of the high and mighty.
A nuclear-armed nation, with a hostile neighbor to its east and international forces occupying the neighboring country to the west, coupled with foreign intelligence agencies working to achieve their interests and anti-state elements destabilizing the country from within, must think of its national security by empowering its citizens with literacy.
Let us see where we stand in this regard. Literacy is typically described as the ability to read and write and UNESCO considers literacy as the “ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts”. Pakistan defines literacy as the acquisition of basic skills of reading and writing. Let us take this simple definition of literacy to understand our challenge.
A major effort was launched by the Musharraf government in 2002. It established the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) at the federal level with its outreach to the provinces. It was funded uniquely by a separate organization, the Pakistan Human Development Fund (PHDF), mainly with national and international private donations and managed by its independent board.
The NCHD provided literacy through its now 120,263 adult literacy centres to 2.5 million adults, 90 per cent of them females. The NCHD estimates that almost 50 million people in Pakistan are illiterate, a figure more or less reflected by UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics which cites the literacy rate for 2007 at 54.9 per cent. The Economic Survey of Pakistan 2009-10 says it is 57 per cent. No matter which statistic we take, we are faced with a stark reality.
We spend a dismal 2.1 per cent of our federal budget on education and low amounts on literacy. It can be said that education (and thus literacy) is a provincial subject. Literacy in our largest province Baluchistan comes under the Social Welfare, Special Education, Literacy/Non-Formal Education & Women Development Department whose proclaimed vision is “to provide better social facilities to socially disadvantaged people and to empower women”. However, it has not provided any data on its official website on the state of literacy in the province. The Economic Survey 2009-10 shows a literacy rate of 45 per cent.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa we find that there is a School & Literacy Department which is committed to providing access to quality education to all. There is no mention of the literacy rate. However, the latest available data indicates a literacy rate of 50 per cent.
In the commercial and industrial province of Sindh one finds that literacy is the responsibility of the Education & Literacy Department. It recognizes education as one of the most important pillars of government and stands for “strong policy actions for raising literacy to 100 per cent”. The department does not spell out when and how it will meet this target. The province appears heavily dependent on the NCHD, a federal institution, for its literacy program. The latest data pertaining to Sindh puts the literacy rate there at 59 per cent.
Moving to the most populated province, Punjab, one comes to the conclusion that all is not lost. One is pleased to see a history of concerted efforts, well-established programs, recognizable achievements and plans. Since 2002, the Punjab government has the Literacy & Non Formal Basic Education Department with its goal “to make Punjab literate by 2020”.
New initiatives have been launched in 2008-09. These include: strengthening capacity, the establishment of 300 adult literacy centres in jails, factories and brick kilns, mobile literacy programs, vocational training and above all an awareness campaign. They actively partner with national organizations like the NCHD and international organizations like the Asian Development Bank. The latest 2009-10 Survey puts the literacy rate in Punjab literacy at 59 per cent.
Pakistan’s Millennium Development Goal for the literacy rate is 88 per cent by 2015, while the NCHD’s is 86 per cent. Pakistan has made a clear commitment, yet ongoing efforts cast serious doubts on the achievement of this goal.
In the last Mundi Index, France with 99 per cent literacy ranks 40th, while China with 91 per cent ranks 105. Neighboring Iran at 144 has a 77 per cent literacy rate. Evidently, there is a correlation between literacy and development, literacy and international standing, literacy and stability.
If we want to be seen as a self-respecting and empowered nation with a democratic dispensation the only way forward is to make this nation literate so that all citizens can be empowered to take part in the nation-building exercise and stand guard against all internal and external challenges to the country’s culture heritage, economic independence and sovereignty. It requires strategies and plans to meet this national challenge with all stakeholders on board.
– Published in Daily Dawn 14th June 2010 –