DAWN - Opinion; August 5, 2002

Published August 5, 2002

Improving growth prospects

By Shahid Kardar

A GOOD deal of the “growth in GDP”, howsoever marginal its impact, over the last two years can be ascribed to the services sector. This growth is spurious in character, attributable to the manner in which national income accounts are prepared. The convention is to estimate the value-added in the non-marketed sectors (those for which there are no “market prices”) like public administration and defence on the basis of cost and expenditures. In other words, the higher the level of expenditures on these spending categories the higher the national income.

This is precisely what has happened during the previous two years: the government increased the salaries of civil servants substantially and the allocations for defence rose because of the stand-off with India. The decisions of the Pay and Pensions Committee are now also having their impact at the levels of the provincial and local governments with salaries of their employees getting revised. The effect of this will work its way through the system in another two years.

This writer has also argued in this space previously that industrial sector is still gasping for breath and has been shy of investing in either the expansion of production capacities or the modernization of technology and plant and equipment. The rapid growth in exports from China at the expense of the share of Asian countries in international markets has had a perceptible impact on industrial production and investment in the region, and Pakistan could not have been saved from the knock-on effects of these developments. Moreover, investment in production capacities in the second half of the 1990s to supply goods to the public sector that was pushing up its expenditures is now partly lying idle, discouraging investment.

The South-East Asian currency crisis of 1997-98, the economic sanctions that were slapped on Pakistan after the nuclear blast of May 1998, the surge in the international prices of oil that added to the manufacturing cost of inputs (thereby affecting competitiveness of industry) and continued concerns about policy consistency and predictability added to the risk-averseness of potential investors, making them investment shy. The recession like conditions in international markets and the continuing corporate scandals in the US has depressed business confidence even further.

Other reasons for the continued slowdown include the gaps in infrastructure, power, railways, ports and a road network, because of lack of investment and poor progress in changing the institutional arrangements governing their functioning, especially in Wapda and the KESC (where the intensity of the problems of theft of power, overstaffing and inefficient management just do not seem to diminish). A reform in the pricing structures of these utilities (to address the long-standing issues of leakages, theft of power and an irrational tariff structure crippled by unsustainable cross-subsidization of some consumer groups, largely at the expense of industry) has become long overdue. The average cost of power per unit in Pakistan is more than double that in Korea and Taiwan (where it is around three rupees per unit), and even higher in comparison with what consumers pay in the US.

These weaknesses have impeded growth. Only in the telecommunications sector has some success been achieved, although even here the process of change was much slower than would be desirable. Large investments in new telecommunications technology and the introduction of competition are beginning to improve the productivity of the economy, although much still remains to be done.

For Pakistan to be able to grow at more than six per cent per annum, agriculture will have to grow at more than four per cent which will require yields and production to rise appreciably. Unfortunately, however, the production index of all crops increased by just 10% in the last five years, while that of the key cash crops production grew by a mere one percent over the same period.

One of the reasons for this slow growth in agriculture has been the sharp decline in government investment in irrigation and water projects from around just 0.4% in 1995-96 to 0.2% in 2000- 01 having fallen to 0.1% in the intervening years. This is partly because of a sharp drop in allocations for public sector investment in general and the poor priority attached to the agriculture sector in the government’s development programmes in particular.

Other causes slow growth include the inter-provincial acrimony over the Kalabagh Dam, the poor maintenance of the irrigation systems owing largely to poor cost recovery against irrigation services, the poor quality of agricultural research and extension services and continued fragmentation of land- holdings — a problem made worse by the slow pace at which labour has been moving out of the agriculture to non-agriculture sectors.

A more important factor, however, is the poor quality of human capital which has not improved since the public sector has not been able to either develop productivity-related skills or support such activity in the private sector. Although allocations for education have increased, much of the enhanced spending has gone into financing salary increases. The expenditure on the critical non-wage, complementary components required for improving the quality of education and attempts to put in place institutional arrangements to make the teachers more accountable for service delivery have singularly failed.

