Mar 29, 2010

Meeting energy shortage

The inclusion of India in the gas pipeline project will be of great benefit for all stakeholders

By Alauddin Masood

The final decision seems to have been taken for the supply of gas to Pakistan from Iran. After holding negotiations that spread over 15 years, Pakistan and Iran signed the agreement on March 16 in Istanbul for supplying 750 million cubic feet (mmcfd) of Iranian gas to Pakistan by the middle of 2015.

Understandably, the supply of gas from Iran will greatly help overcome the shortage of energy in Pakistan. The inter-state gas systems -- a semi-autonomous body of Pakistan -- and the National Iranian Oil Company finalised the agreements after having resolved all issues relating to the project, including pricing, project details and gas quantity.

Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Syed Naveed Qamar, has termed the signing of these agreements as 'a historic achievement and a milestone' towards meeting the energy needs of Pakistan. The agreements will now result in the start of actual work on Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project.

The sale-purchase agreement has already been signed for the supply of gas to Pakistan at the rate of 78 percent of the crude oil price. Under the agreement, Islamabad will make sure that it ensures unhindered gas supply to a third party, India in this case, if it wants to become part of the IP gas pipeline project at a later stage. Conceived in 1995, India quit Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project in 2008, after 13 years.

The Iranian gas will enable Pakistan to generate 5,000 MW of electricity. However, it will not be economically viable for domestic use because of higher prices. The current domestic price in Pakistan is $4 per one thousand British Thermal Units (mmbtu) while gas from Iran will cost $9 per mmbtu and could be used only for power generation.

Iran is an energy giant with one foot in the Caspian Sea and the second in the Persian Gulf. It is beneficial both for Pakistan and Iran to enter into a buyer-seller relationship for natural gas that Iran has in abundance and subcontinent's growing and energy starved economies desperately need.

Natural gas is transported either through overland or undersea pipelines in its natural state or as liquefied natural gas (LNG) in oil tankers. Liquefying gas and transporting it as LNG in oil tankers is a costly venture. For LNG transportation, the capital outlay that would need to be incurred will include an expenditure of over $2bn for a liquefaction unit, over $200 million for each LNG tanker and over $500 million for a re-gasification plant.

Amongst the other two options, the on-shore route is more economical. Costing about $2.538 billion, the more economical on-shore route has been selected as the obvious choice for the transportation of Iranian gas to Pakistan. The off-shore route for the transportation of Iranian gas to Pakistan is estimated to cost $4.46 billion, almost double the cost of on-shore route.

As per on-shore route, the IP gas pipeline, with 42-inch diameter, will enter Pakistan from Jiwani, near Gwadar in Balochistan. It will reach Nawabshah through coastal highway where it will be connected with the infrastructure of Sui Northern Gas Private Limited. Pakistan has already appointed a local franchised representative of a German designer as consultant to design pipeline specification.

Due to spurt in economy, Pakistan is facing a daily shortfall of over 400 mmcfd of gas, which is projected to increase to four billion cubic feet by 2025. To meet its growing gas needs, Pakistan has been considering four options for the execution of a gas pipeline project. These included: IPI gas pipeline, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, Qatar-Pakistan under-sea pipeline and LNG pipeline.

Recently, efforts have been stepped up to revive Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. A meeting of experts from the four countries is being convened in Ashkabad for April 17 and 18 to discuss the project route and the volume of gas Turkmenistan could spare for Pakistan and India.

There has been little progress on this project for the last four years. Earlier, in 2008, India was to host a meeting of experts on the project but it was postponed at the eleventh hour for unknown reasons.

The cost of 56-inch diameter 1,435 km pipeline (from Turkmenistan to Multan) has recently been revised to about $4 billion from $3.3 billion in 2004. The pipeline, which is to originate from Turkmenistan's Daulatabad gas field, will run 145 km in the host country, 735 km in Afghanistan, and 555 km in Pakistan (up to Multan) under the preferred southern route via Herat and Kandahar.

The Asian Development Bank, which has offered to provide technical support to the project, has concluded a thorough feasibility study which says that inclusion of India will be of great benefit not only for the project but for all stakeholders.

Let us discover each other!

Peace is essential, not only for India and Pakistan but for the whole of South Asia

By Hamid Mir

A statue of Sir Ganga Ram once stood on the Mall Road in Lahore. This statue of a Hindu engineer and social worker came under attack during the riots of 1947. According to famous Urdu writer, Saadat Hasan Manto, one day an angry mob first pelted the statue with stones and then smothered its face with coal tar. Then a man made a garland of old shoes and climbed up to put it round the neck of the statue. The police arrived and opened fire. Among the injured was the boy with the garland of old shoes. As he fell, the mob shouted: "Let us rush him to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital."

The statue of Sir Ganga Ram disappeared from the Mall Road Lahore within a few years after the creation of Pakistan but Sir Ganga Ram Hospital is still there. This hospital was built by Sir Ganga Ram in 1921.The Hindu name of this famous hospital survived because there was no politics behind the creation of this institute. The City of Lahore still has many hospitals and colleges with non-Muslim names like Gulab Devi Hospital and Dayal Singh College.

Like the Indians, Pakistanis also changed many British names. The city of Montgomery was renamed as Sahiwal, Lyallpur became Faisalabad and Lawrence Garden was named Jinnah Garden because all these British names were symbols of 'tyranny'. No Hindu or Sikh name was changed. We still have a Hindu Gymkhana in Karachi. Once a military dictator General Ziaul Haq tried to change the Hindu and Sikh names of some pre-partition institutes but the people of Lahore refused to allow this because they saw Ganga Ram, or Gulab Devi or Dayal Singh not as Indians but only good human beings.

This is also the case with Aligarh Muslim University established by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in 1875. This University is a source of pride not only for Muslims but for all Indians. Hakim Ajmal Khan and Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar established Jamia Millia Delhi in 1925 -- not just for Muslims but for everyone. The name of university also survived like Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Lahore. What is the lesson? If a Hindu does good work, his Hindu name will always be remembered in Pakistan. If a Muslim does a good work he can get respect in India.

Unfortunately, today our focus is not on good work because good work is not a big story. Most of my media colleagues in India and Pakistan focus more on negative stories -- violence and its effects are sensational, they draw more viewers, listeners and readers. Journalists focus on Hafiz Saeed because he hates India but they will not focus the humanitarian work of Abdus Sattar Edhi who runs the biggest private ambulance service in the world. They want to glorify the anti-Pakistan statements of Bal Thackeray but they don't care about Manmohan Singh who always faces problems whenever he speaks about peace with Pakistan.

Sometimes I feel that war is possible anytime in South Asia and peace is impossible. I think that we must stand by those who are attempting the impossible. Peace is essential, not only for India and Pakistan but for the whole of South Asia. Peace is like oxygen. Everyone needs oxygen. If there is less oxygen in one country of South Asia, it will be dangerous for the environment of the whole region. If there is less water in one country of the region, it will threaten the environment of the whole region. If there is enough water in Bangladesh then Bengalis will not cross the border and go to India in search of jobs. If there is enough water in Pakistan nobody will blame India for stealing river waters. Both India and Pakistan are facing water shortage but instead of working together they are involved in the blame game.

We must not think with our fears and suspicions but we must think with our best hopes for each other. Extremists are in a minority but they are organised and determined to implement their war agenda. Unfortunately, liberals and moderates are disorganised and full of doubts about each other.

Today, extremist forces have successfully raised tension in the region. Moderate forces, which currently include the governments on both sides, are reluctant even to talk to each other because they constantly suspect each other. In so doing, (i.e. not talking) they are playing into the hands of those who can create a warlike situation anytime by just organising one terrorist incident. Their survival lies in conflict and tensions, which they are successfully orchestrating. Our survival lies in peace but we are not joining hands to gain strength.

We the writers, poets, and journalists must play a greater role for minimising the tension. This tension is dangerous for peace. Peace, as I said earlier, is oxygen. Peace is a must for love. A loveless life is a fruitless tree and a friendless life is a rootless tree. Trees can live without fruit but not without roots. Let us discover our roots. We can discover our roots in Afghanistan.

When we look at Afghanistan we see only Taliban and terrorism because that is what the media shows us. But Afghanistan has also given us so many of Sufi poets and saints like Hazrat Ali Hajwairi (Data Ganj Baksh) of Lahore and Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer who are revered by all our religious communities. Hazrat Ali Hajwairi came from Ghazni to Lahore and Hazrat Khawaja Moeenudin Chishti had roots in Herat area of Afghanistan.

Instead of an India-Pakistan proxy war in Afghanistan why can't we follow the teachings of our great Sufi saints? Why can't we build an India-Pakistan Peace Hospital in Kabul? All the South Asian countries should start joint efforts for making peace and stability in Afghanistan. Once Afghanistan is stabilised it will be a big achievement of the whole region and then we could have a successful India-Pakistan Peace Mission in Kashmir.

Let us discover each other. We hate each other and we love each other. We have a unique and contradictory chemistry. Media in India and Pakistan have already discovered lot of hatred. Now is the time for discovering some love. We must focus on those who are attempting the impossible, which takes courage. We must discover some new Ganga Rams and Sir Syed Ahmad Khans in India and Pakistan. I am sure that our region has a lot of good people who are working not only for their own religious community, whether Hindu or Muslim, but for everyone. Good people are in the majority but their voices are not heard in media. They are dominated by war-mongers. We must become voice of good souls. We need these good souls not just for two countries but we need them for the peace and prosperity of the whole South Asia.

