Politically Incorrect

by Amir Mateen

We might blame the politicians for buckling under the might of Malik Riaz but the real power behind the man is the military brass. No question about that.
He learnt the ropes of the contracting trade early on when he worked as a clerk at Maintenance and Engineering Services (MES), a civilian branch of the Army that renovates and repairs houses. That’s where he honed his skills in the art of ‘wheeling-dealing.’ In due time, he made enough money to become a contractor with the same MES, this time ‘greasing’ the palms of the junior officers that he had trained himself in all things shady. They grew in career as he grew in wealth or may be the other way around. His level of the interaction has sky-rocketed since then.

The former MES clerk now has among his employees many retired generals. We are told he enjoys it when some of them carry his bag shamelessly. During the initial days of the infamous Arsalan Iftikhar case, a photograph showed two retired generals escorting Malik Riaz while exiting the Supreme Court. One was the former mighty in-charge of military’s political muscle, Major General (retd) Ehtesham Zameer, who ran the political section of the ISI during the Musharraf government. And with a ruthless abandon I must say. The other was the top man of military’s public relations, Major General (Retd) Shaukat Sultan. Perhaps their job description remains the same but this time for a different boss and a really different salary package. No wonder, Malik brags so often that his files never stop.
That one picture captures the state of affairs in the Army, which continues to lose respect because of its partnership with one man.

The former MES clerk seems an uncrowned Field Marshal in terms of the power that he enjoys in all things related to the Brass.
One two-star general, while he was Director General of Welfare and Rehabilitation (under which comes DHA Islamabad), constructed a palatial house on a hilltop for himself not in the DHA but in Bahria Town next door. The house is so grand that people come to see it as a tourist attraction. This is not to cast any aspersions but it was under his tenure that the DHA and Bahria got into the most controversial joint ventures. No proof but in such positions people are expected to exercise some discretion.

Malik was smart enough to realize in the 1990s, when the khakis engineered the fall of a government every two years, that the real power, among the three most powerful proverbial As in Pakistan, lies with the Army. He knew that having the uniforms on your back is the safest bet in town.
Turns out, that’s exactly what Malik did. He sold the land to the DHA after grabbing it forcefully and illegally from not so powerful and influential individuals or housing society owners. Once under the control of the military, he knew there was no way it could come back to bite him. After all who would take the military to court even if DHA Islamabad, or some parts of it, are built on Qabza land.

The case of 2880 kanals owned by Revenue Employees Cooperative Housing Society (RECHS) should explain. The society land was proposed to be converted to Phase-9 of Bahria Town, and members of the RECHS would have been accommodated accordingly. But once the merger was complete, thanks to Pervaiz Elahi, Malik Riaz sold it to the DHA.
It has taken years of litigation and effort by the victims to pressurize Bahria Town to compensate through the courts. Many remain without compensation even after nine years.
Malik Riaz knew he had to keep generals in his pocket, along with the politicians and other civilians. That’s why most of the generals count on his vast empire for future employment post-retirement.

Interestingly, one of the recently retired general – of the NLC scam fame – was the Garrison Commander in Lahore when Malik built The Mall of Lahore, a high rise, posh luxury apartment building smack in the center of Cantonment and right opposite the otherwise red-zoned Corps Commander’s House. To this day, people are amazed that how this construction was allowed at such a sensitive sight. He developed a friendship with the two-star general way back then and as it turns out (some say may be it was orchestrated) that the same gentleman was promoted and posted as the QMG in Rawalpindi who heads all of the army’s housing and land related projects.
He is definitely an expert in knowing which hands to grease. Stories of many generals literally eating from Malik’s hands abound and they are not confined to Army messes. Also affected are lots mid-ranking officers, retired soldiers and, painful for the rank and file, the families of the martyred.

It’s a Rs 62 billion scam. The story goes that the DHA Valley scheme was announced with lots of fanfare. People bought free forms in black because of the hype. The scheme offered plots measuring 150 and 240 square yards to retired officers, JCOs and the families of martyred soldiers.
But the issue is that ‘the land ain’t there.’ The acquisition of around 80,000 kanal required for DHA Valley is far from completion. Those who got cheated include 110,000 civilians, 41,000 serving and retired military officers, jawans and the families of martyrs. I have seen people crying for the loss of their life-long savings. Enters Malik Riaz, the realtor tycoon was contracted to develop the scheme. You may not believe this but the Don was paid Rs 62 billion in advance. The DHA Valley is yet to acquire land but the money for its development was paid against all legal advice. Isn’t it mind-boggling?
Those who lost the money are found appealing to the Chief of Army Staff through press releases in newspaper offices. The COAS seems as helpless as anybody else before this former MES clerk. You have to give credit to the man.
Part III.Malik Riaz-the real power broker

Politically Incorrect
Amir Mateen

Malik Riaz may just be a new phenomenon in Pakistan. No private individual may ever have exercised as much leverage over the state as he does. Is it because the state institutions have become so weak that they can be manipulated easily or is he a very smart man. Either way, this Realtor-in-Chief has got his tentacles all over.
He has control right from the office of the President down to the SHO at Islamabad’s Kohsar Police Station. He can influence khakis from the level of Generals to an MES clerk, the lucrative post from where he took his start to stardom. The media is under control as Bahria Town is one of the biggest advertisement-throwers. Most owners take favours worth their value, while the journalists, particularly a whole generation of easily purchasable new TV anchors are sometimes available even for crumbs. This makes a perfect setting for the reincarnation of Mario Puzo’s Godfather, Malik Riaz, to take the lead role.
The hapless people who get robbed of their land in hundreds of cases have no place to go. The only forum available to them, the Supreme Court of Pakistan, has now been cowed down, thanks to the shenanigans of Arsalan Chaudhary. One must give credit that Malik had the chutzpah to attack the superior courts and then get away with it. Now, he sees no obstructions in converting huge swathes of cheap land, mostly acquired through dubious means, into golden retreats, safari villas and golf clubs. His posh houses are valued at as high as Rs 220 million. Of course, he spares lots of patches for the lower and middle classes to keep up the ‘Sultana Daku’ image that he loves so much. But this largely benefits a small elite club that will continue to grow richer and richer. On his back are the chosen members of that exclusive Club – the most prominent being the President of the Islamic republic.