There is no denying that the government will have to continue to play a critical role in the provision of whole range of services. Unfortunately, the quality (including the base of skills) of public administrators has visibly declined over the years. Indeed, the problem of lack of competence is a more formidable one than the issue of corruption.

Anyone conversant with the working of the government will agree that the quality of input now provided by the bureaucracy for decision-making has deteriorated in comparison with the past, and here I am not referring to the general decline in moral standards of Pakistani society. The bureaucracy has also become more politicized.

All this is happening at a juncture when greater and more sharply developed skills are required to navigate our way through the unfamiliar wilderness of a modern, highly competitive, global economy where instant decisions are required to stay in the same place and not lose ground to your competitors.

Although economic reforms continued to be implemented during the second half of the 1990s, they never acquired the depth and pace of the first two or three years of the 1990s. Key reforms required in the taxation structures and systems, labour laws (that tend to protect a small organized and labour force at the expense of new employment opportunities in the large, modern sector) and the dysfunctional regulatory framework (if the environment for conducting business is to improve) remained unattended.

Even in areas where much progress has been made, — for example, in the financial sector, — managements of nationalized banks are still unable to retrench or redeploy staff, close down unviable branches — issues that impact on operational efficiencies of these institutions.

There is a lurking fear that following the October elections political populism will return with a vengeance. Resultantly, we should not expect much by way of efforts to enhance tax revenues, higher user charges to improve cost recovery for service provision and a quick phasing out of subsidies, be it for wheat, for electricity consumed by farm tube-wells, or for higher education. Paradoxically, contrary to the rhetoric of the political leadership, this will mean that our reliance on the generosity of our external donors and benefactors to aid us through our financial bind will rise, partly because our exports are unlikely to be a major source of foreign inflows in the foreseeable future.

Preparing an agenda of the reforms required is one thing (and the easy part), getting it implemented quite another, because of constraining factors like lack of political will, resistance of powerful interest groups and shallow administrative capacity (by way of skills and strength of dogged perseverance) to execute it. Reform implementation will, at best, proceed haltingly, in a haphazard manner, and not as a comprehensive and broad agenda being pushed through in sustained manner required for effectiveness and for giving the economy a boost that will push it onto a higher growth path.

The problem of lack of political will be compounded by the weak administrative capability to implement reforms. The capacity to design and implement reforms is hardly available in the public sector, which will continue to be a drag on economic performance by having a debilitating effect on the growth prospects of the country.

The advantages of a golabalized world and the wonders of modern means of telecommunications are that new technologies and modern management and business practices reach Pakistan much quicker today. To be able to exploit the opportunities that this provides requires the modernization of the mindset of the bureaucracy, the political leadership, and perhaps even civil society and an acceptance that major reforms are required internally. That we have to solve our problems ourselves to be able to move on to a higher growth path is patent. Without that we will not be able to minimize, if not altogether eliminate, the intrusive role of the international lending agencies in the management of our economy and in setting priorities.

For us to begin to realize the enormity of the task ahead, it is important to shed the self-serving notion of ourselves as a nation that the world cannot ignore. We are not the centre of the universe, as many of us seem to believe. We simply do not appear on the radar screens of the international business community. It is not sheer coincidence that foreign banks, insurance companies and pharmaceuticals are winding up their Pakistani operations. Lest we forget, while we are stationary the rest of the world is charging ahead and we are fast becoming, if we have not already become, marginalized even in South Asia.

The confusion in our minds

By Zubeida Mustafa

AT a time when the nature of the state and the system of international relations are in a process of change, many questions are being raised about the functions and responsibilities of a government and its jurisdiction. Two interrelated developments have brought about these paradigm shifts to which we in Pakistan still have to adjust.

One is the fall of the Soviet Union which has resulted in the emergence of the United States as the sole superpower and the driving force behind the new world order. The other related development has been the eclipse of socialism and the resurgence of capitalism as the underpinning of the globalized economy that is now emerging.

