This is with reference to a news item regarding imports of reconditioned cars that appeared in media recently. I was surprised to read the writer’s endorsement of FBR’s decision to allow across-the-board amnesty to all consumers using non-registered and non-custom paid cars for the last four years. Contrary to the writer’s belief that this scheme will benefit the masses and introduce healthy competition in the market, the consumer will continue to be the ultimate loser.
The last few years have seen the Pakistani market flooded with imported, reconditioned cars being sold at an exorbitant price. These vehicles are being brought in under the guise of the transfer of residence and/or gift schemes that allows the individuals to bring their vehicles with them, especially if they are moving. Allowing for across-the-board amnesty to consumers with non-registered and non-custom paid cars is tantamount to providing state support to an already existing illegal activity in the country as these vehicles are often brought in via the Afghan transit trade with negligence on part of the excise and custom officials. Such policies only benefit all those involved in such practices, thereby setting a dangerous precedent. Thus, the FBR must reconsider and revise this policy.
It was not only the absence of governance coupled with corruption which has caused an energy crisis in Pakistan, but non-uniform load management of electric power load shedding that has further added salt to injury and which will reflect in the coming elections planned for 11 April. On my recent trip to Lahore for attending a marriage, I had to endure crippling power breakdowns extending to 16 hours daily in a posh locality, namely Cavalry Ground located in Lahore Cantonment. Now I understand the anger of people of this province against this unjust load shedding, where cities like Karachi and Hyderabad hardly have to endure any electricity shutdowns beyond five hours a day, as compared to 9 hours in Peshawar, and ranging from 12 to 18 hours daily in Rahim Yar Khan, Multan, Lahore, Faisalabad and Jhelum etc.
NASIR K KHAKAKHEL
I would like to draw the attention of the government towards the problem of pollution in Pakistan. The amount of pollution in Pakistan’s major cities like Lahore and Karachi is 20 times higher than what it should be. Pakistanis are daily breathing polluted air. This has become a cause of concern as a large number of people especially children are contracting diseases from pollution one way or the other. This is not a problem that cannot be solved but it is unfortunate that people dint pay any attention to it. The solution to this problem is related to higher literacy and general awareness among the people about this issue. The government of Pakistan, as it is responsible for the well-being and health of every citizen of Pakistan, should take immediate steps to manage this problem.
The two options Pakistan apparently has to meet its energy needs of gas are the Turkmenistan gas pipeline and the Iran gas pipeline. If we avoid jargons and technicalities we can still attempt to analyse the situation in an easier language. In any given normal conditions and circumstances, Iran-Pakistan gas supply line seems to be the most logical option merely because Iran is Pakistan’s neighbor, has had good diplomatic relations traditionally and the gas line looks financially feasible. On the other hand, Pakistan faces a challenge particularly from its Western allies not to go ahead with the project. Instead there are talks in favour of Turkmenistan gas line in order to avoid international pressure within and outside Pakistan.
Opinions may differ and feasibilities might lay in both proposals. It seems obvious that had it not have been international pressure on Pakistan’s sovereignty, the Pak-Iran gas deal would had been good news for most. International relations are formulated on the basis of national interest and this is no secret that Pakistan today arguably faces its worst ever energy crisis. While the region grows at a faster pace it is also no secret that energy seems to be the stumbling block between Pakistan and its economic growth.
It won’t be wrong to say that Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project is the quickest option for Pakistan to meet its energy requirements on emergency basis until it makes its own long term energy solutions for a self-sustaining energy system. On the other hand, the fast initiative shown by Iran to complete its end of the deal after completing the distribution line up till Pakistan’s doorstep is another important factor to convince Pakistan. With global social, political and diplomatic situation changing at a fast pace and Pakistan in dire need to respond to its people who are nothing but a pack of hopeful resilient lot, the need of the hour was to go for a quick solution. There are also reports that indicate China’s probable interest in being a third partner in this project which would definitely result in more stakeholders and reduce pressure on Pakistan particularly from the West.
