Monthly Archives: May 2013

Energy Crisis: Immediate Attention Needed!

By Yasmeen Ali

PowerIn Pakistan, depending on your place of residing, there is no electricity from six to twenty hours a day. Whereas it has hit hard the lives of the common man, making it impossible to function on a day to day basis, it has also brought down production in industrial sectors drastically, costing contracts and jobs of millions across the country.

If we look at the issue- two reasons emerge. First the demand is far greater than the supply. Pakistan is just not producing enough of it to go around. Second, the government is failing in paying dues to power generation companies thus giving rise to the phenomenon of “circular debt.” This is basically piling up of government dues outstanding to the power supplying units thereby disabling them from covering their overheads and producing /importing power. Once this debt is paid off, the IPP’s can pay off their petroleum import expenses and start producing at optimum levels. The IPP’s at current are responsible to provide electricity to half of our country. As the Govt. did not pay their debt so now they are charging or demanding higher per unit prices from the consumers. This hike in electricity prices is affecting not only our local industries and homes but is also affecting our exports of manufacturing goods. The govt. must intervene and pay out the circular debt. Or provide subsidy on electricity.

Most of the systems here run on either Gas or Coal i-e they are thermal systems. Both Gas and Coal are considered as scarce and expensive commodities for electricity producers. We lack high quality lower end grids that are used to carry electricity from power houses to the ultimate consumers via grid stations. The infrastructure is old and deteriorated. The system is unable to sustain extreme weather conditions hence most of the grids shut down at extreme temperature or either completely stops working. WAPDA is facing huge line losses due to electricity theft or illegal usage of electricity.

Then also, we face the very real problem of foreign investor being shy to invest big bucks in Pakistan owing to the socio-political-corrupt system.

There will be no honeymoon period for the Nawaz Sharif Government. The test of his government will be to provide immediate relief to the people. Nawaz Sharif needs to put together some sharp plans to address this pressing issue. Short term ones must be married to long term goals.

Some short term steps to address the situation are: Line Losses & reasons must be look into & steps taken to correct the same, Incoming government MUST look into discrimination of electricity distribution. Why is Punjab (more particularly) and in particular Lahore, Faisalabad & some other cities facing power outrages for 16  hours a day? Whereas this is reportedly not happening to this degree in other provinces. Upgrade Grid Stations, govt. must convert inefficient gas plants to efficient ones in order to conserve electric energy. In areas where over 80% of bills are being paid must not suffer power outrages as sharply as in areas where they are not. This will not only encourage timely payment of bills but will also be seen as being in the spirit of fairness.

Long term solution requires focused attention. Pakistan cannot sustain flawed judgment in taking of a final decision in this regard. It is exorbitantly expense neigh impossible to convert present energy giving units into one with different source of energy production. It will require virtual revamping of the entire existing set ups. However, Govt should look into the possibility of setting up Energy Units with LNG. I am told this is cheaper in terms of setting up & operational costs. LNG is cheap (comparatively).Very cheap. Qatar is the biggest producer/exporter for LNG. Qatar can export gas in liquefied form anywhere in the world and focus on the places where the state earns the most income for the gas. The idea at first was to ship LNG by boat to the US, which was supposed to help meet the demand of hungry Americans, but the continuously low natural gas prices in the US mean that it is more profitable for Qatar to supply its gas elsewhere, e.g. the United Kingdom, India, Japan and other countries in south-eastern Asia and Europe. Demand for Qatar’s liquid gas increased immediately in Japan after the earthquake on March 18 – supplying gas over such a distance through a system of pipelines would be practically impossible, especially when there is more than just dry land between the two locations. In addition to these distant places, some neighbors of Qatar have also shown an interest in buying gas from the country, especially Bahrain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Four of the six GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates – are importers of natural gas and only two are exporters – Qatar and Oman. As the gas exports of Oman are ca 10% of the gas exports of Qatar, there is no doubt that Qatar is the most influential supplier of natural gas in the region. There is no reason to fear that Qatar will run out of gas any time soon. The country has the third-largest natural gas deposits after Iran and Russia – Qatar owns 14% of the total gas reserves of the world. Qatar has enough gas for more than 200 years at current production quantities.