These changes have thrown new challenges before all countries. This holds especially true for the Third World states, which had yet to complete the process of transition from colonialism to the post-colonial world, when this phenomenon emerged. Because of a singular lack of understanding about these developments, Pakistan has been muddling its way through.

Taking up the foreign policy issue first, one is astonished at the rigidity the governments in office in Islamabad have shown over the years in their dealings with other powers. Apparently, those who formulate the foreign policy of the country have failed to keep pace with the changed pattern of world politics. The fact is that there are not too many options available to a country which has limited resources and powerful neighbours.

When we were living in a bipolar world comprising two superpowers at loggerheads with each other, Pakistan’s policy-makers could get away to some extent by playing the role of a manipulating partner in the cold war game.

Although the cold war has ended, our foreign policy continues to be framed on the same old premises. Islamabad feels it can continue to challenge India because outside powers do not want a nuclear war in South Asia. That assumption is correct up to a point — the outcry is deafening when the two neighbours in the subcontinent periodically indulge in sabre-rattling and teeter on the brink of war. But in the process we have allowed our independence — the little that we could claim to have — to be eroded. While we have come nowhere close to winning our proclaimed foreign policy goals in Kashmir which has badly sapped us of our resources, our combative stance has certainly made us more and more dependent on the United States for our survival.

Pakistan’s present predicament is directly rooted in its Afghan policy in the nineties which ignored the changed international power equilibrium. Had Islamabad displayed more discretion vis-a-vis Kabul, Pakistan would not have found itself in the unenviable position of making a U-turn as it has been compelled to do in the post-9/11 period.

The country has fared no better in its domestic policy because of its failure to recognize the hiatus in the concepts of state power and the nature of governance. We have been so busy squabbling over the distribution of political power between the president and the prime minister, between the federation and the provinces and between the state and the private sector that some basic issues have been totally overlooked.

Pakistan still lacks “effective government”, to borrow the term from the UNDP’s Human Development Report 2002 which was released recently. Whether the country has been under military rule or a democratic dispensation, it has failed to decide what should be the role of the government. The rulers — all without exception — have been more concerned about their own survival in power than about their ability to perform.

Some issues which have come up in recently provide food for thought as to what should be the role of the government in the political systems which are emerging in today’s capitalist world . The courts and the police have, in the last two decades or so, been busy deciding non-issues, which should really have no relevance to the effective role of the state. As Asma Jahangir, that inveterate champion of human rights causes in Pakistan, has pertinently pointed out in the letters column of this paper, the state “has no business” to sit in judgment over the morality of the people. Apart from giving a handle to the perverse self-styled custodians of morality, it distracts the state machinery from its more important function of providing security and protection to the people.

In the same vein, one of our columnists, Ayaz Amir, observed that the government’s functionaries under pressure from the religious leaders have been overly extending themselves to prosecute blasphemers and legislate against the “anti-Islamic” Qadianis. This hardly leaves the government time and resources to attend to the basic needs of the people which are more essential not just in secular terms but also in the context of Islam.

In areas where the courts should be guarding their powers more jealously, the state has allowed itself to be rolled back. Take the example of the Mianwali incident when a murderer won reprieve from a death sentence by promising eight million rupees and eight women in marriage to the aggrieved party. In the hue and cry, no one noticed the fundamental issue at stake: murder is no longer recognized as a crime against the state which can be sidelined as the dispenser of justice in criminal cases by the citizens. It was General Ziaul Haq who introduced the Qisas and Diyat laws, but is it not strange that the present government is not too keen to restore the legal status of the state as prosecutor in murder cases?

This trend towards withdrawing from active governance in key areas of public life is too palpable now to turn a blind eye to. The UNDP’s report is a convincing testimony to the government’s failure to address the basic problems which directly affect the common man — though not the politicians or the military generals who are vying for high office. Although GDP has increased substantially in the period covered, the government has failed to deliver in the sectors which affect the poor people the most.

