The game that committees play

By Abbas Jalbani

Kawish writes that the parliamentary committee on water has proposed formation of a committee comprising international experts to resolve the lingering issue of dams. It suggests that the experts' committee should have the authority of a judicial commission so that its decision cannot be challenged.

The daily says that the proposed committee should be formed to resolve the issue, although the country's history is witness to the fact that committees are set up to protract a dispute or even to complicate it further; while the decision is taken by the rulers arbitrarily.

On the issue of water, there is already a parliamentary and as well as a technical committee. While they have not yet completed the tasks assigned to them, the parliamentary committee has floated the proposal for yet another committee.

The paper says that President Gen Pervez Musharraf himself has made construction of big dams conditional to a national consensus. This consensus, the paper adds, cannot be developed by any committee because it has to have the consent of all the provinces.

It will be more appropriate to take steps to build trust before seeking the consent of the water-starved, lower riparian Sindh on a dam to be built upcountry. Kawish insists that any exercise to build trust must start with the implementation of the 1991 Water Accord, ensuring a judicious distribution of water among the provinces.

Taking a decision on such a sensitive issue on the basis of the formulations of a committee would be a mockery of national harmony, the daily warns. Ibrat says that keeping in view the bold remarks made by Sindh Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim about corruption being rampant in government departments, the monitoring of the utilization of budgetary allocations will be a challenge for him.

And he seems to have accepted the challenge by saying that funds should be equitably distributed and properly utilized. For this purpose, development should be given a priority and the practice of non-utilization of funds as well as their usurpation by officials should be curbed.

Moreover, as Dr Arbab has promised, efforts should be made to get more funds from the federation and also to convince it to seek financial assistance from international institutions for development works and eradication of poverty in the province.

Barsaat deplores that in the sweltering heat, frequent load-shedding throughout the province has added to the misery of the people. Power breakdowns, the paper adds, also cause suspension of water supply to people and to farmlands irrigated through tube- wells.

It also affects work in hospitals and disturbs their operation schedule. The daily calls on Wapda and Hyderabad Electric Supply Company to minimize load-shedding and ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity pumping stations (supply and drainage), hospitals and other installation of public importance.

Potable water shortage

By Tariq Saeed Birmani

The people of Leghari tribe held a protest demonstration against the acute shortage of drinking water against their sardar-cum-district Nazim, Jamal Khan Leghari, when he arrived at Khar, Fort Munro for the budget session of Dera Ghazi Khan District council on June 29 .

The protesters chanted slogans against the tribal system as well as against the establishment of tribal area tehsil, which have failed to deliver the goods. The rally was an eye-opener for the district and tehsil governments of Dera Ghazi Khan who should pay attention to the basic human problems of their areas or else they would face similar public reaction in future over their failure to provide civic facilities.

Earlier, in tehsil Taunsa Sharif, farmers went on a token hunger strike for one week to register their protest against non-availability of irrigation and drinking water. However, no one paid heed to them.

Lack of coordination among various tiers of the district government has added to the indifference of the administration to the resentment over scarcity of drinking water.

The tribals put rocks in way of the car of the district Nazim and earlier when district coordination officer Shafqat Rehman Ranjha reached Khar (hill town of Fort Munro) the road was blocked.

The latter negotiated with the protesters and tried to convince them that in the new system the DCO was helpless to exert a strong check on the Nazim. The protesters cleared the road temporarily for him.

The commandant, Border Military Police, told Dawn that he was unable to take stern action against protesters due to tribal norms. He argued that tribal formation of BMP protected the protesters as well as the district Nazim from any fatal incident.

It is learnt that district police officer Usman Khatak had refused the request of district Nazim to provide police force to escort the vehicles of members of District Council to Fort Munro in view of resentment among the tribal people.

After the Fort Munro protest, Jamal Khan Leghari, addressing a news conference, observed that it was the right of the tribal people to protest against scarcity of drinking water before him and the District Council members.

