You are hereAmoral Macroeconomics (FreePakistan Newsletter # 120)

Amoral Macroeconomics (FreePakistan Newsletter # 120)


05 December 2010

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Quotes of the Month:
 
In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to the other.
[Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philisophique (1764)]
 
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
[Lord Acton, Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton (April 5, 1887)]
 
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PHILOSOPHY OF LIBERTY
 
What is Philosophy of Liberty? A screensaver by Lux Lucre and Ken Schoolland explains it.
 
 
 
By Tibor R. Machan
 
[Tibor R. Machan is a philosopher, a Hoover Institution research fellow, and a professor at the Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University, USA.]
 
In a surprisingly sensible essay in The New York Times, on Sunday October 17, 2010, David Segal gives a pretty good explanation of why macroeconomics is so unsuccessful. It’s human nature, stupid. People just aren’t predictable--will they do this or that when provided with easy money from the government? Is soaking the rich really a good idea--suppose they would do much more good with their money than would government? Do the poor really deserve a break in tax policy or are some quite irresponsible and thus not good candidates for giving them tax breaks?
 
As Segal concludes his piece, “But the economy is a hugely complex problem. So we either simplify the problem and offer a solution, or embrace the complexity and do nothing.” Yes indeed, and it is the second alternative that makes the best sense. Why? 
 
Because while “we”--which is to say, governments--may do nothing, that is by no means the end of the story. While governments do nothing, the rest of us may very well do a great deal. Indeed, it is probably in large measure because the government does nothing that most of us do something, something with the funds the government does not extort from us. If we can keep those funds, they will not usually be put under our mattresses but spent on various projects that we want to get done and which then will create jobs that are actually achieving something that is wanted by people instead of the allegedly “shovel ready” jobs no one needs and government merely invents (like all that road work in my neighborhood that involves repairing what does not by any reasonable assessment require being repaired).
 
One thing that Mr. Segal’s essay brings to light is just how unprincipled is much of macroeconomic theory, the type that fancies itself capable of managing a country’s economy. In one of his passages Segal relates Harvard econ professor N. Gregory Mankiw’s thought experiment from his book Principles of Economics (Thomson/South-Western, 2004), in which “a town must maintain a well. Peter, who earns $100,000, is taxed $10,000, or 10 percent of his income, while Paula, who earns $20,000, hands over $4,000, or 20 per cent of her income.” Never mind that being taxed isn’t exactly “handing over” a portion of one’s income (although such language does show just how thoughtless is a lot of macroeconomic thinking). Notice, instead, that in the thought experiment, which is, all in all, a pretty realistic one, it is taken as given that the town must maintain a well. 
 
But towns are not people. They are not even corporations--they are populated by people, some of whom may not want or need a well at all, some of whom do, and some of whom may find a well useful up to a point, after which they might elect to pay for water brought in from somewhere else. The kind of thinking that treats the people of the town as some kind of beehive or ant colony is way off. 
 
A town--and, of course, a country like the USA which the government macro-economists embark upon managing--is made up of a lot of very different individuals, with very different goals, abilities, virtues and vices, and so forth, and to lump them together is utterly misguided and must produce bad policies. And once the economic issues are treated not as those faced by towns but by various individual human beings in the various groupings of their own choice, the situation presents itself quite differently. For one, ethics enters the picture. And in nearly any ethical code human beings have identified as guidelines to how they ought to conduct themselves, it is unacceptable to confiscate funds from Peter and use it to support Paula unless the two of them reach an agreement to enter some such arrangement. It is not to be dictated from above, as is macroeconomic policy, with no regard for the niceties of ethics or morality. (Which is what’s so bad about centrally planned economies.)
 
One reason the human race has come up with certain general ethical principles--contained in, for example, Aristotle’s list of virtues, the Ten Commandments, Kant’s categorical imperative, or the various school of morality--is that these are thought to be sound clues to what kind of actions people may take and what they ought to avoid taking. Not everyone will follow the advice but it is no surprise that if they do not, mayhem is produced. 
 
And that is just what happens in interventionist macroeconomic policy. So not doing anything--given the real complexity of human affairs and the broad ethical guidelines that actually prohibit doing what macro-economists propose doing--is a good alternative to simplistic meddling.
 
