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Reforms We Cannot Delay (FreePakistan Newsletter # 139)

[July, 2012] 

CONTENTS:

0 Reforms we cannot delay
   By Abid Hasan and Shahid Kardar
0 HumorWise
0 Issue of the month: Fearing the duals


Download the complete Newsletter # 139 in PDF



[July, 2012] 

CONTENTS:

0 Reforms we cannot delay
   By Abid Hasan and Shahid Kardar
0 HumorWise
0 Issue of the month: Fearing the duals


Download the complete Newsletter # 139 in PDF


FreePakistan Newsletter # 139
[July, 2012]

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[Frederick Douglass, Speech on the twenty-fourth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation (April 1886)]

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REFORMS WE CANNOT DELAY
By Abid Hasan and Shahid Kardar

[Abid Hasan is a former operations adviser at the World Bank. Shahid Kardar is a former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan. This article first appeared in The News on June 11, 2012.]

These writers have individually argued in these columns before that other than the low tax-to-GDP ratio, Pakistan also suffers from the expenditure side of the equation being a black hole owing to acute structural issues because of poor prioritisation, corruption and sheer waste. Billions are spent with little to show from the perspective of the ordinary citizens. Our political, military and bureaucratic leadership treats public money as its own. While far less is allocated for human development resulting in the country having among the worst social indicators in the region, and less than one in four rupees is devoted to development, non-productive activities and defence absorb the largest shares. Just last year, both levels of government spent in excess of Rs500 billion on subsidies, most of which did not benefit the poor.

The miserable amount spent on development is highly politicised, driven by contractors and corrupt officials and, for the most part, suffers from leakages and lack of transparency in procurement processes with no accountability for unsatisfactory impact. Presently, there are over 5,000 federally financed projects with a throw-forward of close to Rs2.5 trillion, approximately eight years of current PSDP allocation. And most of these schemes get implemented at 80 percent cost overrun and 100 percent time overruns, with no penalty on officials for these delays.

There is now an entrenched “entitlement culture,” at taxpayer’s expense, which has resulted in overstaffing of public-sector agencies and the salaries, perks and privileges (cars, housing, etc.) of elected representatives and civil, military and judicial officials being much more than what the country can afford.

To keep this gravy train running, governments have been administering large budget deficits, in recent years financed not just by heavy domestic borrowing but reckless printing of money, resulting in double-digit inflation, high interest rates and crowding out of private sector.

So what are the reforms that need to be made? To begin with, for symbolic purposes and to create a supporting environment for reform, the size of cabinet/and number of ministries and departments needs to be drastically reduced, official homes for the president, prime minister, governors, chief ministers, ministers, chief justices, service chiefs and State Guest Houses should be converted into museums and 5/7-star hotels or disposed of, all VIP privileges such as planes, bullet-proof cars (except in the case of those facing high security risks), Haj/Umra on government expense should be withdrawn. In future, all air travel of less than five hours should be in economy class only (not economy-plus).

Luxury cars (Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, etc.) and jeeps (Land Cruiser, Prado, Range Rover, Pajero, etc.) should no longer be provided as official cars for ministers and civil, military and judiciary officials, and replaced with 1,300cc cars. There should be a severe penalty (dismissal from service) for any official using more than one official car and for obtaining cars from agencies and SOEs under a ministry.

Housing for all officials should be eliminated over a three-year period, and if it is to be provided it should be restricted to 2,000 sq. ft. apartments.

All consumer-related subsidies (power, agriculture, fertiliser, zakat, USC, etc.) should be shifted to the provinces. They should be responsible for financing these from their budgets in accordance with their own priorities. SOEs like PIA and Steel Mills should be wound up or privatised while DISCOs should be handed over to the provinces, pending their privatisation.

The Federal PSDP should only take up inter-provincial projects (national highways, energy generation) and not intra-provincial (special programmes, for example the Multan Package) which should be designed and implemented by the provinces in line with their own priorities, while resources should be shifted to highest-priority areas, i.e., energy and railways, from lower priority programmes, i.e., airports, roads.

