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Editor Imtiaz Alam

Contents Human Security in South Asia


Executive Editor Zebunnisa Burki

In This Issue


Assistant Editor Bushra Sultana

Climate Change: Indigenous Coping Strategies from South Asia C.S. Silori


Consulting Editors Bangladesh Reazuddin Ahmed India K K Katyal Nepal Yubaraj Ghimire Pakistan I A Rehman Sri Lanka Sharmini Boyle Publisher Free Media Foundation Facilitator South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) Designed by DESIGN 8 Printer Qaumi Press Editor’s Post E-mail:

Address: 177-A, Shadman-II, Lahore, Pakistan. Tel: 0092-42-7555621-8, Fax: 0092-42-7555629 Email: Website:

Food Prices and Food Security in South Asia Suresh Chandra Babu


Missing Persons: The Human versus Traditional Security Trade-Off Moeed Yusuf and Nazia Hussain


Water Security in Eastern Himalayan Region K.B. Sajjadur Rasheed


Water Resources and Slum Dwellers' Capabilities in Dhaka Syeed Iftekhar Ahmed


Masculine Notions of Justice for Women in Pakistan Dr Tehmina Rashid


Health in the Unorganised Manufacturing Sector in India Mary Abraham


Review: Implementation of SAARC Conventions Prof Mahendra Lama


SAFTA: Challenges and Opportunities Indra Nath Mukherji


Student Movement in Pakistan Taimur Rahman


Trade, Financial Liberalisation and the Poor Lok Nath Bhusal


regional unemployment increasing daily, South Asian statistics are not improving.

Human Security in South Asia Security has long been a contested notion in South Asia, the most obvious and oftused definition of security being that of traditional military security. However, there is another face of security as well, one that goes beyond military notions, adds cooperation and collective interest of states and focuses on human emancipationwe call this human security. Based on W. E. Blatz's theory of “individual security”, which addresses the security concerns of citizens, human security has been defined by UNDP in 1994 as including: human security includes “safety from chronic threats such as hunger, disease, and repression as well as protection from sudden and harmful disruptions in the pattern of daily life.” This definition has been added to by including economic, health and environmental concerns and physical security of the individual. There are a number of reasons for state-centred security to make the dominant discourse in security scholarship, particularly in South Asia. Inter-state conflicts, military regimes and post 9/11 world politics have ensured that state-centred security, revolving around paradigms of “national interest”, remains the basis of all security policies. An additional determining factor in South Asia is the nature of government; military regimes have tended to favour traditional security definitions. Of late, though, there has been an increasing concern that traditional security measures tend to disregard issues that are important to citizens. Added to these concerns are major natural disasters such as the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake as well as the numerous floods, droughts and famines witnessed in many parts of South Asia—factors that are leading South Asian policy makers to start taking human security more seriously. With the looming global food crisis, climate change warnings, and oil price increases, statistics show that the real cause of concern in South Asia is human development. The 2007-2008 Human Development Index Report shows South Asian countries at very low positions; Sri Lanka is the highest on the index in the region at number 99. Only 50 percent of Bangladesh has access to safe water; while the rest of the countries might be doing better on paper, it is well known that in most countries water supply is sporadic at best. Improper sewage facilities, water contamination and proper toilet facilitates just exacerbate the already prevalent poverty in the region. Home to almost 23 percent of the world's poor, South Asia also has the largest number of people living below one dollar a day. According to the annual report of the Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Centre titled "Human Development in South Asia 2007: A Ten Years Review", the region's share in the world's absolute poor has increased from 40 to 47 percent. With the world's maximum number of people living without electricity and


The year 2008 has brought three major issues to the centre of global debate on human security—food crisis, burgeoning oil prices, and climate change. The global food crisis will likely affect South Asia, a net importer of food and a region where food accounts for a substantial share of poor people's income. Complacency regarding agricultural development, increased use of food crops for bio-fuels and animal feeds, and increased oil and fertilizer prices have added to the increase in food prices. Bangladesh has been most affected by the price increase due to its import of major grains as well as destruction of a large part of its rice crop by floods in the past two years. To meet its food needs, the country is importing rice from its neighbours and any changes in the export prices in these countries directly affect the prices in Dhaka. There are problems in India and Sri Lanka due to high inflation rates and increasing food and oil prices. Pakistan is also facing the oil and food crunch and the FAO has placed it among the 37 countries where a severe food shortage is looming. The only long term solution to the food crisis in South Asia will be to focus on increasing agricultural productivity, something the governments need to start taking seriously. Another way of ensuring food security is to practically implement the SAARC Food Bank, established in 2007. The agreement has been ratified by four of eight countries and experts are now urging the other countries to ratify the agreement quickly and develop a regional food security fund. On the climate change front, there is no real effort to study and understand the link between growth, development and environmental sustainability. Environmental security for the region is poor and a potential health risk is imminent in the face of increasing malnutrition and other diseases resulting from climate change and environmental mismanagement (South Asia already has the highest incident of child malnutrition). Freshwater availability is also being affected; according to a recent report by the World Banka and IMF, per capita freshwater availability could fall below critical levels in the near future in many countries in the Middle East and South Asia. Bangladesh is looking at water related impacts of climate change such as coastal and riverine flooding. Climate change in Bhutan is expected to increase the severity and frequency of monsoonal storms and flooding in the Himalayas, leading to landslides. Apart from danger to property and life, this will also contribute to deterioration in crop production and in the quality of agricultural lands. According to a UN report, by the year 2025 India is likely to experience water stress, and if this goes unchecked, by 2050, is likely to cross the “water scarce” benchmark. The way forward for South Asia is for the governments to focus on poverty reduction, place greater emphasis on human development and try and strengthen the role of civil society. In this respect, SAARC needs to act as a platform which can be used to persuade governments to approach issues of human security with less resilience. Issues such as migration, displaced persons and population growth need to be studied and their effects assessed for a clearer picture of human security in the region. Economic growth alone does not mean development, as is obvious by the case of India where, despite increased economic growth, the country is set to face a huge challenge


In This Issue

in meeting human development goals. So, while it is widely believed that South Asia will meet its poverty goals by 2015, its performance in improving human development is not as satisfactory. The current food, oil, climate change and terrorism issues are not helping the governments or the people of the region. The upcoming SAARC Summit will need to look at the issues of rising food prices and the realities of climate change and give serious thought to a combined effort to reduce the potential risk the region finds itself in. Zebunnisa Burki

(The views expressed in this journal are solely those of the authors)

Climate Change: Indigenous Coping Strategies from South Asia

Food Prices and Food Security in South Asia

Missing Persons: The Human versus Traditional Security Trade-Off


Terming climate change as one of the most important challenges faced by humanity, C. S. Silori, fellow at the Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), outlines the vulnerable condition of the poor and marginalised communities in South Asia whose livelihoods are highly dependent on natural resources. Research focus in developing countries has been the least with respect to developing coping strategies to climate change impacts. Realising the rich tradition of indigenous knowledge in South Asia, Silori synthesises the existing traditional knowledge on, and practices of, climate change coping strategies in South Asian countries. He focuses on how to promote indigenous people's voices and actions within climate change policy, research and action in the region.

Suresh Chandra Babu, senior research fellow at International Food Policy Research Institute and G Bhalachandran from Sri Sathya Sai University, India, lay down several factors responsible for mediumto long-term food price increase. These factors—population growth, rising prices of fossil fuels, increasing droughts and floods—are a result of climate change and less investment in agricultural research, which has impeded the global agricultural society's capacity to meet the rising demands of food supply. The authors stress on the effects of rising food demand which range from reduction of GDP of South Asian countries by one percent to a staggering 4000 million people sliding back in poverty. The authors recommend several policy options which include removal of agriculture export bans, increased investment in agricultural research and implementation of 35 years of social safety net programmes.

Moeed Yusuf, graduate fellow at Boston University, and Nazia Hussain, an independent researcher, contextualise the debate about missing persons by analysing the human and traditional security dimensions within a singular calculus. Yusuf and Hussain provide an overview of the “missing persons” case and the current security dilemma facing Pakistan. The paper focuses only on those who have been detained by State agencies and highlight the conundrum that the interplay of the two aspects has generated for the country. The authors present various recommendations including the reinterpretation of the Terrorism Act; harsher check on the agencies in case of excesses after such reinterpretation; independence of judiciary to establish the supremacy of the institution and; rethinking counterinsurgency strategies.


Water Security in Eastern Himalayan Region

Water Resources and Slum Dwellers' Capabilities in Dhaka

Masculine Notions of Justice for Women in Pakistan


Professor Sajjadur Rasheed, former professor of geography and environment, University of Dhaka, examines issues of water sharing, floods, drought, salinity and climate change in the Easter Himalayan Region (EHR) with special reference to Bangladesh, the lowest riparian in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system. The potential for conflict in the region can be transformed into cooperation potentials in the fields of dry season river flow augmentation, water sharing of trans-boundary rivers, flood management and hydropower generation. The author concludes that meaningful cooperation between co-riparian countries can only be achieved through promoting Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) and establishing river basin institutions.

Focussing on the ongoing problem of water scarcity in Dhaka, Syeed Iftekhar Ahmed, PhD candidate at Northern Arizona University, applies Amartya Sen's capability approach to examine whether the slum dwellers in Dhaka have been able to establish personal “command� over the use of piped water. Three indicators are used to measure their command/capabilities: quantity of regular piped water per person, quality, and price. He concludes that, due to persistent inequalities between the rich and the poor, slum dwellers are unable to establish command over the piped water. The author stresses that this is mainly because of the classbased and disproportionate distribution of water by the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority.

Dr Tehmina Rashid from RMIT University, Australia, examines the prevailing discourses that transcend to all realms of women's lives and which view women in relation to men, as honour of the family; exchange commodities; inferior and half human; fitna (threat to existing social order) as well as the weaker sex in need of male protection. Dr Rashid explores these structures in the current context in Pakistan and their impact on the processes and outcomes of various cases involving women victims; although law is not the only site for the pursuit of gender justice. Dr Rashid maintains that while the constitution of Pakistan grants equality to men and women as citizens, it fails to transcend into real life situations, mainly due to deep rooted gender bias; structural impediments and the inability of the current socio-legal discourses in addressing women's concerns.

Health in the Unorganised Manufacturing Sector in India

Review: Implementation of SAARC Conventions

SAFTA: Challenges and Opportunities

Citing the case of puffed rice cluster in India and literature that supports socio-economic status as a powerful determinant of health, Mary Abraham, associate fellow at the Energy and Resources Institute, Bangalore, strongly recommends that the problems associated with small and informal sectors in the developing countries should not be examined in isolation. Ms Abraham stresses on policy interventions to consider the social determinants in order to achieve desired goals. The author highlights the results from diagnosis of social determinants impacting health in this small scale industry which is a vital source of livelihood but which functions in bad environmental conditions in the absence of stringent regulations.

Dr Mahendra P Lama, vice chancellor of Sikkim Central University, examines the status of two SAARC regional agreements and conventions: Agreement of Establishing the SAARC Food Security Reserve and Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism, in terms of progress in implementation, efficacy of SAARC Summit level commitments and implications of non-operationalisation of such announcements. Professor Lama also puts forward some suggestions for making these conventions more effective, namely: mandatory domestic legislation to implement the regional conventions within a timeframe; eliminating the provision from the SAARC process that no bilateral contentious issues such as terrorism will be discussed; and declaration of SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) as an autonomous institution.

Locating a link between trade, poverty and human security Indra Nath Mukherji, professor of South Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, observes that as long as intra-SAARC trade remains marginal, the link between them also remains weak. Mr Mukherji explores trade complementarities in the region and identifies considerable untapped trade potential in selected sectors. Providing a detailed overview of the agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area, the author feels that, given the declining levels of tariff globally, trade and transport facilitation measures are prerequisites for intra-SAARC trade. SAARC must, according to Mr Mukherji, take notice and act on available opportunities in intra-regional trade.


Student Movement in Pakistan

Trade, Financial Liberalisation and the Poor

Taimur Rahman, PhD candidate at SOAS, UK, takes a critical look at the recent revival of the student movement during Pakistan's democratic transition. Negating the general concept that students are ideologically neutral, the author maintains that by the time students enter universities, they are already filled with essential ideas of the social class to which they belong. Mr Rahman is of the view that the student movement has remained ideologically constrained by a vague and malleable “national interest” paradigm enforced by successive military dictatorships. He contends that since students have only recently entered political activism, most of them are not familiar with the long history of judiciary-military relationship in Pakistan. The author, however, is optimistic about the future of student politics and feels that Pakistan's students can no longer be described as apolitical or de-politicised.

Lok Nath Bhusal, planning officer at the National Planing Commission Secretariat of Nepal, presents an argument challenging the neo-classical position that states that trade and financial liberalisation benefit the poor. Terming this neo-liberal approach as weak and neglectful of structural factors in the development discourse, the author presents his arguments primarily relying on the available empirical evidence. He concludes that the poor can benefit through state intervention in the form of social policies to redistribute assets and income. Urging developing countries to lobby for fairer terms of liberalisation, the author also feels that global inequality in income distribution due to unfair terms of trade is another obvious evidence of orthodox failure.

Climate Change: Indigenous Coping Strategies in South Asia C. S. Silori Climate Change and its Impact Climate change is one of the most important and complex challenges now facing humanity. Based on recent global research, a general consensus has emerged that we are only just beginning to feel the effects of climate change, and that we can expect more dramatic changes—from glaciers melting at a rapid pace and oceans rising to deteriorating protection from the ozone layer—resulting in increased incidents of cancer and crop difficulties in regions currently most affected. Rainfall patterns are shifting, leading to droughts and floods, while warming oceans are changing sea life in every body of water on the planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Fourth Assessment Report has unequivocally affirmed the warming of our climate system, and linked it directly to human activity (IPCC 2007). The Human Development Report 2007/2008 of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) shows that climate change is not just a future scenario. Increased exposure to droughts, floods and storms is already destroying opportunity and reinforcing inequality. The report argues that in a divided but ecologically interdependent world, climate change challenges all people to reflect upon how we manage the environment of the one thing that we share in common: Earth (UNDP 2007). Thus, the phenomenon of climate change has the potential to dramatically impact the lives of present as well as future generations. The poor and marginal communities across the globe are predicted to be more vulnerable to climate change and, therefore, its impact is more severely felt by such communities which live in marginal lands and whose livelihoods are highly dependent on natural resources. At a regional scale, climate change is projected to impinge the most on livelihoods of human society of developing countries and regions which are exposed to high climatic variability (UNFCCC 2007a). Countries located in the Arctic, small islands, arid and semi-arid regions, high altitudes and those in other parts of the developing world, are highly vulnerable to climate change. While there is a growing body of knowledge about the impact of climate change on forest ecosystems, species, agriculture ecosystems, different crops and cropping patterns (e.g. Sumarante and Dhanapala 1996, Kumar and Parikh 2001, Vedwan and Rhoades 2001, Maikhuri et al. 2003, Paul et al. 2003, Bhadwal 2006, Meinke et al. 2006, Ravindranath et al. 2006, Sulatana and Ali 2006), the understanding about the potential impact of climate change on livelihood and cultures of indigenous and traditional communities is fragmented (Reidlinger and Berks 2000, Frame 2007,



Nyong et al. 2007). In developing countries, especially, the research focus on such interdisciplinary issues has been the least (Macchi 2008). Not only this, there is also a lack of recognition of the importance of traditional communities in their own future adaptation to climate change. For example, it is striking that in the IPCC reports (2001 and 2007) the emphasis has predominantly been laid on indigenous communities of developing countries, i.e. in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand and the Polar Regions, whereas the majority of traditional and indigenous peoples who are living in developing countries get very little or no consideration (Macchi 2008).

2004). Various studies suggest that warming in the Himalayas has been much greater than the global average of 0.740C over the last 100 years (Shreshtha et al. 1999, Du et al. 2004, IPCC 2007). This has resulted in melting and retraction of galciers in the Himalayas. Gangotri Glacier in the Indian Himalayas is retreating at a rate of 23–30 metres per year (ICIMOD 2007, Kelkar and Bhadwal, 2007). Khumbu Glacier on Mount Everest has retreated more than five kilometres from the time when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first conquered the world's highest peak in 1953. Table 1: Indicators of poverty and vulnerability for South Asian countries Countries

Recognising the need, this paper synthesises the existing traditional knowledge and practices on climate change coping strategies in South Asian countries. The major objective of this synthesis is to stress upon the fact that there is a vast body of indigenous knowledge system, which may provide leads to find site specific solutions to counter the impact of climate change and improve the adaptive capacity and resilience of the most vulnerable communities in the region. This is based on existing examples drawn from different countries and indigenous communities from the region. Also, the focus of this synthesis is on how to promote indigenous peoples' voices and actions within climate change policy, research and actions in the region. Following is a brief overview of the South Asian region in the context of climate change, followed by the synthesis of existing knowledge system in various sectors affected by climate change. South Asia and Climate Change South Asia, consisting of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan, is among the most vulnerable and highly sensitive regions to the impact and consequences of climate change. It is known to be the most disaster prone region in the world supporting a huge population of more than 1.3 billion (UNEP 2003). Table 1 presents some indicators of poverty and vulnerability listed for six South Asian countries. Livelihoods and economic activities in South Asia are closely tied to the natural resource base and are, hence, highly sensitive to changes in the climate. In future, agriculture and aquaculture will be threatened by a combination of thermal and water stresses, melting of Himalayan glaciers, sea level rise, increased flooding, and strong winds associated with intense tropical cyclones. Crop yields could decrease up to 30 percent in South Asia by mid-21st century. Freshwater availability and biodiversity, already under pressure due to population growth and land use change, will be further impacted by climate change. Finally, warmer and wetter conditions will increase the potential for a higher incidence of heat-related and infectious diseases (Kelkar and Bhadwal 2007). A summary of climatic change vulnerability and impacts in South Asian countries is presented in Annexure 1. Further, climate modelling scenarios in Asia predict warmer temperatures, reduced rainfall, drier soils, rising sea levels, higher frequency of floods and droughts, crop failure, forest fires and consequent shifting patterns of resource availability, which will further adversely impact the livelihood of the local communities (Srinivasan


Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka Data Source

Daily per capita calorie supply (Kcal) in 1999

% population without sustainable access to improved water source in 2000

2201 --2417 2264 2462 2411 WRI

Malaria cases (per 100000 persons) in 2000

3 38 16 12 10 2 UNICEF, UNDP HDR

% population living below US$1 a day (most recent year during 1990-2002)

40 285 7 33 58 1110 UNDESA, WHO, UNDP HDR

36 -34.7 37.7 13.4 6.6 WB, UNDP HDR

Faster melting of the Himalayan glaciers can initially cause widespread flooding and pose a serious threat in the form of glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF), as has been reported from Nepal in the recent past (WWF Nepal 2006, ICIMOD 2007), causing loss of life and widespread damage to habitations and infrastructure (See Box 1). Box 1: Draining potentially dangerous glacial lakes in Nepal Of 2323 glacial lakes in Nepal, 20 have been found to be potentially dangerous with respect to GLOF. The most significant of such events occurred in 1985, when a glacial lake outburst flood caused a 10–15 metre high surge of water and debris to flood the Bhote Koshi and Dudh Koshi rivers for 90 km destroying the Namche Small Hydro Project. As a response to Nepal's vulnerability to climate change, numerous adaptation options for various sectors have been proposed and many already implemented. One major project that focuses on GLOF mitigation has been undertaken in the Tsho Rolpa glacial lake area. With Dutch support, the Nepalese government undertook a project to drain and reduce the depth of the Tsho Rolpa glacial lake by three metres. This reduced the risk of a GLOF by 20 percent. In addition an early warning system was simultaneously established in 19 villages downstream of the Rolwaling River. Local villagers were actively involved in the design of this system which ensured that they feel safe from potential flood events and are also made aware of the potential damage (Raut 2006). On the other hand, increased flooding will lead to sea level rise (SLR), causing widespread displacement of human population and sea water intrusion to the inland rivers, threatening some fresh water supplies, and negatively affecting the productivity of coastal agriculture due to salinity intrusion (See Box 2). However, with reduced size of glaciers, in a few decades, this situation is likely to change and seasonal melt from glaciers will decrease and contribute less water to annual river flow, causing water shortage for the communities residing on river banks and


downstream areas. Researchers at the National Institute of Hydrology in Roorkee, India, estimated that reduced glacier melt-water would cut July-through-September river flow of the Ganges by two-thirds. This decline would leave 500 million people and 37 percent of India's irrigated land short of water. Box 2: Impact of Sea Level Rise in South Asian Countries For four South Asian countries (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India) impact of sea level rise (SLR) will result in different issues and with different magnitudes. Within South Asia, Bangladesh would experience the largest percentage share of land area impacted. However, impact exceeds five percent only when SLR is in excess of three meters. With one meter SLR, the populations of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will experience similar percentage impacts. Sri Lanka's urban extent would experience a slightly larger impact than Bangladesh. In Sri Lanka, with a three meter SLR, impacted area will be around three percent while impacted population four percent; also impact on GDP, urban extent, agriculture will be around two percent (Dasguptha. S. et al. 2007). Indigenous Knowledge on Coping Strategies Indigenous and other traditional people are only rarely considered in academic, policy and public discourse on climate change, despite the fact that they will be greatly impacted by impending changes (Macchi 2008). The recently released IPCC III summary report on mitigation of climate change does not consider the role of indigenous peoples (IPCC 2007, Macchi 2008). However, indigenous peoples are not only keen observers of climate change but are also actively trying to adapt to the changing conditions. Therefore, they are vital and active parts of many ecosystems and may help to enhance the resilience of these ecosystems. In addition, they interpret and react to climate change impacts in creative ways, drawing on traditional knowledge as well as new technologies to find solutions, which may help society at large to cope with the impending changes (Salick and Byg 2007). Most published reports on indigenous observation of climate change have come from Arctic regions, perhaps because of the strong cooperation between scientists and indigenous peoples (Reidlinger and Berks 2000, Berks and Jolly 2001). However, there are innumerable examples of indigenous coping strategies to the uncertainties and adaptation to climate change from other parts of the world as well. In South Asia, the majority of the communities being dependent on the natural and cultivated resources, the traditional knowledge resource base with respect to the coping strategies is enriched with a number of indigenously developed methods/technologies to counter the uncertainties of climate change. In the following paragraphs a summary of the synthesis of some of such strategies, drawn from different countries of the region, is provided by grouping them under different sectors. Forestry The forestry sector has been one of the most important in terms of sustaining the livelihoods of rural and marginal communities in whole of South Asia. Indigenous communities in this region have traditionally been dependent on the surrounding


forest resources for varieties of their livelihood needs. Accordingly, local communities in these countries have adapted to several indigenously developed methods and strategies to cope with climate change impacts and manage their forest resources for their livelihood security. Forest lands conserved and protected by Van Panchayats of Uttarakhand State (See Box 3) and community forest management by many indigenous communities in India are few such examples. Existence of sacred groves in almost all the countries of South Asia is an example of self regulation by local communities against cutting/damaging trees, grazing animals and removal of biomass in any form (Choudhary 1997, Withanage 1997, Malhotra et al. 2007). These regulations are part of their efforts to maintain ecosystem health and to cope with unpredictable climates. Cultivation of medicinal and other wild edible herbs in homestead gardens in many hilly states in India and in Nepal and Bhutan is another important practice that not only meets the health requirement of local people but also helps in earning cash income from the sale of such plants/products. Silori and Badola (2000), while studying the potential of medicinal plant cultivation as livelihood source in Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in Indian Himalayas, reported that the native tribal community, Bhotiya, cultivated about 12 medicinal herbs of which 6 were being marketed by them for cash income. Thus, they earned about 5–10 percent of their annual income from the cultivation and sale of these herbs. Box 3: Van Panchayats of Uttarakhand, India Van Panchayats (VP) are a unique institution, characteristic of the state of Uttarakhand, for organised utilisation and protection of forests and related natural resources by local communities that are dependent on them. VPs were born out of conflicts and compromises that followed the settlements and reservations in the hills at turn of the 20th century. They are locally elected bodies or voluntary groups of local people that govern the local forests with a view to fulfil the needs of local people for forest produce in a sustainable and equitable manner. Thus, VPs are a form of local government. Formally as an institution, VPs have been in existence now for a little over 75 years. However, the association of the people of Uttarakhand with the forests and their history of protecting them is much longer and eventful. At present there are 6,777 VPs in the state, covering an area of 5,241.08 sq km. Agroforestry There are a number of traditional agroforestry models from all over South Asia that are developed by indigenous communities and have proved useful in terms of ensuring food security, earning cash income and meeting biomass needs during adverse situations. In Sri Lanka, coconut is the most widely planted agro-based industrial tree, covering 25 percent (419,200 ha) of the total cultivated area of the country. On most coconut estates a variety of different crops are cultivated including food crops (such as tubers, cereals, legumes and fruits), spices and condiments (such as areca nut, betel leaves, chillies, ginger and turmeric), and cash crops (black pepper, cacao, cinnamon, cloves, coffee and nutmeg). On some plantations, pasture grass is grown in between coconut trees to allow cattle to graze.


Similar practices are reported from eastern Himalayan countries (See box 4). Communities in the Indian Himalayas are faced with erratic rainfall during spring and summer, which marks short growing seasons (2–5 months) and over-exploited sparse natural vegetation, unable to meet the energy and fodder needs of the local communities. Farmers in such areas have developed traditional agroforestry practices to ensure food security and additional income generation. Cultivation of bamboo groves in all agricultural holdings along the streams and irrigation/drainage channels in high rainfall areas of Sikkim (India) is an example of this. These bamboo groves provide multiple benefits to the local communities on maturity. Bamboo is extensively used in building small farm houses, goat sheds, pig enclosures, small baskets, and string making. Large bamboo pipes are used as water conveyers in the farm irrigation/drainage system. Bamboo leaves are excellent winter fodder for goats, and the stumps protect water channels from erosion. Box 4: Large cardamom based Agroforestry in Eastern Himalaya Large cardamom agroforestry has been a boon to the people of Sikkim for a very long time. It is widely cultivated under the nitrogen-fixing Himalayan alder (Alnus nepalensis), a practice modified by people to maintain soil fertility and increase productivity. The fruit produced is used widely as a spice/condiment and contains about three percent of essential oil rich in cineole. In the past three decades, this traditional agroforestry system has become so popular that the practice was scaled up through community exchange in the neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bhutan. It meets the adaptive requirements of mountain specificities such as inaccessibility by producing marketable products that are non-perishable; marginality by growing it on marginal lands belonging to the poor and indigenous peoples; fragility by providing forest cover and a perennial agricultural cash crop; and opportunities for increased income because is a niche cash crop. The economic benefits derived from large cardamom agroforestry in Sikkim reportedly increased gross income from 1.9 million in 1975-76 to 6.4 million US$ in 1995-96. The large cardamom agroforestry practice described is a perfect example of mountain landscape management in which both the ecological and economic aspirations of local, regional, and international communities are achieved (Shrama 2006). Water Resources Mandarin production in Bhutan is severely affected due to shortage of water during the flowering season. For example in 1998, the production of mandarin was greatly affected by the long dry spell which lasted from February to early June. To counter the effect of water shortage, bamboos are used for drip irrigation (as a modified version of polythene pipe drip irrigation). This is a low cost technology and requires minimum investment. Similarly, tribal farmers in Megahalya in northeast India developed a system to divert stream and spring water by using bamboo pipes to irrigate plantations. Farming communities in many high altitude villages in Indian Himalayas in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh (Spiti area) have developed a specific irrigation system using kuls (diversion channels) to carry water from distant sources such as rivers and glaciers to the villages. Some of such kuls are 10 km long, and have existed for centuries. In the Andaman Islands of India, local communities use a pang (type of


grass) to line water tanks and irrigation channels to control seepage (UNFCCC 2007). Warabandi has been in existence as a traditional practice for equitable distribution of water resources for agriculture cultivation in Pakistan and India (See box 5). Box 5: Warabandi in Pakistan Traditional irrigation water rights are defined by a warabandi system, where water supply is determined by rotation and an individual's water allocation is measured by the time of water intake proportional to the size of farmland irrigated. Therefore, the traditional water rights are based on a time-equitable system. Water users are called "shareholders" in Pakistan since they hold time-share for the rotation system. In this way the water rights are linked with the farmland and cannot be separated from its land holding. Warabandi as an irrigation water allocation method has been practised in Pakistan and Northern India for more than 125 years, and covers an area of about 24 million hectares of irrigated land in the two countries. In the state of Rajasthan—a drought prone region in India—people construct small earthen check dams, called johads across seasonally flooded nalas (gullies) which also improve percolation and groundwater recharge. From 1984 till 2000 some 3000 johads, spread across more than 650 villages in the Alwar District, were revived. This has resulted in a general rise of the groundwater level by almost 6 m and a 33 percent increase in the forest covered in the area. Five rivers that used to dry up immediately following the monsoon, such as the River Arvari, have now become perennial. The “pangu” method is practiced widely in the Anuradhapura District of Sri Lanka and is based on the traditional system of sharing the work for cleaning and maintaining the irrigation infrastructure. Char (unstable alluvial islands) dwellers in Bangladesh build mounds and construct their dwellings to minimise damage from floods and plant katkin reed (Saccharum spontaneum) to protect chars from erosion (Srinivasan 2004). Besides stabilising the new land through fixing the fine fertile sediments, katkin reed also serves as an important fodder during monsoon season and fuel and building material. Rainwater harvesting, an ancient water conservation practice in South Asia, has a history of continuous practice of over 8000 years and is still used today. Rainwater harvesting was used as the glaciers retreated and climate fluctuated around 9600 BC. This adaptation method has been pivotal to the mergence and diversification of food production. Rainwater harvesting is still used in India today, even more so in response to recent climate extremes, demonstrating the resilience of human society to absorb shock, learn and build on historical adaptive processes (Pandey et al. 2003). Aquaculture Periphyton-based practices have developed independently and are used to catch fish in open waters in various parts of the world. In Bangladesh it is called katha. Similar practice exists in many parts in northeast India. Most households in such areas have multi-purpose ponds that are used, among other things, for bathing and sanitation, irrigating fields and gardens, and for growing fish and rearing ducks. The fish is consumed by the families as well as sold to earn additional cash income. In order to


increase fish productivity in ponds, bamboo stems and branches, jute sticks, the remains of sugarcane stalks, and/or tree branches are all used as substrate. The various stalks are inserted vertically into the pond bottom, where they are colonised by the plankton, microbes, invertebrates and other organisms that make up periphyton, which serve as feed for the fish. Cage aquaculture is a recently adopted strategy for fish culture in the southwestern coastal region of Bangladesh. Fish are cultured in cages in open aquatic bodies such as rivers, canals and wetlands by individuals or communities. The cages are made of metal nets and are sunk in water bodies. The cultured fish are either fed manually or on the nutrient properties of the water bodies. Cage aquaculture offers poor people the possibility to use household ponds and waterlogged areas for fish culture and make a living. Agriculture For many indigenous farmers, reducing risk from drought and flood is more important than maximising production. Indigenous coping strategies in the South Asian countries range from adopting simple methods such as maintaining hardy wild foods to more complex methods of reducing risk through multi-cropping, intercropping, mixed cropping and mixed land use practices. In many parts of South Asia, indigenous farmers evolved an intricate set of strategies to cope with range of climatic variations. For examples, farmers on the Indian Andaman and Nicobar Islands face a prolonged rainy season (May–November) followed by a period of intense summer (December–April). As they do not have access to a permanent source of water for irrigation, the absence of rain in the summer creates water shortages. Farmers on these islands have resorted to plant coconut and betel nut seedlings (Areca catechu) next to banana plants. Banana plants, besides withstanding extreme summer, provide much needed shade to the seedlings of coconut and betel nut in the initial one year of establishment. Farmers in the cold deserts of the Indian Himalayas have developed a number of traditional cropping practices to adapt to the harsh climatic conditions. The cold desert areas of Indian Himalayas are characterised by fast-blowing winds that erode the immature sandy soils and extreme variations in daily and seasonal temperatures. There is erratic precipitation during spring and summer, which marks a short growing season (25 months). Farmers in such areas practice crop rotation, alternating paddy cultivation with wheat cultivation in the areas with irrigation, while wheat or barley is rotated with maize or mash in areas without irrigation. However, in cold reaches where paddy cannot be grown and two regular crops are not practicable, cultivation of wheat, barley, or masur (lentil) is followed by a fallow period during the winter. Crop rotation helps in maintaining soil productivity. Leguminous crops fix nitrogen. Intercropping maize, wheat, barley and millets conserves soil due to their different root systems which extract nutrients from different layers of the soil and also helps in crop diversification and control of any soil- or crop residue-borne diseases/insect pests. Similar practices exist in many other parts of the country, including other Himalayan areas, arid and semi arid regions, where different crop combinations are


grown in order to minimise the risk due to harvest failure (Salick and Byg 2007) and at the same time maintain agricultural biodiversity. In Bangladesh, where regular flooding is a problem, local farmers have devised innovative techniques to sustain the agriculture sector. Local farmers grow several rice varieties that are adapted to depth of flooding, while in low-lying coastal areas, villagers have created floating vegetable gardens to protect their livelihoods from flooding. Homestead gardening is another traditional agriculture production practice in the rural areas of Bangladesh. This helps not only in meeting household needs, and thus family nutrition, but also creates an opportunity for employment within the family, especially for women, and the possibility to earn a stable year-round income even if all other sources fail due to drought or flood. In the Barind Tract of Bangladesh, tree species such as mango, mahogany, emblic (Indian gooseberry), pomegranate jackfruit, drumstick and palm are grown on the chalas (small raised areas) around the homesteads; vegetables can be easily intercropped. The purpose of this practice is to encourage wider spread of home gardens and the intensive, but environmentally sound and climate proofed, intercropping of vegetables therein. The use of the raised beds for homestead vegetable cultivation reduces the likelihood of crop losses from seasonal water stagnation. The lowlands are generally used for growing paddy. Homestead gardening increases moisture retention, improves soil fertility and crop yield and reduces surface runoff, thus halting soil erosion. Roof water collection can provide water for small scale irrigation to bridge drought spells. In the mountainous regions of Nepal, sloping lands are ploughed following a bottomup approach in a sword like pattern to check sudden runoff and minimise soil erosion. In Nubra valley in western Himalayas, farmers grow grapes under severe cold desert conditions by creating a warmer microclimate of the basin. This is achieved by filling pits with locally available crushed stones, bricks, grass, hay and soil and covering the vines with warm clothes, gunny bags or wooden basket (Srinivasan 2004). Discussion and Conclusion As far as issues related to environmental conservation and sustainable development are concerned, climate change discussion has taken centre stage within the last one year or so. Work being done by IPCC on various issues of climate change, alongwith the joint Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 along with Al Gore, former vice president of USA, are thought to be major reasons for the debate. Substantial media coverage also helped in creating awareness about the global warming and climate change all over the world. Responding to the alarming findings by the researchers all over the globe about global warming and its harmful impact on human society, many national governments have reacted and various regulatory frameworks are being currently considered and negotiated at national, regional and international level (Salick and Byg 2007).


However, amid all these discussions and deliberations, the role of indigenous communities in the climate change discussion discourse has not received the desired attention from the researchers and policy makers (Srinivasan 2004, Salick and Byg 2007, Macchi 2008). Even the fourth Assessment Report of IPCC, released in 2007, did not provide much space to highlight the importance of the indigenous communities in devising coping strategies to adapt to the climate change. Such exclusion from ongoing climate change debates has been repeatedly voiced by the indigenous communities (see box 6), most recently during the protests on 7 December 2007 at the United Nations (UN) conference in Bali.1 Box 6: We, the Indigenous Peoples, have historically played an active role in the conservation of eco-systems crucial to the prevention of climate change such as forests, wetlands and coastal and marine areas. Long ago, our sciences foretold the severe impacts of Western "development" models based on indiscriminate clear-cutting, oil exploitation, mining, carbon-emitting industries, persistent organic pollutants and the insatiable consumption of the industrialized [sic] countries. These unsustainable models threaten the very life of Mother Earth and the lives of all of us who are her children. The scientists of Western society have dismissed us as sentimental and superstitious and accused us of being an obstacle to development. Paradoxically, those that previously turned deaf ears to our warnings about global warming, now are dismayed because their own model of "development' endangers our Mother Earth. From the Declaration of the First International Forum of Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change held in Lyon, France on September 4-6, 2000

There have been a few attempts in the recent past; UNESCO in partnership with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), the Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issue (SPFII) and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) has launched a grassroots climate change forum. This forum further suggested that a working group on local adaptation measures and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples should be established. More recently, in April 2008, United Nations University-Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) in conjunction with the Secretariat of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and the North Australia Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA), convened an International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change in Darwin, Australia. Discussions under several items made reference to the value of traditional knowledge, including ways that indigenous peoples could be involved in programmes that support community level mitigation and adaptation measures and at the same time recognise the value of traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples that has enabled them to maintain and interact with their environment in a sustainable way; the collective rights of indigenous peoples to their traditional knowledge; and that climate change and climate change response activities may result in an increased respect for, and valuing of, traditional knowledge.