 
By Ayesha Siddiqa
 
[This article first appeared in The Express Tribune on November 28, 2010.]
 
(The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees property rights. See Article 23 and 24. Editor)
 
It is almost every second day that we come across a news item about distribution of free land or on
concessional rates to significant members of the state and society. It was just a year ago that there was an uproar about land allocation to journalists. Just a couple of days ago there was the story about the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, having received a plot of land under the Musharraf government. Not to forget the more popular and controversial story of military officers and civilian bureaucrats being allocated land.
 
Those that get the land justify it on the basis of their right as citizens performing certain tasks for the state. The military guys believe that they deserve to be allocated agriculture or urban land as compensation for their services to the state. Other groups hold a similar belief as well. In fact, the logic of land allocation from a recipient’s angle is a cyclic logic, meaning that once a group or individual gets such a reward, others feel automatically justified in claiming such a compensation. Each group pretends to be deserving of this preferential land allocation scheme without even admitting that the allocation is based on the state’s recognition of their nuisance value and relative power rather than a more judicious formula for land distribution.
 
Despite the propaganda in the media about land allocation, no one has ever challenged the prime minister’s traditional and questionable power to arbitrarily distribute state land. The reason is, perhaps, because we are not clear as to how such land allocation violates the principle of ‘eminent domain’, a concept defined by 17th century Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius as the law governing the acquisition of the property of the subjects of the state. According to Grotius: “The property of subjects under the law of eminent domain belongs to the state, so that the state or the person who represents the state, can make use of that property, can even destroy or alienate it…whenever it is to the public advantage.”
 
In simple language, land is a trust that the government holds for the benefit of the public. It can do whatever with the land as long as there is a justification on the basis of the usage being for public benefit. The law of eminent domain was interpreted in the US in light of the liberal philosophy of Englishman John Locke. So the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution advocates the preservation of the right of private property. Locke had enunciated the right of a government to draw its costs to rule but without excessively threatening an individual’s right to private property or all such rights that generate happiness. This right is upheld in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 as well. The declaration stipulates that: “Property being an inviolable and sacred right, no one can be deprived of it unless the public necessity plainly demands it, and upon condition of a just and previous indemnity.” These approaches, it is noteworthy, evolved as a result of years of struggle by the people in France and the US to establish the primacy of private property or rights of people. Although the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 used in Pakistan puts down specific conditions such as ‘public purpose’ for acquisition of private land by the government, the rules are implemented in letter and not in spirit due to the authoritarian nature of politics.
 
One could even suggest that in Pakistan, we follow the Hobbesian notion of deciding what is the public good; as being a representation of what is in the interest of the ruling oligarchy. Thus, the media, judiciary, military and civilian bureaucracy tend to use the power of the state to create benefits for themselves. Such distribution highlights their power to get a share in the distribution of property kept as public trust.
 
Surely, all recipients have genuine need for land or other assets. Major-general Shaukat Sultan once talked about how he deserved such a reward (and many like him) because he had several daughters of marriageable age. Sadly, this is not sufficient justification for such improper usage of public assets.
[Courtesy The Express Tribune]
 
 
 
THE STRUCTURAL INEFFICIENCIES OF THE WORLD BANK (PART 1)
[David Shaman, USA]
 
One well-known aphorism that has circulated the halls of the World Bank over the years is it is generally less than the sum of its parts. Part of this tongue-in-cheek observation is based on a cynicism that can grow within any bureaucracy. However, with regards to the Bank, it is also based in part on the cold reality of its unique environment. From personal experience and research conducted for The World Bank Unveiled, I have identified a number of structural inefficiencies that keep the Bank from reaching its full potential in achieving its poverty reduction mission. Here are four key ones:
 