Defence services should be made to shed their non-core and commercial activities-NLC, projects of their foundations and trusts and waste needs to be eliminated by taking resources away from perks and privileges, reprioritisation of expenditures from tail to teeth and establishing transparency and oversight on military procurement. There is a need to introduce a reward and penalty system to ensure completion of development projects within time and cost. We estimate that the reforms proposed above can result in savings of 3-4 percent of GDP (in excess of Rs850 billion at today’s prices) over a five-year period.

Another area of focus should be reform of our public debt. The main source of our debt burden is domestic debt, whose average debt service cost is 10 times that of foreign debt. The DCO office should be strengthened and made independent while parliamentary oversight should be enhanced on both the annual debt plan for the year and actual outcomes. The finance minister should be required to present the debt plan to parliament at the beginning of the year, and actual outcome at the end of year.

The fiscal and debt-related legislation should be amended as follows:

(i) the debt ceiling indicator should be a % of tax revenues and the government should be required to seek parliamentary waiver when it has to transgress the debt ceiling limits.

(ii) To incentivise the entry of the Rs1.8-trillion currency in circulation into the banking system, thereby helping lower the government’s debt servicing costs, the tax-on-cash withdrawals of above Rs50,000 should be abolished (the net tax collection of Rs12-15 billion from this measure is much lower than the likely saving on debt servicing costs), the Rs5,000 note should be discontinued and a Deposit Guarantee Scheme for deposits of up to Rs75,000 should be introduced.

Every year between the federal and provincials governments, close to Rs2 trillion of goods and services are procured. Corruption is endemic in our procurement, since our systems lack adequate transparency and oversight, and allow too much discretion. We can easily save 15-20 percent, in two or three years, by strengthening the procurement process and enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy for corruption. For this we propose that the PPRA be made an independent regulatory agency, outside of government. Web-based e-procurement for all contracts over Rs20 million should be mandatory, initially with removal of the threshold in two years. This will enhance the transparency of procurement decisions, and establish a trail of all procurement decisions.

Each procurement award for contracts over Rs20 million should be made in public, in the presence of media, where the head and key personnel are present, while all bid evaluations should be available on the PPRA website. Finally, there is a need for a “whistle blower” programme, to enable citizens to identify, with full protection of confidentiality and rewards, instances where procurement is not according to PPRA rules, where contracts are not being executed according to contract terms, and where corrupt practices are being followed.

Most developing governments around the world are successfully using PPPs, especially for infrastructure. India has an aggressive and successful programme. Pakistan must accelerate the use of PPPs to reduce infrastructure constraints.

Pakistan is much more dependent on foreign grants and loans compared to other countries of similar size, endowment and level of development. External debt has increased rapidly and is now over $60 billion. It has increased by $20 billion in the last three years alone ($25 billion in the last 10 years). Therefore, the aid strategy should be that every year, as part of the budget session, the Foreign Loan and Grants Plan for the year should be placed before parliament for approval. Furthermore, until our debt situation improves, we should consider only borrowing concessional loans from IFIs.

Pakistan’s dependence has severely compromised our national sovereignty and provided some foreign governments with a vehicle to interfere in our internal affairs and expand their foot prints in our country. There is a need to break this begging-bowl syndrome and to this end parliamentary oversight on all foreign grants should be enhanced requiring its approval on key grant conditions. [Courtesy The News]

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HumorWise 

KHAR’S ELECTRICITY DUES
[Dr Samia Khan, Karachi]

For someone who carries designer bags worth thousands of pounds, a monthly instalment of Rs3000 to settle outstanding electricity dues in a few thousand years was nothing short of a joke. The common man who owes a few thousand rupees should go to court and ask to pay his dues in instalments of Rs10-20 per month. [The News]

TILTED CAP, DWINDLING PERSONALITY
[Dr. Ghayur Ayub, London]

