You are hereCorruption By Democracy (FreePakistan Newsletter # 118)

Corruption By Democracy (FreePakistan Newsletter # 118)


05 October 2010


 
URDU BLOG: SAB KA PAKISTAN
 
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Quotes of the Month:
 
[T]he powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.
[James Madison, Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention (June 6, 1788)]
 
Only when the state is restricted to the administration of justice, and economic creativity thus freed from arbitrary restraints, will conditions exist for making possible a lasting improvement in the welfare of the more miserable peoples of the world.
[Karen Kwiatkowski, “The Wolf You Feed” [August 31, 2010]
 
Freedom to order our own conduct in the sphere where material circumstances force a choice upon us, and responsibility for the arrangement of our own life according to our conscience, is the air in which alone moral sense grows and in which moral values are daily re-created in the free decision of the individual.
[Friedrich A. Hayek]
 


 
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http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html 


PHILOSOPHY OF LIBERTY

What is Philosophy of Liberty? A screensaver by Lux Lucre and Ken Schoolland explains it.
 
 

 
By Tibor R. Machan
 
[Tibor Machan is a philosopher, a Hoover Institution research fellow, and a professor at the Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University, USA.]
 
Democracy is not all bad, don't misunderstand me. It is only bad when it becomes the central political principle. 
 
In a free society some democracy is necessary because it amounts to everyone having a say in political matters, something that's their right. To refuse to acknowledge this right is to deny an important freedom to some, those left out. 
 
The real issue about democracy is what is the scope of politics. If it is, as it should be, minimal, the scope that it must have in a free country, there is no problem with democracy. Let us do vote on who gets to be the sheriff, the presiding officer, or on the city council, provided these folks aren't permitted to meddle in matters that are not their proper job. 
 
But once democracy expands its reach beyond this limited realm of minimal politics, it leads to all kinds of corruption. Like facilitating larceny and oppression. If the many vote themselves the belongings of the few, this is corruption. If the many impose their life style, religion, priorities, and other matters on the rest, that is corruption by democracy.
 
We can see this everywhere when politicians of all kinds keep talking about how "the American people" want this, or don't want that, etc. Take the recent health care measures Obama & Co. pushed through oh so democratically. The Democrats kept saying this is what "the American people want," while the Republicans kept saying "the American people don't want this." How could they both make such claims with even a modicum of credibility?
 
Well, because once a pretty large number of Americans want something, in a bloated democracy it sounds ok to say that "the American people" want it. Even if it is clearly, unambiguously evident that they do not and that only some of them do. 
 
Maybe it is just laziness. It may simply be too exhausting to have to say "a portion of the American citizenry wants X," while "another portion of the American citizenry does not want X." But is it really so hard? I doubt it but maybe for some it is. Or maybe the fact that the truth is a bit nuanced provides politicians and their cheerleaders an excuse for lying. Because to say "the American people want Obamacare" and "the American people do not want Obamacare" amounts to plain old lying. It is, however, so common, so much a part of the lingo of democracy that the lies come very easy and have become habitual.
 
Yet, there is no doubt, they are lies. Unless the doctrine that the majority does in fact speak for all of us is true. In that case whatever does gain majority support must be treated as something we all want. But is that for real? Only if this kind of collectivist thinking is sound.
 
Unfortunately, it is deemed to be sound by many who discuss and teach political science in high schools, colleges and universities. A great many of such folks are seriously convinced that individuals do not actually exist, only groups do. So if you are a dissident, if you reject what the majority wants, you simply do not count for anything. You are this dreaded political virus, an individualist.
 
Yet democracy itself is, of course, founded on individualism. The demos, the public, cannot exist without its individual components. And it is because these individuals have the right to give direction to their lives that they have the right to take part in politics. Ergo, democracy.
 
And, as already noted, there would be nothing wrong with that provided the scope of politics--where democratic decision making matters--is properly limited. As someone has recently pointed out, what we need is liberal democracies, not illiberal ones. And the former means, strictly speaking, democracies that are contained and constrained by the individual rights of every citizen in the country.
 
One other problem is that for so many centuries hardly anyone could take part in politics apart from some thugs (at times very well dressed, admittedly). So for millions across the globe just being asked to pitch in a little is quite a lot. It should not be enough but in contrast to the past, it is at least something. 
 
Now if only they realized that it isn't enough, that one would be enough would be if they were all free individuals and protected even from majorities, not just thugs.
 

 
 
THE WORLD BANK AND TRANSPARENCY: A PERSPECTIVE
[David Shaman, USA]
 
Recently, I saw that you posted one of my blogs on the World Bank (Is Reforming the WB Possible? (http://www.asinstitute.org/newsletter116). Thank you for sharing this with your audience. If you are interested in further contributions, I would be delighted to share them with you and your readers. Here is another submission for your consideration.
 
