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Research and specialization

Addressing the Senate meeting of Abdul Wali Khan University, KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jaghra emphasized for giving impetus to research and specialization to produce world class researchers and academicians. He said the nation needs such scholars who can guide the people to face contemporary challenges.

The ruling leadership is fully aware of the fact that our higher education is plagued by numerous inefficiencies for which all the civilian governments are responsible because these governments deliberately slashed down the allocations for human resource development. The scarce education budget is not is not judiciously utilized. Higher education has been devolved to the provinces under 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 2010. Since then the quality of higher education in KP has rapidly declined. Like the previous government the present provincial government is not appointing faculty on merit in the 20 plus public sector universities. Because of the excessive powers vested in the syndicates of government universities the faculty is answerable to none and study of students suffer.

There is acute shortage of equipments in science labs and the available equipment is obsolete. Like the arrogant faculty the lab assistant and attendants all along demonstrate hostile attitude towards the students who are fond of research. In most of the government universities labs are closed before 1500 hours and entry of students is not allowed. In few private universities like Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Science and Technology and National University of Science and Technology labs are kept open till 2300 hours in the night, wherein the faculty members watch and assist the students in their research activities. No such environment is available in the public sector universities.

It is the availability of high-tech equipments and instruments that facilitate quality research in the institution of higher education. Millions are spent on the construction of new buildings but the instrumentation of science labs is utterly ignored. Instrumentation of labs and development of skill of the students to operate state-of -the-art equipments is must to create an environment conducive for research and specialization. The faculty also need at least six months training on latest equipments.

There is a dearth of books in universities and the students can not afford the purchase of costly books to carry on their research of M Phil and PhD programs. Likewise, they can not pay subscription for downloading the research material from reputed international journals with high impact factor. It is the responsibility of the government to provide funds to the universities solely for the purpose of subscription to the top notch journals so that each enrolled student is provided with an access ID. In only one private university of the province latest editions of international journals are put on display stands for the benefit of both teachers and students.

Despite the grater financial allocations under the 7th NFC Award, the provincial government has abdicated its responsibility of promoting higher education. Grants have been stopped to public sector universities and these institutions have exorbitantly raise tuition fee. The grants given by the Higher Education Commission are far from wisely used and the research activities are ignored. Ironically, there is a free for all situation for the money launders to millions of dollars, Euros and British Pound Sterling for building offshore assets but the talented M Phil and PhD student can not send a few hundred dollars for the publication of their research work in international journals as Pay Pal account no longer exists. It is for the government to remove this obstacle that is hindering research.

Not a single government university of KP is included in the top 10 universities of the country. The University of Peshawar was ranked at the 4th position in the HEC list in 2006. But from 2010 and onwards it degenerated and now it is out of the list of top 10 universities of the country although the incumbent Vice Chancellor Professor Dr. Muhammad Asif Khan has taken a number of measures to enhance the national ranking of this Alma-mater. But he alone cannot perform this herculean task and needs the financial support from the government and close cooperation of the faculty. Hollow rhetoric about the promotion of research and specialization will not change the existing deplorable condition of higher education.

 

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ECNEC decisions

Headed by the Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the Executive Committee of National Economic Council approved five mega projects at the total cost of Rs. 504 billion. The most important project is the construction of Diamer-Basha dam. It marks a watershed in the development planning and execution process which is hitherto hostage to the skewed priorities of spending trillion of rupees on the construction of less productive motorways and losses incurring metro bus schemes. On Lahore Orange Train project Rs. 162 billion are being spent.

Construction of big dam storages was deliberately abandoned since 1975 abandoned which resulted in the power crisis and adversely affected the growth of agriculture sector and landed the country in acute water shortages. Now the situation is that experts put the loss of precious water resource $ 21 billion annually. But unfortunately the ruling political elite deliberately do not take cognizance of this colossal loss of a national resource. The nationalist political parties of KP and Sindh and mainstream political party, PPP compromised the national interest and made Kalabagh dam politically controversial which is economically the most beneficial multidimensional project. It is the biggest causality of myopic vision of national and regional political parties.