In a famous TV talk show, the host showed Babar Awan an affidavit supposedly written and sent by Aitzaz Ahsan to him for his signature and asked him whether he would confirm the document. Babar Awan responded in affirmative. According to the document, Aitzaz wanted Babar Awan to lie under oath in the ongoing contempt case against the PM. Two points stood prominent in the affidavit;It was poorly drafted with mistakes in spellings and sentences showing lingual weakness of Aitzaz, who is considered to be a heavyweight in the field of documentations. It showed Aitzaz’s professional incompetence in which he willfully tried not only to misguide Babar Awan but also mislead the Supreme Court. In the talk show, Babar Awan looked composed, professional and competent. It is hoped that Aitzaz will respond to the accusations the host of the show threw at him; otherwise another feather of linguistic and professional incompetence will be added to his tilted cap of his dwindling personality. [The Nation]

DEMOCRACY OR 'BADMASHI'
[Mahabat Khan Bangash, Peshawar]

The last four years rule of the incumbent PPP Government reveals that it was nothing but a period of miss governance, misrule and brazenly denying the verdicts of the Honorable Supreme Judiciary of this country. By not following the rule of law, they have been justifying their actions arbitrarily and argue to serve and protect democracy and the Constitution. In the eyes of the public their agenda is sheer "Badmashi" and not rule of law. [The Frontier Post]

HISTORIC ACHIEVEMENTS
[Syed Jawaid Hussain, Multan]

The Gilani government is celebrating its four-year term in office “the longest for any elected government” in the country. History will always remember Prime Minister Gilani for his services such as strengthening the feudal structure in the Seraiki belt and interior Sindh, where the golden rule is to keep the haris, tenants, labourers and disciples of pirs in perpetual slavery, illiteracy and unemployment so that they can never pose a threat to the feudal traditions of these regions.

During its term in office since 2008, this government, led by the gaddi-nasheen from Multan, also ensured that no colleges and schools imparting quality education were set up in the remote areas and whatever infrastructure that existed for health and education was used for any purpose other than education or medical services. After all, what purpose does education serve in this system, where high-school or intermediate pass cronies are considered fit to head important government institutions? [The News]

PM CANCELS VISIT TO UK
[Asghar Mahmood, Islamabad]

The media has reported that our unanimously elected Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, has decided to keep away from the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London to mark 60 years of Queen Elizabeth, the Head of Common Wealth of Nations, on the British throne. This is indeed a historical decision as London is a favourite Capital of every Pakistan Prime Minister. Hundreds of hours have passed since his last visit to London. Naturally, our Prime Minister deserves respite from the hot summer of Pakistan. Moreover, there is terrible load shedding for the common people. All this hurts our Prime Minister. The nation should be thankful to the Prime Minister because by cancelling his visit to London, he has saved millions of rupees. I propose that this saving may be used for his next visit to Latin America.

If the news of cancellation of Prime Minister's visit to London is true, this proves that June has mellowed heart of the Prime Minister and he really wants to spend more time in Pakistan with the poor people of Pakistan. I would urge the Prime Minister to take one or two more historical decisions. For example, he should trim the size of the bureaucracy by reducing the number of ministries and divisions to pre-Musharraf era. He should know how much a Federal Secretary costs to the nation. The increase in the number of Divisions has not led to better performance of the government. Mr. Prime Minister, if you are not going to attend the London celebrations, it would be a historical decision. [The Frontier Post]

SHIT HITS THE ROOF
[Malik T Ali, Lahore]

Why blame the two anchors alone, each trying to score brownie points, in a competition to win favors of a man, who has almost the whole establishment including elected public office holders, khakis, senior bureaucrats and media tycoons feeding out of his hand. This should explain the moral bankruptcy which years of non-accountability, martial law and rampant abuse by our bureaucracy, has landed this country into.