It’s common knowledge that Malik Riaz is the most important person at the Presidency. The President used his constitutional power to pardon Malik Riaz’s personal guard. The guard was sentenced to life imprisonment after he confessed about killing a person in a shoot-out in an Islamabad market. Who cares that the Presidential discretion is supposed to be used in very special circumstances. This encourages Malik Riaz to brag that he could walk into the President’s bedroom any time. Such bravado keeps the subordinates in line. In most cases he does not need to bother the President. The ministers or anyone who matters —everybody knows how important he is for the President. President Zardari’s sister, Faryal Talpur or somebody from his family is seen photographed at almost every important function organized by Malik Riaz.

Bureaucrats remain as obliging as Alladin’s Genie, especially if they want to live a ‘respectable’ life in the Capital. But he is more interested in postings and officials that handle things related to real estate —actually land-grabbing. Revenue and Administration officials are crucial but the most important is police. It is widely known in Islamabad that nobody gets posted on crucial positions without Malik’s approval.
Hundreds of people have recorded statements before various courts complaining about the police torturing and harassing them “at the behest of Malik Riaz.” In a prominent case, two citizens, Raja Qayyum and Habibullah, complained before the Supreme Court that they were beaten and tortured by SHO Idrees Rathore and DSP Malik Mumtaz on the orders of Malik Riaz. They were allegedly kept locked-up for three months, forcing them to sell their properties to Bahria Town.

Sihala and Bhara Kahu is a Malik terrain and, says a published report, no police officer could be posted there without the approval of Malik Riaz. The report quotes an incident where a Sihala SHO, Haq Nawaz got changed just because he did not give “due protocol” to a person sent by Malik Riaz.
Islamabad’s top cop is known to be a henchman of Malik Riaz. Rumour has it that he was instrumental in getting Malik’s son escape to Dubai when the courts ordered his arrest on the charges of murder. He risked Cntempt of Court many times by dilly-dallying on Malik’s arrest in land-grabbing cases. He twisted facts to evade the registration of FIR against Malik recently.

Malik controls Islamabad’s Police that recently risked fighting a war with their uniformed colleagues when a Rawalpindi court ordered Malik’s arrest. The property Tsar travelled with fleets of Islamabad’s heavily armed police commandoes with orders to shoot Rawalpindi police if they tried to arrest Malik. The police forces of the twin cities, playing a cat-and-mouse game, came close to mutual bloodshed many times because of him. At one stage, Malik had the muscle to have Rangers posted at his house. So who runs this country, one may ask.

In his business, Malik needs official patronage. He was even more boundless during Musharraf’s time. The Chaudharies in Punjab loved to oblige and top civilian lackey, Tariq Aziz and his khaki counterpart, Lt. General (Retd) Hamid Javed delivered the rest of the country— of course on the basis of mutual reciprocity. The beauty of his model is that he gets all favours without spending much. In most cases he obliges them in kind by giving them plots that, interestingly, he acquires with their help. Smart, isn’t it?
The PML-N was opposed to Malik initially but then Shahbaz Sharif got his help in Ashiana Scheme. The extent of Malik’s affection for Shahbaz Sharif’s son, Salman got disclosed in an off-camera shoot that somehow got leaked. Remember the ‘scrooing’ episode.
Malik Riaz is a fictional character. In real life the closest example one can think of is former Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. He bought media through his business empire and then used it for his political and business ends. Malik commands as much political control without coming into power directly. So far, that is. But we hear that he has invested huge investments on dozens of potential candidates. And this may be the reason for his recent friction with the Sharif Brother, besides the 25 acre villa that he allegedly built for the Man on the Hill. Who knows he might just take over this country at some stage. Who would not want that with half of the Parliament in his pocket? Imagine Malik Riaz as the PM.
Part II – Will the real Malik Riaz please stand up?

Politically Incorrect
Amir Mateen

Malik Riaz of Bahria Town may be the best prism through which one can understand today’s Pakistan. He personifies the potential that this ‘land of opportunities’ offers, provided you know how to go about it. Palm-greasing, he says, is an essential skill here and that he knows how to attach ‘wheels’ to his work files — a metaphor used for bribery. “Believe me, nothing moves in this country without wheels and my files, I tell you, never stop,” he said boldly in a TV interview, an impish smile on his face. That tells something about the man and the country where he, like it or not, happens to be the most powerful person.

His is a rags-to-riches story that should beat the Carnegies and Rockefellers hands down. The ‘robber barons,’ as the American Moguls were labeled a century ago, got their share of flak. But the biggest realtor baron of this country remains unscathed because he has got the media literally in his pocket.
Not much is known about one of the richest man in Pakistan except for the bits that he has told about himself. Even Wikipedia says that the details are sketchy on how a small-time labourer climbed up the ladder to become the 10th richest man of Pakistan with assets worth $800 million. He may actually be worth much more if we take into account his ‘file-wheeling’ skills.

The information about him trickles down through carefully selected journalists who throw out carefully orchestrated images of his personality. A self-made man, he passed his secondary school exam by marginal numbers. Equally marginal were his skills as he could not even drive a car. He started off from petty chores, the first being a house whitewash. We are told that he walked for 10 kilometers just to save Rs 50. He had to sell household items, tears in his eyes, to get his daughter medical treatment.
He is as somebody living next door with whom ordinary people could identify; somebody they could trust with their savings. He almost comes across as Amitabh Bachan, as in Bollywood movie Tirshol, though of course minus the superstar’s beauty, particularly his hair. Suddenly, the hero morphs into a dazzling rich person that the lay people aspire to be. A halo of glitz and glamour circles around his head. Malik Riaz travels in his private jet, lives in seven-star mansions, parks a Bentley in his porch and drives with a fleet of SUVs with a battalion of armed private commandoes that should match the prime minister’s protocol.

Malik Riaz is undoubtedly the most powerful person in Pakistan. He rubs shoulders with the high and mighty that seem to be at his beck and call. He calls former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani’s son, MNA Abdul Qadir Gilani, as Bunny, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s son, Salman, who takes care of the family business, as Sill. I suspect, in the same pattern, he calls President Asif Zardari and Benazir Bhutto’s son, Bilawal, as Billu. His favourite pass time, we are told, is to order senior functionaries on transfer and postings using some real rough language. This happens on a speaker phone while the worthy guests get amused and awed by his audacity. The treatment was recently meted out to another Malik with an ‘R’ who, outraged at one stage, suspended the officers who had gone to Riaz for a prized posting. The matter got resolved by the Man on the Hill later.
On a typical day, he starts his day with a working breakfast with rich Arab Sheikhs; lunch at the Presidency — with aalu shora he says; evening tea with the Punjab Chief Minister; dinner with top generals and late coffee with the biggest industrialists of this country. But he does not sleep before giving ‘tweets’ to his favourite journalists on how and what to say in the media. If he does not run Pakistan, who does?

