Disengaging from Afghanistan, closing Guantanamo,controlling drone use could end the war on terror
From both the left and the right, three common misperceptions have emerged about US foreign policy: First, that the Global War on Terror has become a perpetual state of affairs; second, that no strategy is available to end this conflict in the near future; and third, that “the Obama approach to that conflict is just like the Bush approach.” I disagree with all three propositions.
First and most important, the overriding goal should be to end this Forever War, not engage in a perpetual “global war on terror,” without geographic or temporal limits.
Second, this is not a conflict without end, and there is a strategy to end it, outlined below. In November, also at the Oxford Union, Jeh Johnson, then general counsel of the United States Department of Defense, argued that in the conflict against Al-Qaeda and its affiliates: “there will come a tipping point – … at which so many of the leaders and operatives of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, such that Al-Qaeda as we know it, the organization that our Congress authorised the military to pursue in 2001, has been effectively destroyed. At that point, we must be able to say to ourselves that our efforts should no longer be considered an “armed conflict” against Al-Qaeda and its associated forces; rather, a counterterrorism effort against individuals who are the scattered remnants of Al-Qaeda, or are parts of groups unaffiliated with Al-Qaeda….”
The key question going forward will thus be whether the US treats new groups that rise up to commit acts of terror as “associated forces” of Al-Qaeda with whom it’s already at war. This seems unwise, as under both domestic and international law, the United States has ample legal authority to respond to new groups that would attack without declaring war forever against anyone hostile to the country. More fundamentally, the United States is at war with Al-Qaeda, not with any idea or religion, or with mere propagandists, journalists or sad individuals, like the recent Boston bombers, who may become radicalized, inspired by Al-Qaeda’s ideology, but never joining Al-Qaeda itself.
Third, in regard to this conflict, the Obama administration has differed from its predecessor in three key respects. First, it has acknowledged that the United States is strictly bound by domestic and international law. Under domestic law, the administration has acknowledged that its authority derives from Acts of Congress, not just the president’s vague constitutional powers. Under international law, this administration has expressly recognized that US actions are constrained by the laws of war, and it has worked hard to translate the spirit of those laws and apply them.
The Geneva Conventions envisioned two types of conflict – international armed conflicts between nation-states and non-international armed conflicts between states and insurgent groups within a single country, for example, a government versus a rebel faction located within that country. But September 11 made clear that the term “non-international armed conflicts” can also include transnational battles, for example, between a nation-state like the United States and a transnational non-state armed group like Al-Qaeda that attacks it. The US Supreme Court has instructed the US government to translate the existing laws of war to this different type of “non-international” armed conflict.
Second, in conducting this more limited conflict, the administration has shown an absolute commitment to humane treatment of Al-Qaeda suspects. Third, the Obama administration has determined not to address Al-Qaeda and the Taliban solely through the tools of war. Instead, this administration has stated a longer-term objective – a “smart power” approach – under which force is used for limited and defined purposes within a much broader nonviolent frame, with the over-arching aim being to use diplomacy, development, education and people-to-people outreach to challenge Al-Qaeda’s ideology and diminish its appeal. Applying this approach, the Obama administration has combined a law-of-war approach with law-enforcement methods to bring all available tools to bear against Al-Qaeda. In a remote part of Afghanistan, a law-of-war approach might be appropriate, but in London or New York, a law enforcement approach is surely more fitting. In either case, the US response to a suspect turns not on whether we generically label a person an “enemy combatant,” but on whether we assemble the facts to prove that a particular person’s behavior reveals that he is part of Al-Qaeda.
So how to end the Forever War? President Obama should now diligently pursue three previously announced aims of US policy: 1) disengage from Afghanistan, 2) close Guantanamo and 3) discipline drones.
Disengaging from Afghanistan is fully underway, but three challenges loom. First, in transferring control of detention facilities, the US must ensure that transfers comply with obligations under international law not to return detainees to persecution or torture, and that future detentions comply with fair process and treatment obligations. Second, the US must work closely with the Afghans to help secure what Secretary of State John Kerry has called a “credible, safe, secure, all-inclusive, … transparent, and accountable presidential election” to succeed Hamid Karzai in 2014. Third, the Afghan government must tackle the controversial task of negotiating with the Taliban. In so doing, it’s crucial to build upon the myriad advances that have expanded individual freedom within Afghan civil society over the last decade.