This is a country which nominates ambassadors to represent this country knowing fully well that their loyalty to Pakistan is compromised by their commitments to countries where their assets are located and a country of which their spouses and children have pledged an oath of loyalty to. It is common knowledge that a facilitation centre is being run by family of a VVIP in Lahore who puts wheels on files. It should not come as a surprise when PML(Q) leader calls this sleazy ponzi real estate broker and land grabber a philanthropist, because after all this state’s resources have only been used for welfare of its paid servants, political rogues and all those whose hands are tainted with plunder of tax payers money.

This is a man who chartered a PIA aircraft loaded with habitual free loaders to perform Hajj last year, well past the dead line on embargo of such flights by Saudi authorities, for which cash starved national airline paid huge penalty. When we talk of lack of integrity just imagine that a politician embarks on a private visit accompanied by his family to India, to fulfil a commitment for performing a ritual at mazar of Ajmer Shariff and doles out $ 1 Million from state exchequer as nazrana. The rot has just not set in, but the shit has hit the roof as they say and this abuse and institutionalized corruption must stop, the culprits given exemplary punishment to serve as deterrence for others. [Pakistan Observer]

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Issue of the month:
Fearing the duals

DUAL CITIZENSHIP
[S T Hussain, Lahore]

According the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, citizenship is defined as the legal right of belonging to a particular county. Dual citizenship then means belonging to two different countries at the same time (e.g., Pakistan and United Kingdom). The meaning of nationality is the legal right of belonging to a particular country. Dual nationality then means a) the legal right of being a citizen of two countries or b) a large group of people with the same race, origin, language etc but with different nationalities such as in the case of the former USSR.

When the 1973 Constitution was amended by General Ziaul Haq under the 8th amendment, Article 63(1)(c) was incorporated asserting that a person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen and from being an MP if he ceases to be the citizen of Pakistan or acquires the citizenship of a foreign state. As the world is becoming a global village, the concept of dual citizenship is becoming increasingly irrelevant, and may in fact become a basic human right over time.

Why do our parliamentary members and judiciary do not want to progress with time? Why do we want to remain in the past? If the United Kingdom, US and other countries have no objection to Pakistanis keeping a dual citizenship, why is the judiciary not suggesting the federal government to remove such extreme clauses from the constitution which are affecting the interest of the Pakistani public?

PTI and PPP are assuring the expatriate Pakistanis that they would be given the right to vote in the upcoming elections. However, they have no right to stand as a candidate in the election. Why are sate institutions’ heads so actively confusing people? If a person is able to obey the laws of both countries, why is he deprived from his freedom of choice? It would be interesting to know what bearing the Supreme Court verdict will have upon hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis who have dual citizenship and are sending more than US $10 billion foreign exchange earning to Pakistan.

It is up to the Speaker of the National Assembly and Chairman of the Senate to decide about the disqualification of their respective institution's members. Lastly, the parliament should annul laws that create ambiguity in the minds of people and remove the relevant clauses from the constitution. [Pakistan Today]

DUAL NATIONALITIES AND SPLIT LOYALTIES
[Malik Tariq Ali, Lahore]

The prime minister has stated that there was no restriction on dual nationality for legislators in our Constitution. Perhaps other than clause for immunity he is not aware that Article 63 (1) (c) says that “a person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as and from being an MP if he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan or acquires the citizenship of a foreign state.” The prime minister should be aware that false or incomplete declaration before the Election Commission is a serious crime which merits disqualification.

There is no issue giving voting rights to expatriate Pakistanis holding dual nationality, but under no circumstances can they be eligible for any public office or diplomatic assignment. An expatriate can serve on a contract if he has specialisation in field with none available in Pakistan. There is also no bar on investment in Pakistan, or to own any business or private property, as long as he pays taxes. In certain countries like the UK, nationals residing abroad are only entitled to enjoy privileges of nationality if he/she has paid taxes in preceding three years.