The World Bank and Transparency: A Perspective
 
As the author of a new book, The World Bank Unveiled: Inside the Revolutionary Struggle for Transparency, I recount my dozen years inside the institution. I examine a number of aspects of the organization that range from its culture and bureaucracy to its day-to-day activities. Among the key questions the book analyzes is the meaning of transparency inside the Bank. In fact, my experiences suggest it means different things to different internal stakeholders and that these sensibilities are often conflicting and reflect a vast array of backgrounds. For example, in recent years the Bank merged a knowledge sharing mantra into a culture that horded information and it implemented greater disclosure measures that were often viewed by external observers as rhetorical flourishes.
 
When he left the Bank in 2005, former President James Wolfensohn said transparency reduces corruption, reduced corruption leads to better governance and better governance increases development. Transparency, he believes, is the key. But history suggests the Bank’s management believes transparency is something that should apply to its clients and other external stakeholders. Its enthusiasm regarding the internal application of transparency seems less than robust. Consider the following:
 
* It has a long history of reluctance toward releasing documents external observers believe are central to helping foster development.
 
* When its staff has gone public with views that counter the Bank’s traditional orthodoxy, they have been dismissed. Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and William Easterly are two prominent examples.
 
* In 1997, as part of its Strategic Compact reorganization, the Bank began to recast itself as a “knowledge bank.” It has not been a success because the cultural instincts of the institution favor information hoarding rather than knowledge sharing. The World Bank Institute, the branch of the institution charged with implementing knowledge sharing, is a pedagogical unit that promotes fostered learning. Former Bank economist David Ellerman’s insightful paper, Helping People Help Themselves: Toward a Theory of Autonomy-Compatible Help documents how fostered learning creates client dependency which diametrically counters knowledge sharing.
 
The World Bank Unveiled offers numerous other examples. But much more importantly are the perspectives of others who have worked inside or outside the Bank. This blog post wants to encourage others to share their own experiences and stories … http://theworldbankunveiled.wordpress.com/
 
PRESIDENT AND PM PROMISES
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]
 
A govt. TV ad showed President Zardari assuring the flood victims, “I promise you nothing else will be done until first you are provided with the homes”. In the same ad PM told them, “You are not alone. We will not leave you alone. We are with you”. Well done Messrs President and PM. I sincerely hope you will keep your words, though the President’s word seems difficult to keep.
 
LOVE PAKISTAN
[Nadeem Aziz]
 
we are living free pakistan. But every person could help for pakistan to built and strong Pakistan long live pakistan
 
COURTS & FLOODS
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]
 
A private TV channel showing the havocs played by the floods in Sindh also showed a commendable brave act worth emulating by all. The defiant and determined villagers of a small area built a long mud embankment (Bandh) on their own on self help basis that stopped the flood waters in its tracks at their gates and thus saved them precious lives, cattle and properties. However, an ex-minister and a politician at the calamity site disclosed that about 25 persons from a nearby area had obtained stay orders from the court against construction of any dykes on their lands, with the result the floods inundated their area and they suffered a lot of damage to their cattle and properties. They too would have been spared the loss had the courts not granted them the stay orders. I am no legal expert, but is there no mechanism to vacate such stays by some local authority in the overall public interest, if emergently required?
 
CYBER SECURITY
[M. Shahjahan Bhatti]
 
We demand our cyber rights as well as real rights to be protected by our constitution. We demand fully automated interactive facility we condemn any state agency to violate our rights under any pretext. Every citizen of Pakistan has a indigenousness right to know the real truth.
 
FLOODS, UMERA & HAJJ
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]
 
Mr. Zahid Maqbool president Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry has appealed to the intending Umera performers to instead donate the money to the flood relief funds. I endorse his views strongly. The funds thus diverted would help a great deal in alleviating the sufferings of the millions of flood victims which is the direst need of the hour in Pakistan. I would go a step further and request the intending Hajees this year to transform their ordinary Hajj into Hajj e Akbar by donating the money to rehabilitate the flood victims who have lost their all belongings including homes and hearths. The number of Hajees this year would be around one lac. Each Hajee is likely to spend an average of Rs. 4 lacs. That makes a total of Rs. 40,000,000,000. A staggering 40 billion rupees, that could go a long long way in helping the countrymen in distress. Would Allah (SWT) not be pleased by such a noble gesture of self sacrifice and reward the donors with rewards still higher than Hajj?
 
CCP DEMANDS WITHDRAWAL OF DECISION TO SHUT DOWN TRAINS
[Nauman Asghar, Lahore]
 
The Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP) deplores the decision of Railway Ministry to close down thirteen trains across the country including Tezro and Shalimar Express trains. This announcement has spread a wave of panic among the passengers whose difficulties would be compounded by the increase in fares in the days to come. The Minister publicly lamented the apathetic attitude of the federal government towards the problems confronted by Pakistan Railways. It has been publicly asserted that the decision to close down trains has been motivated by the financial losses caused by corruption in Railways department. It is ironic that the government has made a choice which would increase the sufferings of citizens especially for long-distance travels instead of taking effective steps to combat corruption. The public perception is that there is more than meets the eye with respect to the decision of shutting down trains. The experts have opined that the pressure of transport mafia may be one of the reasons behind this unpopular decision that would add to the hardships of passengers. The CCP demands that the notification of suspension of trains should be withdrawn and the federal government must take immediate steps to cure mismanagement in the railway.
 
