Saviours not aliens

Dr. Hassnain Javed

July 31, 2018

 

 

 

“Our object in the construction of State is the greatest happiness of the whole and not that of any one class.” (Plato)

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is considered to be a major breakthrough for the Pakistani economy. But, very few are acquainted with the real forces behind actualising this idea and ensuring the project process for successful completion. Many soldiers have lost their lives for the safe execution of this safe haven for Pakistan.

So what is the real happening behind the scenes? Is the Pakistani army actually playing a major role in the actualisation of CPEC.

To address these questions I have divided my opinion under three domains which includes managing civilians, ensuring security and project execution.

It is evident from a series of historic events that the Pakistani army has always played a major role in managing the squabbling civilians. Moreover, army chiefs are in regular contact with all the stakeholders of CPEC related projects to monitor project statuses and progress.

Likewise, there are many militant groups including India’s proxies who are always engaged in interrupting the affairs of CPEC and making schemes to disrupt the ongoing projects. Although some attacks were successful but if we see deeply the major attacks have been won by Pakistan army which in return guarded the CPEC projects. Indeed upon closer inspection there is a profound history attached with the signing of CPEC project between the two countries.

Even before CPEC, Pakistan and have maintained long friendly relations for about six decades. But the major concern expressed by China before the signing of this project was links between Pakistani militants and the ethnic Uyghur Islamic militants which have traces from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The Chinese authorities were very much concerned about the presence of ETIM in the Pakistan territory. Moreover, China was of the belief that these militants group and fighters get training from Pakistan before they cross into Xinjiang to carry out attacks.

The ETIM is an Islamist militant group associated with the Turkistan Islamic Party. The group has its main agenda to establish an independent “East Turkestan” an independent Islamic state within China. In addition, Chinese officials afraid that this group could target Chinese development projects in Pakistan and either kill or kidnap Chinese nationals to take revenge for crackdowns on ETIM in China.

After taking into account the reservations of the Chinese authorities for project initiation the Pakistani army launched a strong military operation against Al-Qaeda associated militant groups which includes ETIM as well in Pakistan’s North Waziristan area. Moreover, the Pakistani army launched Zarb-e-Azab operation in North Waziristan and successfully eradicated almost of all the militant groups involved in creating problems for Sino-Pak relationships. The successful operation by Pakistan Army resulted in the signing of CPEC, which will be a monumental boost in their economy.

Besides this, there are thousands of soldiers and hundreds of intelligence officers that are appointed to work and manage the prevailing security situation along the western route and in Gwadar. In addition, the Pakistani army has also played an imperative role in the successful pilot run with truck convoys reaching Gwadar unharmed.

Apart from this, our military constitutes of thousands of civil, mechanical, electrical and software engineers with decades of expertise in the domain of building large infrastructural projects. According to an analyst at the Financial Times, the Pakistani military is well placed to monitor, control and supervise the corridor. Indeed Pakistan Army’s Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) is involved in building challenging roads which will serve as significant parts of the CPEC. Apart from the CPEC route in the mid-sixties this organisation also placed and executed the idea of constructing a strategic road link between China and Pakistan which connects China through Khunjrab Pass.

In addition, FWO is quite active in building extensive road networks in Balochistan approximately 900 kilometres long, which aims at bringing peace and prosperity in the region. Furthermore, FWO has built approximately 502 kilometres in length on the western alignment of CPEC which links Gwadar with other parts of the country. Likewise, this organisation has further taken up the challenge to extend the perks of Gwadar port to the rest of the country by constructing roads in rugged mountainous terrain, highly remote and inaccessible areas.

It is imperative to recognise that the Pakistan army is playing a significant role at different fronts not only safeguarding the borders and providing protection to our society. Indeed, they are also ensuring the progress and its completion of major projects such as CPEC. Moreover, they are trying to encapsulate all economic growth drivers with aid of their leadership skills and also using its power and influence to bring all stakeholders, politicians and civil servants under one umbrella to give birth to developed and better Pakistan.

Is the water crisis technical or political?

Dr. Hassnain Javed

July 12, 2018

 

 

 

Water constitutes 70 percent of our planet. However, fresh water, safe drinking water, the water we bathe in, the water we use to irrigate our farms is in reality rare.

