07
January
January 2016(EDITION 1, Volume 53)
 
Written By: Kanwal Kiani
Every New Year brings along rejuvenated hopes and aspirations, and so is 2016. We enter into January 2016 with proud optimism that is not based on wishes and desires alone, but on firm moorings of unparallel successes against terrorism and extremism....Read full article
 
Written By: Jennifer McKay
The new year is off and running. A glance at the global situation doesn’t exactly fill one with cheerful thoughts and optimism. Wars, poverty, massive numbers of refugees moving across Europe in search of safety....Read full article
 
Written By: Dr. Huma Baqai
Afghanistan’s enduring security crises is a source of concern for the international community but it means a lot more to Pakistan and its economic future. The cordial relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are....Read full article
 
Written By: Salman Masood
The memory of the gruesome December 16, 2014 terror attack on Army Public School, Peshawar, will always convulse the Pakistani nation. The sheer barbarity of the attack and scale of its brutality is unparalleled; the horror unbearable....Read full article
 
Written By: Ahmed Quraishi
Pakistan today has a distinction few countries have: it is home to one of the most exciting, strategic projects promising to reshape the face of the region and possibly the world....Read full article
 
Written By: Dr. Rizwana Abbasi
Nuclear technology for peaceful purposes is not a new subject. The proposition has been under some serious consideration, for both theorists and practitioners alike, since the world was introduced to this new, unprecedented and unique....Read full article
 
Written By: Abid Latif Sindhu
In animal symbolism Red Robin denotes all the good things from hope to renewal, new beginning and joy. There is a reason to be joyful as now the Red Robins of Waziristan are back. Operation Zarb- e-Azb is bearing fruit and chink....Read full article
 
Written By: Dr. Zafar Mahmood
The new economic geography approach maps the economic landscape in a dynamic way and inhabits it with economic agents in production, employment....Read full article
 
Written By: Prof. Sharif al Mujahid
And, Maulana Muhammad Ali, was one such nerve-centre in Indo-Muslim society during the second and third decades of the twentieth century. Indeed, he was one such strategic point in the onward march of Indo-Muslim....Read full article
 
Written By: Col Faysal Nawaz Janjua
Health Informatics (HI) is seen worldwide as one of the effective disciplines for enhancing the efficacy of medical procedures and promptly meeting the widening healthcare demands. Moreover, adoption rates of IT systems....Read full article
 
Written By: Fariha Zeeshan Chishti
As temperature drops, heaters clank on, the wind whips up and the battle for healthy skin begins. Dry air takes away the thin layer of oil that traps moisture in the skin. As soon as you turn the heaters on indoors....Read full article
 
Written By: Maj Syed Sameer Azhar Gardezi
The word Margalla is formed from (Mar – snake and galla – home) i.e home of snakes. The name is attributed to presence of a small sized local rattle snake (Khar Kharya) in this area. Margalla is a 40 km long hill range that covers....Read full article

 
Written By: Warda Gohar
New year is a time to take a fresh breath, inhale some motivation and exhale commitment and determination. Take on the challenges to bring about a positive....Read full article
 
Written By: Kokab Khawaja
 
A National Defence University delegation comprising 8 faculty members and 75 participants including senators, MPAs, bureaucrats, technocrats, ambassadors, officers from the three services and representatives of civil society visited HIT.....Read full article
 
General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), visited North Waziristan Agency (NWA) and spent the day with troops and tribal elders of NWA. He also inaugurated 110 beds Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Mir Ali....Read full article
 
Various frontline aircrafts of Pakistan Air Force demonstrated a high level of speed, precision and lethality, during a fire power demonstration held at PAF Sonmiani Firing Range. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was the chief guest on the occasion....Read full article
 
Two week long joint training exercise YOUYI 5 between Special forces of China and Pakistan was held at Qingtongxia , Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China.....Read full article
 
A total number of 88 officers, including 22 from brotherly countries Bahrain and Libya were passed out from Pakistan Naval Academy. Commander Royal Saudi Naval Forces, Vice Admiral Abdullah S. Al-Sultan graced the occasion as.....Read full article
 
A winter collective training exercise was held near Chunian, witnessed by Commander Lahore Corps Lieutenant General Sadiq Ali. The training exercise included battle drills by armour and infantry divisions. While talking informally.....Read full article
 
07
January

Written By: Maj Syed Sameer Azhar Gardezi

“It’s not the mountains but ourselves that we conquer”

(Sir Ed Hillary, mountaineer)

 

Residents of Islamabad are lucky to be located very close to beautiful Margalla Hills. These hills not only are a source of pleasant weather of the capital city but are also famous for the trails used by hiking lovers.

 

The word Margalla is formed from (Mar – snake and galla – home) i.e home of snakes. The name is attributed to presence of a small sized local rattle snake (Khar Kharya) in this area. Margalla is a 40 km long hill range that covers an area of approximately 12,605 hectares. Highest peak of the range is Tilla Charouni with an elevation of 1604 metres. Margalla Hills stretch from Shahdara Valley in the east to Shah Allah Ditta village in the west covering area between shrines of ‘Bari Imam’ in the east and ‘Golra Sharif’ in the west. Margalla Hills almost stand like a wall between two lakes of ‘Khanpur’ in the far north and ‘Rawal’ in near south.

hikningarailof.jpg

There are about thirty well identified trails in Margalla Hills and most of them are used by the locals. Administration of the capital city has worked on six hiking trails and has developed them. All of these trails offer unique hiking opportunities and can be easily managed as half-day weekend hikes. Here is a brief review of each of them based on personal experience.

 

TRAIL-1 (VILLAGE KALINGER/SINYARI)

It starts behind Sectors E-8 and E-9 and consists of three interlinked sub-trails. Easiest way to the trail head is by reaching village Kalinger from the junction of Agha Shahi Avenue and National Defence University. Hiking can be commenced from a small mazar complex in village Kalinger. Initially the trail moves along a water stream that leads into the mountains. Unlike other officially recognized trails, this is not marked well and it takes considerable effort to explore the path. A rigorous hike of almost two hours takes you to the shoulder of the ridge until the descent starts. Trail is used rarely by hikers, however, locals are found frequently on the way and are quite friendly. Occasional presence of cattles blocking the way as well as presence of small snakes locally called khar-kharya saanp should not be ruled out. This trail being mainly used by locals is free of any litter.

 

Last hour of downhill climb involves crossing a seasonal stream at few places and offers beautiful vistas. After about four hours of hiking, trail ends at a small graveyard in village Sinyari near a famous clump of Banyan trees. From here the metal road leads to the exit point on the main Margalla Road, opposite F-9 Park.

 

Owing to the relative isolation, lack of drinkable water and a rigorous long hike, it is not recommended for kids and families. A group of four or five people, properly rationed can undertake this exciting half-day hiking trip.

 

TRAIL-2 (DAMN-E-KOH / ZOO)

Among all the six officially recognized trails, Trail-2 leading up to Damn-e-Koh is the shortest. It has two distinct trail heads. First is located at a narrow dirt track astride Marghazar Zoo. Alternately, a well-marked trail head is present at the start of Pir Sohawa Road, short of Trail-4 parking area.

hikningarailof1.jpg

No matter which starting point is chosen, trails subsequently merge mid-way and lead to the finish point at Damn-e-Koh. The trail is short but steep and it takes almost 45 minutes to reach the top. It can be a good choice if one is looking for a short Sunday hike with family. The track doesn’t finish at Damn-e-Koh and also has an extension towards Cactus Ridge. 1.4 km long trail starts just across the road, opposite Damn-e-Koh main parking and leads to Cactus Ridge. The top of Cactus Ridge offers breathtaking panoramas of Islamabad including the site where Air Blue Flight 202 crashed in July 2010.

 

TRAIL-3 (SECTOR F-6)

This is the most popular hiking trail of Margalla Hills which is well marked and properly maintained. Trail head is located opposite Sector F-6 on Margalla Road and a dedicated parking area is available at that point. Due to proximity of various embassies, the trail is frequently visited by foreigners. Initial ascent of trail is steep and it takes almost an hour of moderate hike to reach the ‘Viewpoint.’ Viewpoint offers great sights of Islamabad and almost all major buildings, monuments, avenues are identifiable with naked eye from here. For majority of the hikers with families, View Point marks as the culmination point of Trail-3. However, for the more enthusiastic ones, it is just one third of the journey.

 

Beyond Viewpoint, the trail passes through lush green trees constantly going uphill. Area around mid of Trail-3 is relatively plain. With no water source near or along the trail, it is suggested to carry water bottles. All along Trail 3, benches lie at appropriate places for rest, a luxury which is nonexistent on any of the other trails.

 

From the mid-way, it takes almost an hour of rigorous hike to reach finish point near popular recreational spot of Monal Restaurant on Pir Sohawa Road. Due to its ease of access, proper marking, suitable resting places, appropriate cleaning measures and better maintenance, Trail-3 is a popular choice for hikers of all ages.

 

TRAIL-4 (DHOK JEEVAN)

This trail starts from an appropriately marked parking area at the start of Pir Sohawa Road. It is looping around the local mountain village called ‘Dhok Jeevan’ with the same start and finish point. Trail-4 is linked laterally with Trail-6 through a well marked path. Depending upon the preference, hiking on Trail-4 can also be finished at the start point of Trail-6 located in the rear of Faisal Mosque.

 

hikningarailof2.jpg

Trail-4 is quite challenging and strenuous. Initially it moves along the Pir Sohawa Road and then takes a westward turn further into the Margalla Hills. In the start, water stream moves along the trail but remaining part of trail is surrounded by jungle with no significant water source nearby. At the top, trail offers beautiful scenes of the city including rare glimpse of Faisal Mosque. There are no significant rest areas, milestones and trail is not well maintained. Although it is in common use by locals, it receives lesser number of hikers mainly due to its difficulty and isolation. The trail is not suggested to be used by kids and families, however, for group of four to five adults looking for a strenuous weekend workout, this trail can be quite rewarding.

 

TRAIL-5 (DERA JANGLAN)

Trail-5 or the Dera Janglan Trail is also quite popular. Earlier it was not open for the general public due to security concerns but can now be used. The start point is located few hundred metres ahead of Trail-3 opposite to Sector F-5 on Margalla Road and it leads up to Pir Sohawa Road. This trail has about three sub-trails and is also linked with the adjacent Trail-3. At the start point, presence of a seasonal water stream makes it a popular picnic spot for families. Initially water stream goes along the trail making it more enjoyable and in the mid, a fresh water spring provides a good resting spot for the serious hikers. Second half of Trail-5 is steeper which requires strenuous hiking. At the top, it offers beautiful vistas of the Islamabad city and finishes near a security check post on main Pir Sohawa Road. About 500 m walk on the main road towards west leads to Monal Restaurant. Trail is rigorous and is recommended for families upto ‘Ficus Spring’ only.

 

TRAIL-6 (CHAK JABBI)

Trail-6 or the Chak Jabbi Trail is one of the latest trails that has officially been recognized and made available to general public after necessary works. Trail head is located at the rear of Faisal Mosque near car parking. It is about 4km long and leads up to Village Jabbi. This trail gradually gains height and passes through thick jungle. After about half an hour from the start point, it takes you to a beautiful water spring with date and palm trees around it. The upper half of trail consists of steep climb and reaches to the small village of Jabbi. Trail is surrounded by thick trees and water spring is also accessible during the hike at different places. It also links up with the adjacent Trail-4 and leads up to the parking at Pir Sohwa Road. Trail has been appropriately marked, is well maintained and can be done with family in about 3 hours time from start to finish.

 

Dos and Don’ts of Hiking
• Do carry drinking water/juices while proceeding for hiking.
• Do carry out a map survey of the area prior to hiking.
• Do not harm the wild life or trees.
• Do not smoke while on the trail.
• Dress according to the local norms but keep yourself lightly dressed.
• Do not spread litter.
• Do not un-necessarily halt in the mid of trail. A steady but consistent pace is the key.
• Prefer not to hike alone.