While such initiatives certainly provide a platform to the indigenous communities to voice their concerns, addressing this issue of global concern will certainly require more integrated and site specific in-depth scientific approach to understand and analyse the perception of the local communities and incorporating the same to devise adaptive strategies and relevant policies at national, regional and international levels (Vedwan and Rhoades 2001, Pandey 2005, Meink et al. 2006, Salick and Byg 2007, Macchi 2008). It is now an established fact that indigenous peoples figure conspicuously amongst groups identified as particularly vulnerable to climate change. For the same reason, indigenous peoples may also be particularly well placed to observe environmental changes caused by this phenomenon. While the environmental transformation engendered by climate change is expected to be unprecedented, the in-depth knowledge of indigenous communities can nonetheless provide a crucial foundation for new adaptation measures required to face climate change impacts (Nakashima 2008). This is more important with reference to the developing world, specifically in the South Asian region, which on the one hand has been identified as most vulnerable to climate change, while on the other hand also owns rich traditional knowledge system. As indicted earlier, the research focus on the role of indigenous communities in mainstreaming the national level policies on adapting to the climate change has been the least in this region. The synthesis presented above provides important insight and accumulated knowledge about the indigenous coping strategies, being adapted by local communities. Such a situation, therefore, calls for active engagement of indigenous and local communities in climate change research in South Asian countries through collaborative projects which seek to draw upon and value both traditional knowledge and scientific expertise. It is worth reminding here that climate change is a global phenomenon, while adaptation is largely site specific (Srinivasan 2004). Therefore, a fundamental approach to assessments should focus around documentation of “ground situations”. Participatory documentation of observations/events together with coping mechanisms should be central to assessment methodologies and compliment more “scientific” documentation/monitoring (Nakashima 2008). Such research can provide insights on the adaptations that are valuable for the poor communities lacking modern infrastructures and therefore more vulnerable to social and economic impact of abrupt climate change. Understanding social and economic vulnerability as well as local adaptive processes are a necessity because human behaviour, institutional capacity and culture are more important than study of just the biophysical impacts. Societal adaptation, therefore, should be taken as a priority research area (Vedwan and Rhoades 2001, Srinivasan 2004, Meink et al. 2006, Salick and Byg 2007, Macchi 2008). Such studies with insights from indigenous communities may provide guidance on the extent to which adaptation can reduce impacts of abrupt climate change, and the type of adaptation policies required and the best way to develop and apply such policies. Consequently, appropriate policy responses can strengthen adaptation and help build the resilience


of communities and households to climate change in the South Asian region.

IUCN Gland, Pp. 64. l Maikhuri, R.., K. S. Rao, S. Patnaik, K. G. Saxena and P. S. Ramakrishnan. 2003.

C S Silori is a fellow at the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India. Acknowledgements Majority of the information provided in this article on indigenous coping strategies have been synthesised from the UNFCCC website on coping strategies. Initial discussions with my colleague Ms. Ulka Kelkar helped in shaping up this synthesis. Endnotes 1

(see: Indigenous people protest at Bali conference, New Consumer: bali_conference/).

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Annexure 1: Summary of climatic change vulnerability and impacts in South Asian countries

l Somaratne, S. and A. H. Dhanapala. 1996. Potential impact of global climate change on

forest in Sri Lanka. In Climate Change Variability and Adaptation in Asia and the Pacific, ed. Erda, L., W. Bolhofer, S. Huq, S. Lenhart, S. K. Mukherjee, J. B. Smith and J. Wisniewski, Pp. 129-135. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers . l Srinivasan, A. 2004. Local knowledge for facilitating adaptation to climate change in Asia and the Pacific: Policy Implications. IGES Working Paper (2004-002). l Stern, N., ed. 2006. Stern Review. [online] URL: independent_reviews/stern_economics_climate_change/stern_review_report.cfm . l Sultana, H. and N. Ali. 2006. Vulnerability of wheat production in different climatic zones of Pakistan under climate change scenarios using CSM-CERES-Wheat Model. Paper presented in the Second International Young Scientists' Global Change Conference, Beijing, 7-9 November 2006, organised by START (the global change SysTem for Analysis, Research and Training) and the China Meteorological Administration. l TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute). 2003. Coping with global change: vulnerability and adaptation in Indian agriculture. Monograph prepared on the occasion of COP-9. New Delhi: TERI. P. 26. l UNDP (United National Development Programme). 2007. Fighting climate change: human solidarity in a divided world. Human Development Report 2007/2008. [online] URL: l UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) (2003). GEO Year Book 2003. Nairobi: UNEP. l UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). 2007a. Climate change: Impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation in developing countries. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat, Bonn, Germany, P. 68. l UNFCCC. 2007b. Database on local coping strategies. [online] URL: http://maindb.unfcc. int/public/adaptation/ l Vedwan, N. and R. E. Rhoades. 2001. Climate change in the western Himalaya of India: a study of local perception and response. Climate Change. Vol. 19:109-117. l Withanage, H. 1997. Role of sacred groves in conservation and management of biodiversity in Sri Lanka. Proceedings of Kerala Forest Research Institute, Trivendrum workshop. l WWF Nepal Programme. 2006. An overview of glaciers, glacier retreat, and subsequent impacts in the Nepal, India and China. P. 67.

Country Bangladesh

Vulnerability to Climate Change Water Resources Water related impacts of climate change are likely to be most critical—largely related to coastal and riverine flooding, but there is also enhanced possibility of winter (dry season) drought in certain areas. Both coastal flooding (from sea and river water), and inland flooding (river/rain water) are expected to increase. Coastal zones Acute impacts is expected on coastal zones due to the combined effects of climate change, sea level rise, subsidence and changes of upstream discharge, cyclones and coastal embankments. Four key types of primary physical effects i.e. saline water intrusion, drainage congestion, extreme events, changes in coastal morphology are identified as key vulnerabilities in the coastal areas.


Agriculture The estimated impacts on rice yield shall vary between -6 to +14 percent depending on different climate change scenarios (Rosenzweig and Iglesias 1994). Agricultural areas in tropical Asia and Bangladesh in particular, are vulnerable to many environmental extremes such as floods, cyclones, and storm surges. For example, on an average during the period 1962–1988, Bangladesh lost about 0.5 million tones of rice annually as a result of floods that accounts for nearly 30 percent of the country's average annual food grain imports (Paul and Rashid 1993). Water Resources The availability of water in Bhutan is heavily dependent on heavy rainfall, glaciers or snow, land use practices, and user demand. A reduction in the average flow of snow -fed rivers, combined with an increase in peak flows and sediment yield, would have major impacts on hydropower generation, urban water supply , and agriculture. An increase in rainfall intensity may increase runoff, enhance soil erosion, and accelerate sedimentation in the existing water supplies or reservoirs. Agriculture Upland crop production, practiced close to the margins of viable product ion, can be highly sensitive to variations in climate. A temperature increase of 2 ºC would shift the cultivating zone further onto higher elevation. Climate change is expected to increase the severity and frequency of monsoonal storms and flooding in the Himalayas, which could aggravate the landslides. In addition to the danger to life and property, some of the generated sediments may be deposited in the agricultural lands or in irrigation canals and streams, which will contribute to deterioration in crop production and in the quality of agricultural lands (NEC 2000).


Extreme events In Bhutan, the entire northern upper land has glacier/snow -fed lakes on the mountaintops. Increased temperature and greater seasonal variability in precipitation will lead to ac celerated recession of glaciers and result in increase in the volume of these lakes (IPCC 1998). Agriculture Among the cereals, wheat production potential in the sub -tropics is expected to be affected the most, with significant declines anticipated in several regions including South Asia. For example, wheat yields in central India may drop by two percent in a pessimistic climate change scenario (GoI 2004). Districts in western Rajasthan, southern Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, northern Karnat aka, northern Andhra Pradesh, and southern Bihar are highly vulnerable to climate change in the context of economic globalisation. Numerous physical (e.g. cropping patterns, crop diversification, and shifts to drought - and salt-resistant varieties) and soc io-economic (e.g. ownership of assets, access to services, and infrastructural support) factors come into play in enhancing or constraining the current capacity of farmers to cope with adverse changes (TERI 2003). Temperature rise of 1.5 degree centigrade and 2 mm increase in precipitation could result in a decline in rice yields by 3 to 15 percent. Sorghum yields would be affected and yields are predicted to vary from +18 to -22 percent depending on a rise of 2 to 4 degree centigrade in temperatures and increase by 20 to 40 percent of precipitation. (IPCC 2001). Water resources Increased glacial melt due to warming is predicted to affect river flows. Increased warming might result in increased flows initially with reduced flows later as the glaciers disappear. Available records suggest that Gangotri glacier is retreating by about 30 m yr1. A warming is likely to increase melting far more rapidly than accumulation. As reported in IPCC (1998), glacial melt is expected to increase under changed climate conditions, which would lead to increased summer flows in glacier fed river systems for a few decades, followed by a reduction in flow as the glaciers disappear. Climate change could impact the Indus River basin. The total annual run -off from the upper basin is likely to increase by 11 to 16 percent. It estimated that although increased run -off could be advantageous for water supply and hydropower production it could aggravate problems of flooding, waterlogging, and salinity in the upper basin. Also, even with an overall water surplus, shortages might occur in local areas of the highly productive Punjab rice-wheat zone and in the unglaciated valleys of the upper basin. According to United Nations projections, India is estimated to experience water stress by 2025, and is likely to cross the “water scarce” benchmark by the year 2050 under the high growth scenario. Water stress and scarcity are defined as situations where per capita annual water availability is less than 1700 m3 and 1000 m3 respectively. Human Health Changes in climate may alter the distribution of important vector species (for example, mosquitoes) and may increase the spread of disease to new areas that lack a strong public health infrastructure. High altitude populations that fall outside areas of stable endemic malaria transmission may be particularly vulnerable to increases in malaria, due to climate warming. The seasonal transmission and distribution of many other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes (dengue, yellow fever) and by ticks (Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis), may also be affected by climate change (GoI 2004).




Water Resources Studies reported in Nepal’s initial national communication indicate no major changes in the hydrological behaviour due to rise in temperatures. However, changes in precipitation are expected to have major impacts. Lakes in Nepal are categorised as dangerous due to threat to glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs) (WWF Nepal Programme 2006). As highlighted by IPCC (2001), glacial melt is expected to increas e under changed climate conditions, which would lead to increased summer flows in some river systems for a few decades, followed by a reduction in flow as the glaciers disappear. Agriculture Soil loss is a major cause of decline in agriculture production in Nepal and the negative effects of climate change may further aggravate this situation. The impact of rise in temperatures on wheat and maize are expected to be negative. Extreme Events In Nepal, DHM (2004) found that almost 20% of the present glaciated area above 5000 m altitude is likely to be snow and glacier free with an increase of air temperature by 1° C. Similarly, a rise in 3° C and 4° C temperatures would result in the loss of 58 to 70 % of snow and glaciated areas with threat of GLOFs.


Human Health Studies carried out in Nepal indicate the risk of malaria, kalaazar and Japanese encephalitis under different climate change scenarios. The subtropical and warm temperate regions are predicted to be particularly vulnerable to malaria and kalaazar. Agriculture In the hot climate of Pakistan, cereal crops are already at the margin of stress. An increase of 2.5oC in average temperature would translate into much higher ambient temperatures in the wheat planting and growing stages. Higher tempera tures are likely to result in decline in yields, mainly due to the shortening of the crop life cycle especially the grain filling period. The National Communication (MoE 2003) highlighted that crops like wheat, cotton, mango, and sugarcane would be more sensitive to increase in temperatures compared to rice. The flow of Indus river basin is also likely to effect the cotton production in Pakistan, which might be detrimental to the economy as it is the main cash crop of the country.

Sri Lanka

Extreme Events Pakistan comparatively is less vulnerable to changes in sea level but for the port city of Karachi. Karachi’s greatest to climate change may come from increased monsoonal and tidal activity, resulting in periodic flooding. Water Resources Studies indicate that much of the water from heavy rainfall events in Sri Lanka would be lost as run-off to the sea.


Agriculture Extreme events of rise in temperature and changes in rainfall patterns will have adverse impacts on agricultural production i n Sri Lanka. Most cropping activities for e.g., coarse grain, legumes, vegetables, and potato are likely to be affected adversely due to the impacts of climate change. The highest negative impact is estimated for coarse grains and coconut production. An increase in the frequency of droughts and extreme rainfall events could result in a decline in tea yield, which would be the greatest in regions below 600 meters (Wijeratne 1996). With the tea industry in Sri Lanka being a major source of foreign exchange and a significant source of income for labourers the impacts are likely to be grave. Extreme Events Significant erosion is already evident on many of Sri Lanka’s beaches. This is likely to increase significantly with accelerated sea level rise. A rise in se a level would tend to cause a shoreline recession except where this trend is balanced by the influx of sediment. In a 30 cm sea level rise scenario, the study projects a possible shoreline recession of about 30 m and for a 100 cm scenario, the shoreline re treat is expected to be about 100 m. A one metre rise in sea level could drown most of the coastal wetlands in Sri Lanka. Human Health In Sri Lanka, expansion and shift in malarial transmission zones is expected. Areas bordering the non -endemic wet zone o f the country are likely to become highly vulnerable to malaria (MENR 2000).

Source: Kelkar and Bhadwal (2007).


Food Prices and Food Security in South Asia Suresh Chandra Babu and G. Bhalachandran


he recent trends of rising world food prices have received wide attention in South Asia due to their potential impact on the food security of its population. Although countries in the region have achieved near food self-sufficiency at the national level, most of them continue to be net importers of food in the global market. Due to increased globalisation and trade liberalisation within the region as well as with the rest of the world, the region is more vulnerable to international economic trends and, as a result, the poor and the food-insecure in the region are exposed to the vagaries of international price fluctuations. This paper looks at the challenges South Asian countries face in the event of recent food price increases and propose a set of food security policy options that should be pursued to reduce the impact of increasing food prices on the poor and vulnerable sections of the population. Global Food Price Crisis: South Asia Food prices in the global market have doubled in the last six months. While such increase is good news for the farmers who produce surplus for the markets, it is unfavourable for sections of populations which are net buyers of food including smallscale farmers, land-less rural households, and the urban poor. International markets have seen spikes in food prices in the last decade, yet such spikes have occurred partly due to low production in one or more major food producing countries because of drought or other natural disasters. The current trend of food price increase seems to have several elements that have brought together a more permanent medium- to long-term price increase. First, continuous high growth in large countries such as India and China has increased the demand for food in general and for high value food commodities such as meat, milk, fruits, and vegetables, in particular. Meeting such increase in demand for meat and milk, production of which depends on feed grains increases the demand for food and feed grains as a whole. A second element that seems to contribute to the long-term trend in food price increase is the rising price of fossil fuels. This has implication for the high food prices on two levels. The cost of inputs that depend on fossil fuels, such as fertilisers and pesticides, shows a considerable increase, raising the cost of food production and, thus, resulting in higher prices of food. Further, the price of food commodities that are transported over continents and within countries has also increased due to high transportation costs that depend on fossil fuel.


A third contributing factor to the long-term price increase is the recent trend in droughts and floods caused by the signs of climatic change that have been realised in the last few years. Such natural phenomena also result in the reduction of the supply of world food, triggering a price increase. In addition to these factors, a long-term trend that has contributed to the inability of the world agriculture system to adjust to the increasing demand for food commodities is the systematic low level of investment in agricultural research and development. This has contributed to only a marginal increase in the productivity of food grains, particularly in the developing countries. Due to these low productivity levels in food crop production, several countries have been caught unprepared in the face of the sudden increase in food price levels. Due to the net importer status of most of the South Asian countries, such price increases are likely to have serious implications for growth, poverty reduction, problems of food insecurity and malnutrition. The World Bank predicts that in South Asian countries, the current increases in food prices will reduce the GDP by 1 percent in the form of paying for importing foods with high prices. To the extent that high global food prices are transmitted to the country-level prices in South Asia, the countries are likely to see prices of all commodities driven by food price increases. For example, Sri Lanka is currently facing a general inflation level of 36 percent, while food inflation is about 20 percent. Such increases in food prices will have a debilitating effect on the poor who spend more than 50 percent of their income on food. Such food price induced general inflation is also detrimental to the overall economy. Thus, managing food prices with adequate supplies of food and stabilising the markets will protect the poor and vulnerable from sliding deeper into poverty. Price increases also have serious implications for the stability of governments in the South Asian region. For example, even though the contribution of food price inflation to overall inflation in India has been less than 20 percent during the last one year, it has resulted in several food-related policies to address the political concerns of the government. The Indian government has imposed a ban on rice export except for Basmati varieties. In Pakistan, food price increase has become the most important factor of concern for the government as well as for the common person. Policy makers are increasingly accepting that the food crisis facing Pakistan is the chief concern for the government even surpassing national and border security. In May 2008, it was predicted that food inflation would touch 26 percent in Pakistan. This is in addition to a 35 percent increase in food prices in 2007, while the minimum wage for the same period increased only by 18 percent, resulting in a drastic reduction in the purchasing power of the poor in Pakistan. In Bangladesh, the price of rice has been a key determinant of food security where up to 70 percent of the income of the poor is spent on food. The Bangladesh government usually keeps a food stock of one million tons of wheat and rice to stabilise food prices and for free distribution during periods of distress. In spite of the recent reduction in rice production due to the 2007 floods, the government reduced the food stock to a minimum level of 300,000 tons. This is a signal to the private traders that the government's capacity to stabilise prices has been drastically reduced. At the earliest


signal of world food price increase, traders in Bangladesh have begun to hoard food grains, resulting in reduced food availability in the markets and high food prices. In addition, the promised export of rice from India and Vietnam to Bangladesh has not come through since both countries face internal political pressures to stop their rice exports. Although the recent bumper Amman crop seems to provide hope for bringing the price down, currently even the middle income groups are affected. Given that in the last 16 months, high food prices have been a cause for social unrest in more than 30 developing countries including Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, policy makers in developing countries view food price increase and its implications as a highly sensitive political and security issue. High food prices have different impacts on different countries and segments of population. When the countries are net exporters of food, they benefit from the resulting improved terms of trade from high food prices. However, countries that have reacted to the high food prices by imposing a ban on export of commodities in order to feed their own population can lose out in this window of opportunity to raise the income of their farmers as is the case in India. Countries that import food, such as Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, will have to face higher food bills to meet their domestic food demand. Within a country, farmers who produce high quantities of food commodities could benefit from the higher prices if markets are allowed to function efficiently. On the other hand, market and price controls can be detrimental by providing a wrong set of incentives for farmers who can produce food crops. A major segment of the poor population in South Asia—about 400 million people—will slide back into deeper poverty due to current high food prices. This is partly because they are net food buyers and spend a major share of their income on food commodities. The impact of such foodprice driven poverty will be realised in both short and long term. In short-term, the food insecurity and hunger among the poor will increase and, in long-term, the health and nutritional status of children will deteriorate resulting in low quality human capital for the countries in the future. In addition, due to distress resulting from high food prices, poor households will liquidate their productive assets to meet their food demands. As a result, the recovery from poverty will take longer time, thus prolonging the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in the region. What needs to be done? In what follows, several policy options are recommended in order to address the negative impact of high food prices in the South Asian region. In the immediate and short run, countries in the region should consider removing agricultural export bans. Agricultural export bans and reducing the tariff for import of food commodities can help individual countries, but may result in higher global and regional food prices. In the interest of addressing self-sufficiency in food, each country imposes export restrictions that may affect the long-run development of export and trade-related institutions. Elimination of export bans in the South Asia will help in the stabilisation of regional grain price fluctuations and can address the problem of increasing food


prices through improving the supply of food commodities. South Asian countries should increase their investment in agricultural research. Productivity improvements in agriculture take at least three to five years to be realised. However, due to neglect of the agricultural sector and low investments in agriculture in the last decade, most of the countries in South Asia suffer from low productivity of food crops, particularly those that are grown by small-scale farmers. However, South Asian countries have shown in the last 40 years that food insecurity and famines can be overcome through increasing food production and the productivity of agriculture. For example, the Green Revolution in India and Pakistan in the 1960s and 1970s increased production of food and farmers' income, reduced poverty, and increased food security and nutritional status of the population. Yet, the policies and institutions that were responsible for food production increases in the last 40 years have not changed. They are not able to adjust to the new global trade environment and changing global food systems. In addition, the technological change to improve productivity levels in food production has been marginal at best. The continued policy complacency in several countries did not allow required policy changes according to the changes in global markets. India provides a classic example of how slow pace of policy change can result in inability to address the changing global food situation. While India has invested high levels of resources in agriculture, much of these resources have been diverted to subsidies in the form of irrigation, fertiliser, and in procuring food grains from farmers at a minimum support price which has been higher than world price levels. This diverted expenditure has resulted in low levels of investment in infrastructure which can result in improving the long term productivity levels. For example, six percent of agricultural GDP is currently spent on subsidies while only 1.5 percent of the agricultural GDP is spent on productive investments. In order for the agricultural sector to meet the growing demand for food and to stabilise prices, these trends in investment have to be reversed. The current high level food prices can be seen as a window of opportunity to reduce subsidies and to increase investments in infrastructure. The current crisis is also an opportunity to reduce the involvement of the government in the food grain procurement. Further, it is an opportunity to reform the institutions including agricultural research and extension to address the challenge of productivity increases in agriculture. Also in the short- and medium-term of three to five years social safety nets programmes could be implemented. Where the programmes already exist and are successful, they could be scaled up to protect the poor from the negative impact of world food prices. Food subsidies and price controls are quite often the measures that countries in South Asia resort to in order to address the problem of food insecurity in the short run. However, such measures may not benefit the poor population. Cash transfers have been a proven method of safety nets in several South Asian countries. Using the current safety nets programmes and scaling them up to provide social safety nets would be an effective approach to address food insecurity in the short run. For example, in Bangladesh the Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) programme and


Gratuitous Relief (GR) programme could be scaled up to protect the poor in the short run and to manage the food crisis. In India, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme that has wide coverage could be used in targeted areas to support vulnerable households and the poor. Subsidies on coarse grains could also work in both Bangladesh and in India. Increasing flow of regional food trade through opening up the free trade of food within the South Asian region would help in stabilising the regional prices. While South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) provides a mechanism for enabling regional free trade in food commodities, effective implementation of that will require bilateral and multilateral arrangements within the region. In order to address the need for food on an emergency scale, it is important to reconsider and operationalise the food security reserve that has been designed by SAARC countries. While the concept has been on paper for a number of years, implementation of the concept has proven difficult due to cooperation of the countries. The current food crisis provides an opportunity to implement the concept of regional food reserve under the leadership of SAARC. Conclusion The current food price crisis is the result of several factors including increasing population, high levels of growth in large countries such as China and India, increasing prices of oil fuel, and recurrent droughts due to climate change in different parts of the world. All these factors have long-term implications on food production and availability, and are likely to have medium- to long-term impact on food prices. Thus, the current food crisis in South Asia and the rest of the world is not a short-run phenomenon. In order to address the food price crisis and protect the poor and the hungry from sliding deeper into poverty, policy measures need to be implemented that not only recognise regional challenges, but also consider long-term implications of short-term policy changes. A major lesson learnt from the current food price crisis for food security of the region is that the agricultural and food systems are not robust enough to address the changing global environment caused by the factors mentioned above. Building resilient agricultural production systems that address the changing needs in food demand will require prudent investments in agricultural research, technology, development, and extension and rural infrastructure. South Asian countries must ready themselves to embrace a new system of global governance in their food and agricultural sectors. Without improved adaptability, South Asian countries may face a situation where large numbers of their population continue to suffer in poverty and hunger.

Suresh Chandra Babu is senior research fellow at International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPAI). G. Bhalachandran is Reader in Economics, Sri Sathya


Sai University, India.

References l Ahmed, Nizam (reporter), Anis Ahmed (writer) and Bill Tarrant, ed. 2008. Rising food

price to prolong Bangladesh emergency: EIU. Reuters. <>. (accessed June 2, 2008). l Brizzi, Adolfo. 2008. Food Price Crisis. Revival of Agriculture in South Asia is Essential. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. < external/countries/southasiaext/>. (accessed June 3, 2008). l Devarajan, Shantayanan. 2008. World Food Prices: South Asia's Poor at Risk. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. < wbsite/external/countries/southasiaext/>. (accessed June 3, 2008). l Khan, M. Ilyas. 2008. Price of Pakistan's Economic Woes. BBC News <>. (accessed June 2, 2008). l Robinson, Simon. 2008. Food Price Hikes Roil Pakistan. Time. <http.//,8599,1717596,00.html/>. (accessed June 2, 2008). l Stilwell, Amy, Geetanjali Chopra and Camille Funnell. 2008. Food Crisis: Background Note. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. < extdr/foodprices/>. (accessed June 3, 2008). l Von Braun, Joachim, et al. 2008. High Food Prices: The What, Who, and How of Proposed Policy Actions. Washington, D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute. l World Socialist Web Site. 2008. Anger grows over rising prices in Sri Lanka. < >. (accessed June 2, 2008).

Missing Persons: The Human Security vs. Traditional Security Trade-Off Moeed Yusuf and Nazia Hussain


he case of “missing persons” in Pakistan says much about the country's human security. The state is alleged to have detained, without any due process, scores of citizens on charges of terrorism since it became the frontline U.S. ally in the “war on terror”. On the face of it, the Pakistani state seems to be behaving as one that has failed to “fulfil its security obligations—and […] has even become a source of threat to its own people”.1 As we argue in this essay however, the situation is more complex. On the one hand, Pakistan is confronted by a real and present danger of a meltdown of the state from within and on the other hand there is tremendous mass pressure to uphold the rule of law and guarantee human security for citizens. The circumstances present a virtually irreconcilable conundrum: tactically, detentions are a necessity but detaining citizens in the way the state has sought to do violates the law of the land and undermines the very premise of human security. The following discussion attempts to contextualise the debate about missing persons by analysing the human and traditional security dimensions within a singular calculus. The paper focuses only on those who have been detained by the state agencies, not ones who are actually “missing” (read joined jihadi outfits off their own accord or were captured by the terrorist enclave). It begins by providing an overview of the “missing persons” case. In the next two sections, the current security dilemma facing Pakistan is introduced. Subsequently the paper highlights the conundrum the interplay of the two aspects has generated for the country. Finally, the authors present recommendations for the way forward. I The concern about absence of rule of law is nothing new to Pakistan. If one were to engage in an exercise to apply renowned economist, Ricardo Hausmann's binding constraint framework across a timeline, one issue that would consistently feature at or near the top of the list would be the glaring disregard for rule of law.2 That notwithstanding, the issue of missing persons has arisen in a context that was previously unbeknown to Pakistanis. For the first time, the state faces unanimous pressure to shift attention from state centric security to “security of the people—to human security”.3 The origins of the pressure lie in a tussle between the 'establishment' and the judiciary. On 9 March 2007, President Pervez Musharraf pressurised the then chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to resign, a move that backfired after the



latter's refusal.4 What followed was an unprecedented surge in activism from the legal community that sought the reinstatement of the chief justice and, more broadly, true independence for the judiciary. The historic decision of the Supreme Court to reinstate Justice Chaudhry in July 2007 brought the issue of forced disappearances of Pakistani citizens to the forefront.5 As the chief justice sought to signal his seriousness in transforming the judiciary-state relationship, he took upon himself to address complaints of citizens regarding missing persons. A suo moto notice was issued by the Supreme Court and between 20 July 2007 and 3 November 2007, when the chief justice was once again sent packing, the court heard petitions of more than 400 people subjected to disappearance in the context of the “war on terror” and other national security campaigns.6 The case of the missing persons was not the sole outcome of the tussle between the executive and the chief justice. Cases had been entertained even in 2006.7 However, at the time the issue had largely remained outside the purview of open public debate; it only became the flagship of the anti-Musharraf campaign once the lawyers' movement was under way. The disappearances were now perceived as “Pakistan's Guantanamo Bay - a malignant outgrowth of the ‘War on Terror” and received tremendous attention in the media.8 The Supreme Court, in an unprecedented move, regularly summoned top civil bureaucrats and representatives of the intelligence agencies to provide explanations for the disappearances.9 The cases were decided unequivocally in favour of the disappeared. In a ruling on the petition filed by the organisation, Defence of Human Rights, Justice Chaudhry stated that there was “irrefutable proof” of missing people being held in the custody of secret agencies and that those responsible would be prosecuted.10 More than 100 missing reappeared from state custody due to court proceedings.11 While the momentum of reappearances was broken with the promulgation of Emergency Rule on 3 November 2007 and the subsequent dismissal of the chief justice, the issue itself has not died down. II Viewed in isolation from the broader context Pakistan finds itself in, the above account presents inexplicable excesses on the part of the state. Any student of human security would readily point the finger squarely at the state and see perfect rationale in the chief justice's move to tackle the issue. After all, Pakistan has the Anti-terrorism Act 1997—later beefed up through an amendment in 2002—that allows police powers for limited detention but through an institutional process which also entails a right to appeal for the detained.12 Current detentions defy the stipulations of the law and are thus in violation of the constitution. The above said, Pakistan finds itself in extraordinary circumstances. The current security dilemma confronting the Pakistani state complicates the scenario immensely. Having traditionally remained paranoid about a persistent Indian threat to dismember Pakistan, the last five years have been remarkable in that India has been


put decisively on the backburner. The Pakistani president has explicitly stated on more than one occasion that India is no longer Pakistan's biggest threat.13 The change has been forced, not by a new outlook towards security or a concerted move away from an India-centric view, but by a much more serious threat to the state from within: terrorism. Unlike the Indian threat which was restricted to the overhanging concern of limited conventional war, the current menace, at the very least, promises to disrupt the functioning of the state, and in the worst case, could well lead to a complete break down of state control over its territory. In 2004, Pakistan launched a military operation in its north-western tribal belt—FATA—to rid its territory of al-Qaeda and Taliban operators who were using the area as a sanctuary for their “jihad” against western forces in Afghanistan. The result has been a tremendous backlash on the state itself, with hundreds of fatal terrorist attacks taking place every year. According to rough estimates, terrorist attacks doubled from 2006 to 2007; while 757 attacks with 900 casualties were registered in 2006, over 1300 attacks caused loss of life for 1,335 citizens in 2007.14 The year 2008 has already witnessed the death of 314 individuals in terrorist incidents.15 The sheer magnitude of attacks suggests the loosening control of the state over matters of internal security and stability. However, what is even more worrisome is the fact that the adversary has continued to grow in strength. The Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan—the umbrella group responsible for most of the devastation—is no longer content with retaining the tribal belt as a sanctuary, an area where they practically rule according to their wishes. Instead, they have clearly signalled their intention of expanding their territorial sphere of influence. The stated objectives include directly challenging the writ of the state, enforcing Sharia (Islamic Religious Law) throughout the State, and performing “defensive jihad against the Pakistan army”16. Their reach and potential to fulfil these ambitions is evident from the fact that their Advisory Council has drawn members not only from FATA but also from North West Frontier Province's (NWFP) settled areas.17 The Taliban have proven that they mean business. In November 2007, the militants took over a large part of the Swat valley in NWFP's heartland. An organised militant cohort supported by a local radical cleric managed to neutralise all paramilitary resistance and was only driven back through a concerted military operation spanning days.18 However, nothing encapsulates the rising power of radical groups more than their takeover of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) and seminary in the heart of Pakistan's capital city, Islamabad. Clerics and students of the mosque demanded imposition of the Sharia and began to operate on the assumption of having created a “state within a state” in the beginning of 2007.19 After having defied the state for months, it was only through a controversial commando operation in July 2007 that the militants were neutralised.20 The threat of territorial expansion of the Taliban has not disappeared. Just recently, a senior Pakistani government official stated that the Taliban could take Peshawar in a matter of months.21


III The Pakistani masses are decisively anti-radical, and unequivocally supportive of ridding the society of extremism. The 2008 election results are indicative of this sentiment. From being ruling partners in two provinces, the right-wing religious alliance of the MMA received less than two percent of national legislature seats and nine and twelve percent of provincial assembly seats in their strongholds of NWFP and Balochistan respectively.22 This was despite the fact that MMA had distanced itself from the Taliban's agenda; rightly or wrongly, they were still perceived to be less than enthusiastic about eliminating the menace. Further proof of this view is provided by a number of recent independent surveys. The 2007 Pew Global Attitudes survey found Pakistanis to be worried about violence and more than three-in-four (76 percent) called terrorism a “very big problem” for the country.23 In 2004, 41 percent of Pakistanis considered suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians as "often" or "sometimes justified" to defend Islam from its enemies, while only 35 percent felt that such attacks were never justified.24 By 2007, only 9 percent said suicide attacks are “often” or “sometimes justified”, while 72 percent said this kind of violence is never defensible.25 The growing concern about the menace of terrorism coming to town is evident. Ideally, counterinsurgencies should be fought with political and economic tools while keeping minimal use of force as facilitating option. Militarily, the single most important factor that raises the probability of taming the insurgency to the point that political and economic factors can bear fruit is timely and accurate intelligence. This is also the aspect which is most relevant to the missing persons case. Applying a tactical mind, the strategy to gain credible intelligence and detain suspects both to curtail their operations and generate further leads to make inroads into the militant organisational structure is unarguable. Intelligence, identification, interrogation, and buy-out of militants are key pillars that have regularly, and justifiably, been applied by the Pakistani military. In fact, in this realm, the Pakistani military had a head start. The intelligence agencies had infiltrated the FATA region for over two decades as part of its Afghan and Kashmir jihad policies during the 1980s and 1990s.26 This is the reason for the military's initial success on the intelligence count; the long-drawn exposure of the state's human resources in the area gave them perfect intelligence about miscreants and potential information sources. This was also the period that a large number of the missing persons were picked up. Those who criticise the military operation, while justified, miss the point on two counts. First, it is true that the counterinsurgency operation has been largely unsuccessful and has caused much alimentation among locals in FATA. However, the part of the strategy that has failed—it was misplaced to begin with—is the heavy handed use of force. The army has used heavy offensive force including artillery and air support as the pivot of its strategy.27 While no authentic figures are available, such tactics are usually associated with high collateral damage. Here, voices that denounce these tactics are justified.


That said, however, there is a need to dissect the elements of the counterinsurgent strategy. Heavy handed use of force may be questioned but this ought not to undermine other aspects of the strategy that remain imperative. It is simply impossible to make any inroads into the militant ranks without a vigorous and persistent effort to learn about the adversary's plans and strategies as well as of the whereabouts of key “wanted” individuals. The missing persons, being those members of the militant enclave that have been identified by state intelligence sources and thus picked up for interrogation, are the only means to satisfy this objective [the is limited solely to the missing that fall in this category]. Second, intelligence, interrogation, and detention are in fact lesser evils if the alternative is an all-out military offensive. Granted, the two are not substitutes and are normally applied in tandem. However, in the absence of intelligence, militaries tend to act even more desperately through cover operations that use heavy force and cause serious collateral damage. Therefore, if the military operation is to be made less sanguinary—an imperative in its own right—some level of interrogation and detention activity will have to be allowed. Finally, information about the adversary coming from missing persons is also essential to thwart planned anti-military operations and anti-civilian terrorist acts within Pakistan. One ought not to overlook the number of suicide plots foiled by the state apparatus since 2004; an overwhelming majority of these would have been made possible from tip-offs provided by those under interrogation.28 IV Thus far, we have made three contentions: (i) the state faces unprecedented pressure from the masses and judiciary to redress the situation on the missing persons front; (ii) Pakistan faces a serious threat from terrorism; and (iii) detentions are a tactical requirement to tame the terrorist insurgency—this is distinct from the heavy handed use of force; taming insurgents is a goal that the Pakistani citizens share at large. So far so good. But the obvious question that remains to be tackled is: why is the state not conducting interrogations within the bounds of constitutional law? Indeed, the current practice of detentions is illegal. The 2002 amendment to the 1997 Anti-terrorism Act only provides for detention of a citizen for 12 months without any charges but with a right of appeal after 30 days.29 Moreover, the police remains the principal agency responsible for the detentions. As is to be expected, the law requires all detention orders to be given in writing and names of those detained to be recorded. In some cases, it even requires that the alleged terrorist be set free on a bond—essentially a promise—of good behaviour. Arguably, this is as far as a law can go in allowing a quasi-democratic state to transgress the norm in terms of citizen rights. Even the 2002 amendment drew tremendous criticism from human rights groups.30 The dilemma for the security strategy is that even the expanded powers are not enough to fulfil the detention and interrogation requirements of the military. Foremost, the Pakistani police are not trained in counterterrorism interrogation and have a poor understanding of military needs. It would be impossible for them to deliver efficiently in terms of acquiring sensitive information from the detainees.