Malik remains the biggest paradox. He has got more faces than that Hindu mythological figure from Lanka. Is he the saviour who gives jobs to 20,000 people who in turn cater to a work force of 17000 ancillary industries? Bahria Town brochure boasts that 100,000 households are dependent on them. He goes on to claim, almost in the same hyperbole that he used in the $ 45 billion fiasco, that Bahria Town workers might stretch from Lahore to Rawalpindi if they are lined up with their arms stretched wide open.
But the questions remain: Is he the great visionary who changed the housing concept in Pakistan, providing the middle and lower classes high quality residential facilities at a much lower cost?

Is he the messiah who is seen feeding hundreds of people, helping the sick, needy and the handicapped? Bahria Town sponsors many schools, hospitals and charity organizations.
Is he the trouble shooter who somehow emerges as a referee in every political wrestling match. He played a role in Musharraf’s deal with Benazir Bhutto. He was again involved in the Bhurban meeting that led to an agreement between Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. He was instrumental in arranging a patch-up between Asif Zardari and the Chaudharies of Gujrat. Only recently, he popped up out of nowhere to play a role in Tahirul Qadri’s long march.
Is he the hero of the poor who, as Amitabh Bachan, made it big in the cruel world of the rich. He likes to compare himself with ‘Sultana Daku,’ a local version of Robinhood who looted the rich to distribute among the poor. There are more shades of his personality in real life than the roles that Amitabh may have played in films.

For many, he is worse than Prem Chopra. All that glitz about good work is just a smoke screen that he maintains to hide a sinister villain that comes across in dozens of cases that he attends in various courts and police stations all over the country. The crimes that he is accused of include murder, kidnapping, forgery, fraud, extortion and many other evil things that all Bollywood villains put-together could not have done. These cases run into hundreds, mostly involving land-grabbing where his goons forcibly took away land from poor people to sell houses, some of which cost as high as Rs 220 million—the Sultana Daku in reverse here. Just to explain the extent of accusations against him, he has still got at least three dozen cases before the Supreme Court, despite the disposal of double the number of cases. In one day last year, the Supreme Court issued 44 orders against Bahria Town in various cases.

So how do we judge him. Will the real Malik Riaz please stand up? It is all the more important to understand him as he enjoys the power in this country as nobody else. Whatever the case, he is surely a movie character who got stuck with ordinary mortals.
Part I – $45bn fiasco exposes Malik Riaz

Politically Incorrect
Amir Mateen

The biggest-ever media con
Is this funny, sad or simply stupid. The clarification by Abu Dhabi Group about their alleged $45 billion investment in Pakistan may have exposed lots of things — and lots of people. One Malik Riaz of Bahria Town for sure.
He virtually conned the Abu Dhabi Group, Pakistani media and the public. We already knew about his hold on the Pakistani media. And it is not just about that one incident where he was caught red-handed with two TV anchors engineering news. The Bahria advertisements worth billions of rupees have simply blinded media owners who ensure that nothing is published against Bahria Town. News against Malik Riaz comes out only when he is summoned in the courts for the cases of murder, fraud, forgery, assassination attempts, blackmailing, to name some of the ‘virtues’ that he is regularly accused of.
But a more classic example of Pakistani media’s incompetence-actually capitulation-could not be given. Here is why.

The announcement of a whopping $45 billion investment in Pakistan was a dream-come-true story. This too at a time when nobody wants to invest a penny in Pakistan, and half of my foreign friends want to send their mothers-in-law for ‘sight-seeing’ in FATA.
It was simply mind-blowing. The UAE sacrificed its pride for having the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa. And because Malik charmed them so well, they let Karachi have the honour. Apart from building the world’s tallest building in Karachi, the other attractions included a financial hub, sports city, international city, media city, educational and medical City, miniatures of the world’s seven wonders. It was amply flashed that “these projects would employ more than 2.5 million people and boost more than 55 industries like cement, bricks, iron, steel and glass.”

Malik Riaz came across as the Messiah who had bailed out Pakistan from its financial mess. Abu Dhabi Group Chairman Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan was quoted as describing Malik as a “visionary,” adding that this guaranteed that “we will Inshallah be welcoming first residents in next 3-4 years.” As if he was not a ruler but a real estate agent.
Media outlets competed with each other in flashing the news amidst incessant advertisements from Bahria Town. Newspapers were also found outdoing each other. Most newspapers, English and vernacular, presented what was basically a press statement by Bahria Town as “independent news.” Nobody checked whether the Abu Dhabi Group, the UAE government or even the international wire services issued any news about an investment that was worth, no less, than $ 45 billion. Not a single journalist bothered to even check if there was any news of this sort on any website of the UAE companies or whether Sheikh Nahayan had actually said those words. The half-page advertisement on newspapers’ front pages, showing Malik shaking hands with the Sheikh seem to have blinded everything. Or perhaps they were told not to test their editorial discretion.
The so-called most credible English newspaper went a step ahead by giving a joint dateline of Karachi and Islamabad instead of Dubai. It added colour to the story by quoting a Karachi magnate, of course on the condition of anonymity, that the construction site would be “Kutta Island,” which is 3 to 4-km off the coast of Karachi. It went a step further than what Malik Riaz had claimed, informing readers that “the Abu Dhabi Group-Malik Riaz would, apart from the above mentioned projects, also launch into building of 125,000 houses on the island.” (sic)

The reporters also made sure to confirm it from the source of the press release, Malik’s son Ali Riaz, instead of checking from the Abu Dhabi Group or even their local counterparts here in Warid, Wateen or Bank Alfalah.
Imagine an investment of $ 45 billion takes place in a place as Pakistan and the news is not on CNN, BBC, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times or even Reuters and AFP. Fellows — where was the common sense.

Last time, the UAE committed half the amount for construction on the same Kutta island (known as such because people dump stray dogs there) but the Monarch, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum himself arrived for such a big announcement. However, not a penny came as the UAE was eyeing for Gwadar Port as compensation.
It is actually funny how the media got duped. And that is exactly how they took it in Dubai. A friend who works for The Gulf News shared that journalists there could not believe it in their morning meeting. Everybody laughed as the entire Pakistani media was conned so easily. The Gulf News did not carry the story as there had been no announcement from anywhere. Internationalist journalists saw this “stupid news” on the web and just ignored it.