*****

 
06
January

Written By: Fariha Zeeshan Chishti

As temperature drops, heaters clank on, the wind whips up and the battle for healthy skin begins. Dry air takes away the thin layer of oil that traps moisture in the skin. As soon as you turn the heaters on indoors, the skin starts to dry out. It doesn't matter if you heat your home using oil, wood, or electricity, the skin still gets dry. Is your skin feeling dull and lifeless? The dry winter season can do that to you. When the weather gets cold and dry in the winter, for many people, the cold clear days of winter bring more than just a rosy glow to the cheeks. They also bring uncomfortable dryness to the skin of the face, hands and feet. For some people, the problem is worse than just a general tight, dry feeling: Their skin becomes so dry that it results in flaking, cracking, even eczema (in which the skin becomes inflamed). That is when it becomes especially important to keep your skin moisturized.

Winter Skin Care Tips

• Bathing and Moisturizing. Let’s start with bath, the feeling that taking bath destroys or deteriorates the skin in winter considering water as a destructing agent is not true; it is the soap made of lye that destroys the skin. Luke warm water with moisture soap is the best way to keep skin hydrated. After bath,0 massage with wheat germ oil, or olive oil, are some traditional ways with which you can keep your skin looking good throughout the winter. Avoid very hot water.

wintertakecare.jpg
• Give Your Hands a Hand. The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it's harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first, to avoid any irritation the wool might cause.


• Grease up Your Feet. During the winter, your feet need more than a light moisturizer. Try finding lotions that contain petroleum jelly or glycerine instead. And use exfoliants to get the dead skin off periodically; that helps any moisturizers you use to sink in faster and deeper.


• Pace the Peels. If your facial skin is uncomfortably dry, avoid using harsh peels, masks, and alcohol-based toners or astringents, all of which can strip vital oil from your skin. Instead, find a cleansing milk or mild foaming cleanser, a toner with no alcohol, and masks that are "deeply hydrating," rather than clay-based, which tends to draw moisture out of the face. And use them a little less often.


We all know that moisturizing products go a long way in fighting dry skin, but with the help of nourishing, antioxidant-packed fruits, vegetables and “healthy” fats, you can moisturize and replenish your skin and provide bodies with health-promoting nutrients.
As the old saying goes, you are what you eat, and eating foods that keep your skin supple and smooth is easy and delicious.

 

8 Foods that Promote Skin Health

• Avocados. They are a great source of vitamins C, E, and monounsaturated fats, which help your skin to lock in moisture and replenish nutrients in skin. It also promotes collagen production, and helps keep your skin supple and firm. You can enjoy avocado as a whole fruit or in salad form.


• Fish. Salmon, herring, sardines and rainbow trout are all amazing for your skin. Fish contains omega-3 fats, which strengthen skin cells, help protect skin from sun damage, can protect against cancer, and help reduce inflammation. Certain fish also contain selenium, which preserves elastin in the skin, helping your skin stay supple, smooth, and tight.


Avoid deep-fried fish (the fats in oil are terrible for your skin), and opt for grilled, baked, poached, or roasted fish.


• Carrots. They contain the carotenoids beta carotene and lycopene – both of which help fighting dry skin and protect it from harmful sun rays and environmental damage. Also carrots contain vitamins A and C, which help repair body tissues and produce collagen, respectively. A glass of carrot juice in the morning can replenish and brighten up your skin.


• Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is full of vitamin E and good fats, and will moisturize skin both from the inside (eaten) and out (topical application).


• Spinach. Spinach and other dark, leafy greens are packed with iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, B, and E, which protect skin and improve your immune system. Phytochemicals and folate help hydrate skin and keep it healthy. You can steam spinach leaves as a side veggie, or enjoy it in salad or soup form.


• Nuts and Seeds. Nuts and seeds are the ultimate power food. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B and E, monounsaturated fats and minerals, and a host of antioxidants. They hydrate your skin, promote its elasticity, help regenerate cells, and protect against pollutants and free radicals. Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds all contain variations of these healthy pro-skin ingredients, and can be enjoyed plain as a snack (in moderation, as they are calorie-dense), sprinkled on yogurt or cereal, baked into muffins, or as a crunchy topping for savory dishes, like roasted fish or chicken.


• Grapefruit. Grapefruit contains lycopene, a carotenoid that help to keep your skin smooth. In a study published in 2008 in the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and bio pharmaceutics, researchers found that out of the 20 individuals studied, those who had higher skin concentrations of lycopene had smoother skin. Also grapefruit contains a good amount of vitamin C, which helps turn back the clock by preventing wrinkles.


• Eggs. Eggs are high in protein, which helps cell regeneration, and contain sulfur and lutein, which promotes skin hydration and elasticity. Eggs also work to hydrate the skin through topical application, so try an egg mask by whipping egg whites until frothy and then apply it to the face and neck. Rinse with warm water.


• Water. The most important thing you need to do to keep your skin glowing, during the winter, is to drink a lot of water. Our body is made up of about 60% water therefore water is required to keep the body hydrated. Also water helps to get rid of waste and toxins, which are the main cause of dull skin. A well hydrated skin looks great even without any kind of makeup.


In addition, you must avoid foods that can make your skin look drab and lifeless. That includes anything highly processed and foods loaded with sugar, salt, preservatives and artificial colouring. So, eat the right foods and keep the winter skin problems at bay.

The writer is a reputed clinical dietitian at The Aga Khan University Hospital. She has done her M.Sc in Nutrition and her specialty includes General Nutrition, Gastroenterology, General Medicine, and Endocrinology. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
06
January
Training Hard for Impregnable Defence

A winter collective training exercise was held near Chunian, witnessed by Commander Lahore Corps Lieutenant General Sadiq Ali. The training exercise included battle drills by armour and infantry divisions. While talking informally to the troops, Lieutement General Sadiq Ali emphasised on continuous training to enhance combat efficiency and commended their morale, physical fitness and fighting skills.

trainhard.jpg

06
January
Passing Out Parrade

• 104 Midshipmen

• 13 SSC Officers’ Course

• 88 Cadets Commisioned

A total number of 88 officers, including 22 from brotherly countries Bahrain and Libya were passed out from Pakistan Naval Academy. Commander Royal Saudi Naval Forces, Vice Admiral Abdullah S. Al-Sultan graced the occasion as Chief Guest. The Chief Guest while addressing said, “Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, enjoy extremely cordial relations. Pakistan Navy and Royal Saudi Naval Force also share wide-ranging maritime cooperation and we greatly value the support currently being offered to us by Pakistan Navy.” He further said that ‘regular conduct of bilateral Naval exercises like ‘Naseem Al-Bahr’ also bear testimony to this fact.’
pnpassingoutp.jpg
PAK Navy Pak-Russia Joint Counter Narcotics Exercise “Arabian Monsoon 2015”

Pakistan Navy and Russian Navy Counter Narcotics Exercise “ARABIAN MONSOON 2015” was held in North Arabian Sea. Various elements of Pakistan Navy including PN Ship KHAIBAR and Russian Ship KULAKOV, Naval Special Ops Forces and units of Pakistan Maritime Security Agency participated in the exercise. Observers from Pakistan Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) and Russian Federal Drug Control Service were also present. It is believed that the visit of Russian Navy Ship KULAKOV to Karachi would usher new avenues of cooperation between two

countries.

pnpassingoutp1.jpg

06
January
Eyes in the Skies PAF Demonstrates Its Fire Power

Various frontline aircrafts of Pakistan Air Force demonstrated a high level of speed, precision and lethality, during a fire power demonstration held at PAF Sonmiani Firing Range. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was the chief guest on the occasion.

 

The fire power demonstration started with a low level sonic boom by two Mirages flying over the range at supersonic speed. It was followed by formation fly past of frontline PAF fighter aircraft including JF-17 Thunder, F-16, Mirage, F-7PG & F-7P aircraft.

 

While addressing on the occasion, the Prime Minister highly appreciated the professionalism of PAF personnel and said, “PAF airmen and women are playing their part very well in Zarb-e-Azb and other campaigns against terrorists. I am proud of the fact that PAF is a key element of our counter terrorism operations in close coordination with Pakistan Army.”

eyesinskypaf.jpg

06
January
Participants of National Security Workshop Visit HIT

A National Defence University delegation comprising 8 faculty members and 75 participants including senators, MPAs, bureaucrats, technocrats, ambassadors, officers from the three services and representatives of civil society visited HIT on 10 Nov 2015. Inauguration ceremony of series production of Tank Al-Khalid-1 was performed during the visit. The delegation showed keen interest in the production process and keenly involved themselves in shop floor activities.

hitparticpantof.jpg

06
January

Written By: Col Faysal Nawaz Janjua

Health Informatics (HI) is seen worldwide as one of the effective disciplines for enhancing the efficacy of medical procedures and promptly meeting the widening healthcare demands. Moreover, adoption rates of IT systems are exponentially increasing in healthcare sectors across the world. It is also commonly believed that healthcare IT systems improve patients’ satisfaction, enhance clinicians’ efficiency and lessen the impact of human resource shortages in healthcare sectors.

 

These [IT] systems are mission critical systems and are implemented in dynamic and peculiar environments of hospitals. Therefore, specific issues and actors that shape these environs deserve attention and consistent guidance respectively. The success of implementation process is as important as healthcare IT systems themselves; since these healthcare systems and their integrated applications cause huge risks of failure; and the effect of error is enormous, making these systems completely different from normal IT projects. The risk becomes even larger when such systems are deployed in multiple intra-load sharing hospitals which are scattered over wide areas. From a change management perspective, an interesting job of the project manager is “to get the unwilling to do the impossible for the ungrateful”.

caveatofhealth.jpg

One of the prime slip-ups expected from change managers is assuming the “finish line” at the end of the project. Hence management efforts and resources are restricted till the system implementation stage whereas; one critical stage of healthcare IT system rollout is the monitoring and management of “change” after successful implementation of the IT systems. Organizational change involves heavy risks, as the consequences of change are usually less eminent than the consequences of not changing. In such environments, when there is slight difference between perceptions of current situations and aspiration levels, the need for change is hardly recognized.

 

During the early stage of implementation, changes in clinician's productivity may require extra staff and to be able to make continuous adjustments. Another important factor during change process is to discern the difference between the organizational noise that comes due to change or reflects real problems, so that the organizational inertia is addressed accordingly. The literature identifies communication in healthcare individuals as often "informal, disorganized and variable". If cooperation is not part of the organizational culture, individuals will not fully participate in cooperative work. Furthermore, the complexities and required inter-dependencies of the medical processes make healthcare IT systems more intricate in their performance outcomes. Therefore, healthcare IT systems are not considered a cost-effective option, due to their complicated development and implementation process; and reduced success rate of acceptance by healthcare users.

caveatofhealth1.jpg

Innovative healthcare providers are moving away from focusing heavily on acute care and instead shifting their focus to proactive care which cannot be possible without utilizing IT in healthcare sectors. Devoid of a defined care plan, medical errors often sneak through the cracks of disorganized healthcare IT systems and eventually lean processes fail. Lean, in its simplest terms, is about increasing value by eliminating waste. Untapped abilities and creativity of front line workers is a huge waste in healthcare. One of the challenges, that lean addresses, is the fact that waste is often not where we think it is.

 

Guiding principles for Health Sector Executives & Change Managers for Seamless Implementation of Health Informatics Projects are: Flexibility. "People believe software to be flexible, and therefore they flex it. They flex it beyond reasonable boundaries." (J. Millar). A related problem for IT projects, also stemming from the intangible nature of software is abuse of the perceived flexibility of software. The inability to visualize the boundaries of what is possible or practical in IT encourages people to change their mind more frequently than they might do for engineering projects where constraints are obvious.

 

Complexity. Complexity can be a significant obstacle to successful design and delivery of IT projects. As stated by G. Robinson: "On a large software project one is lucky if one person in 50 has anything resembling an overall understanding of the conceptual structure of the project, and divinely blessed if that person has the ability to explain it in lay terms."

 

Uncertainty. Many complex IT systems seek to undertake or augment tasks previously carried out by people. There can be great difficulty in elucidating clear requirements for such systems, since the outcome of any software project is necessarily uncertain and there is no problem “producing” software – the problem is knowing what to produce.

