DAWN - Letters; July 31, 2005

Published July 31, 2005

‘A dreadful state of mind’

THIS refers to Mr Anwar Syed’s article ‘A dreadful state of mind’ (July 24). It is a superb treatment of the subject with reference to some of the grave events of recent history, which facilitate better understanding of the causes and consequences of the phenomenon conveniently termed as ‘terrorism’.

The writer’s thoughts, triggered by the tragic London blasts, have laboured to encompass the truth — but not the whole truth. An earnest mind still wonders what the term ‘terrorism’ could mean after all. Generally, events like 9/11, 7/7 and incidents in the Middle East and Pakistan are condemned as acts of terrorism.

The problem is that after each such incident, the word terrorism boldly appears everywhere in the media. The post-London blast period has been no exception.

Unfortunately, much what has been said or written of mere rhetoric. One thing common that emerges out of all debris is that the West is the victim and the East is the breeding ground of terrorism.

This bloody friction is attributed to alleged Muslim hatred for western civilization as well as religious militancy. But the West needs to do a lot of rethinking, analysis and revision of its policies toward the less privileged world.

Likewise, the eastern world owes a favour to humanity by focusing, to the exclusion of everything else, on activities geared to development and progress. Perhaps the only salvation is in gaining strength — a competitive edge.

Mr Syed rightly observes that today the East is the victim of a pre-emptive onslaught of the West; tomorrow, a difficult situation will arise when one of the eastern countries replaces the present superpower. This emphasizes the need for replacing disruptive thinking by constructive policies.

In conclusion, Mr Syed has made an interesting comment on the common forms of terrorism currently plaguing Pakistan.

As an illustration, he quotes “the case of an extremist believer who goes out and kills another believer” because of his different beliefs. A majority of Pakistanis are faithful, God-fearing Muslims and we have scholars who preach and practise piety and righteousness through love, affection and caring for each other irrespective of sectarian beliefs.

The type of believers mentioned by Mr Syed are small groups consisting of semi-literate youngsters disconnected from their roots, disappointed by the environment and mostly frustrated within and without.

They learn to read the text of the Holy Quran, and say their prayers, but beyond that they are innocent and ignorant.

They easily fall prey to exploitation in the name of religion by foreign agencies as well as by local feudal and tribal lords — power grabbers with a vested political interest.

Lahore Cantt

‘A dam no one wants’

THIS has reference to Mr M. Ismail Khan’s article ‘A dam no one wants’(Dawn Magazine, July 10). The fact is that everyone in Pakistan needs the unique and multipurpose 35 maf superflood control Katzarah Dam. Its site should not be confused with the Skardu Dam site that is 22 kms upstream of Katzarah.

All of Mr Khan’s fears, like the accidental bursting of the dam to cause a man-made tsunami are imaginary. Out of 40,000 big dams in the world, none has burst to precipitate tsunami - like conditions. Moreover, numerous safety infrastructures are provided in the design.

The writer further assumes that the dam will affect the cultural heritage of the Balti people. He fails to realize that. Balti culture would come into the international limelight. The place will become prosperous when the Northern Areas is opened up for development and when the Balti people of the area get about Rs50 billion royalty each year from the generation of 15,000 MW of power from the dam. The Katzarah Lake valley will be a scenic resort for tourists from all over the world.

Again, the writer’s fears that the dam and reservoir will destabilize the mountain ecosystem are based on the wrong premises. The science of glaciology teaches us that the dam and reservoir will help improve the ecosystem of mountains and glaciers

The Katzarah Dam will be located in an extremely narrow gorge of the Indus valley with a strong rock formation. It will be a concrete buttress gravity dam with safety infrastructures of spillways on both sides. The dam and its foundation will be stronger than the strongest rock. The design of the dam will provide all safety measures.

The Katzarah reservoir will help prevent melting of glaciers. This is because evaporation from the surface of the reservoir will provide moisture for snow accumulation and ice formation. Moreover, the use of 35-maf of water for crops, artificial forests, standing trees and greenery over a vast area will create moisture by the process of evapo-transpiration. This will help prevent and reduce the effect of global warming and the effects of carbon pollution and release moisture for snow formation on the K2 mountain range.

Besides this, the dam will generate 15,000 MW of environment-friendly power and avoid equivalent thermal power generation. This will help prevent global warming and improve the environment. It change the landscape of the country by turning barren and desert like areas into a green landscape.

Katzarah will have six times the storage capacity of Basha or Kalabagh at the same cost. It will control superfloods in the Indus due to global warming and reduce the adverse backwater flow and flooding in the Kabul River in the Peshawar valley from Indus water due to heading up at the narrow Attock gorge.

