Amateur butchers and economic losses

Hassnain Javed

8/28/2017

The Islamic festival of Eid-ul Azha is an event celebrated in commemoration of the sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) for the will of Allah. Among all the festivities a large amount of revenue is generated by the butchering community who slaughter animals in return for substantial amounts. A noticeable scenario recently, is the turning of local cobblers, blacksmiths etc. into butchers. Many times these men, greedy to fill up their pockets, become butchers without any proper training or professional experience. These amateur and inept butchers then end up damaging the skins and hides of sacrificial animals which is a major loss to Pakistan’s growing economy.

Leather produced in Pakistan has been appraised of being of high quality with the industry playing a significant role in helping the economy contributing 5 per cent to the GDP. According to the Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA), Pakistan earns about $1.2 billion from hides and skins annually. However damage inflicted to the skins of sacrificial animals in the form of scratches, or their inappropriate handling as a result of the incompetence or negligence of the butcher proves to be highly detrimental. Compensations become compromised, not allowing the leather industry to realise its full potential.

Common leather products produced in Pakistan include handbags, gloves, wallets and other sports goods with buffalo being a specialty in the global market forming 6.3% of our export earnings. The leather industry is a source of income to more than 500,000 people in the country, either directly or indirectly. In case of the industry shutting down a large section would end up becoming unemployed. According to reports, nearly 25 to 30 per cent of sacrificial animals’ hides and skins removed by amateur butchers on Eid-ul Azha do not get good prices in national and international markets due to improper handling and preservation.

Pakistan’s leather industry has great potential to grow, with the country earning an added amount of $310 million per annum provided care is taken while butchering sacrificial animals and carefully preserving their hides and skins. Certain interventions in the industry can do wonders for the country. For example, proper training can be provided to butchers that could prevent hides from getting scratched thus helping to maintain the overall appearance of the finished leather. To further facilitate the growth of the footwear industry, Footwear parks can be set up in big cities, similar to those in our neighbouring country. Leather products exhibition where all leather goods are displayed under a single roof can help smoothen the process of selling and buying. Projects that would provide accessories to the different leather products such as fancy buttons and zippers, shoe laces need to be encouraged and developed as these would help enhance the export of these products.

Pakistan’s leather industry has potential to grow to a US $2 billion industry if hides and skins treatments are improved. Because of faulty butcher cuts and animal skin diseases, 33 per cent of hides and skins of slaughtered animals are wasted. We could earn an additional US $310 million per annum by overcoming the skins and hides wastage and setting up mechanised slaughter houses in the country.

According to the PTA, it is expected to collect an estimated 7.3 million hides and skins worth approximately Rs 6 billion from upcoming Eid-ul-Azha. It is expected 2.5 million cows, four million goats, 0.8 million sheep and 30,000 camels would be sacrificed this year. As a result, 7.3 million animal hides are expected to be available to tanners. PTA has expectations that the price of hides will be the same like previous year. The PTA maintained that the prices of sacrificial animals’ hides sharply declined this year by over 40 per cent which reduced total business transactions by almost Rs 6 billion due to global leather market recession. The sharp decline in the rates of raw hides would cause a huge setback to the welfare organisations, charity and trust hospitals, and other collectors who get a major chunk of their annual resources from it.

There are 725 tanneries producing both chrome leather and vegetable tanned leather. Moreover, the leather industry provides direct and indirect jobs to over 500,000 people across the country. Therefore proper attention should be given to this potential industry of Pakistan. The potential in the leather sector can also be evident from the fact that Pakistan has been importing hides and skins. According to available data, the total import of hides and skins increased from 47.100 million to 54.300 million pieces.

Such efforts would allow not only guarantee a growing economy but also allow the country and its people to earn a good name and repute in the global market, something the country desperately needs in these times.

Gavel, stick and ball

Hassnain Javed

8/21/2017

What is Democracy? Democracy is the name of the period between every two martial laws.

If democracy is practiced with full spirit and soul it not only provides opportunities to the public to participate and economy to grow but also provides peace of heart and harmony at home. Change is brought into the dead mind and soul. But the type of democracy practiced in our beloved nation brings forth no such feelings as change is not apparent or significantly seen after so-called democratic elections.

Democratic history gives us an altogether different perspective. So far there is no real leader that has taken oath only for the sake of nation. The elite can give birth to a leader but not act in the interest of the general public at large. Generally, affluent people in society have the capacity to afford education from leading international universities and at the same time opportunity to exercise power.