Senior management sculpts visionary reforms to tack with the geo-political pressures of the Bank’s member countries, external watchdogs, media and the evolving global financial and economic environment. This has led senior officials to engage in regular reorganizations, but to implement reforms they must rely on the institution’s mid-level management. As these external pressures have grown, the information revolution and a heightened interconnectivity of the global economy have reduced the amount of time senior officials have to react. As a result, their reliance on mid-level management to implement these reforms has increased. Concurrently, mid-level management is in reality a culture of fiefdoms. The internal culture of the Bank, hardened over six decades, rewards managers for conservatism and adherence to the status quo. So, these fiefs are wedded to maintaining the status quo as a strategy for advancement and accruing power.
The institution is layered with a rigid hierarchy. The separation between senior officials and staff is stark and ingrained. Such an environment creates warped perceptions and information vacuums. Senior officials, focused on the big picture, are often given a skewed view of how things actually operate at the staff level. Problems and potential problems become hidden as accurate information often fails to move up the chain of command. Additionally, senior management’s intense desire to not receive unpleasant information results in an institution-wide fear of candor.   Finally, these behaviors are exacerbated by one of the native instincts of the institution’s fiefs – an aversion to information sharing and transparency.
 
The Bank’s culture is one that disdains selectivity and embraces the notion it must do many things well. As a result, staff is continually addressing new challenges, engineering temporary fixes, and moving on to the next problem. Since it tries to do everything, preventable failures are inevitable and activities it pledges to support are not always funded.
 
Institutional hypocrisy, a theory espoused by Robert Wade of the London School of Economics, occurs when the Bank tries to “control its external environment and manage the contradictory demands being made by states, NGOs and firms.” The Bank provides actions/services and talk. Clients and customers value its services. Spectators and watchdogs values what it says. The disconnection between the two is common and real. Wade provides examples. One includes: “increase the density of declarations and policies designed to satisfy and pacify spectators and watchdogs, and increase its promises to bring its actions into line with its policies, while not making the corresponding resource allocations.”
 
These observations are not to say the World Bank does not do some things well or to impugn the motives and actions of the dedicated professionals who work there. However, my experiences suggest these structural inefficiencies are systemic and have led to both unsound decisions and a failure to learn lessons from failure.
 
I invite you to share your own opinions with a wide community of international development practitioners and interested readers here or at http://theworldbankunveiled.wordpress.com/
 
BLACK DAY OBSERVED
[Gangly Khan, Mandi Bahauddin]
 
Mandi Bahauddin lawyers observed 3 Nov as black day. In this connection a general meeting of bar association was held with president bar association Faiz Gondal in chair. Speakers addressing the bar said that this day military despot imposed emergency and put the Chief Justice with other Supreme Court judges in detention. It amounted to imposing mini martial law. Lawyers rose to the occasion and launched aggressive movement for restoration of judges and restoring rule of law. Movement ended in success. Judges were restored. Exiled leaders came back. Democracy was restored and the despot was left with no option except to leave the country. Beyond that people at large got nothing. Rule of law still remains a question mark. Under this democratic set up situation in the country continues deteriorating. Increasing price hike is not less than felling a bomb on the poor. Law and order is not felt and there is no protection of life and property. Accountability is altogether non-existent. Government is conspiring to sideline the chief justice to avoid accountability.
 
At district level corruption is increasing at large scale. Government officials fleece the poor people when they come to offices to seek relief. Police stations serve as extortion centre where complainant and accused both have to gratify the police. There is no check on government officials. Complaints lodged against corrupt officials elicit no action. To obtain simple copy of Register Haqdaran, one has to pay bribe ranging from Rs, 2000 to 4000. They further said proper procedure under the law is not followed while declaring accused as proclaimed offenders; proclamations are based on bogus proceedings. The officials live beyond their sources of income that is proof of their corruption. The speakers said that let us launch a campaign to eliminate corruption in the district to achieve the objective of lawyers’ movement in true spirit, so that the poor are facilitated to get relief. Bar president was asked by the bar to form an anti corruption committee to keep an eye over malpractices of government officials. At the end Bar resolved as following:-
 
- Case under Article 6 of the constitution be registered against Musharraf and he should be brought back to face trail.
- Police and revenue officials belonging to this district should be posted to other districts. No official belonging to Police and Revenue departments should be allowed to serve in home district.
- Courts should accept simple copy of Register Haqdaran under signature of Patwari. Requirement of getting it countersigned by Tehsildar should be done away with. This will facilitate public for executing surety bonds of the accused on grant of bail.
- Procedure for Spurdari should be simplified. Old procedure that is on the report of SHO impounded items like vehicle etc be released.
- Lawyers will continue fighting for rule of law as foot soldiers of the Chief Justice.
 