PALACES ABROAD
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]
 
Why do our leaders buy properties, palaces and penthouses abroad especially in and around London’s posh areas at enormous prices? They could always rent something similar for their sojourn when needed at less than the monthly interest that would accrue to them by keeping such money instead in a bank. Apart from the initial purchase cost the regular maintenance and running expenses of such palatial houses must also be substantial. Why spend such huge amounts unless they want to have an assured haven to fall back upon in the event they have to flee the country, in which case it is certainly the most prudent investment on their part?!
 
US FLOOD AID EQUALS...
[Kadar Khan]
 
The drug dealers are none but the leadership! When the leaders are dealers the nation is orphan! That is what happens! First exploitation and then the misery on sell without any shame. An opportunity for the Developmental Diplomacy depending whoever is in the market bidding!
 
SURVEY OF FLOOD HIT AREAS
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]
 
The havoc wreaked by the floods has also obliterated most of the natural as well as manmade features and land markings demarcating the land holdings of the individuals in the rural areas. During the resettlement phase of the flood affectees and reconstruction of their houses plus demarcating their agricultural fields there is bound to be lots of confusion which could even lead to ugly law and order situations. It is, therefore, imperative that the government starts saving the images of the terrain and areas of all flood affected areas through Google Map on the internet, which is still displaying the pre-flood era images. Google Mapping technology not only give extremely clear images of the area but one can also measure the distances and individual perimeters of any given area to an amazing accuracy. Is there someone in the government listening please?
 


 
 
PM AND MS JOLIE
[Dr. A. P. Sangdil, Norway]
 
Film world celebrity, Angelina Jolie, has recommended PM Gilani for Hollywood screen so overawed she was by his killing looks. Indeed, PM Gilani is a character from Greek mythology with his height, looks, particularly his pointed nose and wide forehead that depicts one’s generosity. Ever since Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani has become the PM, not only has his physique improved because of the gym in the PM house but also has his wardrobe bulged with designer’s dresses. One doesn’t blame Julie for missing a beat when meeting and shaking hands with PM Gilani. When I first saw them together in a picture, I sensed the cupid had taken its toll. Our PM is chivalrous; if Jolie missed a beat, he wouldn’t be far behind. And it isn’t something unusual. Although I suggest PM Gilani to follow Angelina Jolie to the Hollywood, but there’s a problem. Who would perform Mr Gilani’s dialogues in the movie? Our debonair loses marks when he speaks. He opens his mouth too much both up and down and sideways. Besides he has no face expressions, therefore, I wish him to stay put and let go off Jolie. [The Frontier Post]
 
PLEASE TAKE 'EM TO HOLLYWOOD
[M. S. Hasan, Karachi]
 
This refers to a September 19 news item that popular Hollywood actress and a UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has recommended our tinselly attired Prime Minister Gilani to a stint in the tinsel town of Hollywood. Gilani, with raw acting talent, to his credit, has a two-and-a-half years' apprentice training at the Islamabad Academy of Acting and Performing Arts, playing the role of a clueless prime minister, and heading a chaotic dispensation. In about the next two-and-a-half years, according to the spokesperson of the accredited faculty, Gilani as a dedicated aspiring actor, is likely to graduate with straight "As" as an accomplished actor, ready to play the lead role in the proposed remake of yesteryears' popular comedy film, "Cindefella" which had Jerry Lewis in the lead.
 
Gilani, could also find numerous assignments in the upcoming, song and dance, Bollywood movies, in the short, but lucrative roles of an "Item boy" playing to the theme based signature tune of the movie. As a movie - buff, I believe that there are huge prospects for Zardari too, both in Hollywood and Bollywood. If there is a remake of another Hollywood blockbuster, "Godfather," Zardari would be a perfect and ideal choice to play the lead role. I can assure that the original hero of this movie, Marlon Brando, will rise from his grave to cheer and applaud Zardari for his most natural and impeccable performance of the role of Godfather. Jolie should consider promoting the Gilani-Zardari talented duo in Hollywood. Let this be Pakistan's contribution to Hollywood! [Business Recorder]
 
MIND YOUR OWN MINISTRY
[Asmat Jamal, Quetta]
 
Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan visited the camps for the flood-affected people in Quetta on Sept 15. While talking to the press she supported the idea of limited military operation in Balochistan. Some people look better when they are quiet. Instead of talking about issues that have nothing to do with her ministry, the minister would be well-advised to improve the working of her ministry where too many things are too wrong. She can work on checking the population growth through motivation and medication instead of military operation.
 
