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Creating a citizen-led market for welfare

Let citizens, not the state, decide the allocation of public money to civil society organizations


As CSOs get more funding, they would become the dominant suppliers of welfare. iStock photo

As CSOs get more funding, they would become the dominant suppliers of welfare. iStock photo

What is the best way to help others? Basically there are three options:

1. Help myself—directly help others with my time, energy and money

2. Help a charity—give my time and/or money to a charity

3. Help the State—give my money as taxes for the government to provide help

When I ask which of the three ways is better for helping others, the overwhelming majority selects the options 1 and 2.

Hardly anyone chooses the third option of government-run welfare. Between the first two options, usually a younger audience prefers the first one and a more mature one, the second option.

In principle, private welfare is better than state welfare but hardly anyone wants to rely on it in practice.

Could the sensible in principle be made feasible in practice? Is it possible to re-imagine the welfare system where there is assurance of support to all who need it but which also depends more on options 1 and 2? Could we design a system that aligns the practice with the principle?

To guarantee support to all who need it, we cannot rely fully on individual efforts (option 1), we need organized effort (option 2). Instead of relying on the State, we would rely on civil society organizations (CSOs). We need to harness the diversity and depth of CSOs to ensure help for all.

Even the best-run welfare state would be bureaucratic, impersonal and most likely to employ a one-size-fits-all approach. It would lack customization or personalization and it would be unable to provide emotional, moral, socio-psychological or behavioural support. The CSOs could customize support to individual needs and provide not just material but also moral support that an individual requires to get back on his feet. This is the reason CSOs are preferred over welfare bureaucracy.

However, CSOs lack the one critical power that the State has: the power to tax.

Even though CSOs are superior in self-help delivery, we cannot rely on them since their funding is unpredictable. We cannot be certain that they will be able to raise all the necessary funding from philanthropy.

How do we ensure sufficient funding to CSOs? Certainly the funding would have to come from tax revenue. But the direct state funding of CSOs would create myriad problems—corruption, change in focus from the people to the funders, declining independence and effectiveness.

How could we increase public funding of CSOs without state control? Let citizens, not the State, decide the allocation of public money to CSOs. The CSOs receive “public funding”, not “state funding”.

We set a rule that every citizen could allocate x% of her annual tax dues to CSOs. Citizens pay direct and indirect taxes. Theoretically, it is possible to calculate the total of direct and indirect taxes that a citizen pays, so each and every citizen would have some money to allocate to CSOs. For the simplicity of exposition, let us just focus on direct taxes. So at the end of the year, I fill out my tax return and I send a cheque of (1-x)% to the government and “donate” x% of my taxes to CSOs of my choice.

The CSOs would have to compete for these “tax donations” by providing information about their work and effectiveness. A public-private entity, let us call it India Swavalamban Sangathan (ISS), could collect, verify and rate CSOs so that citizens can make informed choices.

One can visualize a variety of aggregators and rating agencies performing the information and guidance role over a period of time. No one agency would have a monopoly on information and rating, and ISS analysis will always be available to citizens.

The government can continue to provide welfare through various transfer and subsidy schemes as it does currently from the remaining tax revenue. Over time, we would be able to compare the effectiveness of state schemes with that of CSOs. As citizens become more involved in understanding the work of CSOs and their impact, many of them may begin to give their own funds to supplement the tax money they allocate, a very important indirect benefit.

The public funding would help CSOs to build scale, specialization, and innovative solutions. Just as companies come in various shapes and sizes, the CSOs would also vary depending on the multitude of local and national factors. Some CSOs would be of the size of a large corporate and some of a start-up. What matters the most is the emergence of an ecosystem of CSOs that is as vibrant, innovative and effective as the ecosystem of enterprises. We would have a “welfare market” to match the “economic market”.

As CSOs get more funding from “tax donations”, they would become the dominant suppliers of welfare. The welfare system or rather the self-help system would rely more and more on the first two of the three options to help others—creating a citizen-taxpayer-led market for welfare.

Published as part of a series on the book Liberalism In India: Past, Present And Future published recently by Centre for Civil Society. The book is a collection of essays written in honour of the late S.V. Raju.

Parth J. Shah is founder president of the Centre for Civil Society.

ARGUMENT It Was a Corruption Election. It’s Time We Realized It. American politics is profoundly corrupt. Until we come to grips with that fact, the populists will keep winning.

ARGUMENT
It Was a Corruption Election. It’s Time We Realized It.