We are encircled with deep-rooted mindset of Aitchisonisation in our systems which has not resulted in any blessings. Socialist and tsunamist mindsets cannot behave differently thus the resulting effects equalises. The current elite mindset starts dictating what they believe is to be right, bordering on egomaniacal behaviour. In this cage of limited knowledge and psychic prison they put lock on better avenues that could be explored. Most of the political and religious parties ‘leaders’ self-love is clearly reflected in their respective characters, moves and stagnant decisions.

Having a quick glance at historic episodes; Bhutto was killed by Bhutto himself, Nawaz Sharif is suffering due to his very own actions and it is likely that if Imran Khan comes in power he will also destroy himself. The putative democratic political parties’ policies, manifestos design and structures are not playing any role. Indeed, its leader-specific mindset becomes the trouble for its followers, who have no other option but to blindly follow them.

So far, there are very few incidents where the Pakistani electoral systems are questioned. This system is actually against democracy and people. Pakistan has a nature of actually not practicing democracy but a dictatorship in which low-income classes get trapped under their respective masters. The formula to win the electoral game is pretty simple.

Generally, voters are confirmed from multiple castes by providing them some of the infrastructural facilities such as construction of roads, installation of new transformers, new sewerages systems, and basic household utilities along with tall and false promises of development after the elections. Such traits and activities are the key ingredient of any successful election in the Pakistani culture. To keep the party united at the union council level is another science which requires tireless efforts. Similarly, to confirm the seats of MNAs and MPAs it requires further efforts both in monetary terms as well as a strong alliance in the concerned ministries. In addition, union council politics is not confined to professionalism and education. Therefore, failure is the fate of all those individuals (educated, well-mannered, well-behaved) who have tried the respective luck in this field.

Pakistani politics is not unique but it is disgusting. I am afraid that the Pakistani nature is prey to corruption, bribery, nepotism, and false promises, backbiting and all such societal evils. If the public at large is corrupt then leaders will not land from a different planet, they will be one of them.

In the prevailing uproar and chaotic political atmosphere, if Imran Khan gets power then it will not be surprising as the establishment, power poles and circumstances are in his favor. But as you sow so shall you reap- there is a real bone of contention. If the seeds are properly sown in fertile land it will automatically sprout good quality seedling but if there are abrupt disruptions it washes away everything, even roots.

After 70 years of independence it is high time for our nation to either make or break its destiny and eradicate the real cause (electoral system) disharmony from the grassroots level. We as nation need an electoral system which is understandable, transparent and comprehendible for everyone and not only confined to social stratifications.

In the prevailing circumstances, the election commission, judicial powers, army and most importantly media have to play a very significant role. It will not be voluntary participation indeed it is their obligation and part of their respective duties.

The drowning ship is need of such a referendum and leader which exhibits the right direction with passion and courage to think for a better Pakistan.

We need a system which is not purely for the sake of politics but for society. The current conditions are requesting the gavel, stick and ball to collectively take decision to act as a beacon of hope in exploring and enlightening the government.

Parallel and poles apart

Hassnain Javed

8/7/2017

When governments fall or widespread demonstrations take place in a country, observers try to understand what the causes are by examining local dynamics. Global dynamics play a role in such events, but sometimes it is possible to find striking similarities between events or personalities in one country and those in another. So, when someone shared an article about Turkish movement that seemed oddly familiar, I wanted to find out more.

What came up is the following story: A boy was born on April 27,1941 in the village of Korucuk, near Erzurum to Ramiz and Refia. He began as a religious cleric and laid the ground for an organisation that would spread across the globe. His religious undertones gained him a strong and loyal following allowing him to inch towards his own agenda with mission of promoting peace and harmony.

He established his first student dormitory in 1976 which served as a place to religious discussions on the side. It became the template for all Gulen inspired tuition centers and schools. The schools are called light houses and they have dual purposes. Firstly, providing income for the organisation and secondly acting as a recruitment agency. Later these recruits were positioned and empowered they were asked to give back to the organisation by donating 10-20% of their income to the organisation. This organisation has a hierarchical culture.

Besides this, in 1951 a boy was born in Pakistan; this was Tahir ul Qadri. Tahir ul Qadri’s father was a paramedic and holding intellectual repute, young Tahir went to missionary (Sacred Heart, Jhang) school and later graduated from the faculty of law at the University of the Punjab in Lahore in 1974 and carried out postgraduate studies in Islamic Penal System and Islam contemporary studies. He then became acquainted with Mian Muhammad Sharif (father of Ex- Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif). Sharif the elder requested Qadri for religious lecture series designed and associated with the Iteefaq academy. Qadri had wide spread popularity on state television which Sharif was interested to catch.