Better late than never is the final go-ahead to the construction of Diamer Basha dam at an estimated cost of $Rs. 474 billion aimed at increasing the country’s depleting water storage capacity. The reservoir of the dam has a live storage capacity of 64 million acre feet and has a power generation potential of 4500 megawatts. The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) had cleared the Diamer Basha dam at a cost of Rs. 625 billion. Subsequently, the Planning Ministry excluded the land component and construction of Residential Colony from the dam cost, bringing the price tag down to 474 billion. This outlay is meant for building the reservoir alone. On the completion, the project will increase national water storage capacity from 38 days to 45 days and will enhance the life span of downstream Tarbella dam by substantially reducing the silting rate in its reservoir.

The issue pertaining to the purchase of land and payment of compensation to the people being displaced is yet to be fully resolved. Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has informed the Prime Minister that land issue has to be resolved before starting construction of the dam. Successive governments have given Rs. 138 billion for land acquisition and settlement. Most of this work has already been done and the government has spent Rs. 58.3 billion on land acquisition. An amount of Rs. 53.5 billion has additionally been approved for settlement.

The execution of this project hit snags in the past as World Bank and Asian Development Bank were not willing to fully finance it. In the past 17 years, almost every head of state and head of government had performed the ground breaking ceremony of the project but civil work could not be started. The Asian Development Bank sanctioned a loan of $ 300 million in 2009 but the previous government could not fulfill the procedural formalities to get this amount. The project was going to be included in the CPEC framework in the hope to get the required finances from China on the pattern of international lending agencies. But Pakistan has to withdraw its request to include the $ 14 billion Diamer Basha dam from CPEC framework, the much publicized game changer to the national economy. Citing the reasons for this decision, Chairman WAPDA Muzamil Hussain told Public Accounts Committee on November 15, 2017 that Chinese conditions for financing this mega project were not doable and against national interest. He said that conditions were about taking ownership of the project, operation and maintenance cost plus securitization of Diamer Basha project by pledging another operational dam. It implies that in addition to other tough conditions, Chinese made an irrational demand of mortgaging Tarbella dam with them. This sort of condition was not asked for by the international donors to finance three dams including Tarbella, Mangla and Warsak in the decade of 1960s.

Monda dam was also cleared by CDWP at a cost of Rs. 303 billion but perhaps it was not submitted for ECNEC approval. Water crisis will not be overcome to greater extent unless Kalbagh dam and proposed dam of Kurram Tangi are also built on priority basis. These dams will provide irrigation water to millions acres of land in Punjab and Southern districts of KP.

 

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Reckless borrowing

Notwithstanding the looming debt sustainably problem, the borrowing spree of the PML-N government continues, ignoring its short term and long term grave repercussions on the economy. It has planned to borrow a record breaking amount of $ 13 billion in the next fiscal year alone which is higher than the loans acquired in the outgoing fiscal year. These borrowings are sought for repayment of previously obtained loans and stabalise nose-diving foreign currency reserves.

Provisional estimates of foreign assistance component of the next year federal budget have been prepared which the government wants to unveil on April, 27. It will be the highest borrowing in a single year in Pakistan’s 71 years history. In fiscal year 2016-17, it borrowed $ 10.5 billion. However, it has not yet been confirmed whether the government will present a realistic plan of Foreign Economic Assistance on the eve of presentation of budget, or like the previous five occasions it will deliberately conceal the actual figures of its foreign borrowing plan inline with the fudging trickery of Finance Minister on long leave, Ishaq Dar. During the last five years, the PML-N government took over $ 45 billion in foreign loans, throwing the country into deep debt.