I have an odd perspective on the election of Donald Trump: a warped kind of déjà vu. For the past decade, I’ve worked on the issue of corruption around the world. In particular, I’ve spent a lot of time explaining that people who live in structurally corrupt political and economic systems are sometimes driven to extremes. I have always understood that the analysis was relevant in the United States — just maybe not how relevant.

In the past 10 years, populations have rejected “rigged systems” that had stood for decades. They have risen up in mass protests in Brazil, Guatemala, South Africa, and South Korea. They have overthrown their governments in open insurrections like the Arab Spring and Ukraine’s Maidan. Or they have fallen in behind self-proclaimed Robin Hoods such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. Occasionally, they have joined violent religious movements like the Islamic State or Boko Haram.

With Trump’s election, the United States just joined this list.

It might make his voters uncomfortable to hear that they’ve behaved much as my former neighbors in Kandahar, Afghanistan, who re-embraced the Taliban in their disgust at the corruption of Hamid Karzai’s government. Hillary Clinton voters might be equally upset to consider the degree to which the United States has come to resemble that regime or those of other corrupt countries I have been studying.

We Americans may not be subjected to shakedowns by the police, the judge, or the county clerk. But consider current realities: Networks that weave together public officials and business magnates (think the food or energy industries, pharmaceuticals, or Wall Street) have rewritten our legislation to serve their own interests. Institutions that have retained some independence, such as oversight bodies and courts, have been deliberately disabled — starved of operating funds or left understaffed. Practices that, while perhaps not technically illegal, clearly cross the line to the unethical, the inappropriate, or the objectively corrupt have been defended by those who cast themselves as bulwarks of reason and integrity.

How many of us have said — in any meaningful way — “That’s a red line!”?

Who among us refused, in the end, to take the money or make the excuses?

Who among us refused, in the end, to take the money or make the excuses?For me, the seminal moment came on June 27, when the Supreme Court overturned former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s conviction on corruption charges. A businessman had lavished luxury travel, designer clothes, a Rolex watch, and tens of thousands of dollars on McDonnell and his wife, apparently in return for their help persuading public universities to perform clinical trials on his company’s tobacco-based anti-inflammatory supplement.

The Supreme Court’s decision was unanimous. Not one of the eight justices could come up with a reason why such behavior might violate the law. None even thought the matter significant enough to warrant separate comment or a cry to our collective conscience: “Given the wording of the statute, I had to vote this way. But the legal definition of corruption has grown too narrow. These statutes had better change if America as we know it is to survive.”

Subsequent commentary was signally lacking in outrage. On NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show that day, for example, the guests (two legal scholars and a journalist) practically skipped over the McDonnell decision. Rehm had to push them to grapple with it. Their consensus seemed to be that if the standard enshrined in the lower court’s decision to convict McDonnell were to prevail, every politician in Washington would be liable.

Well, exactly.

These are moral issues. And the very laws we depend on to enforce what should be bedrock standards have sometimes undermined them. Do we reject corruption? Of course we do — just as we refuse to countenance torture. But then come the legal definitions. What counts as torture? How bad does it have to hurt? What do you mean by corruption? The head of an Egyptian business association once told me: “That’s part of the brilliance of corruption in Egypt; they make it legal!” The United States is going down the same road:

The laws we hold so dear have narrowed the definition of corruption almost to the point of irrelevance.

The laws we hold so dear have narrowed the definition of corruption almost to the point of irrelevance.Two candidates — Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump — made the word “corruption” central to their campaigns. Together they drew easily more than half of votes cast. Yet to use this word to describe America remains almost taboo in polite circles. In the hundreds of pages of post-election commentary, how often has it been emphasized?

One remark from 2013 says a lot about what has befallen America. When then Salon writer Alex Pareene described some of JPMorgan Chase’s practices as corrupt, CNBC host Maria Bartiromo slapped him down. “Should we talk about the financial strength of JPMorgan, at this point?” she wondered. “Even with all of these losses, the company continues to churn out tens of billions of dollars in earnings and hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. How do you criticize that?”

Indeed. How do you criticize money these days?

In a country full of sophisticated lawyers and lobbyists and rationalizers, it is now urgent to ask whether we still understand what corruption is. To say it’s what is proscribed by law is to fall into a logical sinkhole.

What does corruption mean when a senior public official receives gifts from foreign leaders, via an institution bearing her name, while she is making decisions regarding these same foreign leaders? How should someone like me talk about corruption overseas when five different police departments use force against peoples whose lands were stolen through repeated treaty violations, on behalf of a private company pleading the letter of property laws?