Closing Guantanamo permanently is long past overdue. The US military prison in Cuba has 166 detainees, 76 fewer than in 2009. More than 100 of the detainees are on hunger strike, with many being force-fed. President Obama has acknowledged, “Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing.”
Crucially, he does not need a new policy to close Guantanamo. He just needs to put the full weight of his office behind the sensible policy first announced in 2009: Resume transfer of those who are cleared for transfer, try the triable, grant periodic review of those in law of war detention, resist further congressional restrictions and appoint a high-level White House envoy to implement the foregoing.
The goal of decimating Al-Qaeda’s core leads to the final contentious issue, disciplining drones. Critics often ask, “How, as a human rights advocate, could you criticize torture, while as a government lawyer, you defended the legality of drones?” The answer is sad, but simple: Torture is always unlawful. But killing those with whom a country is at war may be lawful, so long as the laws of war are strictly followed. It is the duty of government lawyers to police the line between those violent acts that are lawful and unlawful, and distinguish between those uses of force that do and do not on balance promote the human rights of innocent civilians.
Drones are not per se unlawful. If accurately targeted, they could be far more discriminate and lawful than indiscriminate weapons. The main problem is not drones, but that the Bush administration grossly mismanaged its response to 9/11. Instead of acting surgically against Al-Qaeda when it had the chance, the administration squandered global goodwill by invading Iraq, committing torture, opening Guantanamo, flouting domestic and international law, and undermining civilian courts.
Left to pick up the pieces, Obama got off to a promising start, but that effort has slowed. Since 2010, the Obama administration has not done enough to be transparent about legal standards and its decision-making process. Small wonder that the public has lost track of the real issue, which is not drone technology per se, but the need for transparent, agreed-upon domestic and international legal process and standards. The Obama administration should now make public and transparent its legal standards and institutional processes for targeting and drone strikes, give facts to show why past strikes were necessary, and consult with Congress and allies on principled standards going forward. Most important, he should oppose proposed legislation that would grant him unneeded new authority to strike new shadowy foes.
The real and pressing issue facing the United States is how to end the Forever War underway since 2001. If the Obama administration cannot persuade its citizens, Congress and its closest allies that its drone program is legal, necessary for that task and under control, it will be hard for President Obama to see that war to its much-needed conclusion or take the other steps needed to secure the peace.
The writer is a Sterling Professor of International Law and former dean (2004-09), Yale Law School; former legal adviser, US Department of State (2009-13); former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour (1998-2001). This is a condensed and edited version of a speech to the Oxford Union on May 7, 2013, and reflects his personal views, not that of any institution of which he is or has been affiliated.
At the reception of Stephen Hawking’s book ‘A brief history of time’, one of the reviews in Sunday Times opined that, ‘This book marries child’s wonder to a genius’s intellect.’ This can be attributed as the simplest and most basic definition of science, a journey that starts with a child’s wonder and ends at the intellect of a genius.
What started off as a scholarly pursuit has now become the cradle of progress for all the elitist nations of the world, and the only potential redeemer of the developing nations; but science is an expensive luxury which the modest nations such as ours can’t afford, or at least that’s what the communal belief is. This is the very reason our science labs are mostly deserted and the culture of science, largely absent. The paucity of science-based activities can inevitably be attributed to the factors such as scarce funding resources, inadequately furnished labs and lack of expertise. However, besides all these factors, an overriding cause of the crippled state of research in our country is our ‘attitude’ that has put research on the backseat. Although, pragmatically, a scientist is supposed to be an innovative and venturesome individual who plays around with novel ideas, yet our culture has stereotyped him as a ‘withdrawn’ and ‘comatose’ entity, who camps all-day-long in labs and mass-produces publications in his leisure time. Not an exciting image at all!