The literacy rate is down from 45 per cent in the last report to 43.2 per cent (youth literacy sliding from 62.7 to 57 per cent). Poverty has increased and now it stands at 34 per cent and Pakistan ranks 68th out of 88 developing countries (compared to 65 out of 90 in the previous report).

Which section of the people has suffered the most? Children and women. The percentage of underweight children (under five years) has jumped from 26 to 38. The use of ORT has registered a shocking fall from 48 to 19 per cent and not surprisingly the infant mortality rate has increased from 84 to 85 per 1000 live births. In the last report 1,600 children were reported as having AIDS. Their number has gone up to 2,200. Cigarette consumption, which is a pretty clear indicator of the mental, emotional and physical health of the people, has increased from 562 per adult to 620.

Shockingly, little has been done to improve the status of women. The government was too busy prosecuting blasphemers and adulterers and didn’t notice that the country’s ranking in the gender development index slumped from 117 (out of 146) last year to 120 this time. Female adult literacy is down from 30 per cent to 27.9. The gender gap in education has also grown by three percentage points and the health expenditure has declined from 0.9 per cent of GDP to 0.7.

It is strange that at a time when the role of the government needs to be carefully defined as the capitalist society encroaches on what used to be the jurisdiction of the state and the trend is towards less and less governance, we seen pretty confused. The paradox is that while we want to tighten the state’s control over moral issues, the government it is willingly abdicating its responsibilities in the field of social justice and public welfare. The private sector with its proclaimed profit-making motives is moving in to take control of crucial areas in public life which are critical to people’s well-being. The state is disengaging itself from these sectors and concentrating its attention on issues such as blasphemy, the personal religious beliefs of people and their sexual mores. Do these really affect the lives of citizens as much as lack of education, health care and failure to provide security?

The murder of Haji Qadir

By Eric S. Margolis

AFGHANISTAN’s deputy president, Haji Abdul Qadir, was gunned down recently by unknown assailants in the centre of supposedly secure Kabul. After recovering from the shock of losing an old friend and benefactor, I vividly recalled Abdul Qadir warning me a decade ago: ‘Never travel without two jeeps with guards, one behind you and one in front. That’s the only way to prevent an ambush.’

In the early 1990s, civil war was raging across Afghanistan following the Soviet pullout. I had just come from a fierce battle against communist Afghan forces at Jalalabad. Haji Qadir, one of southern Afghanistan’s most important warlord, gave me the hospitality of his large, walled tribal compound near Jalalabad. I stayed with him as an honoured guest and joined him in audiences with tribal elders and mujihadin fighters. As governor of one of the nation’s richest provinces — thanks to legal and illegal trade — Qadir commanded great influence and large numbers of tribal fighters.

To protect me during my forays in the countryside, which was completely lawless and afflicted by roving bands of communists, mujihadin, bandits, smugglers and heroin traders, Qadir sent two jeeps filled with heavily armed gunmen to accompany the Land Cruiser in which I was travelling through the war zone. Thanks to his timely aid, I survived unscathed.

Ironically, when Qadir was assassinated in Kabul, he appears to have been either riding alone in his trademark Toyota Land Cruiser — the vehicle of choice of all Third World warriors — or with only a single vehicle carrying bodyguards.

Qadir’s murder, staged in the very midst of western troops protecting the US-installed Kabul regime, underlined Afghanistan’s continuing instability and lethal internal politics.

Haji Qadir was a leading figure in the anti-Soviet struggle during the 1980s and a close ally of both Pakistan’s ISI and the CIA. Qadir and his younger brother, Abdul Haq, an old comrade of mine from Peshawar and the anti-Soviet jihad, were both renowned Pakhtun warriors. Abdul Qadir was quiet, thoughtful, and dignified; his younger brother was hot-blooded and a born fighter. Both aspired to become leader of Afghanistan. Abdul Haq was captured and killed last fall by Taliban in the course of an abortive CIA-mounted mission.

When Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in 1996, Haji Qadir joined the Northern Alliance, which is armed, financed, and directed by Russia’s intelligence services. Qadir was considered a turncoat by fellow Pakhtuns, who detest the Northern Alliance. He was a foe of Al Qaeda. The US had considered making Qadir leader of the post-Taliban regime it installed in Kabul, but chose Hamid Karzai, another Pakhtun, because the latter spoke far better English than Qadir, an essential quality in the media war for foreign public opinion. But Qadir remained a threat to Karzai and the Northern Alliance.

Among the many suspects in Qadir’s murder must be counted drug runners. According to the UN’s drug office, the Taliban managed to almost totally suppress cultivation of opium poppies, Afghanistan’s premier cash crop, except in areas controlled by the Northern Alliance. Since the overthrow of the Taliban, the US and Russian-backed Northern Alliance revived and now controls most of the drug trade, which provides 65 per cent of Europe’s heroin and a growing share of America’s imports.

Drug money has become the fuel on which Afghanistan now runs. America’s Drug Enforcement Agency has been ordered to shut its eyes and freeze activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan so as not to interfere with the drug business of Washington’s local allies.

President George Bush’s War Against Drugs collided head-on with his War Against Terrorism — and the drug crusade has lost. Washington’s complicity with drug dealers brings back nasty memories of Central America and Vietnam, where the US allied itself with Saigon river pirates and drug-dealing army officers, even providing air service to opium-morphine-heroin gangs.

Like Indochina and Central America, drugs are the real currency in Afghanistan. Getting involved in narcotics seems an inevitable byproduct of politics and covert operations in such nations.

Haji Qadir’s murder is a heavy blow to the Karzai regime and its American protectors. His death came soon after a US C-130 gunship massacred at least 44 people and wounded 150 — mostly women and children — at an Afghan wedding. The attack, shrugged off as a ‘tragic mistake’ by US officials, was another example of the Pentagon’s shoot-first, look later policy in Afghanistan, in which crushing air power is used to intimidate or terrorize into submission anyone who dares resist — including, lately, tribesmen and politicians who do not cooperate with the Karzai regime.

So you want to win?

By Art Buchwald

THE latest reality show, “So You Want to Be A Greedy Millionaire,” is one of the most popular on the air. This week the contestants are Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco, Ken Lay of Enron, Gary Winnick of Global Crossing, John Rigas of Adelphia, Sam Waksal of ImClone, and Bernie Ebbers of WorldCom.

The contestants are competing for another billion to go with their vast fortunes.

Regis Philbin is the emcee and a grand jury is in the audience.

The first test the contestants face is to swim from New York to Bermuda in shark (i.e., lawyer)-infested waters, deposit a satchel of money in their offshore accounts, and swim back again.

Then come the questions, such as:

“How many dummy companies does it take to screw a stockholder?”

“What is the best country to launder your money in?”

“How many people do you call to give inside information to?”

If a contestant doesn’t know, he may make one telephone call to his accountant.

If the contestant still can’t give the correct answer, he can be subpoenaed by the Justice Department or a congressional committee.

But the players can stay in the game by taking the Fifth Amendment.

The contestants will also be judged on patriotism and their love of America. They may sing “God Bless America” or play it on their accordion.

Then they have to tell how they gave to the Red Cross or the Boy Scouts or some other tax-deductible organization.

Regis will then question them on how much money they donated to political parties and what politicians did for them in return.

They will also be judged on their lifestyles. The contestants may show photographs of their homes, their yachts, their private planes and their wives’ jewellry.

The winner gets the billion and the one who does the worst is declared the weakest link and gets five years in prison.b —Dawn/Tribune Media Services

Plight of home-based, women workers

By Akram Khatoon

ONE of the major factors responsible for growing inequality of incomes and widespread poverty in the country is a continuous drift towards informalization of the economy. A sizable chunk of labour force is deployed in the informal sector. Even in the manufacturing sector the participation of unregistered labour is substantial.