What is the definition of corruption when a bank defrauds millions of customers without losing its license? When 2 million American adults are behind bars for trivial offenses, their lives permanently derailed, while no legal institution has punished any executive for bringing about the collapse of the world economy?

It’s time to see past the rationales and the rhetoric. No matter who won our vote, we must come to grips with these questions.

Whatever our affiliation or walk of life, we must also, each of us, discover and hold on to that dividing line that marks off the reasonable compromises from the unacceptable.

For, like the people of Mosul in Iraq or northern Nigeria, who traded intolerably corrupt regimes for Islamist crusaders who were worse, Americans will wake up in January under a system that is more corrupt than the one that fueled their rebellion. That is the irony of resorting to a wrecking ball to bring down a corrupt regime. Too often, the kleptocratic networks prove resilient, while those who revolted end up with crushed heads.

Already, President-elect Trump’s questionable affiliations and potential conflicts of interest — as genteel vocabulary would have it — are making headlines. The issue is not one of technical legality or poor vetting. His actions and associations are deliberate. While tweeting out distractions to disguise the fact, he will unleash a feeding frenzy. Our laws and institutions will be bent to the purposes of personal enrichment. Industry lobbyists will draft the bills. He will negotiate business deals with foreign counterparts, confusing his personal interests for the good of the nation. Agencies that try to hold the line will see their budgets slashed, their officials belittled in public. Law enforcement will be even more selective than it is today. The labor of human beings, the land, and what’s on it or under it will be converted to cash as efficiently as possible. And what can’t be converted will be bulldozed out of the way.

And what will Americans do in the face of this exacerbation of our own brand of corruption?

And what will Americans do in the face of this exacerbation of our own brand of corruption? Will we further relax our standards, shrugging our shoulders and referring to the letter of ever-changing laws? Or will we reach for a definition of corruption that is in line with common sense and rebuild our foundations upon that bedrock?

Our answer to that challenge will determine whether this is a crisis the United States survives and from which it emerges renewed — or whether we lurch into some more violent and damaging cataclysm.

 

Assessing India’s water threat FAHIM ZAMAN | SYED MUHAMMAD ABUBAKAR

Blood and water can’t flow together,” declared a belligerent Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 26, 2016 in the wake of 19 Indian soldiers dying in a militant attack on Uri military base, just inside Indian-administered Kashmir. Holding Pakistan responsible for the violence, Modi promised to unshackle India’s policy of “restraint” — implying that India was now going to hurt Pakistan by choking its water supply.

For the people of Pakistan, a nation dependent upon agriculture for its survival, the Indus rivers are their lifeline. As it is, Pakistan is ranked second, after China, in the Water Shortage Index, highlighting the vulnerability of the Pakistani population to frequent water shortages. Modi’s proclamation generated lots of nationalistic hyperbole in the two nuclear-armed twins but also inflicted some damage: many on this side of the border are perturbed about Modi making good on his threat and stopping water supply to Pakistan.

Can Modi turn the taps off immediately?


Can Modi turn off the taps and choke Pakistan’s rivers?


Not quite.

The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960, which governs water sharing arrangements between India and Pakistan, outlines a framework for how either country can exploit water potential and how they can’t. While the Indus Waters Treaty is upheld, India cannot turn the taps off — in fact, it does not have the capacity at the moment to do so either — but it can definitely delay the release of water flows. And historically, India hasn’t been averse to using this tactic when relations with Pakistan turn sour. This time has been no different.

Also read: International Law on Water Rights

In a story printed in the October 12 edition of Dawn, irrigation department officials warned of a record reduction of water levels at Head Marala in the Chenab. The fear is that water shortage in the river and two of its canals, Marala-Ravi Link Canal and Upper Chenab Canal, can adversely affect the sowing of crops particularly in Sialkot, Gujrat, Gujranwala and Sheikhupura districts. The situation has worsened at the time of this report going into print.

The cultivation cycle in the subcontinent is divided into two seasons: khareef (monsoon) and rabi (winter). Khareef sowing starts in July or even June while the sowing of rabi crops begins in September and October, depending upon glacial melts and the amount of rains. The water flows in the Indus system varies exponentially in different months. Up to 90 per cent of flows can be accounted for during July to September.

For rabi crops such as wheat, pulses, onions, tomatoes and potatoes, timing is crucial. With October at an end, the record reduction of Chenab water flows can translate into delayed rabi sowing, which in turn will adversely impact produce for local consumption in the coming season and lead to price inflation.