 

Software and Failure. "In my experience when things go wrong there is always somebody in the organization who knew they were going to go wrong. The question is how do you create an environment in which those who know it’s going to go wrong feel able to say so and then get a proper hearing?" (G. Robinson). In a software project you don’t finish any task until the whole task is complete. Requirements Management

caveatofhealth2.jpg

"Humans are very poor at saying precisely what they do want and extraordinarily talented at recognizing what they don’t want." (M. Lunt). Requirements’ definition is one of the most critical, and most challenging, stage of the project. Many projects fail due to flaws in the elucidation of requirements, others fail because the requirements have become obsolete by the time the project is delivered. "Do not try to achieve everything in the first implementation. Get a working system implemented – the experience of using it generally changes your view of what you want it to do." (P. Haren). Lack of Clarity of Purpose

 

"Without strict project control mechanisms, projects either never end or end up as camels which should have been horses". (D. Ball). Any project or initiative is destined for trouble if its objectives and purposes are unclear. "Value the experience of failure – you have just spent a fortune on a very expensive lesson." (D. Dalcher).

 

Inadequate Executive Support. The organization’s leaders may be committed to the undertaking yet not demonstrate that commitment. Tough project decisions may get made in a way that shows the leaders are not as serious as their rhetoric, because when push came to shove, they caved in. Absence of Credence in the Project. At times the objectives are very clear, but the members of the organization are not convinced that the project is worth doing at all. Because the project will change the work life of many members and require that they participate in design and implementation, they need to be sufficiently convinced that the project will improve their lives or is necessary if the organization is to thrive. "If you have an incorrect architecture it does not matter what else you bring to the project, it will probably be doomed to failure." (H. Lilleniit).

 

Organizational Inertia. Clinical work has been described as mostly "unpredictable and non-routine". Dealing with multiple uncertainties is a challenge for clinicians. Even when the organization is willing to engage in a project, inertia can hinder it. People are busy and stressed; they may imagine that an uncertain outcome cannot be a good outcome.

 

Recognition & Apposite Reward System. Aspects of organizational policies, incentives, and practices can hinder a project. The organization’s incentive system may not be structured to reward multidisciplinary behaviour. An integrated delivery system may have encouraged its member hospitals to be self-sufficient. As a result, management practices that involve working across hospitals never matured, and the organization does not know how (even if it is willing) to work across hospitals.

 

Dearth of Forthrightness. Organizations can create environments that do not encourage healthy debate. Such environments can result when leadership is intolerant of being challenged or has an inflated sense of its worth and does not believe that it needs team effort to get things done. Absence of climate that encourages conflict and can manage conflict, means that initiative problems will not get resolved.

 

Project Complexity. Sometimes complex projects disappear in an organizational mushroom cloud. The complexity overwhelms the organization and causes the project to crash suddenly. Many curves will be thrown the project’s way as the implementation unfolds and people realize their mistakes and understand what they failed to understand initially.

 

Failure to Respect Uncertainty. Significant organizational change brings a great deal of uncertainty with it. The leadership may be correct in its understanding of where the organization needs to go but the belief that a particular outcome is certain can be a problem in itself. Agility and the ability to detect when a change is not working and to alter its direction are very important.

 

Initiative Undernourishment. There may be a temptation, particularly as the leadership tries to accomplish as much as it can with obvious constraints. The leadership may believe that such bravado will make the team work extra hard and, through heroic efforts, complete the project in a grand fashion. However, bravado may turn out to be bellicose stupidity. This approach may doom a project, despite the valiant efforts of the team to do the impossible.

 

Invisible Progress. Sometimes initiatives are launched with great fanfare. Speeches are made outlining the rationale for the initiative. Then nothing seems to be happening. If possible, the project should seek to produce a series of short-term deliverables, even if they are small. Organizational commitment is like a slowly leaking balloon; it must be constantly re-inflated.

 

Organizational Baggage. Some organizations have no history of competence in making significant organizational change. They never master staying the course over years during the execution of complex agendas. This taints the credibility of newly proposed initiatives and helps ensure that organizational acceptance will be weak.

 

Failure to Anticipate Short-Term Disruptions. When processes are changed, there is a shakeout period as staff adjusts and learns how to make new processes work well. This can degrade organizational performance and balls will be dropped in many areas. The organization can misinterpret these problems as a sign that the initiative is failing. Listening closely to the issues and suggestions of the front line is essential during this time.

 

Conclusion.

While Implementing HI applications there are embedded and unbounded number of assumptions. Most of which are not decisions that you have taken, but things that you have not thought about. As victor Hugo states: “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come”.

The writer is MS in Computer Software Engineering & Engineering Project Management from NUST & Melbourne Uni Australia respectively.
We know why projects fail; we know how to prevent their failure – so why do they still fail?" (Cobb’s Paradox)

*****

 
06
January

Every New Year brings along rejuvenated hopes and aspirations, and so is 2016. We enter into January 2016 with proud optimism that is not based on wishes and desires alone, but on firm moorings of unparallel successes against terrorism and extremism. The war continues but victory is not out of sight; the destination is not far off. Pakistan Armed Forces with unflinching resolve, professionalism par excellence, and, upholding traditions of glorious sacrifices are fully poised to restore peace and security across entire Pakistan. No stone would be left unturned to secure our borders, safeguard the sovereignty and eliminate the enemies of peoples’ peace and security. The firm resolve to serve the motherland continues in 2016 with a new fervour and commitment.


We began 2015 amidst the pangs and gloom of tragic incident of APS Peshawar on December 16, 2014. The challenge was enormous, the enemies were well entrenched but the will to fight for Pakistan was also insurmountable. The shameful act and inglorious attack by the enemy aimed to put us down met a heavy response. Pakistan Armed Forces with full backing of the entire nation launched operations across the entire country. Operation Zarb-e-Azb, Operation Khyber I & II, and IBOs (Intelligence Based Operations) began the hunt for the enemy that had deceitfully disguised itself in the folds of religion, ethnicity or provincialism. Along with FATA, operations were conducted against violent militants in Balochistan, Karachi and other parts of the country. The operations were conducted without any consideration of hue and colour, good or bad, or, any other niche. The task was huge but so was the resolve, and the marvelous outcome is in front of the entire nation and the world. Today, Pakistan’s model of fighting the militancy is not only eulogized but also adopted by many armies of the world.


Fully cognizant of the fact that successful tackling of terrorism and extremism involves use of both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ power; Pakistan Army took short as well as long term measures. Pakistan Army not only successfully handled the crisis of TDPs’ timely evacuation, benevolent temporary settlement but is also ensuring well planned rehabilitation. As of today, a major portion of TDPs have returned to their respective areas. Back home, they do not find war ravaged houses, villages and towns, but new roads, hospitals, schools and cadet colleges. Pakistan Army has used these WHAMs (Winning Hearts and Minds) operations not as a mere component of military strategy, but in reality it is the manifestation of deep rooted love for the people of Pakistan. Pakistan Armed Forces are proud of the peoples’ trust, love and support, and, stands committed to ensure their safety and security under all circumstances.


Despite being heavily engaged in internal security challenges; Pakistan Armed Forces are fully cognizant of challenges from across the eastern and western frontiers. We are fully capable to thwart any challenge to our sovereignty. This capability also provides us the pedestal to negotiate a durable peace fully protecting our core national interests, honour and prestige. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, we have always supported all Afghan-led peace overtures. Pakistan has always believed and positively contributed towards regional peace and stability.


Notwithstanding the existence of many grim challenges, today we stand more united as a nation and much better placed militarily to meet these. We have come out of the gloom stretched over almost a decade. Today, the terror forces are on the run, but all safe havens and hideouts would be denied to them. They will be chased to either accept the writ of the state or face total elimination. Without reaching the logical conclusion, the war is continued!


We need to hold firm this hard-earned peace and further secure it.
Happy New Year!

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

06
January

Written By: Abid Latif Sindhu

In animal symbolism Red Robin denotes all the good things from hope to renewal, new beginning and joy. There is a reason to be joyful as now the Red Robins of Waziristan are back. Operation Zarb- e-Azb is bearing fruit and chink after chink the territory is being reliberated from the dark shadows of obscurantism. The permanency to this tranquility depends not solely on kinetics but more so on deep-rooted social engineering and corrections in ideological overturns, through stacking of correct narratives, one after the other. The region of FATA (even so Afghanistan) requires a new dimensional, high definition enlightenment without which the beast of the jungle will not leave and chickens will come home to roost again and again.


Enlightenment is, therefore, the therapy to save the ideology from precipice and its unwanted pitfalls. Generally the enlightenment is of two types, radical and moderate. The moderate enlightenment is an evolutionary process which takes place over a period of time. This part of world now requires the radical enlightenment. This might look like an oxymoron but for pure happiness of the society, there is a need to undertake social engineering at societal level with cultural underpinnings.


A new discourse has to be invented, comfortably ensconced between the pull of philosophy and the drag of history. The intellectual history of Muslim comity is frozen in time, there is much beyond the mere definitions of theists and atheists. Spinoza once said "Man is neither good nor bad morally but merely neutral and morality itself is purely a function of society.” People living at the dissenting fringe of society can be recasted by appreciating the root cause of dissent, rather than demonizing the periphery. The Quakers in 17th century hated slavery, not the slave. The Quaker entrepreneur played a central role in formenting the Industrial Revolution, especially in England and Pennsylvania, thus initiating the radical enlightenment which made the abolition of slavery possible. For any society the basic mortar for cohesion and pure happiness is the prevailing sense of equality. The prejudices and static traditions are the termites which eventually tunnel out the equality by preferences of the influentials. Therefore, the emergence of informal aristocracy is to be seen as the vanguard of inequality quarters.


How then would the society be re-engineered? Remember, the philosophy as the higher thought is not for the majority. It will not enlighten the people enmasse. For masses a systematic re-education is required. The equation of re-educating, de-radicalizing and educating (RDE) has to be established with mathematical dexterity. Re-educating means correcting the ideological aberrations which will result into generic deradicalization and thus the intellectual chasms can be filled with education based on rationality, reason and sublime logic. It is believed by rationalists that men don’t degenerate in society, it is simply because reason has not yet developed sufficiently for them to take advantage of it. In short, the general freedom and equality is linked to general enlightenment. The rules, norms and traditions are for emancipation, not enslaving the people. World is passing through interesting times. As per Fareed Zakaria, world is moving from anger to indifference with three forces: politics, economics and, technology shaping the world. Where then can we fix the concept of enlightenment? It is the new political discourse of the society where the new found principles can have their gestation. In present world both the global north and the global south are facing the inequality.


The West is facing the problem of plenty and East the problem of scarcity. Net result in the words of Thomas Piketty is overwhelming inequality, thus the emergence of folds where the radical thoughts grow casting their diabolic shadow. In Afghanistan same inequality is manifested in a little different hue. Afghan society is deeply tribal in nature. The Afghan cities are the microcosm of the rural Afghanistan. The west and the rest have reaped the failure of their success in Afghanistan by applying an obtuse strategy of fireworks. Due to ground and ideological friction, the foreign troops are almost always the victims of system fatigue. Present day world is a depiction of an array of uni-multipolarity, many powers and one super power. It also seems that due to reasons known to the power to be, the world conflicts or chaos, once stirred, are very difficult to control. Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq are the current examples of this international vagary. Why is it so? Alvin Toffler's third wave is now giving birth to the ever increasing influence for the fourth wave, which is the culture. Culture is the destiny of the world. The datafied world is bound to converge again on culture. The phenomenon of globalization is trying to dilute the same but only in a subtle way. The social instability inside Afghanistan is due to the lack of institutions or the malfunctioning of the existing ones. As of now only traditional institution of jirgah and arbitration is effective between different tribes and warlords. The Afghan society is the true depiction of the malfunctioning of these traditional institutions.


The basic responsibility of the state is the redistribution of, primarily, the two sine-qua-nons – sustenance of food and the deliverance of law. Afghan state lacks in both. It behaves as a minimalist one due to lack of the application of the principles of equality and the radical enlightenment. Isomorphic mimicry, that is copying outward forms of developed countries without investing into the people, leads a nation to nowhere. Historically there always were the estates before the state, but that is why the world went under the birth pangs of the Reformation, Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. Estates within the state of Afghanistan is not a territorial issue. It is to be fixed with the wand of rationality and reason. Even the civil society can't do the trick as civil societies are always partial, partisan and self-directed towards its own ideals. The band, tribe and solidarity, based on genetic relatedness, is the social retardation which takes societies backward rather than moving ahead. Tribal laws revolve around an extreme sense of bondage slavery, which when comes in context with other tribes becomes a sort of nepotism based on kingship and reciprocal altruism. All is absolutely against the principle of equality and rule of law.