SEEKING GUIDANCE AND INFORMATION ON THE ISSUE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
[Rainbo Piari PNG NUS President/ UPNG SRC President, Papua New Guinea]
 
It gives me great pleasure and privilege to write to you on behalf of the Papua New Guinea National Union of Students (PNGNUS) as well as from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) Student Representative Council. The PNGNUS comprises of all the tertiary students in all the six major universities in PNG as well as the other colleges that are affiliate with us. I came across your organization on the internet especially the program paper of the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change while trying to search for information about the climate change phenomenon. Thought the discussions of the various speakers are not stated in the paper I am curious to know what the general outcome of the talks were and the kind of atmosphere that the conference generated in terms of establishing facts on climate change. I am doing a major in Environmental Science and a minor in law at the UPNG and I am curious about the climate Change issues and the controversy that surrounds it. I was also the Vice President for the Environmental Science and Geography Students Association (ESGSA) and most of our debates were concentrated on this particular issue as well as other major social and scientific challenges.
 
As my studies venture into these issues I am somewhat confused by the debate that bombards this issue. Thus on behalf of the organizations that I represent I pray to hear me on two requests: I. Please provide some advice or information that can aid in us realizing what is happening and if climate change is really that serious what can we do to address it. II. If we would establish a relationship or partnership between our organizations so that we can learn from each other and how we can help each other in the many challenges we face. Our Government has made various polices and adopted some international resolutions to deal climate change and we as the intellects want to be opened minded and question if these policies will promote sustainable development as well being based on scientific facts. Your quick reply will be highly appreciated. I wish you and your organization the best in your future.
 
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you for your interest in our Institute's work, especially on Climate Change! As the Report of Climate Change event may have some issues of understanding and interpretation, it is better to see the original papers. Please visit the links below:
 
 
Also, you can scan our website for a non-anthropogenic view of the Climate Change issue.
 
CORRUPTION - VERTICAL ALIGNMENT
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]
 
In context with the Interior Minister’s resolve to eradicate corruption within seven days, a news item appeared a few days ago that the head of the department concerned would also be held equally responsible for the corruption indulged by any of his subordinates. Though it may sound somewhat unreasonable yet, that’s the way to deal with the corruption found so rampant now a days in the offices and administration. The NAB or the Anti-Corruption department cannot keep a tag on each and every government functionary. Just impossible and impracticable. It has to be done at each level and in each office. To catch a thief, set a thief. On the spot, there and then. This will break the ‘vertical alignment’ of corruption in the offices, where – everyone knows - the booty is passed on upwards on a prorata basis. The immediate senior certainly knows of the life style of his junior and whether he can afford it or not. The way he dresses, the cigarette he smokes, the transport he uses, the cell phone, the gold rings, the watch and the goggles etc. that he supports, should let him judge instantly if the junior is living within or beyond his means. He must question him about these and if not satisfied censure him for it and reflect the same in his ACR. And, if the senior doesn’t do it he is either devoid of the moral courage required of his position or is himself an accomplice to the crime of corruption. In either case he doesn’t deserve to be there where he is.
 
CASTE BASED DISCRIMINATION IN PAKISTAN
[Gangly Khan, Mandi Bahauddin]
 
In “The causes of Indian Revolt” Sir Syed Ahmed Khan accused the so-called ‘low’ caste Ansaris, whom he abusively referred to as ‘Julahas’, for ‘being the most active’ in the Revolt.[vi] Ali Anwar argues that the publication of this book in Urdu, and then its translation into English, was a well-designed strategy to convince the British of the claim that the ashraf that is high status families comprising Syed, Qureshi, Hashmi and Pathan, were loyal to them and that the Muslims who had revolted against them were from the ‘low’ castes.[vii] In this way, Syed Ahmad and his fellow ashraf supporters sought to win the favour of the British, even if this meant instigating the latter against the so-called ‘low’ caste Muslims.
 