When a Pakistani citizen, having acquired citizenship by birth, chooses to get another nationality, he pledges his absolute loyalty to the newly- adopted country. If a US or UK citizen by birth, decides to adopt foreign nationality, he cannot assume any public office in his former country. [Dawn]

DUAL NATIONALITY DEBATE
[Riaz Chaudhry, Dubai]

I am surprised at the argument “that if an individual has the right to vote, he must automatically have the right to contest elections “put forward by some members of the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly. Aren’t the members of our parliament aware of the fact that even convicted criminals and murderers have the right to vote? Does it mean that they can also contest elections? Those who contest elections decide the fate and destiny of the people of this country. These men and women must have unblemished past record and must not give a chance to anyone to question their loyalty to Pakistan.

In my opinion, only those Pakistani citizens should have the right to seek the office of elected representative who have regularly paid their taxes in Pakistan for at least five consecutive years. A Pakistani who holds no public office can cast his vote even if he is an expatriate and holds a dual nationality or is in the process of acquiring one. However, since a dual-nationality holder pledges an oath of loyalty to another country, which overrides any loyalty that he may have pledged to his home country, such a man is morally and legally bound to take up arms in event of war if called upon to do so, or perform any such duties, including espionage duties, which a national of that country is expected to perform. Such men with split loyalties should never be trusted to hold public office. [The News]

SAGA OF DUAL NATIONALITY
[Malik Tariq Ali, Lahore]

Let there be no confusion in any person’s mind that any Pakistani who willingly adopts another nationality and pledges his total undivided loyalty to his new nation is sworn to do so, even if this involves fighting a war against his former country. Americans of Afghan and Iraqi origin were involved in fighting the war in their former countries where they or their forefathers were born.

People like Baroness Saeeda Warsi or Lord Nazeer are British citizens who, having pledged their loyalty to the UK, can only maintain emotional contacts with their former country and if it does not conflict with the interests of the UK, they might contribute to welfare activities in Pakistan.

In this instance, the case of Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, an American national of Kashmiri origin, should explain the nature of commitment which an oath of loyalty that every US citizen takes bounds him to serve his new country in totality. Dr Fai, who had been actively involved in lobbying for the Kashmir cause, was allowed to do so as long as it served US interest.

However, when global strategic interests demanded, the US convicted and punished him for getting funds from Pakistani agencies.

Pakistan as a country has suffered many setbacks and colossal financial losses incurred by massive flight of capital as a result of loopholes and policies framed by men holding public offices of significance, in spite of their dual nationalities. On the other hand, there are a majority of expatriates forced by circumstances, in search of livelihood, who send all their savings to Pakistan to support their families and build homes in Pakistan. These are not the men who seek public office in Pakistan, because if they had this opportunity they would have never left it. [Dawn]

OUR FOREIGN RULERS
[Naeem Sadiq, Karachi]

It took almost a hundred years for the East India Company to establish its rule over the subcontinent. The modern day colonisation process is simpler and far more efficient. Plant your own nationals at key decision-making positions of a country and let them do the rest. Pakistan is perhaps, the best example of how a country can be taken over without a formal process of invasion. We are now rapidly discovering (rather late in the day) that scores of our top politicians, bureaucrats, governors and other individuals holding key positions are in fact foreign nationals. The cases of Rehman Malik and Farahnaz Ispahani are just the tip of a huge iceberg. More names have now begun to appear in the press including the federal finance minister and the Punjab finance minister.

Interestingly, while all this may seem new for ordinary Pakistanis, the government always knew of this fact and was in fact hiding and telling lies about it. I myself had applied seven times to the government, under the Freedom of Information Ordinance, to release the dual nationality of members of parliament but my request was always denied. Is it enough to disqualify or remove these individuals from their jobs? Did they not knowingly violate the law of the land? Should they not deserve prison sentences for their fraudulent acts such as hiding their other nationality? Should we not question our sleepy justice system for doing too little, too late? Shouldn’t all politicians, governors, judges and civil and military bureaucrats be investigated on this issue?