Moreover, legally, the detentions would never pass the “proof beyond doubt” test applied by the courts. For one, majority of the detentions constitute individuals who themselves are not accused of terrorism but are know of miscreant activities and are interrogated to provide leads to make further inroads into the terrorist enclave. Second, while there are exceptions, even if they are terrorists themselves, intelligencebased detentions rarely ever wait for evidence of accuracy of the information; as soon as an officially planted source points to a potential troublemaker, he could be picked up. Both these facts imply that due process would likely set the detainees free. Next, if the detainees realise that their right to appeal will set them free—at least grant them bail—within 30 days, they are much less likely to reveal any useful information. Related to this is the security agencies' concern about the reputational dimension. If detentions end in bails most of the time and majority of the detainees get away without revealing information, militants would be much bolder in their outlook. They could expect to be back in business within 30 days (or even 12 months if a bail is not granted). Finally, once detained, the detainees invariably are able to gather information about the behaviour, detention techniques, and perhaps even motivations of the interrogators (since they operate on official orders, detainees could extrapolate to make assumptions about the state's objectives). This could provide valuable information to the militant operation planners in addition to assisting future detainees in shortening the learning curve on how best to deal with the interrogators. The above provides the backdrop for current detention practices that have clearly been in excess of the Anti-terrorism Act. Since 2004, people have disappeared without notice (hence “missing persons”), there have been no written notifications, a large number of those recovered in 2007 had been missing for over the 12-month permissible period, no charges were officially levied even after the first year; they were not allowed to exercise the privilege of appeal, and the intelligence, not police has been in charge of the process.31 V Let us tie the absence of a covering law to allow for arbitrary detentions—indeed there is none in any civilised country—with the Supreme Court's efforts to retrieve missing persons. On legal grounds, the military is squarely in the wrong and they are well aware of the fact. Even institutionally, the hope of judicial revival, and by extension, the spirit of institutional dominance, is where Pakistan's long term interest lies. Excuses by the state to subvert institutional supremacy time and again have caused more harm than good. A pure institutionalist would even argue that the judicial view must be upheld irrespective of the losses on the terrorism front. Being individuals who support institutionalisation, the authors are sympathetic to this argument. However, we are of the view that under the current circumstances, such a contention is practically impossible to implement. Institutional determinism is a counterproductive enterprise if its normative application leads to an outcome that shatters any prospects of attaining institutional supremacy. This is precisely what the Supreme Court failed to understand.


Consider that those handling the state's anti-terrorism policy are not willing to let go of the vital tactical ploy of detentions. In all fairness, from the author's discussions, it is obvious that their concern is not related to the military's institutional egoism or the need to check dissent as is commonly believed. The worry lies strictly within the tactical domain: the terrorist threat is growing and any hint of complacency may unravel an unstoppable downward spiral. That given then, while the Supreme Court was well within its right to stamp its authority to put the civil and military administration on notice, its actions ran in the face of the military establishment's anti-terrorist efforts. When President Musharraf accused the judiciary of “working at cross purposes with the executive and legislature in the fight against terrorism and extremism” and took exception to the “humiliating treatment meted out to government officials […] on a routine basis [that] demoralized [sic] the civil bureaucracy and senior government functionaries”,32 he was reflecting the establishment's view on the conundrum between the military's tactical requirements and institutionalism. The truth is that the chief justice's actions did bring the civil administration to a stand still with high ranking police and intelligence officers and bureaucrats being asked to justify the state's role during their court appearances; in some cases known to the author, preparations for hearings continued round the clock. More importantly, however, a civil administration that has traditionally been unaccountable to anyone outside the institution was never going to be comfortable with such treatment for too long. Towards the end of the chief justice's stint, senior officials had begun to show resentment and some had asked for leaves of absence to avoid embarrassment. The senior administration had virtually come to a standstill.33 From a tactical perspective, the judiciary's stance on the issue was unacceptable. The ultimate outcome in favour of the establishment was a foregone conclusion once the chief justice failed to realise the importance of the terrorism issue for the state. What happened in this tussle was a classic example of a situation where a suppressed institutional finds room for a reversal in fortunes and attempts to go for the jugular before the status quo powers cut the reformers to size. Often those heading the attempted transformations forget that the very act of correcting all ills in one fell swoop, by its very nature, crosses the patience threshold of the status quo interests. Irrespective of the support transformationists from popular quarters or the moral or legal value of their claim, when status quo powers are as strong as the Pakistani establishment—in this case Musharraf and Co.—the likelihood of a forced reversal of the momentum is high. Borrowing from Guillermo O'Donnell and Philippe Schmitter's argument on democratic transitions, this depicts the scenario where “their [in this case the pro-military establishment] institutional existence, assets, and hierarchy cannot be eliminated or even threatened. If […] threatened, they may simply sweep their opponents off the board or kick it over and start playing solitaire”.34 In this case, not only was the status quo party much stronger, but it believed that it was acting out of sincerity; it saw itself as being justified in undermining institutionalism for the sake of saving the country (in some relevant policy quarters the terrorism threat is actually considered to be that severe). In light of this, the chief justice's approach, no matter how principled, was a non-starter (of


course missing persons was not the only issue that the Supreme Court took up in this manner; a similar attitude on other aspects compounded the problem). Arguably, even a fresh attempt at an all-or-nothing tussle would lead to the same counterproductive result. VI The human security concern regarding the missing persons is serious. However, given the contradictory pulls of the tactical compulsions of the counterinsurgency campaign on the one hand and the pressure to allow judicial supremacy on the other, either side's effort to completely undermine the other would lead to an unstable equilibrium. That is why the 3 November emergency did not resolve the missing persons issue, it only deferred it. As soon as the judges are restored, it will be taken up actively. What is required then to avoid a repeat of last year's outcome is a compromise. Here Cass Sunstein's framework of “incompletely theorised legal agreements” is admissible.35 In a nutshell, Sunstein argues that in pluralistic societies with disagreements on fundamental questions, a universally acceptable legal solution is virtually impossible to achieve.36 Therefore, the idea is for final decisions on laws to be deferred if stakeholders agree on broad theoretical principles under which the law would operate (without necessarily agreeing on the meaning of those principles) or practical steps that can be taken under a stipulation (without questioning the theory behind it).37 Viewed within the prism of incompletely theorised agreements, one way forward is working to develop a consensus on particularities of the legal framework that addresses terrorist activity. In other words, the Anti-terrorism Act could be either re-modified or re-interpreted to allow for detentions without violating the law. By doing so, the judicial supremacy will not be challenged—by having agreed on a mutually acceptable interpretation of the law, institutionalism would be upheld as long as the courts were allowed to pass verdicts based on that interpretation. The aim of course is to uphold institutions while giving tactical operating space to the status quo power. In light of this framework, we present the following recommendations: l The state should consider a reinterpretation of the Anti-terrorism Act. The legal

minds need to highlight provisions that can be interpreted so as to allow both the establishment and the judiciary to claim victory. Only in the event that no such reinterpretation is possible within the existing text, should the politically challenging move to re-amend the Act be considered. The reinterpretation or reformulation should lay down how the judiciary and the establishment understand the law. Perhaps an official advisory opinion can be made in this regard. l The reinterpreted terms of detention (these must include detail of notification procedures, treatment while in detention, length, etc), the agency in charge of interrogations, and the terms of appeal or bail—perhaps an understanding on when cases would or would not be allowed bail—should be clearly understood. Of course, the interpretation should not allow the security agencies a free hand.


Rather, it should create circumstances where the military has enough room to meet their bare minimum detention—not maximum—requirements. l This recommendation amounts to an alteration of the legal domain; it suggests a flexible interpretation of the law. This is institutionally permissible and once undertaken, will eliminate the need for the anti-terror effort to challenge the jurisdiction of the courts. l Any excesses by the agencies after such reinterpretation should be persecuted with determination; just as some strictness with detainees is permissible, the agencies should also know that the agreed-upon boundary cannot be crossed at any cost. For instance, reports that Pakistani citizens may have been captured and handed over to the U.S. for detention is clearly an unwarranted excess that ought not to be justified even under a lax interpretation. l Any case beyond the bounds of this reformulated law must lie within the sole jurisdiction of the due legal process. The propensity of state interests to commit excesses and use the excuse of the terrorist threat to cast their net wider than necessary in terms of which persons qualify under the Anti-terrorism Act is nothing less than a mockery of its principal responsibility of protecting citizens. The judiciary should take firm notice of any revelations of detentions de-linked from the imminent terrorist threat; indeed, there allegedly have been many. One stipulation that we suggest must be part of the recommended reinterpretation is the need for the detaining agencies to make a convincing case that the detainee was indeed linked to terrorism—strictly defined—in some way. Perhaps, the intelligence that led to his detention could be shared with relevant government functionaries who could then inform courts of their satisfaction if a detention is challenged. This would help reduce the prospects of any detention that is irrelevant to the terrorism front. l It is also important to mention at this point that our sole focus on missing persons detained by the state agencies was deliberate. We consider the Balochi and Sindhi nationalists to be outside the purview of the paper as even their being labelled terrorists is contested territory. A number of human rights organisations contend that they ought not to fall in the same category as the Taliban or alQaeda cadres.38 Our proposed reinterpretation should not apply to these elements directly. Instead, a decision on this count should be preceded by a serious debate on the objectives of the new interpretation and whether Balochi and Sindhi nationalists fit the bill. Arguably, given our contention that the imminence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda threat is what necessitates a reinterpretation of the law, they may well fall outside its purview. l Once the law has been reinterpreted, the executive and the legislature need to provide the judiciary unlimited space to establish the supremacy of the institution, rid itself of internal corruption and nepotism, and focus on access to speedy and fair justice on issues that are central to the common man. This is essential if the process of institutionalisation is to move forward unabated. l Finally, a revamping of the counterinsurgency strategy is in order. The focus must shift from heavy-handed military force to a tri-pronged approach which puts economic and political efforts at the forefront and a military campaign with “minimal use of force” being exercised in the background.39 While this will


increase the need for interrogation and detention in the short term, only through such a broad approach can the state realistically expect to tame the insurgency in due course. The current wave of judicial activism presents a golden opportunity for Pakistan. The country's long term success is hinged to institutional supremacy, of which the judiciary is a central pillar. It would be a great loss if the executive cum legislature versus judiciary tussle reverses the prospects of the institutions coming out on top. To ensure that, both sides need to work prudently—with flexibility rather than determinism. To be sure, the road to irreversible institutionalisation will be a long one. In the interim, sacrifices will have to be made from both sides. Deterministic institutionalists or hard line defendants of the status quo can only harm the process. The counterinsurgency campaign is the first test where the judiciary and the establishment have to work to meet half way without creating a scenario where the establishment is forced to subvert law or coerce the judiciary and the latter is compelled to look the other way or pack up. As paradoxical as it may sound, this is the only realistically workable option that will reduce excesses regarding case selection and treatment of detainees in the short run and eliminate the need for detentions over the long run.

Moeed Yusuf is a graduate fellow at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University, USA and a research fellow at the Strategic and Economic Policy Research Organization, Pakistan. Nazia Hussain is a graduate of Boston University and an independent researcher working on issues of international security.

8. 9.

10. 11.

12. 13.


15. 16.

Endnotes 1.


3. 4. 5. 6.



United Nations Commission on Human Security. 2003. Human Security Now, 2003. New York: United Nations Human Security Unit, P. 2. <>. Hausmann argues that developing countries have multiple problems but rather than focusing on all of them simultaneously, as conventional wisdom suggests, policy makers should identify and work only on the biggest problem, i.e. their binding constraint. See for example, Ricardo Hausmann et al., “Growth Diagnostics,” Harvard University, March 2005. <>. United Nations Commission on Human Security, Human Security Now, 2003. P. 2. “CJ suspended, escorted home,” Daily Dawn, March 10, 2007, <> “Pakistan's top judge reinstated,” BBC News, July 20, 2007, <> Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2008: State of the World's Human Rights (London: Amnesty International, 2008). < eng/Regions/Asia-Pacific/Pakistan > See for example, Beena Sarwar, “'Judicial Activism' Triggered Emergency,” Inter Press Service News Agency, November 3, 2007, <>. “Musharaf sacks Chief Justice Pakistan,” Khaleej Times Online, March 9, 2007, < rch/subcontinent_March353.xml&section=subcontinent>. “Missing people's relatives


18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

criticize action against CJ,” Daily Dawn, March 12, 2007, <>. Ijaz Hussain, “Some unanswered questions about the judicial crisis,”Daily Times, April 11, 2007, <> Declan Walsh, “Without a trace”, The Guardian (London), March 16, 2007, <> “Government 'finds' 20 missing people, sends 10 home”, Daily Times, December 2, 2006. <>. See also, “Court raps Pakistan over missing”, BBC News, December 1, 2006, <> Ibid. Estimates of total disappearances range from 1,600-4,000. See for example, US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2007 (Washington, D.C., Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, March 11, 2008) <, >. Also see, Peter Tatchell, “Pakistan Celebrates, Balochistan Mourns,” The Guardian (London), August 15, 2007. <> Texts of the Anti-terrorism Ordinances 1999 and 2002 obtained from South Asia Terrorism Portal, <>. President Musharraf's concern with the internal terrorist threat was formally stated for the first time on January 12, 2002 in his now-famous televised addressed aimed at pacifying the international community and New Delhi amidst rising tensions between the two South Asian neighbours. This line of reasoning has been retained unequivocally ever since. Figures calculated from South Asia Terrorism Portal, “Fidayeen (Suicide Squad) Attacks in Pakistan.” Available at < pakistan/database/ Fidayeenattack.htm>. Other sources have reported somewhat lower figures. Ibid. Hassan Abbas, “A Profile of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan,” CTC Sentinel, Vol.1, No.2 (Jan 2008), Also see, Declan Walsh, “Pakistani Taliban take control of unruly tribal belt”, The Guardian (London), March 21, 2006. The Council has representation from all of FATA's seven tribal agencies, as well as from the settled North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) districts of Swat, Bannu, Tank, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohistan, Buner, and Malakand. “Pakistan army claims Swat valley cleared of militants,” ABC News, December 8, 2007. <>. “Profile: Islamabad's Red Mosque,” BBC News, July 27, 2007. <> Declan Walsh, “Red Mosque Siege Declared Over,” The Guardian (London), July 11, 2007. <> Jane Perlez, “Taliban leader flaunts power inside Pakistan”, The New York Times, June 2, 2008. <> The election results can be viewed at <>. Pew Research Centre, Pew Global Attitudes Survey 2007 (Washington D.C.: Pew Research Centre, 2007) <>. See also Carlotta Gall, “In Tribal Pakistan, Religious Parties are Foundering”, The New York Times, February 14, 2008. <> Mark Mazzetti, “One bullet away from what?” The New York Times, March 11, 2007.


24. 25. 26.


28. 29. 30.



33. 34.

35. 36. 37. 38. 39.


< n=b086a2838a258469&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss> Pew Research Centre, Pew Global Attitudes Survey 2007. Ibid. For a detailed account of the role of the Pakistani intelligence, see Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (Penguin Press, 2004). See for example, “Pakistan's Undeclared War,” BBC News, September 10, 2004. <>. See also Human Rights Watch, Pakistan: End Excessive Use of Force in Counter terrorism Operations (New York: Human Rights Watch, November 2006). <> While no official figures are available, non-attributable discussions reveal that 'hundreds' of potential terrorist attacks have been foiled. The text of the Anti-terrorism Ordinance obtained from South Asia Terrorism Portal, < > See for example, Amnesty International, Pakistan: No need for more laws to fight political violence (London: Amnesty International, November 2002). < > The common threads in the profile studies of those released were illegal detention over long periods of time with no hopes of legal recourse for the detained, main role of intelligence agencies in the disappearances and extreme torture. See for example, Declan Walsh, “Without a trace,” The Guardian (London), March 16, 2007.< >. Syed Saleem Shahzad, “Justice in the Dock in Pakistan,” Asia Times Online, March 13, 2007. <>. “Concerns over Pakistan's Missing,” BBC News, February 9, 2007.< hi/south_asia/6345189.stm> Pervez Musharaf, “President Pervez Musharaf's Address to the Nation,” Islamabad, Pakistan, November 3, 2007, < FilesSpeeches%5CAddresses%5C1217200741657AMSpeech_Nov_03-2007.pdf > Personal discussions with civil servants and legal experts involved in the proceedings at the time. While O'Donnel and Schmitter use this with respect to the reaction of armed forces, it is applicable to any status quo institutional power. Guillermo O'Donnell and Philippe Schmitter (eds.), Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986). Cass R. Sunstein, “Incompletely theorized agreements in constitutional law”, Social Research, (forthcoming), Pp.1-25. Available at <>. Ibid. Ibid. “Pakistan: hundreds missing in conflict-torn Balochistan,” IrinNews, May 10, 2007. <> For detailed recommendations, see Moeed Yusuf and Anit Mukherjee, “Counterinsurgency in Pakistan: Lessons from India,” National Security Outlook, American Enterprise Institute, September 2007.

Water Security in Eastern Himalayan Region K. B. Sajjadur Rasheed


overnance in the water sector is crucially important since the overarching goal of water security is to ensure the mitigation of global water crisis. Water security would depend on such decisions as to who makes the allocation of water and who uses it for what purpose. In simple terms, water security—from household to global levels—means that an individual or community has access to enough safe water at affordable cost for basic and other economic needs while, at the same time, ensure the health of the natural environment. The implications of this dictum are manifold. They include a commitment to share and utilise surface and groundwater in a sustainable manner, so that human development can take place in tandem with the protection of the ecosystems. In other words, “water security” would encapsulate the complex concept of holistic water governance, striking a balance between resource (water) conservation and resource use. This holistic theme of governance is applicable to local, national as well as regional levels. The aim of water security is to attain improvements in food security, health, human productivity and poverty alleviation alongside environmental sustainability. The special emphasis in water security is to extend services to the unserved population, and find the right balance between meeting social needs of water and using water for economic development. In this quest, a good trust-enriched understanding would be essential between countries who—as co-riparians—share international watercourses. Water security in mainland South Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan) hinges upon the fulfilment of two conditions. One is the availability or supply of water generated within the territorial boundaries of the rivers, and the other is the availability or supply of water from cross-border flows (i.e. from the watercourses of shared river basins). Three zones of the water ecosystem are identifiable in South Asia. The first of these zones is the Western Himalayan River System, dominated by the Indus River and its five tributaries (Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej). Water security in the Indus Basin has been largely ensured through the Indus Basin Treaty of 1960 between Pakistan and India which, in effect, divided the basin between the two countries. In the Eastern Himalayan Region (EHR) lies the second zone of South Asian water ecosystem. This zone is dominated by three great river basins, viz, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna-Barak. The catchments of the GangesBrahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river system is spread over five countries—India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and China. Water sharing in these rivers is naturally a significant issue for dispute among the co-riparians, especially for the downstream country—Bangladesh. Water security in Bangladesh is, therefore, contingent upon receiving adequate share of water from the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghan (as


well as 51 other common rivers), which flow from India into Bangladesh. The third zone of South Asian water ecosystem is the Peninsular river system of South India (east flowing Mahanadi, Krishna, Pennar, and Cauvery, and west flowing Narmada, Tapi etc) which lies entirely within Indian territory and hence its security is dependent on water sharing and flows among the different Indian states. The scope of this paper is to examine the water security issues in the Easter Himalayan Region (EHR) with special reference to Bangladesh. EHR Waters: Issues and Concerns The Eastern Himalayan Region (EHR)—being the second largest hydrologic region in the world (Ahmad et al eds. 2001)—is very rich in water resources, fertile land and energy potentials, but scores very low in terms of socioeconomic indicators. Excluding China, the four countries (India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan) within the EHR have a population of over 600 million; more than 70 percent of which live in rural areas and are dependent on agriculture. Poverty is the common denominator in the EHR, 40 percent of the world's poor live here. The status of this region with respect to health, adult literacy, per capita Gross National Income (GNI), per capita energy use, infant and child mortality is below the global average (World Bank 2004). Nearly 45 percent of the land of the EHR is cultivable, yet per capita availability of arable land is very small—around one-tenth of a hectare (Ahmad et al eds. 2001)—which is the result of high density of population and a high population growth rate. It has been widely recognised that water could be the most pragmatic entry point to development in the Eastern Himalayan Region. The three mighty rivers of the EHR (the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna) have an average annual flow of more than 1,350 billion cubic meters (BCM) (Ahmad et al eds. 2001), and along with their numerous tributaries, they cover an area of about 1.75 million sq km (Table 1). Bangladesh has a share of only seven percent of the total catchment, while 63 percent of the catchment lies within India. This demonstrates the challenge Bangladesh faces in ensuring water security for its population with 90 percent of the annual surface flows originating upstream in India. Table 1: Catchment Areas of the EHR River Basins (sq km) Countries




861,000 (79)

195,000 (34)


140,000 (13)




42,000 (54)

Total 1,098,000 (63)


140,000 (8)

45,000 (8)


45,000 (3)


333,000 (19)


40,000 (4)

293,000 (50)


46,000 (4)

47,000 (8)

36,000 (46)

129,000 (7)

1,087,000 (100)

580,000 (100)

78,000 (100)

1,745,000 (100)


(Figures in parentheses are in percentages)



The Ganges rises in India in the Himalayas at an elevation of 7,010 meters. The river flows south–southeast through the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal before swinging around the Rajmahal Hills to enter Bangladesh at the western extremity of Nawabganj district. Three major tributaries of the Ganges—the Karnali, the Gandaki and the Kosi—rise in China, and flow through Nepal to join the Ganges in India. These three left bank tributaries of the Ganges contribute about 71 percent of the natural dry season flow and 41 percent of the total annual flow of the Ganges. From about 18 km below Farakka (West Bengal), the Ganges forms the common boundary between Bangladesh and India for about 119 km. The Ganges, upon entering Bangladesh, flows east–southeast for about 240 km and joins the Jamuna River (the main flow of the Brahmaputra) at Goalundo. After this confluence, the combined flow is known as the Padma, which continues to flow southeast to join the Meghna River near Chandpur. The length of the Ganges River from its source to its confluence with the Brahmaputra is 2,500 km, of which about 240 km lies in Bangladesh (Rasheed 2008). The Brahmaputra rises in the Kailash range glaciers of the Himalayas in Tibet at an elevation of 5,150 metres. Locally named as Tsangpo, it flows eastward—parallel to the Himalayas—for about 1,700 km; and along the north-eastern corner of India, it takes a sharp bend toward south and southwest to enter Arunachal Pradesh (India). After joined by two tributaries—the Dibang and the Lohit—the river is known as the Brahmaputra and flows westward. The Brahmaputra enters Bangladesh in Kurigram district, and is joined by several tributaries from India and Bhutan. The principal channel of the Brahmaputra flows southward and meets the Ganges at Goalundo. The total length of the Brahmaputra, from its source up to its confluence with the Ganges at Goalundo, is 2,900 km, of which about 260 km lies within Bangladesh (Rasheed 2008). The headwaters of the Meghna—the Barak—rise in the Manipur Hills (part of the Himalayan system) of north-eastern India at an elevation of about 2,900 meters. After flowing southwest, it takes a sharp turn near Tipaimukh to flow north. Emerging from the hills, the Barak flows toward the Bangladesh border of Sylhet, where it bifurcates into two channels—the Surma and the Kusiyara—converging once again as the Meghna in the greater Sylhet District. The river then flows southwest to meet the combined flows of the Ganges-Padma and the Brahmaputra near Chandpur. South of Chandpur, the combined flow of the three river systems is known as the Lower Meghna which falls into the Bay of Bengal through a wide estuary. The length of the Meghna from its source up to Chandpur is about 902 km, of which around 400 km lies within Bangladesh (Rasheed 2008). Bangladesh is the lowest riparian in all the three eastern Himalayan river systems, while India is upstream to Bangladesh in each instance. Consequently, without any agreement on water apportionment between India and Bangladesh of these three rivers (Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna) and 51 other trans-boundary rivers, Bangladesh is not assured of water security. Besides, the seasonal rhythm of the monsoon—which feeds these rivers—has introduced the condition of seasonality in


water flows in the rivers. There is too much water in the rainy season, often causing floods, while the dry season flows—about one-sixth of the average annual flow—create acute water scarcity in Bangladesh. Some of the leading water related issues and concerns vis-à-vis water security for Bangladesh are discussed below. Water Sharing The need for water sharing for Bangladesh in the eastern Himalayan rivers arose in 1947 when British India was partitioned, and Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) found itself the lower riparian in the three river basins. The problem became real after India constructed and commissioned the Farakka Barrage on the Ganges in 1975—only 18 km before the river enters Bangladesh—with the intent of diverting water into a Ganges tributary for flushing the port of Kolkata. The unilateral decision of India to divert water from the Ganges brought severe environmental disaster for Bangladesh, including the adverse impact on the ecology of the Sundarban, the world's largest mangrove forest tract. Soon after the diversion at Farakka, negotiations started between Bangladesh and India; short term agreements were reached for interim water sharing at Farakka in 1977, 1982 and 1985. Both countries agreed that the Ganges waters are not sufficient for either country in the dry season and, therefore, the dry season flows must be augmented. Bangladesh argued that there is enough water in the upstream Ganges section in Nepal which can be stored in reservoirs and released in the dry season for the benefit of both Bangladesh and India. However, since India insisted only on a bilateral agreement and was averse to any involvement of Nepal in this augmentation scheme, there was no progress on this issue—a vital link for water security for the entire region. When the interim sharing agreements expired in 1988, Bangladesh was left in a great predicament with respect to the Ganges waters as the dry season flows diminished alarmingly. In 1996, the two countries signed a 30-year treaty on the Ganges water sharing under a prescribed formula, which assured Bangladesh of a definite quantum of dry season flow, yet not enough to ensure full security. This treaty also emphasised the need for dry season augmentation of the Ganges and sharing of other trans-boundary rivers. Yet no progress has been achieved so far on either of the issues. Floods The EHR countries experience recurrent floods causing losses of life, croplands and infrastructure. In Nepal, sudden cloudbursts in the hilly valleys and “Glacial Lake Outburst Floods” (GLOF) are common, as also are the flash floods in the Nepalese Terai region. Floods in India affect its northern and northeastern states owing to heavy precipitation in the Ganges and Brahmaputra basins. Bangladesh, being the lowest riparian in the GBM system, suffers the most since the country is the outlet for draining water from an area which is 12 times its size. Floods in Bangladesh are caused by a combination of several factors like flash floods from Indian border hills and higher than average rainfall in the upstream region as well as inside the country—especially because 80 percent of the annual rainfall is concentrated between June and October. Indeed, flooding in Bangladesh is the most serious environmental hazard to the country; 80 percent of the country is flood prone on account of the flat floodplain topography and the low gradient of the rivers and streams. Since most of


the flood waters descend from India, effective flood preparedness is impossible without active cooperation of India in transmitting flood related data to Bangladesh for a meaningful flood forecasting. Currently India provides Bangladesh with water level data from seven stations on the Ganges, the Teesta, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna for the latter to make flood forecasts. However, these stations are located very close to the border between Bangladesh and India and hence advance warning of floods is not possible for more than 48 hours in central parts of Bangladesh—lesser in border districts. Flood management is, therefore, a major challenge for Bangladesh as well as for India and Nepal in their efforts to achieve water security. Drought Paradoxically, in the EHR with recurrent flood incidence, drought is also a significant environmental hazard. It may result from a prolongation of the dry season period, late arrival of monsoon and early departure of rains. In any of these cases, the results are manifested in parching of the ground, depletion of groundwater and soil moisture, and withering of vegetation leading to crop failure. A drought year is normally identified when more than 20 percent of the area of the country or region is affected by drought (SSARC 1992). The north-northwest part of Bangladesh (with less than 1500 mm of annual rainfall) experiences high rainfall variability, and is considered drought prone (Brammer 1997). This region of Bangladesh has also witnessed acute land degradation due to overgrazing and excessive removal of vegetative cover—triggered by shortage of water. Salinity Management Salinity is a major problem in the coastal zone of the EHR countries, especially Bangladesh with a 710 km long densely populated coastline along the Bay of Bengal. In the estuarine rivers of coastal Bangladesh, there is normal ingress of saline water during tides. However, this phenomenon of saline intrusion inland has exacerbated since the construction of Farakka Barrage in India on account of progressive decrease of freshwater in rivers due to upstream withdrawal. Salinity management in Bangladesh is thus a perennial problem for the coastal region, not only for surface water in rivers but also groundwater which too has suffered salinisation. Increased salinity poses a serious threat to water security in Bangladesh's coastal zone—for both domestic and agricultural sectors (Ahmad et al eds. 2001). Climate Change The hydrological regime and water resources are an extremely vulnerable sector to climate change in the EHR. The principal driver of variability in water security over space and time is precipitation, which—according to the IPCC's 2007 Fourth Assessment—is expected to increase in South Asia (IPCC 2007). Besides altering the rainfall pattern in the EHR, a climate change induced rise in temperature could increase snowmelt in the Himalayas leading to greater flow of water in the rivers during the flood season. Most predictive models in climate change research indicate that Bangladesh would be warmer and wetter, though there might also be a discerning trend of declining rainfall in the dry season. Increased flooding and drainage congestion are the two most severe consequences expected from climate change in the


plains of the EHR. It is also expected that higher temperatures would induce increased glacier melt causing Himalayan glaciers to retreat. As a result, in the longer term, the contribution of glacier melt to the river flows would diminish leading to decreased flows in the dry season river flows in the EHR (IPCC 2007). Potential Conflict to Cooperation Potential Trans-boundary rivers have the inherent potential to generate conflicts among the coriparian countries in almost all parts of the world. The conflicts emerge from differing perceptions and actions by the co-riparians in the sharing of water and individual countries' decisions on the mode of water utilisation. However, there exists enormous “cooperation potential” among the co-riparians if they perceive trans-boundary water as a “shared resource”. Examples of cooperation and agreement in river basins management are not totally absent. The Indus Basin Treaty of 1960 is a success story in South Asia, and it has worked pretty well for nearly half a century through partitioning the river system between Pakistan and India and constructing structures to restore the natural flows (Siddiqi and Tahir-Kheli 2003). In Africa, 10 countries sharing the Nile Basin have launched the Nile Basin Initiative in 1999, which offers an example of how “conflict” could be transformed into a basin-wide “cooperation”. In the Eastern Himalayan Region, a serious conflict emerged in 1975, following the construction of the Farakka Barrage on the Ganges by India. The downstream parts of the Ganges in Bangladesh experienced drastic reduction of dry season flows, which caused severe degradation of environment in southwestern parts of the country where a third of the national population live. The Ganges Treaty of 1960 (referred to above) was signed to address the issue of diminished Ganges flows. Bangladesh has been advocating the needs and benefits of water-based cooperation in the EHR for over two decades, which could greatly enhance the degree of water security for the lower riparian (Bangladesh). Some of these areas of cooperation potentials are highlighted below. River Flow Augmentation The Ganges Basin is a heavily populated region with demand for water increasing every year in both Bangladesh and India. The Nepalese tributaries which feed 71 percent of the dry season flows of the Ganges offer the surplus water in that basin which could be harnessed for Ganges flow augmentation. The scope for augmenting Ganges dry season flow lies in storing the surplus water through constructing storage reservoirs in the northern and middle belts of Nepal. In 1983, Bangladesh proposed and identified seven such potential storage sites in Nepal. The proposed dams would not only enhance the Gangetic flows in northern India and Bangladesh, it would also benefit the EHR through huge hydropower generation, downstream flood moderation, irrigation and inland navigation opportunities. Transboundary River Water Sharing Water security in Bangladesh is contingent upon receiving river flow from upstream sections of 54 trans-boundary rivers. Currently there is no agreement between the two countries in sharing the waters of these rivers except the Ganges (through the Ganges Treaty of 1996). Although the treaty specified that the co-riparians are to reach water


sharing agreements in other common rivers, no progress has been achieved in that sector. Consequently, Bangladesh continues to live in an environment of uncertainty over the quantum of water to be received from across the border. This has seriously compromised the efforts of Bangladesh water planners in domestic water development and management. In the context of cooperation in water sharing, Bangladesh is also alarmed at the prospect of diverting the Ganges waters to the south Indian (peninsular) rivers under the proposed river linking plan of India. This decade-old plan envisages the transfer of Brahmaputra waters to the Ganges through link canals and storages in India, completely ignoring the hydrological fact that both these rivers flow into Bangladesh. Under the Indian plan, the augmented Ganges waters are then to be carried by canals to link up with the Peninsular rivers in South India. Bangladesh, therefore, needs to be informed of these diversion schemes before any planning and designing are done by India. Water security in Bangladesh would be severely jeopardised if the river linking plan is implemented. Flood Management This involves flood preparedness through effective flood forecasting and warning with a view of minimising flood damages. Since the flood waters are mostly originating outside its borders, Bangladesh requires data on water level in the trans-boundary rivers (the Ganges, the Teesta, Brahmaputra and the Meghna) from upstream stations in India, and even Nepal, in order to make forecasts for the country with sufficient lead time for flood preparedness. The existing bilateral cooperation between Bangladesh and India on flood forecasting and warning has to be strengthened further with more data from upstream points in India. This would enable Bangladesh to make meaningful forecasts for its flood-prone population living in the floodplains. Hydropower The potentials for hydropower generation in the EHR deserve attention, while not directly related to ensuring water security. The vast potential for hydropower in this region is manifested by the potentials of Nepal and Bhutan—the two Himalayan states of the EHR. Nepal has a theoretical hydropower potential of 83,000 MW, of which about 42,000 MW are feasible for economic development. Bhutan also has a potential of nearly 20,000 MW. These unexploited resources would give a significant boost to the economies of the four mainland South Asian countries of the EHR through developing an integrated sub-regional power grid linking the four countries and facilitating the export of power from Nepal and Bhutan to Bangladesh and India. Since hydropower generation would be possible by building multipurpose dams, they would help in the flow regulation of the rivers, thereby helping in such phenomena like flood moderation, and flow augmentation with their cascade effects on water security. Vision for Future Two elements in the EHR's water ecosystem are integral in formulating a long term vision for the region's water security. First, the demand and consumption of


freshwater in the region is increasing and will continue to rise. Second, the transboundary nature of the major river systems necessitates a coordinated and cooperative approach in water utilisation, development and management. Based on this premise, two interrelated visions are proposed. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Under this vision, recognised for national application in most countries, the focus is on a holistic and cross-sectoral approach to water resources management so that all conflicting and competing uses of freshwater are equitably addressed. IWRM is defined as “a process which aims to ensure the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources to maximize [sic] economic and social welfare without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems” (GWP 1998). In the EHR, IWRM should form the cornerstone of water governance, both within and across countries, with a view to ensuring “best practices” in water management.

l Rasheed, K.B.S. Bangladesh: Resource and Environmental Profile. Dhaka: A.H.

Development Publishing House Ltd. l SAARC. 1992. Regional Study of the Causes and Consequences of Natural Disasters and

the Protection and the Preservation of the Environment. Secretariat of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Kathmandu. l Siddiqi, T.A. and S. Tahir-Kheli, eds. 2003. Project on Water and Security in South Asia. South Asia Program, Johns Hopkins University and Global Environment and Energy in the 21st Century, Honolulu, Hawaii. l World Bank 2004. 2004 World Development Indicators. The World Bank, Washington D.C.

Basin-Wide Planning and Management The dominance of three large river basins in the EHR which impact four South Asian countries requires a basin-wide approach in planning. Segmented country-specific approaches would only create and aggravate conflicts between the co-riparians. Basinwide planning as well as multilateral management for the three basins (the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna) would ensure trust, transparency and fullest cooperation in information sharing among the basin countries. Within each basin an institutional framework could be developed by establishing River Basin Authorities (RBA) where each co-riparian country would be equally represented. International river basin authorities can be entrusted with such tasks as research and monitoring, coordination among the participating countries, planning, compliance monitoring, and above all, conflict resolution (the Netherlands 2000). In the present world, such international river basin institutions are almost indispensable for sustainable transboundary river basin management.

Dr K. B. Sajjadur Rasheed is former professor of Geography and Environment, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. He may be contacted at References l Ahmad, Q.K., A.K. Biswas, R. Rangachari and M.M. Sainju, eds. 2001. Ganges-

Brahmaputra-Meghna Region: A Framework for Sustainable Development. Dhaka: The University Press Ltd. l Brammer, H. 1997. Agricultural Development Possibilities in Bangladesh. Dhaka: The University Press Ltd. l GWP. 1998. Integrated Water Resources Management in South Asia: A Regional Perspective for GWP Action. Background Paper. Global Water Partnership, Stockholm. l IPCC. 2007. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. l The Netherlands. 2000. Towards Sustainable River Basin Management. Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment, Nieuwegein, the Netherlands.



the process; hence, this article focuses on the actual opportunities an individual might have to get access to water. Three indicators are used to measure the capabilities of slum dwellers to use piped water: the minimum quantity of regularly supplied piped water per person, its quality, and its price.