From above ideas of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan it is evident he considered all native Muslims as low class of people. And once the partition took place all his supporters i.e. syed, qureshi, hashmi and pathans considering them unprotected in absence of English rulers migrated to Pakistan where they still consider original native Muslims being of lower status to them. Don’t you think same caste based discrimination still continues to persist in our country? And is this discrimination not a hurdle in progress of the common people?
 
WIKILEAKS ON PAKISTAN
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]
 
The Wikileaks have made some startling disclosures. The aging monarch of SaudiArabia, King Abdullah is reported to have made scathing remarks about the leadership of Pakistan. He has called President Asif Ali Zardari as the greatest obstacle to Pakistan’s progress, saying, “When the head is rotten, it affects the whole body.” Whatever be the case as a Pakistani I am hurt by the Saudi monarch’s such remarks. After all, unlike the King, AAZ is a duly elected President of the country. Casting aspersions on him is tantamount to insulting the people of Pakistan. He is our President and it is our right to question and criticise him which right we cannot pass on to others and outsiders. Anyone doing so, is clearly interfering in the internal affairs of another sovereign country. It is, however, another matter that we in Pakistan have little to choose in electing our leaders as ALL of them seem to be the chips of the same block. They spend tens of millions to be ‘elected’ which proves of their definite interest in being elected. And once in power they make the most of the heyday. I strongly think that things cannot be put right until we act upon the saying of the great sage – Hazrat Ali (a.s), “Do not elect a person who offers himself for an office. He has an interest in it. Instead pick up the best amongst you and ask him to lead, if need be force him even at the point of the sword to do so.”
 
MUSH ON PAK CURRENCY
[Mahabat Khan Bangash, Peshawar]
 
It was disturbing to read in The News dated 20th November that samples, suggesting Pak new currency notes with Musharaf photographs, were prepared during his Govt. This country has been eaten up by the sycophant white ants which remained in abundance in every period. Ex PM Zafarullah Khan Jamali, after his removal from Prime Minister Ship, was once seen on a TV channel saying, “I still consider Gen. Musharaf as my boss”. How could this country flourish when every Govt. is surrounded by sycophants? Similarly former dictator Ayub khan was made Field Martial by the sycophants, who had nothing on records any gallantry nor had participated in any war.God forbid, had Musharaf photo put on the currency notes, it would have been proper to put a photo of a hyena on the other side of the currency notes.
 
TALK SHOW
[Gangly Khan, Mandi Bahauddin]
 
Last night, on a talk show on private TV, a panel comprising a famous singer and head of an NGO, an ex cricketer now heading a political party and one gentleman running gallop NGO and TV anchor discussed whether next year would be better than the present one? One of them opined that Pakistan has 17 million populations and that was a great source to make the country prosperous. Hence he was hopeful of better future. The other panelist said that unless our rulers did not leave begging from foreign masters our country could not turn into a stable and prosperous country. The third panelist was of the opinion that till rule of law is not restored and merit does not prevail our nation can’t make any headway. I have heard about two gentlemen that they collected charity by way of begging at large scales and made hospitals and schools. The same gentlemen were blaming the rulers for begging. I surprised on their dubious character.
 
PROMISES PROMISES PROMISES
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]
 
“Masses to get basic life facilities: Gilani” was the bold headline in the daily “Pakistan Observer 24 November 2010”. The PM went on to say that the government attached high priority to providing basic necessities of life to the people at their door steps particularly those living in the remote and backward areas of the country. My dear Prime Minister, May you live as long as you wish and be the Prime Minister all along, ameen summa ameen. Please do not bother yourself with the “door steps”, just provide the facilities and we would gladly walk, tread and tramp for miles on end to get them. We promise you and hope Your Excellency would also keep your primes, lest we are compelled to bewail, Tere waade par jiye ham to ye jaan jhoot jaanaa/Keh khushee se mar na jaate agar \'eitabaar hota
 
FARMERS’ WOES
[Gangly Khan, Mandi Bahauddin]
 
