Negligence, the biggest disaster in Pakistan

18 September 2014

As if the ongoing political crisis was not enough, we are in the middle of a natural disaster, once again. As before, the state appears to be woefully unprepared. More than 23 districts in Punjab, 10 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and five in Gilgit-Baltistan have been affected by the September rains killing more than 270 and affecting 2.4 million people. The federal government says that nearly 45,000 houses have been damaged and 1,544,653 acres of irrigated lands have been inundated thereby impacting livelihoods.

Taken by surprise, the federal and provincial governments are running around undertaking rescue work with plenty of photo-op sessions. The Pakistan Army remains the most resourceful arm of the government and has rescued thousands of stranded people. Once again, the detractors of democratic governance — many of whom are assembled on the streets of Islamabad — view this calamity as another sign of failed ‘fake democracy’.

If media reports are true then the current government, despite briefings, did not accord disaster risk reduction the priority it needed. If anything, the disturbing scenes of a submerged Lahore made a mockery of the Metro Bus glory that was achieved only a year ago. Without a local government, proper drainage and early warning systems, Lahore’s development meant nothing for all those who suffered in the rains. (more…)

After the Army’s public statement, the crisis deepens

31 August 2014

My storified tweets on the deepening Political crisis in Pakistan.


On the current political crisis in Pakistan

20 July 2014

Raza Rumi on the current political crisis by razarumi1

MQM’s MNA Tahira Asif Died, a clear Target Killing

20 June 2014

MQM’s legislator Tahira Asif has been killed after being shot 4 times by “unknown” assailants in Lahore two days ago. She raised the issue of cleaning Punjab University from Al-Qaeda elements. My tweets!

Farzana’s honour killing is a national shame

28 May 2014

My outrage – sadly limited to social media on the brutal stone age murder of a pregnant woman in Pakistan’s ostensibly ‘developed’ city

Cultural Assets of the Communities of District Multan and Bahawalpur, Pakistan

16 October 2011

“South Punjab, in particular, the districts of Multan and Bahawalpur…, have a vast range of cultural assets. the living culture of the communities carries influences of the inherited ancient civilizations and historical past which flourished in this region and has permeated their present day culture and its expressions. Cultural zones within these two districts are discernable which have infused the living culture of communities influencing their lifestyle, value system and world view; giving the South Punjab region a distinct cultural identity reinforced through their shared language, Saraiki. the earliest, dating back to 3800 BCE, is that of the Cholistan desert, the Rohi made famous by the region’s premier Sufi Saint Khawaja Ghulam Fareed. Although the built assets are contained within the desert yet its intangible expressions of poetry and oral narratives, song and dance is embedded
within the culture of the region, in particular Bahawalpur. The influences of the material culture of the ancient people of the Hakra Valley Civilization can still be found in the pottery making traditions and in the motifs and designs which continue to be used. The other identifiable culture ethos permeating the living culture of the region is that engendered by the advent of the Sufi saints in the 10th century onwards.  The Sufi philosophical and material culture emanated from the ancient cities of Multan and Uch Sharif, the central abode of mystical Islam in the region, which had far reaching impact on the whole of South Punjab and further into Sind and Northern India.  the erstwhile Bahawalpur State (1802-1955 CE) has also had deep influence on the culture of the district and the built form engendered during the State period has left an indelible mark on the built environment of the
entire area, most prominent in its capital city, Bahawalpur and the twin capital Dera Nawab Sahib….”
Read the full report by UNESCO here:  http://unesco.org.pk/culture/documents/publications/Cultural_Expressions.pdf




Devolution of powers: the challenges ahead

24 April 2011

The impediments to full provincial autonomy under the 18th Amendment need to be tackled despite the odds

By Raza Rumi

Perhaps the best thing about contemporary Pakistan is the way its governance arrangements are being restructured to undo the bitter, brutal legacy of centralisation. Had we undertaken such reform decades ago, Pakistan would have been a far better place. The 18th Amendment reflects a board political consensus on how Pakistan can actually evolve into a real federal state as opposed to the notional federalism of the past where provincial autonomy had become a residue of central patronage and not guaranteed by the Constitution.

Nevertheless, the devolution of powers in 2011 faces two major dilemmas. First, the provinces are currently operating as centralised bureaucratic apparatuses with little or no powers and accountabilities at the local levels. Second, and perhaps far more important, the provinces have to build their technical and political capacities to handle the new powers and functions, which are now flowing at an unprecedented speed. These two challenges are the real test of civilian governments and it remains to be seen if they can handle it lest another messiah or messiah-proxies enter the arena and reverse this process. Knowing Pakistan’s history, anything is possible. This is a country plagued by lack of political stability and policy continuity. We shall examine the pitfalls and challenges that lie ahead in this transitional process.

Progress so far: During the first two phases of the devolution, 10 of the 48 ministries at the federal level were to be devolved. The Committee set June 30th 2011 as the deadline for this process. Taking up these recommendations, the federal cabinet devolved ministries for special initiatives, Zakat and Ushr, population welfare, youth affairs, and local government and rural development to the provinces in December 2010. The provinces also inherited office buildings, equipment, development funds and projects for fiscal year 2010-11. All international matters of these ministries were transferred to the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) and some planning-related matters to the Planning and Development Division. However, overall planning of ministries that are being transferred or will be transferred in February 2011 will be the responsibility of provincial governments.

On April 5th, 2011 the second phase of the devolution process commenced, with the devolution of the ministries for education, social welfare, and special education, tourism, livestock and dairy, rural development and culture. According to reports, the Commission for Implementation of the 18th Amendment has also approved a plan for the transfer of three federal ministries, including sports, women development and environment, to the provinces in the third phase.

Unclear federal arrangements: While the centre has abolished ten ministries so far, there is a deadlock over the staff and resources. Provinces complain that they cannot pay the wage bill of surplus staff and centre has retained all the existing federal public servants, as any move to right size will be fraught with political dangers. Similarly, after June 2011, who will pay the staff? If the federal government continues to foot the salaries bill then it will not be able to rationalise its size and the temptation of recentralisation will remain. Secondly, the federal government’s move to shift attached bodies and autonomous organisations to Cabinet Division and such other dysfunctional ministries is even worse. There needs to be a more thorough assessment of post-devolution architecture of the central authority. It appears, with due respects to a great reformer, Raza Rabbani and his colleagues, patchy, ad-hoc and devoid of long term thinking. (more…)

Next Page »