It is my belief that even if we get over ethnic violence and terrorism, Karachi will continue to have strife and conflict. At best, it will be like Rio de Janeiro, separated into rich and poor areas. At worst, it will be like Mexico City.
These were Arif Hasan’s opening remarks at the beginning of his presentation at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Karachi’s Changing Demographics and Urban Strife on 12 March 2014. Mr. Hasan is a renowned architect, urban planner, social activist, researcher, widely-published author and recipient of the Hilal-e-Imtiaz. He is the founder and Chairman of the Urban Resource Centre Karachi and Chairperson of the Orangi Pilot Project-Research & Training Institute, Karachi. Arif Hasan, in his comprehensive presentation, outlined the changing trends in Karachi’s demographic shift since Partition and presented an analysis of the societal repercussions of uneven densification of the metropolitan city. Continue reading
The European Parliament presented a year-end gift to Pakistan by according us the status of Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus that should provide a much needed boost in exports, especially textiles and leather. Everyone concerned with this achievement patted themselves on the back for a job well done. It did not matter who did what or how or what really spurred the European Parliament to take a positive decision. However, in the initial euphoria, it seemed that stakeholders completely forgot the importance of what is nonchalantly referred to as non-traditional exports. Minerals, for example.
Various trade development policies and frameworks did provide incentives and subsidies for many items but there has never been a focused attention accorded to minerals: see the Mines Act (IV of 1923) which although old still gives rights to workers and sets out basic standards. There is the usual bragging that Pakistan is richly endowed with natural resources and has billions of tons of coals to last a century, etc, etc but actions speak louder than words. The Pakistan Strategic Trade Policy Framework (2012-15) earmarked only “Rs 20 million for subsidy at 100 per cent of the prevailing mark-up rate for establishing mining and processing units in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.”Interestingly, the same amount is allocated for Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Continue reading
It was a great day for Aurat Foundation. Not only because 8 March was International Women’s Day but also because the Sindh Assembly unanimously passed long-awaited legislation against domestic violence. In its dying days, the Assembly adopted the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2013. This much needed legislation, defines domestic violence as:
- Gender related, physical, emotional, verbal, psychological abuse
- Pattern of degrading or humiliating conduct
- Insult, ridicule, threat to cause physical pain, malicious prosecution and threat of violence
- Obsessive possessiveness or jealousy undermining the privacy, liberty, integrity and security of the victim
- Baseless accusations
- Citing barrenness of a spouse for the purpose of marrying again
- Willful or negligent abandonment of the aggrieved person Continue reading
Pakistan is fortunate to have three major ports, namely, Karachi, Port Qasim and Gwadar. Moreover, a fourth port at Keti Bandar is also envisaged. Karachi port provides round-the-clock easy and safe navigation to tankers, modern container vessels, bulk carriers and general cargo ships up to 75,000 DWT (or dead weight tonnage). Karachi Port has 30 dry cargo berths (13 on West Wharves, 17 on East Wharves) and 3 liquid cargo handling berths (POL, meaning “port of loading“, and non-POL) and the Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT) that is privately owned and operated with fully equipped modern technologies. Over 1700 vessels call at the Karachi Port annually while operational capacity is about 3500 ships. The Karachi port’s cargo handling is available here.
There is ample scope of enhancing the operational activities of the Karachi port and it is incumbent upon the port authorities, the port operators, and the port users to ensure that this major port of Pakistan is operating at its optimum. Pakistan’s imports and exports have increased substantially in the past few years. This has led to a dynamic enhancement in activities at both the Karachi port as well as Port Qasim. Continue reading
The Balochistan issue is making headlines again. But this time with a new and unexpected twist. The US Congress hearing and subsequent resolution are generating waves in the Pakistani media. So what is new with that? The Congress foreign affairs committees regularly conduct hearings on several issues. What shook me was that Dana Rohrabacher, the conservative Republican who tabled the resolution, went as far as demanding a separate Baloch state. The resolution may be termed as a ‘stunt’ and a futile attempt to gain political points, but this may spark a debate among opponents of the US-Pakistan aid programme in the Congress and in the administration. If it happens, it will be largely in the favour of Baloch activists in the US. In order to assess the dynamics of the entire situation, we need to understand the extent of Baloch activism in the US.
The Baloch diaspora is politically active in the US; it engages in efforts to promote the Baloch cause among US politicians and policymakers. Unsurprisingly, such “activism” serves the self-proclaimed “leaders” of the Baloch separatist movement which organizes its efforts through NGOs, think-tanks, interest groups and media outlets in order to gain US support in Balochistan’s bid for independence. Continue reading
Acid violence is a reprehensible crime and it is prevalent all over South Asia. It involves criminals committing violence – overwhelmingly against women – by throwing acidic substances at victims. This not only causes disfiguration of victims’ faces, but also causes lasting psychological problems.
Generally, offenders deliberately commit such crimes after careful planning – the free availability of acid makes the crime easy enough to commit. Although this crime can be directed against everyone (women, children and men), it is most frequently directed against women. The effects of acid violence are tragic and include disfigurement of the face, loss of eyes and limbs, damage to organs, and subsequent infections – victims and their families also suffer psychological damage over and above such physical injuries. In addition to mental trauma, survivors also face social segregation and exclusion which further injures their confidence and acutely undermines their public and private lives in a permanent manner. It is, therefore, unfortunate that in Pakistan – until now – there was no express legislative measure which selectively combatted the menace of acid violence. Continue reading