Doing it differently

We need to revisit trade and industrial development vision if it wishes to develop a pro-poor economy

By Zubair Faisal Abbasi

The last two years have been witness to a decline in the industrial and trade development fortunes in Pakistan with wide-ranging implications for economic growth and poverty eradication. During the last fiscal year, large scale manufacturing witnessed negative growth of 7 percent while value of imports increased to almost double of the export. The phenomena, however, has a history of policy orientation behind it. In fact, as predicted by a number of experts on trade and industrial development, the rapid liberalisation of trade regimes along with dismantling of industrial policy during the 1990s and 2000s, there has been progressive increase in the trade gap and unsatisfactory performance in attainment of a sustainable industrial competitiveness and development.

Historically speaking, many researchers argue that Pakistan was unable to craft and implement a planned scheme of industrial development and up-gradation leaving continued absence of a national system of innovation. It failed to facilitate and execute inter-sectoral linkages amongst trade, industry, banking, and education sectors which could design the required social infrastructure for sustained economic development. On another account, unlike many late industrializers of East Asia, the role of the state in Pakistan remained questionable in allocation of resources for rapid industrialization and modernization of economy. As mentioned by Dr. Asad Sayeed, the regulatory and financial systems served on the basis of political alignments with the regime instead of creating a genuine entrepreneurial class.

However, after wasting the 1980s despite having massive 'big push' by the public sector from the 1970s, the 1990s were strangulated under structural adjustment programmes. It must be noted that during 1990s, there have been frequent settling and unsettling of political regimes with interim governments playing a big role in the management of economy. During this time, a serious effort for implementation of the Washington Consensus approaches wedded to the policies of 'liberalisation, stabilisation, and privatisation'. It focused more on what is called 3D approach e.g., dismantle the state, dis-empower the worker, and Depend on market. The trend continued and the economic management of Pakistan took a slow but sure turn from being predominantly developmental to neoliberal idea system.

Notwithstanding, despite having a structurally adjusted economy, the fortunes of industrial sector have not flourished. The economic management acumen could not bring the required social infrastructure which is essential for pro-poor growth in industrial and commercial capital. There is no exaggeration that this is the industrial and manufacturing sector which helps create valuable items for exports as well as generates employment and labour utilization potential in an economy. Empirical evidence from many countries including from East Asia and China shows that poverty can be rapidly and substantially be reduced only in those economies which can create a flourishing industrial sector and modernize the agriculture segment.

If we look at Pakistan, during the period between 1999-00 to 2007-08, the growth rate of the banking and finance sector was higher than the industrial and agriculture sector. The commodity and electricity shortages that were witnessed later in 2007-09, are not a product of one or two years rather some critical issues in availability were resolved during the democratic government.

According to Rashid Amjad, Chief Economist of Pakistan, the economic growth in Pakistan has largely been contributed by increased use of factors of production rather than improvement in quality in techniques of using the inputs i.e., increase in total factor productivity (TFP). Improvement in TFP which is possible only when economic planning for labour, technology, and business generation follows a coherent vision for modernization of both industry and agriculture. Empirical evidence tells a boom-burst scenario that despite having a peak growth (19 percent) in 2004-05, the subsequent years 2007-08 could see industrial sector growth nose-diving to 4.8 percent.

It appears that the current economic management needs a politically embedded role of the state to create vision for economic management and follow up the vision with developing appropriate institutional arrangements. Pakistan, despite having vast resources for material progress was not able to create a turn around and catch-up with the industrial world let alone that it could have made a strategy for forging ahead. Historically speaking, there were acts of omission and commission which failed the state to enable itself in playing a more constructive role in trade and industrial development of Pakistan.

In the international development context one can argue that Pakistan needs to go beyond the Millennium Development Goals (NDGs) approach. While these goals emphasize poverty eradication by 2015 does not mention the processes of industrialization and growth of manufacturing sector which can help generate potential for labour utilization. One can suspect that despite being structurally adjusted, many developing countries will not be able to create jobs and upgrade their industrial structures for improvement in trade gaps through value additions. The economic managers (read masters) of Pakistan, need to pay heed to this fact while developing the next five year plan. This is heartening to see that the impending new five year plan has the vision of 'investing in people' which was also the theme of international conference organized by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economists in Islamabad recently. How much of such a plan can be successful, if we keep 'rolling back the state', is a million dollar question?

Under the circumstances, the democratic Pakistan needs to seriously revisit the trade and industrial development vision if it wishes to develop a high-quality pro-poor economic development which reduces incidence of poverty. Pakistan should learn to manage competition and build inter-sectoral cooperation. Rather than believing in the neoliberal religion of level playing field in which the stronger player perforce wins, Pakistan, borrowing wisdom from Prof. Ha-Joon Chang, needs to understand the analogy of a boxing match. There are different weight categories for different players so that the week has also the chance of winning a game while playing against an opponent of the same category.

The industrial sector of Pakistan can become competitive in international trade if the banking, government, education, and business sector follow a sensible industrial policy backed by suitable institutional arrangements. Democratic Pakistan would need to deliver on this account for successful poverty eradication -- a poverty eradication which rests on increases in capabilities of social infrastructure to provide employment and social assets beyond basic needs.

Dilemma remains

The problems of Balochistan have not been completely understood

By Salman Abid

The dilemma of Pakistani politics is that there is no progress in social and political harmony between the four provinces and there is no consensus on different issues such as peace, security, autonomy, and many others. Currently, Balochistan has serious reservations with regard to power-based structures of Punjab and Islamabad.

A majority of regional nationalist parties have rejected Balochistan package and National Finance Commission (NFC) award. They have shown their mistrust in Islamabad. Nationalist political parties have also shown and registered their reservations on the constitutional package. According to their statement, the 1973 Constitution is totally supportive of federation only. The provinces, excluding Punjab, have been discriminated against.

Unfortunately, the issue of Balochistan has not been properly understood by the people at large, especially those living in Punjab. The whole issue has been dealt with in isolation, thereby aggravating grievances. This is because of the lack of knowledge and dependency on Islamabad and Punjab-based information. Our mainstream newspapers and electronic media have also not highlighted the Balochistan issue on a priority basis. State media has deliberately not reported much on the Balochistan issue.

During my recent visit to Quetta to participate in national conference, I had the opportunity to meet different political and social stakeholders and media persons. During my meetings, I tried to understand their concerns about national politics, especially with reference to Balochistan perspective. I strongly realised that Baloch showed lots of hatred towards the state and the ruling elite, especially after the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti.

Balochistan has three perspectives. First, the Baloch are constantly looking for their identity in the 1973 Constitution. Second, they have rejected the 1973 Constitution and demand for a new one because the present constitution, according to them, does not provide basic human rights. And lastly, they seem to now believe in an armed struggle and raise the slogan of an independent Balochistan.

The Pakistan living Standard Measurement Survey (PSLM) 2004-5 identifies a sharp inter-provincial disparity with regard to access to safe drinking water. Several reports state that 52 percent population in Balochistan uses wells and open ponds for drinking water, compared to 3 percent in Punjab, 13 percent in Sindh, and 35 percent in NWFP. The PSLM survey reported alarming regional disparity in the education sector. According to the survey, only 27 percent of the students in Balochistan complete primary or higher education, compared to 64 percent in Punjab. Gender disparity is also a very sensitive issue in Balochistan and women are marginalised.

During the visit to Gwadar I met the fisherfolks' community. They shared their own concerns and problems. Most of the development under the Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) focuses on new colonies and basic infrastructures for the 'new' people, and not the old people living there for the last 60 years. People have serious reservations on military organisations, capturing the local land in the name of security. Baloch have strongly criticised national media many a time at various forums to protect and justify extremism in the county.

The Balochistan situation is always seen under the Baloch perspective, ignoring the Pakhtun and Hazara perspectives. The Pakhtun community is fully engaged in business and development activities in the region but lives in isolation.

More than 10 million Pakhtuns live far from their homes, especially in Karachi, to earn a living. They cite low representation in the provincial set-up and complain that they have been reduced to second-rate citizens. The Hazara community also raises its own concerns, especially the target killings and the dealing of security agencies with the Hazara people. According to HRCP report, more than 260 people belonging to the Hazara community in Quetta since the year 2003 have become victims of target killing and more than 1000 people were injured.

Another major issue is that of missing people. The controversy over the missing people still persists and no authentic data is available with political parties. According to the HRCP fact-finding mission report on Balochistan 90 people are missing as on January 9, 2010. Military data shows only 64 from the region. In 2009, 15 incidents of sectarian violence took place in which 26 men were killed and five others injured. In 2009, a total of 141 incidents of target killings took place.

After the boycott of national elections in 2008, most of the nationalist political parties believe the announcement of NFC award and Balochistan package by the government is a good initiative but this decision has been taken without consensus and consultations with nationalist parties. At this moment, there is a dire need for presenting the concerns and reactions of all four provinces at the national media, including FATA and PATA. This would help in building social harmony in Pakistan.

In my view, most of the issues can be resolved if the existing communication gap is removed between the two provinces. Our political leadership lacks the decision-making power in order to take a big decision that could resolve the provinces' woes. Having reservations on issues is understandable but to totally reject political initiatives form the Center is also not acceptable. There is always room for a dialogue. The democratic government should call an All-Parties conference on Balochistan and invite political forces, including the civil society organisations and make a new political contract. Provincial autonomy is another serious issue and the only solution lies in decentralisation.