The plan does not include the intended fund facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The government has relied heavily on acquiring expensive loans after the expiry of IMF Extended Fund Facility in September 2016 to remain afloat. But at the same time it has denied to seek another bail out package from this international lending agency. Recourse to extensive foreign loans at abnormally high rate of interest was taken because the government failed to create non-debt inflow of foreign capital in the form of direct investment. But the Federal Minister for Interior and Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal always claimed to have converted the country into investment heaven and flood of foreign direct investment (FDI) has deluged the national capital market.

Despite repeated denials of not going for another IMF bail out package, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail is reaching Washington presumably in a hectic pursuit of concessionary loans from the global lending agencies. The visit comes a few days before the last budget of the incumbent government. It has fuelled speculations that Pakistan may seek some last minute reprieve from international donors and the US government. It remains to be seen that when the government approach the IMF for a fresh fund facility.

Latest data from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reveals that the country’s total debt liabilities have risen by 14 percent in the second quarter of the current financial year relative to the same period last year. This shows that debt to GDP ratio has gone up to 71.7 percent which is much higher than the maxim limit of 60 percent of the GDP to debt level as prescribed by the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act, 2005. The World Bank pegged an assistance of $ 400 million subject to the condition that the government would make more tough legislation than the existing one for debt limitation and its management but the incentive could not be availed by the government which is fond of piling up domestic and foreign debt for non productive activities.

Borrowing for heavy investment to enhance the productive capacity of economy and break the low growth trap is a prudent mode of financing. It is the lavish spending of borrowed money on non productive mega projects and extravagance in current expenditure that creates the sustainability issue. By itself debt is not a problem. What matters is the paying capacity of the economy. The problem for Pakistan is low tax revenue, which will further go down after the implementation of Tax Amnesty Scheme, falling exports and home remittances and extremely low level of foreign direct investment. These factors make it difficult to carry smaller amount of national debt.

 

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Urging CPEC working groups meeting

Minister for Interior, Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal urged holding of early meetings of CEPEC Joint Working Groups during his discussion with Ning Jizje Vice Chairman of China’s National Development Reforms Committee (NDRC) in Beijing. He disclosed the work on CPEC projects has seen positive progress over the last five years, ignoring the fact that it kick- started after the visit Chinese President when PTI sit-n in Islamabad ended in 2015. He said that Pakistan has achieved the highest GDP growth rate 5.8 percent in the last 12 years, concealing the bare fact that it is mainly expenditure led.

The economic growth rate of 7 percent plus during 2001-07 was computed on both income and expenditure methods with the application of inventory valuation adjustments to avoid over-estimation and underestimation and work out the almost exact figure of GDP growth. No such standard procedure is being applied in the present government.

The Minister claimed that energy crisis in the country is over now and coal fired thermal power projects of Sahiwal and Port Qasim have been made operational. Power outages of six hours in cities and suspension of power supply for 22 hours in villages is a glaring indication that energy crisis is far from over. These two thermal power projects are still under completion. No data of their being operational is available either on the website of power division or on that of Planning Commission. The projects are still under completion. He proposed the meetings of PaK-China Joint Working Groups next month to fast track approval of projects in infrastructure and energy. He particularly emphasized the early approval Khuzdar-basima and D.IKhan-Zhob-Quetta highways. It was the Ministry Planning that denied the media reports that certain road projects under CPEC framework have hit snags. Construction work on Khuzdar-Shadad Kot road is going on with snail pace. These highways are main arteries of CEPEC.

Planning Minister opined that in the wake of emerging fourth industrial revolution the cooperation in the field of digital economy is must and proposed to establish a new working group for this purpose. Over the past 18 years successive government deferred the documentation of the economy because of political expediency what to speak of its digitalization. World Bank and International Monetary Fund are persistently emphasizing that Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) should utilize the IT data of 3.8 million wealthy people for broadening the tax base. But the federal government has marched in the opposite direction and eroded 50 percent of existing narrow tax base with the tax amnesty scheme in which the limit of taxable income has been raised to Rs. 1.2 million.