He said that there was lack of chain of command in the new system. He claimed that provincial government had given a grant of Rs10 million for the water supply scheme of this hill station due to efforts made by him and MPA Mohsin Khan Leghari.

Tehsil Nazim Usman Buzdar told Dawn that tribal area tehsil was unable to function and implement water supply scheme of Fort Munro due to lack of resources.

The devolution plan's structural flaws are creating great hurdles in winning the trust of the people. Increasingly, resentment over denial of social security and civic facilities is taking the form of street protest.

Dow yet to get its act together: Campus Round-up

By Mukhtar Alam

The Dow University of Health Sciences, which was established under an ordinance issued by the governor on Dec 29 last year, needs to gear up its administrative machinery.

Some ad-hoc appointments have been made to a few key posts, but, the overall functioning of different bodies of the university remains tardy. Despite the passage of six months, the statutory and executive body of the university, the syndicate, has not yet met.

Lately, some nominations have been received from the chancellor's secretariat, but, elections of four teachers to the syndicate are not in sight. Proper supervision of the affairs of the university can be expected only when the syndicate is complete and active.

The university has been provided with an amount of Rs50 million as seed money from the provincial government, while the recurring budgets of its constituent institutions, the Dow Medical College, the Sindh Medical College and the Ojha Institute of Chest Diseases, have also been directed to the university.

In addition, the Higher Education Commission has also started funding the university for different projects. Needless to say, all budget proposals are required to be placed before the university syndicate.

The intermediate examination results will start coming out in August and as such the university will be under considerable pressure to handle the rush for admission in an organized and transparent manner.

That too will require a fully operational administration, but the university's academic council has not so far worked out an admission policy. The university registrar, Dr Meher Hansotia, says although there were delays, some initial hiccups were only to be expected in a new university.

"We recognize the issues and at the same time we are of the firm view that these are all manageable," he adds.

* * * * *

An emergent meeting of the NED University of Engineering and Technology syndicate was held the other day to discuss the delay in release of the promised amount of Rs12 million by the federal government for renovation and restoration of the university's city campus, the old NED College premises, built in 1922 and gazetted as part of the heritage of Karachi in 1997.

At present, the university is holding its postgraduate diploma programmes in computer science at the old building, where originally the Prince of Wales Engineering College was established under the University of Bombay.

The university authorities now plan to shift its architecture and planning department by the end of this year. The syndicate was told that a comprehensive survey was undertaken in 2000 to restore the building and make it worthy of academic activities.

A report was sent to the federal ministry of culture for Rs9.5 million grant, following which a team of the National Fund from the Cultural Heritage visited the premises and revised the renovation plan. An increase in cost was approved by the federal government in 2003.

In the wake of non-availability of funds from the federal government, the university administration approached the chancellor informing him that it had no alternative but to take the matter directly to the federal level. However, the chancellor asked the university administration to place the matter before the syndicate to evolve a consensus.

Taking the single-item agenda in its special meeting on June 28, the syndicate unanimously endorsed the view of the university administration that the issue regarding "withholding of the fund for restoration of the city campus by improper exercise of authority in one federal ministry" should be taken up either with the federal ombudsman or get it settled through the good offices of the president.

* * * * *

Some three years back, a government-constituted task force on improvement of higher education presented a set of recommendations outlining the mode of governance for universities, which provided a base for President Musharraf to promulgate the Model University Ordinance (MUO) in 2002.

However, the academic community is still not comfortable on the issue and is opposing the ordinance, which already stands enforced in the case of federally chartered varsities.

The teachers at the University of Karachi, who have gone through the minutes of the chancellors' committee meeting chaired by President Musharraf on May 11, maintain that they will continue to resist implementation of the ordinance in public sector universities run under the provincial government charter.

According to them, it concentrates power in the hands of vice- chancellors and envisages phase-wise privatization of higher education. The chancellors' committee, among other measures, wants that the MUO be followed in the future (with minor modifications, if necessary) for grant of charter to all new universities established in the private and public sector in the country.