The government and security agencies should address the Baloch people's concerns about the missing people and take affirmative action against target killings. Our national media has to give more space and time to different issues of different stakeholders. All these actions will bear fruit if our political parties act in national spirit and build a strong relationship with small provinces. Civil society organisations' role is very important in acting as pressure group and build a bridge between the state, government, and Balochistan.

Doha Round at crossroads

Multilateralism has to prevail over knee-jerk protectionism if the world has to achieve sustained economic progress

By Pradeep S Mehta

"The Doha Round is not an island in a sea of alternative opportunities -- failure on Doha would spill over into other present and future cooperation efforts, and not only in the trade policy domain. In our joined-up world, countries simply cannot go their own way and disregard the costs of neglecting international cooperation," remarked the WTO Director General, Pascal Lamy in a recent meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica. The imperative of concluding the Doha Round could not have been captured better.

2010 is a make or break year for the Doha Round. The initial euphoria of many members was dampened as far back as August 2003 when the US and the EU brought forward a small package on agriculture to take to Cancun. It has further waned since the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in 2005 and the stalemate after the July 2008 package. Countries need to put in significant political capital to conclude it even if the gains at the end are modest. The negotiations have clearly waned in ambition since the Hong Kong meeting and are still in 'intensive care', being watched carefully and with great anxiety.

However, despite the anxiety of nations about the sustainability of negotiations, some significant technical work has been accomplished in the last few years. 'Geographical indications' is an example on which there has been forward movement. In the area of non-tariff barriers, which will be the major agenda in the future, there is a good hope of progress with the Chairman of the Negotiating Group on Market Access for industrial goods, identifying several common (or horizontal) issues across proposals regarding non-tariff barriers on the table.

In the same vein, scheduling of agricultural tariffs is progressing while even on the extremely contentious issues of 'cotton' and special safeguard mechanisms in agriculture there are forward movements. A similar story of dynamism emerges in the matter of service sector negotiations.

Such progress on technical issues could not have been possible without the investment of significant political capital by nations and the leveraging of collaborative synergies. This spirit of cooperation has again been captured well by Lamy through his remarks on the occasion of the Trade Negotiations Committee meeting on March 22, 2010: "We will be able to send a strong signal to the outside world and focus the political energy that is needed to move the Round into the concluding phase."

The moot question is why countries have not been able to utilise this readiness to invest political capital to conclude the Doha Round and take the world economy to higher levels of well-being and productivity. Prima facie it may appear puzzling as studies have revealed that the overall expected gains from the Doha Round will result in a much bigger stimulus package than all bailout packages taken together. This is strongly contested, but everyone agrees that the failure can be harmful.

The answer to this puzzle lies in the greed of nations overriding the option of bringing about a win-win situation with modest gains. The Doha Round if concluded would produce a miniscule increase in exports, far short of the US administration's target of doubling exports over the next five years. Instead of the Doha Round, the US administration has signalled its intentions to follow a weak dollar policy to meet its targets. Other countries trying to recover from the financial crisis and its recessionary effects have resorted to protectionism to rule out the import of adverse influences from the rest of the world.

Protectionism is clearly not the cure for recession; rather it can trigger the collapse of economic recovery that many countries (including some rich countries) have started experiencing since the last quarter of 2009. Moreover, such protectionism by developed countries will spell ruin for the poorest countries of the world in Sub Saharan Africa by denying them the use of trade as an engine of growth at a crucial juncture in their development process.

Multilateralism clearly has to prevail over knee jerk protectionism if the world has to achieve sustained economic progress and not get tied up in knots. The conclusion of the Doha Round thus marks the end of a new beginning instead of the beginning of the end. We cannot wait forever to conclude the Doha Round as otherwise other more contentious and unresolved trade-related issues will continue to produce negative energy.

Positive developments are afoot in all major capitals except Washington where Obama has unfortunately but temporarily exhausted his finite political capital in successfully pushing through a historic initiative on healthcare reforms. However, Obama's tenacity signals good times for multilateralism. Having achieved a major victory in the domestic reform arena, the time has come for him to marshal his political capital for the facilitation of a major triumph in the multilateral arena by convincing his domestic constituency of the imperative of concluding the Doha Round. Such conclusion alone would provide the window of opportunity and create the necessary goodwill to address domestic concerns on other trade-related issues.

The conclusion of the Doha Round in 2010 is imperative for success on many fronts -- global welfare reaching a new high through better exploitation of comparative advantages of countries and the reversal of decline in faith in trade as an engine of growth. The collaborative spirit needed for its conclusion has been displayed by WTO members in the past while addressing the development concerns of medicine patents and public health linkages.

Finally, the conclusion of the Doha Round is essential as it will herald a new era of multilateralism which might see the appreciation of new linkages -- between trade and finance; trade and climate change etc. Lamy was right -- the Doha Round is not an island in a sea of alternative opportunities; rather it is the channel which has to be negotiated and crossed if a more prosperous and better aligned world is to be reached.

Mar 22, 2010

Tricks of the trade

Preferential treatment should be used by less developed countries as an instrument of industrial and export growth

By Hussain H. Zaidi

Special and differential (S&D) treatment for developing and the least developed countries (LDCs) is an important characteristic of the multilateral trading system. There are different views on whether the S&D treatment is beneficial or harmful for these countries.

The two major forms of S&D treatment are provisions for preferential tariffs on imports from developing countries and LDCs to the markets of developed countries; and exception or relaxation granted to these countries from implementing their obligations under various WTO agreements.

The principal way by which developed countries unilaterally impose lower tariffs on imports from developing countries and LDCs than on products from other developed countries is represented by the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

The legal basis of the GSP is the "Decision on Differential and More Favourable Treatment, Reciprocity and Fuller Participation of Developing Countries". Adopted in 1979 for an indefinite period, it is also called the General Enabling Clause and forms part of the WTO Agreement. The idea behind the GSP is that preferential treatment will help less developed countries integrate in global economy, which can serve as an instrument of development.

Every developed economy has its own GSP scheme with different product coverage, preferential tariffs and criteria for benefiting from the same. For instance, under the GSP scheme of the USA, all eligible products from developing countries enter the country's market duty free. On the other hand, under the GSP scheme of the European Union (EU), eligible products enter the markets of beneficiary countries at either zero duty or a lower duty than MFN duty -- 20 percent reduction from MFN tariffs in case of textile and clothing products and 3.5 percentage points reduction from all other eligible products. All eligible exports from LDCs enter the EU duty free under an arrangement called, "Everything But Arms" (EBA).

Let's now turn to the second aspect of S&D treatment -- the exception or relaxation granted to developing countries from meeting their obligations under various WTO provisions. Some instances are:

Under the WTO normally members cannot raise their bound rates of duty or impose quantitative restrictions on imports from other members. Developing countries, including LDCs, however can adopt such restrictive measures, subject to approval of other members, to promote the development of new industries or an existing industry. The purpose of this exception is to ensure that trade liberalization does not have adverse effects on economic development of developing countries.

WTO allows both developed and developing countries to restrict imports in the face of balance of payment problems. However, developed countries have more stringent criteria to follow than developing countries while adopting such restrictive measures. For developed countries there are two criteria. One, when the threat of a serious decline in their monetary reserves is imminent; two, when the level of reserves is very low. Developing countries can adopt such measures when they think there is threat of a serious decline in their monetary reserves, even though the same may not be imminent; or if monetary reserves are too low to cover expected foreign exchange payments.

The Agreement on Subsidies and countervailing measures prohibits members from using export subsidies--subsidies which are contingent upon export performance. However, LDCs and developing countries whose per capita income does not exceed $1,000 are exempted from this prohibition.

In the Agreement on Trade in Services, developing countries are allowed to open fewer sectors or to liberalise fewer types of transactions.

In the application of sanitary or phytosanitary measures, as provided in the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, members have to consider the special needs of developing countries, particularly LDCs.

The S&D provisions have been criticised for several reasons. One: these provisions conflict with the principle of non-discrimination, which forms the centerpiece of the WTO system. Two, preferential tariff treatment given to exports of developing countries in the shape of GSP is not really non-reciprocal. In return, the developing countries have to comply with the standards and conditions, at times arbitrary, imposed by the donors and the failure to do this may result in suspension of the benefits. For instance, in 1996, the USA suspended preferential benefits to Pakistan under its GSP scheme for "failure" to comply with the donor country's labour standards. Pakistan was re-admitted to the GSP scheme only after its support to anti-terrorism campaign of the US government in 2001.

Three, benefits given under the GSP are not binding, and the same can be withdrawn on grounds that are not always strong. For instance, very recently, the EU has suspended GSP treatment to Sri Lanka for alleged human right violations by Colombo. This raises the question of the link between trade preferences and human rights.

Four, donor rather than beneficiary country's interest determines the products to be extended preferential treatment under the GSP. For instance, the GSP schemes of the USA and Russia do not include textile and apparel products, partly because this sector is considered very sensitive for their domestic industry and partly because developing countries by and large have a competitive advantage in it. Similarly, several agricultural products are excluded from the GSP schemes of the EU and Japan for more or less similar reasons.

Five, non-reciprocal preferential treatment has not yielded much real benefits to developing countries. Rather it has had only a marginal effect on their export and general economic performance. There has been a strong tendency among developing countries to focus on products benefiting from GSP schemes to the neglect of industrial and agricultural diversification.