Dhaka: Water Resources and Slum Dwellers' Capabilities Sayeed Iftekhar Ahmed The [Bangladesh] Government's goal is to ensure that all people have access to safe water and sanitation services at an affordable cost. Since women play a crucial role in water management and hygiene education at the household level, recognition of women's role will contribute to the overall development of the [water] sector. Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh National Policy for Safe Water Supply and Sanitation 1998 (Local Government Division 1998:1, 7)


ater scarcity is a severe and growing problem in Dhaka, especially in the summers when, except for some rich areas of the city, 90 percent of the city's residents face water shortages, 60 percent of whom face acute crisis (Khan 2005, Kamal 2006, Hasan 2007c). There is no regular water supply in most of the neighbourhoods even during “normal” times, and people are also not satisfied with the quality of water. The most precarious situation is in the slum areas, where roughly 37 percent of the city's population resides. The Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA), a public water company, is in charge of supplying water to the wide metropolitan area of over 12.51 million people (UNESCO 2003). It follows a top-down hierarchical approach in deciding who gets water. Through the lens of Amartya Sen's (1999) capability approach, this article examines whether slum dwellers in Dhaka have been able to establish personal command over the use of piped water resources distributed by DWASA. The Capability Approach The capability approach (Sen 1980) offers an alternative perspective to the utilitarian theory that is generally used in microeconomics. The utilitarian theory postulates that a person's well-being depends on control of personal utilities. In contrast, capability theory does not address the significance of goods in a person's life, or the pleasure a person derives from the use of those goods; instead, it addresses a person's opportunities to make use of the resources to secure well-being (Sharma 2004, 1). According to Amartya Sen, it focuses on “what they are actually able to do or to be” (Nussbaum 2000, 12). Sen uses “the notion of capability” to indicate “a space within which comparisons of quality of life (or standard of living) are most fruitfully made” (ibid.). The capability approach mainly pays attention to the opportunity rather than


Slum Dwellers in Dhaka According to Anu Muhammad (2007, 36), a Bangladeshi economist, there are six million people living in slum areas; on sidewalks, in railway stations, in garages, and inside sewer pipes in Dhaka. More than 100,000 of these people live on the street sides, sidewalks, and market verandas, in rickshaw vans, and inside market places; those who are relatively privileged live in the slums. A slum is defined as “a neighborhood [sic] or residential area with a minimum of 10 households or a mess unit with at least 25 members with four of the following five conditions prevailing within it: predominantly poor housing; very high population density and room crowding; very poor environmental services, particularly water and sanitation facilities; very low socioeconomic status for the majority of residents; lack of security of tenure” (Islam et al. 2005, 12). A study by Islam et al. (2005, 12, 39; see also Sohel, 2007) suggests that more than 3.4 million people live in 4,966 slum clusters in Dhaka in an area of only 3,840 acres. Population density is thus very high in slum clusters—891 persons per acre—whereas the city population is 121 per acre (Islam 2005, 40). Most of these statistics are based on estimation because the slum population is highly mobile, and many residents also face eviction, by either the government or local authorities. The slum population increased between the year 1996 and 2005 from 1.5 to 3.4 million. Massive urban migration by the rural poor is the major reason for the rapid increase of the slum population, especially after the liberation war of 1971. Roughly 37 percent of the city's population now lives in approximately 5,000 slum clusters (ibid. 20). The slums are still growing: “the rate of growth […] and their tendency to emerge in more peripheral locations are likely to persist in the near future with continuing heavy rural to urban migration in the face of an ongoing dearth of land for cheap housing in more central locations” (ibid., 21). Over 75 percent of households in slum clusters are “single room family occupancy” and 77 percent are rented (ibid., 15, 42). On average, five persons live in one room in more than half of the clusters. Most slum dwellers share their households with other family members and friends. They also live with non-relatives in “mess” housing; low-income people also live in “mess” housing in other parts of the city. Estimates are that 3,286,770 people live in slum households and 133,751 live in slum mess units (Islam et al. 2005, 37). Most of the households in slum clusters are women-centred, although men are the figureheads. The major difference between slum dwellers' households and upper, middle, or lower middle-class households is that there is “very poor sanitation and inadequate water access” in the slums (Islam et al. 2005, 15). However, there are illegal and legal


electricity connections in most of the households in slum clusters.1 Although some slum clusters consist of only 10 households, there are some with more than 1,000. Karail in Mohakhali is the “largest single slum” in the city, with more than 100,100 people. In the Kamrangirchar area, 265,000 of 300,000 people live in slum clusters, “the single largest concentration of slums.” Large concentrations of slums are also located in Khilket, the Badda-Satarkul area, Hazaribagh, West Mohammadpur, and along the Narayangonj to Tongi railway line (ibid., 21). Most women living in slum clusters are garment factory workers, domestic workers, vendors, day labourers, factory workers, and housewives. Most men work as rickshaw pullers, drivers, factory workers, day labourers, or vendors. According to casual inquiries by this author, with about 100 slum dwellers in various clusters, the daily income of both women and men is less than a dollar per day. The average income of a man is slightly higher than that of a woman because of the gender discrimination in wage distribution in most cases. The monthly income of most households in the slums is only $71 (ibid., 15). However, for slum dwellers the problem is not their low income but DWASA's decision to not supply water to the slum areas because they are living there “illegally”. Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) Since its establishment in 1963 (under EP Ordinance No. XIX 1963), DWASA has been a semi-autonomous public organisation operating under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. Before DWASA, the Dhaka Municipality and the Department of Public Health Engineering supplied water to the city's residents. DWASA's four main objectives were construction, operation, and maintenance of the necessary infrastructure for water supply for domestic, industrial, and commercial purposes; construction, operation, and maintenance of the sewage system; construction, operation, and maintenance of drainage facilities; and solid waste management (Ullah 2006). Despite government mandates, the responsibility for managing solid waste has never been transferred to DWASA. Rather, since its formation in 1993, the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) has been in charge of managing solid waste. At the beginning of the 1990s, DWASA took charge of supplying water to the Narayangang district, adjacent to Dhaka. Under the WASA Act of 1996, DWASA was restructured to set up corporate management “under which mandates for water supply, treatment and disposal of domestic and industrial sewage and storm water drainage were entrusted with DWASA” (Ullah 2006). DWASA is currently operating as a corporate organisation with three major goals: provide safe and sufficient water for drinking, industrial, and commercial uses; ensure sanitation and good hygiene conditions through proper disposal of domestic and industrial sewage; and ensure efficient storm-water drainage (Ullah 2006).

DWASA's centralised system provides no plan for allocating piped water to slum households because DWASA's policy is to supply water only to legal households with DCC holding numbers. However, with the collaboration of some NGOs, DWASA does supply water to some slum areas (Mian 2002). Capabilities of Slum Dwellers for Accessing Piped Water Resources Quantity of Water Although roughly 96 percent of slum residents have some access to piped water, almost none of the households have water connections, and they are also not connected to the drainage or sewage systems (Islam et al. 2005, 12). Table 1 shows the sources of drinking water in the roughly 5,000 slum clusters in Dhaka. Most slum dwellers do not obtain adequate water from these sources to meet their everyday necessities. All but 5 percent have to share their water sources with other people, and 40 percent have to share with 11 other households (ibid., 45). Table 1: Sources of Drinking Water in Dhaka. Municipal standpipes Tube well Other sources

92.3 percent 6.5 percent 1.2 percent

Source: Islam et al. 2005:45.

Seventy-five percent of households are “single room family occupancy” and on average five people live in one room (Islam et al. 2005, 15, 40). Although DWASA has set up some water connections inside slum areas, the existing connections have mostly been set up by the “owners” of the slum clusters, and in some cases by the NGOs working there.2 DWASA currently supplies water to an area of roughly 292 square miles in Dhaka. According to an unofficial estimation, the city requires 2,1002,500 million litres per day (mld), but from July 2005 to June 2006 DWASA was only able to supply an average of about 1,048 mld for domestic purposes (Table 2).3 In some parts of the city, DWASA was completely unable to supply water in summer, and 60 percent of the city suffered an acute crisis of potable water (Hasan 2007c; Imam 2007). Meanwhile water demand in the city has been increasing at the rate of 100 mld per year, as a result of the 4.2 percent population growth in the city each year (Bhodro 2005).

Based on this author's conversations with workers and staff, there are 420 males and only 47 females working at DWASA, organised hierarchically into first, second, third, and fourth class staff. The managing director is also the head of internal management.



Table 2: DWASA’S Daily Water Production during Fiscal Year 2005 –2006 (million liters per day).

Year 2005 2005 2005 2005 2005 2005 2006 2006 2006 2006 2006 2006 Total

Month July August September October November December January February March April May June

Total 1245.3 1220.52 1193.95 1224.46 1233.62 1227.42 1187.75 1165.95 1149.49 1203.99 1229.51 1290.56 14,572.57

Source: DWASA 2006:2/2.

Roughly 83 percent of DWASA water comes from groundwater sources; except for regions in the hilly areas, groundwater is “the most important source of water supply” for the entire country (Rahman et al. 2001, 110). Only 17 percent comes from the nearby Shitolokkha, Buriganga, Turag, and Balu Rivers (Hasan 2007a). DWASA uses 441 deep tube wells to lift water from underground sources.4 As a result of too much reliance on groundwater, its level has been dropping 69 feet every year, further exacerbating the problem. If DWASA continues at this rate, after five more years the water level will go down by 30 feet per year. The major reason that DWASA cannot pump to capacity is that in the last 27 years the water level has gone down by 180210 feet in various parts of the city. The situation in adjacent places is slightly better because the water boards there do not rely as heavily on groundwater. Moreover, extreme pollution of the rivers around Dhaka has polluted the groundwater because the river water seeps through the soil into the groundwater supply (Hasan 2007b). However, despite this pollution, the major problem of DWASA is its inability to supply adequate water to most of the inhabitants of the city.5 DWASA's wells were pumping water from 1,5501,800 feet deep before the water level went down, but the agency has recently established tube wells 3,000 feet deep in some parts of Dhaka. Such a well could produce 3,0004,000 litres of water per minute, but due to the declining water level many wells can only produce 2,0003,000 litres per minute (Imam 2007). The problem of decreasing water level thus affects the overall production of water. In June 2006, DWASA produced on average 1,549 mld of water: 1,291 mld for domestic use and 258 mld for commercial and industrial use (DWASA 2006, 15/2). Hence, DWASA produced 103 liters water per person per day during 2005-2006, which was higher than the minimum requirement of water per person. Therefore, theoretically every person in Dhaka should have had the necessary amount of water. However, due to the absence of proper distribution policy—that is, not recognising the


needs of the slum dwellers—DWASA did not supply water equitably to all city residents. In addition, due to the high system loss—more than half—not all the water was available to consumers.6 DWASA has nevertheless been reducing its system losses gradually from about 54 percent to about 41 percent (DWASA 2006, 17/3). DWASA has created seven water zones in Dhaka, including the government zone, which includes the secretariat, government offices and establishments. In these seven zones, DWASA sets up water connections to the households of legal residents, government buildings, private institutions and offices, and educational and religious institutions, such as mosques, temples, churches, and seminaries. In June 2006, the total number of DWASA customers was 227,994, of which 214,316 were domestic customers. The number of customers has increased over time but has not kept pace with the number of citizens residing in the city (Table 3). There are, nevertheless, virtually no water connections to the households of 3.4 million people living in slums because they are not recognised as customers by DWASA—they do not have “holding numbers” because they are not “legal” residents in the city. The DCC provides holding numbers only to the legal owners of the land or the household. Table 3: Numbers of DWASA Customers 2000–2006.






















































Offices Total

Source: DWASA 2006:19/1-2.

Only DWASA's Zone V, which includes the posh residential areas, has a 24-hour water supply, especially in summer. One of the deputy revenue collectors of DWASA, who did not want his name to be revealed, informed this author that the reasons behind the continuous supply of water in upper-class neighbourhoods are the smaller population and the regular supply of power to that area. Moreover, special attention is paid to these areas because “important” people and diplomats and dignitaries are residing in these areas. In contrast, in the old parts of the city and in the lower middle-class neighbourhoods, even in “normal time” they do not receive water 24 hours per day, and during summer customers sometimes receive water for only 12 hours per day. Like slum dwellers, consumers in poor neighbourhoods sometimes rely on standpipes for water, especially during the summers. Power cuts are one of the reasons for not supplying water regularly to middle-class or poor neighbourhoods. There are frequent power cuts in these areas, especially in summer, but there are few or no power cuts in the upper-class areas. Also, to operate a pump, 420 volts of electricity is needed, and in many places the electricity drops down to 380 volts during most of the summer.7


DWASA engineers informed me that theoretically there is 24-hour water supply in every neighbourhood in Dhaka; the problem is the water pressure. As a result of high water demand, the pressure becomes very low and it is, therefore, difficult to obtain water from a water pipe. None of the hundred-plus water consumers interviewed in Dhaka were satisfied with either the supply or the pressure of water. They have water for a maximum of 67 hours per day and the water pressure is not sufficient to lift water to the second or upper floors. Most middle and upper class consumers have built underground reservoirs to collect water from the DWASA pipes. Later, they use electric pumps to lift this water to the second or upper floor reservoirs. To add water into their underground reservoirs, middle and upper-class customers usually use illegal pumps.8 These middle-class water users informed me that they are aware that connecting water pumps with the main pipelines is illegal, but they also told me that there are hardly any middle or upper-class households in the city who do not have water pumps connected to the main water lines. They run these pumps during times of high pressure, usually at night or in the early morning. As a result, it is now difficult to obtain water without the pumps, and there is sometimes no water supply to the lower middle-class or poor households in the neighbourhoods who cannot afford pumps. Women, and sometimes men, from lower-middle class backgrounds also collect water from the nearby public standpipes. Besides this, especially in summer, they can collect water from the DWASA water tankers that supply water—sometimes free of charge—to the acute water shortage neighbourhoods, sometimes under the supervision of law enforcement authorities.9 Some slum dwellers and poor people, especially those who live in old Dhaka, rely on public standpipes for everyday water. Although standpipes were available almost everywhere in Dhaka in the past, nowadays they are mainly available in the old parts of the city and in the Narayanganj District. There are only 932 standpipes in all of Dhaka (DWASA 2006, 5). To collect water from the standpipes, women in slum areas have to walk 12 miles per day because none of the standpipes are located inside the slum areas. Usually they are placed at the corners of the main roads in old parts of the city, which are far way from the shanty areas. Most of the slum clusters are in new Dhaka, and they usually do not have public standpipes. DWASA supplies 1,136 litres of water to every standpipe per day. The DCC is paying the bills for these standpipes; that is, the DDC pays for 1,058,752 litres water per day.10 The Bangladesh government also has a policy of providing 92,440 litres of water per day to every religious institution, but if any such institution uses more water than the quota, they have to pay for the extra. By June 2006, 983 religious institutions received this benefit from the DCC (952 mosques, 26 temples, and 5 churches; DWASA 2006, 4); madrasahs are not included in this programme. In other words, the government has a programme for supplying water to religious institutions but no such policy for providing water to people living in poverty or “illegal” residents in the city. It is obvious that slum dwellers do not have command over piped water in terms of quantity.


Quality of Water The water supplied by DWASA cannot be consumed without boiling. At present, DWASA is supplying odiferous and contaminated dirty water to 40 percent of the city (Hasan 2007d). City dwellers have even discovered worms in the water. Roughly a hundred DWASA consumers informed this author that even after boiling, it is sometimes difficult to use the water for cooking and drinking because of its odour as well as sediments in the water.11 Water supplied in various slum areas was also not drinkable. People living in slums complained that sometimes the water smelled bad, but they informed me that they were used to drinking it without boiling. NGOs working in the slums sometimes supply water purifying chemicals or tablets, which they put in the community water reservoirs. For the slum dwellers, though, the main issue is not the contaminated water but the lack of water connections in their households and neighbourhoods. According to Nazrul Islam, a Bangladeshi researcher on urban planning, the level of contamination is currently very high in Dhaka. Despite treating water in various treatment plants, it again becomes contaminated because the pipelines for both water and sewer are very old, cracked, and in need of repair (Helal 2007). The leaks in the pipelines and the cracks in the sewer lines result in the mixture of human waste with water. Islam et al. (2005) mention that the surface water in the Buriganga, Shitolokkha, Turag, and Balu Rivers is not drinkable, even after boiling or being treated in the water plants. The chemicals that DWASA is using to treat the water are not able to remove all waste and pollutants from the severely polluted water (Helal 2007). The Buriganga River is used to dump waste materials from nearby industries, including the 243 tanneries located within two miles of the river on both sides of the bank. These tanneries “pour 7.7 million litres of untreated, highly toxic liquid waste into the river everyday” (Khan 2006). There are more than 7,000 industries just in the metropolitan areas of the city, and there are thousands of big and small industries situated around Dhaka. All of these industries dump their waste into the rivers (Alam 2007). The Buriganga is also the main recipient of untreated sewage waste; 80 percent of the sewage from Dhaka is dumped into this river untreated. Certain chemicals, such as aluminium, ammonium, chromium, cadmium, lead, and others, are present in the rivers around Dhaka in concentrations that are very dangerous for humans (Helal 2007). DWASA regularly tests the surface water they provide; almost half the samples fail the test (DWASA 2006, 4). It is interesting to note, however, that in their June 2006 report there is no mention of the samples collected from the Saidabad Surface Water Treatment Plant, which mainly treats water collected from the Buriganga River and which is the largest of the DWASA plants.12 Engineers and technicians for water NGOs in Dhaka have informed this author that the DWASA test results are not up to the appropriate level and are in fact biased. Their test results (conducted in private laboratories and in the National Science Laboratory) varied from those of the DWASA results and most of their samples have failed to meet the WHO standard.13


Price of Water Domestic water is cheap in Dhaka; DWASA provides 1,000 litres of water for only 5.25 taka (about 7 cents) to its domestic customers. Water for commercial or industrial purposes is a little more expensive (about 25 cents). Besides metered water, there are also non-metered water connections, whose tariffs are determined by the percentage of “valuation of holdings per annum,” that is, every year the DWASA staff measure the size of the holdings of the customers to determine the bills for these households (DWASA 2006, 23). DWASA vehicles also sell water relatively cheaply, especially during summer or in times of water crisis in a particular area (Table 4). However, the issue is not of price, rather one of obtaining a water connection. Obtaining a connection is both complicated and expensive due to high connection fees, bureaucratic complexity, and corruption; even DWASA officials and workers acknowledge these complexities.14 Besides paying the regular fees, a household owner needs to pay extra money to the DWASA staff and workers as well as the representatives (ward commissioners) of the local electoral bodies. It is almost impossible to obtain a connection without offering bribes to the DWASA staff and ward commissioners. A household owner needs to give a bribe of at least $15 to the metre mechanic followed by often the same amount or more to other DWASA staff and mechanics, and roughly about $9 to $15 to a local ward commissioner, all of whom are engaged in illegal extortion. Table 4: DWASA’s Water Selling Rates for Vehicle Delivery Quantity


Table 5: Fees For Temporary Connection and Permission for Pipe Connection (August 2004 –June 2006). Temporary Connection Fee

Pipe Diameter

Pipe Connection Fee

0.75 inch

$ 71


1 inch 1.5 inch

$ 143 $ 214

$ 21 $ 142

2 inch

$ 286

$ 214

DWASA 2006:26/1–26/2.

Table 6: Meter Connection, Installation, and Testing Fees (August 2004 –June 2006). Meter Size




0.75 inch

$ 14


1 inch

$ 31

$ 14


1.5 inch

$ 91

$ 36

$ 11

2 inch

$ 91

$ 43

$ 14


Source: DWASA 2006:26/2. Table 7: Permission for Connecting Pipe Lines in Multi -Storied Building (February 2004 –June 2006).

2200 gallons

$ 4.00

1800 gallons

$ 3.50

1200 gallons

$ 2.85

800 gallons

$ 2.00

Up to 9th floor

$ 29

500 gallons

$ 1.78

10–15th floor

$ 43

250 gallons

$ 1.07

Above 16th floor

$ 71

Source: DWASA 2006:26/1.

Besides bribing several persons, a household owner also needs to pay the application fee, a deposit for temporary connection, pipe connection and permission fees, a meter fee, a road-cutting fee, and the value added tax (Tables 5 and 6). Connection and metre fees depend on the size (diameter) of the pipes. Road-cutting fees also vary depending on the materials used in constructing the road. The distance of a household from the main pipeline also determines the connection fees. A longer distance means a higher connection fee, and obtaining a connection for a high-rise apartment needs special permission from DWASA and the DCC, requiring further payments to DWASA (Table 7). Instead of obtaining water connections, household owners may set up their own deep tube wells with permission from DWASA, but well fees also vary, depending on the size of the wells (Table 8).

Cost of Clearance Form


Floor Construction Approval Fee:

Source: DWASA 2006:26/2.

Table 8: Deep Tube Well Meter Connection Fee and Tariff .

Meter connection fee

Up to 3 inch

4 inch

6 inch*

$ 99

$ 905

$ 1,530

Permission fee Domestic and community Commercial and industrial

$ 1143 $ 2143

$ 2000 $ 4286

$ 3143 $ 5000

Yearly renewal fee Domestic and community Commercial and industrial

$ 7143 $ 1071

$ 1429 $ 2143

$ 1714 $ 3143

*8 inch not permissible. Source: DWASA 2006:26/1.

Water is actually cheap in Dhaka, but regulatory fees are very high. It is not possible for the slum dwellers and economically marginalised population to access and take command over the piped water supply under these price structures.



Concluding Remarks DWASA was not able to supply the minimum requirements of water to most of the slum dwellers or poor people living in the city. They are not even successful in supplying adequate good-quality piped water to regular customers. DWASA unofficially follows an uneven policy of water distribution, and consumers living in the rich neighbourhoods are the beneficiaries. Despite paying the same amount of money for water and pipeline connection, consumers living in the middle and lower middle class areas are not receiving the same level of services as the rich consumers. Slum dwellers are not recognised as customers and their needs are ignored. They are unable to establish command over the quality, quantity, or price of water and their capabilities to access piped water are very limited.

Syeed Iftekhar Ahmed is PhD candidate in Political Science at Northern Arizona University, USA. Endnotes 1. The owners of the slum areas provide electricity connections to the households by bringing power lines illegally from the main line. For offering this service, they charge a much higher rate than the power supply authority, which the renters have to pay because the Dhaka Electricity Supply will not connect to households without legal holding numbers. Islam et al. (2005, 12) mention that 96 percent of the households in slum areas have electricity connections. 2. DWASA sends bills to the NGOs and they collect money from the slum dwellers to pay the bills. Women in slum clusters play leading roles in collecting bills and distributing water among the slum dwellers under NGO supervision. NGOs have formed many groups in the slums, and women are the leaders of almost all of these groups. Besides collecting monthly bills, women supervise to make certain that the members of these groups collect water from the designated water sources and that no one wastes water from these sources. Female group members take turns continuously guarding the water sources. 3. None of the internal reports of DWASA acknowledge the daily needs of 2,100 mld, which was mentioned in various national newspapers. For example, see Hafiz (2006) and Imam (2007). 4. Besides DWASA, some middle and upper class households as well as some private corporations and offices (both public and private) have deep tube wells. By June 2006, there were 1,179 deep tube wells used by “other agencies” in Dhaka (DWASA 2006, ii). However, interviewed DWASA officials and workers said that unofficial estimation would be much higher than that. Use of a private deep tube well is legal in Dhaka; yet, a deep tube well should not be more than 600 feet deep and is not allowed to set up within 600 feet of a DWASA tube well location. DWASA does not have enough manpower to monitor whether this rule is properly followed. 5. According to WHO, 7 litres per person per day (Lpcd) is the “minimum survival allocation” and 1520 Lpcd is the “medium term allocation” of water (WHO 2005). NGOs working in slum areas in Dhaka accepted 2040 Lpcd as the minimal requirement of water, based on interview with Zakir Hossain, Senior Project Coordinator, Water and Sanitation Project, Dushtha Shaystha Kendra (DSK) and Mobasser Hossain Ripon, Engineer, Association for Realization of Basic Needs (ARBAN). 6. Pipeline leakage is one of the major causes for system loss in Dhaka, as well as underbilling, stealing water, and illegal connections. 7. Among the 441 deep tube wells, 233 have generators to operate during power cuts. DWASA


also has 31 portable generators, but during summer, due to acute power crises (low voltage and power cuts), DWASA has to use these portable generators to help run the wells that have no permanent generators. These portable generators should only run for 2 hours per day (60 hours per month), but in times of crisis DWASA has to run every generator 60 hours per week. The recent increase in oil price has raised DWASA's spending from $643 to $1,429 per month per generator (Imam 2007). 8. Several DWASA staff and engineers informed me that they were aware of the use of illegal water pumps in the city. However, they could not take any action against it because there are no clear guidelines regarding the use of pumps by the city dwellers; lack of staff is also a major reason. Therefore, despite their knowledge, they completely overlook the presence of illegal pumps in the city. DWASA staff and the water users told me that they never heard that the DCC or any other legal enforcement authority took any legal action against the illegal users. DCC also lacks guideline regarding the use of water pumps. 9. Each DWASA truck can carry 11551386 litres of water. A deputy revenue collector of DWASA informed me that they supply water to the households free of charge if the supply was disrupted due to the mechanical failure of DWASA. In this case, a household owner needs to inform DWASA about the problem. Most of the water users I interviewed were unaware of the service, and the handful who were indicated that after being called DWASA, usually did not coooperate. 10. Based on my conversation with a DWASA deputy revenue collector, who wanted to remain anonymous. It is interesting to note that the officers and the engineers whom I interviewed in DWASA preferred to remain anonymous. They told me that they were government officials and did not, therefore, feel comfortable being quoted in my research or any other type of publication. Workers and union leaders had no such hesitation in disclosing their names. 11. The areas where I found odiferous water were Gopibagh, Tikatuli, Hatkhola, Jatrabari, and Moahammadpur. 12. There are 615 mg of alkali in one litre of water in the river Buriganga, whereas the WHO standard is 400 mg per litre. The acceptable level of turbidity is 10, but in the Buriganaga it is 98.7. The value for ammonia is 2.5 mg in the river, whereas the acceptable value is 0.5 mg. The level of calcium is 36 mg in the river, and the acceptable level is 75200 mg per litre. The amount of oxygen is only 1.2 mg, which is much lower than the acceptable level (Rabin 2007). 13. Mobassor Hossain Ripon, an engineer in ARBAN, informed me that he collected water from different locations and took it to various laboratories in Dhaka; however, none of the test results met the WHO standard. 14. Zaber Hossain, DWAS revenue collector and other officials and mechanics working for the DWASA acknowledged the presence of bureaucratic complexity and corruption in obtaining a water connection. In addition, middle and lower-middle class city dwellers with whom I conducted interviews also mentioned the complexities and corruption associated with the connection.

References · Alam, A. N. 2007. Pani Noy Bish Pan Korchi: Rajdhani-soho Drihottoro Dhaka-er 1500 Borgo Km Elakar Pani Bisakto, Charpaser Nodigulo Bhoyaboho Dusone Aakranto (We are Drinking Poison Not Water: Including Greater Dhaka, 1,500 sq km Areas Water Poisoned, the Level of Pollution of the Rivers Around the City Is Very High), The Daily Janakantha. 15 March. Available at · Bhodro, N. 2005. Rajdhanite Tibro Hocchhe pani Sonkot: Poristhiti Mokabelay Sorkarer Karjokor Uddok Neyi (Water Crisis Becoming Worse in the Capital: Government Does Not Have Any Efficient Initiative to Tackle the Problem), Weekly Ekota. 29 May. Available at

62 · DWASA. 2006. WASA: Management Information Report for the Month of June 2006. Dhaka: DWASA). · Hafiz, M. 2006. MP Commissionarder Pani Rajnitir Hatiar: Somossa Somadhanae Char Bochore Kono Prokolpo Neya Hoyni. (Water Is a Political Instrument for MPs and Commissioners: No Major Project Was Undertaken in the Last Four Years to Solve the Problem), The Daily Janakantha. 7 May. Available at · Hasan, M. 2007a. Dhaka-ke Paritakto Sohor Ghosona Kora Hote Pare: Ek Dosaoker Moddhe Bhu-Gorbhosto Panir Stor 40 Meter Niche nemeche (Dhaka Would Be an Abandoned City: Underground Water Level Went Down 40 Meters in the Last Decade), The Daily Ajker Kagoj. 19 January. Available at /2007/Jan19/1st_page.html#21. · Hasan, M. 2007b. Grismo Suru Na Hoteyi WASA-er Dainik Pani Ghati 55 Koti Liters, Dhaka-Basike Bachate Ekhoni 12 sh Koti Takar Prokolpo Hate Nite Hobe Sorkar-ke: BhuGorbhosto Panir Stor Proti Bochor 10 Meter Kore Neme Jayoyar Asonka (Before Starting the Summer Season, the Daily Water Crisis in the City Reached 550 Million Liters per Day, Government Should Immediately Take a Project of $172 m: It Is Apprehended that the Water Layer Will Go Down at the Rate of 10 Meters Per Year), The Daily Ajker Kagoj. 4 April. Available at · Hasan, M. 2007c. Rajdhanir 60 Bhag Elaka Panir Jonno Hahakar: Dirghomeyadi Ebong Somonnito Porikolponar Tagid, Dainik Ghattir Poriman Der Koti Liter (Wailing for Water in Sixty Percent Areas of the Capital: 15 Million Liter Daily Water Shortage in the City, Long Term Coordinated Efforts Are Needed to Solve the Crisis), The Daily Ajker Kagoj. 19 April. Available at · Hasan, M. 2007d. Nogorir 40 Bhag Elakay Sorboraho Kora Hocchhe Moyla O Durgondhojukto Pani: WASA-er Panite Payoya Geche Moricher Bichi, Balu and Chera Polythene (DWASA Supplying Dirty and Odiferous Water to 40 Percent of the City: Pepper Seeds, Sand and Torn Polythene Found in the Supplied Water), The Daily Ajker Kagoj. 20 April. Available at · Helal, M. 2007. Susko Mousumer Ageyi Rajdhanite Panir Sankot: Stor Neme Geche 46 Meter Niche, Barche Nogorir Tapmatra (Capital's Water Level Went Down 46 Meters Before the Dry Season Starts: The Average Temperature of the City Increasing), The Daily Ajker Kagoj. 24 January. Available at Jan24/1st_page.html#17. · Imam, N. 2007. Panir Dese Panir Jonno Hahakar (Wailing for Water in a Water Affluent Country), The Daily Naya Diganta. 12 April. Available at Http:// · Islam, N., A. Q. M. Mahbub, N. I. Nazem, G. Angeles and P. Lance. 2005. Slums of Urban Bangladesh: Mapping and Census, 2005. Dhaka: Center for Urban Studies, National Institute of Population Research and Training, MEASURE Evaluation. · Kamal, M. 2006. Pani Ghattir Poriman 100 Koti Liters: Rajhdhanite Pani Somossa Prokot (Severe Crisis in the Capital: Water Shortage 1,000 MLD per Day), The Daily Inquilab. 1 April. Available at · Khan, M. 2005. Water Crisis: WASA Blames Power Cuts, Depletion of Groundwater, The Daily Star. 8 June. Available at 2005/06/08/d506082501121.htm. · Khan, M. A. 2006. Tanneries “Kill” the Buriganga River. Asia Water Wire. 11 September. Available at · Local Government Division (1998) National Policy for Safe Water Supply and Sanitation 1998 (Bangladesh, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, Ministry of Local


Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives). · Mian, M. N. H. 2002. DWASA Initiative on Piped Water Provision for the Urban Slum Dwellers, presented at the Regional Workshop Conference on Water and Poverty, September 2226, Water: Asian Development Bank. Available at · Muhammad, A. 2007. Biplober Sopno Bhumi Cuba: Dhaka aar Havana (Cuba: Revolutionaries' Dreamland; A Comparison Between Dhaka and Havana), Saptahik 2000 (Weekly 2000). · Nussbaum, M. 2000. Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach. UK: Cambridge University Press. · Rabin, M. 2007. Buriganga Ekhon Biser Adhar, Pani Sodhon Kore Pan Korche Dhaka-basi: Bisakto Shilpo-Borje Dushito Hocchhe Nodi. (Buriganga Became a Poisonous River, City Dwellers Purify Water Before Drinking: Poisonous Industrial Wastes Are the Main Cause of River Pollution), The Daily Inqilab. 16 March. Available at · Rahman, A. Ali, M. Ashraf and F. Chowdhury. 2001. People's Report on Bangladesh Environment 2001: Main Report. Vol.1. Dhaka: Unnayan Shamannay, University Press Ltd. · Sharma, M. 2004. Capability Theory for Use in Alcohol and Drug Education Research, Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education, 48, 1. P.14. · Sen, A. 1980. Equality of What?. In S. McMurrin, ed. Tanner Lectures on Human Values. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. · Sen, A. 1999. Commodities and Capabilities. India: Oxford University Press. · Sohel, T. 2007. Dhaka-er Jonosonkhar 37 Bhag Bostibasi, 6 Mohanogore 54 Lakh: Ucheder Por Ghor-Kaj Dutoyi Harachhen Tara (37 Percent of Population Live in the Slum Areas in Dhaka, 5.4 Million in Six Mega Cities: They Lose Their Households and Work After Eviction), The Prothom Alo. 29 January. Available at · Ullah, A. K. M. J. 2006. Country Report of Bangladesh: Management of Urban Water Environment, JICA Executive Seminar on Public Works and Management JFY 2004, National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management. Available at · UNESCO. 2003. Water for People, Water for Life: The United Nations World Water Development Report. Available at /0012/001295/129556e.pdf · WHO. 2005. “Minimum Water Quantity Needed for Domestic Use in Emergencies,” (Technical Note 9). Available at WHO_Technical_Notes_for_Emergencies/9%20-%20Minimum% 20water%20quantity.pdf


Masculine Notions of Justice for 1 Women in Pakistan Tahmina Rashid “You must understand the environment in Pakistan [...] This has become a money-making concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped.” President Pervez Musharraf, 23 September 2005, The Washington Post

public and private spheres. It must be noted that the social differences and forms of stratification can be conceived not only as an objective and unambiguous “social fact”, but also as a form of subjectivity constructed through social interaction based on the classed experiences of daily life and how these are interpreted in various and varying political doctrines. In Pakistani society tribal (biradari) feelings are entrenched in many social settings. Class and, consequently, status becomes a system in which people are grouped by virtue of common economic position, which yields differential access to material rewards of goods and services. Feudal lords and tribal chiefs remain the controllers of the state apparatus through an electoral system in which the economically well-off are able to manipulate and influence the poor.


A number of social customs and practices restrict women's mobility and involvement in national life in Pakistan.2 These include mobility, marriage and related concerns such as inheritance, divorce and economic participation. Despite active participation of women in public life, their mobility remains restricted. Religious idiom is used quite frequently, especially in debates surroundings gender relations and women's public role. Self-proclaimed religious experts and even those who do not have any fundamental knowledge about the principles of Islam but who nevertheless habitually discuss these issues quote religion frequently. Women in general have an idea that religion provides them with certain rights but are not aware of the details and the manner in which they can exercise these rights. Further problems arise when the prevailing culture becomes an obstacle to achievement of these rights. This is attributed to the forces of culture and centuries old traditions that at times distort the teachings of Islam, especially when it comes to the rights of women.