Modern fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides are very costly and their use by farmers is on increase. Similarly oil which is required for running tube wells, tractors and transportation is very expensive. Though irrigation system in our country is the best yet it has failed to fulfill water needs of the farmers. Water management is poor. Desilting of canals and water channels and their maintenance is not done regularly. Water is not available at tails. On harvesting crops when expenditure incurred on input and price of output is compared farmers some time go in loss. There are so many departments to assist farmers in increasing yield but staff of these departments is hardly seen in the fields to guide and assist the farmers. There is no market at union level to sell agriculture produce. Markets are in big cities where traders fix rates of their choice. They have complete monopoly over the market and farmers when take produce to market they fell on the mercy of traders and their agents. Government is urged to facilitate farmers in resolving their problems and difficulties so that they feel encouraged to work with more zeal and dedication such measures will help increase in agriculture produce.
 
 
 
EDGWARE ROAD, LONDON
[Dr. Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]
 
It seems that in the next few years time most of the property located at the world’s most posh Edgware Road in London will be bought by our poor Politicians. Expecting this inevitability, my we request Queen Elizabeth to rename this road as “Pakware Road” as a tribute to our leaders.
[Pakistan Observer]
 
DONATION OF HIDES
[Mahabat Khan Bangash, Peshawar]
 
Before Eidul Azha, hundreds of banners were displayed in different cities by different organizations, asking the faithful to donate sacrificial hides. Unfortunately no one is aware that human hides are being collected silently on regular basis by Islamabad round the year. [Email]
 
BAN WOMEN’S CRICKET
[Dr. Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]
 
By winning the Gold Medal at the Asian Games in China, our women’s cricket team has brought further humiliation to the already humiliated members of our national men’s cricket squad. To avoid further embarrassment, a viable option is to ban our women’s cricket team from playing, thus avoiding an unnecessary comparison, which only brings more agony to our bleeding souls.
[Daily Times]
 
HATS OFF TO NEW INDICATOR
[Maryam Habib, Islamabad.]
 
Hats off to new economic indicator invented by one caller of a private TV channel recently. It is Onion price indicator- OPI. (The price per piece of medium size onion has reached Rs 10 from Rs 15 per kilo three years back). He extrapolated the Onion economic syndrome to the every day plight of the poor and middle class segments of society, ever worsening national economic realities and more meaningful than CPI. SPI, Stock Index etc. The OPI must be incorporated by our Economic Planners to measure the agony of the 180 deprived of Pakistan. I would also request all political leaders not to miss any opportunity to demand recovery of corruption of around three billion rupees during the last three years which has ruined us internally, externally subjugating us to IMF, UK, US etc. Every day new issues are created by present rulers to digress people’s attention from corruption which has eaten the very vitals of nation. Let Nawaz Sharif, MLQ, Muttahida Muslim League, TIP, JIP must talk it loud for recovery of every looted penny besides Swiss money. [The Frontier Post]
 
MUNNI BADNAAM HUI
[Dr. Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]
 
The ruling government of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) should seriously think of incorporating its party song from a Bollywood hit number “Munni badnaam hui, darling teray liye” with a slight modification as “PPP badnaam hui, darling teray liye”. Hopefully the ‘darling’ will understand and consider leaving the PPP for good to save whatever is left of the reputation of the party.
[Daily Times]
 
A PREMATURE BABY
[Syeda Maliha Begum, Karachi]
 
Pakistan is like a premature child. Apparently, the time of its inception was earlier than anticipated. Pakistan’s politics have completely lost the plot. The saddest part is that people here love mourning and are unable to appreciate their leaders when they are amongst them. Later, they feel comfortable lamenting over their loss. The people in this country, by nature, are pessimists and it is about time they changed their attitudes. Today, we realise the worth of leaders like Mr Jinnah. In my opinion, he would have wanted us to get going in improving our environment and the country, instead of mourning over him. Unfortunately, this land brought forth the worst guardians with corrupt and evil minds. What we fail to understand is that the leaders are a manifestation of the people of the country. Before pointing fingers we need to look within. [Daily Times]
 
MUSHARRAF’S FISHERY
[Mahabat Khan Bangash, Peshawar]
 