Six, unilateral preferences make it difficult for developing countries to shed off protectionism and liberalise their trade and economy. Finally, the exception or relaxation granted to developing countries from meeting their obligations obstructs rather than helps their integration into the multilateral trading system.

The above criticism of the S&D treatment is too a large extent valid. However, the problem is not with the notion of unilateral preferences or S&D treatment per se but with the way the unilateral preferences are being applied. A broader product coverage, for instance, inclusion of textile and clothing in US GSP, and absence of strict conditionalties accompanying unilateral preferences, such as labour and human rights standards, will go a long way in enhancing their usefulness. Moreover, preferential treatment should be used by less developed countries as an instrument of industrial and export growth. It should not become an obstacle to economic diversification.

It is, however, not true that non-reciprocal preferences yield only marginal benefits to recipient countries. For instance, Pakistan's export of textile products increased by $ 1 billion in three years (2002-2004) after it had been given duty free access to the EU market under the drug arrangement of the GSP scheme.

Preferential treatment does make exports of developing countries and LDCs more price-competitive and thus encourages them to pursue export led growth strategy. No doubt, the pursuit of such a strategy is also in the interest of developed countries, because this makes developing countries discard the import substitution strategy and increase their imports, which are largely supplied by developed countries. But this give-and-take situation is what international economic relations are all about.

There is, however, a strong tendency among developing countries to focus on products benefiting from GSP schemes to the neglect of the remaining products. This is a capital mistake. Preferential treatment should be an instrument of industrial and export growth. It should not become an obstacle to economic diversification.

All said and done, since less developed countries lag far behind developed countries in terms of financial, institutional, technological and human resources, they need special treatment in order to successfully integrate themselves into the multilateral trading system. However, it should also be borne in mind that S&D treatment by itself cannot make the exports of less developed countries competitive, though such treatment can serve as an instrument of export competitiveness.

"India and Pakistan need to exchange art"

By Shahid Husain

After holding seven solo exhibitions and taking part in over 100 group exhibitions, Ghalib Baqar, 53, happens to be one of the few notable water colour artists in Pakistan. His first solo exhibition was held at BM Gallery in 1983 and it was inaugurated by noted scientist, intellectual, and painter Dr. Salimuzaman Siddiqui. In 1991, Baqar had a solo exhibition at Indus Art Gallery managed by Pakistan's leading artist Ali Imam. Baqar has over 20 years of teaching experience at Balochistan Art Council, Karachi Grammar School, and the Visual Studies Department of the University of Karachi. He bagged first prize at Biennial International Competition of SAARC countries in 1988. Baqar was born in Karachi on April 14, 1956. He earned his diploma in Fine Arts in 1975 from Karachi School of Art and was the youngest diploma holder at that time. Baqar shifted to Quetta and joined Balochistan Art Council in 1978 as a teacher. However, he returned to Karachi in 1981.

In an interview with TNS Baqar believes art needs to be exchanged between Pakistan and India and the later should show some grace and openness in providing talented artists from Pakistan opportunities to hold exhibitions, enabling them not only to introduce themselves in a market of one billion people but also to strengthen peace in the subcontinent through the medium of art. Excerpts of the interview follow:

The News on Sunday: What role can exchange of art between Pakistan and India play in strengthening the peace process between the two countries?

Ghalib Baqar: Like India, Pakistan has produced some great artists such as Chughtai, Shakir Ali, Sadequain, Bashir Mirza, Jamil Naqsh, Ahmed Pervez, Zahin Ahmed, Maher Afroze, Nahid Ali, Mansoor Rahi, and sculptor Shahid Sajjad to name a few, but, sadly, people in India do not seem to be well acquainted about them. Today, when the Cold War has long ended and Europe has established a European Union that transcends borders, we need to learn and learn very quickly. We have to shun war and jingoism. We should know that we are inheritors of a great civilization. This can be done by going through an inward journey and allow exchange of art between Pakistan and India. I think exchange will pay rich dividends. Art is not nuclear science that can harm anybody or should remain hidden. Art is like fragrance that transcends borders.

TNS: We have started exchanging films. Why have we lagged behind in exchanging art?

GB: The ban on Indian films in Pakistan after the 1965 war, for instance, was a wrong decision. It was the beginning of the end of our film industry since there was no competition between the two countries. It is good that Pakistani viewers now have access to some good Indian films. But there is a need to expand cooperation between Pakistan and India in various fields. The decision-making should not remain confined to the governments. There is need to give a new boost to people-to-people contacts. For the last 62 years governments have been making decisions about war and peace and they have failed miserably to resolve issues. Now the common man in both the countries should be allowed to take decisions.

TNS: Do you agree that exchange of art between the two countries will also help in containing sectarianism and terrorism?

GB: Certainly. These negative trends have taken roots in India and Pakistan because we failed to magnify positive things around us, like Fine Arts, for instance. We allowed fundamentalists to play the nasty game and kept quiet. Now they are threatening the very social fabric of our societies. But the forces of progress and enlightenment never die. These positive forces go into hibernation when the atmosphere is not conducive. But the undercurrents are always there. And when the time is ripe we see new leaves. In India, unlike Pakistan, the communist and progressive forces are still powerful despite the dismemberment of Soviet Union and the socialist empire. They even influence governments. This is because progressive thought is rooted in the masses there. Similarly, Pakistan has lots of enlightened and progressive people. They have played a vital role in promoting peace between the two neighbours despite odds and can do so in future through exchange of ideas, films, art, and literature.

A much-needed boost

When distrust and misgivings, mostly based on sketchy information about each other, are diluted, it is hoped the political atmosphere too will be improved

By M S Verma

Many positive and imaginative steps are being taken and every attempt is made to create a cordial atmosphere to remove distrust between the Indians and the Pakistanis. On country-to- country political level, there are contacts but the-people-to-people contacts are very few and mostly co-incidental, not deliberately arranged. But from what I learnt from my experience during my two year stay in Kabul with Pakistanis as my neighbours, people on both side of the LoC are eager to have good relations. I was a lecturer in English in Kabul University in the seventies. I reproduce below a section from my writings.

"Bhai Jaan, hamein Awara film dikhaiye," the lady said. She was a spinster and was the sister-in-law of our Pakistani neighbour who worked in Pakistan Embassy. Both of us were posted in Kabul, Afghanistan. I was a lecturer in English at Kabul University. It was 1974 and the Indian and the Pakistan Embassies had respectively furnished flats to us which just coincidentally happened to be adjoining.

Besides the lady, there were her brother-in-law Mr. Khan, not the real name, his wife, two young daughters, and a grown-up son. The members of the family almost regularly visited us and spent the evenings talking of various things except politics and politicians.

If ever any reference was made to politics of politicians, it was detested. Ours was an insignificant chit chat clearly aimed at lengthening the togetherness of the two families rather than anything else. The family left no opportunity to be as close to us as possible. We enjoyed their company immensely. The behavior of most of our Indian compatriots on the other hand was snobbish and rarely ever relaxing.

We saw the film at Baharistan, a distant cinema house and it was a freezing-30 degree cold. I remained ill for a week as it was a night show and the upper classes being full, we had to compromise by buying tickets for the lowest class, sharing the wooden bench rows with the riff-raff. Nevertheless, our Pakistani neighbours were satisfied for having watched the film of their choice with their friendly Indian neighbours. The intimacy and informality were strengthened as the time passed.

I am a vegetarian. At Eid the lady of the Pakistan family brought a piece of meat in thick gravy with lots of fat. I wouldn't even dare touch meat in India but now in spite of my firm but modest protestations, she insisted on my trying the meat. I put the piece into my mouth and it kept rolling there.

There was no question of its going down the gullet. My face perspired and I felt very awkward with the neighbours looking at my predicament quizzically. Finally, I had to excuse myself and went to the bathroom and spat the piece out and flushed my mouth as best as I could. Of course, there were other such embarrassing incidents but all passed in good humour.

On one occasion, I was shopping in the posh bazaar. Just across the road the Pakistani Embassy was situated. I was approached by a very polite and cultured gentleman who asked me in sweet Hindustani if I knew where Pakistan Embassy was as the cabby had been fleecing him for a long time.

I asked if he was an Indian and he told me that he was a Pakistani. I at once felt a kinship because of his demeanor and the language. Of course, I felt bitter about the unscrupulous cabby and pointed out to the gentleman the Pakistan Embassy just across the road.

My idea in mentioning such things is just to give readers an idea of how very much our Pakistani neighbours sought our proximity with unprecedented humility and warmth. I savoured sewayian at Eid. We too reciprocated by sending them our delicacies at festivals. For about a year we were neighbours and then they shifted to another location. The contacts, however, were maintained as long as we were in Kabul.

Unfortunately, the common people of both the countries get rarely to meet on equal terms and in an informal environment where the essence of good feelings for each other could be gauged and assessed. The existence of a miniscule number of hot heads on both sides can't be denied. When any cultural or other exchanges are mooted, there are constraints mostly on account of political or security considerations.

Our films, musicians and artistes to a great extent narrow down the distance. Almost in all the cinema halls in Kabul, Hindi films ran to full houses. In those days, Dharmendra and Hema Malini were a craze. People hummed film song tunes at our sight. Even in the University beautiful girls hummed the tunes outside my classroom loudly enough for me to hear.