Masculine Socio-Cultural and Religious Discourses The notion of personal justice can be understood in the broader socio-cultural context, and it determines the status as well as “appropriate” role of women in the

Women's views about marriage by choice or equality with men have the undercurrents of traditional interpretations of Islam. Parents decide marriage matters; consent is not sought at all, or sought as a mere formality, since the decision has already been made. Marriages by choice and civil marriages are rare and are the least acceptable.3 Though ritualistic religion plays a very important role in the lives of most people, knowledge even about the basics is limited. Modern interpretations of religion have continuously been challenged by traditional religious elite who are part of state machinery. There is an established view that religion has assigned a superior status to men and they are in-charge of women; one still hears the traditional notion that “the husband is wife's god on earth (majazi khuda)”. Many even consider wife battering legitimate under religious laws; these attitudes are commonly reflected through gender relations in Pakistan. On the question of women's rights, one can witness biased attitudes reflecting religious conservatism as well as refuge in cultural traditions and practices. Even though religion has a considerable impact when applied in social contexts and private arenas, however, when employed through the institutional mechanism its affect is far greater as it gives legitimacy to individual acts of violence against women. It needs to be recognised that religion and gender justice in Pakistan are intertwined in a manner that any demand for gender justice puts women's claims in opposition to the religious identity of women as well as their family, community and tribe. This leads to internalising injustice. Some views shared

“I offer all the ‘riches’ I've made out of the panchayat-enforced gang-rape to the president in return for justice.” Mukhtar Mai, 5 September 2005 ver the last few years, Pakistan has made headlines for all the “wrong reasons” and it seems that simmering social tensions across the country regarding women's accepted role and status have made inroads into mainstream debates. Current debates on gender justice in Pakistani context relate to three broad areas; treatment of women as members of society or personal justice; substantive; and procedural justice. It is not possible to draw a clear line between these forms of justice due to the overlapping understandings of social, cultural, religious and institutional aspects dealing with women. In 2007, 565 women were killed in the name of honour following accusations of “illicit relations” and, despite some 128 arrests, no institutional respite is yet known. Victims of sexual crimes are subjected to humiliation by the immediate community; media sensationalisation; language discourses employed to narrate the crime; police's attitude; court proceedings where women victims are subjected to humiliating situation by alleged criminals' lawyers. These victims become “damned, shamed and dishonoured” and relegated to a sub-human and at times inhuman social existence. These women are subjected to violence by masculinist notions of justice; reflecting the use of sociocultural, religious and legal discourses to inflict pain and suffering on women. Justice is a notion that we live by on a daily basis, not merely in the arenas of law or formal and informal structures. This paper is an attempt to understand this phenomenon through the existing socio-cultural; religious and legal frameworks as well as formal and informal mechanisms of employing them.



by participants belonging to different regions illustrate the situation: Men are treated better everywhere, women have an established lower status and restricted role in our society. Sons are preferred over daughters, and after marriage, as daughter-in-laws they are usually treated harshly. Women have a lower status in the family and have to be patient, and sacrifice and love all. Men have an edge because they are the providers in the Pakistani society. Because they earn and spend they think that they are superior but even the women who work are not treated so fairly.4 Women have to be submissive, and not ask for independent position. They are bound by their parents, husbands, and in-laws and later by the children. They are never independent to play a role and are very restricted in the society. They are expected not to be themselves, as individuals they cannot even have an independent opinion and do as required by religion, parents and social values.5 A lower middle class professional who identified her class status in a very lucid manner shared her life experience, stating that: I have realised that no matter what I do, my situation cannot change as men in this society can not change [this attitude]. My children are living under the constant pressure of an abusive environment, as every time there is a problem, my husband wakes up [my] children to witness it [...] Pakistani men whether educated or not are all the same, I work in a large organisation and know that all women professionals are facing the same problems [â&#x20AC;Ś] Whether we work or not, society has given us a lower status which men reinforce with the arguments of religion to their advantage.6 Divorce rate in Pakistan is low, being a taboo among many communities. The right to divorce usually lies with the husband due to family and societal pressures. Even in cases where divorce becomes the last recourse, the family courts may or may not accept the grounds on which the wife applies as many religious laws and their varied interpretations employ strict conditions under which a woman can seek divorce from her husband. However, recent amendments stating that these cases must be decided within six months have provided some respite to women. Apart from abusive marriages and right to divorce, matters related to finance and children remain central issues. Once married, most women interviewed felt compelled to compromise and continue living in an adverse family relationship. Some participants narrated their stories: I was married against my wishes forcefully at a very tender age. My father was a very cruel man; I never felt loved and wanted in my life. My marriage was a disaster, my husband used to beat and abuse a


lot, I had two children in two years and wanted to get divorced but my father did not allow me. So he sent me back to my husband's house and this was the beginning of another ordeal.7 Women tend to internalise humiliation in marriage and are unable to make a distinction between an unfortunate marriage and a normal male-female relationship. The burden of the continuity of marriage primarily lies with women, no matter how ugly a relationship becomes. Once women have children, they feel bound to stay in marriage due to financial, emotional and social reasons but primarily because of children. Apart from financial reasons there are social implications for a woman living alone, as her family as well as the residents of the locality do not look upon it favourably. The preference for an unhappy and abusive marriage over divorce for these sorts of reasons was expressed by one of the participants in these words: If I want to, I can kick him out, many people advise me to do so, but I cannot live alone, people will say bad things about me and I shall not be able to live in this servant quarter. There was a women living alone in a servant quarter and lots of people put allegations on her character and finally she had to move to another place. Living with him is safe at least. If I kick my husband out I shall have to move to my mother's house. I am happy in my home and do not want to go to my mother's place as my children feel restrained and cannot touch others' stuff or play freely.8 Crimes against women are a reflection of assumed gender roles and status assigned through social construction of woman and man. Women are considered weaker in comparison to the physical superiority of men; therefore in need of protection since the female body is a repository of family honour. Women need protection both from their male relatives as well as unknown predators. They barter (the promises of) protection in exchange of public/private obedience/subordination and perpetual physical and psychological abuse. The induction of more women in the public sector presents a challenge that has not been appropriately dealt with by state authorities. There are no appropriate laws that could deter men from harassing women co-workers nor are there any legal services where women can obtain relief from sexual harassment by superiors, employers or coworkers. A large number of women even fail to recognise work place harassment and when they do realise and try to confront the situation, they hardly find support even from their female colleagues. Their identity has been constructed in ways where female attitude and bodily attire are considered the prime reasons for â&#x20AC;&#x153;inviting such male attitudeâ&#x20AC;?. Those who recognise such harassment attribute it to male-controlled legislation, implementation, enforcement and execution of laws, highlighting the fact that such concerns have never been focused and there are not enough laws to deal with such behaviour. Domestic violence is one of the major issues faced by women who realise that physical


abuse is not part of a normal marital relationship but tend to rationalise it in different ways. Because of the lack of education and non-availability of counselling services, these women are not aware of the intricacies of violence. At times they fail to comprehend that emotional and psychological abuse by their husbands comes under the purview of violence and maltreatment. In most of the interviews, participants mentioned physical violence but there was no mention of other subtle forms such as emotional and psychological abuse. A close analysis of their stories reveals that the emotional and psychological trauma of an unhappy relationship is far greater than physical abuse; and even years after such incidents the pain stays with them. This author observed that women have learnt the art of internalising violence by employing various strategies—rationalising and even at times self-blaming—for avoiding psychological and emotional impact. I am a very short-tempered woman, talk a lot and say harsh words when angry. When I use bad words for my husband on being unemployed or not earning enough, he beats me but otherwise he is a good man. I cannot live without him. Man has no right to beat me, but he only beats me when I argue a lot and make lot of fuss on his being incapable of providing a living.10 Since the society largely ignores these realities, the strategies to deal with it at the community level are few and lead to situations where women suffer continuously for extended periods. For instance, rape is not understood as violence against a woman's body but in the larger societal context. The situation is further aggravated in the absence and lack of discussion and transfer of knowledge about sexuality and related issues, still being a taboo. There is no concept of educating children about their bodies and sexuality, neither in schools nor at home. When a woman becomes a victim of sexual abuse, she is neither equipped to deal with the situation nor is any other avenue of support available. Women have to deal with such concerns in their own ways. Lack of social and institutional support for victims deters them from bringing such crimes to the public. A participant expressed her views on physical and sexual violence, and also highlighted another related issue, in these words: “In lower classes, men beat their wives, it's very common there. A lot of women are brought in this hospital who have been raped or beaten by husbands and in laws but they do not want to register a case and tend to make stories about how it happened.”12 In the current study's findings, the question of violence has its roots in the patriarchal culture of Pakistan, where women are less valued than men. Men being the “legal heirs/owners” of the female body assume the charge of regulating women's private and public behaviour and are, therefore, able to abuse them psychologically, emotionally and physically. Since women are socially constructed on the existing gender relations' paradigms, they internalise such violence. Being the owners of the female body, men can subject them to psychological, physical and sexual abuse in the private arena, while bartering their bodies as commodities or using sex crimes to


settle male feuds among clans or tribes in public sphere. Women being bodies, half citizens and owned by men are never part of these deals that affect them on a daily basis for the rest of their lives. Rapists and abusers take refugee in the arguments of “honour” and “shame” which gives them unconditional power to violate women's bodies by raping and even defacing them. The imposition of moral argument has allowed men to inflict pain on women since the victim's moral and sexual conduct is an essential part of social discourse while dealing with such crimes. Victims are judged in moral vocabulary, they become sluts and bitches who deserve to be assaulted and raped since they have lowest moral virtues. At the same time it relieves criminals from any moral burden and compunction. Institutional Discourses Women's experiences with law are different from men due to the inherent gender bias in the legal processes. The relationship between women and law is that of protection which will continue to remain a problematic articulation of the principles of personal justice since its premise is the helplessness of women who are seen to be in need of protection of family, community and the state. This standpoint accepts the traditional and patriarchal discourses that construct women as weak, biologically inferior, and incapable of being rational. When prevailing socio-cultural practices and religious discourses are used to interpret a given situation, women are victimised being blamed of “loose morals” “provoking” or “asking for it”, therefore partly if not wholly responsible of the crimes committed. Court proceedings in most of such cases and decisions following these proceedings highlight that criminals get a lenient sentence if the woman is considered of “loose morals” and, therefore, less worthy of justice. Enforcement of laws becomes meaningless if it is not part of a wholesome project of gender sensitisation of society, parliamentarians, police and judiciary. Laws continue to reflect patriarchal oppression and discrimination against women. Social and behavioural codes are embedded in laws and are labelled as Islamic, a way of justifying patriarchy and endorsing Muslim practices that promote the superiority of men and simultaneously reinforce the control of men in the public domain. The practice of honour killing and related physical abuse like nose, lip and hair cutting as a symbol of shaming women in the community has actually given men a right to inscribe their power over female bodies. Many orthodox/traditionalist women approve that female sexual behaviour can be punished by men through wife battering, marital rape, sexual assaults, acid throwing, and even publicly harassing women to bring their sexual and moral behaviour in line with the norms of the society. Similarly custodial rape is usually not taken seriously since the existing power structures have positioned the police in a situation where they enjoy more rights being law enforcing agents than victims. Male judges, police, civil and military administration even at the higher ranks seem to be in agreement that women having sexual relations outside marriage deserve to be raped and sexually assaulted. Such precedence encourages criminal-minded elements to take advantage of existing biases and continue committing crimes. Unless the construction of rape in law is based on a vision


different from existing male definitions and examined and judged as crimes against women as persons, not as moral agents of society or male property, the situation will continue to be problematic both in public and private spheres.13 The constitution of Pakistan states that: All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law. There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone. Nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the protection of women and children. (Article 25, 1973) This constitutional guarantee legitimises male protectionist attitude in private and public sphere; being weak, women cannot be their own persons and need to be protected by men. This protection makes them subjects of the State and hence men become synonymous with ensuring protection. In this scenario, when one explores the nature and magnitude of crimes against women and the attitude of society as well as the State institutions, leading to a dismal state of affairs, one wonders why the notion of justice does not filter down to half the population of the country. The exclusive focus on sexuality and bodies of women contributes in significant ways to gender injustice. In the case of rape for instance, a woman's complaint is judged on the basis of her chastity, purity, modesty as well as virginity. The exclusion of rape in marriage from the purview of the criminal law continues to perpetuate sex roles and the obligations of men and women in marriage as it is not recognised as an offence; this public and private distinction continues to deny women's right to personal justice and the enforcement of criminal law in private spheres. This particular law is a colonial legacy under which family was constructed as a private sphere, beyond the legitimate intervention of the law. This has severe implications for women in cases related to adultery, dowry, and honour killings as assumptions about women's moral identities within the family continue to be regulated by moral regulations imposed by men through familial ideology and outside the purview of law. This reinforces the assumption that a woman surrenders her right to consent to sexual relations at the time of entering into a marriage and the husband is given an unconditional, unqualified right of sexual access to her. Every act of sexual intercourse is deemed to be consensual, as such consent is deemed to have been given at the time of marriage. The continuing exemption of marital rape from the purview of the criminal law sustains the assumption of the wife as exclusive property of the husband.14 Islamisation of Laws (Zia's Regime 1977-88) The 1980s witnessed a surge of religious orthodoxy, as the military dictator Zia-ulHaq presented himself as a devout Muslim intending to bring changes according to Islam. He proclaimed himself “divinely ordained” to steer Pakistani society back to


the moral purity of early Islam through a “direct brief from God”.15 Zia attempted to win the support of religious orthodoxy to legitimise his military rule. By using their support and strong coercive state power, his policies curtailed the hard-earned public space that had been earned for women.16 Though unable to win a popular mandate in any previous election, religious parties immediately joined hands with Zia's regime and gladly accepted a share in power.17 Initially he was able to generate support with slogans referring to the protection of women—Chadar aur Char Dewari (within veil and home)—and upholding Islam which proved strikingly functional.18 In 1979, he unveiled the first measure of his vision of the Islamisation of laws in Pakistan and issued Hudood Ordinances, which dealt with, and prescribed punishment for, rape, adultery, fornication and prostitution. The second phase of this Islamisation process in 1984, promulgated the Offences Agianst Human Body (Enforcement of Qisas and Diyat) Ordinance. The process of the Islamisation of laws as conceived and implemented by Zia ignored the real issues concerning women in society, further eroding the status of women in Pakistan.19 The Hudood Ordinances of 1979 relate to: (a) the crimes of rape, abduction, adultery and fornication, (b) the crimes of theft and armed robbery, (c) false accusations of a crime, including zina (adultery), (d) prohibiting the use of alcohol and narcotics, and (e) describing the mode of whipping as punishment for those convicted under the Hudood Ordinances.20 Ostensibly, the Hudood Ordinances were promulgated to bring the criminal legal system of Pakistan into conformity with the injunctions of the criminal laws of Islam. According to the ordinances, if rape or zina is committed by an adult married Muslim, the hadd (crimes for which punishment is set as per God’s will) punishment is stoning to death; for adult non-Muslim and adult single Muslim, the punishment is one hundred lashes. Hadd for committing qazaf (false accusation of zina) and for consumption of alcohol (for Muslims alone) is eighty lashes.21 According to these Islamic laws, for rape to be proved in court four Muslim adult male witnesses are required—about whom the court is satisfied that they are truthful persons and abstain from major sins—to give evidence as eyewitnesses of the act of penetration necessary to the offence.22 This mode of evidence was intended so that the condition of capital punishment becomes exceptionally difficult. The provision of Zia's law that four male witnesses are required to establish rape and the onus to establish the crime is on the complainant, creates problems for the female victims. Moreover, the onus of proof makes the complainant vulnerable because, if she fails to prove the rape, she can be prosecuted for zina under the Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hadood) Ordinance, 1979 (hereinafter: Zina Ordinance) or wrongful accusation under the Offence of Qazaf (Enforcement of Hadd) Ordinance, 1979 (hereinwith: Qazaf Ordinance).23 Her registered complaint becomes a confession of zina and she can be implicated as a party while the man involved escapes punishment despite being a party to the sexual act.24 These laws ignore modern scientific techniques for establishing a crime in their exclusive reliance on four male witnesses and their disregard of other available signs, symptoms and forensic evidence. Because of numerous loopholes in Zia's laws, girls marrying without the consent of their family


could be falsely accused of adultery. The laws become an instrument of deterrence against adult girls breaking the prevailing socio-cultural norms.25 There were lots of incidents reported in the press where the provisions of the Zina Ordinances were misused by the police and influential people to extort money or settle old feuds. The national press frequently reported that under the Zina Ordinance, the rapists were often set free due to lack of evidence, while raped women were arrested, prosecuted and punished for committing zina or for giving birth to an illegitimate child.26 The introduction of the Qanoon-e-Shahadat Order 1984 (Law of Evidence), ignored the juristic studies that nullified the traditionalist claim regarding a woman's evidence being half that of a man.27 It gave wide-ranging discretionary powers to the courts and endangered the rights of witnesses by allowing courts to determine the competence of a witness.28 Another issue is the mismatch between the law dealing legitimacy of the child and Hadood Ordinances. According to Section 128 of QSO 1984, any child born during a valid marriage and not earlier than six months from the date of marriage, or within two years of its dissolution, and the mother remaining unmarried, shall be deemed a legitimate child. However, under the Hadood Ordinances this law can be misused and the women may find herself accused of zina. The ordinance to enforce qisas and diyat was proposed in 1982 and implemented in 1991. This law describes all offences related to injury to the human body and has provided for monetary compensation in lieu of qisas. The monetary compensation is of three kinds. Diyat (blood money) is the compensation payable to the heirs of the victim by the offender in case of murder. The value of diyat is to be fixed by the court and the minimum amount prescribed by the law is equal to the value of 30.630 grams of silver. The money is to be disbursed among the heirs of the victim in accordance with the rules prescribing their share in the inheritance. It can either be paid by the offender as a lump sum or in instalments over a period of three years. If the offender fails to pay diyat once it is agreed upon, he can be imprisoned till it is paid.30 Like the Hudood Ordinances, the laws of qisas and diyat reduced the legal competence of women to half that of a man.31 Qisas cannot be enforced on a minor; an adult is defined as “a person who has attained, being a male, the age of 18 years or, being a female, the age of 16 years, or has attained puberty, whichever is earlier.” This definition has caused inequality of treatment between men and women in the imposition of punishment. A female becomes liable to harsher punishment at an earlier age than a male. As puberty varies among regions and ethnic stocks, many girls can become liable to the same punishment as adults at a young age of nine or ten years. There has been an argument by the human rights activists that puberty does not determine mental maturity and therefore is not acceptable as a measure for fixing a criminal liability. The paradox of the law becomes apparent as the criterion for determining competence to give evidence is the capacity to understand the nature of the occurrence witnessed. On one hand, the evidence of women is not accepted for the imposition of qisas on the basis that a woman's understanding of an act witnessed by her is weak. On the other hand, women are held criminally liable at a younger age


than men for the same act on the premise that they understand the consequences of the act.32 The words barring the evidence of women in proof of qatl-e-amd (wilful murder) are not written in the law.33 The provision has been very carefully added. Proof of qatl-e-amd is either the confession of the alleged murderer before a competent court, or by the evidence as provided in Article 17 of the Qanoon-eShahadat Order (Law of Evidence 1984). This article of the law states that the competence of a person to testify and the number of witnesses required in any case shall be determined in accordance with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Qur'an and sunnah (the way of the prophet).34 The extent of discrimination becomes obvious once the reference is made to Islamic law, where the evidence acceptable as proof of qatl-e-amd for the imposition of qisas is given as two adult male witnesses, except under exceptional circumstances.35 The most objectionable point in this law pertains to the diyat payable for a woman. The relevant provision of the law is worded innocuously in order to conceal the element of discrimination: “The court shall, subject to the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah […] fix the value of Diyat [...]”.36 In the Qisas and Diyat Ordinance, a more biased attitude has been adopted: the diyat for one finger has been fixed as one tenth of full diyat. In other words, when ten fingers of a woman are damaged, she is entitled to full diyat. But if she loses her life, the diyat will be half that of a man.37 Half diyat for a woman's life is against the spirit of the constitution. In all these laws women are discriminated against on the basis of their gender, in gross violation of the intention of the constitution of the state.38 Zia legally reduced women's citizenship rights of protection by the state through the notorious Hudood and Qanoon-e-Shahadat laws. The legal ambivalence created through these laws further strengthened patriarchal culture; i.e. men receiving blood money for murdered female relatives, honour killings, women raped and accused for being adulterous, women punished for marrying by choice. Laws made in the name of Islam and morality hardly ever worked for the benefit of women. The discriminatory character of these laws led to the creation of multiple women's organisations working continuously to revoke the laws by documenting and reporting their implications on women.39 The post-Zia period failed to end this discrimination as radicalisation of society through Islamisation changed the gender dynamics to the disadvantage of women. During Nawaz Sharif's period, there was a push to assert customs and traditions of the society as well as inculcation of religious values in the system by passing the Enforcement of Shari'ah Act (1991)40 that stated that: All Muslim citizens of Pakistan shall observe Shari'ah and act accordingly and in this regard the Majlis-e-Shura (Parliament) shall formulate code of conduct for Government functionaries. The State shall take necessary steps to ensure that the educational system of Pakistan is based on Islamic values of learning, teaching


and character building. The State shall take steps to ensure that the economic system of Pakistan is constructed on the basis of Islamic economic objectives, principles, and priorities. The State shall take steps to promote Islamic values through the mass media. The publication and promotion of programs [sic] against or in derogation to the Shari'ah, including obscene material shall be forbidden. Effective legal and administrative measures shall be taken by the State to eradicate obscenity, vulgarity and other moral vices. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the rights of women as guaranteed by the Constitution shall not be affected.41 The regime also attempted to enforce Islamic dress code for women—by promoting hijab (head scarf) in public schools. It also announced that women should not appear in commercials, dramas and other broadcasts in close proximity with men. These efforts to fuse religion and laws increased sexual crimes against women; organisations like Human Rights Watch and Asia Watch suggest that there has been an increase of violence and increased of 5080 percent of female detainees under these laws, and that 70 percent of these detainees were subject to abuse either by the police or prison authorities. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan stated in its report that at least eight women were criminally raped every 24 hours—more than two of them gang raped and at least five being minors—and the highest ratio of such crimes is in the Punjab.42 Despite such figures and horrific incidents reported in the press, successive regimes failed to rectify the situation.43 In a shift from previous policies, Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (from opposition benches) put forth a resolution in the Senate to discuss the honour killings. Despite numerous amendments to appease conservatives, it failed miserably at the early stages in 1999 as members either abstained or supported another motion to withdraw the resolution claiming that “it is a matter of honour for us”, leaving no room for discussion; however, to appease the opposition, the house denounced honour killings.44 In honour killing cases, usually the plea of “grave and sudden provocation” is employed to reduce the crimes to manslaughter and not a murder. This Anglo-Saxon law was modified in 1990 and was replaced by another law relating to qatl-i-amd punishable with death as qisas or life imprisonment as tazir (punishment by the State). The concept of diminished liability in such cases favours the murderer as the accused can get away with less or no punishment at all. Enlightened Moderation and Women In October 1999, General Pervez Musharraf staged a coup and posed a liberal attitude towards women, visible through the print and electronic media. He assured that his


administration wanted Pakistani women to enjoy greater political and economic rights, stating that, “We have made conscious efforts to ensure equity for women and empower them because empowerment is the only way to enable the vast majority of women”.45 Post 9/11, Pakistan has attempted to promote a liberal image and numerous symbolic measures have taken place; i.e. the regime changing laws relating to honour killings and declaring these crimes as murders in 2000.46 This did not reduce the number of honour crimes though Amnesty International has reported that such gestures have highlighted the issue and expressed divergent views of tribal jirgas and panchayats (village councils). However, the masculine notion of justice was exposed through a number of incidents when Musharraf intervened in a rape case and publicly exonerated a military officer involved in the crime.47 Under pressure, the victim was pushed to leave the country and has taken refuge in Canada. The media hype in a subsequent case of gang-rape in 2002 failed to bring justice to the victim, Mukhtaran Mai. However, the regime felt that the incident had dealt a blow to the “liberal image” of Pakistan. During a press conference, President Musharraf's infamous statement that: “You must understand the environment in Pakistan. This has become a money-making concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped”, created a storm after his initial denial that his words were distorted.48 This is not an isolated comment, an analysis of these words demonstrate this is a reflection of masculine notions of justice for female victims of sexual crimes that “they asked for it” and “they themselves are to be blamed” implying “these are women of loose morals” and “simply they are lying”. Amendments have been introduced in the biased laws during the last government’s tenure. The religious groups boycotted the legislation and one member even resigned in protest. This attitude reflects the inability of state institutions to look at women's concerns as a priority; their attitude towards women is as weak, in need of protection, repository of male honour, and custodians of redundant inhuman traditions. Despite many flaws, Women's Protection Bill 2006, is a step towards women's rights through institutional and judicial support. The objective of the new laws is to make a distinction between the offences of zina (adultery) and zina bil jabr (rape) and amend the prevailing practice of prosecuting a rape victim, who fails to prove rape under the offence of zina. It has also dealt with the requirement of proof for zina bil jabr which previously made it absolutely impossible, requiring the evidence of four good character adult male Muslims. Previous laws ignored the principle of justice by not dealing with the fact that these witnesses would be accessory to the rape crime, therefore punishable. Now the law defines rape and gang rape and has rightfully been taken out of Hadd and incorporated in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), as a Ta'zir offence. The gang rape can incur death penalty or lesser sentence depending on the nature of the crime rather than acquitting (where evidence is not strong enough); this would deter such crimes. Physical relationship with under aged girls would also constitute rape, so would be a sexual relation when consent is under coercion, fear of death or false impression of legal marriage. Previously, laws


failed to deal with real life situations particularly in rural areas where many marriages are still not registered. Similarly triple verbal divorce lacking confirmation puts women at the risk of zina accusations (usually by former husband). The new laws do not impose any punishment and rather consider social consequences enough for women. Under the section “Lian” (divorce by false accusation of adultery) a woman who is accused of adultery by her husband and denies the charge can seek dissolution of her marriage; woman admitting zina in proceedings for lian shall be liable to prosecution. The definitions of zina and qazf remain the same as in the Zina and Qazf Ordinance and so are the punishments for both offences. The objective of the law is to make the complainant and witness conscious of the seriousness of this offence and, in case of a false accusation or failure to prove beyond doubt, ensure punishment of qazf. These offences are now bail-able, so as to deal with the heavy handedness of police and prevent custodial rapes. The police will not be able to arrest any accused person in such cases unless directed by the Sessions Court and such directions would only be issued to ensure court attendance or in the event of a conviction. Another offence included in these laws deals with journalistic sensationalism that reveals the identity of rape victims and their families; any person liable for such offence may incur six months imprisonment or fine or both. Some other features are: l Depriving a woman of her inheritance would be punishable with imprisonment of

up to seven years or with a fine or both. l Prohibition of forced marriages and punishment of up to three years in prison

and a fine for the offense. l Prohibition of marriage with the Quran and provide for up to three years

imprisonment with a fine. l Giving a female in marriage or otherwise in badal-e-sulh, vanni or sawara to

settle a dispute punishable offence. l Dissolution of marriage on ground of cruelty of husband; habitual assaults; forces

to lead an infamous life; attempts to force her to lead an immoral life; disposes of her property or prevents her from exercising her legal rights; obstructs her in the observance of her religious practice or does not treat her equally in cases where he has more than one wife. l Dissolution of forced marriages immediately after the conviction of the accused. Since these changes are rather recent, time will tell whether they signal a positive change for women or further entangle them into a web of hope and disillusionment. Conclusion Despite all legal amendments, the lack of training and gender sensitisation of the police force, medico-legal institutions and law enforcement agencies make things static. One of the persisting major obstacles is the notion of guardianship of woman by man and not by the State; this continues to deprive women from the protection of the State as citizens and leaves them at the mercy of the men of their families. Despite the fact that this concern has been raised by many women parliamentarians, their


colleagues are unwilling to listen to such rationale. Similarly there is no mechanism to deal with local sardars (tribal chiefs), jirgas and panchayats (village councils) which are part of the political establishment and run parallel informal courts. Despite condemnation of sexual crimes, the attitude towards women as provocateurs, commodities and bodies remains unchanged. It is a manifestation of the prevailing social conservatism reinforced through living practices, school curricula, religious interpretations and refuge in cultural practices. With the rising tide of religious militancy, one can observe a backlash from extremist elements to squeeze public space for women relegating them to half citizens. The laws will be enforced through the same law enforcement structures that have societal bias towards women but are, nonetheless, a landmark step in the right direction. The criticism from religious groups that this would result in a free-sex society has no basis except that rather than putting forward real social, economic and political issues they want to establish that these laws are somehow linked with Pakistan's participation in US-led alliance against terrorism. They are fiercely trying to maintain and reinforce traditional mechanisms of control over women's sexuality and even create new ones. The female body is not a subject of politics but an object for conservatives to gain political control over the polity of Pakistan. Religious groups play the politics of women's bodies and employ their version of Islam as an expression of identity, an idiom of morality and a source of legitimacy for political use. The Women's Protection Bill has provided a symbolic space through which asymmetrical power relations between the religious elite and military regimes has been discursively articulated, secured and contested. Religious groups intend to use it as a “text” of culture, a symbolic form upon which the norms and practices of society are inscribed and social categories maintained. It has become a site where different discourses and political actors compete for legitimacy, power and authenticity. The laws will deal with reported/registered crimes against women and will not serve the purpose (free-sex society) claimed by religious groups, who need to reflect on the rising sexual crimes against women rather than attempting to be the sole custodians of morality and social values in Pakistan. As long as women's right to justice is embroiled in religion, culture and tradition, these issues will continue to move in circles of injustice.

Dr Tahmina Rashid is the programme coordinator of School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning at RMIT University, Australia.

Endnotes 1. This paper heavily relies on the author's field research with women in Pakistan conducted in 2000-2004. 2. Helbock, Lucy. 1975. The Changing Status of Women in Islamic Pakistan. Islamabad: USAID. P. 41 3. “Pakistan stops killing women for honor,” United Press International, April 24, 2000. See also: “Pakistan: Four Women Burned Every Day by Husbands,” WIN News, Spring 2000, Vol 26 i2; Ahmer Mustikhan, “Honour Killings. (violence against women in Pakistan),”


4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.


15. 16.






Canadian Dimension, Feb 2000, Vol 34 I1; “Crime or Custom? Violence Against Women in Pakistan,” WIN News, Winter 2000, Vol. 26 i1. See also: “Call for action: killing women in Pakistan,” off our backs, Oct 1999, Vol 29 i9; "Pakistan: Violence Against Women In The Name Of Honour," WIN News, Autumn 1999 Vol 25 i4; "Women's woes. (campaign to stop 'honor crimes' against women in Pakistan),” The Economist (US), August 14, 1999, Vol 352 i8132; Steven Shabad, “Honor Killings. (women in Pakistan),” World Press Review, June 1999, Vol 46 i6. Due to ethical concerns, Codes are used to conceal the identity of research participants. RE Oct. 2002. HA Oct. 2002. PS Oct. 2002. KB Jan. 2002. SA Jan 2002. AH Feb 2002. SA Jan 2002. AH Feb 2002. AH Feb 2002. Melissa Robinson, “Unveiled: Rape in Pakistan,” The New Republic, March 9, 1992, Vol 206 No. 10 (web Edition). See also: “Women and Violence,” WIN News, Spring 1994, Vol 20 No. 2 (web edition); “Report: Police abuse of women in Pakistan ) Reports from around the world: Asia and Pacific),” WIN News, Autumn 1992, Vol. 18, No. 4 (web edition); Sara Suleri, “Woman skin deep: feminism and the postcolonial condition,” Critical Inquiry Summer 1992, Vol. 18 No. 4 (web Edition); Valentine M. Moghdam, “Patriarchy and the Politics of Gender in Modernizing Societies-Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” International Sociology 7: (1) March 1992, (web edition); Tanveer Jehan, “Violence against women-in the light of newspaper reports," Jehd-e-Haq January 1998, P.7. Ratna Kapur, “Challenging the Liberal Subject: Law and Gender Justice in South Asia,” in Gender Justice, Citizenship, And Development, ed. Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay and Navsharan Singh, (Zubaan/IDRC, 2007), Ayesha Jalal, "The convineance of subserviance," in Women, Islam and the State, ed. Daniz Kandiyoti, (London: Macmillan, 1991), P.100 M. H. Askari, "Martial Law and the Civil Society in Pakistan," Dawn. September 17, 1988. (Karachi, Pakistan). See also: "Pakistan's other Women," The Economist, January 13, 1990, Vol. 314, No. 7637, P.38; Fareeda Shaheed, "Women in Pakistan-50 Years Later," WIN News, Winter 1998, Vol. 24, No. 1, P. 63. Iftikhar Malik, “The State and Civil Society in Pakistan: From Crisis to Crisis,” Asian Survey, Vol. 36, No. 7, July 1996, P. 21; Shahnaz J. Rouse, “Women's Activism in Pakistan: State, Class, Gender,” South Asia Bulletin, Vol. VI. No. 1, Spring 1986, P. 31. Fareeda Shaheed, “The Cultural Articulation of Patriarchy; Legal system, Islam and Women in Pakistan,” South Asia Bulletin, Spring 1986, P.43; Hamza Alvi, “Pakistan: Women In A Changing Society,” The Economic and Political Weekly, 25 June, 1988. P.5. For a complete text of Hudood Ordinances & The Qanoon-e-Shahadat, 1984, Tahmina Rashid, Contested Representation: Punjabi Women in Feminist Debates in Pakistan, (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2006), Pp. 311-329 and 331-39; Shahnaz J. Rouse, “Women's Activism in Contemporary Pakistan: Results and Prospects,” Working paper, No. 74, (Michigan: Michigan State University, 1984), P. 3; Shaheed, Pakistan's Women, opcit., P.67 and Afroz Ihsan Haq, “Women and Human Rights,” Sindh Quarterly, Vol. XV, No. 3, 1987, P.3, Henry J. Korsal and Maskiell, “Islamisation and Social Policies in Pakistan-The Constitutional Crisis and the Status of Women,” Asian Survey, Vol. XXV, No. 6, June 1985, P. 593. See also in Zafar H. Choudhari & Mehr, Ghulam A Mubeshar, Islamic Law of

Hudood and Tazeer- Introduction to Islamic Law of Crimes, (Lahore: Law Times Publishers, 1985), P.45. 21. Rehman, op-cit. See also, Asthma Jehangir and Hina Jilani, The Hudood Ordinance: A Divine Sanction? (Lahore: Rohtas Books, 1990), P. 76. 22. Rashida Patel, Islamisation of Laws in Pakistan?, (Karachi: Faiza Publishers, 1986), P.130. 23. Jehangir, A Divine Sanction op-cit., P. 91. See also Nausheen Ahmad, “The Zina Ordinance,” n.d. P.11. 24. Sabiha Sumar and Khalid Nadvi, “Zina: the Hudood Ordinance and Its Implications for Women (Pakistan),” Dossier No.3, WLUML, June 1988, P.37. 25. Melissa Robison, "Unveiled: Rape in Pakistan," The New Republic, Vol. 206, No. 10, March 1992, P.2. See also, Zina-Hudood Ordinance Aur Aurthon Key Liay Us Key Nataij: Martial Law Ka Aur Var, (no publisher), n.d., P.2. 26. Asma Jehangir, Rape: Women Criminals or Victims, (Lahore: Carvan Publishers, 1978), P.121. 27. AGHS, Brief Review, op-cit., P. 61. 28. Jehangir, A Divine sanction, op-cit., P. 42. See also Patel, Islamisation and the Role of Women, op-cit., P. 9; Qamaruddin Khan, “Excerpts from women and Islamic Law of Evidence,” n.d. P.4 and Patel, Islamisation and The Role of Women, op-cit., P. 9. 29. Fatima Hussain, “Law of Evidence: A Critique,” The News, April 18, 1998. (Lahore, Pakistan). 30. Nasra Iqbal, “Law of Qisas & Diyat: A Critique,” (unpublished paper, presented in a seminar on “Women and New Laws” ASR. 1992), P.9. See also in Mir, op-cit., P.149 and Abdur Rehman, op-cit. 31. WAF, “Law of Qisas and Diyat as Proposed by the Council of Islamic Ideology-WAF Position Paper,” Lahore: WAF, 1983, P.1. 32. Patel, Islamisation and the Role of Women, op-cit., P.9. 33. Jehangir, op-cit., P.41. 34. Patel, Islamisation And The Role of Women, op-cit., P.5. 35. Ishaq, op-cit., P.12. 36. 37. Clause 28(2). For complete Qanoon-e-Shahadat text, 1984: Rashid, Contested Representation. Op cit. Pp. 331391. 38. Mazari, op-cit., P. 81. 39. Nesta Ramazani, “Islamisation And The Women's Activism In Pakistan,” Journal of South Asian and Middle Easter Studies, Vol. VIII, No. 3, Spring 1985, P.64. See also Zain Sheikh, “The Zina Ordinance: A Case for Entrapment,” (unpublished paper, n.d.), P. 8; Jehangir, How Far Are Penal Laws, op-cit., P.4; “Women's 'march' 1993: Abolish Violence,” WIN News, Vol. 19. No. 4, Autumn 1993, P.44 and Hamza Alavi, “Pakistani Women in a Changing Society,” 40. Khawar Mumtaz, “Identity Politics and Women: 'Fundamentalism' and Women in Pakistan,” in Identity Politics and Women: Cultural assertions and Feminism in International Perspective, ed. Valentine M. Moghadam, (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), P.233. 41. For Complete Text of Shariah bill, Tahmina Rashid, Contested Representation: Punjabi Women in Feminist Debates in Pakistan, (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2006). Pp.393-398. 42. 43 Melissa Robinson, “Unveiled: Rape in Pakistan,” The New Republic, March 9, 1992, Vol. 206, No. 10 (web Edition). See also, “Women and Violence,” WIN News, Spring 1994, Vol. 20, No. 2 (web edition); “Report: Police abuse of women in Pakistan ) Reports from around the world: Asia and Pacific)” WIN News, Autumn 1992, v. 18, No. 4 (web edition); Sara



45. 46. 47. 48.