Prebendalism of sort was the most effective reason for the birth of Taliban, rather than the concept of Afghan Jihad which is over since long. Political correctness of a society as a whole is very important cause without which even modernization will be a phenomenon without development. On the other hand the fulcrum to start the process of enlightenment is the Afghan government, however, weak it is, has to be trusted, as the distrust of any government metastasizes into distrust of everyone. The Federalist Papers is not only documentation of American history, rather it is more or less a document dealing with difficult societal situation through the prism of enlightened reasoning. The political machine of Taliban in Afghanistan is more of a social clique than a military club. The recruitment is done through the precinct captains in rural areas and ward healers in towns and cities.


To address the problem of emergence of obscurantist beasts one after the other, we need to break the cycle of ideological gestation. The entire west is focusing upon the state building of Afghanistan whereas actually there is a need for nation building. Till the time the swap over is not done, the Afghan problem will simmer like a volcano. State is built through tangible institutions like army, police, bureaucracy and ministries etc., whereas nation is built through the intangibles of national identity, corrective ideology, symbols and shared identities. The Third World War would be the war of intangibles. The west and the rest are rather investing in tangibles, thereby winning battles and losing the war. The ideology is the plane where the actual fight has to take place. This can happen not through kinetics but the shining armour of reasoning, logic and enlightenment. Historical amnesia has strangely taken over those nations who, themselves, overcame their dark periods through the application of intangible first, before the sequencing of tangibles. Institutions are very important but these are not the bedrock to raise edifice, the bedrock and ideational plinth is the correct ideology and the sense of identity.


With due apology, to James A.Robin and Daron (authors of Why Nations Fail), nations do not fail due to lack of institutions, rather nations fail when their institutions don’t manifest the lofty principles of equality, liberty, rule of law and respect for human values.

The writer is a freelancer having a military background and regularly contributes for national dailies on issues related to national security, strategy and foreign policy. He is also a Ph.D scholar at National Defence University.
Enlightenment is, therefore, the therapy to save the ideology from precipice and its unwanted pitfalls. Generally the enlightenment is of two types, radical and moderate. The moderate enlightenment is an evolutionary process which takes place over a period of time. This part of world now requires the radical enlightenment. This might look like an oxymoron but for pure happiness of the society, there is a need to undertake social engineering at societal level with cultural underpinnings.

*****

 
06
January

Written By: Dr. Rizwana Abbasi

Nuclear technology for peaceful purposes is not a new subject. The proposition has been under some serious consideration, for both theorists and practitioners alike, since the world was introduced to this new, unprecedented and unique form of energy. The question, nonetheless, for ‘letting it go from one nation to another’ had been in critical debates in the professional circles since 1950s – before, during and after the Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace Programme. The discussion on nuclear energy’s use and spread has been renewed and become more acute in recent years. Today, Asia-Pacific is home to the world’s leading dual-use companies and expected to see the world’s most rapid growth of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is viewed, by many analysts, as gap filler in energy calculus of a nation. Pakistan is one of the aspirants ‘energy deficient’ states that focus on energy security to fulfil socio-economic demands.


Pakistan has always remained sensitive to rising energy needs viz-a-viz strengthening the energy mix, which I refer to as ‘alternatives enhancing strategy’. Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) established the first nuclear power reactor at Karachi named as Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP-1 or K-1). K-1 was a small 137 MWe Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) operationalized in 1971. K-1 contributed towards power requirement of Karachi for nearly 45 years and has lived its useful life. Presently, K-1 is under review by the PAEC because of its age. The second unit is Chashma–1 (C-1), in the Punjab province. This is a 325 MWe two-loop Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) that was installed in May 2000. Its twin unit, Chashma-2 (C-2), was installed in 2011 with an upgraded capacity of 330 MWe. The net capacity of the above three nuclear power plants is 600-700 MWe, which amounts to 4.3 per cent of the total energy mix. Though functioning efficiently, yet the installed nuclear power plants are not enough to bridge energy supply and demand gap. Pakistan, therefore, decided to install another two nuclear power plants to its grid. Pakistan, in June 2008, publicly pronounced to institute the units C-3 and C-4, each carrying 320 MWe with Chinese assistance. The work on installation and operationalization of these projects started in 2011, under the complete safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The units of C-3 and C-4 are going to have a functional life of nearly 40 years.

 

pakneuener.jpg

Despite the IAEA safeguards, the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) raised apprehensions about China’s supply of C-3 and C-4. Historically, the NSG emerged in response to the 1974 Indian nuclear explosions with the purpose of halting further proliferation of nuclear weapons. The aim of the group was to ensure that transfer of nuclear material would not be diverted to unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycles and nuclear explosive activities. The NSG elaborated and served the purpose of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT – came into force in 1970) Article III.2 and IV. It’s worth noting that China acceded to the NPT in 1992 and signed the provisions of the NSG in 2004. The contracts for C-1 and C-2 were signed in 1990 and 2000 respectively, before China joined the NSG, which imposes an embargo on sales of nuclear equipment to Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) that are not party to the NPT. Therefore, the Chinese official stance is that C-3 and C-4 are similarly “grandfathered,” and arrangements are consistent with those for units 1 and 2.


Following the progress made on C-2 and C-3, and contextually recognizing the need for more energy, Pakistan, in June 2013 announced that two 1000 MWe class reactors would be installed as K-2 and K-3 adjacent to the site of K1, in Karachi. It is expected that the K-2 and K-3 will be finalized by 2020 and 2021 respectively. The K-2 and K-3 projects are an inescapable necessity for Pakistan, as in recent times, the production of electricity is far outnumbered by the demand coupled with announced and unannounced load shedding are impeding the growth and development. Proponents and optimists believe that the fastest and cheapest way of dealing with the country’s power woes is building the K-2 and K-3 nuclear power plants. Pakistan was producing 755 MWe electricity from the existing nuclear plants and it would reach to 40,000 MW by 2050. Whereas our immediate neighbours such as India and China in parallel are producing far higher amount which is 5308 MWe and 19050 MWe at present and aspire to produce 15,000 MWe and 50,000 MWe by 2020 respectively. In the overall construct of energy generation, India and China aim at producing 200,000 MW and 400,000 MW by 2050 respectively.


It is safe to argue that the nuclear power plants might just be our only chance to prevent power starvation and insufficiency. Nuclear energy, indeed offers a greater capacity factor, lower cost and environmentally safer source at this stage. During my interaction with a group of scholars, working at the Asia-Pacific Centre of Security Studies (APCSS), USA, they opined that growing need for energy security and nuclear energy is fast, safer and cost effective pathway to mitigate power shortage.


There are some analysts who view design of K-2 and K-3 (which is known as the ACP-1000 design) to be in violation of internationally acclaimed safety standards required of a nuclear power plant. It is worth mentioning here that the criticism concerning the design of the Chinese ACP-1000 reactors is, somewhat blown out of proportion, all pressurized reactors are essentially identical and the only significant variation between diverse generations of reactors lies in their respective safety features and systems, which increase with each advancing generation of reactors. There are no constraints on the vendors to market their reactor designs without installing it inside their home territory. For PAEC, the “K-2 and K-3 are reported amongst the safest reactor systems accessible globally, as the ACP-1000 model selected for the new reactors is based on the well-tested PWR concept of which hundreds of systems are operating around the world.” The PAEC also reported the ACP-1000 design as a Generation-III plant and boasts ‘Passive Safety Systems (PSS),’ which means that no active interference is needed in case of errors or failure. These passive safety systems help the plant’s engineers or operators a maximum of 72 hours to act in case of emergency situations as it has been incorporated with additional security measures unlike the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents.


On Accidents’ Evaluation, the evidence shows that the K-1 has been running smoothly for the last 40 years, neither did it release any radiation nor did it create any other predicament for local residents. Furthermore, these fresh K-2 and K-3 power plants, according to the PAEC, are double containment plants that mean radioactivity will remain inside the plant even in case of any misfortune. The Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) has casted low chances of releasing radioactive material from the reactors into the environment. Indeed a double containment wall to avoid the release of radioactive material makes the two nuclear reactors safe. More so, Karachi’s population is within the requirements of nuclear power plants; no development will be permitted in the vicinity of the plants. The design can withstand an earthquake of 9.0 Richter scale. Moreover, Karachi Development Authority clearly prohibits all housing society construction within 5 km of K-1.


From 1960s up to this date, only two deaths were reported from nuclear plants’ incident, which is not very high. The PAEC had carried out surveys that reveal the maximum temperature of water in Karachi is 31oC and the water that is used for cooling the plants only had increased around 2 to 3oC that was still less than harmful level for marine life that is 38oC. The current location of these plants has been regarded as feasible by the relevant authorities such as the PAEC. The National Command Authority has also set up a specialized force for the protection of nuclear installations. The PAEC’s sound credentials and accident free record of operating nuclear power plants up to this date discounts any doubts on the efficacy of K-2 and K-3.


The PAEC has initiated, to what I term a ‘comprehensive nuclear safety orchestration’, which involves risk assessment, preparedness and an evacuation plan for people living out to 15 km from the site. The military institutions, national, provincial and local disaster management authorities and traffic police are in coordination in case of emergency evacuation. The feature has become more significant after the Fukushima incident that did not have a natural cooling system as they thought that there would be no electricity shutdown in Japan. It is paramount that the PNRA and PAEC ensure a close coordination with the NDMA in order to reinforce preparedness plans to respond to natural and man-made accidents. Public awareness and engagement as a whole of society approach is essential. The institutions need to actively participate in global disaster management and nuclear risk reduction conferences, workshops and institutional training programmes to bring best practices home.


If Pakistan is not a signatory of the NPT, it does not mean that it automatically disqualifies from receiving any assistance for its peaceful nuclear programmes. In the case of non-NPT states – India has been given the benefits of the NPT states in the form of Indo-US nuclear deal, this is a sinister selectivity which compels me to call it an ‘opportunists’ leverage’. As a non-NPT state, India is keen to join the NSG to achieve global support for its civil nuclear deals. Thus, the NSG is under pressure to expand membership outside its defined criteria. Obviously India, a non-NPT nuclear weapon state, has not placed its facilities under the IAEA’s full-scope safeguards and thus, it is not entitled to the benefits of the NSG membership. It makes logical sense that non NPT states usually follow special safeguards whereas it is obligatory for the NPT member states to follow comprehensive or full-scope safeguards. Thus, it is subject to the NSG rules that forbid nuclear cooperation with states that have unsafeguarded facilities. Besides, India has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and has not addressed the moratorium on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty.


Though being without widespread legitimacy, the NSG also has to recognize current realities. In time, the NSG will have to reflect emerging trends in the global nuclear power industry. As agreed in NPT Article IV, the Group by no means will oppose development of peaceful nuclear energy, even as it remains strongly opposed to proliferation. Pakistan desires to secure nuclear energy through an appropriate, universal institutional mechanism thereby securing membership in the NSG directed by a ‘criterion-based approach,’ – a mechanism that defines nuclear cooperation with these new nuclear weapon states based on equality and justice – that is consistent with current political realities. Such a proposition, pragmatic in nature and consistent with time-sensitive strategic urgency, is paramount for Pakistan as it aspires to institute two additional nuclear power plants to generate 40,000 MW by 2050 to make up for the crippling power deficiency that plagues it. Pakistan’s inclusion in the NSG based on logical grounds would indeed secure enduring trust between the group members and Pakistan.

 

The writer is a PhD in International Security and Nuclear Non-Proliferation from University of Leicester, UK and is on the faculty of NDU, Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
If Pakistan is not a signatory of the NPT, it does not mean that it automatically disqualifies from receiving any assistance for its peaceful nuclear programmes. In the case of non-NPT states – India has been given the benefits of the NPT states in the form of Indo-US nuclear deal, this is a sinister selectivity which compels me to call it an ‘opportunists’ leverage’. As a non-NPT state, India is keen to join the NSG to achieve global support for its civil nuclear deals.

*****

 
06
January

Written By: Ahmed Quraishi

Pakistan today has a distinction few countries have: it is home to one of the most exciting, strategic projects promising to reshape the face of the region and possibly the world.