She can make sure availability of medicines at reproductive-health services centres and family-welfare centres. Medicines are usually purchased and consumed on papers; she can definitely do something about it. Her ministry is allegedly discriminating against female doctors, especially in Balochistan, where no female doctor has been promoted in the last twenty years. Yet another serious problem is the presence of 500 male motivators in Balochistan; however, not a single male has ever been motivated including the motivators themselves to undergo vasectomy. Dr Awan is requested to look deeply into the affairs of her ministry since unbridled population growth is becoming the biggest security threat to this country. [The News]
 
MARTIAL LAW TYPE ACTION
[Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]
 
MQM Chief Altaf Hussain has clarified that he is asking for a “Martial Law Type” action and not the actual Martial Law. There can be either a Martial Law or Democracy, can’t be anything in between. Isn’t it just like saying “I am approximately pregnant.” [Pakistan Observer]
 
MUSE…I…YUMM!
[S. Amir, Lahore]
 
With reference to a titled “These lovely, lovely ivory towers...Yumm!” in Readers Column on September 23, I would like to remind the writer that the Governor House Lahore is already a defacto housing scheme for the lesser government employees complete with in periphery schools and security. So is the GOR 1, an exceptionally secure housing scheme for the brown sahibs who spends more on security than the present govt spends on education of the masses. What is badly needed is a museum of colonialism in place of a building in use of govt officials. [The Nation]
 
JOLIE’S RECOMMENDATION
[Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]
 
The Hollywood celebrity and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Refugees Angelina Jolie has recommended Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for the Hollywood Screen. It must have got something to do with the “Acting Skills” of our rulers to deceive the masses which has triggered such a response from the Hollywood Actress. Having said that, it will be a great favor on part of the respected lady to help our Prime Minister get a role in some Hollywood movie and take him away from the country, thus helping the flood victims in a really effective way. [Pakistan Observer]
 


 
Issue of the Month: Mismanaging the relief
 
LET THEM HANDLE IT
[Shehzad Ahmed Mir, Islamabad]
 
It would be worthwhile that instead of spending millions in creating another bureaucratic based ‘government’ organisation, why not let the private and locally operated organisations in Pakistan, such as Edhi or Rotary International, get the job done? Both of these institutions already have a widespread and recognised humanitarian base throughout Pakistan. They can ensure the dispensation of international aid in a transparent, evenly planned and open manner, acceptable to most of the donor nations. [Daily Times]
 
SINDH FLOOD VICTIMS
[Mohammad Khan Sial, Karachi]
 
The people of Sindh are in deep shock to read the statement of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah appeared in a section of press stating that the Federal government has, so far, not released even single rupee to help the flood victims of Sindh. No doubt, the people of Sindh are badly affected in millions from the current devastating floods like others and they lost many precious lives of their dear ones besides loss of properties, animals, crops and more. The attitude of the Federal government towards Sindh has generally remained not good at present as well as in past. Nevertheless, the announcements for help by the Federal government are limited merely issuing the statements to the press. I request President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani that they should not discriminate against Sindh. [Business Recorder]
 
REPREHENSIBLE ACT OF DISCRIMINATION
[Altaf Hussain, Hyderabad]
 
I was shocked to read that while distributing aid between the flood affectees at Hyderabad, a group of minorities was ignored on the basis of being non-Muslims. Minorities are equal citizens of the country and the devastating floods have equally affected them. Therefore, discriminatory treatment meted out to them is highly deplorable. The administration has to deal with such a situation with an iron hand and those found lax should be taken to task. Moreover, Pakistan has presently received more aid from the non-Muslim bloc than Muslim countries. India that initially gave $ 5 million as flood relief assistance to Pakistan has now raised it to $ 25 million and is now placed at the top 10 countries/institutions that have loosened their purse strings to help Islamabad deal with the unfolding emergency. The government authorities as well as non-governmental organisations involved in the aid distribution process have to ensure that no such incident occurs in the future. [Daily Times]
 
BALOCHISTAN AWAITS FLOOD RELIEF
[Asad Khan Betini, Karachi]
 
Kohlu, Barkhan, Musakhel, Jaffarabad, Dera Allah Yar, Gandakha, Jhal Magsi, Jewani Tehsils & Districts are prone to natural disasters, including endemic drought, flooding and recurrent cyclones, regularly causing damage to local communities and setbacks to economic growth. Balochistan is one of the poorest province in the Pakistan, The food security situation has dramatically deteriorated, and the risk of maternal and child mortality linked to lack of access to and quality of Services, and water- and vector-borne diseases, have increased. Nutrition needed to the pregnant women and infants become a major issue in such situations. Therefore, medical experts are proposing an intervention to bridge this gap as nobody is providing health and nutrition services at present in the flooded areas.
 
Over the past decades, the pattern of floods across all continents has been changing, becoming more frequent, intense and unpredictable for local communities, particularly as issues of development and poverty have led more people to live in areas vulnerable to flooding. The lives and livelihoods of many poor people are hardest hit by floods. The elected representatives MPAs’ have not even visited the flood-prone areas of their concern districts from where they have been elected. The people have been turning into psychological ailment due to unjustifiable distribution of the food among the affectees. On the other hand gastro infection have killed more than 11 people in Balochistan which includes women & children, but health department has taken no steps to stop such epidemic diseases throughout Balochistan. The politicians have been busy in hatching conspiracies against each other but the flood matter is left ignored. This is real time of supporting our brothers and sisters but unfortunately the elected representatives have left the masses in the lurch. [Pakistan Observer]
 
HBFC CONTRIBUTION
[Abdul Lateef, Rawalpindi]
 