In 1981 Qadri set up the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Forum to foster dialogue between scholars in the two religions. This was centered at the Minhajul Qur’an Society in Lahore. The society grew into the Minhaj University (of which Qadri is the chairperson of the Board of Governors) and the Minhaj Welfare Foundation, an international relief charity. Minhajul Qur’an became quite influential, even being granted consultative status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Minhajul Qur’an set out to bring together Islamic education and contemporary education, opening a number of schools and colleges; an interesting point here that needs to be emphasised is the secular nature of the schools, with what Al Arabiya refers to as “a cosmetic touch of Islamic education”, which has a parallel in Turkey, and indeed globally.

Now, there is an interesting dissimilarity between the leaders from two different parts of the world. Fethullah Gülen bases his teachings on Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, a respected Sufi scholar and preacher. He is famous for training his disciples for forming strong political system and one of the renowned and ruling Turkish AK political party of Tayyip Erdoğan was directly run under his influence. In contrast, Dr Tahir ul Qadri is the direct disciple of His Holiness Tahir Allauddin Al-Gillani Al-Baghadi a great Sufi saint of the century with no political intentions. Later Qadri introduced Nawaz Sharif to his teacher and then he also became one of his disciples.

Besides the differences there are more similarities, which we will touch on below. There is one difference, however; at the end of the 1980s, Qadri set up his own political party, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT). Gülen, on the other hand, for many years made no open move toward politics.

At the end of the 1990s General Musharraf introduced martial law and requested Qadri to support him, thus he decided to throw his hat into the political ring once again; this time, he backed Musharraf. He campaigned openly for Musharraf in the 2002 referendum (which brought Musharraf to power). Musharraf promised to introduce the structural reforms as put forth by Qadri. Then, Qadri soon became a member of the National Assembly but after a short span in 2004 he stepped back with his resignation with a detailed structural analysis of Pakistan because the promised restructuring was not introduced.

In 2005 Qadri, disappointed with Pakistan’s political structures, immigrated to Canada as he wanted to time on his literary work. This self-imposed exile is similar to that of Gülen’s, although Gülen left Turkey at a time when he felt his liberty was in danger. Qadri made many televised speeches in Canada which were aired to people in Pakistan. In order to, establish a network in Europe, the Americas and Gulf countries via the pupils from his schools, colleges and universities.

Another similarity is the large number of televised speeches and books both men produce. Gülen is a prolific author. In contrast, Qadri’s productive pen is also amazing. It is claimed he has written about 1,000 works.

Both Gülen and Qadri condemn suicide bombers, which is what any responsible Muslim leader should do. After the “war-on-terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq, Qadri openly condemned the Taliban and all forces that were fighting against US-backed armies. Gülen was critical of the Mavi Marmara for trying to take humanitarian aid to Gaza, claiming that the Israelis had the right to protect their territorial waters (Mavi Marmara was in international waters when attacked, resulting in the death of nine civilians).

After having a detailed discussion on drawing parallel lines, one can easily comprehend they are still poles apart. Qadri and Gülen are both peace promoters are against Kharajities. Moreover, Qadri is not specifically for Tareekh-e-Kasas (Movement for Revenge) that can be considered as partial chunk of his vision to bring revolutionary change. In my opinion, both of the leader’s thoughts and philosophies should not be buried by tagging them as religious.

Moreover, think tanks, unseen powers, establishment should not parallel them with the Ikhwan movement. But, if these parties are backlashed it will instigate them to become militant groups. It will be a better approach that respective governments should hire them as consultants for designing a framework because if they could single handled establish and train their followers for a better cause then why not for the benefit of the whole nation.

A special broadcast is up in the air stating that Dr Qadri is to land soon. He is expected to stay in Pakistan for long time while appointing Dr. Babar Awan for the Model Town case. Soon the unheard case in High court will again be heard based on Bakir Najfai Report. Then there will be emergence of remarks from the Supreme Court to finalise the case proceedings in high court. Besides this, there is another forecast that Dr Babar will have successful JIT formation and a historic outcome will soon appear which might be the climax of the ongoing political drama series. I don’t know whether unseen powers will again play a major role.

Loss and chaos

Hassnain Javed

7/31/2017

Morality is not a set of absolute values written in stone. Thresholds of what is acceptable, unacceptable and downright horrible in human society has undergone repeated changes throughout history.

The same scenario is what our nation has experienced since the opening of the Panama case in Pakistan. Interestingly, the single appearance of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif before the Joint Investigation Team JIT not only cost Pakistan in terms of political instability but also affected economic and financial economy.

The market has fallen by 9 percent since the summon was issued by the JIT and obeyed by the Prime Minister. Besides this, Pakistan equities have witnessed one of their largest corrections. For instance, the KSE-100 Index has decreased by 15% from its peak level of 52, 876 points.

