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DAWN - Letters; 20 July, 2004

July 20, 2004


Attitude towards Kashmir

In his article "Kashmir a possible solution," (July 4), Mr M. P. Bhandara has called Kashmir a "matter of real estate for Pakistan (and India)." This may be true for India but absolutely wrong in the case of Pakistan.

It was the Quaid-i-Azam himself who had called Kashmir the jugular vein of Pakistan and it would be preposterous to say he viewed it as some real estate to be annexed by us.

Even Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah's reaction to the killing of the Kashmiri Muslims in August 1953 is telling. These people were shouting pro-Pakistan slogans after Shaikh Abdullah was fired upon.

She told a milling crowd of over 100,000 a couple of days later: "When some of the Kashmiris express their feelings towards Pakistan, they are either shot or put in jail ... How can Bharat prove its bona fides (of wanting to settle the Kashmir issue through a free and impartial plebiscite) when it is not prepared to even tolerate pro- Pakistan slogans by innocent people?"

She was certainly no hypocrite and was doing all that for the Kashmiris, not for grabbing land. Kashmir is still in our blood as reiterated by President Musharraf. Another inaccuracy that crept up in Mr Bhandara's article is the labelling of all Kashmiri freedom-fighters as 'terrorists'. Only those combatants who kill innocent civilians are indeed guilty of a crime and must be condemned.

The writer has also taken pain to justify India's reluctance to give up held Kashmir by comparing it with Pakistan's acquisition of Gwadar from Oman. This is a wrong comparison.

Gwadar is not even contiguous to Oman and its geography makes it a natural part of this country. Besides, the deal was fully transparent whereas India annexed Kashmir and it has never been able to produce the documents of accession.

Mr Bhandara has also cited the examples of South Tyrol and Andorra in support of his plea to make the Kashmir Valley independent and accede the rest of the held territory to India due to the presence of Hindu and Buddhist majorities over there, because he thinks India won't agree to a plebiscite.

The writer must remember that the basis of partition was that the Muslim-majority provinces and states would go to Pakistan. Otherwise Sindh, which had 30 per cent Hindu population, would have been split up, as also East Pakistan, with its sizable Hindu citizenry.

Pakistan should not yield to India's browbeating because the latter knows its case is indefensible. It doesn't let international human rights organizations visit the territory or allow Kashmir to be discussed in the UN, SAARC or the ARF. Our best bet is to use diplomatic pressure to seek international mediation instead of bilateral negotiations.



The public's responsibility

Early in the morning of July 16, Lahore experienced a welcome monsoon rain. Mmany city roads were flooded. This time, however, I will not put the blame so much on the LDA or Wasa but on the public. I did not see any fault in the construction of the drainage system. What really happened is the following:

In many localities of Lahore drainage systems were in place and proper roads were made. What did the people do over there? First of all, they (or at least some of them) stole the manhole covers.

They then filled the holes with bricks, sand, mud or garbage filled in plastic bags. This obviously blocked the drains and prevented them from draining away the rain water.

One can also see the situation of the vegetable market at Kot Lakhpat and in other areas. Instead of collecting the waste into proper dumpsters, the garbage is dumped on the roadside right next to the drains. And when it rains, the garbage ends up blocking the flow. When that is done how can one expect proper drainage?

The 'ganda nullahs' are full of garbage stacked up in plastic bags which pile up in the nullah and cause the water to swell. Who is to blame for this? Not the LDA or WASA but the carelessness of Lahore's residents.

The federal government should order a blanket ban on the production of plastic bags and the prohibition should be applicable and enforced throughout the country. The media should be harnessed to educate people to discourage the use of plastic bags and to stop throwing their garbage everywhere.

In many developed countries every house is given special bags to fill in their organic waste, paper waste and other garbage. The bags are collected and taken to a proper waste disposal site. Such schemes should be replicated in our cities, towns and villages.

In addition to this, those who throw their garbage anywhere and everywhere must be fined. Wherever drains have been destroyed in this way, the people living around them should be asked to pay to clean them and to ensure that they throw no garbage in them again.

Authorities like the LDA and WASA should regularly monitor and inspect the drainage system, especially before the regular monsoon season.

Abid Habib


Medical universities

This is in reference to letter of Dr M. Rafiq Khanani on medical universities (June 23). The correspondence regarding medical universities seems to place Dr Sher Shah Syed and myself at one pole and Dr Kolachi and Dr Khanani at the other.

I read Dr Khanani's reply to my letter with great interest. I also visited the website of medical universities he mentioned in his letter. It was interesting to note that none of these universities were found by an 'executive order', as is the case in Pakistan.

It also notable that none of these institutes were created by a retired army general with no academic background or by a person with a vested interest. The comparison of these universities to our misadventures is like comparing a potato with a watermelon.