Once I was moving in a bazaar when some female voice was heard calling us 'Dharmender Hemamalini'. On taxi dashboards their pictures sandwiched the picture of their then President Mohammad Daoud. It all pointed to the great hunger of the Pakistani and Afghani friends for very close and cordial relations with the Indians. I never noticed any animosity against Indians in Kabul or from Pakistanis.

Mr. Saxena, on deputation from Patna University, was also posted in Kabul University and he regularly played tennis with his Pakistani acquaintances. His proximity was so good that he was granted special permission by Pakistan Embassy to cross Pakistan in his Toyota car which he had purchased in Kabul with proper permission of our authorities on his way back to India at the end of his tenure.

In these circumstances it is essential that, political considerations apart, people of both the countries should at least welcome more and more opportunities of mutual contacts. When distrust and misgivings, mostly based on sketchy information about each other, are diluted, it is hoped the political atmosphere too will be improved and this well-meaning and timely campaign will certainly gain momentum and may sometime show tangible results.

Olive cultivation in NWFP

Pakistan has been gifted with natural climate and soil for olive plantation

By Tahir Ali

The frontier province and the tribal belt have a vast potential for olive production. Realisation of this potential can cater to Pakistan's edible oil requirements. Sustained and well-directed efforts will have to be taken in this direction.

Pakistan Oilseed Development Board (PODB) has been trying to achieve this goal by seeking conversion of fruitless wild olive to fruit-bearing species and by cultivation of new olive plants. But as it remained dormant for around 15 years, it is still a long way to go to tap the full potential. The gigantic task would be accomplished sooner if an increased public-private partnership is ensured.

Olive cultivation has not been on the priority list of successive governments. Private sector has not paid heed to this sector. The emphasis has been more on the traditional sources of edible oil. The problem of law and order in NWFP and tribal belt are some of the reasons why olive cultivation and olive oil production has been neglected.

There are about 50 million wild olive trees, namely the olea feruginea and olea cuspidata species, are believed to be present in the country. They are mostly grown in NWFP and FATA. Italy, one of the world's prime olive producers with 1.2 million hectares under olive cultivation, is helping Pakistan to convert its barren wild olive groves into fruit-bearers, establish new olive plantations and give birth to a new industry in olive oil production.

The Italian ambassador to Pakistan has recently acknowledged that Pakistan has been gifted with natural climate and soil for olive plantation in NWFP and Potohar region. According to Mushtaq Ahmed, provincial director of PODB NWFP, at present more than 45 million established wild olive trees are there in the country. "NWFP and FATA house over 31mn of these trees. These trees can easily be brought into oilseed production by converting them into European type olive through budding/grafting procedure."

Ahmad says PODB has so far successfully converted 7.5 million out of the target of 8mn olive plants into the European type. "Out of these, 4mn plants have been converted in NWFP alone while the rest were converted in Balochistan and Punjab," he says.

Conversion of the remaining 26mn wild olive trees in NWFP and FATA in the next few years should be foremost priority of the government as it will help produce an estimated 75,000 tonnes of olive oil, saving about $1.5bn annually.

According to experts, Batagram. Kohistan, Swat, Dir, Malakand, Buner, Swabi, Mardan, Abbotabad, Haripur, Bannu, Kohat, Karak and Hangu in NWFP and sixty percent of FATA is suitable for cultivable olive production and wild olive species. According to official figures, over 46 percent and 38 percent of the total area in Bajaur and Mohmand Agencies and 23, 15, and 21 percent of the North/South Waziristan and Kurram agencies respectively is suitable for olive production.

A study conducted by an Italian expert, Raffaele Del Cima, who is also project officer for Italian government's olive oil promotion scheme, reveals that NWFP and Balochistan have plenty of cultivable land in at least 14 districts suitable for olive cultivation. Out of these 668,278 hectares, 444,574 hectares are situated in NWFP, the study finds. According to another estimate, over 880,000 hectares of wasteland is ripe for olive cultivation.

If the above cultivable land is utilised for olive cultivation, it will increase income of the farmers, help eradicate poverty, and save precious foreign exchange for the country. Besides the existing oilseed crops, if the country targets the potential olive and palm oil plants for oil production and they are established in their proper habitats, Pakistan can become an exporting country within a span 10-15 years.

"Availability of vast uncultivated and cultivable area in the high rainfall zone of the country, conducive temperature for olive production, presence of suitable soil texture and structure, low production cost and high output with abundant cheap labour force, etc., are some of the factors that speak of a good future for the sector," says Ahmad.

According to the official, PODB intends to bring over two million acres of land under olive cultivation and plant around 220 million trees in the next ten years. "It will produce about 2mn tonnes of edible oil, saving and earning billions of dollars annually for the country."

PODB was also asked to produce 0.300 million olive saplings. "Out of it 0.227 million olive plants have been produced and distributed among the farmers. PODB also trained 668 army personnel, NGO workers, and progressive growers for this purpose. Besides, 364 acres orchards were established by PODB in NWFP at Tarnab, Sangbhatti, Pirsabak, Turu Khass and Khawoo. An olive model farm for research and development has also been established in Mardan where about 17000 to 18000 olive plants have been developed on 150 acres area," Ahmad adds.

He says plants that have been converted have started growing successfully. "Oil extraction has been started and will soon be commercialised. For this purpose, PODB has installed two olive oil extraction units in FATA and NWFP. These plants are movable and provide oil extraction facility to the farmers at their doorsteps. Within a few years, the commercial production will be started from different locations of Public and Private Sector," says the official.

In order to improve production technology in the olive sector and to conduct various research works on different aspects of olive tree, a project titled "Development of Olive Model Farm for Olive Research and Development Activities" was launched in July 2008 to produce 10,000 numbers of certified olive saplings. "This will make available certified olive plants to the farming community on reasonable price. The project will facilitate farming community for cost-effective olive production thus increasing their profitability. It will also assist to create self employment in the rural areas," informs Ahmad.

Pakistan faces a huge gap between edible oil requirements and domestic production -- the total edible oil requirements stood at 2.820 million tonnes last year but local production was only 0.684MT. Rest of the requirement was met through import of edible oil and oilseed worth over $2 billion. This import bill can be curtailed by a huge margin if the required quantity of edible oil is produced through vertical and horizontal increase in oil-seeds, particularly olive trees.

By providing quality seed, modern training, and providing marketing mechanism to olive farmers, the country can achieve the goal of promoting olive cultivation and self-sufficiency in oil needs. The government and private sector should join hands to improve cultivation and harvest techniques in olive production, species selection, nursery management, and oil analysis.

Food for future

Pakistan has moved from being an exporter to an importer of food

By Aadil Mansoor

Fifty years down the road, the reign of the Green Revolution that began in the 1960s in India seems to be nearing its end. The Green Revolution pushed the production frontiers of the agriculture sector through farm mechanisation and introduction of high yielding varieties (HYVs), complemented by the construction of upstream water reservoirs. It helped farmers increase food grain and crop production at higher rates than the rates of population growth. In the following three decades (1960-80), the average yield per hectare rose at an impressive average rate of 4 percent per year. This growth was not only enough to feed a population of 85 million, growing at a fast rate of 4.12 percent per year during that period, but also generated surpluses that improved Pakistan's export performance and earned foreign exchange reserves for a cash starved economy.

Sadly, that phase of growth and ample food is no longer the prospect for Pakistanis today. In the last five years, there have been several occasions when the production of food grains (wheat and rice in particular) fell below the demand and the resultant shortfall had to be met through imports. This caused widespread food shortages and unrest on the one hand, and a serious blow to the country's scant foreign reserves and cash flows, on the other. Since 2004-05, Pakistan has imported as high as 4 million tonnes of wheat each year to meet the domestic demand. The situation is food security is worsening with every passing year and the crisis will likely turn into a disaster unless targeted and timely reforms of the agricultural system are carried out.

From a long term perspective, it is evident that agricultural productivity growth has remained dismally low in the past three decades. Since 1980, the food grain productivity has increased on an average rate of 1.79 percent per year. Over the same period, the country's population has increased at an alarmingly high rate of 2.5 percent per year. Pakistan has been able to partly bridge this gap, and by so doing defer the threat of food insecurity, by expanding the area under cultivation. This was, of course, possible only as long as cultivable land and irrigation water were available. While additional land may still be available, a long term decline in the flows of freshwater, storage capacity of reservoirs and underground water table, have depressed, if not altogether exhausted, the prospects of further land development.

The stagnation of the agricultural productivity has many causes. The key factors behind Pakistan's agricultural crisis include the distributional inefficiency and tenancy of land, ineffective management of water resources, low investment in production and technologies, and an ambitious - but highly ineffective, if not counterproductive - regulatory regime governing the agricultural factor and output markets. While all these issues are in want of reform, the issues of land distribution and tenancy are at the centre of the crises as it has been neglected by successive governments since the 1980s.

Historically, the distribution of land ownership in Pakistan has been highly unequal and concentrated in the favour of few landowners. According to the Pakistan Agricultural Census Organisation, in the year 2000 more than half of the cultivable land was possessed by less than 10 percent of the landowners - who own 20 or more acres of land. Ironically, the situation has not changed much since the 1960s when 7 percent of the landowners owned half the cultivable land in the country, each with a landholding of more than 25 acres.

