ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) has released the Quality of Governance Report for the period of June-July 2015, aiming to highlight the various positive and negative developments during the said period that have affected the quality of governance in the country during this period.
Allocation of Rs. 20 billion for Millennium Development Goals
First positive development is allocation of Rs. 20 billion for achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Community Development Programme. PILDAT raised the questions whether these allocations are meaningful and able to meet the development goals set for year 2015-16 or are merely eleventh-hour increases to act as untied funds since there are only six months left in the MDG’s deadline; December 31, 2015.
Allocation of Rs. 102 billion for Benazir Income Support Program
Rs. 102 billion has been allocated for Benazir Income Support Program. The amount is 5.2% higher than previous period, Prime Minister’s Youth Loan Scheme, Income Tax Reliefs and a 725% increase in pay and pension is also a great decision of Federal Government to alleviate poverty.
Year of Local Government Elections
The year 2015 is the year of Local Government Elections in the country that is an achievement of the current government in strengthening the democracy in the country. This is a welcome development after the prolonged delay by the Federal Government in instituting a Local Government setup, despite the fact that 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan has made it mandatory.
Pakistan Army Celebrates One-Year Anniversary of Zarb-e-Azb
Successful completion of one year of Operation Zarb-e-Azb undertaken by the Pakistan Army against the terrorists in North Waziristan. The Military Officials have termed Zarb-e-Azb a resounding success and the primary contributor to the significant drop in acts of terrorism in Pakistan. According to statistics reported by the South Asian Terrorism Portal, civilian casualties from terrorist violence are in decline: dropping 40% in 2014 – the year the operation was launched – to 65%in 2015.13 Moreover, 2,763 terrorists have been killed, 837 militants’ hideouts destroyed and 253 tons of explosives recovered so far.
Punjab Government Committed to Curbing Terror Financing
Another welcome development on the peace and order front is the recent initiative taken by the Punjab Police to curb terror financing. Cases have been registered against Al-Rasheed Trust (Maymar Trust) and Al-Rehmat Trust in Multan, Ansarul Ummah, Sipa-i-Sahaba and Tehreek-i-Ghulbai-i-Islam in Bahawalpur and Jaish-e-Muhammad in Gujranwala.
LeJ Leader Malik Ishaq Killed in Police Encounter
Additionally, the commitment to eliminate terrorism from the cities, has improved the performance of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), which has become extremely active, lately. It recently detained Malik Ishaq, leader of the banned sunni group lakshare jhangvi, believed to have killed hundreds of Pakistani Shiites, along with his two sons. Ishaq was on the US list of global “terrorists” and had been imprisoned from 1997 to 2011, accused for 60 different criminal cases, however he was never prosecuted. This elucidates the cracks in Pakistan’s Judicial System whereby militant leaders are able to intimidate judges23 and political leaders and evade convictions.
I-11 Kachi Abbadi Eviction in Islamabad Sparks Debate
On July 30, 2015, the Capital Development Authority (CDA), as per orders from the Islamabad High Court (IHC), demolished the ‘Afghan katchi basti’, on the directions of the interior ministry. In the face of protests and clashes with slum dwellers the CDA authority in collaboration with the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration, police and rangers, was able to successfully complete its four-day eviction drive. While the CDA can be hailed for its successful operation, some pertinent questions need to be addressed by the ICT administration; are the evictions in line with the National Housing Policy and the Katchi Abbadi Act of 2001? Additionally, is the National Housing Policy Framework clear enough on issues of housing and resettlement?
NDMA Efforts in On-going Monsoon Floods
Taking a stock of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) with regards to disaster management and post disaster relief work undertaken so far, the NDMA responded in a timely fashion, with the joint efforts of District and Provincial Authorities and the support of the Pakistan Army. NDMA was also able to mobilize and facilitate the KP Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) by sending food packages to affected families.
Crackdown against Eateries Continues in Punjab
During the recent months, PILDAT has observed a welcome activism and dynamism in the efforts of the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) and its Director Ms. Ayesha Mumtaz in ensuring better hygienic conditions and quality of food in restaurants across Punjab.
Budget 2015-2016 Announced Amidst Last Year’s Missed Targets
PILDAT has first described the Budget 2015-16 that has missed targets so far. While appreciating the allocations worth Rs. 20 billion on higher education project, the proposed expenditure of education in the Budget 2015-16 is only 1.67% which is considerably below the target of 4% set for the year 2017-18.
The government is over ambitious about growth rate and tax revenue. According to economy Survey of Pakistan 2015-15, government missed targets in these sectors and instead of filling the gaps in these targets, government set highest targets for these sectors that seems over ambitious and unrealistic.
Unrealistic Goals for Energy Sector
Rs. 248 billion has been allocated for energy sector without showing the clear strategy. There is no policy on development of gas and oil sectors and problem of circular debt.
Aitchison Principal Sacked for Rejecting Admissions
The recent sacking of Dr. Agha Ghazanfar, the Principal of the Aitchison College, Lahore, has raised serious concerns regarding the alleged use of intimidation and misuse of official position for the sake of pragmatism and self-interest. The principal was sacked on July 28, 2015 for apparently resisting nepotism under his watch and denying admission to influential bigwigs’ children, which reportedly included grandson of Mr. Ayaz Sadiq, MNA, Speaker of the National Assembly, grandson of Mian Mansha, Industralist, along with former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s grandson.
Merit Being Ignored in Foreign Posting of Trade Officers
Another development in disregard of the merit-based selection policy is the recruitment of Trade Officers for postings on 3 lucrative foreign stations: Brussels, Geneva and Washington.31 A special selection board, headed by the Commerce Minister, Mr. Khurram Dastgir Khan, MNA, was formed to interview a panel of bureaucrats. The selection board forwarded a panel of 9 candidates to the Prime Minister for final approval. The summary given by the PM Secretariat revealed that that two major changes were made contrary to the recommendations put forth by the selection committee.
Karachi Heat Wave
Despite displays of Government’s disappointment at the mismanagement during the heat wave, the loss of life cannot be reversed, but can serve as an eye opener for the administration. PILDAT condemns the lack of Government oversight and preparedness to deal with the heat wave. The casualties resulting from its present a dismal portrait of the governance structure in place to deal with major climate disasters.