In practical terms, consider this: tomatoes are being sold in the market at 25 rupees per kilo today; expect this price to rise manifold in the coming year. This is besides the food and income insecurity that thousands of growers in Punjab and Sindh will be pushed into.

A crisis is certainly brewing.

Beyond hyperbole and nationalistic fervour, the two South Asian giants need to be at the negotiating table. Normally a dispute like the one reported by Dawn on October 12 could have been resolved at a meeting of the Indus water commissioners, mandated by the Indus Waters Treaty to be held once a year. But the Indian assertion that these meetings will resume only once “an atmosphere free of terror is established” spells disaster for our farmers. The only safeguard that the Indus Waters Treaty offered Pakistan was through the Permanent Indus Commission whose meetings India has been routinely flouting under one pretext or the other. If the situation persists, Pakistan will have no option but to take the matter through the cumbersome route of World Bank and international arbitration. All through this period, India will enjoy undue exploitation of water resources at the expense of the people of Pakistan.

What can India not do?

Caught in nationalistic fervour, hawks in the Indian media have been blaming their previous governments for failing to exercise a water offensive like the one PM Modi is intent on implementing.

Indeed, India can hypothetically terminate the Indus Waters Treaty and restrict even the rivers flowing into Pakistan through the diversion of Indus rivers waters. But when it comes to practice, this position remains untenable.

The waters of the Indus rivers flow through deep gorges of the Karakoram and Himalayan mountains. The only way to divert water from here is to tunnel through hundreds of kilometres of the world’s highest and toughest mountains.

Granted that all technical problems have technical solutions. However such an undertaking would be financially prohibitive, technically extremely challenging, and with minimal cost-benefit ratios. The longest tunnel dug in the world is the Gotthard Base Tunnel to facilitate rail travel. Although it is being drilled for the last 22 years through the Swiss Alps, it is merely 57 kilometres long and has already incurred an estimated cost of 12 billion US dollars. For India to divert waters of the western Indus basin rivers for meaningful use, it will have to dig up to 300 kilometres of tunnels.

Source: Wapda
Source: Wapda

As such, diverting the water going into western rivers which feed Pakistan is not a feasible option.

In addition, India has remained part of the Non-Aligned Movement and prides itself in having contributed towards drafting many international conventions including the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses 1997, Helsinki Rules 1966 and their Berlin Revisions of 2004. Politically, an attempt to scrap the Indus Waters Treaty would bring massive international condemnation to India.

India’s planned infrastructure projects: how can they affect Pakistan?

While India may not have the capacity to turn off the taps immediately or divert the waters of the rivers flowing into Pakistan, it is undertaking a number of projects that could have an adverse impact on Pakistan’s water availability in the future.

The Indus Waters Treaty handed Pakistan the right to unrestricted use of the three western rivers — Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. The eastern rivers — Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — went to India. While the treaty allowed India to divert the waters of the eastern rivers, it could only tap into 3.6 MAF of water from the western rivers for irrigation, transport and power generation.

Experts at the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) complain that India has been constructing huge water storages on all six Indus basin rivers, not just on the three under its full control. For example, Baglihar and Salal on Chenab are already generating 450 MW/h and 690 MW/h respectively while the planned Bursar and Pakal hydroelectric projects also on the Chenab will produce 1020MW and 1000 MW/h respectively. The size of the energy outputs is an indication of the size of the projects. Pakistan’s Mangla, for comparison, generates 1000MW/h.

In all, India is in different phases of planning or construction of some 60 storages of varying capacity over the six Indus rivers, though analysis of satellite imagery obtained by Dawn suggests the number may be more [see map]. Technical experts in Pakistan worry that such storages will provide India ultimate strategic leverage of increasing or decreasing river flows during tensions between the two countries, even if it cannot legally divert the waters for its own use.

Sheraz Memon, additional commissioner of the Indus Water Commission, argues that India does not have sufficient capacity to withhold the water of the western rivers nor it can divert them. “But they may keep the implementation of the treaty at a snail’s pace, for example through delaying the meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission and not providing data or information about their new hydroelectric plants,” he warns.

There is also talk of expediting the construction of the Pakal Dul, Sawalkot, and Bursar dams, also in Jammu and Kashmir. Indian media reports claim that the Indian government might also resume work on the Tulbul Navigational Project — also known as Wullar Barrage — work on which began in 1985 but stopped soon after Pakistan lodged a formal complaint against its construction. Pakistan opposed the project at the time since it would have allowed India to store, control and divert River Jhelum, which was a clear violation of the Indus Waters Treaty. If completed, Tulbul will adversely affect the water storage potential of Mangla Dam.