Suleri, “Woman skin deep: feminism and the postcolonial condition,” Critical Inquiry, Summer 1992, Vol. 18, No. 4 (web Edition); Valentine M. Moghdam, “Patriarchy and the Politics of Gender in Modernizing Societies-Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” International Sociology 7: (1) March 1992, (web edition). Ardeshir Cowasjee, “A Matter of Honour?” 199908/10/n9081002.html. See also Dawn, August 3, 1999; Karachi NEWS International April 28, 1999; www.ippf/newsinfo/archive/9905/4.html; “Crime or Custom: Violence Against Women in Pakistan” Human Rights Watch, Aug. 1999, reports/1999/pakistan/index.html. DAWN, Feb. 10, 2004. Kabir Ahmad, “Pakistan Unveils wide-ranging changes to human-rights procedures,” (London: The Lancet, May 6, 2000). The Washington Post released the full audio of his press conference, exposing his hypocrisy. 30/AR2005093001536.html

Health in the Unorganised Manufacturing Sector in India Mary Abraham


mall scale industries have played a very important role, both in terms of production and employment. The puffed rice cluster, consisting of around 50,000 such small-scale industries, produces puffed rice—a very popular snack made from rice consumed across India. Most of these units are small or cottage based, operating in clusters located in and around urban centres and generally in bad environmental conditions without any regulations. Davangere is one of the biggest clusters in Karnataka, comprising around 636 units, and controls the market of puffed rice in southern India with daily turn-over of around 1.5 million Indian rupees. This labour intensive activity provides employment to as many as 27,000 people in the region. Almost all people in this region use inferior cooking fuels such as biomass and kerosene. The health of workers in the puffed rice sector is mainly affected by the unhygienic and cramped workplace and the exposure to poor air quality and heat. Long hours of physical work, low remuneration and poor eating habits aggravate the poor health of these workers. Women workers in the puffed rice units and their young children are at higher risk from air pollution as they are also exposed to indoor air pollution from cooking. The community is also exposed to air pollution from the puffed rice sector especially during the dry seasons. The pilot results infer low levels of environmental awareness, poor economic conditions, lack of accessibility to basic resources, unequal power structure and the absence of an effective regulatory framework. This paper details out the results of the social diagnosis around the puffed rice sector in Davangere. The paper thus aims to assess the social and economic issues with gender perspective towards the health and well being of the puffed rice community using ecosystem approach. The social diagnosis process included various participatory exercises such as Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), stakeholder analysis, multistakeholder meetings, focus group discussions, household survey, workers' questionnaire survey and secondary data analysis. Methodology The methodology adopted includes a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques widely used for social diagnosis including the application of various PRA techniques such as time trends, daily routine, problem tree, disease matrix, diet matrix etc. Besides these, indepth key interviews open interviews and focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted. In addition to the above qualitative methods



quantitative methods using the survey instrument and compilation and analysis of secondary data was carried out.

Table 2: % of Male, Female Literates in the Region

Socio Economic Status As mentioned earlier, the study area covers ward 18, and ward 19 of Davangere Municipal Council. There are a total of 3200 households in the study region. These houses have on an average around six members each. Sex ratio in the region is 955 female/1000 males. 100 percent of the study area is urban. While male literacy is 48 percent, female literacy is only 41 percent. As per the 2001 census, 40 percent of the total population in the region are main workers; 53 percent of the male population are main workers while 26 percent of the female population are main workers (District Census Handbook 2001).


There are around 637 puffed rice units in the region established about 20 years ago. The total area of the Mandakki layout is around 38 acres. The industry is an important source of livelihood directly employing around 3000 people and another 2000 odd are indirectly dependent. Each person in the unit works around 7–8 hours per day. The product being a popular food item, especially in north Karnataka region, is sent all over Karnataka as well as other states such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and even to neighbouring country Bangladesh. Table 1: Socio Economic Details of the Study Area Study Area (Ward No. 18 and 19 ) Total No. of households

Davangere Town





Male Literacy



Female Literacy



955 females/1000 males

939 females /1000 males



Total population

Sex Ratio % of main workers

Source: District Census Handbook 2001

Literacy Levels Age wise analysis of literacy in the study region from the socio economic survey reveals that there is a rise in literacy levels in the younger strata of the population. It also brings out that there are higher literacy levels among women thus indicating better educational opportunity for women as well. It is interesting to note that, among the surveyed population, all females in the age group of 6–15 are school going. However, in the case of higher age group, 21–30, only 27 percent are literate. The FGDs revealed that, though these women are termed literate, they are only able to nominally read and write and have had some education from the Madrasahs1. The survey also throws light on male illiterates (drop outs) in the age group of 11–15. Informal interviews with the school teachers also revealed that there is a concern about drop outs, who generally become child labourers; most often these are male children. Table 2 gives the literary rates of the surveyed population.


Male 11yrs–15

Female 100



















Above 60 50 Source: Teri Survey 2005


Health Extensive literature supports that most of the global burden of disease and health inequalities are caused by social determinants. For any improvement of health it is necessary to tackle the real causes of health problems or the social conditions in which people live and work, referred to as the social determinants of health (WHO 2005). Life expectancy is shorter and most diseases are more common further down the social ladder in the every society. Hence health policy must tackle the socio-economic determinants of health (WHO 2003), given below: 1) 2) 3) 4)

Environmental awareness and conditions Economic determinants Access and control of basic requirements Distribution of power and regulatory framework

The results from the social diagnosis are presented below under the following four determinants of health. Environment Awareness and Conditions Air pollution from the puffed rice units is a serious issue and has an adverse impact on the workers and community. During the FGDs people complained about air pollution, especially during the summers when puffed rice activity is also in full swing. Many people reported that air pollution is a cause of respiratory problems in the region. In households, 83 percent of those surveyed reported high levels of pollution (smoke) from the puffed rice sector. The FGDs have also brought out the fact that workers and the community have minimum knowledge on the impacts of the air pollution. The survey also showed that those reporting air pollution in the region have also raised this issue with the government or have sought some kind of help to resolve it; 49 percent have reported this to the municipality officials and 34 percent have reported to the ward councillor. There is an acute water shortage for domestic purpose; there are public taps (which is the main source of water) in most of the areas and a few private taps but in general there is poor supply of municipality water in Davengere. In the household survey, 70 percent reported acute shortage of water. The situation is even worse in hamlets such as Mandakki layout and Siva Nagar, which have no public taps, and hence most residents buy water at the rate of Rs 2–5 per pot (depending on the season). Water is


bought for drinking and cooking while they do their cleaning and washing in nearby areas. In the areas with public taps, it was reported that the supply falls far behind demand. They generally receive water only 2–3 days in a week. These areas also have to buy water when there is severe water shortage (supply is only once a week and for shorter durations). These people are not dependent on groundwater for their domestic use. There are a few bore wells in the puffed rice industrial areas and this water is used for soaking and salting. All unit owners do not have access to these bore wells. Due to water shortage, some units reuse the water used for soaking for salting. There is a lack of awareness of water quality and often the water used in the process of salting at the units is of bad quality. The FGDs revealed the water in the area not sufficient for use (municipality supply) thus worsening the environmental conditions in the region. Economic Determinants Income and expenditure Raphael (2002) notes that poverty and income inequality are the key determinants of health. In the study area for this research, 22 percent of surveyed households were below the poverty line, earning less than Rs 17000 annually 20 percent of the surveyed households earn less than $1 a day and 49 percent of the surveyed households earn less than $2 a day. With such meagre income, they are more susceptible to lack of access to basic requirements including food, thus leading to ill health. Poverty also discriminates in more subtle ways against women and young children (Donner 2002). There is inequality of income in the study area where some families, especially a few puffed rice owners, are quite affluent (Figure 2 provides income levels of the people in the region). The survey shows that majority of the households (36 percent) fall in the income category of Rs 1000–3000/month, followed by 27 percent who have a monthly income of 3000 to 5000 while only 14 percent of the surveyed households have an income of Rs 5000–10,000/month. A good diet and adequate food supply are central for promoting health and well being. Shortage of food and lack of variety causes malnutrition (WHO 2003). The food habits of the people surveyed are very poor as they rarely consume any milk or other dairy products and leafy vegetables. In the FGDs, participants were asked how often (daily, weekly, monthly, never) they consume various food items. Rice, jowar (sorghum), wheat, ragi (finger millet) and dal (lentil) form the staple diet of the people in the region. Almost all the households in the region consume meat and eggs at least once a week. Milk is consumed only in tea. Most of the women in the region do not consume any milk or other dairy products; they also rarely consume leafy vegetables. Interviews with health workers have also brought out high levels of anaemia in women and children, something that requires more research for any conclusion. The FGDs show that a minimum of Rs 2500/month is required for meeting basic needs in this region. On an average Rs. 200/month is required for health expenses. However, during some seasons when incidence of illness is high upto Rs 1000/month can also get spent. Expenditures being high, most of the households spend their entire


Fig 2. Income Levels (Total Family Income/Month) in the Region Income levels

<1000 1000-3000 3000-5000 5000-10000 >10000

income and have no savings; thus they end up with loans taken for various reasons such as unforeseen medical expenses, daughter's marriage, or various festivals. Dowry3 is one of the serious social concerns in the region, as reported by most elderly women in the FGDs. Natrajan (1995) cites literature tracing the custom of dowry being deeply rooted in the Hindu culture, but today it is widely practiced throughout the county irrespective of religion, caste or class. This traditional custom that was entrenched in the male dominated society has attained alarming proportion over the decades (Kumari 1989). The bride is often harassed and abused in the name of dowry (FGDs). This abuse can escalate to the point where the husband/husband's family sends the daughter back to her parent's home and does not accept her until his financial needs are met. Most of the households said that they have to spend a minimum of Rs 150,000 for each marriage. Majority (80 percent) of the households in the region being Muslim, festivals like Ramadan (Eid-ul-Fitr) and Eid-ul-Azha are celebrated with great zeal. Huge amount (min of Rs 2000/family) of expenses are incurred on such religious festivals most of which are loans. People generally borrow from moneylenders and workers of puffed rice units borrow from their owners. Employment patterns In general the social organisation of work and the relationship at workplace all matter for health (WHO 2003). As per the 2001 Census data, 35.82 percent of the total population are main workers. The TERI household survey 2005 reveals a higher percentage of workers (58 percent). Finding employment in the region has become extremely challenging, and hence most people take up the best available livelihood option. 26 percent of the population in the region are coolies4. Figure 3 provides occupational structure in the region. Women have very less employment options; 9–10 percent are engaged in beedi-rolling5. Almost 30 percent of the households have at least one women involved in beedi rolling. This occupation is very convenient as women can function from home and hence their household chores do not get neglected. These women beedi workers sit for beedi rolling for long hours and suffer from multiple health hazards. Children and other family members also assist them. Most women in the region working in this sector complained of stomach pain. Some elderly women who have been involved in the activity for years together complained of joint pains, and skin allergies. On an average they earn around Rs 80/week.


Fig. 3. Occupational Structure in the Regional

Employment Patterns

Coolie Pufed rice Others

There is gender-differentiated access to employment and income-earning opportunities in urban areas. While unemployment and underemployment have been major concerns for many urban economies in most countries, literature throws light on widespread gender segmentation in the labour market and women's work remains characterised by insecurity and low returns (Rachel Masika et al. 1997). In the study area, a few women are involved in the puffed rice sector, and a few work in the rice mills. During focus group meetings these women said that they have to spend a considerable amount of time doing routine household chores and nursing their children and are not able to take up regular employment. Moreover, they are generally viewed as physically weaker, and thus not deserving equal wages with men. Employment in puffed rice sector Around 20 percent of the workers are employed in the puffed rice sector. The various types of jobs in the unit include puffing, salt mixing, water filling, fuel feeding, soaking/boiling paddy, carrying rice for de husking, drying of rice and other petty works. Puffing requires special skills that are gained through experience and hence the puffer is generally paid higher wages. Those working in puffing earn around Rs 100–150/day, depending on their skills and the owner/worker relationship. Others are normally paid on an average Rs 80–100/day. Women workers in the industry receive an average of Rs 50–70/day and they are generally involved with salting and hulling. Almost 70 percent of the units employ at least one woman in the unit. Women workers in puffed rice units reported that they have been working out of compulsion from economic reasons and not their personal choice. They also added that work in the puffed rice unit is very hectic for women. They have to leave their houses very early, thus neglecting most of their daily household chores. They do their routine household works of washing and cleaning only during the weekly holidays. Those with young children find it extremely difficult and are left with no option but to bring them along to the work place. Some women complained that they bring their young daughters who have reached puberty (as they do not want them to be alone at home from fear of sexual assaults) and this forces these young girls to take up the occupation as well.


Workers in this industry are more prone to air pollution and other health hazards. During open interviews with the workers it was found that there is a system of loan bound labour in this industry. Various interviews with workers revealed that the workers are not subject to any kind of harassment for the repayment of the same. Whenever these workers shift from one unit to the other the new employer repays this advance. The study team also observed child labour. Instances of these were also reported during our focus group meetings. Around 50 children (male) have been observed to be working in the puffed rice units. These children earn around Rs 20–40/day and are involved with salting, fuel feeding, drying rice, helping in packing of puffed rice etc. The children are compelled to support their family due to poverty, lack of motivation for higher studies; poor education of parents and unawareness of the need of education; single parents are other cause factors of child labour. While most female children are involved in beedi rolling, males below the age of 14 are seen in all kinds of jobs. A lot of these young children are seen selling pots of water. Access to Basic Amenities It is evident that poor social and economic circumstance affects health throughout life (WHO 2003). Most households here live under unhygienic conditions in slums, lacking basic amenities. Almost 50 percent of the households in the region do not even own their own house. Since most of these inhabitants have migrated from other regions, they do not own any land as well. Those migrants who came from neighbouring districts and other rural areas in search of employment encroached on small pieces of land and built their houses; over the years some of these houses have acquired legal ownership while many do not have ownership yet. Economic status of the household in which the individual lives will affect health directly and indirectly through the ability to seek care and treatment (Gupta I and Sankar D 2003). The main cooking fuel in the region is firewood. The survey shows that 85 percent use only firewood, 10 percent use firewood and kerosene and 5 percent use LPG and firewood. While almost all households use firewood that releases noxious pollutants and affect the health of the individuals, it was also observed that the chullahs (stoves) used for cooking are not energy efficient. Studies have also revealed acute shortage of water in the region. Supply of adequate water quantity is equally important as the water quality for human health has been recognised world wide. Cairncross (1990) says that the quantity of water used is an important determinant of health. 78 percent of the surveyed households in the study area depend on public taps; only 17 percent have access to private taps. Most of the hamlets do not have toilets while those that do cannot use them as there is no water. Lack of basic sanitation facility is a cause of grave concern especially to women. The region also lacks adequate drainage facility resulting in severe water logging during the rains. Lack of water and sanitation facilities are primary reasons for diseases linked to water in the region. “Without access to toilets women and girls must wait until it is dark to defecate, exposing themselves to harassment and a fear of sexual assault”, reported a father of five young unmarried girls from Mandakki layout. Women in villages wake up early in the morning since attending to toilet rituals after sunrise is not acceptable. The increasing disappearance of green cover, and the privacy it used to offer, has contributed to a


further loss of dignity. Some young girls said that they would try to drink less water, which affects their health. Many women in the region suffer due to this problem. The condition of those women who are pregnant (and hence need to urinate often) and ageing is particularly pathetic. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Diarrhoea resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene is quite common in the regionâ&#x20AC;?, reported some women during the focus group meetings. The accessibility of means of communication is also very crucial determinant of health. The study region is reasonably well connected to the Davangere town with city buses plying every hour, as well as three wheelers. Though the condition of the main roads is reasonably good, the roads to the households are in a very bad state. In some hamlets such as Ahmednagar and Sivanagar the condition is even worse. Few households in the region have telephones. There are 2 government hospitals in the region and around 20 private clinics. However, most people were not satisfied with the facilities available at the government hospitals. Residents often go to hospitals in Davengere. Since educational attainment is associated with almost every measure of population health, the accessibility of educational facilities is also important in this context. There are around six anganwadis (government sponsored child-care and mother-care centres) and seven schools in the entire region. Besides, there are also a few Madrasahs. Davengere town, barely three kilometers away from the study region, has many higher educational institutes in every field. However, the real issue of concern to the community was accessibility to education, a result of various other factors than mere availability. Conclusion While it is well known that pollution from the puffed rice sector impacts health and well being of the workers as well as the community, this paper has studied the social determinants of health in the region. The study infers that low level of environmental awareness, poor economic conditions and lack of accessibility to basic resources have a major impact on the health and thereby quality of life of the community in the regions. Thus the study stresses that for any policy intervention aimed at mitigating health risks from this sector, or for that matter in any other small and informal sector, it is extremely necessary to first study the social determinants of health specific for the particular region. It is suggested that an in-depth social diagnosis is needed to understand these complex dynamics so as to plan effective interventions that will lead to an overall improvement in the conditions of health and well being of the community. Intervening to change social, economic, and cultural determinants of health is, however, inherently complex. The results suggest a need for decrease in social stratification by reducing inequalities in power, income and socio economic positions, lessening the vulnerability of the disadvantaged to the health damaging conditions they face, by an actual improvement in the existing conditions as well as improvement of people's awareness through various information education and communication


strategies. It is suggested that intervention process should lay thrust on techno-social integration, human and institutional development, community mobilisation, gender sensitisation, collaborative action and improvement in health and well-being. It is strongly recommended that the problems associated with small and informal sectors in the developing countries should not be examined in isolation and any policy interventions need to consider the social determinants in order to achieve desired goals.

Mary Abraham is associate fellow at the Energy and Resources Institute, Southern Regional Centre, Bangalore, India. Endnotes 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

A Madrasah is an educational institution of the Muslim religion imparting religious education. Families living in urban areas in Karnataka with less than Rs. 17000 annual income are considered below poverty line. Dowry or Dahej is the payment in cash or/and kind by the bride's family to the bridegroom's family. Coolies are normally unskilled labourers earning daily wages of Rs.60-100/day. Beedi is a tobacco based product similar to cigarettes but a cheaper version. Beedi rolling is is very convenient to women as they can function from home itself without neglecting their household chores. On an average they earn around Rs.80 /week.

References l Cairncross, A. M. 1990. Health impact in developing countries: new evidence and new

perspective. Journal of the Institution of water and environmental Management 4(6). Pp. 571-577. l Indrani, Gupta and Sankar D. 2003. Health of the elderly in India: A multivariate analysis. Journal of health and population in developing countries. l Kumari, R. 1989. Brides are not for burning: Dowry victims in India, New Delhi: Radiant Publishers. l Donner, Lisa. 2002. Women Income and Health in Manitoba: An overview and ideas for action. (accessed 11/12/05). l Mangai, Natrajan. 1995. Victimization of Women, A theoretical perspective of dowry deaths in India. International Review of Victimology 3(4). Pp. 297-308. Oxon, England: A B Academic Publishers. l Masika, Rachel, Arjan de Haan and Sally Baden. 1997. Urbanisation and Urban Poverty: A Gender Analysis. Report prepared for the Gender Equality Unit, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) University of Sussex. l Raphael, D. 2002. Poverty, income inequality, and health in Canada. Toronto: CSJ Foundation for Research and Education, Canada l Richard Wilkinson and Micheal Marmot (eds.) 2003. Social determinants of Health, The solid Facts. WHO. Second edition. l WHO 2005. Action on the Social determinants of Health: learning from previous experiences. A background paper prepared for commission on social determinants of health.


Table I: Share of Reserve Food Grains (Wheat and Rice) Maintained by Member States Under Article II of the Agreement Name of the SAARC Country

Review: Implementation of SAARC Conventions Dr Mahendra P. Lama


outh Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), consisting of Afghanistan (since 2007), Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka was launched in the first Summit of the Heads of the Governments and States in 1985. SAARC has so far signed the following regional agreements and conventions: 4 l Agreement on Establishing the SAARC Food Security Reserve (12 August 1988) l Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism (4 November 1987) l Regional Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (23

November 1990) l SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and

Children for Prostitution (5 January 2002) l SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion of Child

Welfare in South Asia (5 January 2002) l Coordination of Positions on Multilateral Legal Issues l Agreement for Establishment of South Asian University

This paper examines the status of two of the above agreements/conventions viz. Agreement on Establishing the SAARC Food Security Reserve and Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism in terms of progress in implementation, efficacy of SAARC Summit level commitments and implications of nonoperationalisation of such announcements. It also puts forward some suggestions for making these conventions more effective. Agreement on Establishing the SAARC Food Security Reserve (1987) Agreement on Establishing the SAARC Food Security Reserve was signed during the Third SAARC Summit [Kathmandu, November 1987]. It came into force on 12 August 1988. Objectives and Features 1 Provides for a reserve of food grains to meet emergencies in member countries. 2 Reserve stood at 241,580 tonnes as of January 2002. 3 A member country can draw the same in the event of: i) unexpected natural and human-induced calamity, ii) inability to cope with such a state or condition by using its nation's reserve and is unable to procure the food grains it requires through normal trading transactions on account of balance of payments constraints.


Contribution to Reserve (%)


Quantity of Reserve (tonnes) 40000
















Sri Lanka







The SAARC Food Security Reserve Board (SFSRB) comprising representatives from member countries meets once a year to undertake a periodic review and assessment of the food situation and prospects in the region taking into account factors like production, consumption, trade, prices, quality and stocks of food grains.

Achievements i) A special meeting of the board (Kathmandu, April 2001) dwelt upon the possibility of instituting more practical measures for facilitating the use of the reserve during emergencies. ii) The Ninth Meeting of the SAARC Food Security Reserve Board (Islamabad, December 2002) for the first time identified institutions/organisations in member states to be contacted in case of emergency requirements for withdrawal from the reserve. iii) The Meeting of SAARC Agriculture/Food Ministers [Islamabad, 12–13 December 2006] agreed to the creation of the SAARC Regional Food Bank to initially start with the food grain stock equal to the reserve under the SFSRB. iv) The Fourteenth SAARC Summit (2007) declared that “in order to manage emergencies caused by natural and manmade calamities and food shortages, they [heads of the state and governments] welcomed the signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement establishing the SAARC Food Bank with the participation of all the SAARC countries. The Food Bank will supplement national efforts to provide food security to the people of the region.” SAARC Food Bank (2007) After 20 years of sheer non-implementation of the SAARC Food Reserves, the Agreement on Establishing the SAARC Food Security Reserve of 1987 has been “revamped and renamed” into “Agreement on Establishing the SAARC Food Bank” in 2007. There are some practical features in this new agreement, including price and quality determination and role of the private sector.


Basic Features: i) The Food Bank shall be administered by the SAARC Food Bank Board (Agreement On Establishing The SAARC Food Bank). ii) Two fold objectives: a. to act as a regional food security reserve for the SAARC member countries during normal times, food shortages and emergencies; and b. to provide regional support to national food security efforts; foster intercountry partnerships and regional integration and solve regional food shortages through collective action (Article II). iii) The reserve to be maintained under the Food Bank shall consist of wheat or rice or a combination thereof (Article III). iv) The reserve shall remain the property of the member country that has earmarked it and shall be in addition to any national reserve that may be maintained by that member country (ibid.). v) Each member country undertakes to earmark as its assessed share of the Reserve the amount of food grains allocated as given below (Table II) and to keep the Board informed of the quantum of its reserve with locations of the designated godowns (ibid.). Vi) An additional feature of this bank is that the board members countries decide to maintain “fair average quality” of food grains (Article IV). vii) Each member country, having suffered a severe and unexpected natural or human-induced calamity, if unable to cope with such a state of condition by using its national reserve, shall be entitled to draw on food grains forming part of the reserve in the event of a food emergency and/or shortage (production shortfall and /or storage shortfall, provided that the production of food grains in the current year is lower than the average of the production of the previous three years by eight percent). viii) The member country in need shall directly notify, through its designated nodal point(s), the other member country or countries of the food emergency or shortage it is facing and the amount of food grains required (Article VI). ix) The other member country or countries on being so requested shall take immediate steps to make necessary arrangements to ensure immediate and speedy release of the required food grains, subject to availability in the combination requested (ibid.).

Table II: Assessed Shares of Food Grains for the Reserve Country Food Reserves (in Metric Tons) Afghanistan Bangladesh 40,000 Bhutan 180 India 1,53,200 Maldives 200 Nepal 4000 Pakistan 40000 Sri Lanka 4000 Total 2,41,580



There is also a provision where “a Member Country in need shall be entitled to immediate withdrawal of food grains from its assessed reserve in case of emergencies under intimation to the Member Countries and the Board, and in any other cases by giving three months' advance notice to the Member Countries and the Board of such withdrawal”. This could also never happen (Article VIII). xi) Another interesting feature of the new Food Bank is that it has now laid down broad principles: price determination of the food grains released. It mentions that price quoted, in general, shall be lower than prices generally charged or quoted for countries beyond the region. Price shall be representative of the market, both domestic and international, and may be adjusted suitably to reflect seasonal variations and price movements in the recent past; and national treatment in respect of calculating cost components such as those related to storage, internal freight, interests, insurance and overhead charges, margin of losses etc ( Article IX). xii) As far as institutional arrangements are concerned, there shall be a board (which will meet at least once a year)—of which each member country shall be a member—to administer the functioning of the Food Bank and for its policy making. Each member country shall designate nodal point(s), responsible for transacting all business at the national level related to operations of the Food Bank. This board shall undertake periodic review and assessment of the food situation and prospects in the region, including factors such as production, consumption, trade, prices, quality and stocks of food grains. These periodic assessment reports shall be disseminated to all the member countries. xiii) The board shall examine immediate, short term and long term policy actions as may be considered necessary to ensure adequate supplies of food grains in the region and submit, on the basis of such examination, recommendations for appropriate action to the Council of Ministers. This board will also review implementation of the provisions of the agreement, ensure effective administration of the Food Bank and issue guidelines on technical matters, such as maintenance of stocks, storage conditions, quality control and price. It will also assess the demand of food grains and identification of institutions and organisations in member countries that are to be contacted in case of release and withdrawal from its reserves. It would devise appropriate mechanism(s) to collect, compile, generate, analyse, and disseminate information to facilitate its own work (Article XI). xiv) There is also a provision for the involvement of private sector importer(s) in a member country which may apply to the designated nodal point(s) of that country (Article X). xv) The SAARC Secretariat shall coordinate the work of the board, monitor all matters relating to the release of food grains, and convene and service meetings of the board (Article XIII). xvi) The agreement also mentions the establishment of a permanent headquarters of the Food Bank with dedicated staff. xvii) This agreement shall supersede the Agreement on Establishing the SAARC Food Security Reserve.


xviii) Under Schedule-II it provides specifications of food grains (wheat and rice) including quality grade factors—Grade II is fair average quality—and also provides definitions of refractions for raw and parboiled rice. Shortcomings i) This food reserve has remained notional till date. No one knows its locations. ii) So far the food reserves have never been utilised despite pressing demands during disasters including the wheat crisis in Pakistan, cyclone in Orissa, floods in Bangladesh, tsunami in Sri Lanka and the Nepalese Maoist violence. Even during the recent cyclone disaster in Bangladesh in November 2007, despite the unprecedented food insecurity in the affected areas, the SAARC Food Reserve was never invoked and utilised. The intervention in the Cyclone Sidr hit areas of Bangladesh would have been a test case for the newly agreed upon Food Bank Reserves; it was never utilised. The Bangladesh food (advisor) minister did specifically mention to this author that as the cyclone devastated some parts of Bangladesh, he did first consider the idea of bringing relief to the victims through SAARC Food Bank. He said he not only failed but could not find any trace of the organisation. iii) There is no existence of a clear cut transportation mechanism, border formalities and institutional mechanisms appropriate for delivery of the food grains to each recipient country. iv) The terms and conditions of operationalising the reserves viz., prices, mode of payment, conditions of payment etc. which remained undecided have now been broadly worked out. However, in the absence of the actual implementation, the efficacy of these guidelines is yet to be tested. v) Again the Food Bank agreement also gives the authority to coordinate the work of the board and monitor all matters relating to the release of food grains to the SAARC Secretariat. Given the meagre human and other institutional resources and lack of technical expertise there is every possibility that this new Food Bank scheme will also be put into the same basket of non-implementation as the earlier agreement. vi) Like other SAARC agreements, there is no time frame, accountability clauses and independent mechanism to evaluate the implementation. Policy Suggestions i) The only way to test the efficacy of this agreement is to implement it in a real time situation. This will not only test the entire design and mechanism of its implementation but also the machineries of its operationalisation. At the very next call in any of the member countries, it should be implemented. ii) The Food Bank agreement gives the authority to coordinate the work of the board and monitor all matters relating to the release of food grains to the SAARC Secretariat. The secretariat has meagre human and other institutional resources and lack of technical expertise. All these need to be instantly corrected. iii) An independent regional institution should be created to operationalise the provisions of the Food Bank Scheme. In fact, the SAARC Food Bank agreement has the provision of the establishment of a permanent headquarters of the Food


Bank with dedicated staff. This regional institution besides managing the task of Food Bank could also in fact work on the larger issue of regional food security. This is becoming increasingly critical. iv) Like other SAARC agreements, there is no time frame, accountability clauses and independent mechanism to evaluate the implementation. This specific provision must be made widely and independently available to the SAARC process. Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism The SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism was signed during the Third SAARC Summit [Kathmandu, November 1987] and came into force on 22 August 1988. Objectives and Features 1. Provides for a regional approach to well-established principles of international law in respect of terrorist offences. 2. “Subject to the overall requirements of the law of extradition, conduct constituting any of the following offences, according to the law of the Contracting State, shall be regarded as terroristic and for the purpose of extradition shall not be regarded as a political offence or as an offence connected with a political offence or as an offence inspired by political motives” (Article I): 3. “For the purpose of extradition between SAARC member States, any two or more Contracting States may, by agreement, decide to include any other serious offence involving violence, which shall not be regarded as a political offence or an offence connected with a political offence or an offence inspired by political motives” (Article II). 4. “The provisions of all extradition treaties and arrangements applicable between Contracting States are hereby amended as between Contracting States to the extent that they are incompatible with the Convention” (Article III). 5 “If a Contracting State which makes extradition conditional on the existence of a treaty receives a request for extradition from another Contracting State with which it has no extradition treaty, the requested State may, at its option, consider this Convention as the basis for extradition in respect of the offences set forth in Article I or agreed to in terms of Article II. Extradition shall be subject to the law of the requested State” (Article III). 6 “A Contracting State in whose territory a person suspected of having committed an offence referred to in Article I or agreed to in terms of Article II is found and which has received a request for extradition from another Contracting State, shall, if it does not extradite that person, submit the case without exception and without delay, to its competent authorities, so that prosecution may be considered. These authorities shall take their decisions in the same manner as in the case of any offence of a serious under the law of that State” (Article IV). 7 “A Contracting State in whose territory an alleged offender is found, shall upon receiving a request for extradition from another Contracting State, take appropriate measures, subject to its national laws, so as to ensure his presence for purposes of extradition or prosecution. Such measures shall immediately be notified to the requesting State” (Article VI).



“Contracting States shall not be obliged to extradite, if it appears to the requested State that by reason of the trivial nature of the case or by reason of the request for the surrender or return of a fugitive offender not being made in good faith or in the interests of justice or for any other reason it is unjust or inexpedient to surrender or return the fugitive offender” (Article VII). 9 “Contracting States shall, subject to their national laws, afford one another the greatest measure of mutual assistance in connection with proceedings brought in respect of the offences referred to in Article I or agreed to in terms of Article II, including the supply of all evidence at their disposal necessary for the proceedings” (Article VIII). 10 “Contracting States shall cooperate among themselves, to the extent permitted by their national laws, through consultations between appropriate agencies, exchange of information, intelligence and expertise and such other cooperative measures as may be appropriate, with a view to preventing terroristic activities through precautionary measures” (Article VIII). Achievements i) SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) was established in Colombo to collate, analyse and disseminate information about the terrorist incidences, tactics, strategies and methods. ii) After eleven years, the legal experts met for the first time [Sri Lanka, 1999] and formulated future guidelines and identified three key elements in the convention as requisites for its successful implementation viz., creation of offences listed in the convention as extraditable offences under the domestic laws of SAARC member states; treatment of such offences as “non-political offences” for purposes of extradition and vesting of extra territorial criminal jurisdiction in the event of extradition not being granted. iii) The second meeting of Legal Advisers of SAARC Member States (Colombo, 13–15 May 2002) reviewed its implementation and considered the issue of updating it in the light of developments in the international legal regime following the events of 11 September 2001. It emphasised the importance of adoption of comprehensive domestic legislation by member States and the harmonisation of the national legal regimes in the region to give practical effect to the convention. iv) Recognising the distinct ominous link between terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and other transnational crimes, the Twelfth SAARC Summit [Islamabad, January 2004] signed an additional protocol to the convention to deal effectively with financing of terrorism. The additional protocol takes into account obligations devolving on member states in terms of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1373 of 28 September 2001 and the International Convention for Suppression of Financing Terrorism 1999. vi) The Thirteenth SAARC Summit [Dhaka, November 2005] called for early and effective implementation of the Additional Protocol to the SAARC Convention on Suppression of Terrorism. It also agreed that member states would strengthen their cooperation in such important areas as exchange of information, coordination and cooperation among their relevant agencies. As a


sequel to this, the First Meeting of SAARC Interior/Home Ministers (Dhaka, 11 May 2006) noted the substantial progress made in enactment of enabling legislation by member states to implement the provisions of the convention and the Additional Protocol at the national level. The meeting urged member states to enact additional enabling legislations, where necessary, to implement all the provisions of the convention and the additional protocol. vii) Again in the Fourteenth SAARC Summit [New Delhi, April 2007] the leaders as usual agreed to work on the modalities to implement the provisions of the existing SAARC Conventions to combat terrorism, narcotics and psychotropic substances, trafficking in women and children and other transnational crimes. They expressed their commitment to take every possible measure to prevent and suppress, in particular, financing of terrorist acts by criminalising the provision, acquisition and collection of funds for such acts, including through front organisations and also to counter illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, trafficking in persons and illicit arms. They reiterated the need for law enforcement authorities of member states to enhance cooperation in the prevention, suppression and prosecution of offences under these Instruments. viii) The Second Meeting of SAARC Interior/Home Ministers was held in October 2007 in New Delhi. The most recent activities under this convention are given in Table III. Table III: SAARC Calendar of Activities on Narcotic Drugs, Terrorism and Legal Matters No





By Nov 2006


Exact dates unknown

2 Workshop on the strengthening of SAARC Terrorist By Nov 2006 Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD)


Exact dates unknown

3 Workshop to consider the study to be prepared by India on Networking Arrangements among Police Authorities in the Member States

By Dec 2006


Exact dates unknown

4 Meeting of the Police Chiefs of SAARC Member States

By Dec 2006


Exact dates unknown

5 Meeting of the Focal Points of SDOMD and STOMD Dec 2006


Exact dates unknown

6 Second Meeting of the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights

2nd half of 2006


Exact dates unknown


7 Third Meeting of Coordination Group on Drug Law Enforcement Agencies

13-14 September Nepal 2006

Dates Announced


8 Ministerial Meeting on Legal Issues


Exact dates unknown

1 Workshop on the strengthening of SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk (SDOMD)



Shortcomings: i) Terroristic activities both within South Asian countries and on a cross border basis have sharply gone up amidst the existence of this convention. ii) Some member countries have consistently failed to enact enabling domestic legislations that are compatible to the convention. The absence of this most fundamental action towards implementing the convention has made it ineffective. Every year since 1988 the SAARC Summit has passed the same resolution asking the


member countries to make enabling laws to operationalise the 1987 convention (Table IV). Only since 2004, this appeal has been dropped asking the member states to implement the 1987 Convention and Additional Protocol of 2002. In fact the “enabling laws” are still not enacted by some member countries. Table IV: Prevention and Combating of Terrorism related Declarations in SAARC Summits since 1988 4th Summit, 1988, Islamabad 5th Summit, 1990, Male 6th Summit, 1991, Colombo

7th Summit, 1993, Dhaka 8th Summit, 1995, New Delhi

9th Summit, 1997, Male 10th Summit, 1998, Colombo 11th Summit, 2002, Kathmandu 12th Summit, 2004, Islamabad 13th Summit, 2005, Dhaka 14th Summit, 2007, New Delhi

“[T]hus reflecting the sincere desire on the part of the Member States to enter into meaningful cooperation to eliminate the scourge of terrorism from the South Asian region. They called for the adoption of enabling measures by Member States to implement the Convention at the earliest”. “They called for expeditious enactment of enabling measures for the implementation of the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism. They also urged Member States to continue to cooperate in accordance with the Convention”. “They stressed in particular, the urgent need for the expeditious enactment of enabling legislation by those Member States which had not yet done so, for the implementation of the Convention and the need for a constant dialogue and interaction among the concerned agencies of Member States, including submission of periodic recommendations to the Council of Ministers.” “The Leaders reiterated the need to give high priority to the enactment of enabling legislation at the national level to give effect to the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism, while urging the Member States which had not yet done so, to make every effort to finalize this matter before the Eighth SAARC Summit.” “The Heads of State or Government once again emphasised that highest priority should be accorded to the enactment of enabling legislation at the national level to give effect to the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism. They urged Member States, which had not yet done so, to enact expeditiously enabling legislation at the national level to implement the convention.” “They emphasised the urgent need to complete enabling legislation in order to implement the SAARC Regional Conventions on Suppression of Terrorism and on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.” “They emphasized the urgent need to complete enabling legislation in order to implement the SAARC Regional Conventions on Suppression of Terrorism and on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.” “They also reiterated their firm resolve to accelerate the enactment of enabling legislation within a definite time-frame for the full implementation of the Convention, together with strengthening of SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk and the SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk in an effective manner.” “We reaffirm our commitment to SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism, which, among others, recognizes the seriousness of the problem of terrorism as it affects the security, stability, and development of the region”. “The Heads of State or Government directed that concrete measures be taken to enforce the provisions of the Regional Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances through an appropriate regional mechanism”. “They reaffirmed their commitment to implement..…. the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and the Additional Protocol to the SAARC Regional Convention dealing with the prevention and suppression of financing of terrorism.”

iii) Despite several reiteration and reaffirmation of their commitment to the Convention on Suppression of Terrorism by the heads of State or government, not a single action has been taken under this convention. Whereas almost in every Summit the members States expressed “serious concern on the spread of terrorism in and outside the region and reiterated their unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal. They deplored all such acts for their ruinous impact on life, property, socio-economic development and political stability as well as on regional and international peace and cooperation”. iv) Despite their determination to prevent and suppress terrorism in all its forms and


manifestations, member countries have not been able to share even the basic information. v) There is no harmonisation of domestic legislations including the sanction regime in respect of the convention. vi) There is absence of bilateral agreement on extradition. vii) There are differences on the very definition of terrorism. viii) Except for some meetings, the STOMD has also remained largely ineffective. Most of the information and knowledge base of terrorism in South Asia that is available in the public domain are generated mostly by academic, research and civil society organisations spread over the sub-continent. The STOMD which was supposed to be the fountain head of such information and knowledge base remains largely defunct and inaccessible. ix) The increasing ineffectiveness and uselessness of the conventions is reflected in the attempts by various member states to go for bilateral negotiations, the most recent being the “joint mechanism” framework being worked out between India and Pakistan. x) After almost 20 years of the signing of the convention, the Fourteenth SAARC Summit [2007] still talked about the “working on the modalities to implement the provisions of the existing SAARC Conventions to combat terrorism, narcotics and psychotropic substances, trafficking in women and children and other transnational crimes.” This has rather become a ritualistic practice. Policy Suggestions i) Key actions like domestic legislation to implement the regional conventions should be made mandatory and within a timeframe. As an accountability measure, inability to do so within a timeframe should either have the provision of dropping the concerned member from the convention or the convention itself should be abrogated within a stipulated time. In the absence of a timeframe in the past, these issues, however critical they are, have tended to drag on for years. This has another diabolical impact of demonstration effect on other SAARC activities and conventions too. The tendency of the member states to keep most of the conventions at the sublime level of signed convention only and their hesitation to implement any of them have rather become a practice in the SAARC process. This is definitely an ominous trend. ii) There seems to be a contradiction on the essential SAARC provision that no bilateral contentious issues will be discussed in the SAARC forum and the conventions such as the Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism. The very nature of terrorism in South Asia has a strong cross border context and content. This has been the debate and tenor of discourse on terrorism in the subcontinent. In such a situation not discussing terrorism from a bilateral perspective in the name of dislocating a regional forum like SAARC would mean sweeping core issues under the carpet. On top of that signing an agreement without understanding and accepting the realities means further pretension, hypocrisy and public consumption. The option here is to drop such a provision from the SAARC process and discuss these issues as openly and candidly as possible and sign an appropriate convention to address these issues.


iii) SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) should be declared an autonomous institution so that data and information are generated and disseminated to both the member states and also for independent analysis by thinks tanks, civil society and academic institutions.