Over the past 12 years, Pakistan’s capital market has experienced downturns of 10% or greater on 12 occasions. Excluding the infamous crashes of 2008 (47% fall) and 2005 derivatives/badla crisis (36%), on an average the market recovered in around 6 weeks after bottoming out.

The highest fall since the 2008 crash was seen in early 2015 when the index fell 17% due to foreign selling. Contrary to expectations, during the public protest in Pakistan’s capital by the PTI political party which lasted during Aug-Dec’14, at the worst, the market declined 9%.

According to Securities analysts, since the recent fall is likely due to uncertainty surrounding the JIT probe against the Prime Minister’s family, it is highly unlikely that the market will recover in line with past trends when there was no political and economic uncertainty.

Similarly, some of the participants are cautious that while the incumbent government may be caught up in all the court proceedings and investigations, their focus towards economic & policy matters may lax, which may in turn impact the business climate. Thus, it is a key cause of concern lingering in the back of investors minds’ and leading to this sharp selloff in the financial and real estate markets.

Furthermore, continuation of uncertainty would potentially result in possible deterioration of macros given the already weak external account situation. Unfavourable external account data has also been raising concern on the Pak Rupee. This is because of sharp rise in current account deficit (CAD) which has widened to $8.9 billion in the period of July 2016 to May 2017 as compared to $3.2 billion deficit recorded during the same period of the last fiscal year, FY16.

Contrary to the negative impact on the macroeconomic outlook, sector and company outlook has also suffered as policy inaction potentially results in delay or the suspension of additional investment plans, which then negatively impacts earnings growth estimates. Apart from developments concerning proceedings of the Panama case in the SC until its final verdict, news flows impacted foreign direct investment which surged by 22.6%YoY to $2.03 billion during 11MFY17, with China taking the top spot. Textile and clothing exports declined by 1.98% to $11.23 billion for 11MFY17. Reportedly, the Ministry of Industries and Production has allowed KIA-Lucky Motors Pakistan Ltd, Nishat Group and United Motors Pvt Ltd to setup plants for assembling of vehicles under incentives afforded to Greenfield investments with the three committing to total outlay of $372 million, reported AKD Securities.

Despite the pullback witnessed in the last days of the week, the political cloud of Panama proceedings accompanied with heavy political monsoon showers continue to permeate investor sentiment. Consequently, the next trading week ahead is expected to be a pit stop, with no major moves expected.

As far as CPEC is concerned, the strategic project is neither the brain child of the ruling family nor will it be affected by the prime minister’s resignation. It is a well-known fact that the initial sketch of the project was prepared by China with DG ISI General (r) Ihsanullah Haq during the Musharraf era. It was the Musharraf government that started work on the Gwadar Port, without which CPEC would be impossible. Then it was Asif Ali Zardari who entrusted the contract of the Gwadar Port to China and signed an MOU on CPEC. Beijing’s ties with Islamabad are historical and strategic, and subject to no individual, family or political party. China has no role or interests in the domestic politics of Pakistan, and treats Pakistan as a friend irrespective of who is in power. Unfortunately, Nawaz Sharif tried to personalise these strategic ties and branded CPEC as a special favour to his government. This resulted in opposition and nationalist parties criticising the Chinese government.

To conclude, the establishment aims at political, economic and financial stability for the overall growth of our economy and to channelize the multiple investment projects being fuelled in recent history, in line with international lobbyist (leftist) viewpoints. Thus, the SC verdict against Nawaz Sharif has deep rooted causes. Simply put, his regime and political philosophy was not in accordance with the establishment’s. Moreover, CPEC is considerably a defense strategy rather than an economic one.

Last night, my friend Syed Intezar Hussain Zinjani, an astrologer, came to meet me up and gave the prediction that Pakistan’s political climate is going to remain unstable till January 2020. It got me thinking. What if Mian Shahbaz Sharif became the next Prime Minister, what if Imran Khan came into power, what if Tahir ul Qadri opened up a joint investigation team on the Baqar Naqvi report, what if Pakistan experienced a military coup once again? Every such proposition could emerge as Panama leaks has proven, there are invisible unseen powers by whom we are surrounded.

Method in the madness

Hassnain Javed

7/24/2017

There is always a two-sided picture in the toss of a coin. Pakistani politics is also facing two sided outcomes and perspectives in every single move and action taken either by ruling party or the opposition. Speculation is rife as to what lies in store for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family after the three judge implementation bench of the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday reserved its judgment at the end of five hearings on the final report of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT). The suspense is yet not over as the earth-shattering case will persist until the judgment is announced, for which the bench has yet to declare a date. However, it is most likely to appear by the end of this week.