That land reforms lead to efficient utilisation of land, improved agricultural production, employment and poverty reduction is a well established argument, supported by theory and empirical evidence. China and several countries of East Asia have successfully used land reforms to reinvigorate agricultural growth, promote employment and reduce economic and social inequalities. In the case of Pakistan, a growing and vibrant agriculture sector in the 1960s marred the need for the much needed land reforms. While two formal attempts at land reform were made in 1959 and 1972, both failed to achieve their stated objectives as they were mainly meant to contain social unrest and political chaos and to gain popular support in times of crises.

A closer look at the cultivable land ownership and use statistics of Pakistan make the need for land reforms obvious. First and foremost, research shows that in much of the developing world, where agriculture is characterised by constraints to investment and mechanisation, small and medium sized farms (12 acres) are more efficient than large sized farms (20 acres). Several empirical studies demonstrate that, if the effect of capital, technology and other factors is held constant, the income per acre of land from small farms can be up to double that of large farms. This becomes possible because of a higher allocative efficiency of land in the case of medium and small sized farms and b) the lower reservation price of labour for small farms in contrast with the larger farms that have to hire labour and thus making it expensive for them.

Secondly, the Pakistan Agricultural Census shows that nearly 40 percent of the arable land (i.e., 4 million hectares) is not cultivated in a given year. Almost 2/3rd of this utilisation land is held by large landowners, who own 25 or more acres of land, pointing towards the unmanageability or inefficiencies that are associated with large and concentrated landholdings. In contrast, most small farms cultivate over 90 percent of the arable land, deriving maximum benefit per acre of land.

The third important issue pertains to the weak land tenancy in the country, where nearly one third of the cultivable area is under tenancy. Amidst an absence of tenancy regulation and social safety nets, tenants are more often than not wholly dependent on and indebted to the landlords. Often tenancies are carried from one generation to the other and so are the debts and obligations, at times taking the form of bonded labour. Tenancy contracts are mostly informal and hence not enforced legally. Jacob and Mansuri (2006), in their seminal research for the World Bank, show through their research that incomplete tenancy contracts lead to "investment holdups", where due to tenure insecurity, the tenants tend to under-invest in productivity, thus leading to inefficient and suboptimal factor productivity of land.

Fourthly, in Pakistan's "labour surplus" economy, almost 44 percent of the labour force is employed by the agriculture sector. Due to the highly concentrated distribution of land, a large part of the labour force is landless and is hired seasonally, while others work as sharecroppers or tenant families, under a wide range of contract and tenancy regimes. However, as discussed above, the efficiency losses from incomplete contracts and insecure tenancies can be overcome by means of land redistribution and private ownership, where land can be distributed to a part of this labour force thereby creating incentives to invest in productivity enhancement and conservation.

And finally, land being the most valuable asset and a symbol of social status, also serves as a source of monopolisation of political and social power. In Pakistan, unequal landholdings have led to social polarisation and exploitation of landless and smallholders by the landed elite. In the rural arena, feudal capture of political institutions, public service delivery and extension services, access to farm credit, sources of inputs and means of marketing is hard to ignore. This has not only affected agricultural productivity but also suppressed the social, political and economic progress in the country.

One may ask that, given a total failure of previous land reform efforts, is land reform a mere idea in Pakistan's context? Experts have extensively reviewed the land reforms of 1959 and 1972 and have suggested that the failure of earlier land reforms was not a "strategy failure" - i.e., land reforms as a strategy for improving factor allocative efficiency and agricultural productivity and reducing unemployment, economic inequalities, and poverty.

Studies found that reforms failed due to, a) lack of political commitment, b) loopholes in legislation, e.g., provisions for exemptions and allowance of land transfer to heirs, c) the burdensome payments that the beneficiaries had to pay for the allotted land, and d) centralised and inefficient bureaucratic administration.

Recent land reform experiences of China, East Asian economies and selected regions of South Asia provide substantive evidence that land reforms are not only possible but also lead to positive economic and social outcomes. Depending upon the political, social and economic context, base conditions and specific objectives, different countries have applied different policy instruments, strategies and management models to land reform. The choices, trade-offs and balancing acts have involved setting the ceilings for landownership, government engagement versus the use of market based approaches (e.g. incentives, penalties and taxes), allocation and pricing of expropriated land, and timeframe for implementation. Pakistan can draw upon a wealth of international experience and learning to develop its land reform strategy.

If designed well and implemented through market based instruments, implementing a land reform policy will not require very large budgetary commitments. The requirements can be met by re-appropriating the existing budgets and resources of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Federal Board of Revenue, Provincial and District Administrations and the relevant line departments. Given the centrality of agriculture to Pakistan's economy, concessionary development financing from multilateral and bilateral institutions may also be forthcoming.

To delay land reforms is no longer an option today, given the current state and impending prospects of food insecurity, agricultural productivity and economic growth. If the issue is not addressed on a priority basis, it won't be long when we will be faced with a large food-starved population, high unemployment and unsustainable inequalities which can push the country into chaos, political turmoil, and jeopardise the gains from years of, albeit very slow, progress.

Taxing agricultural income

None of the four provinces followed the Constitution while levying income tax on agricultural income

By Huzaima Bukhari and Dr. Ikramul Haq

Taxing income earned through agricultural activities is the sole prerogative of provincial governments under the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. All the four provinces have enacted laws to this effect, but total collection in 2009 was below Rs. 2 billion against the actual potential of Rs. 200 billion (share of agriculture in GDP was about 22 percent). This abysmally low collection proves beyond any doubt lack of political will to tax the rich absentee landlords. Presently, the provincial governments are not collecting tax on agriculture income but on fixed per acre basis. They charge Rs.150 per acre from the irrigated area and Rs100 per acre from non-irrigated land. This is gross violation of Constitution that requires tax on agricultural income.

Entry 47, Part 1 of Federal Legislative List provided in Fourth Schedule to the Constitution empowers the federal government to levy "taxes on income other than agriculture income". The expression "agricultural income" is defined in Article 260(1) of the Constitution, which says: "Agricultural income" means agricultural income as defined for the purpose of the law relating to income tax."

This is an exhaustive definition binding provincial Legislatures to levy tax on "agricultural income" as defined in the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. The definition of "agricultural income" as contained in section 41(2) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 has to be followed by all the provinces. The said definition defines agricultural income to mean (a) any rent or revenue derived from land which is situated in Pakistan and is used for agricultural purposes and (b) any income derived by a person from land which is situated in Pakistan from agriculture; or the performance by a cultivator or receiver of rent-in-kind of any process ordinarily employed by a cultivator or receiver of rent-in-kind to render the produce raised or received by him fit to be taken to market; or the sale by a cultivator or receiver of rent-in-kind of the produce raised or received by him, in respect of which no process has been performed other than a process of the nature described in paragraph (ii) and (c) any income derived by a person from (i) any building owned and occupied by the receiver of the rent or revenue of any land described in clause (a) (b) or (ii) any building occupied by the cultivator, or the receiver of rent-in-kind, of any land with respect to which, or the produce of which, any operation mentioned in sub-clauses (ii) or (iii) of clause (b) is carried on, but only where the building is on, or in the immediate vicinity of, the land, and is a building which the receiver of the rent or revenue or the cultivator, or the receiver of the rent-in-kind by reason of his connection with the land, requires as a dwelling-house, or as a store-house, or other out-building.

It is pertinent to note that the above definition cannot be altered even by the parliament without the prior sanction of President of Pakistan as provided in Article 162 of the Constitution forbidding that "no Bill or amendment which imposes or varies a tax or duty the whole or pat of the net proceeds whereof is assigned to any Province, or which varies the meaning of the expression "agricultural income" as defined for the purposes of the enactments relating to income-tax, or which affects the principles on which under any of the foregoing provisions of this Chapter, moneys are or may be distributable to Provinces, shall be introduced or moved in the National Assembly except with the previous sanction of the President."

The historical record shows that this Constitutional command was violated even by the authors of the Constitution. By the Finance (Supplementary) Act, 1977, the definition of agricultural income as obtaining in section 2(1) of then Income Tax Act, 1922 was amended by the words: 'and is either assessed to land revenue in Pakistan or subject to a local rate assessed and collected by the officers of the Government as such' were deleted. The aim of this exercise was to broaden the scope of agricultural income with a view to subjecting it to tax for which a schedule was also enacted.

This was a revolutionary step to impose tax on agriculture income for the first time in Pakistan, though approval of President was not sought as required under the Constitution. It is tragic that on 5th July 1977, the government of Zulifkar Ali Bhutto was overthrown by a military dictator. The historic decision of taxing "agricultural income", as passed by Federal Parliament in the shape of Finance Act, 1977, was thwarted by the military regime of Ziaul Haq. Zia's legacy continued for long 11 years and that of General Musharraf for nearly 9 years, but feudal lords (including mighty generals who received state lands as gallantry awards or otherwise!) did not pay a single penny as agriculture income tax.

Both the federation and provinces under the Constitution are bound to follow the definition of "agricultural income" as provided in the income tax law while determining their legislative powers in terms of Article 70(4), Article 141 and Article 142 read with Forth Schedule to the Constitution. However, it is a matter of great concern that the federation violated the commands of Constitution as narrated above in respect of tax on "agricultural income". The same is true for the Provincial Legislatures. Even a cursory look at laws (and amendments therein) from time to time promulgated by them to tax agricultural income shows that:

NWFP did not even provide the definition of "agricultural income" in its "Northwest Frontier Province Agricultural Income Tax Ordinance, 1993"! The tax levied under the name of "income tax" was, in fact, a land tax on the basis of produced index units. This was nothing but a mockery of legislative process. If there was no political will to impose income tax on agricultural income, then what was the need to hoodwink the people by calling it Agricultural income tax?