 

Think on a grand scale: the Suez Canal, 1869; the Panama Canal, 1914; the Karakoram Highway, 1966; or, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, 2014, the world’s highest railway track, linking Beijing to the heart of Tibet.

 

And now there is CPEC, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, 2019. When completed, Gwadar will do something similar: change the traditional ancient trading routes between China, Central Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Europe. This gigantic project requires vision, determination, political will, and funding. All of these things are available. The commitment of Pakistan and China to this project is solid and unquestionable. However, Pakistan needs one more thing to make Gwadar truly successful: a clear vision for how to position this Arabian Sea port as an international city in Pakistan. To do this, Pakistani politicians, bureaucrats, and the military need to get creative, to dictate the necessary changes to ensure that Gwadar turns out according to plan, and not according to luck.

 

Gwadar’s ultimate destiny is to become an international city, a hub for trade and finance, a centre of shopping, fine dining, and a cultural centre. A cosmopolitan city that displays Pakistan’s international spirit. To achieve this, Pakistani decision makers need to introduce a set of domestic legal and administrative initiatives that go with such an ambitious project, and simultaneously prepare the Pakistani nation for this new experiment by exciting them about the future.


positioninggawadar.jpgPakistan needs to look at a combination of examples of international cities that act as trading, cultural and entertainment hubs: Dubai, Singapore, Bahrain, Istanbul, Macau, Shanghai, London, Monte Carlo and Las Vegas. The idea is not to look like any of these cities. The purpose is to learn from the successes of these cities to design and create a Pakistani experiment of success in Gwadar that resembles no other city but learns from the best practices worldwide.

 

Why an International City?

There are many types of international cities. The model proposed here is of a cosmopolitan Pakistani city under Pakistani laws tailored to ensure growth and success.

 

Let us be clear about one thing: Pakistan is late in the game. Countries from Bahrain to Egypt and to Malaysia have created attractive models of international seaport cities that thrive on trade and offer a cosmopolitan experience. And there is Dubai, which has inspired spinoffs in Oman and Qatar. Iran is coming in the race, too. Expect Iran to learn heavily from Dubai, Doha and Bahrain and remodel Chabahar or Bandar Abbas accordingly as Tehran opens up after the successful implementation of the nuclear agreements.

 

It will be a tragedy if Gwadar turns out to be just a docking yard with cranes, containers, and warehouses. With its beaches, its beautiful weather, and the majestic desert mountains nearby, Gwadar deserves to be Pakistan’s first international city that offers itself as a trading hub, a financial, cultural and entertainment centre and a melting pot.

 

Pakistan needs to study successful examples to pick best practices. For example, laws in Gwadar will have to be different from the rest of Pakistan for everything from commercial licenses to residency requirements to property ownership.

 

One of the first things Islamabad will have to deal with is the question of rural-to-urban migration. A new city with vast opportunities will attract rural population shifting from all over Pakistan to the new city in search for blue-collar jobs. To control this eventuality, Islamabad could introduce special Residency Permits for Pakistanis from other parts of the country as well as foreigners who wish to reside or do business in the city. Unlike cities in the West and the Middle East, which are mostly countries with lower population mass than Pakistan, we have to learn from successful Asian examples of internal migration control. The idea is to regulate the flow of people, not to block it.

 

Pakistan can see the Chinese example. Cities in China have long regulated population movement into cities through family registration or residency permits. China is relaxing some of the internal movement controls from January 1, 2016. Having achieved its objectives of helping major cities grow in an organized way, China is modifying the policy to address some unintended side effects.

 

The Pakistani government can sensitize the public through an advertisement campaign explaining how organizations and disciplines are key to Gwadar’s success on the international stage. The success of Gwadar can spawn similar urban experiences across Pakistan, maybe not on the same scale but offering a similar level of work and life experiences. This will excite Pakistani citizens, show them a bright future, and help them accept the model of an.

 

international city in Gwadar.

The Urban Residency system, known as Hukou in China, is not perfect, and is tailored to suit China’s condition and society. But Pakistan can study the examples and come up with something more suitable to Pakistani conditions.

 

The internal security system of Dubai is very effective. Local police is trained in dealing with locals and foreigners, and has effective mechanisms in place to check crime, smuggling, and other forms of anti social behaviour. Members of different nationalities visiting and working in the city have direct links to the Dubai Police through multiple channels. Dubai’s city government knows that the police force must instill respect and fear in order to maintain the city’s status as a safe place for tourists, visitors, executives and the workforce.

 

Since Gwadar has great beaches within the city and nearby, Pakistan should study the examples of tourist resorts in Oman, Malaysia, Bahrain, Dubai, and Egypt to develop this untapped potential of Pakistani coastal regions.

 

Gwadar Government Structure

For an international city that wants to be known as a financial centre and trading hub, and attract talented residents from Pakistan and abroad, Gwadar’s local governing structure should encourage resident businessmen, traders, business owners, financiers, artists, and others to become part of the governing bodies of the city. Those who run the city should have a strong stake in it. The system should be designed in a way that guarantees transparency and participation. What the governing system should not have is political corruption as seen in other parts of Pakistan, which is of a devastating scale. Also, since this is a national project that would benefit all Pakistanis, political parties need to be sensitized to keep our brand of chaotic street politics away from the new city.

 

The Government of Pakistan and the Provincial Government of Balochistan can work together to promulgate a Gwadar Basic Law, or a Gwadar Constitution, to give the new city a definitive legal character. The idea is to have a strong involvement from the federal and provincial government to steer the governing structure in the new city in the right direction and help the Gwadar local government mature and take charge. One of the excellent sets of governing law in this context comes from Macau. For example in Macau, the local government is headed by the Chief Executive of Macau; he or she is appointed by Beijing upon the recommendation of an election committee. Members of this election committee are nominated by corporate and community bodies in the city of Macau.

 

Control Controversy

One set of Pakistanis who should visibly feel the benefits of the new emerging city are the original residents of Gwadar and nearby areas. Islamabad can offer to educate their children, offer crash training courses to young adults so that could be the first to work in the new city development projects, offer them housing schemes on long-term concessional rates paid for by family members working in the Gwadar and CPEC projects. Pakistan’s strategic position offers opportunities but also creates enemies. We have seen this happen since Independence in 1947. Though this is an unavoidable reality but one that can be managed.

 

It is natural that one or more strategic players in the region wants to see Gwadar and CPEC projects derailed. This cannot be done through military means, at least not under the current circumstances, so the next best option is to make it controversial within Pakistan and exploit the weaknesses in our political system [foreign funding, foreign links] to create impediments for Gwadar/CPEC.

 

The external enemies of this project will exploit existing fault lines. The government of Pakistan must nip any grievances in the bud before the issue grows and takes root. Members of the Pakistani political parties, trade bodies, the media, and civil society can receive regular briefings on the progress. These briefings should be well prepared, and can counter any attempts to make Gwadar and CPEC projects controversial. It is time to get creative about Gwadar and CPEC. These are grand strategic projects and the Pakistani vision about the future should be equally grand.

 

The author is a researcher, journalist and a public policy commentator. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
It will be a tragedy if Gwadar turns out to be just a docking yard with cranes, containers, and warehouses. With its beaches, its beautiful weather, and the majestic desert mountains nearby, Gwadar deserves to be Pakistan’s first international city that offers itself as a trading hub, a financial, cultural and entertainment centre and a melting pot.

*****

The success of Gwadar can spawn similar urban experiences across Pakistan, maybe not on the same scale but offering a similar level of work and life experiences. This will excite Pakistani citizens, show them a bright future, and help them accept the model of an international city in Gwadar.

*****

Pakistan needs to look at a combination of examples of international cities that act as trading, cultural and entertainment hubs: Dubai, Singapore, Bahrain, Istanbul, Macau, Shanghai, London, Monte Carlo and Las Vegas. The idea is not to look like any of these cities. The purpose is to learn from the successes of these cities to design and create a Pakistani experiment of success in Gwadar that resembles no other city but learns from the best practices worldwide.

*****

The external enemies of this project will exploit existing fault lines. The government of Pakistan must nip any grievances in the bud before the issue grows and takes root.

*****

 
06
January
YOUYI 5 Pak-China Joint Training Exercise

Two week long joint training exercise YOUYI 5 between Special forces of China and Pakistan was held at Qingtongxia , Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China.

 

The joint exercise as part of Year of Friendship 2015 focused on anti terrorist, hostage and rescue , cordon and search operations. The joint exercise was aimed at further strengthening already deep military ties between Pakistan and China.

yuyuinews.jpg

06
January
A Day At Frontline

COAS Inaugurates Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Mir Ali

  • COAS Announces Construction of a Cadet College around Mir Ali (NWA)

General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), visited North Waziristan Agency (NWA) and spent the day with troops and tribal elders of NWA. He also inaugurated 110 beds Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Mir Ali, which has been equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. He appreciated Army Engineers for their dedicated efforts in executing quality construction work. To enhance education standards and help locals benefit from the emerging economic opportunities, COAS announced construction and opening of a Cadet College around Mir Ali for children of Waziristan.

adayatfront.jpg

06
January

Written By: Warda Gohar

Huma Butt (Student)

New year is a time to take a fresh breath, inhale some motivation humabutt.jpg and exhale commitment and determination. Take on the challenges to bring about a positive change within your personality and around you. Pick up a small task and stick to it until the goal is achieved. Remember the country is above all because you are born here and now you have to make it special with your actions.

 

Sarah Tariq (Creative Manager)

saratariq.jpg

It’s dilemma of our youth that we have forgotten our duty to respect the country and the culture we belong to! This year we should aim to eliminate corruption (at least at our level) and try to work hard for betterment of Pakistan with full zeal and enthusiasm.

 

Sarim Sheikh (Electrical Engineer)

It is not the time to only pen down the resolution. We should take every little step to increase positivity. Let us make a firm resolve to transform Pakistan into a peaceful country in 2016. Not mere words but our deeds and actions must prove our commitment.

 

Khadijah Qadeer (Training Manager)

We should realize that only pointing out flaws and highlighting weaknesses will eventually make us a despondent nation. The progress of a nation depends on high character of its citizens. This year think as a patriot and act! Remember, a nation can never flourish if it lacks commitment, dedication and hard work. So let us be responsible citizens and educate our children so that they can grow up and make this country better and proud.

 

Awais Ali Khan (Chief Coordinator)

We need to educate people about learning ‘to live together’ and ‘accepting the difference of opinions’. 2016 must see us making efforts to support our youth to transform Pakistan into a peaceful and pluralistic society.

 

Muhammad Hammad (Student)

In Pakistan there is a dire need of ‘Research and Development’. Especially the post-graduate students should realize the need and take the initiative to organize themselves in small research forums and groups to produce knowledge and invent to make our country proud at international level.

 

Sbeela Sattar (Student)

Entrepreneurship is something that can change the fate of a nation and the individual. Pakistani youth is extremely talented and innovative but lags behind for not being provided with proper guidance and direction. More and more counselling and support programmes should be initiated by the government with public participation so that 2016 could be the ‘Entrepreneurs’ Year’.

 

Adil Hussain (Student)

2016 should be the year of ‘Healthy Pakistan’. In Pakistan there is dire need to teach people about health and nutrition. Synthetic and canned foods trend have added more to fast food addiction. Lifestyles of the people are not healthier and supportive of a healthy mind. This year there should be awareness campaigns to promote better and safe eating habits, particularly the government should educate people about benefits of organic food.

 

Sana Rehman (Freelance Feature Writer)

We all are representatives of Pakistan. The personality and character matters a lot when we interact with international community. So think before expressing and try to build a positive image of the beloved homeland through your personality and character. We should feel proud as a Pakistani because without Pakistan, we have no identity.

 

Rida Zafar Awan (Student)

I am making a resolve for 2016 to use my ‘motivational speech’ skills and change thinking of people for a better Pakistan.

 
06
January

Written By: Dr. Zafar Mahmood

The new economic geography approach maps the economic landscape in a dynamic way and inhabits it with economic agents in production, employment, investment, infrastructure, etc. Thus, by unleashing the hidden growth potential of the region it stimulates socio-economic development. The approach allows the distribution of benefits accruing region-wide in the form of growing trade, investment and economic agents’ contacts.