As after long proceedings and hearing of arguments from both sides the SC has decided to reserve its judgment in the Panama Papers case. Primarily, it seems the SC is still not clear on disqualifying Nawaz Sharif (NS) from holding an office on account of money laundering, tax evasions and mismatching of public and private funds. The outcome is still not disclosed but both ruling and opposition party have given the green signal to accept the verdict of the court.

The current political monsoon provokes two likely actions; either the disqualification of the Prime Minister or early elections. The probability of holding early elections is quite low though disqualification of PM seems to be the fate of NS. Likewise, after the ruling party disqualifications there will be interesting twists and turn in the general elections planned for next year. There will be surprising yet unpredictable outcomes to be disclosed. Besides this, the parliamentary committee for electoral reform set up in 2014 is revising the bill passed in the National Assembly with the aim of making elections in Pakistan more transparent. The revised draft presented at the National Assembly has put forth an important recommendation which includes the grant of greater control and autonomy to the Election Commission over the bureaucracy with limited involvement of the Caretaker government. Now, if these Reforms bill get approved it will again present a road of opportunities parallel to a road of obstacles for parties competing against each other post-Panama fever.

Now, the question is what will happen next in the Pakistani political drama series. Once again there are two thought of actions either a bench will pass a disqualification order or ask the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to prepare reference in line with its guidelines for trials at an accountability court. In view of the court proceedings, there are differing statement of respondents and documents enclosed in the JIT reports and upon the closer inspection of the bench one thing is for sure that the Prime Minister and other respondents are most likely to get a clean chit.

Moreover, the April 20, 2017 verdict laid down that “the matter of disqualification of respondent number one (PM)” shall be considered. Furthermore, it was held that “if found necessary for passing appropriate order in this behalf the respondent number one or any other person may be questioned and examined”. So, it provides sufficient grounds that disqualification is around the corner and is the writing on the wall. In contrast, there is another view point that a disqualification is only destined if the top respondent is convicted after a due process of law under relevant sections of the accountability ordinance, but this is a very time consuming exercise and less likely to be practiced.

If the second route is followed and bench orders the NAB to file a reference instead of doing it itself, then it will definitely set a unique precedent which might be in contrary to constitutional provisions. According to former Attorney General Irfan Qadir, Article 187 of the constitution under which SC is dealing with the matter is also subject to Article 175 (clause II). He highlighted the issue that latter article does not allow the SC to exercise any power other than those granted by the Constitution and he is of view that SC is not granted the authority to disqualify a parliamentarian or to form a JIT.

In my view, NS himself has made the situation worse by complicating the things by his statements in the National Assembly and his address to the nation following the Panama leaks and by making tall claims that family was in possession of all the details on the sources of the funds used to purchase the properties. Because, when the crunch happened, and JIT was set in action, he left many loose ends in his story. We all are aware that his father was a multimillionaire businessman and NS with his long stretch in politics might not be in full knowledge of the details. Similarly, the presentation of the weakest Qatar link is also flawed. As universally, banks do not give over 10-year old records and likewise tax authorities do so for up to a period of 5 years.

Serving the political office twice, indeed thrice, at the highest national ranking indeed is a great honor and matter of pride. It is an undeniable fact the greater honor you get the higher expectations are attached with you and with a greater level of accountability.

Thus, in my view there is always two sides of a coin upon its flip. Therefore, if NS had presented his resignation on the appearance of the Panama case it would be a completely different scenario and a clever game played for the long run survival of the fittest. But, now in the current situation he has only one option; to play the last innings of madness by sustaining, fighting, defying and most importantly cutting the roots of PTI and PPP political parties who planned his political death. He should majorly focus on making public the flaws, charges and clauses against all other active political parties such as the PTI and PPP. He should exert his highest efforts to make other political leaders disqualified. If he performs this action it would lead all major parties to be in the same ring. So that, before the final ball declares him out he should unfold the method of madness game by creating a level playing field for upcoming democracy before the scheduled elections in 2018. Presenting both sides of the coin I could only sum it up in one phrase; it will be very shameful to do all this but is there any existence of the word ‘shame’ in the political dictionary?

By the way, boys and girls a man with full potential (Interior Minister) can have forward group against NS but this man will leave politics but never ditch him.

Six blind hypotheses

Hassnain Javed

7/17/2017

A ray of sunlight pierced through the room’s windows and bathed my face. I woke up fresh after a blissful night of no load-shedding. I moved out to the lounge where I heard for the first time cheerful chattering of my parents while reading the newspaper. They were appreciating the induction of bullet trains in our economy as it has considerably reduced the distances and ease the mobility with major reduction in the travel expenses, while the double digit growth rates also reduced the prices of basics necessities like flour, sugar, fruits, meat and vegetables now it is easily accessible and affordable to every segment of the society. Pakistanis feel happy and content with high standard of living due to the establishment of industrial zones, cottage industries, educational and vocational institutes etc. Pakistan seems to be finally breaking shackles and developing. It was all due to the advent of the Panama leaks case in Pakistan. Mr Nawaz Sharif the ruling party Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has put forth his resignation due to dignity and honor, and before any further investigations has put all his wealth at the disposal of government. After his generous and dignified act all other individuals in same situation under the name of Panama has disposed off their wealth to the Pakistan economy.