The medical universities in Pakistan can learn a lot even if they find out how the faculty appointment system works in Aga Khan. If there is no transparency in such an appointment then it becomes clear that the purpose of these universities is to please certain vested interests.

There is a difference between a university and an examining body. Let us focus on the University of Health Sciences (UHS) in Lahore. In violation of the objectives laid out in the UHS Ordinance of 2002, the said university has to date behaved only as an examining body.

It has several faculty positions lying vacant, has no medical seats for research and a mafia seems to be controlling its affairs. Creating institutions without any discussion or vision achieves nothing and ends up squandering precious resources.


Finance Secretary, PMA, Lahore

Unplanned underpasses

The present Government is constructing underpasses on Canal Road in Lahore, but all of them have been constructed without proper planning and keeping in view the engineering practices and general public need.

To begin with, from Mall Road, the first underpass is just near the canal bank on fast-traffic lane but the second underpass on Jail Road is away from the canal bank near the slow-traffic lane.

The third underpass on Zahoor Elahi road is again on the canal bank on the fast lane but the fourth underpass on Jail road is away from canal bank in the slow lane. The fifth underpass is on fast lane near canal bank.

The government has constructed four underpasses during 2003- 04 but has also demolished nine pedestrian bridges on the canal. The demolishing of these bridges was wrong and did not have any public support. That is evident from the manner in which they were razed - late at night in an operation under heavy police guard.

I am sure the Punjab chief minister who is well aware of public sentiment cannot order such destruction of public structures. The agony and hardship faced by the people who used to use these pedestrian bridges is beyond expression.

The chief minister should order an inquiry into the matter. An engineer of repute should be entrusted with the probe to ascertain the reasons why the pedestrian bridges were demolished.



Robbers on the prowl

A few months back, Dawn published two letters on so-called 'prowling robbers' in Block 'N' of North Nazimabad, Karachi, in its 13th Street. On the 11th of this month, one of my sons and his family were visiting some relatives in the same notorious Block 'N' and the Street No. 13. He found that the dug-up earth of the roads left here and there, made not only the driving difficult, but turning the car back, was also very trying.

To his great disappointment, his car was blocked by two 'prowlers' with their own vehicle in such a way that he could not escape. He was asked by the men at gunpoint to hand over the cash, car and his mobile phone. Luckily, on seeing this some passers-by raised a hue and cry which scared the robbers away.

This shows that the street in Block 'N' of North Nazimabad is still infected with prowlers, who are active both in day and at night without any hindrance. They break into the houses that are left open or there is any solitary pedestrian or a car. The authorities concerned are requested to take note of this.

The authorities concerned are also requested to see that the development work in Block 'N' is brought to an end at its earliest for the relief of the residents and other public.



Pakistan cricket: setting things right

Pakistan cricket players have a lot of natural talent which we need to exploit with scientific training. The coach and other such experts should give personalized attention to each player and at times sit with the particular player and show him the video- footage of mistakes he made in the past. Coaches in Australia do follow this approach of coaching.

Fitness of each player should be a top priority at all times. Every player must exercise for a minimum of three hours a day - morning/evening. Fitness will create agility and can improve their fielding, catching, bowling and also batting. Australia and Sri Lanka are the best examples of this.

Every player should be sufficiently motivated and be dedicated to the Pakistan cricket team - to give 100%. To achieve this and win their confidence, at least 30 players must be employed on a contract basis so that their position in the national team is assured and they rigorously practice to achieve their position in the Pakistan Eleven.

Every player must be mindful that he is playing for his country and by winning, will bring glory to it. This is the national spirit which he should create within himself.

Every player must respect discipline whather on the field or off. Merit only should be the only criteria of selection in the team. It is immaterial which part of the country one comes from. Talent should be continuously explored from all over the country. We should organize domestic cricket on the pattern of Australia.

We must have a bowling coach in addition to other coaches. The bowling coach will work in coordination with the principal coach, who is responsible for the overall performance of the team.

The bowling coach must be dedicated to the Pakistan cricket team and should give personalized attention to each bowler. We must produce 8 to 10 bowlers of test standard every year so that we are not dependent on two or three bowlers at any time.

We badly need left-arm fast bowlers like Wasim Akram. Indeed, we should have groomed left-arm fast bowlers in the last two decades so that Wasim Akram's retirement would not have created such a vacuum, which may take years to fill. In contrast, India concentrated on producing left-arm fast bowlers after Srinath & Prasad, their right- arm bowlers. Today, they are doing far better.

We need to produce good spin bowlers. We are depending on one or two right-arm spin bowlers only. We need to produce 6 to 8 Test standard spin bowlers. We must develop our specialist batsman as part-time spin bowlers.