It will save 35 maf of floodwater going waste to sea each year and provide irrigation facilities for about 10 million acres of barren land in the four provinces. Let it be clear that the mid-level sluicing Kalabagh according to its design and operation is not a flood control dam at all as it will be empty and will be on run-of-river from June 1 to July 20. On the contrary it will aggravate floods in the Peshawar valley by blocking the Indus flow and changing the bed slope regime and velocity flow of the Kabul and Indus rivers.

(Ex-chairman, IRSA)

‘Internship fiasco’

THIS is with reference to Jibran Ahmed’s article (July 24) regarding summer internships. The article seems to “fit in” at some points. The concept of summer internships as a way to pass time is common knowledge. When one thinks about interning somewhere he should be mentally prepared to spend half of one’s time staring at the computer monitor.

The way the writer has described the first day in the life of an intern is what every one goes through. Currently, interning at a respectable firm myself, I had a similar experience. However, there is always a positive way of looking at things. On the first day of internship when one is handed some reading material, it is generally aimed at introducing the firm’s operations and current situation so that one has a better knowledge of the firm he is working with. Similarly, if the projects handed down appear useless to the firm or for one’s own career, there is always something that makes one more knowledgeable and informed. Expecting to be assigned something of the level of a full-time employee is highly unlikely because the firms usually have staff employed for that very purpose.

Student’s intern to learn something, and any project assigned to them must be making them more aware. It’s all about perceptions. No doubt, an internee gets to sit around and chit chat with friends mostly, but at the end of the day he has done something that has made him better informed. One believes that even if internships are not serving the purpose intended, they help to create professionalism in the intern. And an internee can always go and ask for work. Sitting idle is usually one’s own decision.



THE writer has rightly highlighted the problems faced by interns. I am a chartered accountancy student and also face the same dilemma. The sole purpose for which I started my internship at a reputed multinational bank has so far failed. One thing has improved during this time - my ability to sit idle from nine to five.


Leopard killing

APROPOS of the killing of allegedly man-eating leopards, a senior police officer was 100 per cent sure that the first leopard was the animal that had killed six women in the Abbottabad area. But another leopard was killed next week by his men.

So, what was the officer 100 per cent sure of in the first case? This target practice should end. A tranquillizer shot should have been enough, as suggested by Mr Ahmed Rafay Alam in his letter (July 16). In African jungles they immobilize and capture much bigger animals with tranquillizers.

How much of wildlife do we have in Pakistan? Or wildlife reserves and sanctuaries? Man is the biggest enemy of nature. He has destroyed the beauty of nature, the oceans, the rivers, the lakes, the mountains, flora, fauna, the jungles — all for his greedy pursuits. He destroys it and then runs around to restore/preserve it without any success. What we are sowing today, our generations will reap tomorrow.

The leopard is perhaps the only big cat available and surviving in Pakistan and that too in a very small area in the north. Neighbouring India had started preserving its natural resources as far back as 1958 and by now has 80 national parks, 440 sanctuaries and 23 tiger reserves all over the country which helps to provide jobs to millions and attract tourists from all over the world.

There are many more countries which have focused on preserving their natural resources — like Kenya and other African countries. What I wonder is why none of our WWF officials came forward to stop the killing of leopards.

Muscat, Oman

Hate syndrome

IT is true that in the past people dreamt of migrating to western countries in search of a prosperous future. But they finally returned to their homeland as they got tired of the rat race. Developed countries have often stated that the less fortunate nations hate them due to their affluent lifestyles and democratic rights, but we should go to the root cause of this hatred.

Uncivilized societies were happy in their respective zones when they were left alone. It is the colonialists who made inroads into these societies. They destroyed their customs and cultures, looted their natural resources, captured natives for slavery and imposed apartheid whereby blacks were restricted from entering white colonies. They were shot like dogs if they resisted.

One wonders what happened to the aborigines, Maoris, Zulus, Red Indians and others. The reality is that these civilizations were exterminated by western invaders. This carnage still continues in Iraq and Afghanistan. In view of the colourful past of the champions of democracy and human rights, seeking friends among the oppressed is like finding a needle in a haystack.


‘Agenda for PTCL’s new team’

THE article ‘An agenda for PTCL’s new team’ by Dr Mahnaz Fatima in the EBR section (July 11) gave an insight into the new team of PTCL which is quiet contrary to local and global perspectives in that the telecommunications sector in Pakistan, since the passing of the Telecom Act 1996, has undergone major structural transformations. The traditional role performed by the monopolistic PTCL in the socio-economic development of Pakistan is also changing. After divestment of 26 per cent shares and control over the board of directors of the company, the government of Pakistan would play the part of only a regulator. The strategic investor will have the management and operational control over the existing telecom network.

In the changing environment the role of the government as principal provider of human resources development has changed. Moreover, the pace of structural changes and technological advances, the change from state to privatization, and the pressure exerted by competition are all having an unprecedented impact on the new PTCL team and it has to undertake a fundamental transformation in order to meet the challenges of the borderless world of ICT (information communication technologies).