A nation that regularly test-fires nuclear-capable missiles should at least be able to figure out the foreigners among its ranks. This can be done quite easily by examining the passports on which these individuals travel or by filing requests under freedom of information law of the UK, US or Canada. [The Express Tribune]

DUAL NATIONALITY VS ELECTORAL ELIGIBILITY
[Ahmed bin Babar]

The funniest idea, apparently based on ignorance and misinterpretation, is to bar the dual nationality holder Pakistanis from participating in the politics of their own country of origin.

In any democratic set-up the basic principle is that the one who can vote can also contest the elections and hold public office. In all modern democracies it is a privilege and honor to be bestowed upon the citizenship of some other country.  In fact the overseas Pakistanis are our ambassadors abroad. They bridge the gulf between Pakistan and the host states. They export the Pakistani culture and food. Their foreign education and experience help promote our local industry, health, agriculture, science and technology.

They also attract, initiate and facilitate all foreign investments in Pakistan which create jobs and the transfer of technology-cum-expertise that is why we are looking today for investment counselors among these overseas Pakistanis as they have the firsthand knowledge and experience of the modern western societies, their culture, politics and trade. They are the vital source of our country's ever-growing and ever-flowing foreign exchange which goes up to 17 billion dollars per annum and with this foreign exchange our balance of trade is kept alive.

These foreign remittances not only stabilize the value of our currency, but also play a key role in narrowing down the gap between the foreign payments and receipts. Without these remittances Pakistan, in literary terms, would go bankrupt. Interestingly there are some sovereign states, facing or fearing sanctions, which have a covert policy to force their citizens to flee abroad to earn foreign exchange to help support their respective economies back home. So the overseas Pakistanis should not be considered as foreigners in their own country of origin and no one should point out finger on their patriotism.

They should enjoy both their constitutional right of dual nationality and the right to sit and participate, as a Pakistani citizen, in the process of legislation in a country which is wholly solely dependent on their financial remittances and investments. Moreover these people, with their overseas democratic experience, would also bring healthy and homogeneous change into our traditional politics as the country is striving towards the goals of modernization and democracy. Now under the Article 63-1(c) of the Constitution, a person is disqualified from being a member of parliament if he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan or acquires the citizenship of a foreign state.

However, this law paragraph mentioned above must be interpreted in its true context as it refers to a person (The holder of Pakistan origin card) who has renunciated his Pakistani citizenship in writing to acquire some foreign citizenship but this does not apply to the holder of dual citizenship whose original Pakistani citizenship was not renunciated or ceased and is intact as per the existing constitutional law. [The Frontier Post]

DUAL NATIONALITY
[Tariq Nazir Syed, Rawalpindi]

Discussion on the issue of dual nationality of public-office holders has once again gained momentum after the suspension of Rehman Malik from his Senate seat. Many are calling for the resignations of those parliamentarians and officers of civil and military bureaucracy who hold dual nationalities.

In my opinion, the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan as well as the chief election commissioner, who was in charge of affairs during the 2008 elections, must also be taken to task for dereliction of duty and ignoring the laws concerning dual nationality. Those candidates who lied on their application forms should be arrested for perjury and sentenced for their respective offences. [The News]

DUAL NATIONALITY
[Dr Sohail Kirmani, Ontario, Canada]

As a Pakistani citizen, I feel pained to learn that many of our politicians and other people holding high office in Pakistan have dual nationalities. As a first step, Pakistan must remove these people from all political and senior government appointments. They have told lies about their nationality and should not be trusted for these assignments. [Daily Times]

DUAL NATIONALITY: A LEGAL VIEW
[Amer Manzoor, Solicitor, the Higher Courts of England and Wales, London]

According to the Constitution of Pakistan, members of parliament are not allowed to keep dual nationality. Rehman Malik is a dual national. The Supreme Court has asked him to produce declaration of renunciation. Declaration of renunciation is for a person who wants to give up British citizenship. Form RN is required to be filled in and £229 fee is payable to the home office. The form RN consists of three pages: the first two pages are for office record and the third page is the applicant’s copy. The third page is stamped, signed and returned to the applicant as a formal evidence of renunciation.