Water is an essential component that connects with every aspect of life. Approximately 1.1 billion people across the globe lack access to water and a total of 2.7 billion find themselves water insecure for at least one month a year. Moreover, insufficient sanitation is also a problem for 2.4 billion people who are exposed to diseases like cholera, typhoid and many other water-borne illnesses.

According to recent statistics, nearly two million people, the majority of them children, are dying each year due to diarrheal diseases only. Furthermore, one of nine people around the world lack access to safe drinking water; one of three people in developing economies lack access to a toilet.

Moreover, many of the water systems that keep ecosystems blooming, and can potentially feed a growing human population, have become stressed. The beautiful rivers, lakes and aquifers are becoming dry and polluted over time. Also, more than half of the world’s wetlands have vanished. In reality, agriculture is consuming a major chunk of water, and due to inefficiency in the methodology adopted, a lot of water is wasted. Besides this, climate change and its altering trend is another element causing shortages and drought in some areas.

With the given situation and ever-increasing consumption rate, it is believed that this situation is going to get worse and by 2025 more than two-thirds of the world population may have to face water shortages.
Thus, besides all the challenges that Pakistan is currently facing, the water crisis is a major issue that requires immediate attention and meaningful regulations. According to the World Resource Institute, Pakistan is ranked among the top five countries that are suffering from extreme water scarcity and very low access to safe drinking water and sanitation. According to the latest report by the United Nations, Pakistan ranks on the list of countries where shortage will destabilise and endanger its existence in the next few years. Moreover, three-fourths of Pakistan’s population lacks access to safe drinking water. There are issues of water scarcity and its interlinked diseases in both urban and rural settings.

This serious issue is generally left unaddressed even by the political parties who don’t give heat to this important issue in their designed manifestos. Likewise, whenever there is a discussion about the constructions of dams as a proposed solution and gateway to this crucial problem, it gets politicised. Indeed, beyond the construction of new dams if we have a look at the current dams they are not even properly managed. The mega dams of Pakistan at Tarbela and Mangla were constructed more than 40 years ago, and over time their storage capacity is falling short primarily due to slitting and sedimentation. Currently, these dams can only store 30 days of average water demand in contrast to 220 days in India.

There is a long list of factors that have contributed to water crisis which include lack of proper management of existing dams, the old traditional system of canals and barrages, mismanagement of water resources and policy flaws.

Apart from this, the research conducted at Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources estimates that Pakistan may run dry if the current situation is not addressed. Pakistan is an agro-based economy and is in dire of water for agricultural lands in rural settings. The mounting water crisis has severely affected the agriculture sector of Pakistan, and according to a latest economic survey of Pakistan, agriculture is currently contributing 21 percent to total GDP of Pakistan. Furthermore, 47 per cent of employment generation to the total population of Pakistan is from the agriculture sector. Likewise, the majority of Pakistan’s export goods rely on agriculture like 70 per cent of the export share is from the agricultural sector. It implies that agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy and the agriculture sector is dependent on water. Therefore, water scarcity results in severe economic distress to the country’s economy. Moreover, a research conducted by Water Resources of Pakistan has found that approximately $70 billion worth of water is wasted every year due to the non-availability of water reservoirs.

The water crisis is also affecting the urban areas. Other than the administrative flaws in water regulations, Pakistan’ s all-time enemy is also adding salt to the wound. On many occasions, we have experienced serious violations of the Indus Water Treaty, such as when India built dams on western rivers that flow into Pakistan; the Baglihar and Kishanganga dams, built on Chenab and Jhelum, may lead Pakistan to lose a significant share of water.

Besides this, politicians and analysts attach all loopholes in water resource management to the policies made by the serving government or previous regimes. There are very few economists and policymakers who address this concern.

China, despite ranking among the world’s largest populations, has effectively implemented the reforms to take care of the matter. Likewise, Singapore has followed the strategy of four taps and Japan has invested heavily in water-saving technology. Now, Pakistan also has sufficient water around the year which needs proper storage to be filtered and reused rather than being spoiled. Internationally, many economies are adopting the strategy of water-pricing. Pakistan can also take this note.

To conclude, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has proposed the development of lesser levelling technology and furrow bed irrigation which translates into 30 per cent water saving and also can drive the productivity by 25 per cent in Punjab. Pakistan as a nation has to make a collaborative effort and widen its scope and horizon to achieve water availability.