My Dubai friend, knowing Bahria’s leverage on Pakistani media, could understand that the news got carried on the first day. “But how about the five days after that,” he asked, confused. “Why nobody followed-up on the story that was supposed to be the biggest investment in the country’s history.”
It turns out that the Abu Dhabi Group and the UAE government was aghast at the development. But since they have lots of investment here they did not want to embarrass Pakistanis. A small news was leaked through Reuters wherein Sheikh Nahayan, while talking to a reporter in a Dubai exhibition, clarified that the investment might materialize in 15 years. He also dispelled the impression about building the tallest building in Karachi, saying that the business plans were “at a very early stage.”

No paper except The Spokesman carried the story. Sheikh Nahayan also explained that the MOU was signed in his capacity as the owner of his private company, Dhabi Contracting and not as the chairman of the conglomerate, Abu Dhabi Group. He could not have been more specific when he said that it would materialize in phases, adding, “every phase will be studied by itself… It depends on the situation when we decide to go ahead with the projects."

This was to clarify the wrong impression given here by Bahria Town that it was Abu Dhabi Group and not Dhabi Contracting that signed an MOU that only showed minor interest in business here. Still, nobody took the hint here as advertisements kept coming. Nobody questioned that how could a private company in Pakistan commit a $45 billion investment without the government being in the loop. Imagine the world’s biggest building and residential quarters for millions being constructed without any representative from the provincial and federal governments. In Sheikh Nahayan’s case, the assumption of the UAE government could be forgiven as he is a minister and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Group.
A whole bandwagon of Urdu columnists and TV anchors was found eulogizing Malik Riaz as the savior of the country. After five days, it just became too much for the UAE rulers and they had to issue the clarification that everybody read in newspapers on Friday.

Obviously, the Dubai rulers knew they were duped into that photo-up and their reputation was being used for petty benefits. It is easy to understand the benefits. This kind of news changed the scenario for Malik Riaz. He was being hounded by the courts in numerous cases, some of them seriously heinous. He was in conflict with LDA over opening new housing schemes in Lahore without permission. He was also in conflict with the army for land dispute with DHA that affects thousands of former army officers and jawans. All of this may have shaken the public confidence in his housing projects. In monetary terms this could mean a loss of billions of rupees for him. Such news about building the tallest building in Karachi is worth a lot though. Even if it had not materialized, the impression of a partnership with the Dubai rulers would have rewarded him billions of rupees in terms of public confidence. Elementary, isn’t it.

But the question remains: Was our media (of which I am a part by the way) stupid, incompetent or simply capitulated before the owners. A little bit of everything I think. I was dared by a colleague on twitter that we shall see some expose` when I get up on Saturday. I hope so but am not sure about it.


PTI & Imran Khan must get their priorities right

PTI & Imran Khan you MUST consider, apart from #Justice, #Protection of the rights of every individual as an equal Citizen of Pakistan WITHOUT discrimination #Legal & #Social equality MUST BE PRACTICED and SEEN TO BE PRACTICED! Not just given lip service! #Education needs a revamp!

Start with a major overhaul of education, make it compulsory and train professional teachers whose wages are equal to the Civil Servants cadre to build a quality delivery system in EVERY school of Pakistan, ensure and equip every student to be a responsible citizen, give each child health support and soon you will have citizens who will do what is BEST for Pakistan!



Looted billions back after dry-cleaning

Mehtab Haider
Sunday, October 30, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Who says the billions looted by our corrupt rulers are not coming back into the country? Ironically they are, but only after being cleansed and sanitised by being brought back through official legal avenues while a clueless State Bank looks on helplessly.

An investigation by The News revealed that a substantial portion of the foreign remittances of $23.8 billion, during the almost four-year rule of the PPP led govt, is actually a major source of re-routing of dirty money earned through corruption and tax evasion by the political mafia and its business associates. To cite one instance, while there have been no mentionable increases in salaries or the number of Pakistani ex-pats working in the UAE, there are instances where the remittances have surged three-fold from Abu Dhabi, a favourite fund parking choice of our dirty elite.

The foreign remittances stood at $6.4 billion in 2007-08 and went up to $7.6 billion in 2008-09. The remittances witnessed another jump and touched $8.6 in 2009-10 and surged to $11.2 billion in the last financial year ending on June 30, 2011. This rising trend continued in the first quarter (July-Sept) period of the current fiscal year as it stood at $3.297 billion during this period. The figures of the Bureau of Immigration showed that the number of employed workers in the Gulf region did not witness any unprecedented increase but the received remittances jumped up three times in the case of Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, the European Union and maintained the same level from the USA despite the fact that the developed economies such as the USA and EU were facing an acute financial and debt crisis.

The economists describe this funds-movement phenomenon as money laundering, pure and simple, and the easiest method of turning black illegal wealth into legal white money. No questions asked, no taxes paid. And the method is one of the cheapest money laundering tools as well. The entire exercise of taking dirty funds out illegally and bringing them back clean and legal costs a mere 2 percent of the cost of the entire value of the involved sums.

As put by one economic crime investigator, “This is what we call the Dutch disease that needs to be investigated because if it evaporated it could cause us to plunge into a default on our external account.” This is not a baseless apprehension as proven in the wake of emerging realities. Workers’ remittances showed a declining trend by a massive 32% to $890 million in September 2011 compared to $1,310 million in August 2011.

“One should not see development on the remittances front for the first quarter as it is a worrisome indicator if closely reviewed by the economic managers. In terms of remittances, Pakistan can be compared with the Philippines as its growth is almost flat with authorities expecting a 4.5 percent jump keeping in view the economic outlook of major economies such as the USA, United Kingdom, European countries and the Gulf region. But there is a complete mismatch in the case of Pakistan as the country is witnessing a phenomenal  increase by 25 percent without having any economic justifications,” a top officer of the government’s economic team told The News here on Saturday.

Former economic advisor to the government of Pakistan, Dr Ashfaque Hassan Khan who is currently serving as Dean NUST Business School (NBS) opined that there was a mysterious growth in remittances which was not consistent with the level of economic activities in countries from where the bulk of expatriate Pakistanis were sending their money. For example, he said, the US has been the single largest source of remittances and its economy is near to recession as millions of people have lost their jobs. He asked how Pakistanis are still maintaining the same level of remittances as had been the case during the good times in the USA.

He said that another major source of remittances was the European countries, which had been suffering a severe debt crisis for the last two years and economic growth there was almost flat. How one can justify that Pakistanis can afford to continue sending money despite experiencing a standstill economic growth in the EU countries, he asked.