The success of the new team in dealing with these challenges depends upon its ability to introduce promptly the required changes coupled with effective HRD strategies. No meaningful organizational change is possible without building on a sound base of human resource management. In this era, only those companies having a well motivated and proactive resource of professionals in management and operation survive. Change in the corporate culture and effective utilization of the available stock of human resources are essential to competitive success. By far PTCL lacks any coherent HR policy as evident on the corporate website (http://www.ptcl.com.pk) where every month (on an average) a new face in the ranks of EVP and SEVP is seen.

The new team has to analyze the implications of changing work patterns, skill levels and career paths for organizational success to contain experienced workers in the fold and ensure effective management of the companys investment in people.

PTCL must develop the skills necessary to design and implement an effective human resource policy and planning framework for the organization. It should formulate an HR strategy implement HR policies, systems, processes and practices for recruitment, training and development, career development, succession planning, rewards and performance management.

PTCL has to make a coherent and flexible policy for the lay-off of surplus staff through voluntary separation schemes and golden handshake and propose ways and means for increasing the lines per staff ratio.

It must give a comprehensive policy to circumvent the pressure of trade unions and foreign interference in the operation of the company.

Coventry, UK

Appeal to the ulema

THE phenomenon of spitting venom against other sects started in Pakistan in the early 80s. The sponsored “hate” was institutionalized by equipping the breed with sophisticated weapons, vehicles, etc. It proved to be a new opening for the then close-to-madressah-vicinity ulema.

The patrons of religious students turned into barons. In the late 80 and early 90s these ‘ulema’ had a craze to show-off, and to demonstrate they used to walk flanked by Kalashnikov-toting bodyguards.

Today these elements are hard to pinpoint because they are mixed with political parties. Virtually almost all religio-political parties had formed their militant and student wings. Shabab-i-Milli, Pasban, Al-Badr, Lashkars and Jaishs and what not have a history of “valour”. Lack of wisdom and will, antagonism and intransigence blocked any move towards enlightenment.

They are well aware however of how to block a move against their vested interests. They find other ways to come out if banned. Changing the name from Tehrik-i-Jafria Pakistan to Islami Tehrik-i-Pakistan; Sipah-i-Sahaba to Millat-i-Islamia; Jaish-i-Muhammad to Al Furqan; Lashkar-i-Taiba to Khuddam-ul-Islam; Lashkar-i-Jhangvi to Lashkar-i-Umar; Harkat-ul-Ansar to Jihad-i-Islam; Harkatul Mujahideen to Jamiatul Ansar — all are one under different labels.

The reaction from religious elements is expected to be severe but the nation expects some rethinking on their part. Please think with a cool head. Do not make us hostage to your angers.

Please do not let the namazis follow your whims. This is a moment of understanding. Please do not earn a bad name for Pakistan and the ummah. Join hands for the uplift of the country. Today is a great test for you.

Gujar Khan

Road under construction

THIS is to draw the attention of relevant authorities to the suffering we have been undergoing for the last two months. Our business is situated on Karachi’s Siddiq Wahab Road, a very busy thoroughfare. There is always a heavy load of traffic, from pickups to buses, to camel and donkey carts.

One month after the road was dug up for rebuilding, piles of shingle and sand were dumped in the midst of the road. And since then there has been no development. This has made it extremely difficult for traffic to plough through the unpaved road, and has made a mess of the environment. We request the authorities to expedite the construction of the road.


Traffic rules

IT is heartening to see that traffic is on its way to getting civilized due to the strict vigilance and enforcement of the traffic police. But the laws for traffic control are so suddenly implemented that the public is rarely aware of them in advance.

Often it so happens that even minor traffic violations are committed people without even knowing that they are doing something that should not be done. The general public should be first informed and educated about the changes; then when an individual is caught not following the law, a warning should be given. After expiry of this warning period, the process of penalizing should start.


Arms licences

OVER the last 10 years the deweaponization policy has only demoralized the law-abiding citizens who are denied not only quality non-prohibited bore (NPB) arms but also replacements for outdated ammunition due to the ban on its import.

On the other hand, outlaws have easy access to prohibited bore automatic arms of military specifications. As a result, armed crimes against peaceful unarmed citizens have increased manifold. Since NPB arms licences are primarily granted for self-defence, the government should stop taxing arms meant for self-defence.


Identity crisis?

THIS refers to Group Capt (retd) Munzar Ata’s letter (July 24), “Why our leaders don’t speak up”. It is because on the global scale most of our politicians suffer from an identity crisis. They are lack self-confidence and knowledge. They are easily impressed and are always in awe of western powers.

Middlesex, UK



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