The incursion of foreign investment will depend on a conducive atmosphere directly linked to political & social stability of the country. Corruption must be checked to encourage it-with incentives.

Nawaz Sharif will be well advised to review and down size the massive increase of Rs 5.82 per unit price of electricity by the caretaker government. This step is being termed as facilitation for incoming dispensation. In a situation where due to unavailability of gas & electricity the business community is struggling to do business, common man struggling to manage expenses, the step is seen in direction of lowering Nawaz Sharif government popularity even before being sworn to office!

The writer is a lawyer & Author of a Media Book .Her twitter handle is @yasmeen_9

 

 

A unique letter to Altaf Bhai

A message from the nation making the rounds on the Internet, in response to the televised message received from a Friend last night. You must read this post and pass on! 

Altaf Bhai

 


“Dear Altaf Bhai,

This is in reference to your threats today. I hope you don’t take any of this seriously, just like we never take any of what you say too seriously either.

First of all, no matter what your drug/alcohol induced stupor makes you believe, you are not God. You are insignificant just like an insect, with your face plastered across every inch of the city’s streets. Sadly, Mortein doesn’t make a product that kills you.

Secondly, this is not YOUR city. This is OUR city. 

Who are you to suggest that Karachi should be separated from Pakistan? The last time we allowed a Britisher to demarcate our country, it was in 1947 after which we asked your red-passport brothers and sisters to get off our land and out of our lives.

Thirdly, politics is politics. Terrorism is terrorism. Call it what it is. You are not a political leader. You are a terrorist running a terrorist organization. You give death threats on public television, you give ultimatums to innocent civilians exercising their rights of a peaceful protest, and then you say you’re a political leader. I don’t know what you’re on these days sir, but I suggest you get yourself checked. I think you’re having an identity crisis.

Fourthly, I don’t know which city you say you and your band of terrorists represent but it surely isn’t Karachi. As for the people you say you fight for – the Mohajirs, the Urdu speaking men and women who lost everything when they migrated to this great land – not even one of them in his/her right mind would identify with you. I am a Mohajir and my family migrated from India. For years we’ve been told that to protect ourselves, we must support you and your band of terrorists. Today, it ends.

Lastly and most importantly – we all know you suffer from Alzheimer’s, you delusional lunatic. But this isn’t the 80s anymore when you put guns in the hands of young men and introduced militancy in your politics telling them that they needed to protect themselves from some sort of ethnic cleansing. Pakistan has moved on. And the only reason why you and your party maintain your stance on this ethnic divide is because without it, you have nothing to compete on.

We aren’t as divided as your politics suggest – we united in 1947 and it’s people like you who have been working to divide us since then. As I said earlier, check the color of your passport. It all makes sense now, you pseudo colonialist scum.

Love,

Na Maloom Khatoon

Evolving our own Democracy

By Naveed Tajammal

DEMOCRACY
For democracy to succeed in Pakistan, we have to evolve our own form of democracy. That cannot be achieved by an imitation of the Westminster type of democracy. It must suit the social life and the national spirit of the Pakistani people. It must fit into its national structure. Otherwise, as has been seen during the last 60 years or so, it has brought more harm than good for the country. To create and make a Constitution one has to study the psychology and sociology of a nation.

Our people are still in a slumber. The question arises can ‘sleeping’ people understand the value of freedom? People will wake up only when they are aware of their own aims and goals. So far, we have been led by a band of dynastic rulers. The present form of democracy, as being run in our country, is along the lines of the English system. Such democracy has always been supported by the crown. The strength of the British crown has been the navy and the land forces, the air force came later. The queen-empress or the king-emperor heads the forces. The aura added stability to this type of democracy.