The House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC) has announced Rs 250 million for the flood-affected people, Rs 100 million in cash and Rs 150 million in the mode of reconstruction. Indeed it is a nice announcement to get accolades from the government. But exactly one year ago, the HBFC declared itself ‘bankrupt’. How can it claim to make such contribution? Is this real or just a gimmick for publicity? Particularly in government circles, there is a tendency to add a zero in a figure to make it attractive or perhaps imposing. Perhaps, the HBFC management has also thought to make their contribution figure such an imposing one. [Daily Times]
 
INTERFERENCE IN RELIEF WORK
[Abrar Hussain, Peshawar]
 
Through your esteemed newspaper I want to draw the attention of authorities and head offices of NGOs towards a serious problem. Different NGOs strive and struggle to provide health facilities, food, shelter and other items to far-off people, especially affectees, but when they are doing so they are spoiled by the corrupt MNAs/MPAs and other senior members of society and thus the deserved remain undeserved and the things and help is facilitated to the elite. One wonders to see some of the people belonging to respected and well-off families run and try their best to reach himself to the items distributed. Staff of NGO dose not know who deserve and who does not, and thus they have to depend on them and they are always there to exploit. I am so worried, when will these people, especially the elite class feel the pain of the poor and deserving and will let them get their help without being interrupted and referred by them. By the word refer I mean when they are there it is all only reference which work nothing else. A poor will have waited for 12 hours and the one with approach will have access within two minutes. We are living a really senseless and ruthless life. Just put down a full stop.pl. [The Frontier Post]
 
FLOOD VICTIMS SELLING AID?
[Jehenzeb Zubair, Lahore]
 
Recently it was found that the flood affectees were selling the donated aid they had received to shopkeepers at lower prices. One Reuters’ reporter saw flour being unloaded in a market from a truck labelled ‘Relief Goods for Flood Affected People, from Islamic Relief’. Now what are we supposed to believe after this incident? Have some flood affectees received more aid than they actually needed, which is why they are selling it to meet their other needs, such as clothing, etc, not being provided for by donors? Or is someone else posing as flood affectees selling this aid for personal benefit? Whatever the reasons may be, this news will certainly affect Pakistan’s credibility and influence the amount of aid being received from other countries. [Daily Times]
 
FLOODS: ENDEAVOUR TO REACH VICTIMS
[Peerzada Khurram, Islamabad]
 
It is heartening to see a substantial response to flood devastation from all segments of society, especially the corporate sector. I have even seen young schoolchildren from prosperous families collecting donations for flood victims. It is very heartening to see that during the past few weeks many corporate enterprises have shown keen interest and begun tangible efforts for the relief and rehabilitation of the flood-affected people. While skimming through the news and the Internet, I came to know about various initiatives, generous donations and volunteer work being carried out by conscientious and proactive business establishments. The suffering families are in immediate need of tents and ready-to-eat food packs containing nutritious and less perishable consumables like high-energy biscuits, ‘sheermaals’, bottled water and healthy drinks. Such food packs can last for over 10 days, providing sustenance and nourishment for the victims.
 
Hygiene kits are also needed which may contain basic medicine, insecticides, mosquito nets and repellents, towels, soaps and detergents and other items of daily use. Dry food ration packs are also useful for people taking refuge in temporary shelters. Other essential food stuff that may be delivered is flour, cooking oil, sugar, tea, etc. I recently read about the largest relief initiative from the corporate sector. This relief package amounts to Rs85 million. Additionally, it is delivering hundreds of temporary shelters, costing over a million dollars. These will serve as comfortable and sturdy accommodation for the displaced families. This corporate sector leader has so far reached 4,800 suffering families to provide them with daily necessities and physical assistance through volunteers and with the help of armed forces and NGOs. It is actively delivering help in and around the worst-affected areas like Multan, Muzaffargarh, Charsadda, Swat, Sukkur and many more. Such commendable efforts from the corporate enterprises should be appreciated, encouraged and replicated by all segments of society. Every citizen, in his individual capacity, should contribute and work towards sharing the grief and alleviating the miseries of the flood victims. [Dawn]
 
FLOOD STUDY NEEDED
[Dr Alfred Charles, Karachi]
 
Since we have suffered massive destruction and huge loss in the recent floods, now it is time to do something serious. Both the federal and provincial governments should initiate some work through technical studies. Relevant data must be collected immediately and after the analysis they should forward their recommendations. Although we proudly say that we have a great irrigation system, now we have to look through our weakness and failures. The British had built most of our systems and for long nothing has been changed. We did not even try to do something for the strengthening of embankments and dykes. The present flood commission should be resurrected from its deep sleep.
By taking such measures we can prevent such situations in future. [Daily Times]
 
RELIEF AID
[Abdul Aalee, Lahore]
 
I was shocked to know that the sister concern company of Orascom in Pakistan has donated 10 million rupees to military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s Foundation for flood affectees. The man who has lost his credibility by demolishing democracy, banning media and targeting judiciary in Pakistan is no more credible to get donations for good use. Most of the pledges are promised by dictator’s friends who got benefited during his regime. Mobilink is the only corporate entity who has given donation to him. The company has not pledged a single penny in PM’s relief fund that proves they must have got some favours during Musharraf’s regime and now is paying back to him. [The Post]
 