The same is the case with Sindh Agricultural Income Tax Act of 1994 as amended from time to time.

The Punjab Agricultural Income Tax of 1997, as amended from time to time, is no exception. No effort was made till 2000 to impose income tax on total income earned from this source. A face-saving device has been restored to levy yet another levy on acre basis for different rate in respect of irrigated and unirrigated lands.

In Balochistan, the position was no different. From 1993 to 1999, the Baluchistan Legislature promulgated various Agricultural Income Tax Ordinances, amended from time to time, following the same pattern as in three other provinces. In 2000, it passed The Balochistan Tax on Land and Agricultural Income Ordinance, 2000 that contained the same definition of "agriculture income' as in income tax law promulgated by the federation.

The above analysis shows that none of the four provinces, while levying income tax on agricultural income, followed Article 260 of the Constitution. All the laws passed by them for taxing "agricultural income" were sham. It shows an attitude of contempt and apathy towards Constitutional provisions. One hopes the federal government and all the provincial governments will take note of it and remedial measures will be provided in the forthcoming national and provincial budgets.

Mar 15, 2010

Other half

If Mumbai can have separate trains for ladies and Cairo can have women-exclusive taxis, why not Lahore and Karachi or some of our smaller cities?

By Ammara Ahmad

Pakistan celebrates the International Women’s Day with passion. Yet, most women in Pakistan live deplorable lives. Whatever ‘improvement’ has occurred in their lot, has been very insignificant and has been carried out at a snail’s pace. Let us just take a look at some of the problems confronting the vast majority of poor women in our country.

The labour rooms of Pakistan’s major government hospitals are terrifying. Most are over-crowded and dirty. If the beds are full, women are made to stand or share beds. Hills of garbage are littered all over the wards, along with crowds of noisy relatives and cranky staff. The women who can actually avail of these wonderful ‘facilities’ are the lucky few as professional healthcare is rarely available to the bulk of the rural women. If one compares these healthcare standards to those in (say) the US or even China, the entire situation becomes very depressing. This comparison is deemed futile by our ‘planning babus’, on the basis that the US is a developed country, unlike Pakistan. But even then, our various governments have had over sixty years to ensure that women don’t die giving birth but with what results?

UNICEF reports state that the under-5 mortality rate here has dropped from 130 in 1990 to 89 in 2008, per 1000 live births. But according to a 2007 report by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child’s (SPARC), Pakistan had the highest infant and mother mortality rate in South Asia. This meant that we were behind India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives and maybe even Afghanistan. One really doesn’t see much improvement since then, and one wonders where the UNICEF gets its figures from? According to most international indicators, Pakistan women and their children have been suffering and continue to suffer, the same as before.

Even everyday needs like good transportation facilities are absent for our women. Cities like Lahore and Karachi have plenty of middle class women car drivers. However, they are still very rare in smaller cities like Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sukkur, Hyderabad and so on. The poorer you are the worst is your transportation problem. In over-crowded buses and vans, women are harassed and jostled. Seats supposedly ‘reserved’ for women are forcibly taken over by men. College and school girls can seldom go out alone. If Mumbai can have separate ladies trains and Cairo can have women exclusive taxis, why not Lahore and Karachi or some of our smaller cities?

A few days back, sitting in the Race Course Park, Lahore became an ordeal for some of my friends. Within minutes, they were accosted and harassed by hordes of frustrated young men, and, ultimately, forced out of the park. Expecting much government support against public place harassment is unrealistic. Even the PPP, Pakistan’s most liberal mainstream party has not been able to pass much significant pro-women legislation, except for the recent, very unsatisfactory Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act of 2009. Indeed, it has not even been able to implement previous acts with any real force or conviction. The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2009 has, to all intents, simply collapsed. In 2008 alone, the Aurat Foundation reported that there were 7,733 reported cases of violence against women in the country, with perhaps five times that number going unreported. This was first time the Parliament had devised legal and practical measures to curtail home abuse but the Council of Islamic Ideology believed anti-violence laws might increase the divorce rates. Although even the most developed countries cannot completely wipe out domestic violence, yet the state fulfills its duty of formulating anti-violence laws, implementing them firmly and providing institutional support to victims.

The present, ongoing "war on terror" is also taking a big toll on our women. The areas bearing the brunt of the fighting are already poor; and to their existing misery, new dimensions have been now added. With the mass displacement of population from these tribal and frontier areas, women have had to pay a very heavy price. Many of them have previously never stepped out of their homes, kept strictly in ‘purdah’; they have little or no idea how to tackle the harsh realities of life in their camps. Their whole world has been turned topsy-turvy, they and their families are living hand to mouth and bearing up stoically with unbearable hardships. Almost 6000 of the women in various camps were due to give birth last June. WHO declared that the medicines became short within the first week of the displacement. Lady health workers were reluctant to approach the areas due to security threats. Due to "purdah", these women couldn’t go to male doctors. To top it all, the UN report on the women declared that 3 out of 5 of the pregnant women were anemic, with high risk of abortions, and other natal complications, and were in dire need of blood transfusions, surgery, medicines, vitamins and other dietary supplements etc. The report also stated that a number of children were delivered in tents, which was like "giving birth in an oven". The threats of epidemics in the summer months and the harshness of exposed winters are other factors they are contending with. Many of these women also lacked male family members or escorts and were consequently struggling for food and basic necessities as well as protection in strange new localities.

Why should all this be relevant over here? One of the chief feminist arguments against war is that wars are started, planned, financed and largely fought by men; yet take a disproportionate toll of women and children. The plight of the displaced women as stated above is typical of women trapped in violent conflicts; women who are poor, displaced, with missing husbands and with children to feed. The terror, crimes and humiliation the internally displaced Pakistani women have suffered and are suffering is still largely undocumented and frightening to contemplate. A lot of coverage is given to the war, daily, and the number of militants killed etc — but how many channels at home or abroad have given comprehensive coverage to the women in the camps?

On Women’s Day, an advertisement sponsored by the Ministry of Youth, Government of Pakistan appeared in the press. It stated: "We mothers, We sisters, We daughters, The honor of the nation is from us." How do we ‘honor’ our women — mothers, sisters, daughters, today, in the face of the above, select examples? This is worth contemplating at this time, instead of all the hypocrisy and cant that usually prevails. We women are not mere relatives to our male counterparts but also individuals, humans, citizens. It is high time we received what are our essential rights.

"We have the capacity to come together"

By Zaman Khan

Rita Manchanda is General Secretary, South Asia Forum for Human Rights (Delhi) and Research Director of SAFHR (Nepal) project. Earlier, she was Gender Expert, Commonwealth Technical Fund in Sri Lanka. At SAFHR, she founded and developed the programmes such as Women Conflict and Peace-building and Media and Conflict. For many years, Rita has worked as a professional journalist in both the print and electronic media. She has written extensively on security and human rights issues. Among her many publications is the book entitled, Women War and Peace in South Asia: beyond Victimhood to Agency. Her research study on Naga Women in the Peace Process is a benchmark contribution in the field studies of gendered war narratives. She has also written extensively on minority rights. Her professional experience in India’s Defence Ministry’s think tank, Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, has motivated her to explore alternate ways of looking at issues. Her writings on Nepal in Frontline Magazine and Economic and Political Weekly are widely commended for their insight and prescient value. Married to journalist and peace activist Tapan Bose, she has been a peace activist. Rita was in Pakistan for a week. Zaman Khan was able to talk to her in Lahore. Excerpts follow:

The News on Sunday: What brings you to Pakistan?

Rita Manchanda: There is a research project I am involved in. I am also looking at Pakistan and what kind of research is possible here. But I also came to take a stock of what is happening in Pakistan — the peace process between India and Pakistan. The need of the moment is to re-energise or to rethink some of our peace strategies.

TNS: How do you look at the peace process between India and Pakistan?

RM: I think one needs to see what is happening at the official level and what is desirable as far as peoples’ efforts are concerned to strengthen the peace process. As far as governments are concerned, it is quite evident that this is a process that is being driven reluctantly. Negotiators are being pushed to the table because of the third party and that is the US. It is the worst reason to move forward to make peace. If peace is driven by these considerations it cannot really achieve much. Nevertheless, any effort to start the dialogue is welcome.

TNS: But people to people contacts seem to have lost momentum, why?

RM: There have been many efforts and initiatives since the time it first took off — in the early nineties — and at that time too the circumstances were very difficult. We were talking about war clouds, nuclear war clouds. Even then the initiative was taken and an effort made. It is quite clear that governments on both sides seem to have a different attitude towards granting visas to people who are engaged with each other, especially in the cultural context. But when it comes to groups that are interested in talking politics that have people to people agenda the two governments seem to be very reluctant to grant visas. This certainly constrained the possibilities of development of the people-to-people contacts. And, certainly, I know we are waiting for a Pak-India Forum delegation to join us but I don’t think they are going to get visas. And yet you can see other groups that are getting visas, other groups that are more focused in the cultural context.

TNS: Don’t you think we should be more creative in looking for ways to keep the peace process moving?