Meanwhile, I turned on the news channel airing a peaceful dialogue on a talk show discussing that Pakistan is no longer under IMF’s debt with phenomena like corruption, money laundering, nepotism completely eradicated from the country. Mr Nawaz positive action after Panama played a significant role in the economy. And to put the cherry on top all the corrupt individuals have surrendered and having worse time behind the bars. Moreover, all their illegal money and assets are at disposal for Pakistan economy. On other hand, there are proper planning, designing and honest implementation of educational reforms, health reforms, social reforms, economic reforms, police reforms and political reforms in every corner of Pakistan. It seems that Pakistan is a chunk of paradise on earth which has flourished and nourished beyond the set standards raised by other developed economies.

Suddenly, I felt a beep and vibration on my bed. As I opened my eyes I found my body drenched due to load-shedding. Despite the heat and humidity in the room I searched for my mobile and attended a call saying that group of five friends are waiting for me in lawn.

It took me few seconds to sink in the fact that beautiful picture I had of Pakistan was a dream not reality. So keeping a close eye on the current state of affairs rather than wandering about what a stunning dream I just had, I immediately went to take shower but luck was not with me this day because there was no single drop of water coming from tap due to power failure from the past 8 hours.

Thus, I went downstairs without doing much effort and before I reached the lawn I heard the heated gossip going on about Pakistan politics.

One of my friends said the Supreme Court of Pakistan can exert the right to disqualify Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif based on the evidences from Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report.

Then a second friend put forth the argument that there should be early elections and it’s time for Nawaz Sharif to resign.

The third friend said, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of Pakistan also reserves the right to inquire Nawaz Sharif on the JIT report.

The fourth friend gave his stance that Pakistan is once again going to experience political dharnas or rallies.

The fifth believes that army will intervene to smooth out the political stability in the country.

Then lastly, I was of view that Pakistan is only going to experience possible Politics, Politics and just Politics once again. Thus, whatever the law permits Nawaz Sharif must do, and do the right thing by democracy. The JIT report submitted to the Supreme Court has been viewed over by experts, politicians and even citizens. Seemingly, this report is not perfect and Nawaz Sharif and his family have already raised serious objections on it before the Supreme Court of Pakistan provides the final verdict. Besides this, JIT has laid serious charges against the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children. Logically, no democratic order ought to have Prime Minister operational under such a dark heavy cloud of accusations. In contrary, the ruling party may urge their leader to stay in office hunker down and fight.

But on the other hand, the Prime Minister has clear alternative paths such as to step aside and fight on whatever the charges are brought against him or his children in court and if he is not proven guilty and clear of the charges he can return to his office with honor and dignity. Stepping aside now will not be an admission of guilt, indeed it would be considered a necessary sacrifice for restoration and strengthening of the democratic order.

The other option for Nawaz Sharif is to call a snap election. Even if, Mr. Sharif’s case is sent to NAB, the caretaker government would disperse concerns of a manipulated process whereas NAB being prone to intense interference by the executive. Therefore, a fair yet speedy process would allow Nawaz Sharif to contest the next election without a cloud of suspicion hanging over him and his family with assumption that the NAB process clears the family.

Thus, the crux of the matter is we are all right and we are all wrong too, as we have all seen the JIT Report from different perspectives. Yet politics, politics and politics will be the fate of the ongoing political series in Pakistan.

Irrational rationality

Hassnain Javed

7/13/2017
Luck in life is uncontrollable!

It was sheer luck that a poverty stricken, extremely vulnerable woodcutter stumbled upon a secret cave and a single phrase “open sesame” transformed his world from rags to riches. This medieval tale famous by the title of “Ali Baba and Forty Thieves” transpires in real life too, where Imran Khan found the magical phrase of open sesame in the form of Panama leaks and has brought about turmoil in Nawaz Sharif’s empire. The same story is on display once more; the only difference this time is that it’s from riches to rags.

Besides the fact, Imran Khan is not at all a politician, but somehow the other, unseen powers want him to stay in the game. He made the successful identification of Panama charges against the ruling party and with persistent determination of the long held court proceedings and trials under the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) are seemingly favourable for him. He is the man behind the campaign to make the Panama case alive, otherwise it would not have lasted longer than a few breaths.