Original sins

During 1956, Pakistani negotiators were warned by their irrigation officials and technical experts not to accede to Indian delegation chief ND Gulhati’s demand — also supported by the World Bank — to allow India to build small storages over the western rivers.

Until the signing of the treaty, the Indian predicament was that while Customary International Law and conventions gave them a legitimate right over 33 MAF or 21 percent of the six Indus rivers water — corresponding to 21 per cent of the Indus basin being in Indian territory — India had little room to utilise this water within the basin. The Indus Waters Treaty gave them an opportunity to divert water towards Rajasthan for irrigating over 700,000 acres of land which was previously bare sand dunes.

Explore: Historical follies – Where Pakistan went wrong in negotiating the Indus Waters Treaty

Before the Treaty, the waters of the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej were utilised for the cultivation of lands as far south as Bahawalpur State. Suddenly there was no water for thousands of farmers on this side of the border until Tarbela Dam was finally opened in 1976.

But Pakistani negotiators at the time acquiesced, on the pretext that this shared water would also benefit their Muslim brethren in Kashmir. Pakistani negotiators did not even bother to specify the size of the so-called small storages but agreed to India officially withdrawing up to 3.6 MAF of water for local use. In comparison, the current storage capacity of Mangla Dam, after expansion, is about 7.4 MAF.

Given the pliancy of Pakistani negotiators at the time, the Indus Waters Treaty emerged as a treatise that was skewed in favour of India. Perhaps it is for this reason that PM Modi announced that while India will not review or abrogate the Indus Waters Treaty, it will exploit water under its share to the fullest. It will, for example, build more run-of-the-river hydropower projects on the western rivers and irrigate over 400,000 acres in Jammu and Kashmir.

One thing seems certain: India will continue to build additional storages on the Indus rivers to store more than its allowed quota of up to 3.6 MAF of water. This will also provide hawks the option of delaying khareef crops in Pakistan from time to time. If the winters’ torment is harsh, delay in summers sowing would be a national crisis.

Looking within: what Pakistan needs to do

There is a real danger that current Indian antics will push Pakistan towards construction of very large dams at Diamer and Kalabagh, displacing more people and adversely impacting our environment which is already in a poor state.


“India is employing pressure tactics on Pakistan by announcing it will speed up dam construction,” argues Dr Pervaiz Amir, director of the Pakistan Water Partnership. “Pakistan must address its own internal water security and create sufficient storage. India has 200 projects in hand. Saving water is a planned response by India, and Pakistan should follow suit.”

But increasing storage capacity is not the same as storage capacity from large dams, which in any case is not the panacea that it is made out to be.

During the last 69 years, Pakistan has developed three major water storages at Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma with a cumulative storage capacity of 12.1 MAF against average water flows of 133 MAF annually through the three Indus rivers. There have been little or no independent studies to either assess or address the issues of resettlement, the massive loss to the environment and overall economic cost due to construction of large dams. In addition, issues of climate change —which have only recently come to the fore — raise questions about the risks posed to and by large dams. Freak weather conditions, such as unusually intense cloudbursts, are becoming more common and have already resulted in threats to people living downstream of large dams.

To add insult to injury, we have been ruthlessly pumping out underground water through tubewells. Such pumping is severely affecting the underground water levels in the country and often being replaced by saline water, adversely affecting agricultural output. The number of tubewells in Pakistan has risen from 2,400 to over 600,000 since 1960.

While we could continue to curse the World Bank bureaucracy, American interests in the region and Indian cunning for having deprived the country of its water share, we must also look at our own wasteful attitudes towards utilisation of available water resources as well as the politics around available water.

Pakistan loses almost half of its existing available water through seepage in the irrigation system [see table]. This is a prime cause of waterlogging and salinity which are turning large areas of fertile land barren. Surely lining of water canals and water courses should be the first priority in saving the water we have at our disposal, rather than the construction of large dams.

According to WAPDA’s published figures, average cereal production in Pakistan against a metre cube of water is mere 0.13 kg. In India, the same amount of water yields 0.39 kg, yield in China is estimated at 0.82 kg, in the US 1.56 kg and in Canada 8.2 kg [see table]. Clearly better management of water resources, efficient crop yields and serious efforts towards population control will be much more advantageous than building additional dams and storages that will ultimately result in catastrophic environmental issues and human resettlement crises as being faced in India and China.