In the context of the manufacturing sector, it has been stated in the ILO country employment policy Review document on Pakistan that “(1) unregistered sector has a capital labour ratio and productivity, which is lower than that of the registered sector by a factor 7. (2) Consequently its wage rates are also much lower, and in addition being unregistered is not protected by any social legislation on the workers’ right to welfare, security or organization. (3) Approximately 40 per cent of the unregistered sector in manufacturing is also based on self-employment, and on family labour”.

According to a rough estimate, the extent of the unregistered labour deployed in the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sector ranges from six to seven million. This comprises almost 17 per cent of the total working labour force above the age of 10, which according to 1996-1997 Labour survey comes to 36.4 million. (the figure of 36.4 million however includes 2.2 million unemployed heads). A major portion of unregistered workers comprises female home-based workers most of whom do not appear in statistics and face the worst type of exploitation at the hands of their employers.

The most unfortunate thing is that the country having a patriarchal culture fails to have accurate statistics / data regarding any female income generating activity. In the Pakistani society especially in the rural set-up the women’s’ wage work is looked upon as a threat to male ego. As such the male enumerators seek information only from male members of the family and in particular relating to registered economic activity only (ignoring informal sector activity) as such women involvement in home based activity / businesses either remain totally invisible or are under reported.

Accordingly, 1997 labour force survey shows female labour force participation ratio as 13.6 per cent whereas female labour participation ratio to total female population above the age of 10 is 15.56 per cent, out of those 13.27 per cent belong to rural sector and 2.29 per cent come under urban sector. Almost all the labour force surveys, even studies conducted by some of the NGOs do not depict accurate figures regarding women deployment in informal sector. However the said survey report of 1997, shows a ratio of 12.2 per cent and 62.7 per cent for self-employed women and unpaid family labour respectively in rural sector and for urban sector it is 4.2 per cent and 16.7 per cent respectively.

The female workforce deployed in economic activity, categorized under informal sector can be divided into two sub-categories, that is (1) Home based workers, which includes home based micro business owners and piece rate workers. The women working on piece rate basis bring work from outside that is from registered and unregistered manufacturing business houses while remaining totally aloof from the market. They work longer hours for low wages under job insecurity. (2) The second category is of those who work outside home in manufacturing concerns as unskilled workers on daily or piece rate basis, thus devoid of social security benefits and legal protection measures available to regular skilled workers and managerial staff of these organizations.

The Institute of Development Economics Micro level survey findings show that 77 per cent of the total female labour force comes within the purview of informal sector and almost 53 per cent of the same are home based workers.

In the rural sector where 79 per cent of the female population above age of 10 is actively involved in farming, only 37 per cent of them are gainfully employed at their own family farms and the rest fall within the category of unpaid workers.

It is the piece rate workers among the total urban home based workers (excluding home based micro enterprise owners) who are in more pitiable condition, adding to poverty in the country. The low and lower middle income groups which are still embedded in patriarchal cultural set-up, do not encourage their women working outside home thus restrict their mobility. However, the rising cost of living compels them to seek work on piece rate basis for their survival.

The female piece-rate workers are mostly deployed by readymade garments, leather goods’ electronics and packaging businesses. They are provided raw material by the employers, which they return in the form of finished or semi-finished goods. They are paid for their services according to number, weight and size of the item made out by them. These poor women work at home in a highly unhygienic and uncongenial atmosphere, which not only effects their own and entire family’s health but also the quality of product produced.

Further their working hours have no limit. They along with other family members work for more than 12 hours at a stretch for which they get remuneration not enough to provide even bare necessities of life.