Why should President Asif Zardari, who till few months back was co-chairperson of the ruling PPP, summon interim Sindh caretaker cabinet to Bilawal House in Karachi and stress upon them that he still holds immense power. His son officially heads PPP, which is contesting polls, while his sister Faryal Talpur is calling all the shots, with foster brother Owais enjoying police protocol and protection without holding any office. The whole purpose of putting in place a caretaker setup was to ensure a neutral administration, giving a level playing field to all political parties. Unlike Punjab, where including chief secretary almost everybody in civil administration and police has been changed, there have been no similar changes in Sindh. This objective was defeated the moment nominees of two major political parties that ruled Sindh for over four years and ten months were selected in the provincial caretaker cabinet comprising of 18 ministers, which once again emphatically highlighting the fact that the party with a huge mandate from Karachi has been in government for past ten years, and cannot visualise doing politics out of power, even in an interim period. Silence of PTI and other political parties on these glaring violations is not understandable. So much for holding free, fair and transparent elections, but remember the wrath of this nation when elections were unnecessarily rigged in few constituencies in 1977, although ZAB would clearly have won with a simple majority. M TARIQ ALI Lahore
News from a Karachi court should have lowered every human being’s head in shame and disgust. On March 15, 2008, an 18-year-old girl visited Karachi along with her family; they went to Pakistan’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s mausoleum to pay their respects. During a power breakdown in the mausoleum’s premises, she was allegedly abducted by the security staff and their cronies who took her to a room within the premises where she was subjected to gang rape. Rangers found her unconscious just outside the mausoleum boundary on March 17. One of the accused rapists was arrested after the identification parade wherein the victim identified him while the other two were also arrested per DNA reports. April 06, 2013: five years after this shameful incident in Pakistan’ history, an Additional District Judge acquitted the three men for want of ‘evidence’. The learned judge rejected the DNA reports citing these as not a piece of evidence per Hudood laws. Is this the same country for which two million people lost their lives in 1947? MASOOD KHAN Jubail, Saudi Arabia
This refers to Kamran Rehmat’s enlightening article “Screwtiny” in your issue of April 15. I agree with his very acute observations regarding the on-going process of scrutiny of the aspiring candidates for MNA/MPA slots by the Returning Officers. Needless to comment that the process adopted had much to be desired. I would like to add the following observations. Firstly, as pointed out by the embarrassed candidates some of the questions put forth by the worthy ROs had no relevance to the Sections 62 and 63 of the constitution. It appeared that they wanted to belittle the politicians just to score points/settle some grudge? Secondly, the ROs most probably deviated and/or overstepped the mandate so given by the ECP. Thirdly, some of the ROs seemed to be not so competent or one may say not so qualified to effectively carry out the task. Fourthly, many a politician was not asked the pinching questions (may be due to some pressure or lack of knowledge) which if asked could have disqualified them. And finally, the aspirants went into appeal and most of them were cleared due to insufficient evidence produced by the ROs. Being the first experiment of its kind one can take it as a good effort. But we may have to devise better procedures/rules to judge the potential MNAs/MPAs next time. RASHID MAQSOOD Lahore
We are grateful towards Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for at least its - now aborted - attempt to stop political parties to vow voters in the name of religion and sects. On April 14, ECP announced that use of religion or sect as a tool to seek votes would be considered as violation of election rules. Of course, the order did not get the approval of the hundreds of religious-sectarian party candidates running for the upcoming national and provincial assemblies elections. While it was ROs nominated by the judiciary who approved these candidates as qualified for elections but the overall responsibility lies with the ECP. After receiving the expected harsh reaction from the same groups, the ECP announced within 24 hours that it had not issued any such directive. Thank you ECP, at least you tried. Masood Khan Jubail, Saudi Arabia
It is a matter of grave concern that violence on various political candidates continues unabated. The recent attack on the ANP leadership must be condemned in no uncertain terms by all and sundry. Currently it is the ANP. The PPP and MQM have also been openly threatened by militants, but other political parties must not assume they are safe. The attacks should be condemned together. The road to elections seems to be getting bloodier, but postponement will be even worse. SAIRA DAR Lahore
Thermal power plants are consuming 27,000 tons per day of mostly imported oil for generating power at Rs16 per unit which the government is supplying to the consumers at Rs8 per unit, incurring huge losses. Does it make sense for the PPP to say that had Benazir’s energy policy not been reversed things would have been much better? On the contrary, things would have been much worse, we would have been importing and consuming more oil and producing expensive power and subsidising it. This propaganda by PPP is to cover up the faulty policy of putting all our eggs in the thermal basket. IPPs, at best, should have been a short term measure. If long term hydel projects had been initiated, we would not be importing so much oil today. It is bad enough to pursue a faulty policy but it is even worse to praise it is to pull wool over people’s eyes. Engr Khurshid Anwer Lahore
When the scrutiny process of election candidates commenced, there was a general impression that soon there would be a list of people labelled as Mr 62, Mr 63, fraud, degree chor, tax chor, defaulter etc. On the contrary, on completion of the process, one finds that except for a couple of targeted ones, generally our politicians are Mr Clean. The media is to be blamed for unnecessarily causing aspersions and creating doubts in the minds of the people about their popular leaders. Credit goes to the fair and impartial judiciary, whose members as ROs and in tribunals ensured that no one was unnecessarily harmed or any clean image tarnished. I am, however, reminded of an incident of 2004/05, when the NAB gave a clear chit to someone known for land/housing scam. The foundation published a half page advertisement in all important newspapers displaying the NAB certificate in their favour. Since that day, the person has not looked back — catch me if you can. HAROON SIKANDAR PASHA Islamabad
When you cast your vote in any given election, you are voting for representatives who will represent your community, district or state. Elected officials are accountable to the voters who put them into office. Their primary responsibility is to listen to their constituents and enact legislation that will improve the lives of the communities they serve. For this reason, every election is critical. After all, we are electing a parliament and the government to be assigned by this parliament that will make crucial decisions over a period of five years in a number of fields, including the economy, foreign policy, social life and cultural developments. However, the parliamentary elections to be held next month in Pakistan are far more important than any other elections for the future of Pakistani democracy. These elections are not only the elections that will simply determine the outlook of our future government and parliament any longer but also will determine what sort of state we will have as an apparatus that rules and organises the affairs of the country. These elections will either make the nation superior to the state or will result in the continuation of the consolidated domination of status quo forces over the political landscape. It will be an election that will determine whether the current state will be replaced by a state apparatus that is based on the rule of democratic principles, equal representation and pluralism. SARFARAZ SAMAD Karachi