A quick glance at history tells us that Sharif is nearly 17 years senior to Imran Khan in politics, but both know each other from their early days in cricket. Interestingly, politics were never the first choice for either Sharif or Imran. But, today the scenario has altogether changed by having both as centre figures in politics, especially after 2013; the main contest is between the two for the top slot.

Nawaz and his brother opted for politics on the advice of their father Mian Muhammad Sharif, although, he kept himself away from politics on the advice from some of the cabinet members of the late General Zia-ul-Haq. However, he decided to send his sons in the battlefield of politics. Under the Zia rule, a lobby was established based on anti-Bhutto sentiments with reference to nationalisation, which also affected Sharif’s business. It convinced, indeed, instigated the elder Sharif to become a political force.

 

Imran had also not given thought to enterpolitics until he suffered difficulties under Benazir Bhutto’s government in establishing Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital. He joined politics in 1996, when a group of his old friends launched the “Insaf Party” in Lahore.

It is important to note that if business has helped Sharifs in politics to keep the ball rolling and learn tactics to control politics by consolidating their position in the biggest province, then cricket has also played a significant role for Imran in two ways; teaching him to exert and sustain pressure on opponents even if you are on the verge of defeat.

In addition, political episodes have shown that Imran staged a comeback after back to back setbacks. He encountered his first defeat in the 2013 elections even after his forecast of a landslide victory for his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). It was followed by his second defeat, when after 126 days of a sit-in, the commission rejected his plea. But, cricket experience has helped him and his workers to keep morale high even at the lowest ebbs. As mentioned earlier, there is some unseen power that helped Imran to step into the arena of golden opportunity while balling a sixer through right hit of Panama leaks in the headlines. He carefully strategisedin making a level playing field by highlighting the names of Sharif’s children in Panama leaks and then rightly creating hype against Sharifs, both on the streets and on the media. He was successful in moving the Supreme Court against the Sharifs.

In the 1992 World Cup, Pakistan had no chance of even reaching the semi-finals, but a mere half point sent them to the semis and from that point, Imran never looked back.

It is somewhat the same situation for the Sharifs. Nawaz Sharif has experienced many ups and downs in his political career where in some instances, luck was on his side and on others there were grey days. But circumstances and difficult experiences made him a strong politician. Although, he is an alleged product of the establishment who was been used against the PPP and the late Benazir Bhutto in the days of Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) in 1998, the events gave birth to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Initially, PML-N had been a party of the establishment, but after October 1999, it converted into an anti-establishment party. And later on, he also signed the Charter of Democracy with Benazir Bhutto (BB).

Nawaz first came into power in November 1990 under the umbrella of IJI, took major initiatives for Pakistan especially infrastructure development projects. But besides his efforts, the pressure from within the ruling coalition and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) accusing IJI of coming to power with the support of the military establishment, differences between Nawaz Sharif and then President Ghulam Ishaq emerged, which lead to an unceremonious dismissal of his government in 1993.

He made a second entry in 1997 as elected Prime Minister with a so-called “heavy mandate” following the dismissal of BB’s government but besides the nuclear programme and signing a peace treaty with India, his rule did not last long due to the outbreak of Kargil war in 1999. Thus, his ruling government was given a farewell and was toppled by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, whom he had appointed as the Army Chief. After a short imprisonment, he went to exile in Saudi Arabia in 2000 after an alleged agreement under which he was barred from returning and engaging in politics for the next 10 years.

He made the third entrance on the political ground amid the chaos of the 2007 emergency imposed by Musharraf and the sacking of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. In this situation, Nawaz got permission to return to his homeland with a green signal for his party to take part in the 2008 elections. Subsequently, he secured second place in the elections behind PPP; the two parties initially formed a coalition government which lasted for a few months. It was followed by Nawaz’slong march against the PPP government. This march aimed to press the government for the restoration of sacked judges, which was successful as the judges were reinstated. It was again a successful hit at the end for Nawaz’s party, as it was the gateway for his third rule in Pakistan’s democracy.

The above stated facts clearly indicate, that if luck is not with Imran Khan, do you really think any morality can send Nawaz Sharif home? In my opinion which is solely pragmatic, sometimes we have to accept the irrational rationality which is seen in the Pakistani political drama.

The suspense of the Panama proceedings is over, but the legal battle fought will certainly change the political climate before the next elections. Now, the question is, will Nawaz Sharif survive?

Whether you agree or disagree with this notion, I have already confessed it is sometimes irrational rationality which makes life completely unpredictable and control is just an illusion and it makes one feel small and powerless.