The general secretary of the Karachi University Teachers' Society, Sarwar Nasim, says that teachers objected to the higher education reform plans in shape of the MUO, foreign faculty hiring and the tenure track system - a proposed system of contractual appointment of faculty in universities. "We will be deliberating on the issue again in our meetings as soon as the KU reopens after the semester break," he adds.

* * * * *

The administration of Karachi University plans to give a written test for candidates applying for the post of lecturers. Only candidates short-listed after the tests will be invited to appear before the university's selection board, says a senior official of the university.

The university will shortly be advertising various posts in grades 17 to 20, which also includes non-teaching posts like that of registrar, controller of examination, students guidance and counselling director, director of planning and development, librarian, secretary of affiliation committee, bursar, auditor, public relations officer, purchase officer, and director of bureau of composition, compilation and translation.

* * * * *

The director of the South African Institute of International Affairs, Dr Greg Mills, will visit the University of Karachi and deliver a lecture at the department of international relations on July 14.

Some questions about doctors' case

By Arman Sabir

KARACHI: The manner in which Dr Akmal Waheed and Dr Arshad Waheed were 'arrested' and the hitherto unknown terrorist outfit called Jundullah was 'busted' has given rise to a number of difficult questions, eroding people's confidence in the police.

The two doctors, who have been implicated in the attack on the convoy of the corps commander, Karachi, were handed over to the police on Friday, according to press reports.

However, it is known to many by now that the Waheed brothers had gone to see DSP Fayyaz in the office of the Crime Investigation Department on June 17. They were not allowed to return home and were instead whisked away to an undisclosed location.

A call demanding Rs10 million for their release was then made apparently to portray their disappearance as a case of kidnapping for ransom. The police, who do not relish lodging FIRs in such cases, surprisingly did so promptly.

Earlier, on June 13 the Inspector-General of Police, Syed Kamal Shah, had announced that eight members of the Jundullah group had been arrested on a lead given by the officials of a security agency.

Being the provincial police chief, he might have felt embarrassed in acknowledging that the eight were handed over to the police. The same day, that is four days before the disappearance of the Waheed brothers, Federal Information Minister Shaikh Rashid told the BBC that two doctors had been arrested who were involved in the attack on the convoy of corps commander, Karachi.

This news item appeared on the BBC's website the same day. Dr Akmal Waheed, a cardiologist, and Dr Arshad Waheed, an orthopaedic surgeon, were shocked to learn of their 'arrest'. Later the two brothers voluntarily contacted the police to inquire about the factual position.

They were called by a DSP of the CID on June 17. The two doctors, on their way home, contacted their families over a cellular telephone and said they were going to meet a DSP of the CID. They also assured their family members that they would be home very soon.

But, they went missing instead. Their family members and some organizations representing the doctors soon started staging protest demonstrations and demanding their immediate recovery.

At the protest meetings and rallies it was pointed out that the brothers had not been kidnapped but picked up by some intelligence agency. The government, however, turned a deaf ear to these demands even though the information minister had announced the doctors' arrest four days before their actual disappearance. On the contrary the law enforcement agencies kept on insisting that the two had been kidnapped for ransom.

The police took a U-turn last Monday and issued an unsigned press release claiming that the two doctors were somehow linked with the members of Jundullah. Needless to say, the kidnapping case was not pursued at all. Then on Friday it was declared that the two had been 'arrested' for their involvement in the attack on the convoy of the corps commander which took place on June 10.

All of the above leads to some simple questions: Where were the Waheed brothers from June 17 to July 2? Had they been kidnapped for ransom? If yes, who and where are the kidnappers? Could the two doctors be involved in terrorist actions? If yes, why did they voluntarily contact the law-enforcing agencies? Were the members of the Jundullah arrested by the police? If not, who arrested them? Were the Jundullah people really involved in the attack on the corps commander?

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