Bearing in mind that science is an ever-evolving craft, where old theories are frequently debunked and substituted by the new, more authentic ones; the scientists are required to be more creative, more imaginative and more clued up than ever, to join dots and to elucidate connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena. This, certainly, isn’t a dull affair provided you are doing it the scientist way.
It’s not only the scientific gear that makes a scientist, scientist, but a thinking, questioning and curious mind that lays down the groundwork of a scientific life. It was his inquisitive mind that transformed little ‘Al’ Edison into the world-famous Thomas Edison of later years, even without a formal degree in science. But having ‘an inquisitive mind’ is hardly considered an eligibility criterion for any of the disciplines in our universities. Our existing university culture entails long-drawn-out commentaries on established theories, fenced perceptions and a spate of assignments that are turned in only on the day before submission of final results. The students keep juggling with assignments, quizzes, presentations and projects all through the semesters and ta da, one day, they are in their graduation garbs, thinking of switching their fields and wondering what’s next. Nobody thinks, nobody asks and hence, there are no answers.
The psychology of students expressing reluctance in putting forth their questions has been well-established; they hesitate for the fear of embarrassing themselves in front of their peers and competitors. But one more thing missing in the equation of ‘active learning’ is the quotient of teachers. Students aside, even our teachers flinch when it comes to raising questions; they sidestep from questioning themselves, their students or even the decades-long research studies. This is partly owing to their chockfull teaching schedules where they don’t get time to put their minds to some constructive thinking and partly because they are not accustomed to this way of teaching. This boils down to the core argument of this article, our general lack of aptitude for research. One doesn’t simply become a scientist by earning a doctorate in a science field; it all starts with your curiosity from the childhood. We grow up with several knots in our minds, but unlike the common lot, the curious ones hold onto them and struggle to figure out answers in their own capacity. This is precisely what steers one towards an advanced culture of research; a nagging, persistent and inescapable curiosity.
This kind of approach can be instilled by teachers, through simple exercises, during early years of education. The students must be encouraged to look around in their surroundings and ask a simple question regarding the origin or working of a phenomenon they are most fascinated with, and then the teachers must urge them to pursue an answer to their questions. For this, they might have to consult a few books, internet and may even have to carry out a simple experiment. This will give them the de rigueur direction and a sense of purpose. A rudimentary exercise such as this will be incredibly effective in honing the instinctive curiosity of children, dusting off thick layers of obliviousness that enshrouds juveniles over time and in warming them up to the idea of research, right at the beginning of their academic lives. Once introduced to the concept of reasoning, it wouldn’t be too long when the students would take up inductive and deductive reasoning in the course of their routine lives, posing a tough competition to the fictional physics genius Sheldon Cooper.
Every year, nationwide universities produce oodles of dissertations. Regrettably, only a few of those measure up to the benchmark of first-rate, authentic research studies while the remaining bulk communicates a sense of burden with which the dissertations were over and done with, rather hastily, just to obtain a degree. Ideally, the PhD faculty members must first frame hypotheses concerning critical national and international issues and then form research groups, inviting students who may be interested in working in their area of expertise, to work on conceivable solutions. For instance, having research groups working on affordable and sustainable energy solutions, in the milieu of Pakistan’s catastrophic energy crisis, will not only get many minds simultaneously thinking about the potential solution, but would also open doors to many possibilities.
With a solid groundwork laid down, funds can be roped in from HEC or other research-funding organisations. In a similar vein, the capable minds of the country can put their assets of analytical thinking into developing cost-effective measuring equipments, which are currently highly exorbitant in the market. There are a variety of people in Pakistan who, despite having never been to a school or university, are pretty well-versed with basic scientific laws. These are the ones who personify examples of curiosity-driven (as opposed to textbook) individuals.
With the aim of encouraging research in the country, HEC introduced tenure track system, according to which the appointed faculty members are required to produce a substantial amount of quality published papers so as to achieve promotion and increments. This, in principle, is a very effective tool to warrant perpetual, quality research endeavours throughout the country. However, as with most of the matters in the country, this principle lacks effective implementation. Teachers continue churning out same kind of work, year after year; by supervising research students and ‘innovative research’ takes a backseat.