In our part of the world, on the other hand, the leaders for quite some time till now are progenies of the former collaborators, whom the British had made into nawabs, tumandars, and chiefs. They may not be in the front but the people’s power from the rural areas is still with them. The then world power in which the sun never set, the rule of the union jack had created a new set of rulers for us after the fall of what is now called Sindh, Punjab, NWFP and the Northern Areas.

Men who had provided ‘services’ to the crown were awarded titles and positions in our society that still linger on in one form or the other. The British had created them in wake of their forward policies but the British had left our land 60 years ago. Do we need them now? Why do we still adhere to them? Why no government of the past has touched them. This is a major factor. Men like Iskandar Mirza boasted of their links with Mir Jaffar of Bengal. None challenged him. What our nation desperately needs is an in-take of fresh blood in our political system.

The condition of graduation as the minimum standard of education did put an end to the practice of illiterate people becoming MNAs and MPAs. They ensured their presence by throwing in their new breed of graduates. The only difference is that they now speak English in American accent. This, in a way, shows the state of our political bankruptcy. The elders still play the thana-katchehry politics. It is also a fact that those in power are bullied by those in the opposition, whose main target is to attain power by fair or foul means regardless of the harm they do to the national interest or cause. Sometimes the opposition succeeds in turning the tables on the rulers in power and the role is merely reversed when the opposition comes to power.

Mudslinging continues and the benefit is reaped while the sun shines. They bask in its glory. Therefore, an insight in any level of leadership is a must. It is the duty of the state to be able to ensure that. Hardly any political party can claim a vote bank, except for the religious parties. But that is a different story. Our blood hounds sniff the air, the political air, before they join the fray. They maintain the legacy of their past masters to ensure that disharmony and a state of uncertainty should always prevail. Changing the bandwagons is a matter of a whim. Today we have the PPP, yesterday it was PML (Q). Before that, it was the ever-loyal PML (N). So, where is the vote bank?

Remember, here the object is not a national cause. Here the true chameleon has to recoup his election costs, and the payment he made to the party funds for getting a ticket. Unfortunately, our writers make such a fuss of the leadership that they fail to see what the same lot has done in the past, maybe under the shadow of a different bandwagon. The solution is a one-time ticket awarded for a five-year term. The same holds good for the prime minister too. Let him prove his worth. If Sher Shah, with his resources available to him, could do what he did in five years, then the already developed infrastructure should be no hurdle for the new prime minister. He should come empty-handed and go empty-handed. After all, he wants to serve the country. I am sure even that despite all these constraints we, a population of 160 million, can locate a good person who takes our nation forward as one nation.

We have been an egalitarian society in the past in our salt range and above. The system still exists. Feudalism was imposed on us. Even in the Mughal administrative set up, the job of mansabdar, jagirdar or faujdar and other officials was never given to a person because of his credentials of ancestry. One had to achieve it through hard work. Each man did his best till he lasted. It was a matter of intellect. A mansabdar was fined he would fail in his job. In our lands, the concept of the rule of five elders in our villages had existed from the dawn of our times. It still does in the rural areas.

The same councils still decide the most complex matters. The town committees can handle the urban side. Barring the new settlers, the bulk of our city population is and still retains strong rural contacts. The thana-katchehry culture must end. It is a redundant practice. State officials must provide service at the door of the litigant. The writ of the state should ensure that. The original Gazette notification of 2000 was a good step forward in the local bodies elections if its clauses had been implemented. The law had then stated that no one with any political affiliation was allowed to contest. He had to be a tax payer. If such laws are implemented in true sense, this can be a giant leap forward.

The ‘old’ politician will die his own death. No seat becomes a family seat. Politics is not a profession. Each person aspiring to be a worker for his people takes his time out. In a nutshell, this is what a revolution is all about. The five-year clause is the force that will ensure that the political process moves forward and the peoples’ will prevails. With the present population of 160 million and a projected 300 million in three decades, it is about time we took the first step in the right direction by getting rid of the dynastic rulers.

The writer has a 28-year experience in investigating the identity of the Indus-person in a historical context.