AN UNENDING WISH LIST
[Abdullah Umar, Islamabad]
 
The absence of the government in helping the flood affectees has had an irreversibly appalling effect on the psyche of the affectees who do not trust the government any more. I see no harm in the need felt by the army to bridge the gap between the armed forces and the civilians. Is this not what the civilian government ought to do as well? Despite having all the powers, why does it remain unable to act? The people need tangible steps for which the government needs to adopt action that beats the army on rehabilitation grounds, not hurl written and verbal assaults on those who are trying to assist. [Daily Times]
 
FLOODS: RAVAGES AND RESPONSE
[Sumaira Nazir, Faisalabad]
 
The ongoing flood destruction has made the ravaged areas a hell to live in. Natural calamities cannot be avoided but their disastrous aftermaths can be overcome. After floods, extreme epidemic diseases, loss of agriculture, serious damage to livestock, destruction of houses, deterioration of physical infrastructure, loss of institutions, etc, are on the crust. I appreciate the role of all the segments of civilian society, print and electronic media, showbiz, philanthropists, national and international NGOs, international community and, above all, the commendable performance of armed forces. The government is also doing well, but If we take some leaves from the past it would be quite on the cards that our leaderships had done nothing solid for the restoration of life in the flood-striken areas in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and end 1990s floods. More solid, ediant steps and long-term policies by the government are imperative. So that with the passage of time, the flood-ravaged people would not be left in the lurch. Rise government, take solid steps and feel the difference! [Dawn]
 
CHARTERED FLIGHTS
[Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]
 
Every other day, one comes across pictures of the rulers flying in helicopters to the flood hit areas to ‘help’ the people affected by the massive destruction. It will be of great interest to the public if the government calculates the cost of these chartered flights and the actual relief money being spent on the flood victims. [Daily Times]
 
RELYING ON BUREAUCRACY
[Raja Masroor Hassan Qazi, Karachi]
 
I simply fail to understand why the government is largely depending on the existing lethargic and inconsistent bureaucracy at a time when relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts are direly required. Instead of coming up with alternative options to save the flood-affected people from hunger and dreadful diseases, the government is only paying lip-service to the solution of the problem. The volume and magnitude of the disaster is so immense that it is simply beyond the capacity of the district governments to deal with it effectively, especially in view of the time-tested bureaucratic tactics of delay and postponement. In post-colonial societies, the bureaucracy has emerged as an instrument of exploitation by a hierarchy of individuals. It is high time the democratically elected government improved its democratic credentials by sincerely serving the people, instead of relying on a system which is the legacy of our colonial masters. If the present government believes in democratic discourse, it must initiate a democratic policy of giving people their basic right to a decent life, particularly in these trying and testing times. [The News]
 
BALOCHISTAN FLOOD
[Madiha Wahid, Karachi]
 
The most deprived province of Pakistan was once again ignored in the recent devastating floods in Pakistan. The major portion of donations and aids that was collected by different NGOs and private sector has been granted to other provinces due to their strong position and political significance. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has banned international donor agencies, aid organisations and NGOs from directly assisting the flood-affected people of the provinces, which is purely an act of discrimination against the province. The current situation in the eastern parts of Balochistan is appalling, with more than 1.1 million IDPs, particularly children, are suffering from various diseases including, hepatitis B, C, malaria, pneumonia and lack of food and proper medical facilities. Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani has stated that 40 percent of the US aid will be spent on Balochistan. Moreover, Chief Secretary Nasir Mehmood Khosa also demanded the federal government to double its annual grant but none of these efforts brought any positive result. The immediate priorities are shelter, food, clean drinking water and sanitation, which need to be provided to all flood victims regardless of geography. [Daily Times]
 
PROVIDING RELIEF TO MINORITIES
[Jaffar Naqvi, Lahore]
 
“You are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” This was said by our beloved Quaid while addressing the Constituent Assembly on Aug 11, 1947. The recent floods have affected not only the Muslim population of Pakistan but also the minorities, who are equal citizens of this country. It has been reported that relief has not been forthcoming for these unfortunate souls and even governmental agencies are bypassing them. This is not only against the sayings of our Quaid but also against basic human rights. There should be no discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, religion or sect. The minorities have played a very vital role in the progress of this country. Be it the fields of science, commerce, finance or sports. They are as loyal to this country as ‘you and me.’ It is time we started giving the respect and protection the minorities deserve, or remove the white portion in our national flag. [Dawn]
 


 
Issue of the Month: Taxing the disaster
 
UNJUST NEW TAXES
[A Concerned Citizen]
 