Currently, the undergraduate and MS/MPhil level research studies are designed keeping in perspective the facilities available within the departmental laboratories which are mostly delimiting. Many students have to bear additional charges of their research as well as the transport fare within the city for the acquisition of data and surveys by themselves. For efficient utilisation of resources, universities must establish strong, active networks of association to facilitate researchers to make most of the equipments, literature and expertise that is not available to them in their own institutions. Research study of any scale involves considerable amount of time, energy and financial resources of the researcher, the dissertations of students should be tailored to produce valuable contributions to the research world.
The way forward is not a linear journey. The government bodies, universities, teachers and students all will have to work, side by side, in unison, to bring about the much needed research revolution. It is also necessary to keep the charm of the science, the adventure of treading the path of unknown and the thrill of arriving at plausible theories, intact. Teachers will have to be trained for new and innovative training methods and additional funds, amassed. As for the students; think, ask and pursue, who knows you might be the next Isaac Newton in line.
The writer is an environmental researcher.
The enervation the American politics
To observe the Republicans, one would think that the US military was involved in nothing more controversial than a Marine holding an umbrella for President Barack Obama while he gave a speech in the rain. Sarah Palin, one of the many darlings of the rightwing, has stated that most Americans hold their own umbrellas, despite pictures showing her disembarking a plane on a rainy day with a lackey holding an umbrella for her. Lou Dobbs, formerly of Fox News, said it was ‘disrespectful, inconsiderate, classless,’ although one looks in vain for his similar comments when Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W Bush had soldiers holding umbrellas for them. And the conservative blogosphere has been awash with condemnation, criticism and great umbrage about an action the president took, that has been taken by many presidents before him, including many of their heroes.
Someone awakening after a multi-year sleep and observing this would certainly believe that society overall was in very good shape, if the most important things political activists had to complain about was a Marine holding an umbrella for the president. However, such a person might be deceived. Let us take a quick look at another current issue that is somewhat less benign than an umbrella, and that no one on the right or the left seems concerned with.
US drones, unmanned aircraft, have for some time been bombing targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries, all in the sacred name of the U.S. war on terror (whatever that is). In the last couple of years, over 5,000 people have been killed in US – initiated drone strikes, and the frequency of these bombing is escalating rapidly. Their purpose, ostensibly, is to rid areas of Al-Qaeda operatives, a strategically important goal (we’ll not consider the morality of it quite yet), as the U.S. prepares to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, after twelve years of U.S.-sponsored terrorism against the Afghani people.
But what of the human debris left in the wake of these bombings? Ibrahim Mothana, a young Yemeni writer, said this in a New York Times op-ed last year: “Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants; they are not driven by ideology, but rather by a sense of revenge and despair.” Much as US citizens are told that people throughout the Middle East hate them because of their freedoms, it might be worth considering that the US is hated by many in the Middle East and other areas because the US government keeps killing their loved ones. In moving testimony on April 24 of this year, another young Yemeni man, Farea al-Muslimi, who had lived in the US as a high-school student, told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, that his neighbours had felt positively about the US, due to his experiences there as a youth. “Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the fear they feel at the drones over their heads,” he said. “What the violent militants had failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant.” But are not these victims just ‘collateral damage’? Are they not just the unfortunate cost of keeping the world safe for freedom and democracy? The answer to those questions is, of course, simply no. They are innocent victims of US imperial aggression. As Corporate America, with all its callous greed and complete disregard for human rights, lumbers across the globe, seeking new economic conquests, it knows that such conquests cannot occur only in the boardroom. Third World peoples, with no interest in corporate profits, who simply want to live simple lives, raising their families and earning their livings on farms, must not stand in the way of the almighty dollar, when their farms lay atop precious natural resources, coveted by the US. So as the US moves in, and is resisted, those resisting them are said to be ‘insurgents’, terrorists hating the freedoms that US citizens so enjoy. Therefore, they must be removed. Certainly, they are not all terrorists, but the ringleaders must be destroyed, and if, in the process of killing them, some innocent children are blown to bits in front of their terrified parents, well, that is simply war. One might see it as the cost of doing business.