The technological base of Pakistan is stuck at second generation technology in civilian goods industries. It can open its doors for the emerging fourth industrial revolution by successfully introducing and indigenizing the fifth generation technology. This herculean task can not be done within the next few years. That is why the Chinese do not seem that much enthusiastic in the relocation of their industries to the proposed Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and entering into joint ventures with Pakistani entrepreneurs. The list of concessions demanded by China on 75 percent tariff lines in the revised Free Trade Agreement Phase-II gives credence to perception that the country is for away from the advent of fourth industrial revolution.

The Chinese appreciated the idea of holding the meetings of Joint Working groups in principle but did not give a firm date in the next month as was desired by Pakistan. It was decided that cooperation in agriculture sector would be extended in the light of CPEP long term plan.  The government is not willing to submit the CEPEC long term plan in the parliament and its Nitti Gritty have been kept secrete. Cooperation between China and Pakistan in agriculture sector would not be fruitful if the Chinese are shy in financing the big dam storages. Chairman WAPDA had to inform the Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power that the project of Diyamer Basha dam had been withdrawn from CPEC framework because conditions for its financing were unacceptable of their being against the national interest.  The Chinese leadership and their mercantile class are wise enough. They will adopt a policy of wait and see till the holding of upcoming general elections and formation of new government in Pakistan.

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Realism or political gimmicks

Addressing a function at Jalpur Pirwala in South Punjab, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi made a dialogue offer to all political parties for achieving consensus on the issue of creating new provinces. He said that the people of Sarieki belt have always demonstrated their loyalty towards PML-(N).  He reminded to the law makers, who have recently left the ruling party, that Punjab Assembly had passed two resolutions pertaining to the creation of South Punjab province and restoration of Bahawalpur province in May, 2012. Does the Prime Minister offer reflect a sense of realism or it is a political gimmicks? On the revolt of six MNAs and one MPA, the de Facto supremo of the ruling party, Maryam Nawaz in her tweet responded that no provisions exists for the creation of new provinces in the PML-N manifesto.

Over the past 10 years the demand for creating new provinces has gained momentum among the masses due to uneven socio-economic growth in the less developed areas because of lopsided development priorities of the governments. This demand seems to be reasonably enough considering their basic right to prosper. The lawmakers who parted ways with PML-N has complained that bulk of development funds are spent in Lahore at the cost of extremely backward regions of the province. Supporting their grievances by credible data of public expenditure, they argue that Rs. 162 billion are being spent on Lahore Orange Train project alone but the provincial government is not willing to spend even one fourth of this amount on South Punjab.

The extreme socio-economic disparities between the areas of Central and South Punjab is repeatedly being highlighted by a renowned journalist and TV anchor Rauf Kalusra in his columns and talk shows but the government did not budge an inch. This sense of trust deficit in the provincial set up has made the voice louder in the concerned public for new and small administrative units. A just principle in the form of a policy decision is the need of the hour taking on board all parties ensuring the division to satisfy the grievances of all stake holders.

There is no harm in creating more administrative units to promote the uplift of the people. It strengthens the federation by harmonious relationship between the center and the federating units. The United States with 50 administrative units, China with 34 provinces, Turkey with 81 provinces and India with 29 states and 7 Union territories have a strong and cordial federal structure. In India two Union territories Pudechry and the National Capital Territory of Delhi have elected legislatures. A number of times opposition parties have formed the government in this Capital territory. But it did not disturb the function of the Union Government in the federal Capital Delhi. These countries have been doing politically and economically well.