Dr Ashfaque said that another major source is the Middle East and remittances from there witnessed a three-fold increase in recent years. Neither the wages nor the number of overseas employees increased in this period so there is no justification for the sudden jump, he said, arguing, “What is happening on remittances is an unknown phenomenon,” and lamented that so far no credible response had come from the SBP.–


by Mohammed Sulaiman Abbasi


I am a Mechanical Engineer by training and profession. Being an Engineer, I have been trained to look at a problem and devise simple, cheap and practical solutions. It bothers me to no end that my country just seems to slide further and further down a slope from where there seems to be no recovery. I have been racking my brain to find a way out for my country for it present state of turmoil.

I have looked at Pakistan and its multitude of problems and to my Engineer’s mind the following seem to be worthy of attention. These are listed in order of importance.

1 – Crippling Debt

2 – Poor Economic performance (growth, low GDP etc)

3 – Illiteracy

4 – Erosion of moral values.

I have not even bothered to list, power cuts, growing gap between the rich and poor, the very strange political setup or even the issue of personal safety, terrorism etc.

As I have said, I am a simple Engineer with a simple view of the world. I am of the beliefs that if 1-4 are addressed; all other ills of my country will automatically fall in place.

Crippling Debt & Poor Economic Performance

Over the years, Pakistan has mismanaged its economic affairs. Balance of payments is totally skewed. Govt. expenditures far outstrip income. Over the years the country has become dependent on handouts from the US called “aid packages” etc. On top of the aid packages, Pakistan has taken loans from the World Bank and the IMF. As all of us know that once you owe money you are forced to dance to the tune of your creditors.

What is absolutely necessary is for Pakistan to get back on track is to rid itself of debt.

The way I see it is that Pakistan has to develop the industrial base. Mind, that the selection of the type of industry has to be done carefully with an eye on export oriented strategy. This will lead to the following:

a – Create jobs

b – Improve balance of payments by industrial output earning foreign exchange.

Of course, you may say, “It is easier said than done”. What needs to be done is to get 100% of the debt be paid off and we need to say to America, “Thank you for all you help but we don’t need any help”.

My proposal is rather simple.

We have very few allies left today. One of them is China. China and Pakistan have a very special relationship. Right from the start in 1947, China has stood by Pakistan. To be fair, Pakistan has been invaluable to China as well. A great deal of arms technology has reached China through Pakistan during the time when China was a closed country.

Chinese are a wise people not easily swayed by world events. They are not easily intimidated by the Americans. The Chinese are cautious people. Pakistan needs form a business alliance with China. Get China to pay off 100% of all monies owed to all the agencies to whom we owe money to in exchange for something China needs. Stop any and all money, technology, assistance, involvement (security related or other) from the USA. It is no secret that USA has not proved a friend of Pakistan and it has no sympathy for this country. The only country USA cares for is itself. We have been used and abused by America for its own gains. I do not blame the USA for this but it us and our short sightedness to blame! As the saying goes, “If you sleep with dogs you will get up with fleas”. Today we are totally flea ridden!

The question one can ask is why would China want to pay off Pakistan’s debt? We have nothing to offer them. Actually, I think there is something we can offer them. At the end of the day it is business. A business deal is where two parties can benefit from each other. We have already determined that Pakistan will benefit from China by it paying off Pakistan’s loan; but what does Pakistan have to offer China?

China has a huge growing giant of an economy. It has a huge hunger to fuel this economy, it needs to grow. The problem is that being a wise nation, China does not want to open up all its provinces too quickly to this economic revolution. China is a communist nation and new to this economic revolution. Wisely, it is cautious not to expose the whole county to this revolution and limiting this phenomenon to a few cities/areas (Shanghai, Beijing to name a few). What Pakistan can offer is full and free access to its land and warm waters of the Arabian Sea by hosting the Chinese explosion.

The business proposition Pakistan needs to work with China is that in exchange for paying off its debt, China can build as many factories it wants and take all profits from such investments – no questions asked. Mind you, the deal should include turn over of ownership to Pakistan after 20 years. If you look at the proposition from China’s point of view, in exchange for paying off Pakistan’s debt it will gain free access to land upon which it will build industry whose output will enter the world from the ports of Pakistan. What China needs to work out is the payback period for the original debt plus the investment of the huge industrial base it will setup in Pakistan. Usually viable business venture have a payback of 3 – 5 years. Having the ownership turn over of 20 years will give China ample time to turn a good profit.

By default, if China has to make money with its new industrial base, it will have to renovate the Pakistan’s tattered infrastructure to support the huge growth that will come. The salary scales in Pakistan are still low enough for Chinese firms to turn an easy profit by remaining competitive on the international market.

What Pakistan gains will be freedom form its debt and a creation of jobs at a level never imagined possible. There will inevitably be a sprouting of support industries around the main Chinese investment. Within a period of about 7 – 10 years the economy of this nation can be turned around and can come close to having a growth figures enviable by others.

In the above model, the economy of the country will be divided into two parts. (A) The economy driven by Chinese investment. Where all profits from this investment will be bagged by China. No taxes will be levied on this output so as to allow China to produce with the lowest overheads. (B) The economy of Pakistan in almost its present form. Its present industrial units, agricultural base and so on. Pakistan will continue to earn income from the usual taxes and export as it does now. The difference being that it will no longer have to pay anything towards its debts. The additional deposable income now available will be spent on education, developing infrastructure (along with the Chinese) and security.

Chinese investment towards industry can be in the form if industrial estates that can be guarded as in Al-Jubail Industrial City with limited access and the requirement of an official ID cards for the workers to enter. Certainly we cannot ignore the terrorism factor that will play to destabilize the Chinese onslaught of investment.

Electric power to support this level of investment will have to be via additional hydro electrical units or perhaps Nuclear Energy. There are vast reserves of coal that my also be used to generate energy. This will lead to environmental pollution, but, at this stage we cannot afford to be sensitive to such matters.

Note: Present level of expenditure on the defense needs to continue unchanged. I believe that we need our Air Force, Navy and the Army to be the strongest it can be. It should be so strong that any nation, USA, India, Afghanistan or any other are forced to think 10 times before taking us on.


With a population of about 60% under the age of 15 years, Pakistan will have to think radically outside the box.

Education up to the tenth grade has to be made compulsory. Teacher’s pay scales have to be revised to the point where teaching becomes a profession of choice attracting the finest minds.