RM: Certainly, that means we need to concentrate on within our countries. We have to do a great deal to change public opinion. Recently, the India chapter of Pak-India Forum launched a new chapter in Bhubashnaer in Orisa and it was in fact very heartening for me when I went there to participate in the launch of this new chapter because you could see the people who came from Eastern India. They have a very different perception of the dialogue. To me, the strength of Pak-India Forum is its capacity to develop linkages. Why is it that so many forums are part of Pak-India forum? It is because they can see the connections, something very direct. It is, in fact, the capacity of the forum to develop these kinds of linkages; to make people understand that confrontational relationship in India and Pakistan has actually undermined the basic issue of democracy. And other rights which are sacrificed because of the raise in the defence expenditure. This, in turn, keeps this hate and intolerance alive. Even if the governments are determined to keep us apart, text books, which have been a major agenda of the forum, can make a difference. We need to revive some of that work. There is no reason why we can’t work together, even if it means separately. We have the capacity to come together.

TNS: Pakistan government has been alleging that India is helping insurgents in Balochistan besides playing a negative role in Afghanistan. At the same time, India talks about non-state actors and accuses Pakistan of supporting them. In this milieu, how can the peace process achieve results?

RM: It is quite interesting that our home minister has said that there is no difference in state and non-state actors. A lot of this is played out for the media. I think many of these statements, speaking from India, raised the confrontational level. The statements are made because there is an active lobby against any movement towards the peace processes and that includes the section of the army to some extent and that also includes the BJP. Such an attitude has very little to do with the determination to resolve an issue. As I have already said these moves are US-driven. I have no idea what the Indian government is doing in Balochistan, or not doing in Balochistan. So far, we don’t have any evidence of the nature of India’s involvement. The issue of Balochistan was included in the Sharm al Sheikh statement and that came as a bit of a shock. It was for the first time you had the official acknowledgment that there was something to discuss. What is interesting is that no evidence has come forward. But if there are troubled waters, there would be many agencies fishing.

TNS: You must be aware of the view which says that India wants to turn Pakistan into a desert by denying the country its share of water?

RM: Yes. Today I read an editorial in a Pakistani newspaper which used the term ‘water terrorism’. It came as a bit of a shock. There are groups in both India and Pakistan that have been expressing concern at the Indus Water Treaty. In Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah is on record saying that the Indus Water Treaty has betrayed the Indian interests. On the other side of the border you also have people saying that Indus Water Treaty has betrayed their interests. World Bank brokered a treaty some time back. Now we know that there were very special circumstances that enabled the treaty to be finalized. I can quote Dr. Mubashir Hasan who is an expert in this area. He challenged the perception that there is such a thing as ‘water terrorism’. There is reason to see why this issue has cropped up at this particular point in time. Certainly, these are issues that need to be addressed seriously.

TNS: As a woman journalist, did you feel handicapped in India?

RM: I worked on security issues and I think I was the only woman at that point of time working on these issues. You have advantages of being a woman but you also have disadvantages of not being taken seriously. One of my first jobs was with the Telegraph. It had just started. We had a very dynamic editor, M. J Akbar, and practically an all-female bureau. Some of the names of those bureau people are some of the best journalists of our time. It was a very unusual experiment. It worked very well. Yes, because I was a woman I got a lot of doors opened to me. We had to work twice as hard to be taken seriously. I think we had an editor who believed that we could do the hard beat. All the women I am talking about in this bureau did the hard beat.

TNS: What about your research?

RM: We wanted to do something that was worth. While I also worked in NDTV I worked in Press Channel, a new channel at that point of time. I worked in Doordarshan which was a very exciting period. I also did business channels because that was the time of the economy opening up. I have been always sensitive to gender issues. I started looking at a different interpretation of security. I called it feminising security. And I started looking at women’s role in conflict and peace-building. It was an attempt to explore; to make visible what women did in conflict situations and what women did during peace time. The issue is the peoples’ struggle against land alienation caused by corporatisation of land by multi-nationals coming in a big way and taking over peoples’ land. You cannot have development policies that marginalise the majority of population. And that is what our both states are doing. This is a common agenda.

TNS: Pakistan is also giving land to foreigners?

RM: It is not only foreign multi-nationals. In India, we have huge multi-nationals like TATAs and Mitils. These are, in fact, global multi-nationals today. I went to Orisa in East India. PASCO, the South Korean giant, has already been given a contract. There are areas where the land is rich as cash crops are grown there. People grow three crops there. Why would they surrender their land? They also know that despite the promises that they make — that people will be absorbed in the industry — they know that they don’t have the skills. They have been marginalised by the new development policies. It is not that this is something new but there is much greater exploitation here.

TNS: India is developing very fast but at the same time the poverty level is increasing.

RM: The middle class in India is likely about 250 million people. It is a huge population. Of course, India is not silent and today the biggest internal security challenge, as the Indian government itself recognises, comes from Maoists in India. I think 30 percent of the land area of India is affected by Maoists. Maoists have, in fact, become the political force that has been able to channelise the disaffection. India believes that it can continue with growth which is 7-8 percent. The Maoists challenge is a reminder that you cannot ignore the majority of your population.

TNS: Briefly tell us about your books?

RM: I have been working on two areas — conflict and peace-building. In my current research I am looking at the peace processes in South Asia. I am also looking at Pakistan but that will be a research team that will look at Pakistan, the whole federal question. We are trying to explore what is often considered the panacea of society. We want to see what do they mean by democracy and what do they actually need from peoples’ rights for entitlement and inclusive politics. The other area I have been exploring is minority rights and there is a book which came out last year called ‘No-nonsense Guide to Minority Rights in South Asia’. We are looking at multiple ways at addressing the minority rights question. A community that is a minority in one country is a majority in another country. You cannot actually address these questions only within your own countries. You have to look at the framework which is also cross border framework.

TNS: Where do you place women in your studies?

RM: The gender dimension is always very much at the forefront of what I am doing. I argue that civil society is an important element in democratising the peace process and the core of the civil society are the women groups.

TNS: You have been monitoring violations of human rights in the Indian occupied Kashmir. How do you look at the Kashmir issue vis-a-vis women?

RM: As a journalist I have been covering Kashmir since 1990 and it is a conflict I have been involved in both as an activist as well as a researcher. I wrote a chapter in a book called, "Guns and Burqa". It is a gender narrative of women in the Kashmir conflict exploring the possibilities of women’s role in peace-building in Kashmir.

TNS: Do you hope we will be able to resolve the issue of Kashmir?

RM: I will have to be a realist about it. There are great many interests involved in keeping the Kashmir issue unresolved and there is a false sense that Kashmir issue has been contained. In India, we have a whole series of very good committees set up to explore certain dimensions of Kashmir issue. One of the committees was headed by our current vice-president. His report was on confidence-building measures, some of which might have taken us to a big step forward. But the report has been shelved. The recommendations have been ignored. There have to be other ways of addressing the Kashmir issue. We cannot actually leave it to the state. Peace is too important to be left to them.

From Aman ki Asha to Aman ki Bhasha

Both Indians and Pakistanis share the same helplessness
— a consequence of a long drawn war that neither side wants

By R Vasundara

Even as the Aman Ki Asha campaign is surging ahead, opening dialogues and cultural exchanges between India and Pakistan, a few others have been inspired by its success to do their bit in lessening bitterness and strife between the two countries.

One such movement is the Aman ki Bhasha campaign, formed by a group of peace activists from both India and Pakistan.

"This concept was evolved during a 10-day meet between peace activists from the SAARC countries in Kathmandu," said Faizur Rehman, a Chennai-based peace activist who is one of the founders of this campaign.

"The Indian and Pakistani delegates got along like a house on fire. We’d often gather together for informal discussions and we realised that all the mistrust and conflict are really due to a lack of communication on both sides. That’s when we hit upon the idea of a cultural exchange programme. And the name Aman ki Bhasha or Language of Peace made perfect sense to us since Aman ki Asha has already given the peace process a big boost."

His counterpart in Pakistan, Shafqat Mehmood, a retired brigadier working in Waziristan in North-West Pakistan that border Afghanistan, and the chairperson of Paiman Alumni Trust, was equally enthusiastic about the idea. "All dealings between the two countries have hitherto been completely at governments’ level," he explained.

"As a result, even when peace processes and summits are initiated, the smallest hitch sets us back by two years. And bringing them up in international forums has only served to worsen it due to trans-national interventions," said Mehmood, adding, "We shall be initiating an exchange programme, where people of both countries visit each other, spend a few days together and get acquainted with the ground realities. I believe that both Indians and Pakistanis share the same helplessness –– a consequence of a long drawn war that neither side wants."

Reiterating Mehmood’s statement, Rehman felt that both countries share similar sentiments regarding the peace process. "It’s the same on both sides," he said. "Some people want to whole-heartedly extend their hand, some are hesitant to do that and some thoroughly mistrust the other side. We need to break down the ice."

However, both sides are well aware that any initiative turns into a deadlock when the Kashmir issue comes up. "If we can’t eliminate a problem, it’s better to just defuse it," declared Mehmood. "When it comes to the Kashmir issue, since we can’t resolve the situation, why not maintain status quo and let things take its own course. It will give both sides the opportunity to lessen the bitterness and tension and some much needed relief."

Courtesy: The Times of India


The Indian and the Pakistani delegates who came together to form the Aman ki Bhasha campaign pose during a conference;

Faizur Rehman, a Chennai-based peace activist represented India.