Trade corridor (henceforth the corridor) connects economic agents along a defined geography. They provide connectivity between economic hubs, usually centred along the corridor, where large endowment of economic resources and economic agents are concentrated.


Modern day economic corridors take advantage of efficient ‘multimodal transport network’ with the help of quality infrastructure, logistics, distribution networks that link production clusters, urban centres, and international gateways. Equally important for the corridor is an enabling policy framework that eases doing business and non-tariff measures to facilitate trade. The corridor promotes growth by removing infrastructure bottlenecks, improving access to markets, stimulating trade and investment and boosting productivity and efficiency through associated network externalities and agglomeration effects. The corridor also promotes inclusive growth by expanding economic opportunities in backward regions and linking them with urban centres and production clusters.

ecoofchinapakcoridor.jpgWithin the above perspective, the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), of which the trade corridor is an important component, aims to connect Gwadar Port to China’s Xinjiang province, via a network of highways, railways and pipelines to transport oil and gas. The corridor will run about 2,700 km from Gwadar to Kashgar and will reduce the present distance between the two cities by 9000 km, thus the route will be much shorter and cheaper. It will also open trade routes for Western China and provide China direct access to the resource-rich Middle East region via the Arabian Sea, bypassing longer logistical routes through the Strait of Malacca.


The corridor is an extension of China’s proposed 21st century Silk Road initiative. China has promised to invest around $11.8 billion in infrastructure projects. The agreement also includes $622 million for Gwadar Port. The corridor also includes upgrading of Pakistan's major transport infrastructure, including: Karakorum Highway, Karachi-Lahore Motorway, the Gwadar Port, East Bay Expressway Project and Gwadar International Airport. This massive investment plan if effectively implemented is expected to transform Pakistan into a regional trade and industry hub.


Energy security is a key concern for China. Oil pipelines through Pakistan would reduce its cost of transportation that will be a source of revenue earnings and employment generation for Pakistan. So the alterative trade route, which will cut down the distance and time, will be mutually beneficial for both countries. In this context, China plans to build mega oil storage facilities and a refinery at Gwadar Port, with oil transported to Xinjiang via road and pipeline.


Gwadar’s potential to serve as a transit hub for grain and food storage facilities as well as industrial and processing zones along the corridor would further boost investment opportunities. Besides trade and energy, the corridor would ultimately serve as a gateway for commerce and transport between the South Asia, Central Asia, China and Gulf countries.


Pakistan in the recent past has been growing sluggishly. Its exports-to-GDP ratio is falling. Domestic investors are wary to invest in the country, which dissuades foreign investors to invest in Pakistan. This situation is mainly due to lack of regional connectivity, which results into high trade cost for our traders. This in turn hinders domestic industries to become part of international production networks and benefit from economies-of-scale that are available in international market. Pakistan needs to create more than 1.5 million jobs every year. On the whole, the Pakistani economy is currently under performing. By proactively becoming part of the new strategic regional economy, it can unlock the untapped economic potential of the new entrants to its labour market. In this regard, the corridor is considered as vital for Pakistan’s economic prosperity. To make the corridor a successful enterprise, several underlying economic factors will have to be incorporated in policy formulation. In this regard, following is recommended:


• Ensure complete and strong commitment and support for the corridor by all stakeholders at all levels of policy and decision making, be it private or public, federal or provincial organizations.


• Introduce human resource development and technology development programmes to bridge the existing innovative knowledge gap by involving leading universities and research institutions of Pakistan.


• With initiation of work on the corridor, periodically track its work progress on all the project components to timely resolve issues and overcome hurdles and quickly adapt to the changing needs and priorities. Moreover, put the corridor related issues on the main policy agendas of federal and provincial governments.


• Ensure sufficient and sustained funding support for all the corridor projects for their timely completion.
• Develop effective institutional mechanisms and arrangements to ensure coordinated and sustained efforts among local Pakistani institutions as well as between the institutions of China and Pakistan.


• Charge transit fee on commercial basis to recover the full cost of the corridor and other network services.


• Develop common transit procedures and effectively implement the recently signed TIR Carnets Convention (Transports Internationaus Routiers or International Road Transport), which is to provide simplified and harmonized procedure of international road transport from the starting point of goods in transit to their end point. Make this Convention as part and parcel of Pak-China bilateral trade agreement. Also modernize road haulage fleet and services; this would, however, require capacity building in institutions dealing with the trade and transit trade.


• Initiate work on world-grade trade facilitation system to benefit from the full trade and investment potential of the corridor. In this context, transit trade should be implemented through a system of Automated Import and Export System, Economic Operators’ registration and identification systems, a Single Electronic Access Point, an Integrated Tariff Environment, etc.


• Conclude a comprehensive transit trade agreement with China, which is vital for the success of economic corridor. In this regard, we can learn from the best European practices in transit trade arrangements and facilities.


• Provide investment incentives to foreign firms, regional and international, by providing free trade and hassle free environment. In this regard: encourage investment to produce quality goods for export to regional markets.


• Provide local connectivity to the corridor through feeder links and integration through domestic transport networks.


• Government should create awareness among people living along the corridor to start planning for activities that would be required by local and foreign transporters.


• Proactively plan for the promotion of tourism industry as easy connectivity will attract foreign tourists to visit Pakistan.


• For the overall success of the corridor, Pakistan needs to take collective policy initiatives by approaching the Chinese government; especially in areas where it doesn’t have institutional capacity and expertise. This is because China has vast experience in establishing and operating regional trade corridors.


• Establish export-oriented natural and human resource-based industrial clusters along the Corridor. For this government needs to: (i) provide basic and efficient infrastructure in these clusters to attract domestic and foreign investors; (ii) establish industrial technology enclaves in these clusters to facilitate the innovation process; (iii) diversify production by manufacturing quality and sophisticated products for upcoming regional product market space; and (iv) induce industries to acquire more production capabilities and capacities to enhance their access to regional markets.


All in all, given the current impasse in the Pakistan economy, the corridor is expected to fast revive it. It will strengthen the existing strategic partnership between China and Pakistan. In the time to come, the corridor’s success will induce other regional countries to benefit from this connectivity by joining it, leading to regional peace, harmony and prosperity. It is, therefore, imperative that the whole nation unites to support and work for the success of the China-Pakistan trade corridor.

The writer is a Professor of Economics at School of Social Sciences and Humanities at NUST, Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
On the whole, the Pakistani economy is currently under performing. By proactively becoming part of the new strategic regional economy, it can unlock the untapped economic potential of the new entrants to its labour market. In this regard, the corridor is considered as vital for Pakistan’s economic prosperity. To make the corridor a successful enterprise, several underlying economic factors will have to be incorporated in policy formulation.

*****

 
06
January

Written By: Salman Masood

The memory of the gruesome December 16, 2014 terror attack on Army Public School, Peshawar, will always convulse the Pakistani nation. The sheer barbarity of the attack and scale of its brutality is unparalleled; the horror unbearable. 144 people, including 122 school-going children, were mowed down mercilessly by the Taliban militants as they attempted desperately to kill the national spirit through an unprecedented bloodbath. But the Pakistani nation is resilient and its resolve is indomitable. The immediate, inevitable grief and sorrow in the aftermath of the tragedy led to a resolve by the nation, spearheaded by its military and civilian leadership, that terrorists cannot cow us down.

 

And, on December 16, 2015, the first anniversary of the APS tragedy, this resolve was reiterated in glowing tributes as the nation remembered the martyrs in ceremonies across the country. In emotional speeches at sombre events and candlelit vigils, the little martyrs of Peshawar were remembered with teary eyes and heavy hearts. In documentaries on the television news networks, their young lives were celebrated. The anniversary became a collective sum of remembrance and sadness, imbued with the resolve of renewal and reinvigoration.

 

Most strikingly, one of the most fitting tributes came from the Inter-Services Public Relations Directorate, the media wing of the Pakistani military, when it released a powerful and evocative song ‘Mujhay maa us sae badla lene jana hai, Mujhay dushman k bachon ko parhana hai’ (Mother, I have to go seek revenge from him/I have to educate the enemy’s children).

 

The lyrics of the song eschew the natural urge of violent revenge. Instead, it is an expression of the desire of the young to ‘educate’ the children of the ‘enemy’, to help them crawl out of the darkness that has been thrust upon them by the terrorist mindset. The video of the song delivers a powerful message: education is the key that would unlock the minds of those surrounded by obscurantist and errant interpretations of religion, mired in militancy and violence.

 

Unfortunately, Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. It was 58 per cent in 2015, a stark contrast to the 88 per cent target set by the United Nations for 2015 under its Millennium Development Goals. For a nation with so much promise and potential, such a low rate of literacy means that its population, especially the youth, cannot reach their true potential.

 

Education, and the knowledge it imparts, is essential for national growth and competitiveness in the world. In a globalized age of specialised scientific knowledge and advancement, education paves the way towards progress and societal advancement. An educated citizenry is a must for developing a society that can be at par with the leading developed countries of the world. Unfortunately, Pakistan is not producing enough scientists and professors, technical experts and professionals, who can add to the core of invaluable intellectual capital essential to give the country a competitive edge in an interconnected and globalised economy.

 

Fixing the domestic economy is an integral part of this gargantuan task and therefore unequal distribution of wealth and income disparities need to be addressed. National security is essentially a function of the economy and a robust and vibrant economy cannot be attained without excellence in education.

 

But it is not just the technological and scientific aspects of the education system of the country that can transform a nation. It is only one of the several parts of the bigger picture. The education system should also cultivate a citizenry that is deeply aware of the national interest and strives to preserve and enhance it without any confusion and obfuscation. As noted by some recent studies, security of a country is not just dependent on its military prowess and might. It is the human capital that determines the effectiveness of national security and this capital, in turn, is contingent upon the quality of the public school system.

 

Regrettably, there has been a gradual and persistent decay in the public school system of the country. Adding to the woe is the unfortunate reality that there are different mediums of instruction and often parallel or incompatible set of curricula, which result in a shambolic and confused mindset. Also, for the past several years, there has been a constant cacophony of noise by some people, who relish in questioning – and even ridiculing – the core values and traditions of the society and country. Self-loathing and insulting those who want to uphold the sense of patriotism and sense of pride in the country is a favourite refrain of this particular mindset. The growth of an unhinged social media has lent them an amplified voice as they question the very basis and existence of national interest and attempt to dilute and debase the principles underlying the state and society. Therefore, while there is a need to educate the ‘enemy’, as echoed by the song released on the APS anniversary, there is also a need to re-educate those who have been misled and swept away by such malicious propaganda. A sense of national pride needs to be inculcated in the (young) minds, spurring and inspiring them to become proud, valuable and productive citizens of the country.

 

This is obviously not to suggest at all that they are imparted with a slant of education that leads to xenophobia and bigotry. The need is not only to develop an enlightened citizenry, proud of its heritage and country, but which, at the same time, is equipped with the intellectual zeal and ability to communicate and compete with the global audience and regional challenges. The target should be to raise conscientious citizens who believe in the rule of law, democracy, good governance and sanctity of human life.

 

There is also a word of caution. Mere education would not ensure achievement of these goals. For more than a decade, the biggest challenge to the Pakistani state has been from religious radicalism and extremism. Such a mindset has found itself an easy incubation not only in the religious seminaries of the tribal regions and provincial backwaters, but it has crawled its way into the public universities and private institutions. While most of the terror attacks can be traced back to have been carried out by the illiterate and misled youth of the tribal regions, some of the most heinous and deadly attacks were planned and carried out by graduates and highly educated individuals.

eduandnatsec.jpg

Earlier this month, Punjab counterterrorism department arrested two teachers and one student of Punjab University in Lahore. Both teachers were highly qualified – one had a PhD degree from Netherlands – and yet investigators say they were active participants of the banned group Hizb ut-Tahrir. One of the main suspects in May 2015 Safoora attack – when dozens of muslims belonging to the Ismaili sect were mercilessly killed inside a commuter bus in Karachi – studied from the prestigious Institute of Business Administration. And, the arrests in the second last week of this month in Karachi led to a ring of facilitators of Safoora attack who were also highly educated, with degrees from the West. Tashfeen Malik, who along with her husband Syed Rizwan Farook, is accused to carrying out the recent San Bernardino killings in United States was also educated and a very bright student, according to her teachers and class fellows.