The political atmosphere of cooperation and accommodation during 2008-13 provided a rare opportunity for the creation of new administrative units in the country.  The resolutions in Punjab Assembly submitted by provincial Law Minister Rana Sanullah for the creation South Punjab province and restoration of Bahawalpur province and their unanimous adoption by the provincial legislature fulfilled the basic constitutional requirement for this purpose. But as the leadership of both mainstream political parties, PPP and PML-N were not sincere in crating new administrative units therefore a constitutional amendment was not passed from the federal legislature. It vindicates the contention of Senator Barrister Farogh Naseem that he made in a TV current affairs program a few days ago that the leadership of PPP, PML-N and PTI are opposed to the creation of new provinces. If the analysis of this outstanding constitutional expert and parliamentarian is any guide then it can easily be presumed that the Prime Minister’s proposal for a dialogue to build consensus on South Punjab province is a political gimmick to garner the support of the people in South Punjab for his party to win the upcoming elections.

 

 

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Imaginary fear

The controversy created about 18th Amendment by a few columnists in their out of context and twisted comment refuses to end. It was reignited by a letter sent by the Cabinet Division to the provincial governments to evaluate the impact of this legislation on the federating units. PPP Senator Sassai Palejo, in her speech in Senate said a rationale is being worked out to roll back this important legislation which has restored the Constitution to its original form and has ensured provincial autonomy. She said that journey towards democracy and establishing supremacy of constitution was not an easy task.

Federal Minister for parliamentary affairs, Sheikh Aftab told the Upper House of the Parliament that the reservations of the opposition political parties about the scrapping the 18th Amendment are not valid. He assured the house that the legislation will remain intact but it needs further refinement for which some amendments will be required. He disclosed that matters of some federal ministries are being reviewed.

The authors of 18th Amendment has given greater autonomy which was not conceived to that extent by the framers of the 1973 constitution at the time of its passage from the constituent federal legislature. That is why some legal experts and political analyst are of the view that 18th amendment has altered the federal structure of the Constitution and has virtually converted the federation into a confederation. They cite the examples of Sindh government repeated confrontation stance in the past over granting power to Rangers to restore law and order in Karachi. Likewise, the delaying tactics adopted by the government of Punjab to allow the operation of Paramilitary Forces against the sleeper cells of banned outfits which carry out terrorist attacks in the province and Baluchistan. The clause that enshrine the approval of provincial legislature for the imposition of Governor’s Rule necessitated by total break down of law and order in a federating unit does not exist in the Indian Constitution, which is  a functional democracy.

The issues pertaining to the formulation of national water policy and construction of big dams have been made hostage to the whims of provincial governments. These matters fall within the purview of federal government. The government of Sindh opposes tooth and nail the construction of dams on the River Indus both upstream and downstream Tarbella Dam. It was because of this hostility towards the construction of much needed big storage dams that Diyamer Basha and Monda dams’ projects were not tabled in the recent meeting of the Council of Common Interest despite their clearance by CDWP. The national interest must be protected with constitutional mechanism. Man made laws are not so sacrosanct that their further amendment and refinement should be prohibited.

 

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Historic verdict

In a historic verdict that is set to produce positive results by alerting the stinking political landscape of the country, the Supreme Court ruled that disqualification under Article 62(1) (f) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan is for life. The political elite have given a mixed reaction to this landmark verdict of the Apex Court. PML-N leadership has vehemently criticized it; PPP senior leader Syed Khusheed Shah has expressed reservations between the lines but in the same breath said that courts judgments must be accepted, and PTI leaders have hailed it.
Cursory look at the evolution and strengthening of democratic systems in the United States, Briton, countries of Western Europe and neighboring country India brings out this fact that their political leadership believed in the basic fundamentals of democracy which are the rule of law and transparency. It was strict adherence to these fundamentals that western democracies achieved the Zenith of prosperity and gave its fruits to the common man. But unfortunately, political elite in Pakistan disdain to observe the fundamentals of democracy in letter and spirit, doing a lip service to uphold the norms of democracy. Hopefully, the Supreme Court landmark verdict on the interpretation of Article 62 (1) (f) will give impetus to the evolution of a healthy political culture of participative democracy.