According to a media report a big fish of Musharraf’s Fishery, Major (Retd) Habib Ullah, ex-minister for Defence in the Musharraf Government, has been arrested by FIA on corruption charges worth Rs.1.68 billion. I comprehend that what would be the outcome of the case, but I ponder as to how much share Musharraf would have received in his scam? [The Frontier Post]
 
CRUISE ON TITANIC
[Dr. Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]
 
Through the columns of your esteemed newspaper, I would like to offer all the Parliamentarians a totally free vacation on a five star cruise named “Titanic.” This offer is to acknowledge the dedicated efforts of our members of the Parliament for the welfare of the poor masses. [The Nation]
 
TARZEN KI WAPSEE
[Mahabat Khan Bangash, Peshawar]
 
It was unusual to see Asfandyar Wali in a picture published in The Frontier Post dated 14th November while addressing a press conference. The ANP valiant was missing since last two years after a bomb attack in his Hujra in Wali Bagh. However, it is not lost that comes at last. Asfandyar was looking healthy and smart. All his scares seem to have been finished now, and we expect that he would cherish the people with his appearance in the public. [The Frontier Post]
 
BABY BORN IN RICKSHAW
[Dr. Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]
 
Another woman delivered a baby in a rickshaw in Karachi. The delivery of babies on the roads is now becoming a regular feature because of traffic jams caused by VVIP movements or, in this case, because of the refusal of hospital authorities to admit the patient. Having failed to find any sustainable solution to this problem, it is suggested that the government introduce small ‘labour rooms’ at every main traffic signal crossing and name them the ‘Prime Minister’s Labour Support Programme.’ [Daily Times]
 
I AM PAKISTAN
[Dr. Uzair Zahir Shah, Islamabad]
 
My name is Pakistan. I am 63 years old. I am just like any other country. I have eyes called as ISI and ears in the form of FIA. I had two legs East and West Pakistan. But in 1971, I lost one of my legs in a terrible accident. I have strong Arms which are Army, Navy and Airforce. I have a heart that has five chambers namely Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pukhtunhawa and Kashmir. I have had four heart attacks. I have heard that the fifth one is always fatal. I am suffering from many diseases like terrorism, inflation and chronic corruption. My family doctors IMF and World Bank have increased their fee in the form of RGST and 16% increase in rates of electricity. I need money transfusion to live every year. I am in such a fragile state that the world has lost hope in me and called me a failed state, but I believe I will rise and rise again to new heights. I will recover for my illness with the blessings of Allah and assistance of 170 million people who have always prayed for me and my future other than the few hundred sitting in the parliament and its surroundings. May Allah save me and protect me! Amin [The Nation]
 
THE EAGLE AND AWAN
[Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]
 
Law Minister Babar Awan, while commenting on the blasphemy laws, has declared himself a “Shaheen”. The eagle, a bird of the falcon family, is known for its remarkable strength, grace, sharp vision and extraordinary flight. Can the honourable law minister please throw some light on the extraordinary qualities he has in common with the eagle? [The News]
 
 
 
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]
 
THE LAHORE THAT WAS LIBRARIES
By Chauburji
 
While Lahore was known as the City of Gardens, it also gained fame as a Centre of Learning, boasting some of the finest libraries in the subcontinent. These treasure troves of books were patronised by a very large number of Lahoris, whose appetite for reading was as voracious as their love for good food and fun.
 
The Dayal Singh Trust Library was established in 1908 on Nisbet Road in deference to the last will and testament of Sardar Dayal Singh Majithia, son of Ranjit Singh’s Chief of Ordnance, General Lehna Singh. In 1947, the building and its contents suffered severe damage due to fire and looting. It was after a lapse of 12 years that the facility was reopened to the public in 1964.
 
A marble statue of Sardar Dayal Singh, placed in the corridor of the library building, generated a controversy when a press report claimed that it had been stolen and sold at a lucrative price. Officials denied the allegation and said that the statue had been moved to make room for new books. Reportedly, the whereabouts of this historic piece of sculpture are still unknown.
 
The Punjab Public Library was established near the Lahore Museum, just off The Mall, by the order of Punjab’s Lieutenant Governor in 1884. It is said that an original version of this library was set up in a baradari constructed by Wazir Khan, the Governor of Lahore, during the reign of the Moghul Emperor Shahjahan. In 1918, the Government of India designated the facility as the Central Library of Northwest India for “inter circle library purposes”, a function that was assumed by 1929. This great resource of research and recreation continues to serve the citizens of Lahore to this day.
 