 

The complexity of the situation and the multiple root causes of militancy and religious radicalism, therefore, pose a daunting challenge for the policy-makers.

 

Religious radicalism poses an existential threat to the Pakistani society. It becomes imperative to mainstream the religious seminaries, wean them away from extremist and sectarian influences and deprive them of the easy availability of weapons and ammunitions. A large segment of the poor of the society cannot afford to pay even nominal fees for government schools and end up sending their children to religious seminaries. The public education system, therefore, needs to have a massive overhaul and transformation, not only in performance and delivery but also in terms of access and admissions.

 

Most importantly, the dichotomies and anomalies in the national discourse need to be addressed. The national narrative needs to be recaptured and redefined in consonance with the changing times and needs. The legal system would also have to be reformed for provision of quick and easy justice to ensure domestic stability. These steps would become the foundation stones for the human capital, which will determine and safeguard our national security.

The writer is Resident Editor of a leading national daily. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The education system should also cultivate a citizenry that is deeply aware of the national interest and strives to preserve and enhance it without any confusion and obfuscation. As noted by some recent studies, security of a country is not just dependent on its military prowess and might. It is the human capital that determines the effectiveness of national security and this capital, in turn, is contingent upon the quality of the public school system.

*****

Also, for the past several years, there has been a constant cacophony of noise by some people, who relish in questioning – and even ridiculing – the core values and traditions of the society and country. Self-loathing and insulting those who want to uphold the sense of patriotism and sense of pride in the country is a favourite refrain of this particular mindset. The growth of an unhinged social media has lent them an amplified voice as they question the very basis and existence of national interest and attempt to dilute and debase the principles underlying the state and society.

*****

There is also a word of caution. Mere education would not ensure achievement of these goals. For more than a decade, the biggest challenge to the Pakistani state has been from religious radicalism and extremism. Such a mindset has found itself an easy incubation not only in the religious seminaries of the tribal regions and provincial backwaters, but it has crawled its way into the public universities and private institutions.

*****

 
05
January

Written By: Dr. Huma Baqai

Dr. Huma Baqai’s special note for Hilal based on observations and impressions after her recent visit to Kabul, Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s enduring security crises is a source of concern for the international community but it means a lot more to Pakistan and its economic future. The cordial relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are intrinsically linked with peace and security in Pakistan along with peace and security in Afghanistan. The trust deficit that exists between the two countries is very pervasive on the Afghan side. The broad overarching consensus is that Pakistan continues to play a role of enabler of violence in Afghanistan.

 

The recent desire, willingness and commitment shown by Pakistan to facilitate the peace dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban is also viewed with a lot of skepticism in Afghanistan. Very few in Kabul see it through the prism of Pakistan’s desire to bring peace in Afghanistan; largely it is viewed as a ploy by Pakistan to continue to manipulate the politics of Afghanistan and keep India out. Probably, the reality has not been able to take its due place!

 

Since 2014-2015, Pakistan has re-emerged in the calculation of the movers and shakers of the world as the key to peace in Afghanistan. United States, China and even Russia look at Pakistan to deliver Taliban to the Peace Process. This has come about after the endorsement of the stark reality by US, NATO and Afghan military officials, that after more than a decade of war with billions of US funds to build up an Afghan military force has not resulted in the defeat of the Taliban insurgency that remains a threat across the entire country.

pakafghrel.jpg

On March 12, 2014, US General Joseph Dunford, then Commander of ISAF and US Forces-Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “If we leave at the end of 2014, the Afghan security forces will begin to deteriorate. The security environment will begin to deteriorate, and I think the only debate is the pace of that deterioration.” Almost all foreign forces left at the end of 2014, leaving only 12,000 administrators, trainers and US Special Forces door-bashing assailants who have done more than any other element to set ordinary Afghans against America. As forecasted by General Dunford, the “security environment” is deteriorating day by day. So, blaming Pakistan from Afghan side for the prevailing beleaguered security situation and violence is a very myopic view of things. The fighting winter and a very tough spring offensive was also the result of the failure of the Afghan security infrastructure to respond to the emerging ground realities of less foreign forces and operations in Pakistan.

 

Peace Process and Talks with the Taliban

Post-establishing Pakistan’s relevance to the peace process, Murree Talks took place. The road paving for it was also done by China and it had the blessings of many countries. It was seen as a major breakthrough at that time. The scuttling of the Murree Peace process because of Mullah Omer’s death leak was a huge blow to Pakistan-Afghanistan relations and has resulted in President Ghani losing out domestically. Most political observers are of the view that he has no political capital to take more risks by investing in good relationship with Pakistan.

 

In the conversation that the author had with Afghan civil society representatives, CEO Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and former President Hamid Karzai, the joint narrative is that Pakistan cheated Afghanistan by not revealing the fact that Mullah Omar is dead and they are convinced that Pakistani establishment knew about it. In fact they go a step forward and say that before the Murree Peace Process, assurance was sought that the group representing the Taliban in Murree has Mullah Omar’s blessings and the same was assured.

 

Interestingly, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah ridicules President Ghani for thanking a dead man for coming to the negotiation table. President Ghani had taken a huge risk by initiating the peace process with the Taliban (through Pakistan) and apparently it back fired.

 

Ex-President Karzai, now is very vocal about the fact that US, UK and Pakistan are bed fellows and that work for the promotion of the US interests in Afghanistan, which is not in the interests of Afghanistan. The spike in violence in Afghanistan post the breakdown of talks and the Mullah Omar’s death leak is also seen in that light. Pakistan’s stance may continue to be that the leak of Mullah Omer’s death was a conspiracy of the Afghan intelligence agency (NDS) or the doing of palace conspiracy in Kabul. The point remains that the Afghans showcase it as another nail in the coffin of trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The pressure built by the proponents of the war economy and very active Indian lobby in Afghanistan are also the factors contributing to the deteriorating relations between the two countries. Serious internal rifts exist within the Afghan ranks, and unless an internal consensus on relations with Pakistan and about the policy on the Afghan Taliban is achieved, real progress on peace and security will remain unattainable.

 

Indian Factor

The Afghans may want to talk to the Taliban for the lack of any other option and dwindling interest of the West to continue to bail them out but are very annoyed at the (alleged) existence of Afghan Taliban groups in Pakistan. They see them as tools which Pakistan continues to use to exercise influence and control within Afghanistan. The statement of the Indian Ambassador in Afghanistan Mr. Amar Sinha right after the meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ghani in Paris was that Pakistan is working towards giving leadership space to the Haqqani Network, which is on the verge of getting international recognition as the defacto Taliban leader due to Pakistani’s initiative has not helped the situation. The statements by the Indian Ambassador on relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan found very prominent space in Afghani newspapers. The fact that an envoy gives regular comments and advice on how the relationship of the two countries should progress is against all international protocols and tantamount to interference is never seen in that light in Afghanistan.

 

Operation Zarb-e-Azb

Pakistan has carried out Zarb-e-Azb against TTP and others that challenge the writ of the Pakistani state but at the same time, the Afghan perception is that they continue to facilitate, host and nurture the Afghan Taliban. To them Zarb-e-Azb, aimed at crushing Pakistani militants, has further undermined security situation in Afghanistan. The Afghan President said in the Heart of Asia Conference that the operation against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in the wake of Army Public School attack in the city of Peshawar had created additional security challenges for their country. He also spoke of Afghanistan hosting 350,000 to 500,000 Pakistani refugees as a result of military operation resulting in civilian displacement. Ghani, although more categorical of his criticism of Pakistan in the recent visit, has once again shown his pro-Pakistan tilt, which is severely criticized in Afghanistan. The unprecedented gesture made by Pakistani political and military leadership, in giving President Ghani state welcome, is a step in the right direction but more has to be done. The most important being dispelling the impression that Pakistan continues to harbour, facilitate, nurture the Afghan Taliban that perpetuate violence in Afghanistan. The irresponsible statement by a former President and few others do not help the situation and are constantly brought up in discussions by the Afghans and the anti-Pakistan and pro-Indian lobbies in Afghanistan.

 

The soft power thrust and cultivation of Afghan political elite ‘through all means’ is the strategy used by India and the counter strategy of Pakistan on these fronts seems extremely weak or not delivering. Although Pakistan is crucial to Afghanistan, be it peace and security or regional connectivity, but it has failed on both fronts. Afghanistan seems more inclined towards Iran and India for the same.

 

The media in Afghanistan is also very pro-India and skeptical of Pakistan. The statement by a former Interior Minister that “India is main hurdle in normalization of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations,” has not been well received in Afghanistan. They perceive it as an interference and Karzai uses it to say that Afghanistan is all set to go under the thumb of Pakistan. Pakistan has to be more pragmatic and innovative in its approach towards Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. The continuous reference to ‘India in Afghanistan’ has not been able to make its desired impact.

 

Hopes for the Renewal of the Peace Process

The Heart of Asia Conference 2015 on Afghanistan has once again raised hopes of talks between Afghan government and the Taliban by the facilitation of Pakistan. The warm welcome given to President Ghani by Pakistan and the statement by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that Afghanistan’s enemy is Pakistan’s enemy and that should be realized on ground, has once again raised hopes. An added term to address the concerns of the Afghans is “reconcilable Taliban” and commitment of targeted action against the Haqqani network.

 

General Raheel’s concerns shown in Washington on the sincerity and commitment of the Afghan security officialdom for peace process that they may thwart the renewed peace process and the agreement reached between Pakistan and the United States to work together for an early resumption of the stalled Afghan reconciliation process seem very real. However, right after the resumptions of commitment of talks, the Chief of Afghan intelligence agency (NDS) resigned, sharing his disappointment on Ghani’s initiative to start the talk with the Taliban. That indicates existence of such elements.

 

China Factor and Regional Cooperation

Coming back to Pak-Afghan relations, the major bone of contention perhaps is the international border (Durand Line) and Afghanistan’s relations with India.

 

Pakistan is all for Afghan-led Afghan-owned peace process. The long term economic vision of Pakistan to become a part of the regional economic turnaround by following the CPEC cannot see the light of the day without peace in Afghanistan and peace in Balochistan. Now regional cooperation to defeat terrorism is a policy that is intrinsically linked to the economic turnaround that Pakistan foresees for itself. This has to be showcased. As the new People’s Republic of China ambassador to Afghanistan, Sun Yuxi has stated that his country’s “larger strategy is also economic development, i.e. construction of the Silk Road which includes Pakistan and Afghanistan.” This approach was welcomed by both Pakistan and Afghanistan in equal measure. Karzai calls it the only ray of hope for improved relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

 

Future Outlook

Pakistan must impress upon the Afghans that the paradigm shift that has taken place on the Pakistani side from Geo-Politics to Geo-Economics. Pakistan has an economic vision which it sees being realized through CPEC. There is complete ownership and commitment for this. Pakistan is set to address all the issues that may emerge as impediments to it becoming a reality both internally and externally which include relations with Afghanistan, peace in Afghanistan, peace in Balochistan and defeating terrorism in the region.

 

A revisit of Pak-Afghan policy is need of the hour. No ‘safe havens’ to anyone against anyone. The irreconcilable Afghan Taliban are seen as enemies in Afghanistan and be treated similarly. So far, the lack of policy effectiveness has allowed India to acquire strategic political space in the polity of Afghanistan which it blatantly exploits against Pakistan.

 

Just a word of caution here – Pakistan may have abandoned the policy of strategic depth in Afghanistan but it can ill-afford strategic vulnerability, leading to the strategic defeat, emanating from its western borders, facilitated by its eastern neighbour.

 

The sustainable way forward for Afghanistan government and Pakistan is to address each others’ sensitivities and sensibilities without outside interference. The desire of some regional and extra-regional powers to pitch Pakistan and Afghanistan against each other to achieve their vested interests in the region should be identified, exposed and defeated. Pakistan needs to further pursue peace with dignity for its own reasons: stability and economy. The fact remains and stands that Pakistan can play a major role of peace driver in the Afghan peace process.