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Middle East’s flash point

President Donald trump warning to Russia to brace for American engagement Syria has upped the ante of tension between the two superpowers. The warning came few days after a suspected chemical attack that killed dozens of people in Douma district of Eastern Ghouta province. In a sharp reaction Russia vowed to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Moscow cautioned that a risk of direct Russia-US military clash in Syria is higher than ever. A Russian envoy said that a US missile flying over Syria would be shot down.

The diplomatic relations between Russia, and United States and its Western allies have already nosedived after the incident of nerve gas smearing at the door handle of the house of former Russian double agent Sergi V. Scripal, who lives in Salisbury, Briton. He fell critically ill after being affected by inhaling this gas. UK, The United States and a number of European Union countries expelled scores of Russian diplomats. In retaliation, Russia paid in the same coin.

Both Russia and the United States have boots on the ground in Syria and there are reports of their naval forces build up in the Mediterranean Sea with the deployment of war ships, submarines and aircraft carriers. Russia has a naval and airbase in Latakia, while the US led collation warplanes are hovering along the Iraq-Syria border. The US Centcom Head Quarter is located in Qatar with 10000 troops and an airbase 20 miles out of Doha. The UK Air Force fighter-bombers have been on alert at its base in Cyprus. Likewise, French fighter jets have been put on alert at Saint-Dizier Robinson Airbase for possible strikes in Syria. Israel which has already carried out a number of air strikes in Syria has placed its forces on high alert along border with Syria.

An important NATO member country, Germany appears to be so far neutral in the Syrian conflict as Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to say whether Germany backs a possible airstrike into Syria after the alleged recent chemical attack by the incumbent regime that killed dozens of civilians. She voiced disappointment over the failure of UN Security Council meeting to reach an agreement on Syria. Another NATO member country, Turkey is in catch-22 situation because of its ambivalent foreign policy. On the one hand it backs the Syrian opposition groups battling against the Bashar Al Assad regime forces, while on the other it has formed an informal alliance with Russia, and Iran on the issue of Kurd militantancy in Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Arab foreign ministers, in their meeting in Saudi Arabia, will discuss the situation in Palestine and Syria. But the bold indication are that as usual this meeting will turn out to be an exercise of assembled, discussed and dispersed with issuing a vague and mildly worded joint statement.

The Syrian conflict seems to be the endgame started by the United States and its Western allies in the garb of New World Order after the disintegration of Soviet Union in 1991 and ensuing unipolar world. Since then two wars were imposed on Iraq in which Turkey and some Arab countries supported the United States. The leadership in Pakistan was dived on the eve of 1991 US aggression against Iraq. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif embarked on a whirlwind tour of the Middle East countries, condemning the Saddam Hussain regime. Former President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and the then Army Chief General (R) Mirza Aslam baig condemned the US aggression against an Islamic country.

The emerging situation in the Middle East necessitates urgent unity among the Islamic countries for proactive diplomacy to resolve the Syrian conflict which may become a harbinger of bigger conflict that may engulf other countries in the region as well.

 

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Claim about industrial revolution

Prime Minster Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while addressing Boao forum claimed that Pakistan is standing at the doorstep of fourth industrial revolution and the country will join the comity of industrialized nations in 2050. He said that the country’s economy is growing at 6 percent GDP growth rate and Gawadar port will become a hub of international trade. He predicted that the Western countries’ led world economic order is declining and Asia led world order is emerging. He said that Special Economic Zones SEZs) are part and parcel of CEPEC.

There is no denying the fact that China led new world order is in the making and CPEC is a flagship project of Belt and Road initiative. It will facilitate bulk of Chinese foreign trade to the Middle East Africa and Europe through Gawadar port. But global trade alone can not bring fourth industrial revolution in Pakistan for which no long term plan has been conceived. The Chairman State Engineering Corporation has cautioned the business leaders to move from the present second generation technology to 5th generation technology to get joint ventures with Chinese entrepreneurs in SEZs. How such a big technological gap can be filled within the next few years when both the government and private sector has not paid any attention to the introduction of new technologies and their indigenization in the civilian goods industries. The application of sophisticated technologies in the war goods industry of Pakistan is satisfactorily moving ahead. The nationalization of industries and private banks in Z.A Bhutto government discouraged that initiative in the private sector. The succeeding governments did not revive it.

