FINDING REASONS TO CELEBRATE 23RD MARCH

SHABBIR H. KAZMI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Mar 26 - Apr 1, 20
12

Pakistan Resolution was passed on 23rd March 1940, which culminated at the creation of Pakistan. Over the years, a lot has changed and masses still celebrate the day but some of the elites ask why the day should be celebrated. To prove their point they give all sorts of good reasons and some even go to extent of saying that partition was wrong. Maybe they tow the bogey of Indian Congress and the extremist Hindus. Having enjoyed every thing, ripping off the country, and accumulating billions of dollars in foreign banks, the group says what we have got from partition. Their attitude is insult of millions of people who were killed brutally by the extremists.

Those who say what Pakistan has given us are the thankless breed. Let us counts a few blessing and the point will be clearly understood. Despite all odds, the country has remained self-sufficient in food and some of the products are still being imported because the groups having vested interest introduce policies which serve their selfish motives.

Pakistan exports huge quantity of rice and has also emerged as one of the wheat exporting countries. But, the country imports edible oil costing around US$2 billion annually. Lately, they killed prospects of exporting sugar and urea. On top of every thing when the country needed millions of dollars to pay to the IMF, killing these prospects can be termed 'criminal negligence'. These groups have attained power because of lack of accountability.

The policy planners and economic managers are fully aware of the adverse impact of looming energy crises but no concrete steps have been taken to resolve the circular debt issue. Pakistan has around 24,000MW power generation capacity but actual output hovers around half. Power plants are being run at dismal capacity utilization to save fuel or the generation companies do not have funds to procure fuel. Justification for the creation of rental power plants was done in the most dubious manner.

Even the regulatory authorities have been protecting the interest of electric utilities and gas marketing companies. Nepra has been allowing persistent and huge increase in tariffs in the name of recovery of full cost but never in its history declined tariff increase and asked distribution companies to contain transmission and distribution losses. The worst is the existence of Pepco for which the decision was made back to dissolve it. One completely fails to understand the logic behind keeping Pepco because all its constituent companies have independent boards and over the years staff has attained capacity to manage these entities.

For decades, Thar coal potential could not be exploited due to the opposition by 'oil lobby'. At a time when all seemed set to go 'open pit mining' some whiz kids are insisting on 'coal gasification' technology. It seems the whole exercise is aimed at derailing the project. One could still recollect the way Lakhra coal power plant was closed. Some of the groups were saying that it was a threat for the environment but never allowed installation of required gadgets to contain emission. Had this project been operational, it could have been used to determine usability of coal produced in Pakistan, besides Thar.

Experts are of the consensus that mighty Indus can help in generating up to 40,000MW electricity. It is a pity that no mega dam has been constructed after Tarbela coming online in 1976. Pakistan was required to add a dam every tenth year. The logic being used to oppose construction of mega dams is their adverse impact on environment and seasonal nature. However, the whiz kids forget that even if these hydel units generate electricity for half of the year, the savings are enormous. While cost of generation at thermal power plant is around Rs15 per units, hydel generation costs as low as Rs3 per unit. It is also to bring on record that most of the thermal power plants use furnace oil containing very high percentage of sulphur.

While the United States has emerged the biggest opponent of Pakistan's nuclear program, some of the locals are also demanding that Pakistan should abstain from building nuclear power plants. There seems two points in this opposition: 1) China is building these power plants, which are not liked by the United States and 2) once there is no nuclear power plants it will be easier to ask Pakistan to roll back its nuclear program. The point of contention is a havoc caused by nuclear power plants in Japan, in the aftermath of one of the worst earthquakes.

It is no secret that Pakistan is suffering from acute shortage of crude oil and gas. However, it is being threatened of economic sanctions if it goes ahead with buying these products from Iran. This is complete failure of Pakistan's foreign policy because India has refused to curtail crude oil purchase from Iran. On top of that, it has been involved in the construction of Chabahar port in Iran and also road and rail link up to Central Asian countries via Afghanistan. Since all these activities are aimed at undermining importance of Pakistan, the United States has never objected on India and/or hinted at imposing sanctions on Indian companies involved.

While the United States is never tired of saying that Pakistan is the frontline partner in war on terror, double standard of the policies became evident when it demanded giving Balochs the right of self determination for the creation of Greater Balochistan, which will comprise one slice each from Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Pakistanis have not forgotten creation of Bangladesh in which India and United States played the key role.