We have enough Educational institution turning out Degree holders but the quality of curricula is very poor. We do not have any institutions that can lay claim to being the best, or second best or third best even the 50th best in the world. Our degrees are not recognized anywhere. Yes our professionals work all over the world but never as fresh graduates. What needs to be done is not to increase the number on Universities but to improve the quality of the output.

Not every child needs to become an Engineer, Doctor, Lawyer etc. mainly because the Pakistani Economy can only support just so many Professionals. However what is missing are Polytechnic institution turning out a trained work force. Our work force learns on the job from the “ustaad”. This is not a desirable state of affairs. Polytechnic institutions will invaluable in turning out skilled work force that will be ready to take up jobs in the Chinese industrial base proposed above.

Some of the funds now available to the Government as no more payments toward debt are necessary needs to be diverted to the Universities for the purpose of Research and Development.

There is another problem prevalent in the villages. This problem can be summed up as the resistance to the advent of education of the farmers by the feudal land lords. The fear being that if the common villager became educated then the power he has over them will erode in time. Thus it is often the case that teacher sent to a particular village is chased off and the government built school is used to house the cows of the feudal land lord. To address this situation, the school inspectors have to be empowered to stand up to the feudal lords with out any fear. They need to be accompanied by a group of armed police while doing village school inspections. Salaries of the School Inspectors need to be at a level that makes bribery pointless.

All village schools need to be to the matriculation level.

Once hope returns to the masses that education is the path to self betterment, the need for parents to enroll their children in Madrassas where some fool does systematic brain washing of young minds will eventually stop.

At the end of the day we all want peace, three decent square meals a day and hope for a bright future. A place where or kids will have a decent life. All of the above are deeply linked to the economic growth of a nation.

Moral Values

This is a tough one. We have reached a stage where the line between right and wrong no longer exists. Our moral fiber has been damaged beyond repair.

If I look back to my youth, it was my father who taught me to be honest no mater what. His vision of right and wrong was as sharp as a needle. He taught me never to loose sight of right and wrong even if it meant that by remaining truthful, I may suffer a loss. Never to lie, have the courage to say “What you are doing is wrong”.

How many fathers take the time and coach their sons on right and wrong. Judging from the rampant dishonesty and corruption in my country – not many.

Today an honest Policeman, Customs officer etc (if you can find one) is immediately transferred because he refuses to play ball. Our moral fiber has degenerated to a point where an honest person is referred to as “innocent”, “buffoon” or simply unworldly wise. It has been decades since I have heard any one call himself “sufaid poosh”. Instead of being proud of being “sufaid poosh”, we are ashamed. In our society, the more crocked one is and the more money one amasses by illegal means is directly proportional to the respect he is given.

Isn’t that a shame?

So how to restore our nations moral fiber? That is indeed a tough one.

It is our religious leaders (imams) who are responsible for taking care of the nation’s moral fiber. But our imams are ill equipped to carry out the sensitive task entrusted to them. Instead they have their own agendas of invoking young impressionable minds towards violence.

All imams must be certified to be able to hold that position. All imams must be graduates of an Islamic University and must have at least a BA degree in Islamic Studies with a minor in Education as a minimum qualification before he is able to hold a microphone in the Masjid. Additionally, they must be on the Ministry of Religious affairs payroll. The Friday “khutba” must be an official document prepared by the Ministry of Religious affairs. All imams must stick to this document during the Friday sermon.

It is sad to say that despite the steps mentioned above there is little hope restore our moral fiber. Perhaps a more radical approach will be to start with the three year olds and build an entire new generation of morally true nation.

As I said this is a very difficult task to do with desirable outcome.

In Summery, it is not an easy task to turn around my country but until and unless a major, radical change from the root up is brought about there is very little hope. In fact chances are that if left to its own devices, this country will most certainly be carved up by USA. USA will engineer its breakup with the North seceding to Afghanistan and Punjab/Kashmir to India. Perhaps Baluchistan may become a new independent country and so may Sindh. It is hard to say what will become of Pakistan.

Nothing is impossible as long as there is a will to do so. One thing is for certain, we just cannot allow Pakistan’s to remain in its present state.

Rs 1,000,000,000,000 Black Hole.

by Khurshid Anwer

Dr Farrukh Saleem’s comments on the national budget:

Rs 1,000,000,000,000 is the difference between what the Government of Pakistan (GOP) earns and what it spends.

GOP looses Rs 300 crore a day, every single day.

Rs 11 crore per hour or Rs 20 lakh per minute for every single minute of the entire year.

GOP would have lost Rs 60 lakh by the time you will finish reading this brief commentary.
GOP is now less of a government and more of a black hole. When nature creates a black hole, nothing can come out of it because its density and gravity increases to infinity while its size shrinks to zero.

Pakistan’s one trillion rupee black hole created by the GOP has no chance of shrinking because it is just like cosmic drain which is going to suck jobs, dreams, aspirations and wishes of the Pakistani public.
Presidency cannot survive without a Rs 3.5 crore injection a month, every month of the year.

The PM Secretariat cannot survive without devouring Rs 50 crore a year.
The Cabinet Secretariat with an army of ministers gobbles up Rs 100 crore a month.

Then there are ‘developmental funds’ – nay political bribes – to be paid to all of our honourable legislatures.

At 100 senators, 342 MNAs and 728 MPAs that’s a cool Rs 300 crore a month down the drain every month of the year. Imagine; lawmakers doing gutters.

Then there are at least half a dozen black holes within the real black hole;

-                           Pakistan International Airlines,

-                           Pakistan Steel Mills,

-                           Pakistan Electric Power Company,

-                           Pakistan Railways,

-                           Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Utility Stores Corporation.

Among them they loose at least Rs 250 billion a year or Rs 70 crore a day, every day of the year.