The issue of water supply does not simply concern the two nuclear-armed neighbours. Tahir Rasheed, CEO of the South Punjab Forest Company (SPFC) and a senior environmentalist, warns that if the Indo-Pak water crisis spirals out of control, the friction can engulf other countries of the region as well, especially Afghanistan.

Read more: Speech by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on Riparian Rights in International Law

“Afghanistan is [currently] utilising 1.8 MAF of water [from the Kabul River which feeds into the Indus], which is estimated to rise to 3.6 MAF in the future,” says Rasheed. “Pakistan currently does not have any water sharing accord with its northwestern neighbor. But the projected increase of water use by Afghanistan can affect the lower riparian, Pakistan.”

In conclusion

The Indus Waters Commissioners of Pakistan and India have met every year since the Indus Waters Treaty came into force. The wars of 1965 and 1971, the Siachen and Kargil conflicts and the Mumbai attacks weren’t able to dent it. In standing the test of time, the treaty has shown that it generates the least conflict and more cooperation between the South Asian neighbours.

The chances of India scrapping the treaty altogether and diverting the western rivers are negligible to none. But one must not put past India its flouting the spirit of the treaty and manipulating water flows to turn the screws on Pakistan.

Pakistan’s response, however, should not be as cavalier as when it negotiated the treaty, ignoring sound technical advice and short-changing itself in the bargain. It needs to put its own house in order on an urgent basis — by better utilising its existing water resources. Pakistan’s protestations against India’s perfidy will then carry far more weight.

Fahim Zaman is a Dawn staffer.

Syed Muhammad Abubakar is an environmental journalist with an interest in climate change, deforestation, food security and sustainable development. He tweets @SyedMAbubakar.

Research and cartography (Dawn-GIS): Dr Nawaz Huda, Maliha Naz Rana, Khalid Hanif

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, October 30th, 2016

سکول کا سفر

تحریر: یہ تحریر ایس ایل ایل پی کے شاگرد وقاص خان کی ہے جو تعلیم کے ساتھ ساتھ ٹیوٹا کمپنی میں  کام کررہے ہیں۔

سکول کس چیز کا نام ہے؟سکول کے نام کا مطلب کیا ہوتا ہے؟سکول کی بنیاد کس مقصد کے بنا پر رکھی جاتی ہے؟سکول میں کیا کیا ہوتا ہے؟اچھے سکول کی کیا پہچان ہوتی ہے؟اچھا سکول مکمل کیسے ہوتا ہے؟سکول بنتا کیسے ہے؟آج کے سکولوں میں اور پرانے سکولوں کیا فرق تھا؟

ہمیشہ ہمارے بڑے یہ کہتے رہتے ہیں  ہمارے سکولوں کی بات ہی کچھ الگ ہوا کرتی تھی لیکن اب کے سکولوں میں  وہ بات نہیں رہی ہے۔لیکن ابو جی میں بس اتنا  جاننا چاہتا ہوں وہ بات کیا تھی جو اب کے سکولوں میں نہیں ہے۔

پہلے زمانے میں جب کبھی کسی سکول یا گاؤں میں یہ پتہ لگ جائے کہ سکول بننے والا ہے تو وہاں کے مقامی لوگوں کی تو جیسے عید ہو جاتی تھی مرد  عورتیں بچے مارے خوشی کے بے حال ہو جاتے تھے۔لیکن آج کے زمانے میں سب کچھ ہونے کے باوجود گلی گلی محلے  میں سکول،سکولوں کے نام خوب پیسہ کما رہے ہیں لیکن نہ ہی بچوں کو پڑھنے کا شوق ہے اور نہ ہی والدین کے اندر وہ شوق اور عزم ہے کہ ہم نے اپنے بچے کو پڑھانا ہے یہ ہیں آج  کے سکولز اور وہ تھا گزرے زمانے کا سکول ۔

ابو کے مطابق سکول اُس جگہ کو کہتے ہیں جہاں تعلیم د ی جائے  یا کچھ سکھایا  جائے ایسی جگہ کو سکول کا نام دیا جاتا ہے۔

سکول کی بنیاد ہم صرف سچ کی بنیاد پر رکھتے ہیں سکول بنانے کا مقصد ہمارے معاشرے ہمارے ملک میں آگاہی ہو ہمیں اپنے حق کا پتہ ہو ہمیں اچھائی اور بُرائی کی پہچان ہو ۔سکول ایک ایسا پلیٹ فارم ہوتا ہے جہاں ہمیں اپنے آپ کو تراشنے اور نکھارنے کا موقع ملتا ہے۔.