The hiring of labour on piece rate basis is advantageous for the employer as there is no chance of bargaining from the side of a poor woman, and above all the overhead costs and investment in fixed assets is saved. Apart from their exploitation at the hands of employers, they are exposed to worst type of maltreatment from the side of male members of the family, who instead of sharing the burden of household duties, totally ignore their contribution towards family income. They make it a matter of their prestige that nobody from outside the family should know about engagement of their women in such economic activities. Accordingly, as mentioned earlier, their participation in economic activity remains invisible to economic surveyors and resultantly they do not appear in statistics, thus informalization of economy continue to intensify unabated.

Along with the various affirmative steps, being taken by the government for enhancing the socio-economic status of women, the plight of this segment of female population needs to be given due attention, both by governmental and non-government agencies.

Owing to persistent macro economic crisis for the last 15 years and the structural adjustments carried out to rectify the situation under compulsions, has rendered a large number of workforce jobless. In the face of rising cost of living, unskilled females of affected families resort to such avenues of earnings where they have to compromise with unjust employment terms offered, just for the survival of their families. Further this particular phenomenon has adverse impact on population growth rate as such families, in order to maximize their income, favour having large families. In order to arrest this galloping informalization of labour force, serious efforts should be made to accelerate the economic growth rate with major focus on promoting small, medium and micro businesses, both in urban and rural sector which need lesser capital and can absorb a major chunk of unemployed labour.

For economic empowerment of downtrodden women of our society, efforts should be made to motivate them to set up home based micro businesses of their own. Since non-availability of institutional credit is the main impeding factor in this respect, it is suggested that the branch network of micro finance banks should be set up all over the country enabling the poor women to have access to institutional credit.

Khushal Pakistan programme launched for alleviating poverty from the country must have provision for setting up skill development / vocational training institutes for women both in rural and urban sector to develop and upgrade their skills in various lines of businesses. It must be made mandatory for all business houses and manufacturing concerns, irrespective of the number of employees deployed to seek registration before commencing their operations. The labour laws must incorporate home based workers as part of gainfully employed labour force. The women workers whether operating from the house or working in factory as piece rate worker should be on the rolls of the factory. Since, by getting the work done on piece rate basis, the employers save overhead costs, they by law, must be required to provide necessary equipment and machinery along with raw material to their piece rate home based workers to reduce financial burden on poor women.

The ministry of women development must have exclusive research cells, both in their federal and provincial set-ups, to assess the number of women working in informal sector and the problem being faced by them. The ministry must also care to mobilize ministries of labour and law to put in practice, effectively, indiscriminate registration of all business organizations and female workers of all categories inducted by them to combat exploitation in general and of poor unskilled women in particular.

It should be made part of the Labour policy that dignity of labour is ensured in all business organizations without gender discrimination and it should be made mandatory for all business concerns employing women to invest substantial amount for development and updating their business / work skills on a continuous basis.

In view of substantial representation of women in local government and expected enhanced representation in provincial and national assemblies, one can hope for desired focus on all women issues followed by corrective measures to promote socio-economic welfare of the most disadvantaged segment of the country’s population.



The whole truth
28 Sep, 2022

The whole truth

THE war on truth has never been more relentless than it is today. Authoritarianism is on the rise and purveyors of...
Real-world trolls
28 Sep, 2022

Real-world trolls

AMONG the many criticisms the PTI receives, perhaps the most common complaint is its role in promoting a culture of...
Islamabad wildlife
28 Sep, 2022

Islamabad wildlife

PRESERVING biodiversity is low on the list of priorities of both state and society. However, successful attempts at...
Noon leaks
Updated 27 Sep, 2022

Noon leaks

PMO audio leaks are a national security emergency that ought to be investigated at the highest level.
Cipher probe offer
27 Sep, 2022

Cipher probe offer

CONSIDERING the toxic political polarisation in the country, former prime minister Imran Khan’s suggestion that ...
Delaying Doha plans
27 Sep, 2022

Delaying Doha plans

WHEN Doha announced its intention to spend $3bn in different commercial and investment sectors of Pakistan around a...