Field-placing has always been far from satisfactory. Captain, vice-captain and wicket-keeper should work in coordination as a team for setting proper field for a particular batsman. This certainly needs good homework.

We had seen in the last World Cup match against India and recent Pakistan-India series that we conceded too many boundaries by not placing fielders in these positions most of the time; whereas the other team conceded maximum of two runs only because of their boundary-line fielders.

We should learn good lessons from the past, rectify our short-comings, create a good team spirit and sense of patriotism and instil the spirit of self-belief in the players.



Peshawar Airport problems

I want to draw the attention of airport authorities and the CBR towards the poor condition of facilities offered at Peshawar Airport as well as the uncooperative attitude of customs personnel towards passengers travelling abroad.

My wife, along with two minor children, travelled from Peshawar to Jeddah via Saudi Airline flight SV-795 on June 19. They arrived at Peshawar airport at around 3:20 p.m. for their flight.

At first they had to stand in a long queue for almost 20 minutes. After entering the departure lounge, the male custom staff started checking their luggage manually, without the help of any female staff. The custom staff took more than 25 minutes to search the luggage thoroughly.

Being one person with two minor children, it was difficult for her to re-pack the baggage again. Seing her plight, a staff member of the OPF helped out in her other formalities.

The question is: why is it that in Pakistan the luggage of female passengers is searched by male staff? Despite the claims of the government that better facilities are offered at all international airports, each passenger's baggage is searched more than three times manually by ANF, then customs and later by the ASF. There is no help given in re-packing or assisting passengers with children.

In August last year, the Prime Minister issued orders for deputing lady customs staff for facilitating unaccompanied women and children at all airports of the country. But no such facilities have been provided till yet.

Overseas Pakistanis expect better facilities from the government as we are the equal contributors in the increase of foreign exchange reserves.

Malik Abbas

Saudi Arabia

Anarkali's plight

I want to draw the attention of the authorities concerned to the plight of Anarkali, the lone elephant in the Karachi zoo. Every day children enjoy elephant rides. However, no one uses the animal's earnings to heal her wounds. They were so obvious with maggots and flies hovering on them when I visited the zoo two weeks back.

Is this how we should treat animals which are a source of happiness and wonder for our children?



Bush's America

"Pope tells Bush that situation in Iraq must be normalized (Dawn, June 6). How it can be that the Pope isn't aware that 'normalcy' does not suit George W. Bush's America.



Troops for Iraq

Pakistan should not send troops to Iraq, whether sanctioned by the United Nations or not. If we did, there would be a terrible backlash in our country as we have too much going on internally and can't afford to get involved in something so controversial.

I can just picture the so-called peace protests by religious parties which would just love to use any opportunity to take a stab at President Musharraf. We have too much on our plate right now and can't take on any more. We need to look at our country's situation before anything else. "Pakistan First", remember?



Promotion of foreign investment

The idea behind encouraging foreigners to invest in Pakistan was to assure them to do so with a sense of certainty as regards their tax liability in respect of a specific transaction project that is to be undertaken or is proposed to be undertaken.

Sub-rule (5) of the Rule 231A prescribes that the advance ruling, to be issued by the CBR, shall be binding upon the commissioner of income-tax (department) unless "there is a change in facts or in the law" on the basis of which the advance ruling was issued.

Firstly, sub-rule (5) ought to have provided that the advance ruling shall be binding on the commissioner, unless the change in facts has occurred on account of non-resident person's omission or commission. In the absence of the NR's fault, going back from the advance ruling would be unjust.

Secondly, since the change in law being beyond the control of non-residents, it is highly unreasonable to allow the commissioner to get out of the binding effect of the advance ruling, issued by the department itself in respect of one and the same specific transaction/specific project.

This sub-rule (5), therefore, apparently would not serve the purpose of providing a sense of tax certainty/security, as was intended because the intention is to be inferred from the language used which here is apparently not so very properly worded.

The CBR may, therefore, consider revising the language of the sub- rule (5) to carry into effect the desired system for promoting foreign investment.


Ex-Civil Judge & FCM Karachi

Combating corruption

Pakistan is like a plant and corruption is like a disease to this plant. There are two types of corruption. The first is corruption at the lower level like employees of the government or junior policemen. The next one is at the higher level which is at the government level.

Corruption that occurs at the lower level is because employees are paid less. Everyone in this world has to fulfil his/her basic needs and bring up their children. The salaries which are paid at the lower level are not sufficient enough to fulfil the basic needs.

Then there is corruption is done by main political leaders or government functionaries. We have to fight both but for this we need to approach different strategies.

We should not pull the plant out by its roots, instead we should try to cure with suitable medication or sprays, one which will not affect our country in any negative way.

Umar Mukhtar