Teatime in Sri Lanka

Hassnain Javed

7/1/2017

The waiters, elegantly dressed in white attire, moved smoothly and erudite between the tables. “Would you like to have another cup of tea, Sir?” It was probably the sixth time the waiter inquires me if I want to refill on my cup of tea, and yes due to strong flavor right in line with my tasted buds, I say yes every time. The table is beautifully set with white porcelain tableware along with delicious sandwiches, mini burgers and tiny cupcakes of all shapes.

I was having high tea at the Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya and I felt as I have entered in the era when Sri Lanka was called Ceylon and ruled by the British some 200 years back. The presence of modern gadgets with guests reveals that I am not in the era of British colonists that has once discovered this area by chopping down the jungle in these hills and building the town Nuwara Eliya aslo called “Little England” and started tea plantations here.

The cool hill area of Sri Lanka was once deserted consisting of forest and jungle, located in the shadow of the 2524 meters high mountain Pidurutalagala aka Mount Pedro. This hill area was discovered by the British colonial officer John Davy back in 1819 with aim of building sanatorium. Moreover, Nuwara Eliya town was founded by Samuel Baker in 1846. 

Nuwara Eliya, which means “City of Light” soon became a favourite cool climate escape for the British as well as a home away from home. It was a place where they could grow their native vegetables and fruits. They started off by coffee bean plantation but it was short lived due to spread of crop disease. It led to the turning point of Sri Lankan sustainable economy by tea bushes plantations in the mountains between Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. 

This experiment by British was a huge success both in taste and rapid tea bushes growth. It was the time when British started planting tea bushes at vast areas and in no time Nuwara Eliya became the tea Capital of Sri Lanka’s Hill country. And yes British did not plant the tea bushes themselves indeed used the local Sri Lankan labor for this task.

The Tea plantations started by the British were taken over by the Sri Lankan state government in 1960s but then it has been privatised and is managed by a handful of planation companies. The total extent of land under tea cultivation has been assessed at approximately 221,969 hectares. Cyelon tea from Sri Lanka is acclaimed to be finest and highest quality tea with its inherent characteristics. Sri Lanka is second largest tea producer globally and contribute 10% in the international sphere and one of the world leading tea exporter with a share of around 23% of the global demand.

The export revenue has increased over the years but in recent times in the year 2015 it slightly dropped due to economic crisis in few top importing countries. The Sri Lankan tea exports accounts for about 15% for the total exports and about 65% contributes for the total agriculture exports in the country. The tea sector is expected to achieve the export target of US $ 3,000 million in the year by 2020.

Sri Lankan tea sector has the highest growth potential due to host of factors such as diverse climatic conditions which makes soil fertile and helps in planting multiple types and grades of tea. Moreover, large number of skilled and effective labor especially women are available in the economy at very cheap rates. The Sri Lankan tea has unique characteristics in the production such as in flavor and color. Sri Lanka produces tea throughout the year with yearly tea production amounting to 340 million kilograms. Sri Lankan tea industry is maintaining the highest quality in the world marker and ISO 3720 is the minimum standard for their range of tea products. Besides this, Sri Lanka has the capability to produce the cleanest tea in the world in terms of minimum pesticides residues. Methyl Bromide was removed from the production process in 2012. 

Besides this, Sri Lankan tea industry will face serious issues in the near future as there is limited land area and there is no proper planning done to cope with this matter. Moreover, impurities are found in bulk tea processing. There is potential in the sector but there is lack of proper infrastructure especially in plantations. Most importantly, there is high cost of tea production especially associated with packaging, logistics, supply chain and energy. 

In my view, improved technologies on commercial cultivation especially application of fertiliser, crop management, irrigation systems, optimum input applications, pest and disease control, postharvest management, well equipped machinery for processing, quality packaging and improved transportation methods should be practiced to attain low cost tea production and maximization of revenue for Sri Lankan economy. Moreover, research and development facilities should be made available in Sri Lanka to support the industry. There should be proper check and regulations on different development programs for the tea industry that has been initiated by the government. There should be induction of high tech rail-road and high way networks to meet the rising demand of modern age for both local consumption and export trades. Effective supply chain networks and planning will drastically reduce the logistics and transportation costs. 

The Sri Lankan island has the immense capacity and capability for growth only if the proper actions are taken by government authorities for sustainable economy. As the tea production initiative was taken by British in Sri Lanka. It should once again sign bilateral trade agreements with developed and emerging economies to give boost to their respective domestic industry for most effective and efficient allocation of the available resources. Moreover, Pakistan should also establish liaisons with Sri Lankan economy and introduce the tea plantations in geographical areas which are best suited.  Sri Lanka has human resource and material resources in hand it is only limited due to financial constraints in my opinion which could be easily overcome by presenting a better market positing map of their potential tea sector in the world economy by adopting the state of art technology in tea production processes.