اب رہا سوال اچھے سکول کی پہچان کسی بلڈنگ سے نہیں ہوتی ہے جب ابو جان کے زمانے کے سکول ہوتے تھے تو بڑی بڑی بلڈنگ بنائی جاتی تھی جس میں سیروتفریح کے لیے ایک بڑا میدان ہوتا تھا اور ہر کلاس کا اپنا الگ الگ کلاس روم ہوا کرتا تھا۔اُستاد خوشگوار ماحول میں پڑھاتے تھے کبھی بھی اُستاد یہ سمجھ کر نہیں پڑھاتے تھے کہ سر سے ٖفرض ادا کرنا ہے  اور بس

سکول بنانا گورنمنٹ کا  کام ہوتا لیکن افسوس آج ہماری گورنمنٹ صرف اپنے گھر بنانے میں لگی ہوئی ہے امیر زادے صرف اپنی آمدنی کو بڑھانے کے لیے  پرائیویٹ سکول بنا رہے ہیں۔

ان سب حالات اور واقعات کے دیکھنے کے بعد میرے سکول کا سفر کچھ الگ  تھا۔میں نے ایس ایل پی سکول میں جب داخلہ لیا تو مجھے اپنا نام تک لکھنا نہیں آتا تھا میں بات بات پر شرماتا تھا میں پڑھانے والے اساتذہ کا مذاق اُڑاتا تھا میں گلی کا ایک اوارہ اور بگڑا ہوا بچہ تھا جس کو گالی نفرت مذاق کے علاوہ کچھ نہیں آتا تھا۔لیکن آج میں نہ صرف اپنا نام لکھ سکتا ہوں بلکہ جس سے ملتا ہوں وہ مجھے ایک سلجھا ہوا اور پڑھا لکھا نوجوان  کہتے ہیں آج میری سوچ  گلی والے اُس آوارے لڑکے کی نہیں بلکہ ایک پڑھی لکھی اور سمجھنے سوچنے والی ہے

اچھے سکول کی پہچان کسی اُونچی بلڈنگ سے نہیں ہوتی بلکہ آپ کو کتنا سکھایا اور سکھانے کا عمل کتنا معیاری تھا اس سے ہوتی ہے۔

The new Arabian Nights

Even Scherezade who told the stories of the Arabian Nights to King Shahrayar couldn’t have thought of this tale which has come before the Supreme Court. A prince of the ruling family, a former foreign minister of Qatar and shining light of the ruling Al-Thani family not without his own share of international scandals has put his name to a letter which if presented for inclusion in the Arabian Nights, Alf Laila Wa Laila, would have been rejected as too fanciful.

If the story in the letter which paints the Sharifs as purer than Snow White were carried atop the Himalayas it would flatten a peak or two, so heavy is the load it carries. When this masterpiece, for it is no less, was presented before their lordships they too could not contain their surprise and said that what the letter conveys is more hearsay than anything else.

In this post-edition of the Arabian Nights the four London flats which lie at the centre of the hearings currently taking place before the Supreme Court are conveniently attributed to the business acumen and vision of the PM’s father, the late Mian Muhammad Sharif.

He took up a business partnership with the Al-Thanis – before anyone had heard of the Sharifs as international tycoons – and so successful was that real-estate business that from its proceeds the London flats were bought. And in what is its most gripping part the letter says that in his lifetime the elder Mian Sharif had expressed the desire that proceeds from the business, including the four flats, should be inherited not by his three sons – Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and the late Abbas Sharif – but by his grandson, the Sharifs’ answer to the Rockefellers and Bill Gates, Hussain Nawaz Sharif.

In 2005-2006 the transfer of the flats to this genius was amicably affected. If this Booker Prize entry for best fiction of the year is accepted as the unvarnished truth it takes care of everything – no Nawaz Sharif incrimination, no Maryam Nawaz involvement in anything and no vexing questions about such trivia as money trail, etc.

The irrepressible Tehmina Durrani has tweeted that if the flats were in Abaji’s name Shahbaz Sharif too should have got his share of the inheritance. This is an interesting point because Mian Sharif died in October 2004 when the flats, if we are to believe the new Arabian Nights, were still jointly owned by the Qataris and Mian Sharif…and they had not been transferred to the enterprising Hussain Nawaz.

But the Shahbaz Sharif line got nothing. Does this mean that far from being in Mian Sharif’s name, the flats were the property of someone else? This is the main point the petitioners have to prove – the ownership of the flats before 2005. On this, in my untutored view, the whole case turns.