And what is the result? Those parents, and others, fill in the ranks of any opposition leaders the US has managed to kill, inflating the numbers of ‘insurgents’ (read: freedom fighters), causing the US to send more of its bombs, thus killing more innocent people and fostering more hatred of the United States.
One could ask if these facts are too complicated for the US’ elected representatives. It seems rather basic: kill innocent people, and their loved ones will not necessarily grow fond of you. However, why is any of the relevant, when corporate lobbies contribute vast amounts to elected officials for their reelection campaigns? Who wouldn’t want to keep a job that requires showing up to the office whenever you feel like it, provides all-expenses paid travel benefits, and pays well? What do integrity, honesty, upholding the law and the Constitution have to do with the bottom line?
The US’s never-deserved but self-proclaimed image as a global beacon of peace and freedom began to wear thin during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. While Congress and the president prefer to look the other way, and view the ‘war on terror’ as defending freedom and democracy, more and more people throughout the world see it for what it is, and until US government officials decided to see reality, hatred toward the US will only continue to grow.
The writer is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776 – 2006 and Look not unto the Morrow.
In talking to militants, resist urge for quick fixes
Both the PML-N and the PTI are in a haste to initiate talks with the militants. Among other things they are approaching religious parties which enjoy good rapport with the militants. Pervez Khattak, the PTI’s nominee for the post of Chief Minister KP, has already met JUI-S chief Samiul Haq to discuss the issue. The latter claims he has also been approached by the PML-N leadership. The urgency to resolve the issue is understandable as nearly 50,000 people including about 15,000 servicemen have died in the terrorist attacks during the last decade. This has led to human suffering of an extraordinary high scale, particularly in cases where the victims happened to be the sole earning members of their families. The attacks have also created fear and uncertainty, scaring away potential investors, both local and foreign.
While there is a dire need to put an end to militancy at the earliest, the urge for quick fixes has to be resisted. All aspects of the complex issue have to be taken into consideration before moving ahead. The TTP is a motley collection of loosely bound groups. The outfit’s chief has rejected democracy as un-Islamic, advocated enforcement of Sharia through armed struggle and the establishment of a worldwide Khilafat dispensing with national states with geographical boundaries. The TTP spokesman recently declared that his organization would follow in the footsteps of Osama bin Laden, which implies turning Pakistan into a launching pad for militants working for a worldwide enforcement of the Sharia. The TTP comprises numerous groups with separate missions, some specialising in attacks on schools, some like LeJ targeting Shias. The PML-N and the PTI have yet to decide which leaders of the TTP they would meet. Hopefully both the parties realize that there can be no compromise on the constitution and the law of the land.
The two parties have yet to do a lot of homework. They need to sit together to determine the line to be taken jointly during any possible talks. There is also a need to get detailed briefing from the army and the security agencies to know why past agreements brokered with the militants failed to bring peace. They also have to understand why the army takes a stand different from that of the two parties. Gen. Kayani has called the fight against extremism and militancy as Pakistan’s own war. He has supported the elections maintaining that anti-democratic forces would never be acceptable. On Monday he praised the nation’s commitment to moderation and rule of law and congratulated the people for withstanding the threat of terrorism and defying the “unfounded dictates of an insignificant and misguided minority” by actively participating in the general elections. As Nawaz Sharif too has suggested there is a need for all stake holders to thoroughly discuss the various aspects of the issue.
The 55 per cent turnout means greater responsibility
There is good news and there is bad news to share. The good news is that the overall voter turnout across Pakistan in the May 11 polls is up, by 9 per cent from the 2008 elections. Added to the fact that the current elections were held under the shadow of terror and violence, with both Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa facing daily calamities, the numbers tell a story that the voter defied the militants. But here comes the bad news: the turnout was far worse in Balochistan and the tribal areas. A military operation was launched in the former to ensure a peaceful election but resulted in an election boycott, with voting remaining under 10 per cent in about 10 districts. The later, recovering from a decade of being under siege and 65 years under the FCR laws, is yet to form its trust in the processes of democracy.