The Punjab University Library was housed in its old building near Anarkali, until it was shifted to its new location on the Quaid-i-Azam Campus in 1988. Established in 1882 with a purchased collection of two thousand volumes belonging to Sir Donald Macleod, this great resource of information had an awesome ambience, where everyone trod on silent feet and spoke in hushed tones. I remember passing through its portals from the Nila Gumbad side on numerous occasions, and being immediately swamped by a feeling of intellectual inadequacy in the mighty presence of so much knowledge.
 
Lahore also had two college libraries of importance in 1938, belonging to the Forman Christian and the Government College. Founded in 1864 in its original campus located in what is now Nila Gumbad Chowk, the Forman Christian College consisted of four buildings in 1916. A beautiful structure known as Ewing Hall was added to the complex in 1919 and continues to be used as the college hostel to date. My grandfather, a student of the Nila Gumbad Campus often spoke very fondly of the library there and said that his passion for books was in part spawned within its hallowed premises. In 1940, the facility along with the college, shifted to a sprawling campus on the banks of the Upper Bari Doab Canal that runs through Lahore, where it continues to serve students to this day.
 
The Government College, now the Government College University, Main Library was set up in the mid 1860s, along with the college building and has provided invaluable service to generations of students. This library’s call to fame is its private collection of books and memorabilia like the typewriter used by Saadat Hassan Manto to produce his immortal stories. As a former Ravian, I had the opportunity to spend time amongst the books here and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
While Beadon Road was known for its Amritsari Halwai and the Irani Bakery, it was also home to a small unpretentious alcove like place, which brought joy to millions of readers. This was Farzana Library, where one could get Ibne Safi’s Jaasoosi Dunya and Imran Series along with other books for four annas per day. Today, the works of Ibne Safi are a part of classic detective literature and his books are considered to be collector’s items.
 
This then was a sampling of what can best be termed as a silent, yet vital ingredient of Lahore’s incomparable lifestyle, which could be described (with sincere apologies to Omar Khayyam) as - “a good book, a glass of peray wali lassi and thou…” [Courtesy The Nation]
 
LIBRARIES IN TERRIBLE SHAPE
[Hashim Abro, Islamabad]
 
Recently I had an opportunity to visit various school and college libraries in my hometown Larkana and also a few in other districts of the province. The condition of libraries is, indeed, pathetic. More or less all the libraries are without books. This growing trend of book elimination in libraries is worth pondering. A few libraries stocked with old, outdated and torn-out books also exist in the province but those are without any librarians. As libraries are essential for literacy, education and information, as well as for economic, social and cultural development, of a nation, these should have adequate and sustained funding for trained staff, materials, technologies and facilities. [Dawn]
 
PARKS NEEDED
[Hashim Abro, Islamabad]
 
My hometown Larkana city has its own charisma and charm but is suffering from acute shortage of parks. Parks and gardens undoubtedly make any city beautiful. Apart from their good impact on the environment, parks and gardens have other important functions. They are places to meet, to spend leisure time and relax and learn about plants and flowers. A long time ago, more or less, all the cities and towns of the country used to have extensive network of parks and gardens. Today, parks are either destroyed or encroached by the mafias and so-called city planners and developers. Larkana has more than one million people living in it yet there is no good park for outing. [The Nation]
 
LACK OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT
[Umar Farooq, Islamabad]
 
Owing to prevailing situation of shortage of public transport, Varan Bus Service was a good initiative. This bus service provided classic and comfortable service to people of Wah Cantt and Taxila. This bus service has been suspended again. Buses of Varan have been taken in Varan Depot Rawalpind. I request the Punjab Administration and specially Mian Shahbaz Sharif to start a good transport service — either official or private — between Rawalpindi and Taxila so that thousands of inhabitants of Taxila and Wah Cantt who daily come to Rawalpindi may get some relief.
[The Nation]
 
 
Edited and prepared by
Khalil Ahmad
 
 
[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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