Then there are others:

-                           Tomato Paste Plant,

-                           Roti Corporation of Pakistan,

-                           Pakistan Stone Development Company,

-                           Pakistan Hunting and Sporting Arms Development Company,

-                           National Institute of Oceanography,

-                           Pakistan Gems & Jewellery Development Company,

-                           Technology Commercialisation Corporation of Pakistan,

-                           National Industrial Parks Development & Management Company,

-                           Technology Up-Gradation and Skill Development Company,

-                           National Productivity Organisation,

-                           Centre for Applied & Molecular Biology,

-                           Council for Work and Housing Research,

-                           National Institute of Electronics,

-                           Pakistan Council for Science and Technology,

-                           Pakistan Council of Research in Water Technology,

-                           Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research,

-                           Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority,

-               Central Inspectorate of Mines.
Wait there are more:

-                           National Insurance Corporation,

-                           Heavy Electrical Complex,

-                           Machine Tool Factory,

-                           Services International,

-                           National Power Construction Company,

-                           National Fertilizers Corporation,

-                           State Engineering Corporation,

-                           National Construction Limited,

-                           Pakistan Steel Fabricating Company Limited,

-                           Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation,

-                           Ghee Corporation of Pakistan,

-                           Republic Motors,

-                           Pakistan National Shipping Corporation,

-                           Pakistan Railways,

-                           State Cement Corporation of Pakistan,

-                           State Petroleum Refining & Petrochemicals Corporation,

-                           Trading Corporation of Pakistan,

-                           Cotton Export Corporation of Pakistan,

-                           Rice Export Corporation of Pakistan,

-                          Pakistan Industrial and Technical Training Centre and

-                           Pakistan Engineering Company.

From here onwards budget making is a piece of cake – add every ‘Demand for Grant’ from the president downwards, deduct the IMF-allowed budgetary deficit and surprise, surprise you have the final revenue figure.

By the end of the next fiscal year, the president, the prime minister and everyone below them would end up overshooting their allocations by 10 to 20 percent.

Surprise! Surprise! By the end of the next fiscal year GOP will give mother nature another Rs 1,000,000,000,000 black hole.


My comments: Revenue generation in a big way is required to undo the above. This cannot be done without growth in Industry and agriculture. Industry needs input of mega quantities of power and agriculture needs input of mega quantities of water. To produce these mega quantities we need mega dams. The ‘Sindh’ and ‘Punjab’ Cards will never allow mega dams to be built. So we are back to square one, one step forward, two steps back.

All talk of stopping Drone attacks and blocking NATO routes is nonsense. US will come down on us like a ton of bricks. National sovereignty will not come without economic sovereignty.

Khurshid Anwer

The day I met Abdul Sattar Edhi, a living saint



Sixty years ago, Abdul Sattar Edhi, 82, gave up everything to devote his life to helping Pakistan’s poorest. Here, Peter Oborne hails a truly selfless spiritual sage


Abdul Sattar Edhi, who has established homes across Pakistan for the mentally ill

In the course of my duties as a reporter, I have met presidents, prime ministers and reigning monarchs.

Until meeting the Pakistani social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi, I had never met a saint. Within a few moments of shaking hands, I knew I was in the presence of moral and spiritual greatness.

Mr Edhi’s life story is awesome, as I learnt when I spent two weeks working at one of his ambulance centres in Karachi.

The 82-year-old lives in the austerity that has been his hallmark all his life. He wears blue overalls and sports a Jinnah cap, so named because it was the head gear of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.

No Pakistani since Jinnah has commanded the same reverence, and our conversations were constantly interrupted as people came to pay their respects.

Mr Edhi told me that, 60 years ago, he stood on a street corner in Karachi and begged for money for an ambulance, raising enough to buy a battered old van. In it, he set out on countless life-saving missions.

Gradually, Mr Edhi set up centres all over Pakistan. He diversified into orphanages, homes for the mentally ill, drug rehabilitation centres and hostels for abandoned women. He fed the poor and buried the dead. His compassion was boundless.

He was born in 1928, when the British Empire was at its height, in Gujarat in what is now western India. But he and his family were forced to flee for their lives in 1947 when the division of India and creation of Pakistan inspired terrible communal tensions: millions were killed in mob violence and ethnic cleansing.

This was the moment Mr Edhi, finding himself penniless on the streets of Karachi, set out on his life’s mission.

Just 20 years old, he volunteered to join a charity run by the Memons, the Islamic religious community to which his family belonged.

At first, Mr Edhi welcomed his duties; then he was appalled to discover that the charity’s compassion was confined to Memons.

He confronted his employers, telling them that "humanitarian work loses its significance when you discriminate between the needy".

So he set up a small medical centre of his own, sleeping on the cement bench outside his shop so that even those who came late at night could be served.

But he also had to face the enmity of the Memons, and became convinced they were capable of having him killed. For safety, and in search of knowledge, he set out on an overland journey to Europe, begging all the way.

One morning, he awoke on a bench at Rome railway station to discover his shoes had been stolen. He was not bothered, considering them inessential.

Nevertheless, the next day an elderly lady gave him a pair of gumboots, two sizes too large, and Mr Edhi wobbled about in them for the remainder of his journey.

In London, he was a great admirer of the British welfare state, though he presciently noted its potential to encourage a culture of dependency. He was offered a job but refused, telling his benefactor: "I have to do something for the people in Pakistan."

On return from Europe, his destiny was set. There was no welfare state in Fifties Pakistan: he would fill the gap. This was a difficult period in his life. Shabby, bearded and with no obvious prospects, seven women in rapid succession turned down his offers of marriage. He resigned himself to chastity and threw all of his energy into work.

He would hurtle round the province of Sindh in his poor man’s ambulance, collecting dead bodies, taking them to the police station, waiting for the death certificate and, if the bodies were not claimed, burying them himself.

Mr Edhi’s autobiography, published in 1996, records that he recovered these stinking cadavers "from rivers, from inside wells, from road sides, accident sites and hospitals… When families forsook them, and authorities threw them away, I picked them up… Then I bathed and cared for each and every victim of circumstance."

There is a photograph of Mr Edhi from this formative time. It could be the face of a young revolutionary or poet: dark beard, piercing, passionate eyes. And it is indeed the case that parts of his profound and moving autobiography carry the same weight and integrity as great poetry or even scripture.

Mr Edhi discovered that many Pakistani women were killing their babies at birth, often because they were born outside marriage.

One newborn child was stoned to death outside a mosque on the orders of religious leaders. A furious Mr Edhi responded: "Who can declare an infant guilty when there is no concept of punishing the innocent?"

So Mr Edhi placed a little cradle outside every Edhi centre, beneath a placard imploring: "Do not commit another sin: leave your baby in our care." Mr Edhi has so far saved 35,000 babies and, in approximately half of these cases, found families to cherish them.

Once again, this practice brought him into conflict with religious leaders. They claimed that adopted children could not inherit their parents’ wealth. Mr Edhi told them their objections contradicted the supreme idea of religion, declaring: "Beware of those who attribute petty instructions to God."

Over time, Mr Edhi came to exercise such a vast moral authority that Pakistan’s corrupt politicians had to pay court. In 1982, General Zia announced the establishment of a shura (advisory council) to determine matters of state according to Islamic principles.