Whatever the story may be in Balochistan, it is the 55 per cent turnout in 2013 that appears to be the dominant story of the current general elections. Up from 44 per cent in 2008, when some parties including the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Baloch nationalist parties boycotted, the current polls spoke of growing confidence in democracy to deliver. According to figures released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) bagged 10.4865 million votes; Pakistan Threek-e-Insaf (PTI) secured 7.679 million; Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) 6.55 million and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) got 2.458 million votes in the elections. It also disclosed that around 46.2 million people exercised their right of franchise, with the National Assembly vote count almost equal to the Provincial Assembly turnout.
However, the difference between the lowest turnout, NA-42 in the tribal areas of 11.57 per cent, and the highest turnout in NA-191 Bahawalnagar, is alarming. It suggests people in some areas trust the electoral system while others do not. Winning the trust of those disillusioned ones is the task of the next elected governments. The factors responsible for such low turnouts must be removed in the next five years. Balochistan and the tribal areas must be wooed while those restricting women from voting must be taken to task. But the turnout more positively mandates the new elected government to implement its programmes and set right the inequality in civil-military relations. The Earlier governments could not muster a mandate similar to the one about to come into power and it means more pressure to deliver. Spiderman once said: “With great power comes great responsibility.” The dictum applies to the coming government from whom the public shall expect good governance, promoting democratic culture and strengthening institutions. And why not? 55 per cent of registered voters can claim they gave the system and democracy its mandate.
Keep political loose cannon under check
Among other important issues raised by Mian Nawaz Sharif on Monday was that of the government-opposition relations. Opposing agitational politics, the PML-N chief maintained the culture of overturning governments through street agitation must come to an end. Many would readily agree with Nawaz as the country badly needs to consolidate the gains made during the last five years of democratic rule. During 2008-13 the governments at the center and the provinces abstained, after a long time, from persecuting political opponents or recruiting turncoats from rival political parties. A display of greater patience helped a genuinely elected government to complete its tenure for the first time. What is needed now is to further expand the democratic culture by abstaining from taking political battles from the Parliament to the streets. What the PML-N needs to realize however is that it takes two to tango. The party in power at the center and in Balochistan shall bear a greater responsibility for keeping political differences within manageable limits. The PML-N has to deal with a number of crucial and highly complex problems, ranging from terrorism to power shortages, and an ailing economy which it may not be able to deal with satisfactorily unless there is cooperation between the center and the provinces.
Even a cursory look at the scenario would endorse the adage concerning old habits dying hard. The MQM and PTI are in eyeball to eyeball confrontation in Karachi after the killing of Tehrik-e- Insaf leader Zahra Shahid . The outbursts by the MQM chief have added fuel to the fire. Shahbaz Sharif’s allegation regarding Zardari being responsible for recent transfers and postings in the federal government has elicited a strong protest from the President’s spokesman. President Zardari took nine days to congratulate Nawaz Sharif over his victory. Unless the government and the opposition reach an understanding over a modus vivendi, there is a danger of relations deteriorating.
Preliminary statements hinting at cooperation as well as tentative attempts to bring down the political temperature are welcome. Nawaz Sharif has assured that the federal government would do all that it can to help the PPP and the MQM to improve law and order situation in Karachi. Pervez Khattak who has been nominated by the PTI as Chief Minister Khyber Pukhtunkhwa has promised that his government would not enter into confrontation with the center. Altaf Hussain has called off all ongoing protests “till further notice.” Protests are a part of democracy. However unless the leaders of all major parties reach a consensus to maintain democratic norms while expressing dissent, peace in the country would continue to hang by a thread. What is of utmost importance is for the parties to keep their loose cannon under control.
I hear every politician claiming its voters to be youth. Why is this so? Youth have only so many votes, as all of us have, so why crib about and make claims?
It was funny to hear Altaf cry like a baby on his address. Was he crying for the plight of poor people of Pakistan or crying over his failures and obnoxious speeches? Nawaz’s disclosure in Alhamra on 19th May about circular debt at Rs 500 billion and exchequer empty was an indication that load shedding is not leaving us for next five years.