Reading the newspaper, it came to my attention that the government is working on new taxes as a result of the damage of floods. The proposed taxes involve two percent tax on imports and 5-10 percent tax on the income of current taxpayers. Kudos to the government for finding new ways for fleecing the people already burdened. With cost-push inflation reaching sky rocketing figures, the government has decided to take the easy way out by suppressing the weak. Why does the government not impose agriculture tax on the Bhuttos, Junejos and other waderas of Sindh and the Chaudhrys of Punjab as not all land owners lost their land? Also, GST is not being properly collected. There are many fast food outlets and other retail shops whose turnover exceeds the minimum threshold, but they do not collect the required GST. Luxury tax on imported cars, expensive food, etc, at a federal level and not only provincial level should also be imposed. I request the Supreme Court of Pakistan to use the principles of fairness and justice not to allow the government to impose new taxes. We do not have any problem in paying taxes as long as we know they are fair and just. [Daily Times]
 
FLOOD TAX
[Tariq, Peshawar]
 
I am enraged at the idea of a flood tax on urban properties. Instead of taking ad-hoc measures like these, the government should come up with more tangible and realistic decisions that go to the root cause of the problem. For starters, let the government expand the tax, rather than go along the no-tax-paying culture in Pakistan, for which our successive governments are squarely to blame. Laws requiring the levying of taxes and enforcement of tax collection exist on our statute books, but the government has absolutely no will or intention to ensure their effective implementation. As a result, we have an abysmally low tax-to-GDP ratio and only a miniscule fraction of taxable people file their returns annually. Even those returns have gross under-declarations of income, which are never probed or confronted. This is due mainly to the inactive role of the Federal Board of Revenue.
Given that the government is responsible for Pakistan’s abysmal rate of tax collection, it would be extremely unfair to expect ordinary citizen to cough up amounts as high as Rs50,000, Rs100,000, or even more, in one go, merely by virtue of the fact that they happen to own a large house. Instead, in the short term, the FBR may devise some mechanism to collect or withhold small amounts of tax from daily transactions like bank withdrawals and purchase of assets, so that the burden of tax is distributed among many, rather than a few being burdened with amounts which are unaffordable. [The News]
 
FLOOD TAX PROPOSAL
[Muhammad Javed, Karachi]
 
President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari has proposed a flood tax for early rehabilitation of millions ruined by the current devastating floods. It is really a very good proposal of him. However the masses since already are under numerous unaccountable direct and indirect taxes this proposal would definitely meet criticism and may not produce that effects as President wishes. Alternatively I humbly propose that the President may enact a mandatory disclosure and declaration of each and every asset, palace, flat, business, income, bank account every Pakistani has abroad and a proper levy of tax on that. Likewise our President and the PM whose hearts we all know are shedding tears on the sufferings of masses will enact taking the advantage of their majority in assembly that no one having a dual nationality, foreign nationality, having foreign business etc will have the right to contest any election as one who can not trust keeping his money-business-children in Pakistan, cannot serve this country honestly. [Pakistan Observer]
 
FLOOD TAX AND THE SALARIED CLASS
[Abrar Ahmed, Karachi]
 
There is no doubt that whenever a country becomes a prey to a severe natural calamity, indeed it is incumbent upon all of its citizens to bear the full brunt of it on their own. To me, it should be so. No one knows who can be affected tomorrow. If you help the flood-affected people today, tomorrow they will help you. But what else can a nation do as the rulers think the other way. It is the reason that they have been trying to render them pauper by different methods? Take the case of Pakistan, its majority of people were already leading lives quite below the poverty line and the ratio of committing suicides in have-nots is on the rise. No sooner did the present government come into power, it left no stone unturned to make a hell of the life of the poor by exorbitantly increasing the prices of items of common use.
 
May Allah forbid me not to tell a lie that the present government has made increases in the prices of each and every item of daily use by not less than two hundred percent, which were available at considerably reduced rates during the Musharraf regime. After all, it is not good here to make a comparison between the prices of Musharraf regime and in the present regime as we know all very well about them. The salaried class is already very much perturbed at the hands of low purchasing power of Pakistani rupee. It is to say that their salaries are in thousands but nothing is left with them after purchasing of monthly groceries, paying utility bills and education and tuition fees on which the government is planning to levy 10% surcharge on income tax or flood tax? It is not understood from which source will the salaried people bear this additional tax? By doing so, the government will bring more miseries to them.
 
It is true that the recent floods have wreaked havoc amongst more than twenty million Pakistanis. But it will be tantamount to inflicting more wrongs upon the salaried class if the government levies more taxes on it. In this connection, it is its bounden duty to broaden its tax network and try to include all those Pakistanis in it, who have enough resources/incomes but do not pay any tax. Side by side with it, the government should also take pains in bringing back many billions of dollars lying abroad. This money belongs to the country which has been looted from here and deposited in foreign banks. To me, if the government succeeds in bringing this money back to Pakistan, indeed there will be no need to levy more taxes on its poor people as its elite pay little or no tax.
[Business Recorder]
 
NEW TAXES
[Abdeali Nafar, Karachi]
 
With devastating floods confronting the country’s fragile economy, where billions are required to provide succour to the affected and repair infrastructure, the government is contemplating fresh taxation measures to help overcome the disaster. On the anvil is reportedly an enhanced tax rate on imports and enhancing the tax rate on the salaried classes. Both these measures, if adopted, would result in galloping inflation on the one hand while bringing miseries to the salaried classes, who are already burdened with heavy taxes. In fact, this occasion should be harnessed to the fullest by making the provincial governments tax the until now exempted agricultural sector.
 