In Rehman Malik’s case, he is required to produce the third page (the applicant’s copy) stamped and signed by the home office as an evidence of renunciation. The British Nationality Act 1981, section 12, deals with renunciation of nationality. According to this section, if any British citizen of full age and capacity makes in the prescribed manner a declaration of renunciation of British citizenship, then, subject to subsections (3) and (4), the secretary of state will cause the declaration to be registered. On the registration of a declaration made in pursuance of this section the person who made it will cease to be a British citizen.

A declaration made by a person in pursuance of this section shall not be registered unless the secretary of state is satisfied that the person who made it will, after the registration, have or acquire some citizenship or nationality other than British citizenship; and if that person does not have any such citizenship or nationality on the date of registration and does not acquire some such citizenship or nationality within six months from that date, he will be deemed to have remained a British citizen notwithstanding the registration.

In Rehman Malik’s case the secretary of the state will be satisfied as Malik has Pakistani nationality. A very important question is whether Rehman Malik resumes British nationality. The answer is yes; the home secretary may allow resuming British citizenship after renunciation. If Rehman Malik decides to resume British nationality again, he needs to produce the declaration of renunciation he is supposed to produce in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and prove that he has enough ties with the UK. [Dawn]

DUAL NATIONALITY
[Lt-Col (r) Fazal Dad, Rawalpindi]

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has clearly stated that no parliamentarian or public-office holder will be allowed to hold dual nationality. Any debate on the subject after the apex court’s decision should have ended as it would have been tantamount to challenging the court’s jurisdiction. Notwithstanding, it is appalling to see that in addition to others, even the prime minister continues to comment on the issue. Should we accept their plea, a more horrific situation may emerge than the one which exists today: our next foreign minister may be an Israeli, our next prime minister may be a US citizen and the COAS may be an Indian national. Think about it. [The News]

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Basic social services to all

It is for the people, especially for the think-tanks and NGOs, and no doubt for media also, that the big issue for the next election should be the provision of basic social services (water supply, sanitation, public transport, roads, paved streets, street lights, libraries, parks or playgrounds, and noise and pollution free environment) to all the citizens in Pakistan not only ensured in the constitution but binding on the next government also. If achieved, that will be a great step forward towards the unification of the ordinary and elite Pakistans. Is there any political party ready to take up this at the top of its agenda? [Editor]

LACK OF AMENITIES
[Asghar Mahmood, Islamabad]

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) was established to develop a modern city at the foot of Margallas, with all amenities to serve as the new capital of the country. Credit goes to Brigadier Yahya Khan, then CDA chairman, for most of the initial development work. However, since then it has been mostly downhill. The worst plight, perhaps, is faced by those who live in various housing societies, all of which were given permission by the CDA. Their members complain that the managements of the societies have not been able to provide basic amenities even after several years of operation. Most of these relate to water, gas and electricity. Cleanliness and solid waste management is another issue which has been ignored by the management of housing societies in Zone V. I live in the National Police Foundation housing scheme, which is close to Bahria Town and DHA and the difference in the quality of services is obvious. Why can the CDA not do its job properly? [The Express Tribune]

CITIES WITHOUT LIBRARIES
[Syed Imtiaz Ahmed, Lahore]

There is hardly any big city which has a facility of a proper library. I live in Faisal Town, Lahore, and there is not a single library in the area except Model Town library which is very small and does not fulfill the need of the whole area. [Pakistan Today]

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Edited and prepared by Khalil Ahmad
Email: khalilkf@yahoo.com khalil@asinstitute.org 

[FreePakistan Newsletter, among other things, is a compilation of views and news taken from the national newspapers’ print and online editions. It is not possible to mention the source of every piece of news or view made use of herein; but as a matter of policy, where possible the source is mentioned with due thanks. However, no opinion expressed here should necessarily be taken as reflecting the view of Free Pakistan Newsletter.]

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