Stories about agriculture

Siksa Valley: Turning Gilgit-Baltistan’s barren lands into green miracles

I had never been past Khaplu in the Ganche District of Baltistan, a lovely green valley encircled by towering mountains. I had stayed a few times at the picturesque Khaplu Fort Palace Hotel, which has painstakingly been restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The Khaplu Fort Palace Hotel Hence, I was excited to actually drive past Khaplu and head further north towards our border area with India’s Ladakh region. This is a restricted area controlled by the Army and most tourists are turned back. Luckily, we had clearances as we were heading to a village ...

Read Full Post

For PM Imran Khan: A guide on how to fix the unfixable

There is a new sense of optimism in Pakistan. Many in the country are looking to the government of Imran Khan to reform the way the country works and put it back on the track of development and prosperity. The new government has signalled a willingness to think outside the box. This means trying to do what has not been done before. It means going against vested interests, the ‘rent seekers’ who have used their influence to accumulate power and enormous wealth. And finally, it also means going against established international ‘norms’ of behaviour as defined by the ‘Washington Consensus’. First ...

Read Full Post

Why Kalabagh Dam is not the answer to our water woes

A few days back, my views on the futility of Kalabagh Dam published in a national daily evoked a very strong and hostile reaction from many people. I had posed a simple and pertinent question: “If, as is evident, Pakistan will have very little water in future, what will we fill Kalabagh Dam with?” Some people said Pakistan will have enough water forever, while others called me an enemy agent. Before delving deeper into why the dam should not be constructed, I would like to share my own experience of water consumption. Up until 10 years back, I had no idea how much ...

Read Full Post

Roads and religion: How CPEC will pit Pakistan against itself

‘Exclusive: CPEC Master Plan Revealed’, read a headline this week in Pakistan’s daily newspaper, Dawn. Instantly, news outlets from across the world scrambled to analyse the text of the now-viral article and provided their own respective analyses of this said master plan. The two words themselves seem especially ominous, harkening to the devious plots hatched by cunning antagonists in the spy movies of old. The words, however, in many ways do justice to what was revealed. The plan includes details of leasing large tracts of land to Chinese companies for ‘demonstration projects’ in agriculture with similar concessions in land granted for the construction of ...

Read Full Post

Why the Punjab budget is useless

Each year, as Member Punjab Assembly (MPA), when I returned home after the budget speech with a pile of hefty books containing the budget documents, I found myself more interested in the supplementary budget than in the budget statement itself. It seems more productive to focus on what the government has actually done instead of what it expects and promises to do. While a budget statement would give you an insight into what revenues a government expects to generate, and the expenditures it intends to make in the coming year, a supplementary budget gives you a report of what the government actually made and spent ...

Read Full Post

We are solely to be blamed for the water crisis in Pakistan

The average person uses over 300 litres of water to wash their car at home. The average car wash uses half that amount. Some automated systems use barely a 10th of it, when accounting for water recycling. But why would people spend hundreds of rupees to wash their cars when they can get it done for ‘free’ by the household help? Isn’t that what they’re paid for? Well here’s the problem. In an area with 100,000 cars, one wash a week would end up using 30 million litres per week, or almost eight million gallons. That is over a million gallons. There ...

Read Full Post

When will the suffering of the sugarcane farmers in Sindh end?

Pakistan is still primarily considered an agrarian economy. The on-going sugarcane pricing row between sugar mill owners and sugarcane growers in Sindh will only have damaging, if not destructive, consequences towards the rural economic backbone of Pakistan; especially in Sindh, in terms of agriculture. Personally, as an agriculturist and as a sugarcane crop grower, it is becoming increasingly exasperating and vexing to exhibit restrain when one has to deal with the indifferent and apathetic attitude of the Sindh government and the cartel of the sugar mill owners. To understand where it all began, one has to comprehend the political dynamics of Sindh, where a ...

Read Full Post

The story of Pakistan: I am a dreamer but I am not the only one

We, Pakistanis, are full of dreamers. I say this not just as an expression but after observing it myself. While on my trip to the countryside, I came across many stories and dreams, and I found each story unique in its own way. Here are a few of the dreamers I met along the way… Photo: Salman Javed This is an 11-year-old boy and a proud shepherd. His household income depends on the cattle he grazes. He seemed like a very pleasant child. During our conversation, I found out that he wished to attend school, become a doctor, own ...

Read Full Post

We should have seen it coming…

In hindsight, I suppose we should have seen it coming. Karachi had been a great city, once called the Queen of the East, but for a long time now it had become unlivable, given the daily killings, terrorist attacks, the rampant looting of pedestrians and motorists by armed gangs. We should have seen it coming. The city was the most highly taxed in the country, but no one knew what happened to the hard-earned money we gave as tax. It was widely believed, though, that our corrupt rulers were siphoning away most of the budget amount into their foreign ...

Read Full Post

‘Metronomics’ in Lahore: We may be heading for an ‘F’

What brings economic progress to a country? Social scientists have argued for good institutions, trade-suited geographical placement, favourable climatic conditions, cultural homogeneity among a country’s peoples, and – lo and behold – even their superior genetic makeup. Yet, no sociologist has suggested relegating the laws of economics to history’s waste bin. Endowments of nature (such as those listed above) are important indeed, but their apt utilisation (good economics) is much more important. Fiscally speaking, any new project a public official decides to pursue needs a thorough pre-evaluation by experts. Economists have tools to compare a given project’s usefulness to other potential ones. ...

Read Full Post