Mr Edhi was suspicious: "I represented the millions of downtrodden, and was aware that my presence gave the required credibility to an illegal rule."

Travelling to Rawalpindi to speak at the national assembly, he delivered a passionate denunciation of political corruption, telling an audience of MPs, including Zia himself: "The people have been neglected long enough.

"One day they shall rise like mad men and pull down these walls that keep their future captive. Mark my words and heed them before you find yourselves the prey instead of the predator."

Mr Edhi did not distinguish between politicians and criminals, asking: "Why should I condemn a declared dacoit [bandit] and not condemn the respectable villain who enjoys his spoils as if he achieved them by some noble means?"

This impartiality had its advantages. It meant that a truce would be declared when Mr Edhi and his ambulance arrived at the scene of gun battles between police and gangsters.

"They would cease fire," notes Mr Edhi in his autobiography, "until bodies were carried to the ambulance, the engine would start and shooting would resume."

Mr Edhi eventually found a wife, Bilquis, but his personal austerity was all but incompatible with married life. When the family went on Hajj, a vast overland journey in the ambulance, he forbade Bilquis to bring extra clothes, because he was determined to fill the vehicle with medical supplies.

Reaching Quetta in northern Baluchistan, with the temperature plunging, he relented enough to allow her to buy a Russian soldier’s overcoat. Later on, when their children grew up, Mr Edhi would not find time to attend his daughter’s marriage.

But Mr Edhi’s epic achievement would not have been possible but for this inhuman single-mindedness. Today, the influence of the Edhi Foundation stretches far outside Pakistan and Mr Edhi has led relief missions across the Muslim world, providing aid at every international emergency from the Lebanon civil war in 1983 to the Bangladesh cyclone in 2007.

There are no horrors that Mr Edhi and his incredibly brave army of ambulance men have not witnessed, and the numerous lives they have saved.

The story of Mr Edhi coincides with the history of the Pakistan state. More than any other living figure, he articulates Jinnah’s vision of a country which, while based on Islam, nevertheless offers a welcome for people of all faiths and sects. Indeed, the life of Mr Edhi provides a sad commentary on the betrayal of Jinnah’s Pakistan by a self-interested political class.

One evening, as the sun set over Karachi, I asked Mr Edhi what future he foresaw. "Unless things change," he said, "I predict a revolution."

Report on the Water Situation in Pakistan April 05, 2011

by Khurshed Anwar

Please see brief excerpts from a news report which is attached – KA

Tarbela Dam has only 10 days water to meet the current irrigation requirements

Abmormal drop in Indus River flows caused by slow meltdown of glacier (climate change).

Tarbela dam level is dropping daily.

Inflow – 29,700 cusecs.  Outflow – 43,000 cusecs

Total generation – 10,487 MW. Hydropower share – 3,194 MW 
This will plunge heavily if the current state of water inflows persists in the days to come

Enough water for the provinces only for another week or so.

Total storage is less than one MAF …. (KBD – 6.1 maf)

Tarbela dam level – 1,388 feet …. Dead level – 1,378 feet

i.e. 10 feet of water = 0.15 maf

Mangla dam = 0.6 maf.   Others – 0.5 maf

Not received additional water from our major source, the Glaciers.

Rainfall took place only in upper areas like Islamabad,

not in the catchments areas of the rivers,

or directly at the canal irrigation lands.

Irsa might face an abnormal situation for a small while if the current water availability position continues to exist for more than 10 days.

Despite all above, chairman Irsa has claimed there was no panic or a disturbing situation in the country as far as water is concerned !!!

Water good for 10 days left at Tarbela

Dilshad Azeem
Tuesday, April 05, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The country’s largest reservoir at Tarbela Dam has been left with just 10 days water to meet the current irrigation requirements and to maintain already dropped down hydropower generation, The News has learnt.
“An abnormal drop in Indus River flows has been caused by slow meltdown of glaciers, the main source of water for Pakistan,” says Indus River System Authority (Irsa) here on Monday.

In a compelling situation, Tarbela Dam’s level is falling down with 12,000 cusecs daily as its outflow is being maintained at 43,000 cusecs against 29,700 cusecs per day inflow.
Overall, out of 10,487MW of electricity generation on Monday, the hydropower share was 3,194MW including from Tarbela and Mangla dams besides barrages and small units.
“It would plunge heavily if the current state of water inflows persists in the days to come,” say Wapda officials. The Punjab Irrigation Department is being provided 70,000 and Sindh 45,000 cusecs daily as the situation is fast heading towards an alarming stage in next 7-10 days.

“We have enough water to provide full indents to the provinces for another week or so amid abnormal water availability in Indus River,” Irsa chairman Rao Irshad Ali Khan said, while confirming the current water picture.
As the country’s total storage stands at less than one MAF, Tarbela has merely 10 feet or 0.15MAF of water available for discharge as its current level stands at 1,388 feet against 1,378 feet dead level. Merely 0.6MAF is in Mangla Dam and 0.5MAF at barrages and small reservoirs.

Irsa chairman Rao Irshad said the additional water should have been available in Indus in current Kharif month. He disagreed that a dangerous situation was about to come, saying: “One cannot describe it an alarming situation as we would re-plan water releases after waiting at least for a week or 10 days”.

Rao was hopeful that Mangla Dam had enough availability and is safe as far as available storage is concerned. “We, Irsa, is giving water to Sindh province in accordance with its indent with 45,000 cusecs at Chashma downstream discharge.”
“The Indus influx and inflows from Kabul River, contributing 21,000 cusecs, enable us to ensure the provision also to Punjab having demand of 70,000 cusecs. Punjab gets water from Mangla as well as from other sources.”

“Yes this is change of global weather and we have not received additional water from our major source, the Glacier, due to insufficient temperature,” he said. Rao said the recent rains left pleasant weather in Islamabad on the one hand but adversely affected Indus flows. “The rainfall took place only in upper areas like Islamabad, not in the catchments areas of the rivers or directly at the canal fed irrigation lands.”

“Tarbela Dam often touches the dead level in early March, but our planning to counter any abnormal situation has enabled us to take and ensure the supplies as per provincial demands.”
Rao admitted that Irsa might face an abnormal situation for a small while if the current water availability position continues to exist for more than 10 days. “And definitely we would chalk out a fresh strategy in that case.”

The Irsa chairman claimed that there was no panic or a disturbing situation in the country as far as water is concerned. “Things will improve with availability of water in the system,” he added.