With this sector having a weightage of 20 per cent in our GNP, it can bring about a windfall by taxing the feudal lords living regal lives for the past so many years of our chequered history. Secondly, if only the FBR performs its work with honesty, plugging the leakages, our system can yield another fabulous sum. These two efforts, if explored in all sincerity, can in the times to come even enable our government to get rid of both external and internal borrowings. But who will bell the cat is the million - dollar question. [Dawn]
 
PUT A GUN IN YER POCKET AND…SHOOT YOURSELF!
[Javed, Karachi]
 
President Asif Ali Zardari has proposed a flood-tax for early rehabilitation of millions ruined by the current unprecedented floods. It might be a good proposal but for the ordinary masses already wilting under the burden of numerous unaccountable direct and indirect taxes, this is may be one too many. The proposal that good Mr Zardari has come up with due to sheer nobility of heart and utmost sincerity, might not produce the desired results. So here is what I propose in the stead for satisfying President’s deep and profound anxiety for the cause of the flood-affected. I propose that the President himself may enact a mandatory disclosure & declaration of each and every asset, palace, flat, apartment, business and bank account that every Pakistani has here and abroad and impose a fixed levy on that.
 
The enactment must contain a clause that if anyone has misdeclared, or concealed any details in the declaration and the press comes up with a disclosure of that, the entire local property/bank accounts of that person and his family (husband/wife/children/parents) would be forfeited and 20% of the bounty so accrued will be given to those who make that disclosure. The levy of this tax will not only bring more money than we would ever be able to collect through a flood tax but also encourage a culture of probity and forthrightness. As we all know, this is exactly what has been the lifelong mission of Mr Zardari. [The Nation]
 
FLOOD TAX
[Altaf Hussain Pinjaro, Sanghar]
 
The president of Pakistan has directed the Sindh government to levy flood tax on the people possessing certain properties including houses in the areas which have been spared by devastating floods. The areas which have remained safe from the scourge of floods include Sanghar, Badin, Umar Koat, Mirpur Khas, Tando Allahyar, Karachi and Hyderabad. The government instead of squeezing the people dry should rather curtail its expenditures. But like its predecessors this government is also embarked upon a course of corruption, mismanagement and arrogance.
[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]
 
SEWERAGE PROBLEM
[Hafiz Muhammad Noman, Karachi]
 
I would like to raise a very important matter concerning my area (Gulshan-e-Hadeed, Karachi). As time passes, the population increases and so do the problems; one of them is sewerage. Although the area in Gulshan-e-Hadeed was allotted to the employees of the steel mills, due to constant chaos in the steel mills, many employees availed the Voluntary Retirement Facility and sold their houses. When buyers came, they made alterations in the houses according to their needs or increased the floors and rent. The gutters have started to overflow because the City District Government (CDG) has not upgraded the sewerage system.
 
Due to the overflow of the sewerage water, not only are pedestrians in trouble, but the dirty water is also affecting the main road. The breakage of the road causes accidents and affects vehicles too. When the residents of the area complained to the Union Council (UC) office, they declared it the responsibility of the steel mills authorities, whereas the steel mills authorities claim that the UC office is responsible. I request the concerned authorities to take note of this important matter.
[Daily Times]
 


 
 
THERE IS SUCH A THING AS CSR
[Hashim Abro, Islamabad]
 
Last week, I had the opportunity to visit various flood-hit parts of the country including KP and Southern Punjab. I was with a group from a leading international relief organization. The role being played by the national and international non-governmental organizations, in collaboration with the government, as well as with local social workers is simply commendable. This week, I then had another opportunity to visit seven flood-hit districts in my home province of Sindh including Larkano, Kambar/Shahdad Kot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Dadu, and Ghotki. I was shocked to see that none of the leading national or international non-governmental organizations were present anywhere to do relief activities of any sort.
 
A lot of local NGOs, CBOs, local associations and social workers of Sindh-origin, though, were busy here in relief activities day in and day out. They have been feeding and caring for their own brothers from their own meager sources. Regrettably, the government is totally absent.
Even the revenue and irrigation officials, who are notorious here for their massive financial corruption, are not visible anywhere. None from government is there to offer any assistance or advice to the displaced, homeless and diseased.
 
It is a known fact that around two dozen national and multinational oil and gas companies are exploring oil and gas from this resource-rich province of Sindh but their role has also been dismal. I think these companies could have taken this opportunity to launch a Sindh Flood Relief Project from the amount that is mandatory under contract for them to spend out of their annual profits for welfare of the community. No such initiative has been launched as yet. If they could stop the fun and frolic in the name of relief to launch instead an initiative of food relief, providing immediate and personal hunger aid including ready-to-eat meals to the flood victims, the catastrophe of people dying of hunger can be averted. It is proposed that ‘langar camps’ may be set up for the IDPs of floods.
The national and international non-governmental organizations, particularly companies in oil and gas sector are appealed to exercise their social responsibility. They should not neglect the needy people of Sindh, the place from where they make most of their profits. [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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