Direct foreign investment with technology transfer is attracted towards favorable economic environment comprising cheap energy inputs, progressive taxation structure, highly skilled man power and efficient and transparent decision making mechanism of the government. India benefited form the outsourcing of industries from the western countries due to the availability of highly skilled manpower, low electricity tariff, straightforward tax system and transparency in decision making process. Japan outsourced its automobile and electronic goods industries to Malaysia because of the availability of high quality human resource and attractive economic environment. None of these factors and incentives exists in Pakistan. That is why China is insisting on 75 percent tariff lines at zero duty for its exports to Pakistan in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) phase-II. They feel that the technological base and manpower of Pakistan is not mature enough to absorb the modern Chinese technology to be transferred with the civilian goods industries that were intended to be relocated to the proposed SEZs under the CPEC framework.

Majority of the Pakistan universities of engineering and technology and institutions of technical and vocational training produce engineers and technicians who could not handle the high tech instruments and machines. The science and engineering graduates of Pakistani universities feel handicapped during the pursuit of MS, M Phil and Doctoral programs to use modern instruments in foreign universities when asked by their supervisors to do so. The infrastructure, scientists and engineers of Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have been made redundant as funds have not been released for research and development for the last 10 years. Doors for the entry of 4th industrial revolution can be opened and the country can be benefited from it only when the government become serious in expanding and modernizing the scientific and technological base of the country like the South Asian state and India. Hollow rhetoric and shallow philosophy will not steer the country out from the present state of stagnation.

 

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India versus SAARC

India has become once again active to sabotage the convening of the South Asian Association on Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Conference to be held this year in Islamabad. Last time the two day SAARC summit was scheduled to take place on 15th January 2016 in Pakistan. But it was postponed indefinitely when India persuaded Bangladesh and Bhutan to pull out of this summit. India even torpedoed Nepal’s diplomatic efforts to change the venue of the summit.

Foreign media reports reveal that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told to his Naples counterpart in a meeting in NewDelhi that his participation in SARC summit is not likely. Indian foreign secretary Vijaj Ghokal, while briefing the media said the Indian Prime Minister has informed about the Prime Minister of Nepal about India’s reservation pertaining to the SARC summit to be held in Pakistan. He cited the tension on Line of Control and working boundary to be the major obstacle in the way of this summit.

The economic and cultural cooperation among SARC member countries could not grow significantly because of India’s Pakistan specific hostile foreign policy. It resolved its territorial disputes with Bangladesh, Srilanka and Bhutan in line with foreign policy guidelines of Dr. IK Gugral Doctrine for the conduct of international relation in the 21st century. It has also agreed to resolve border dispute with Nepal. But India is not willing to reach a mutually acceptable agreement for the resolution of boder issues in Sirkreek and Siacheen let alone the core issue of Kashmir.

The present BJP government is not interested in the resumption of Composite Dialogue process suspended after the Mumbai attacks on 26th November, 2008 which were blamed on Lashar-e-Taiba. On the same night Maharashtra Chief of Anti Terror Squad Hemant Karkare, Assistant Commissioner Police Ashok Kamte and Inspector Vijay Saskar were mysteriously killed. The investigation report of National Investigating Agency and the verdict of the trial court Judge Ml Tahalyani, acquitting Ajmal Kasab and his two alleged local handlers in this case, that lent credence to the theory that these attacks were false flag operation to derail the Composite Dialogue process at a time when the then foreign minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi was in New Delhi for talks with his Indian Counterpart. India may once again exert pressure on Bangladesh and other SARC member countries to stay out of the SARC summit that Pakistan will host. It is now for the civilian leadership to demonstrate diplomatic shills and defeat India’s efforts for the postponement of this summit for the second time.