But regardless of how this Qatari gem comes to be treated in literary circles, one has to admire the fortitude and hardihood of the Sharifs. Lesser mortals, souls less endowed with confidence or that magic thing called audacity, would blush or be reduced to embarrassment given that with every Sharif there has been a different explanation of the London flats.

The daughter, the family’s brightest star, says one thing; the mother says another; and the brothers in their TV interviews, Alhamdolillah, something else. The PM himself, addressing the nation, adopts a line of defence at total variance with all the foregoing. When Emerson said that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds he could not have known how this wisdom would be applied by the Sharifs. If he could look into the future he would no doubt have revised his opinion. But as if all this was not enough, out of the blue now comes in his royal highness with a tale to beat all other tales.

But the unparalleled beauty of it is that on the faces of the knights concerned there is not the slightest shade of embarrassment. They say one thing and it is uttered with the utmost self-confidence. The story changes, previous explanations stood on their head, but the confidence, the chutzpah, remains the same. Leave the facts and the legalities to one side. The performance and style have to be admired.

What don’t we owe our military rulers? Look at their greatest gifts to the nation. They gave us the fruits of jihad and the ‘mujahideen’…who became the Taliban and parts of which later morphed into Daesh. And they gave us the Sharifs. The ‘mujahideen’, as we know, outgrew their creators. The Sharifs too have outgrown their mentors and benefactors, becoming bigger than them.

The Qatar connection of the present ruling lot as we know is very strong. The Qataris played a role in getting Nawaz Sharif out of Pakistan during Musharraf’s time. And there are many ongoing deals with the Qataris, including the gas deal in which Pakistan is locked for the next 15 years.

And I have a paper before me which says that Prince Hammad who has come to the defence of the Sharifs is in some kind of a business arrangement with that jack-in-the-box whose name keeps popping up whenever the business dealings of the Sharifs are spoken about: Saifur Rehman, who was Nawaz Sharif’s accountability chief during his second incarnation as prime minister. Like a bad dream which keeps recurring he refuses to go away.

Money and power have always been connected but never was the embrace tighter than in today’s Pakistan. Before Gen Zia’s advent to power the Sharifs were not in the front rank of Pakistani industrialists. The Ittefaq Group was known but it was not at par with any of the 22 families. Then came their admittance into Zia’s power circle and there was no stopping them…banks were more than generous and Mian Sharif was an astute businessman. Their factories multiplied and then somewhere on that road to power and glory the London properties came to be bought.

Enmeshed in the web of Panamagate an explanation was needed for the proprietorship of the flats which the Qatari prince, now on the verge of becoming a household name in Pakistan, has provided.

I don’t think he will ever be foolish enough to present himself in person before their lordships. That is not how Arab princelings go about their business, they not given to sticking their necks out more than necessary. So let’s see how this drama, for it is no less, plays out. The present ruling lot has escaped so much over the years, scandals that would have brought anyone else low. I’ve said it before but it can be said again: if the PPP had been thus embroiled it would have had the life squeezed out of it.

Or anyone else confronted with a tenth of this pressure would have undergone a meltdown. But we are talking of tough hides and some of the toughest consciences invented this side of the oceans.

Email: bhagwal63@gmail.com

اب بلوچستان

 

تحریر ساحرہ ظفر

پاکستان پانچ صوبوں پر مشتمل  اسلامی سرزمین ہے۔بلوچستان پاکستان کا وہ واحد صوبہ ہےجو رقبے کے لحاظ سے سب سے بڑا صوبہ ہے۔

اس کا رقبہ 347190 مربع کلو میٹر ہے جو پاکستان کے کل رقبے کا43.6فیصد حصہ بنتا ہے جبکہ اس کی آبادی 1998ءکی مردم شماری کے مطابق 65لاکھ65ہزار885 پر مشتمل تھی ۔اس وقت صوبے کی آبادی ایک محتاط اندازے کے مطابق90لاکھ سے ایک کروڑ کے درمیان ہے ۔قدرتی وسائل سے مالا مال بلوچستان محل وقوع میں اہم ترین صوبہ ہے اس کے شمال میں افغانستان، صوبہ خيبر پختو خواہ، جنوب میں بحیرہ عرب، مشرق میں سندھ و پنجاب اور مغرب میں ایران واقع ہے ۔اس کا 832کلو میٹر سرحد ایران اور 1120کلو میٹر طویل سرحد افغانستان کے ساتھ ملا ہوا ہے ۔ 760کلو میٹر طویل ساحلی پٹی بھی بلوچستان میں ہے۔

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