SAFTA: Challenges and Opportunities

Dr Lama is vice chancellor of Sikkim Central University, India.

Indra Nath Mukherji


ne of the questions posed in the context of trade and preferential trading arrangements is to find the link between trade and poverty, and by implication, its links with human security. The relationship between the two is often not easy to identify given that a number of other variables, in addition to trade, are simultaneously impacting on poverty. The relationship is generally thought to include an indirect two stage relationship between trade and growth, and growth and poverty reduction. Alan Winters (2003) and others have shown that the real potential for trade liberalisation to play a role in poverty alleviation is through the implementation of adjustment-enhancing complementary policies such as labour market flexibility, human capital development, effective business friendly institutions, and last but not the least, good governance. For gains from static complementarity to arise, much will depend on the ability of the economy to switch resources into more efficient industries. Trade liberalisation changes the prices of goods and services which are both produced and consumed by the individuals. When liberalisation enables products of mass consumption to flow in, their prices fall and benefit the consumers. However, domestic producers of such products stand to lose as they are faced with falling prices of their marketable surpluses. Further, it is postulated that under more open trade, developing countries will focus on goods requiring relatively unskilled labour whose wages would rise, reducing poverty. Wages will also increase if trade liberalisation leads to productivity improvements consequent to increased competition which forces innovation and technology adoption by previously sheltered domestic firms, as well as by allowing for import of foreign made technology inputs. Regional cooperation in trade has been late in coming to South Asia even after the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established in December 1985. It was not until the Colombo Summit in December 1991 that the heads of State or government of SAARC countries approved the establishment of the Inter-Governmental Group (IGG) to seek agreement on measures for trade liberalisation among SAARC member States. The IGG met twice to evolve a Draft Agreement on SAARC Preferential Arrangement (SAPTA). Subsequently the signing of SAPTA was a landmark achievement of the Seventh SAARC Summit held in Dhaka. With all the members having ratified the agreement, the same came into force on 7 December 1995â&#x20AC;&#x201D;the date that marks the end of the first decade of SAARC's existence. The operationalisation of SAPTA in December 1995 and the subsequent four rounds



of negotiations entailing tariff liberalisation till 2002, were the major developments in regional trade liberalisation during this period. By the end of the third round in October 1999, as many as 5550 products were offered concessions of which 3449 items were exclusively for Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The largest number of concessions was offered by India, being 2927 products of which as many as 24–50 products were in favour of LDCs (Mukherji 2004). The tariff concessions offered have varied in depth from 5–100 percent for LDCs and 1090 percent for all countries. The other countries offered much milder tariff cuts ranging from 7.5–10–15–20 percent for all countries (ibid.). The modality of negotiations involved product-by-product bilateral exchanges of preferences based on a positive list1 approach. Once the bilateral offer and request lists are negotiated, the concessions are multi-lateralised. The principle of nondiscrimination ensures that once the bilateral concessions have been exchanged, the same benefit must be passed on unconditionally to other members, unless the concessions have been exclusively in favour of LDCs.2 Given the above mentioned modality of negotiations and the low margin of preferences offered on the bulk of the products (barring concessions offered by India to LDCs), the impact on trade expansion (again barring a limited number of products) was inconsequential. The negotiations were slow and protracted. Besides, the shadow of protectionism was clearly evident in the negotiations as most of the products offered concessions were not actively traded. Given the dismal performance of SAPTA, the Tenth SAARC Summit at Colombo in 1998 decided to set up a Committee of Experts to draft a Treaty on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA). The treaty was expected to lay down legally binding schedules for freeing trade among SAARC countries and to provide a predictable and transparent path for achieving a free trade area in the South Asian region. Another landmark development in the process of trade liberalisation in the region was noted in the Twelfth SAARC Summit held in Islamabad from 4–6 January 2004 when, among other measures, an Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) was finally signed. The agreement supersedes SAPTA. However, notwithstanding the supercession of SAPTA by the agreement, the National Schedule of Concessions exchanged under SAPTA framework would remain available to the Contracting States (CSs) until the completion of the Trade Liberalisation Programme. The agreement came into force on 1 July 2006 upon the completion of all formalities, including ratification by all CSs and issuance of notifications thereof by the SAARC secretariat (ibid.). Framework of the Agreement Objectives and Principles Article 3 of the agreement brings out its objectives and principles. A principal objective is the elimination of barriers to trade and facilitating cross-border movement of goods between the territories of CSs; promoting conditions for fair


competition and ensuring equitable benefits to all CSs; ensuring effective mechanism for implementation of the agreement and resolution of disputes. The principles of SAFTA envisage that the agreement will be governed in accordance with the member countries' obligations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other treaties/agreements to which its CSs are signatories. Besides, the special needs of the LDCs would be recognised by adopting concrete preferential measures in their favour on a non-reciprocal basis (Article 3:1.2). Trade Liberalisation Programme Article 7 lays down the Trade Liberalisation Programme (TLP). Under this the SAFTA CSs committed to a ten-year phase-out of tariffs beginning January 2006 (extended to July 2006). Unlike SAPTA, (barring the negotiated sensitive lists), the phase-out will be across-the-board, based on the current level of tariffs of all non-sensitive products. Reductions will proceed in two stages but at different pace for LDCs and for NonLeast Developed Countries (NLDCs). Thus during the first phase, covering the first two years (2006–08): l LDCs will reduce tariffs to a maximum of 30 percent. Tariffs already below 30

percent will be reduced by 5 percent annually; l NLDCs will reduce all tariffs to a maximum of 20 percent. Tariffs already below

20 percent will be reduced by 10 percent annually. In the second phase of implementation (2008–16): l LDCs will reduce tariffs to between 0–5 percent over eight years (2016) at a rate

no less than 10 percent annually. l NLDCs will reduce tariffs to between 0–5 percent by the third year (2009) for

products from LDCs and over five years (2013) for the remainder at a rate no less than 15 percent annually. Sri Lanka is allowed six years (2014) to complete this phase. Article 7.2 of the agreement, however, provides for accelerated tariff reduction under which CSs are not precluded from immediately reducing their tariffs from 0–5 percent or from following an accelerated schedule of tariff reduction. Article 7.3 mentions sensitive lists which CSs need to work out in order to ensure that such products are not subject to regional trade liberalisation to start with. These products are to be reviewed every four years or earlier as may be decided by SAFTA Ministerial Council, established under Article 10, with a view to reducing the number of items in the sensitive list. Article 7.4 carries a provision on non-tariff and para-tariff measures. Under this article, CSs are required to notify the SAARC Secretariat all non-tariff and para-tariff measures to their trade on an annual basis. The notified measures shall be reviewed by the Committee of Experts, established under Article 10, to examine their compatibility with relevant World Trade Organisation (WTO) provisions. The committee will recommend the elimination or implementation of the measures in the


least restrictive manner in order to facilitate intra-SAARC trade. Special and Differential Treatment for LDCs Article 11 of the agreement provides for special and differential treatment for LDCs. Article 11(a) calls for special regard to the least developed CSs when considering the application of anti-dumping and/or countervailing measures. Article 11(d) of the agreement provides that special consideration is given by CSs to requests from LDCs for technical assistance and cooperative arrangements designed to assist them in expanding their trade with other CSs. A list of possible areas of such technical assistance has been incorporated under Annexure II of the agreement. Article 11(e) of the agreement further postulates an appropriate mechanism to compensate the LDCs for their loss in customs revenue following TLP. A mechanism for revenue loss compensation has been incorporated under Annexure III under which NLDCs members will provide compensation over a period of four years from the implementation of TLP to LDCs members for loss in customs revenue for nonsensitive products. Rules of Origin To be eligible for preferential treatment, all CSs need to establish that for products—for which they seek preferential entry—qualify as products originating from their country and are not being deflected from a third country with minimal or no processing. To ensure this, Article 18 of the agreement stipulates that Rules of Origin (RoO) be determined by the CSs and incorporated as an integral part of the agreement (now incorporated under Annex IV of the agreement). The Committee of Experts at its Twelfth Meeting held in Kathmandu from 29 November to 1 December 2005 modified the SAFTA RoO. Under SAPTA the RoO laid only one-dimensional measures viz., value addition criteria to determine the nationality of the product seeking preferential entry in the regional market. Under the modified rules, products originating in exporting CS now need to meet the twin criteria of (i) minimum value addition as well as (ii) change in tariff heading (CTH). Under the first criterion products processed from imports from third countries do not exceed 60 percent of the FoB value of the products produced within the territory of the exporting CS. Under the second criterion it is required that the final product being exported from the contracting exporting state is classified in a heading at the four digit Harmonized Coding System (HCS) differently from those in which all the nonoriginating materials are classified. A more favourable ten-percentage point preference is given for LDC-CS. The modified RoO also provides for product specific RoO on 191 products with 25–40 percent domestic value addition at six digit Harmonized Coding System (HCS). By making the criteria for originating products more rigorous, an attempt has been made to see that TLP does not lead to trade deflection, which is a major problem prevalent on many preferential trading arrangements.


Trade Defence Measures Apart from the inclusion of products under sensitive lists, there are two other trade defence measures as incorporated under the balance of payments measures (Article 15) and safeguard measures (Article 16). Under balance of payments measures, notwithstanding the provisions of the agreement, any CS facing serious balance of payments difficulties may suspend provisionally the concessions extended under this agreement. Similarly, under safeguard measures, if any product—which is subject to concession under this agreement—is imported in the territory of a CS in such a manner as to cause serious injury to producers of like or directly competitive products in the importing CS, the importing CS may, pursuant to an investigation by the competent authorities of that CS, temporarily suspend the concessions granted under the provision of the agreement. Additional Measures Article 8 of the agreement calls for additional measures particularly to facilitate the promotion of intra-SAARC trade. These include harmonisation of standards, reciprocal recognition of tests and accreditation of testing laboratories of CSs and certification of products. It further calls for simplification and harmonisation of customs clearance procedures, provision of transit facilities, etc. Constraints to Overcome Long Phase-out Period SAFTA demonstrates the endeavour of SAARC member states to move towards a higher stage of trade liberalisation transiting from preferential trading under SAPTA to a free trade area under SAFTA. By moving from a positive list approach to a negative3 one, it can overcome the protracted nature of negotiations that was prevalent under SAPTA. However, it is generally believed that the phase out period of 10 years has been somewhat prolonged even for LDCs. Besides even after 10 years CSs may choose to retain their tariff levels at 5 percent! The ongoing and proposed trade liberalisation at the multilateral level such as under WTO will cause tariffs—both agricultural and manufacturing—to fall further, thereby reducing preferential margins in all preferential trading arrangements. In this context the SAFTA provision under Article 7.2 would enable NLDCs to further accelerate downwards their tariff schedules. In this context India's move to remove tariffs for LDCs one year in advance (i.e. by 2008) is a step in the right direction. Long Sensitive Lists The length of the sensitive lists under SAFTA is also a matter for concern. A sensitive list of 20 percent of tariff lines has been the accepted norm for the CSs under SAFTA. This allows several key trading items to be placed in the respective sensitive lists of CSs for exemption from TLP. The size of the sensitive lists in SAFTA is, in general, even longer than those of bilateral FTAs in the region. To illustrate, while 884 items under SAFTA are in India's negative list for NLDCs under India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA), only 419 items are in this list. It is important to recognise that as


much 53 percent of total imports of South Asia are subject to sensitive lists. The LDCs have placed between 64 and 74 percent of the total trade under sensitive lists. Likewise, sensitive lists of fellow SAARC members restrict 47 percent of Sri Lankan exports and 57 percent of Indian and Maldivian exports. By contrast, Pakistan has excluded only a little over 17 percent of its imports by value from SAFTA members under TLP. (Weerakoon and Tennakoon 2006). Besides, a commodity-wise analysis of the proportion of tariff lines in the sensitive lists indicates that textiles and textile products account for as much as 34.2, 24.1, 31.6 and 36.9 percent of the tariff lines in the sensitive lists of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal respectively. Similarly, vegetable products account for 20.2, 10.8, and 19.1 percent of the tariff lines in the sensitive lists of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka respectively. These two products are of export interest to many South Asian countries and hence their exclusion from trade liberalisation makes the attainment of a free trade area in this region quite a distant goal indeed.4 The CSs need to seriously consider effectively pruning their sensitive lists so that no more than 10 percent of their bilateral trade is contained under their sensitive lists. This is particularly true given that they have adequate trade defence measures to deal with an unexpected surge in their imports either affecting their balance of payments problems adversely or causing substantial injury to their industries. India's recent endeavour to minimise its sensitive list needs to be addressed promptly and effectively. Competing Regionalism The urgency for SAFTA to assert its relevance is particularly pressing due to the proliferation of competing free trade agreements in the region. The India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) will be fully in place by 2008 while Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement would similarly be fully operational by 2010. Moreover, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is moving almost parallel with five of SAFTA members also part of the trans-regional FTA, which goes beyond SAFTA to include investment and trade in services, and also contains a provision for fast track liberalisation. In particular, India's increasing involvement, both bilateral as well as trans-regional, is likely to impact on preference erosion for other SAFTA members..5 (Mel 2007). Shallow Regionalism SAFTA has failed to keep pace with the times, as its focus has been concentrated on tariff reductions with modest efforts at trade facilitation. As tariffs have been falling globally, owing to bilateral, regional and multilateral initiatives over the last three decades, the emphasis on protection has shifted from tariff to less transparent nontariff and para-tariff measures. There is high incidence of non-tariff barriers in this region, impeding the flow of intra-SAARC trade. For instance, India imposes specific duties on a wide range of textile fabrics and ready-made garments that makes it very difficult for Bangladeshi and Pakistani business interests to enter the Indian market, particularly in low value textile products. On the other hand, even within SAFTA,


Indo-Pak trade continues to be governed by a bilateral trade regime in which Pakistan allows access to only a limited number of Indian goods. Thus the actual trade potential from India to Pakistan continues to remain highly untapped. As noted earlier, Article 7.4 in SAFTA carries a provision for CSs to notify the SAARC secretariat all non-tariff and para-tariff measures to their trade on an annual basis which will be examined by the Committee of Experts to examine their compatibility with relevant WTO provisions. However, the committee may merely recommend their removal which is not mandatory. It is well acknowledged that a wider market that results from trade liberalisation in the region will make foreign direct investment more attractive due to the expanded size of the regional market. Also, given the strong linkage between trade and investment, SAARC needs to adopt a harmonised investment area for the region. SAFTA merely calls for removal of restrictions on intraregional flows of investment. Further, the exclusion of services from the SAFTA Agreement is another lacuna that needs to be addressed, given that services contribute 49 percent of South Asian gross domestic product and are the fastest growing form of trade in the world. There exists considerable scope for liberalisation of services in sectors such as aviation, telecommunications, and information technology. Besides services, liberalisation in tourism, health, education and in a number of other professional services hold considerable scope. In this case the experience gained from ongoing negotiations proposed under India-Sri Lanka Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement could be of immense relevance for similar negotiations under SAFTA. The negotiations could take the positive list approach and initially target a few agreed sectors such as tourism, air services, and higher education. This calls for greater cooperation among regulatory bodies given the significant asymmetries that exist in the service standards among member countries of the region. Mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) would be required to harmonise standards in the region (Mel 2007). It is encouraging to note that a study has been commissioned by the SAARC Secretariat to assess the potential for inclusion of trade in services in the SAFTA Agreement. The South Asian region is characterised by high transaction costs in their mutual trade which nullifies the advantages of their geographical proximity. The landlocked nature of two South Asian countries, Nepal and Bhutan, calls for a regional transit treaty involving India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan that could go a long way in reducing the transaction costs in intraregional trade. Harnessing the Trade Potential An analysis of data of intra-SAARC trade fails to establish any positive impact of SAPTA in expanding the share of intraregional trade in the region. In 1995, the year when SAPTA negotiations began, the share of intra-SAARC trade in world trade was 4.1 percent. This share increased to 4.8 percent in 2003, but declined to 4.2 percent in 2006.6


The reason for the lack of dynamism in intraregional trade under SAPTA has been examined above. There are however, a number of structural factors impeding the expansion of intraregional trade. A study by A. R. Kemal et al. (2002) brings this out: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The South Asian region is characterized [sic] by an almost identical pattern of comparative advantage in a relatively narrow range of products, and that there is a lack of strong complementarity in the bilateral trade structures of South Asian countries. Similarities in trade structures, together with absence of comparative advantage in capital intensive and high value added that is, products that are normally imported by countries in the region-may have played a role in constraining the growth of intra-regional trade in South Asiaâ&#x20AC;?. Given the above scenario, Kemal brings out a case for intra-industry trade in South Asia. According to Grubel and Lloyd (1975), differences in the level of technology and human capital can lead to intra-industry trade even in products with identical factor input requirements. It should be noted that intra-industry trade is driven largely by product differentiation and increasing returns to scale. Thus South Asian countries can develop this trade only if they develop the technological capability to produce different product varieties at declining average cost. An illustration of intra-industry trade between India and Bangladesh is provided by Mukherji (2008). Some of the identified products as per data of 2004 were bran residues, other carpets and textiles, unwrought zinc, other articles of plastics, electric accumulators, etc. The rationale of identifying intra-industry trade is to ascertain in which of the two countries it is cheaper to manufacture the products. To illustrate, if Bangladesh manufactures electric accumulators or plastics at a lower cost than in India, Indian investors could manufacture this product in Bangladesh to buy back for the home market, thereby reducing the manufacturing cost and reducing bilateral trade imbalance between the two countries. Some important products with relatively high intra-industry trade between India and Pakistan in 2005 were dried leguminous vegetables, cane or beet sugar, onions, lac, natural gums and resins, plants and parts of plants. Among chemical products were polymers of propylene and polycarboxylic acids.7 A joint venture between India and Pakistan in these products could serve the needs of both the markets. Trade complementarities can be developed in the region if the countries are able to achieve vertical specialisation through production sharing arrangements. We are aware that most countries of the region are manufacturers of garments. While they cannot exchange garments among themselves, they can share the value chain in the manufacture of garments, each country specialising in one link of the chain where they are most competitive. Such vertical specialisation will enable the countries to reap considerable economies of scale by concentrating on a specific process in the value addition chain. Such a nature of integrated processing is generally done by trans-national enterprises operating within the framework of regional trading


arrangements. However, the success of such vertically integrated manufacturing is possible when investment flows within the region as also the flow of goods and services are adequately liberalised. While overall trade complementarity is low in the region, it is possible to identify considerable untapped trade potential in selected product lines or sectors. Thus, there are a number of products in which untapped trade potential exists between the South Asian countries. To illustrate, considerable export potential exists in India's export to Bangladesh in petroleum oils, hot roll iron/steel, cement clinkers, diesel powered trucks, plain weave cotton, cotton not carded or combed, automobiles with reciprocating piston engines, denim fabrics, polypropylene, machines and mechanical appliances, wheat, rice, onion and lentils. On the other hand, Bangladesh has export potential with India in respect of other bovine leather and equine leather, urea, petroleum oils, other medicines, anhydrous ammonia and jute sacks and bags. (Mukherji 2008). India's highest export potential to Pakistan in 2003 (in order of importance) were petroleum oils and oil products obtained from bituminous minerals, black tea, Pxylene, motor vehicles parts nes., cotton not carded or combed, polypropylene, insecticides, medicaments nes., polyethylene, flat rolled products, etc.8 In the same year (2003), Pakistan's export potential with India (in order of importance) were petroleum oils and oil products obtained from bituminous minerals, instruments and appliances used in medical or veterinary sciences, nes., bovine and equine leather, nes., denim fabrics of cotton, polyvinyl chloride not mixed with any other substances, natural gums, resins, gum-resins and balsam, except Arabic gum, articles of plastics, leguminous vegetables dried, shelled, whether or not skinned or split, nes., beans dried, shelled, whether or not skinned or split nes., made up articles, of textile materials, nes, including dress patterns, etc.9 Concluding Observations Even though South Asian countries have come a long way in liberalising their trade regimes, they still continue to remain one of the least integrated regions in the world. Efforts at liberalising intraregional trade too have been no more than symbolic. Protectionist sentiments continue to dominate any such attempt. Thus the onus of giving the regional organisation the much belated push squarely rests on the relatively two major players, India and Pakistan. Since any bilateral free trade agreement between the two countries is inconceivable at the current state of political relations between them, SAARC provided the only available forum. It has been observed that similar comparative advantage on a limited list of products has precluded the possibilities of dynamic expansion of intraregional trade. This points to investment-led growth in intraregional trade for which it is necessary not only to remove all existing restrictions on the flow of capital within the region, but move towards a common investment regime as well.10 Unless this is achieved, the opportunities for vertically integrated industries seeking cost minimising efficient


restructuring would remain a dream. Coming back to the linkage between trade, poverty and human security, one can make the observation that as long as intra-SAARC trade remains marginal, the link may well remain tenuous. However, our analysis of potential products for regional trade suggests that exports of many of these, such as rice, wheat, leguminous vegetables, onions, lentils, sugar and tea can help contain the level of domestic inflation in the importing country, thereby keeping the cost of living of wage earners low. Similarly the export of petroleum oils can help keep in check the prices of energy products. Being geographically contiguous, it is easier to keep the flow of essential supplies uninterrupted, thereby minimising the cost of inventories. In the ultimate analysis, given the declining levels of tariffs globally, trade and transport facilitation measures designed to enable the smooth flow of trade and investments across the region is an essential prerequisite for the expansion of intraSAARC trade. SAARC must quickly awaken to this reality so as not to be overtaken by developments elsewhere.

References l Winters, L. Alan. 2003. Trade and Poverty: Is there a Connection?. In Trade Policy, Growth and Poverty in Asian Developing Countries, ed. Kishor Sharma, London: Routlage. l Mukherji, I. N. 2004. 'Towards a Free Trade Area in South Asia: Charting a Feasible Course for Trade Liberalization with Reference to India's Role”. RIS-DP No. 86/2004. l Mel de Deshal. 2007. Towards a Viable Free Trade Area, Briefing Paper No. 4, South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics & Environment, Kathmandu. l Weerakoon, D. and J. Tennakoon. 2006. SAFTA: Myth of Free Trade. Economic and Political Weekly. September. l Kemal, A. R. et al. 2002. “A Plan to Strengthen Regional Trade Cooperation in South Asia.” In Trade, Finance and Investment in South Asia, Social Science Press, ed. T. N. Srinivasan New Delhi. l Grubel H. and P. Lloyd. 1975. Intra Industry Trade: the Measurement of International Trade in Differentiated Products. London: MacMillan Press Ltd. l Mukherji, I. N. 2008. Transiting from SAPTA to SAFTA : Challenges and Opportunities for Indo-Bangladesh Trade, Man & Development, Vol. XXX, No.1, March 2008.

Indra Nath Mukherji is professor of South Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Endnotes 1. A positive list approach envisages trade liberalisation on products identified and negotiated for exchange of preferences among the Contracting States. The remaining products are treated on mfn basis, applicable to the remaining third countries. 2. The principle of non-reciprocal and differential treatment envisages that concessions can be given exclusively to least developed countries. 3. Under negative list approach all products above a defined threshold tariff level are brought down to that level (barring sensitive products) through successive phase out periods until a free trade area is reached. 4. Taneja Nisha and A. Sawhney, “Revitalizing SAARC Trade: India's Role at 2007 Summit”, Economic and Political Weekly, March 31, 2007. 5. India is in the process of negotiating free/preferential trading arrangements with several regions/countries such as Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Association of south-East Asian nations (ASEAN0, Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and with Korea, Japan and Chile. It is also considering signing FTAs with EU and US. 6. Based on estimate from IMF, Direction of Trade Statistics Database, September 2007. 7. Based on an analysis of UN Comtrade data, 2005. 8. Estimated from PC-TAS CDROM Database 2004 9. Ibid. 10. The decision of India to remove restrictions on capital investments from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh is a move in the positive direction.




Student Movement in Pakistan Taimur Rahman


he sight of students demonstrating in Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) splashed all over the media during the 3 November 2007 emergency caused many to speculate about the revival of a student movement in Pakistan. This proposition seemed to be confirmed when thousands of Punjab University students came out so militantly against the Jamiat. The formation of the Students Action Committeeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;uniting students from several universities in Islamabad and Lahoreâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;came tantalising close to seeding the formation of a nation wide democratic student's union. And the appearance of thousands of students holding the flags of the National Students Federation in Karachi and Lahore on May Day could not but give rise to speculation that the student movement is now poised to regain its lost glory from the period of the 1970s. Can students be the vanguard of a real democratic transition or at the very least the revival of a democratic movement in Pakistan? One is tempted to say that this is already the case. However, the jury is still out. There are two forms of writing on the relatively recent revival of the student movement that has arisen in solidarity with the lawyers' movement. On the one hand, there are mostly web-published accounts of events, demonstrations, and activities. They recount clashes with the police, the excitement of being part of a democratic movement, the short spells in prison the students went through, and how the experience of protests changed them. The work of collating these disparate essays to form a holistic picture has yet to be done; students themselves are, however, undertaking this task. The deficiency in such writing is, as with all reports of specific events, that it contains little or no analysis either of ideological debates or of the overall political context. On the other hand, there are many congratulatory essays. Their purpose is to spur the development of this movement; to encourage, inspire, raise the morale, and mobilise more people to get involved with activism. Often these essays minimise the difficulties, limitations, drawbacks, or weaknesses of the movement. While not being unaware of these limitations, their hope is that they will be resolved in the course of the movement itself. There can be no doubt that reportage of specific events and essays that call to action, play their role in contributing to a movement. Without wanting to denigrate these contributions, this essay is directed at a different end. This essay is far more interested in highlighting the continuing ideological limitations of the student movement. The purpose of highlighting these weaknesses is not to disparage individuals' contribution or discourage anyone but to understand these limitations


and analyse them in the larger social milieu of politics in Pakistan. And last but certainly not the least to introduce reflexivity and begin a critical analysis of the student movement. It is the contention of this essay that, while the growth and development of student activism has advanced not in small steps but huge strides as a consequence of the lawyers' movement and even more in response to the imposition of the Emergency, the movement remains constrained by the ideological baggage of the past. Defining the Intelligentsia There is a broad spectrum of opinion that considers students as ideologically neutral. There is a pervasive view that students are innocent in the sense that they do not have any vested interests. They are considered to be pure because allegedly the vagaries of practical life have not corrupted them; that they are by their very nature altruistic on account of their youth. The new left of the 1970s even elevated them to the status of considering them not merely the vanguard of the working class but as the most revolutionary section of society. In Pakistan there is no political party or political leader that does not attempt to flatter the youth with disingenuous and grandiose phrases. However, an impartial analysis of society does not permit one to make such generalisations. Students do not stand outside society; they stand squarely within it. As a result all the ideological currents that impact society are very much at play in the lives of students. In a society that is divided along lines of class, caste, nation, religion/secularism, and ethnicity, it is not possible to consider any section of society as being neutral or impartial to questions of power. Hence, from consumerism to a desire to do something for the people and everything in between, waves of ideas come crashing down from various sources onto students. In this final regard, however, students are somewhat different from the rest of society. Students are part of that stratum of society which is separated from direct economic production for the purpose of studying ideasâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the intelligentsia. The intelligentsia does not constitute a class because as such it is not engaged directly in production. It does, however, constitute a stratum of society. Moreover, it is not necessarily restricted to one class either in its composition or ideas. Although overwhelmingly recruited from propertied classes that can afford modern education, students, especially in public universities, tend to come from diverse sections of society. These melting pots of various influences known as universities, therefore, can often become the locus of a contestation of ideas that rarely occurs in other sections of society that are engaged in economic production. It is from this unique position of the intelligentsia, as a stratum of society engaged in the development of ideas, that they earn both their respect as "learned intellectuals" or rebuke as "ivory tower" intellectuals. However, it would be a mistake to think that university students begin to engage with these diverse ideas from a position of ideological neutrality. On the contrary, by the


time students enter universities they have already encoded into their personalities the essential ideas of the social classes to which they belong. They learn these ideas not as theories but as social attitudes towards other social classes. Once in university the majority of students are more likely to seek a theoretical justification for the social mores that they have learnt from their families rather than approaching the subject from ideological neutrality. For instance, a student from a wealthy industrial family that has grown up in that cultural milieu may discover a justification for the social position of his family in the writings of an Adam Smith or an Alfred Marshall. Alternatively, those from traditional family backgrounds are inevitably attracted to Maulana Maududi. However, there are certain studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a minorityâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;that are challenged by other views and, in turn, challenge the views that they grew up with. A minority of students that are unable to reconcile the contradictions they find between what they learnt and what they are learning are ready to make qualitative leaps in their intellectual understanding. These are not the mass of students but the exceptions to the rule. They genuinely question, debate and rethink their positions in light of what they study. Those students who challenge, question, rethink, re-conceptualise, and demonstrate self-reflexivity are the ones that truly develop knowledge, social movements, and eventually move forward the historical evolution of societies. They are known in leftist literature as "revolutionary intellectuals", "class traitors" or "vanguard intellectuals". Ideological Limitation of the Student Movement The dearth of published debates implies that it is difficult to refer to published material to substantiate one's claims about the student movement in Pakistan. Therefore, one is forced to take recourse to personal experiences within this movement and as an observer of this movement. I would like to qualify that my experiences are based on my involvement with students through my teaching and my activism. Hence, I am open to the criticism that my observations are, therefore, limited by my own experiences. I offer them, nonetheless, with the hope that they will be taken constructively. In my experience, the student movement remains constrained ideologically by the remnants of the paradigm handed to them by successive military dictatorships. This paradigm has been taught at universities, schools, colleges, and is repeated ad nauseam in the media. A substantial number of students accept this paradigm without question. The paradigm is that there is such a thing as "national interest". This national interest is self-explanatory, obvious, and self-evident. It is also assumed that this national interest is one that has evolved through some form of a social contract and agreement whether implicit or explicit. Therefore, this national interest represents all classes, all nations, all ethnic groups, all religious groups, genders and other divisions in society. It is, in a certain sense, unchallenged and unchallengeable because it represents the interests of everyone; people as a whole.


Let us for the moment forget that despite its all-encompassing nature, the exact definition of national interest remains frightfully vague in the minds of most people. This is because it can only maintain its ideological hegemony over contradictory forces by remaining malleable and meaning different things to different people. This paradigm further assumes that the implementation of this self-explanatory, obvious, and self-evident national interest will take Pakistan forward towards modernisation, development, economic growth, democracy, and progress. It concludes, therefore, that what is of over-whelming concern in the domain of politics is the implementation of policies that support the national interest. Continuing economic and political backwardness clearly demonstrates that this national interest has not been implemented. According to this paradigm the reason why the national interest has not been implemented is because of politicians. Politicians are by definition those that represent "vested interests". They are either cheap publicists because they require votes, or they are manipulative because they must mobilise public opinion to benefit themselves. If they are not cheap publicists or manipulators of public opinion, they are quite simply corrupt and their only motivation is amassing personal wealth and power. In sum, politicians are dangerous people with vested interests that fail to implement the national interest because they are more concerned with their own interests or, at the very greatest, with the interests of their supporters. In a word, politicians are not interested in the national interests but in their own vested interests. The conclusion of this paradigm is that Pakistan requires incorruptible leaders that will not give in to personal vested interests or public pressure. Pakistan requires leaders that will stand removed from all the pressures of society. Pakistan requires leaders that will stand above themselves, above interests, and above politics. In other words, Pakistan requires Bonapartist leaders who can stand above classes and class struggle. Only such Bonapartist leaders who stand above all classes can be trusted to act as impartial judges to implement the national interest. Those who are familiar with the successive justifications for military coups in Pakistan will instantaneously recognise the source of this paradigm of national interest. There has been a concerted attempt by successive military dictators to tar all politicians and the very political process with the brush of those that are corrupt. This is not to say that all politicians are clean. The argument, however is, first, that the attempt to paint all politicians black because of the misdoings of the few must be resisted because it is factually incorrect; second, that this propaganda is intended by denigrating all politicians to justify military interventions. Naturally, a struggle conducted against a specific military dictator from within this paradigm can be a struggle against an individual or the policies of an individual. But it is not necessarily an anti-systemic struggle. It is not necessary a struggle for democracy. It remains a struggle to oust one Bonapart in favour of another. And Bonapartism by any other name is still Bonapartism.