 

There exists a window of opportunity between now and spring 2016. These four months are very crucial for both Pakistan and Afghanistan to consolidate peace and defeat the forces working against the interest of both the countries. If a spring offensive happens in 2016 – post the winter, we will all be back to square one. It is only when the sitting Afghan government can achieve an internal consensus on the viability of talks with the Taliban as a way forward to peace. The dialogue initiatives and the resumption of talks with the Taliban can deliver the desired results. Pakistan is sincere and committed in its desire to broker a dialogue between Afghan government and Taliban to the best of its capability. The lack of consistency and commitment exists on the Afghan side.

The writer is an associate professor in the Department of Social Sciences , IBA . She is also associated as a foreign and current affairs expert with Radio Pakistan and a private TV Channel.
There exists a window of opportunity between now and spring 2016. These four months are very crucial for both Pakistan and Afghanistan to consolidate peace and defeat the forces working against the interest of both the countries. If a spring offensive happens in 2016 – post the winter, we will all be back to square one. It is only when the sitting Afghan government can achieve an internal consensus on the viability of talks with the Taliban as a way forward to peace. The dialogue initiatives and the resumption of talks with the Taliban can deliver the desired results. Pakistan is sincere and committed in its desire to broker a dialogue between Afghan government and Taliban to the best of its capability. The lack of consistency and commitment exists on the Afghan side.

*****

 
05
January

Written By: Jennifer McKay

The new year is off and running. A glance at the global situation doesn’t exactly fill one with cheerful thoughts and optimism. Wars, poverty, massive numbers of refugees moving across Europe in search of safety, rising Islamophobia in many western countries, and economic downturns are now a feature in many parts of the world. With so much continuing chaos in the world around us, what can we expect for Pakistan in 2016? Will it really be a happy new year?

 

First let’s look back at 2015 to assess some of the key achievements and challenges for indicators, then consider how these might play out in 2016. There were many of both, large and small, but let’s focus on a few of the big ones that are a regular feature of our lives in Pakistan – peace and stability, law and order, relations with Afghanistan and India, natural disasters, impact of global events, and economic prosperity. Pakistan had a quieter 2015 than we might have expected following the tragic end of 2014 when we mourned the murder by terrorists of more than 140 people, 122 of whom were children at the Army Public School in Peshawar. The perpetrators have been dealt with, either killed in the attack, or have faced the Military Courts for the ultimate punishment for their horrendous crime. But the pain is with us still a year later and for the families, it will never fade.

2016spak.jpg

But as 2015 progressed, things seem to improve a little. The APS attack was a wake-up call to the nation that the fight against terrorism is a fight for all of us, not just the Armed Forces and security agencies. A 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) was formulated to bring together all government institutions and agencies to take all steps to eradicate terrorism. A series of initiatives and responsibilities were established within the NAP and some have already been implemented, contributing to a drop in the levels of terrorist activity. However, there is still much more to do and this will require the commitment of all the government authorities at all levels of government throughout 2016.

 

To find core reasons for why 2015 was a better than expected year, we can look to the extraordinary success of Zarb-e-Azb in the tribal areas. After 18 months of military operations, the benefits have really kicked in, and most of FATA, including North Waziristan, is now cleared and peace is returning. The last few pockets of resistance close to Afghan Border were, at the time of writing, being cleared.

 

In a mid-December update from Director General of ISPR, Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa, he apprised that the main terrorist infrastructure has been dismantled and their links with sleeper cells have largely been disrupted. Intelligence Based Operations (IBOs) continue to identify and break up remaining cells. At least 3,400 terrorists killed and 837 hideouts, from where they carried out their terrorist activities, have been destroyed. More than 13,200 IBOs have been conducted across the country in which 183 hardcore terrorists have been killed, and 21,193 arrested. That’s quite a success story.

 

But this success has come at a heavy cost. Some 488 officers and men of Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps KPK, Balochistan, and Sindh Rangers, sacrificed their lives and 1,914 were injured in Operation Zarb-e-Azb by mid-December 2015. The terrain, in which the Army has taken on the terrorists in FATA, is a hard place to fight – the terrain is extremely challenging. So it makes the success of Zarb-e-Azb all the more impressive, especially when you compare it to the huge International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations conducted over many more years, next door in Afghanistan.

 

With peace returning to FATA, more than 110,000 families displaced by the operations, have already returned to the various agencies, including North Waziristan. The cost of re-settling the displaced families has already placed a substantial financial burden on the country and will continue to do so. But this is a small price to pay for peace. We should not neglect these people, as the country owes them a great deal. They have lost so much to allow the military to bring us greater peace and stability. In 2016, most of the remaining 192,000 displaced families will return. This is a major achievement. Many doubted that this could be achieved in such a time frame but a coordinated effort between government and Army, with additional support from international donors and civil society, has made this possible. In 2016, there will also be a stronger focus on the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase in FATA to ensure there is proper funding, technical and other support available, to ensure proper restoration of the area and improvement in living standards to ensure future stability.

 

Security and law and order issues across the entire country are improving. Following the establishment of military courts to deal with terrorists, 142 cases have been referred, 55 cases decided, 87 cases are in process and 31 hard-core terrorists have been convicted. This is a significant step forward. Too often in the past, those who have committed terrorist acts escaped justice in the civilian courts as fear prevented judges, lawyers and witnesses from proceeding against them, freeing them to strike again.

 

Karachi is becoming more peaceful since Rangers commenced operations there to improve the law and order situation. In 2016, Rangers will continue their operations making Karachi a much safer place for residents and visitors. And Balochistan, so long a troubled province, has taken great steps forward towards peaceful solutions with many separatists and militants handing in their weapons to the Government and Army and agreeing to become peaceful. The overall improvement in security and law and order across the country has given people more confidence to attend public festivities and national events for the first time in several years making national and Independence Day celebrations a more joyous time. While it would be naïve to think that there will be no incidents – and as I was writing this, an attack at Parachinar in Kurram Agency – the overall situation looks like it will continue to improve in 2016.

 

2016 will also see a change in the Chief of Army Staff. The current COAS, General Raheel Sharif, has captured the public’s imagination and confidence with his ‘can do’ leadership and achieved a great deal during his tenure. Towards the end of 2016, his tenure is due to come to an end and a new COAS will be appointed. Regardless of whether his tenure is extended as some have suggested as a possibility, or whether a new COAS is appointed, the country can be confident that matters, related to the defence of the nation, will continue to progress in positive direction.

 

Relations with India soured in 2015 with an increase in ceasefire violations by India on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, leading to the deaths of a number of Pakistani civilians, and Rangers. The vitriolic rhetoric by leaders in India against Pakistan was ramped up and despite the agreement made on the sidelines of the Ufa meeting for talks to be held between the two countries, nothing eventuated as India insisted the only agenda item would be terrorism while Pakistan had a broader agenda including Kashmir.

 

However, as the year drew to a close, a breakthrough appears to have been achieved, to the surprise of many. The External Affairs Minister of India, Smt. Sushma Swaraj led an Indian delegation to the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process held in Islamabad on December 8-9, 2015. During the visit, she called on Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, and held discussions with the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz.

 

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during the visit, Minister Swaraj and Mr. Aziz condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate it. They noted the successful talks on terrorism and security related issues in Bangkok by the two NSAs and decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial. Both sides, accordingly, agreed to a comprehensive bilateral dialogue and directed the foreign secretaries to work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings under the dialogue including peace and security, CBMs, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar

 

Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counterterrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues, people-to-people exchanges and religious tourism. The two foreign secretaries were tasked to work out the details of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue and the level of interaction in various working groups and also decide the modalities and schedule of the meetings under the dialogue.

 

If the comprehensive talks do actually eventuate, it will be a positive step forward. However, as we have seen in the past, as was the case at Ufa, the bonhomie seems to fade quickly and the ceasefire violations start again. If the talks do stay on track, then the people in the villages on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control and Working Boundary should be able to look forward to a more peaceful year ahead.

 

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, is focused on a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and a secure and prosperous region through a series of Confidence Building Measures including disaster management, counter terrorism, counter narcotics, trade, commerce and investment, education, and documents. Pakistan is a key player amongst the many member and supporting countries of this important process which was initiated in 2011, and has hosted a number of meetings including the December Ministerial Conference and two Regional Technical Group meetings on the Disaster Management Confidence Building Measure. Pakistan is the Co-Chair of the Disaster Management Confidence Building Measures, which brings together a number of the member countries to focus on this important issue. Heart of Asia is proving to be an effective grouping of nations with a number of successful steps already achieved as we saw at the Islamabad meeting.

 

In addition to the attendance of the Indian Minister and the outcomes arising out of that, there were indications of renewed warmth in relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. President Ashraf Ghani was another high profile visitor for the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad and held positive meetings with the Prime Minister and also the Chief of Army Staff. Shortly after these meetings, the Head of the Afghan Intelligence, Raimatullah Nabil, announced his resignation citing his disagreement with the President’s statements in Pakistan on a more positive cooperation. Most likely, he was pushed. Nabil has been a constant negative force in countering Pakistan's earnest attempts to help broker peace talks in Afghanistan. It is hoped that these recent developments will pave the way for closer ties in the coming year. This will be a very positive outcome for both countries in trying to find solutions to a lasting peace in Afghanistan. With a resurgence of attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan in recent months, this becomes more urgent. Peace in Afghanistan will bring positive outcomes for Pakistan and the region. It would again be naïve to think that this complex process can be achieved quickly but we should at least hope for some forward steps in 2016.

 

Natural disasters again made their presence felt in Pakistan in 2015. Glacial lake outburst, cloud outburst and flash floods hit various parts of Chitral in July causing extensive damages to houses, mosques, bridges, roads, irrigation and water channels. The communication infrastructure has also been severely affected. Fortunately, loss of life was low but a large number of people were cut off in this mountainous terrain.

 

Then on October 26, an earthquake struck the same areas, killing 232 people, damaging 97,995 homes, as well as infrastructure including roads, telecommunications, clinics and schools. The total cost of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the areas affected by the floods and the earthquake is estimated at more than USD 500 million. Yet, despite the endless chain of disasters over the years, very little has been done to reduce the risks posed by the catalogue of potential disasters that can cause massive damage in Pakistan. The direction we need to take in Disaster Management in 2016 needs to include a strong focus on Disaster Risk Reduction and Community Based Disaster Risk Management. Reducing risk reduces that cost of natural disasters, and leads to a far more resilient country, yet there is little investment by governments at any level in this.

 

But what of the rest of the world and how will what’s happening elsewhere affect Pakistan? The Middle East is in chaos and it, really, is difficult to keep up with who is bombing whom. The misery of innocent civilians as their homes, neighbourhoods and their entire countries, are reduced to rubble, has created a refugee crisis not seen since World War II. The humanitarian needs of these millions of people caught up in the conflict and fleeing Iraq and Syria, is causing extreme pressure on donor funding, drawing much away from other countries like Pakistan. Should there be a major disaster in Pakistan in 2016, the amount of international funding available to supplement the national efforts is likely to be severely reduced. This will make life very difficult for those affected.

 

With peace comes the chance of prosperity and also an improvement in investor confidence. Investment is too big a topic for this article and better addressed by those who specialize in economic matters. But there is something else that will enhance investor confidence and that is solving Pakistan’s energy crisis. The government has promised to do this by 2017 so let’s hope we start to see improvements in 2016. What a difference this will make to business and living in Pakistan!

 

Pakistan is a developing country so we should not compare ourselves with developed countries. Instead, we should focus on what we have to do to achieve developed status one day in the future. The country has almost 200 million people and many challenges to overcome to lift people out of poverty and ensure education, healthcare, housing, and food security for all. This will take a long time but it would be nice to get to the end of 2016 and see positive steps forward have been made. Despite the challenges, Pakistan will continue to face, to me it seems to be a safer and more peaceful place than so many other countries now. With attacks on the decline, a more positive spirit, and engagement with the neighbours on a fair and equitable level, we can move forward.

 

So will it be a happy new year for Pakistan? We cannot know what lies ahead but some of these positive indicators certainly should allow us to take from Jinnah’s words and have hope, courage and confidence. Happy New Year, Pakistan!

 

The writer is Australian Disaster Management and Civil-Military Relations Consultant, based in Islamabad where she consults for Government and UN agencies. She has also worked with ERRA and NDMA. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

Follow Us On Twitter