MQM Rabita Committee has run out of excuses to protect Altaf Hussein.
Asif Ali Zardari has lambasted his party workers for their dismal performance. But I wonder if Zardari did not know about irregularities and corruption for five long years.
Development that we see today may look nothing to us but in reality it has been made possible by multiple ideas and hardwork carried out by different researchers and scholars. Without even realising, we are looking at the wonders of “project finance”. Some projects might be completed through traditional financing structure but the latest development is a result of project financing. In project financing, risk and financing is negotiated among all the stakeholders. Project financing is becoming popular in developing economies although not as much as in developed countries. It is suitable for large projects especially in developing and emerging countries like Pakistan. Infrastructure projects were earlier financed mostly by the government itself. But that has started to change now, mainly to decrease budget deficit and foreign debt. The international institutions like World Bank and private institutions are playing a vital role in the development of infrastructure. In developed countries, this model is extended to public-private partnerships. For successful implementation of projects, the future challenge is to find a balance between public-private partnerships.
The State Bank of Pakistan has taken initiatives to implement project financing which includes infrastructure task force and capacity building. The adverse economic environment in Pakistan and problems in global debt markets had an adverse effect on the number of infrastructure projects reaching financial close, particularly since mid-2008. Budgetary constraints might pose a non-trivial risk to the government’s proposed infrastructure investment plans. Furthermore, non-banking finance, insurance and pension funds sectors remain underdeveloped, posing significant obstacles to the project finance sector.
However, the government does remain publicly committed to infrastructure finance and is continuing to pursue enabling reforms. Projects involving private participation in power and transport sectors particularly have seen some activity in recent years, indicating that there is an appetite among investors for infrastructure projects. Recent improvements in macroeconomic stability after receiving the IMF package, combined with relative resolve in the rate of economic growth in 2007-08, should enable cautious optimism going forward.
Livestock sector plays a very important role in Pakistan’s economy. It contributes 11.6 percent in national GDP and 55.1 percent of agriculture share. There are approximately 32.7 million buffaloes in Pakistan which constitute about 15 percent of the world buffalo population. There are five known buffalo breeds in the country named as Nili, Ravi, Nili-Ravi, Kundi and Aza Kheli. Nili-Ravi and Kundi are the two main breeds with 38 percent and 25 percent of the total population, respectively.
Traditionally, animals are purchased and sold on the basis of physical appearance and no system of record keeping exists at field level. However, type and conformation are very important where ‘type’ is a term commonly used to describe the physical qualities of an animal. Linear type traits are considered the basis of all modern type classification systems for describing the dairy animals. Linear classification is based on measurement of individual type trait instead of opinion.
Generally, farmers use type classification as a management tool in breeding and selection decisions. Type traits are very important because they are correlated with milk production. One of the objectives of the study was to standardize method for buffaloes to select animals with proper body characteristics suitable for milk production.
Nili-Ravi buffalo herds maintained at five Livestock Experiment Stations in Punjab and some private breeders were utilized in this study. The results are as under:
Skin thickness has been found under the genetic control and can be improved through selection and breeding keeping in view its importance and demand in the leather industry.
The negative genetic correlation of skin thickness in the neck region with 305 days milk yield advocates the thinking of farmers about the negative correlation of skin thickness with milk yield. It may be used for indirect selection for improved milk yield in Nili-Ravi buffaloes.
The following points are suggested for farmers at field level: Record keeping is the basic need for improvement in any business. Farmers should start record keeping of their animals including date of purchase or birth, dam number (Mother), sir number (Father), date of pregnancy, name or number of bull used for pregnancy, date of calving, sex and number of new born calf, milk recording once a month and date of dry. These records will help the farmer to keep or cull that buffalo.
Buffaloes with good type and body conformation even somewhat costly at initial stage are better milk producers and produce more milk on life time basis.
Nili-Ravi buffaloes of relatively heavy size, more body length and girth, wedge shaped with angular and well sprung ribs, more body weight and with thin skin are better milk producers and should be selected and purchased accordingly.