Bonapartism and Student Politics The common expression found among students, "we don't need politicians, we need leaders", is indicative of this negativity associated with politics and politicians. Of course it is self-evident that all leaders that desire to change government policy are nothing other than politicians. However, the logical absurdity of this position continues to elude them. One of the reasons why the restoration of the judiciary has been so popular with students, who otherwise continue to think in extremely negative terms about politics and politicians, is precisely because judges are seen as standing above politics. They are seen as individuals with the capacity to stand outside of vested interests and, therefore, can be "trusted" to finally implement the national interest. The popularity of Imran Khan with students owes itself to similar circumstances. First, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has constructed an image of Imran Khan as "a leader not a politician". Even his political mistakes, therefore, find a quick justification in the phrase "after all Imran Khan is not a politician, he is a leader". In other words, if he ends up supporting President Musharraf it is because he is a leader not a politician. If he finally leaves him, it is also because he is a leader not a politician. If this is said in a solemn and earnest enough manner, it can be quite disarming. However, it is disarming only because of decades of state led propaganda against politics and politicians. Second, Imran Khan's entire ideological campaign fits in very snugly with the paradigm of national interests. His views are that all politicians (excluding himself and the Jamaat-e-Islami) are corrupt. In order to escape the law they must submit to various vested interests and hence they fail to implement the national interest. At first Imran Khan supported the Bonapartism of President Musharraf to bring about the ehtisaab (accountability) of all politicians. Today he hinges his campaign for ehtisaab of politicians on the restoration of a judiciary that in his view stands above politics. Impossible expectations have now been raised with respect to the restoration of the judiciary. This restoration is now seen by some students as a panacea for all our ills. Everything from land reforms to the foreign policy of Pakistan is being placed at the doorstep of the judiciary. While supporting the restoration of the judiciary, it is important to have realistic expectations. The judiciary is not the most consistent opponent of military rule. Rather, it has been one of the most consistent collaborators of military rule. The judiciary was not the first to raise their voices against dictatorship, they were the last. In truth, the real heroes of the movement are not the judges but the lawyers. When the judiciary was legitimising the coup, Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) and Legal Framework Order (LFO), the lawyers were standing on the streets from 1999. At the same time, Pakistan witnessed the longest running, sustained and qualitatively more militant parliamentary agitation against the LFO by the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD). However, students that have become politicised


after the imposition of the 3 November 2007 emergency know about the collaboration of the judiciary only through google searches. The flesh and bones of how when the majority of politicians and lawyers were struggling against military dictatorship, the heroes of today were justifying military rule eludes students who have become politicised relatively recently. Take for example the attitude of the high courts to one of the most militant tenants' agitation in the Punjab in recent history. The Anjuman Muzareen Punjab (Tenants Association Punjab) protested against the illegal status of military farms from Okara to Khanewa in 2002l. Not only did the judiciary rule in favour of the military and against the tenants, thousands of agitating tenants were thrown in prison for raising their voices for land rights. Similarly, when thousands of workers of the All Pakistan Trade Union Federation and the Working Women's Organization fought against the extension of work day to 12 hours a day and the IRO 2002, they were faced with the solid opposition of the judiciary. Is it any wonder then that the organised working class movement is conspicuous by its absence in the agitation for the restoration of the judiciary? However, it is difficult to explain this to students who have not witnessed these events firsthand. It is difficult to explain this to individuals that have only begun to take an interest in politics since 3 November 2007. Conclusion In conclusion, the high expectation from the judiciary and the denigration of politicians has its roots in the long history of the propaganda of the establishment against politics and politicians. What students need to realise to make a qualitative jump from the single issue of the restoration of the judiciary is that there are no individuals or institutions in class divided societies that are above classes or class struggle. In relation to the class struggle there are no impartial arbiters and there are no impartial judges. People are partial, either to the class in which they were born (this applies to the majority of people) or to the class to which they consciously shift their loyalties. Which class interests does the judiciary, the army, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), PTI and religious parties represent? Where does our society stand in relation to the struggle to overcome pre-capitalist relations and develop modern capitalism? What are the social structures and institutions that can make that happen? What is the role of religious fundamentalism? These are some of the more theoretical questions that need to be debated today. These questions can only be understood through the dialectic of theory and practice. It will take time because one can only learn through experience. At the moment the student movement is almost exclusively focused on the restoration of the judiciary. It still has a long way to go before one can consider it to have reached the same level of consciousness that Pakistan saw in the 1960s and 1970s. However, one is encouraged by the fact that discussion of politics has become as central to the lives of students as discussions about music, fashion, or the opposite sex used to be a


few years ago. Today when young people get together, they can talk nearly nothing else except politics. Hence, students can no longer be described as apolitical or depoliticised. They are interested in learning about and joining political and social movements. Scores of young people are creating organisations and some are also beginning to join political parties. The time for a-political "social movements" is gone. This is cause for enormous optimism. In sum, an increasingly open society that remains ideologically limited by the legacy of military dictatorships; these are the persisting contradictions of the student movement in Pakistan after 3 November 2007.

Taimur Rahman is a PhD candidate at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), UK.

Trade, Financial Liberalisation and the Poor Lok Nath Bhusal


rade and financial liberalisation have been defined as tools for global economic integration. Trade liberalisation points to such a market model in which trade in goods and services between or within countries flow unhindered by government-imposed restrictions. Restrictions to trade include taxes and tariffs, and other non-tariff barriers, such as legislation on import quotas, subsidies for producers, access to market and market information, anti-dumping laws, government-imposed monopoly or oligopoly power, etc. Analogically, financial liberalisation is primarily the process of opening the equity market to foreign investors or ensuring free movement of capital between and within countries. Hence, trade and financial liberalisation facilitate free flow of goods, services and capital across national boundaries the so-called economic integration or globalisation (Stern 2001). With the revival of neoclassical orthodoxy in the late 1970s, trade and financial liberalisations have dominated the agenda in the international development discourse. Consequently, a wealth of literature is created examining gains and losses and recipients of liberalisation. The arguments in this paper are structured to demonstrate that trade and financial liberalisation, in the absence of domestic social policies, do not benefit the poor. In doing so, the section that follows broadly overviews the theoretical propositions on liberalisation with a critique on orthodox thinking about liberalisation and its impact on poverty, while the third section reviews, discusses and analyzes the empirical evidence. The paper concludes by discrediting the theoretical and empirical basis of the neo-liberal argument, and suggests that state interventions in the form of social policies is crucial to tackle structural injustice embedded in the free market which harms the poor. What the Theories Tell This section overviews the two often diametrically opposing views on the consequences of economic liberalisation on the poor countries in general, and the poor people in particularly. For the simplicity of discussion and analysis in the succeeding sections, these contrasting standings have been broadly classified into neo-classical and non-neoclassical. In short, while the former group mechanically approaches the distributional consequences of economic policies through a competitive and unfettered market structure, the latter group considers market structure as characterised by concentrated market power, which is unlikely to benefit the poor (Kanbur, 2004:15).



The Orthodox Position Following Adam Smith's notion of laissez faire, David Ricardo came up with his strongest arguments for free trade in his analysis of comparative advantage. This traditional economic focus in development thinking concentrated heavily on a neoclassical model in which growth was achieved by accumulating productive assets in a climate of macroeconomic stability (Besley and Burgess 2003), with free movement of goods and a minimalist state (Houtzager 2003). The neoclassicals have same line of theoretical position regarding the financial liberalisation. They argue that, while open financial markets allow the proper allocation of savings to productive investment, financial repression discourages savings and/or encourages capital flight. They also argue that borrowing on non-market terms allows moral hazards and kills competition, and thus injects inefficiencies (Wyplosz 2001). Under the rubric of the neoclassical framework, the standard approach to reducing poverty is to pursue sound fiscal and monetary policies, greater openness, security of property rights and privatisation (Williamson 2000, cited in ibid.) and via these mechanisms growth which is assumed to percolate down to the poor. Overall, the orthodox notion is that liberalisation allocates resources and factors of production efficiently, reduce costs of doing businesses, and therefore economic growth is spurred, income distribution is improved, and goods and services become cheaper. Consequently, poor benefit from liberalisation, as growth trickles-down. While the idea of unbolt market did not work during the great depression of 1930s, it got its revival in the late 1970s due to the perceived failure of government in a number of undertakings on the ground of efficiency. Arestis and Swayer (2005, 46) argue that since the 1970s, International Financial Institutions have been pursing the market solutions to resource mobilisation and the overwhelming dominance of the neoclassical paradigm and the imposition of market liberalisation policies. Furthermore, since the heydays of Reagan-Thatcher activism, developing countries have been forced to open their markets and integrate themselves into world markets (Wyplosz 2001), so as to enable themselves to reduce poverty. The neoliberal argument (one-sidedly) says that world poverty and income inequality fell over the past two decades for the first time in more than a century and a half. Their evidence, mostly based on cross-country regressions, confirms that globalisation has generated more “mutual benefit” than “conflicting interests.” Following this logic they prescribe policies that developing countries must push hard toward openness as the core ingredients of their development strategy (Wade 2004). The Unorthodox Position The heterodox take on trade and financial liberalisation has hovered around structural issues, infant industry protection, financial crisis, distributive justice and limited access of the poor. They have challenged market regime as insufficient and harmful to the poor. In terms of current redistributive agenda, they focus less on transfers of money and more on specific policies—particularly public services, credit and property rights—which can be shifted in a pro-poor direction (Besley and Burgess 2003).


While the academics and activists trained in this heterodox tradition do not see any benefits from financial liberalisation to the poor countries (people), they argue that international trading system is not and never has been either a free or fair trade system as such. They further argue that trade based on the international division of labour imposed on developing countries slows and even blocks development in the developing countries and leads to a systematic loss of investible surplus (Nicolas 2008). It is reasonable to argue that globalisers among low-income countries fare badly because they have not yet reached the minimum development threshold, in terms of human capita, infrastructure and institutions, to benefit from international openness (Birdsall 2002). Indeed, as poverty originates in the unequal command and access over economic and political resources within the society, structural concerns of a rather more basic nature than the structural adjustments demanded by the liberals have to be recognised as central to the design of policy reforms to benefit the poor (Sobhan 2001). He further argues that "neither targeting of development resources to the poor nor the promotion of growth, are likely to tackle poverty, as the poor are embedded in certain inherited structural arrangements such as insufficient access to productive assets as well as human resources, unequal capacity to participate in both domestic and global markets and undemocratic access to political power. These structural features effectively exclude the poor from participating in the benefits from development or the opportunities provided by more open markets" (ibid.). Furthermore, Stiglitz argues that globalisation today is not working for many of the world's poor (Tudore 2008) due to a sheer neglect of structural issues by the dominant neo-classicals. Therefore, according to this school, trade and financial liberalisation is unlikely to benefit the poor. Critics on Neoclassical Theory First, the neo-classical rhetoric that product market liberalisation is efficient and thus benefits everyone is not true. The very theoretical notion that tariffs or import restrictions introduce distortions dies out if markets are in constant flux as firms try to alter those constraints through innovation or learning by doing. Indeed, the emphasis on trade liberalisation tends to ignore the possibility of a developing economy acquiring dynamic comparative advantage as a result of this process of learning (Mehrotra and Delamonica 2007, 19). Obviously, this kills the future possibility to grow and become competitive. Friedrich List's infant industry argument is highly relevant in this regard. Stiglitz (2002, 59) argues that it is easy to destroy jobs, and this is often the immediate impact of trade liberalisation, as inefficient industries close down under pressure from international competition, and thus moving resources from low-productivity uses in inefficient industries to zero productivity does not enrich any country. Moreover, orthodoxy takes these shocks as only to be for short term, but Keynes is right when he says “in the long run we are all dead.” When poor lose their jobs, they have to starve, pull their children out of schools and sell their assets; all this exacerbate chronic poverty. Second, Rodrik (1999, 15–16) argues that the higher interest rates under financial opening may be self defeating, as deteriorating growth sharply reduces investment,


equally because of lower profits at present and for the future. Also, Besley and Burgess (2003) argue that the poor tend not to have access to banks and other formal financial institutions, and so aggregate credit expansion may not necessarily deliver benefits to the most disadvantaged groups. In addition, it is implicitly presumed that financial liberation will necessarily benefit the poor, by eliminating market distortion, without the need for further explanation or discussion of the fundamentals (Cling et al. 2002). Apparently, such an overestimation of market led poverty undermines the need for a government financed series of interdependent investments, to give a big push to offset the low-level equilibrium trap faced by many developing countries. Thirdly, the supposed links among liberalisation, growth and poverty reduction are dubious because opening up markets do not necessarily bring growth and even if growth occurs it is not likely to benefit the poor, unless non-market social policies are effectively put in place (Mehrotra and Delamonica 2007, 19). These authors have argued that “synergy” produced through a combination of market-based economic policies and non-market social policies are necessary to eliminate poverty. Highlighting the need for considering structural features, Wuyts (2007, 9–10) argues that 'looking at growth from developmental perspective requires us to pay extra attention to growth trajectories their respective contexts and conjunctures and the causal processes at work within them.' Obviously, these arguments bring to the fore the contextual and distributive concerns which are largely absent in the orthodox theoretical design at its best, its basic preamble is “one-size fits all” approach rather than diagnostic. Concretely, the focus of the consensus on increasing income as a means of reducing poverty is the orthodox one-dimensional approach to looking at poverty. However, in the face of Sen's capabilities normative framework and other heterodox theoretical visions, neoclassical unilateral focus on income/growth is unlikely to reduce poverty and benefit the poor. UNCTAD (2002, 189) has also argued that for ensuring inclusive growth, care must be exercised to look at the strategic complementarities, sectoral patterns and structural heterogeneities. Therefore, the neo-classical policy prescriptions for trade and financial liberalisation based on such weak theoretical framework is unlikely to benefit the poor. The following section demonstrates the available evidence to support this theoretical claim. Gauging the Evidence In this section, I review, discuss and analyze why and how the conventional wisdom on liberalisation is inherently flawed, vested and damaging against the poor. In doing so, I will discuss various available empirical cases to support the above critics and to demonstrate how poor people (countries) are harmed by the liberalisation agenda. Particularly, discussion would focus on the empirical cases broadly related to the relationship between the liberalisation and poverty, experiences of the today's developed countries, deliberate state intervention in East Asia, China and India, the migratory regimes of advanced countries, the political economy of PRSP exercise, and prevailing unfair terms of trade and aid diplomacy. At the heart of the issue of liberalisation and poverty lies a puzzle. Bardhan (2005) argues that increased liberalisation often causes many hardships for the poor, and the


net outcome is quite complex and almost always context dependent. He further argues that pushing for a package that contains both open-economy policies and those for support infrastructure and social protection is likely to benefit the poor. Relying on various studies, Eurodad (2001, cited in Cling et al. 2002) demonstrates the uncertain impact on poverty of liberalisation. Indeed, examples include Latin America and SubSaharan Africa, where open market policies of the 1980s exacerbated poverty. Here it is relevant to mention Peet (2003, 221) who eloquently questions the so-called aid-induced poverty alleviation agenda of global aid agencies, as a carrot to liberalisation in the developing countries. He further argues that the IMF, WB and WTO, backed by the big corporations, impose economic policies on a hundred countries in the world that kill thousands of children every day, resulting from poverty, de-industrialisation and unemployment. Consequently, while a small group of industrialised countries at the top of the distribution have benefited from trade openness middle-income and poor countries have been getting poorer (Tudore 2008). For instance, the “liberalisation package” in the 1980s in the name of structural adjustment “even well implemented, have not delivered sustainable growth rates sufficient to tackle poverty in most LDCs” (UNCTAD, 2002, 176). Historically, trade and financial liberalisation alone did not bring growth and poverty reduction in today's developed countries. Rather, a deliberate integration of macroeconomic and social policies has been attributed to such success. Based on their reviews of developed economies' past policies, Mehrotra and Delamonica (2007, 41–56) conclude that the market economy in general and the liberalisation agenda, in particular, in the industralised countries would not have come into existence without an active involvement of state in the form of social policy interventions to benefit the poor. They further argue that the state was critical in establishing key institutions of the market economy, such as human capital accumulation, industrialisation and labour market interventions in the form of subsidies and safety nets. Moreover, Robert Fogel (1994, cited in ibid) has empirically demonstrated that the state-led social policies on nutrition, health and sanitation explained 50 percent of economic growth in the UK between 1790 and 1980. In addition, Rodrik (2005, cited in Wuyts 2007, 11) has concluded that “these successful countries followed unorthodox policy agendas in the service of orthodox ends” (Chang 2002). More recently, rapid poverty reduction in East Asia was not due to liberalisation alone, rather it was the deliberate state intervention in the form of trade, industry and redistributive policies that benefited the poor. Before the financial crises of the 1997, East Asian countries did well in undertaking poverty reduction and large segments of their population have benefited (Heeswijk 2003). These achievements are clearly attributed to their aggressive export-led growth strategies coupled with targeted state interventions to equalise income distribution. The East Asian model was very close to the protectionist approach the western advanced countries adopted during 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. For instance, the experiences of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan show that countries do not have to adopt liberal trade policies in order to reap large benefits from trade. They all experienced relatively fast growth behind protective


barriers. As they became richer they tended to liberalise their trade—laying the basis for the misunderstanding that trade liberalisation drove their growth (Wade, 2004) and reduced poverty. Also, asset redistribution, namely ground breaking land reforms programs, targeted state intervention and a host of active government involvement in the economy were other reasons for significant reduction in poverty in this region. Evidence suggests that the recent poverty reduction in China and India is also not associated with their liberalisation. The incidence of extreme poverty fell dramatically in China over 1980–2001. Ravallion and Chen (2007) argue that local government spending helped the Chinese farmers in absolute terms while external trade had little short-term impact on poverty reduction. They also pinpoint to a lower growth elasticity of poverty reduction. Their findings imply that government intervention, rather than liberalisation, was one of the major factors for rapid reduction in poverty. Furthermore, the 1978 comprehensive land reforms program really benefited the poor. Also, due to the privatisation of health facilities in line with the liberalisation agenda, poor people in the rural china lack the resources necessary to purchase the same amount of health care previously allowed by the commune system (Wong and Gabriel, 2008). India has also consistently reduced its poverty incidence. In 1983, this was 45.7 percent in rural areas and 40.8 percent in urban areas. By the year 2000, it had declined to 27.1 percent and 23.6 percent. Besley and Burgess (2003, cited in ibid) have estimated that the sum total of land reform legislation since 1958 have accounted for one-tenth of poverty reduction. The cases of Indian states of Kerala and West Bengal are sufficient to illustrate the fact that it was the deliberate government efforts to redistribute assets and the provision of basic social services which significantly reduced poverty in this state. Indeed, due to higher spending on human capital accumulation, Kerala produced world class engineers who not only earned foreign exchange, but also gave a big push to the Indian economy through the exports of computer software. What is interesting to note here is that, in the face of growing farmers' distress, owing to high interest rates due to financial liberalisation, the Indian government is to cancel the entire debt of the country's small farmers in a giant scheme that will cost $15bn (BBC News 2008). Although critics have claimed that this is a popular move ahead of election, it provides important insights on the fact that it is the deliberate state intervention confronting the structural issues that can benefit the poor, not the hegemonic neo-classical liberalisation. Indeed, UNCTAD (2002:182) argues that “the financial liberalisation have often resulted in high interest rates and financial instability, limiting access of small and medium-sized domestic enterprises and agricultural smallholders to formal bank credit and long term productive investment”. In the face of these market failures, the recent Indian support scheme may be justifiable. Also, the successful land reform program in the state of West Bengal in the 1980s is another evidence of state intervention, which directly benefited the landless poor (Sobhan 2001).


Another crucial aspect of liberalisation, damaging potential benefits to the poor countries, is the unequal practice of restricting labour movement to advanced countries. By definition globalisation includes the free movements of all factors of production, but developed countries are reluctant to allow labour movement on various socio-economic accounts. Rodrik (2002) has estimated that that a temporary visa scheme that allowed migration from developing to developed countries of up to three percent of rich countries' labor force would yield $200 billion annually for developing country citizens. In a similar vein, a recent study concluded that migration from poor countries increasing the workforce of the rich 30 nations of the OECD by 3 percent would bring gains comparable to those from freer trade (World Bank 2008). While migration can offset some of the disproportionate harms caused by liberalisation to the poor, developed countries' reluctance to close their immigration counters further exacerbates poverty in the developing countries. The Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP), in which neo-liberals have successfully inserted liberalisation agenda, is also unlikely to benefit the poor. This is because of the fact that PRSPs predominantly envisage the pursuit of liberalisation as initiated in the past, accompanied by limited supports for export promotion (Cling et al. 2003, 192). In other words, PRSPs are the new versions of structural adjustment and Washington Consensus policies which perpetuated poverty in many developing countries due to deindustrilasation, unemployment and capacity erosion. While the whole PRSPs exercise was to ensure country ownership and responsibility for its own economic and social development, the neo-liberal agenda of globalisation provides very little space for formulating pro-poor social and trade policies which benefit the poor. Cling et al. and UNCTAD (2002, 178) further argue that, coupled with the absence of mutually supportive links between macroeconomic, mesoeconomic and microeconomic policies, the lack of understanding of the mechanisms of development and of the role of foreign trade are the major weaknesses of the PRSPs. Therefore, despite the superficially floated ideas of participation in the PRSP exercise, what benefits the poor is decided in the neo-liberal capitals, not in the poor communities and the poor by themselves. Suspecting liberalisation as being able to benefit the poor, Kanbur (2004:19) recommends for institutions and policies that determine the institutional environment within which poor can accumulate skills and firms accumulate capital and produce output. Observing the global inequalities in incomes distribution (in 2000, 322 wealthiest people had US$ 1.1 trillion, greater than the entire GNP of China, 0.9 trillion), Houtzager (2003, 6) argues that the conventional wisdom of reducing poverty through self-organisation of poor at the community level to be hopelessly naïve. However, PRSPs put these issues under the shadow of liberalisation, which lacks an export push strategy as a global dimension to equalise incomes and benefit the poor. Various studies demonstrate that unfair terms of trade and aid diplomacy practiced by the rich countries further reconfirm the harms liberalisation does to the poor. Here, it is necessary to understand the fact that aid has implicit but powerful economic


motives; donors use their aid to promote their exports setting open market policies as a condition. Also, donors force the developing countries to liberalise and have small government, but evidence suggests that they are relatively closed and protectionist in their strategic areas. UNCTAD (2002, 177) argues that “getting the government out of the way and opening up the economy to the rest of the world are not going to benefit the poor.” While the EU spent 1.1 billion Euros on development aid to seventy-seven developing economies in 2000, 47.6 billion was allocated to its own agricultural subsidies (Hass 2007, 831) the extent of state intervention. More precisely, each year industrialised countries as a whole provide over $300 billion to their agricultural producers roughly six times the amount they spend on aid. Moreover, when developing countries export to rich-country markets, they face both tariff and non-tariff barriers that are four times higher than those encountered by rich countries. These barriers cost them $100 billion a year—twice as much as they receive in aid (Borgenproject 2008), not accounting the spillover and dynamic effects. Furthermore, Mehrotra and Delamonica (2007) argue that while poor would not benefit without increased agricultural output and incomes, the prospects of that happening are seriously undermined by the US, EU and Japanese agricultural subsidies and protectionism. They also demonstrate the inconsistencies in the donors' trade, finance and aid policies, resulting into a net flow of resources from, rather than to, the developing world on account of declining commodity prices, which harms the poor. Indeed, donors' paradoxical protectionist policies coupled with recipient's liberalisation policies have linearly hurt the agriculture sector and caused deindustrialisation in the developing countries, forcing them to become more jobless and poorer. However, rich countries benefit through both sets of policies in fact, this is the ultimate objective of their grand design of liberalisation. Sobhan (2001, 11) has alluded to donors' fair trade treatment in order to benefit the poor. Conclusion In order to demonstrate how and why trade and financial liberalisation alone cannot benefit the poor in the developing countries, this paper has illustrated both the dominant and heterodox theoretical positions as an analytical framework. It has also challenged the neo-classical position in terms of its inherent theoretical weaknesses and neglect of structural factors in the development discourse. Taking the heterodox position, this author has presented arguments primarily relying on the available empirical evidence (with historical context), and demonstrated that liberalisation alone does not benefit the poor, unless state actively involves in the economy, and structural issues are not taken into account where markets fail namely through social policies to redistribute the assets and income. Also, the global inequality in income distribution due to unfair terms of trade has been challenged as another obvious evidence of orthodox failure. These evidences can be used to disagree with both the theoretical and empirical basis of the neoliberal arguments of benefiting the poor through trade and financial liberalisation. While it may not be easy to not to follow the orthodox policy prescriptions, developing countries need to intensify their social policies and address structural issues to offset any potential harms to the poor from


trade and financial liberalisation. Furthermore, developing countries should strongly lobby for fairer liberalisation.

Lok Nath Bhusal is a development expert and a planning officer at the National Planing Commission Secretariat of Nepal. References l Bardhan, P. 2005. Globalization and Rural Poverty. World Development. Vol. 34, Issue 8, Pp. 1393-1404. l India Cancels Small Farmers' Debt. BBC News (accessed on March 16, 2008). l Besley, T. and R. Burgess. 2003. Halving Global Poverty. Journal of Economic Perspectives. Vol. 17, No. 3, P. 322. (accessed on March 15, 2008). l Birdsall, N. 2002. Asymmetric Globalization: Global Markets Require Good Global Politics. Center for Global Development, Working Paper No. 12. l Borgen Project. 2008. Policies Creating Poverty. (accessed on March 2, 2008). l Chang, Ha-Joon. 2002. Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective. London: Anthem Press. l Cling, J. P., M. Razafindrakoto and F. Roubaud. 2002. Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers: Old wine in new bottles?. In New International Poverty Reduction Strategies , ed. J . P. Cling,, M. Razafindrakoto and F. Roubaud, Pp. 180-202. London: Routledge. l Hass, H. de. 2007. Turning the Tide? Why Development will not Stop Migration. Development and Change. 38(5), Pp. 819-841. l Heeswijk, P. M. Van. 2003. Building on the Poverty Reduction in East Asia. Speech by Jan P.M. Van Heeswijk, Director General, RSDD at the EAP Regional Conference on PRSs. Phnom Penh, 16-18 October. l Houtzager, P. 2003. Introduction: From Polycentrism to the Polity. In Changing Paths. International Development and the New Politics of Inclusion, ed. P. Houtzager & M. Moore, Pp. 1-31. Ann Arbor: Michigan University Press. l Kanbur, R. 2004. Economic Policy, Distribution, and Poverty: The Nature of Disagreements. In Growth, Inequality and Poverty. Prospects for Pro-poor Economic Development, ed. A. Shorrocks and R. Van der Hoeven, Pp. 13-28. UNU- Wider Studies in Development Economics. Oxford: OUP. l Mehrotra, S. and E. Delamonica. 2007. Eliminating Human Poverty: Macroeconomic and Social Policies for equitable Growth. International Studies in Poverty Research. Zed Books. l Nicolas, H. 2008. 4207 --Economics of Globalization. Lecture Notes. ISS, the Hague. l Peet, R. 2003. Unholy Trinity: the IMF, World Bank and WTO. Zed Books. l Ravallion, M and S. Chen. 2007. China's Poverty. Journal of Development Economics .Vol. 82, Issue 1, Pp.1-42. l Rodrik, D. 2002. Feasible Globalizations, Harvard University, Manuscript. l Sobhan, R. 2001. “Eradicating Rural Poverty: Moving from a Micro to a Macro Policy Agenda.” The challenge of ending rural poverty. IFAD Public Lecture, June. (accessed on March 17, 2008). l Stern, N. 2001., “Globalization, the Investment Climate, and Poverty Reduction .” The World Bank. (accessed on March 16, 2008). l Stiglitz, J.E. 2002. Globalization and Its Discontents. New York: Norton.


l Tudore, E. 2008. Globalization and Poverty Reduction. (accessed on March 16 2008). l UNCTAD. 2002. National Development Strategies, PRSPs and Poverty Reduction. In The Least Developing Countries Report: Escaping the Poverty Trap, New York and Geneva: United Nations, Chapter 5, Pp. 167-206. " Available at 4202 Conference, ISS. l Wade, R. H. 2004. Is Globalization Reducing Poverty and Inequality?. World Development. Vol.32, Issue 4, Pp. 567-589. l Urban Health Care Access in the People's Republic of China. (accessed on March 17, 2008). l World Bank. 2008. Freer World Trade Benefits Seen $120 Billion/Year-Study.,,date:2008-0314~menuPK:34461~pagePK:34392~piPK:64256810~theSitePK:4607,00.html (accessed on March 14, 2008). l Wuyts, Marc. 2007. The Growth Poverty Nexus from a Developmental Respective. A conceptual Paper. Research on Poverty Alleviation, REPOA. June. l Wyplosz, C. 2001. How Risky is Financial Liberalization in the Developing Countries?. G-24 discussion paper no. 14. (accessed on March 5, 2008).

Memorandum on Media Freedom (Presented to Minister of Information and Broadcasting on 23 May 2008 by SAFMA Pakistan) Imtiaz Alam, Secretary General, SAFMA


e appreciate the repeated commitments to press freedom, freedom of expression and right to know by the PPP government. We welcome some of the remedial measures taken by the people's government to withdraw some draconian changes in the PEMRA ordinance and allow press freedom. But we remain apprehensive and are concerned until promises are translated into concrete actions. As you are all aware, SAFMA and Media Commission-Pakistan had jointly organized two successive media conferences and almost all media stakeholders, including PFUJ, PUJ, RUJ, APNS, CPNE, PBA and representatives from 60 Press Clubs from all over the country participated in our November 30, 2007, National Media Conference. That conference was held at the peak of the struggle for the restoration of media freedom that had come under unprecedented attack from the authoritarian regime. The Conference was followed by an All Parties Conference on Media Freedom on December 1, 2007. And representatives of almost all major parties, including PPP, endorsed the Charter of Media Freedom. Ms Sherry Rehman is among the leaders who had endorsed and signed the Charter and had promised to implement it when they came to power. The draconian measures taken by the Musharraf regime and the arbitrary ordinances that were issued before the last parliament was convened to regulate and control media were opposed by the media, especially working journalists. SAFMA in its National Conference-II Right to Know and Express 2004 reviewed all media laws and with the participation of media stakeholders, civil society representatives and leaders of various political parties had presented alternative drafts to the six ordinance issued by the military regime. There are other ways, tactics and pressures that are used by state and non-state actors to muzzle the press. The role of intelligence agencies and the information ministry in muzzling press freedom is no secret. No less disturbing is the role of state-controlled media at the expense of taxpayers' money. We would like to share the contents of Charter of Media Freedom to express our concerns and demands that you have always been sharing with us as a colleague. We: 1.


Condemn twice abrogation of the Constitution, including on November 3, 2007, erosion of independence of judiciary and rule of law and its adverse consequences for media freedom, imposition of two amended black media laws


(PEMRA and PNNABRO), an arbitrary Code of Conduct for Media; 2. Applaud the resolve, unity and struggle of the media community, with the backing of international media community, civil society and all democratic forces, against the suppression of fundamental rights, freedom of speech, right to know and two draconian ordinances (PEMRA and PNNABRO), an extremely prohibitive Code of Conduct for Media and clampdown on electronic media, in particular, and press, in general; 3. Reject all media ordinances issued before the convening of last parliament and amended afterwards being prohibitive of freedom of expression and right to know; 4. Are alarmed at the phenomenal rise and expansion of terrorism, extremism and intolerance and erosion of the writ of the state in the tribal areas and NWFP, in particular, and the country, in general; 5. Take exception to the imposition of hegemony of state over civil society organizations by amending the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act through an ordinance and imposing PEMRA and PPO/PNNABRO over media; 6. Are perturbed over lack of security for journalists and non-implementation of Wage Board Award; 7. Are concerned about the continued control of the public sector media by the ruling coalition; 8. Caution against the colossal consequences of the prolongation of remnants of authoritarian rule, deepening alienation of the people, especially in Balochistan, and enormous threats being posed by terrorists and extremists to the survival of this nation and integrity of the country; 9. Reiterate our solemn commitment to supremacy of the 1973 Constitution, an independent judiciary, a sovereign parliament, an undiluted democracy, a participatory federation, fundamental human rights, freedom of expression, right to know, free media, pluralism and tolerance.

e) The journalists struggle, for a free media is un-separable from the overall democratic struggle by civil society, bars, intelligentsia and democratic forces for the restoration of 1973 Constitution in its original spirit, undiluted parliamentary democracy, genuine federalism, an independent judiciary, a sovereign parliament and promotion of democratic culture of pluralism and tolerance; f) The media volunteer to be self-regulated by its own professional codes of ethics under autonomous regulatory bodies formed by major stakeholders that are absolutely free from the influence of or interference by the executive/government. We, therefore, call upon the current democratic government to fulfil the mandate of the people and agree to implement the following measures: 1.


3. We are of the considered view that: a) The degree of access to information and freedom of expression and pluralist free media are defining elements of a political system. In autocratic and intolerant regimes, information is restricted on the basis of the “need to know” and limited to a powerful few. Democracies, on the other hand, respect freedom of expression and recognize the right to information that is inclusive and empowers the people. A free and independent media is a prerequisite of a responsible and transparent governance and accountability. b) The media - as a watchdog of public interest, carrier of information, promoter of a free and balanced debate—is a most dynamic institution of civil society and can only flourish in a democracy and tolerant culture. c) The freedom of media, freedom of expression and right to know are embedded in the universal recognition of fundamental human, civil and political rights, guaranteed by the Constitution and enforceable by an independent judiciary; d) The media in Pakistan is under threat from state authoritarianism, terrorism and ethno-religious extremism.


a. b. c. d. e. f. g.

That all arbitrary changes brought into the 1973 Constitution should be withdrawn to make Parliament sovereign, transfer power to the Cabinet, grant true autonomy to judiciary, ensure media freedom and guarantee freedom of expression and right to know. In short, Charter of Democracy should be implemented in letter and spirit. That we demand the withdrawal of PEMRA, PNNABRO (Amended and original), Freedom of Information Ordinance, Press Council of Pakistan Ordinance, Defamation Ordinance, Associated Press of Pakistan Ordinance, other laws regulation Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, Pakistan Television Corporation and the Code of Conduct for Media and their replacement by media friendly Acts ensuring media freedom and right to know. All clauses in various laws, such as Public Secret Act etc., that prohibit freedom of expression and right to know should be amended. That we demand, and resolve to purse, restoration of freedom of expression and freedom of media without any undemocratic restrictions and bureaucratic restraints and it must be guaranteed against all forms of intimidation from both state and non-state actors. All other laws, including related to media, shall be amended to facilitate media freedom. That we demand, and resolve to jointly pursue, the fundamental right of the citizens to know while amending the current law on freedom of information on the following lines: A freedom of information law should provide for maximum disclosure. Public bodies must be obliged to publish key information. Exceptions should be clearly and narrowly drawn and subject to strict “harm” and “public interest” tests. Pubic bodies must actively promote open government. Requests for information should be processed rapidly and fairly and refusals should be appeal-able to independent tribunals. Fees for disclosure should not be high as this will discourage the seekers of information. Laws that are inconsistent with the principle of maximum disclosure should be suitably amended or repealed.

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h. Individuals who release information on wrongdoing whistleblowers must be protected. i. The right to access record / information in the possession of public bodies / authorities should be acknowledged. j. The grounds on which information may be exempted from disclosure should be reduced to the minimum. Even exempted information should be disclosed if public interest demands it. 5. That all restrictions on issuing of licenses to private televisions and radios must be lifted and allowed under normal business rules and regulations and all such clauses in the PEMRA law which are prejudicial to free speech and free enterprise must be dispensed with immediately. 6. That all public sector media corporations, including Pakistan Television, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, Associated Press of Pakistan, etc., must be made independent of a sitting government and the executive and turned into public corporations, such as on the lines of BBC and public broadcasting agencies. 7. That FM and other radios must be allowed to relay news and current affairs programs. 8. That all official advertisements shall be distributed on merit without any discrimination against any media outlet. 9. That contract system prevalent in the media industry be dispensed with, restrictions on the right to form association or trade union be removed and the Wage Board Award by implemented. Life insurance, social security, medical cover and protection to journalists working in conflict region be provided, including full compensation for the loss of life or injuries. 10. That the working journalists and media owners undertake to evolve their own code of ethics to be voluntary followed by the media practitioners and monitored and implemented by regulatory bodies created by the stakeholders and working independent of the executive/government. 11. That we agree to uphold and strengthen democratic values, fundamental rights, freedom of expression, right to know, pluralist democracy, culture of tolerance, peace and harmony, undiluted democracy, independence of judiciary, rule of law, sovereignty of the parliament and supremacy of the Constitution.


21 - Human Security in South Asia  

South Asian Journal, a quarterly periodical of South Asian journalists and scholars, Editor Imtiaz Alam

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