Water scarcity in Pakistan: Challenges and way forward

By: Yusra Aziz

Karachi: Water is one of the most important natural resources. It covers one-third of the area of the earth. Pakistan has the world’s fourth-highest rate of water use. Unfortunately, due to lack of proper measures for securing and preserving natural resources, our country is suffering from water scarcity, that is likely to wreak havoc on the country in the coming years. Researchers predict that Pakistan is on its way to becoming the most water-stressed country in the region by the year 2040. It is not the first time that development and research organizations have alerted Pakistani authorities about the coming crisis, which some analysts say poses a bigger threat to the country than terrorism. In 2016, PCRWR reported that Pakistan touched the “water stress line” in 1990 and crossed the “water scarcity line” in 2005. If this situation persists, Pakistan could “run dry” by 2025.

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Child Labour in Pakistan

By: Aliza Sohail, Anosha Ahmed, Ayesha Noor, Ayesha Nasir & Jawaria Khan

Karachi: According to the International Labour organisation (ILO) child labour is defined as, the work that has mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful effect on children’s, depriving the children to attend the school, and also obliging children to leave school prematurely. But not all the work which has been done by children can be classified as child labour. The work that affects the children mental, physical and social health is targeted as child labour. Also, the work which affects personal development and interference with the school can also be targeted as child labour. Children from the age of 10 to 16 are enforced by their families to become a labour. Hundreds and thousands of the children are enforcing to work as a labour at a very infant age. Majority of the children left school in the middle of the study to become a labour. It has been perceived that in villages especially, representatives of several industries trap children with promises of jobs and wealth and bring them to the city where they are working as bonded labour in factories. Many children are also employed as household help where they are compensated at minimum wages and are made to do maximum physical work.

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Posted in Governance, Governance Issue, Health, Human Rights, Pakistan Social Issue, Poverty, Social Development | Tagged | Leave a comment

Stigmatization of Mental Illness: A Social Evil

By: Simran Talreja

mental-health

“The path for seeking help for mental illness is, in itself, a very complex one”

Karachi: Stigmatization of mental health, though is a universal phenomenon, is particularly more of a serious problem in South Asian countries (culture and values play a pivotal role) and Pakistan being a part of South Asia, is no exception. Stigma is elucidated as ‘one harbouring a negative and disparaging attribute towards a person who due to his/her deteriorated mental condition deviated from what is considered normal. We do not witness society stigmatizing an individual who is seeking chemotherapy as a last resort when medications fail to cure cancer. Then, why is it any different with a person seeking a therapy to ease his/her mental anguish caused severe bouts of depression or any other psychological disorders which impede the normal functionality and produce great deals of personal discomfort?

Despite decades of anti-stigma campaigns launched by the American Psychological Association (APA) on a world scale, mental health problems and psychological treatment are compounded as ‘taboos’ in Pakistani society, which is a sad reality. Due to this culturally induced prejudice, Pakistani people, holding a ‘certain’ attitude, perceive those with somatic and mental health problems as pariahs and revoltingly try to maintain a distinct ‘social gap’ from them and bizarrely from their families as well.

The path for seeking help for mental illness is, in itself, a very complex one. Several factors must be taken into consideration; availability and accessibility, affordability of services, socio-demographic factors, as well as more complex characteristics such as personality, personal preference, and attitudes (Cepeda-Bento & Short, 1998; Dahlberg, 2008). But before a person engages in help-seeking behaviour, a positive attitude and anticipated utility are prerequisites. So, it boils down to the attitude and perception of society, as a whole.

Attitudes play an important role in augmenting the stickiness of stigma and discrimination against impacted individuals. Attitudes can be tricky to measure empirically. An attitude can be defined as “an evaluation of an object in a positive or negative fashion that includes the elements of affect, cognition, and behaviour.” (Gilovich, Keltner, Chen, & Nisbet, 2013). The ‘affect’ component propounds the extent to which a person likes or dislikes an object, a therapist, themselves or similar which exudes some degree of positive or negative emotion. The “cognitions” component involves the thoughts that fortify a person’s feelings. Your attitude towards seeing a therapist, for example, how appealing or how beneficial it would be. Finally, the “behaviour” component can be described in a sense of behavioural tendency in the form of approach versus avoid. Continue reading

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Pakistan’s Soaring Population: Challenges and Solutions

By: Hassaan Ahmed Siddiqui 

Population

“The growing population is contributing to pollution, waste and environmental degradation through deforestation”

Karachi: 

Animals can be driven crazy by placing too many in too small a pen. Homo sapiens is the only animal that voluntarily does this to himself.”

Opening up with a quote by Robert A. Heinlein; bringing in the notice the major concern of the nation which if kept far reached from the masses can lead to most tormentors repercussions till date. In the midst of Pakistan’s political squabbles and the ragging fight against terrorism, another important subject that has gone almost unheeded requires major concern and attention more so than ever for the future of this country. The debilitating issue has long been ticking and is now on the verge to explode. A preliminary Census Report of 2017, showing an escalating rise in Pakistan’s population moving up further on the populous scale growing by 57% since 1998 making Pakistan world’s fifth most populous country by reaching an alarming count of 207.7 million inhabitants leaving behind many other underdeveloped countries on the scale. Ranking 14th in 1955, with the staggering growth rate of 2.4 % per annum following the footsteps of world’s densely populated countries like China, India, US & Indonesia. Continue reading

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Experts termed 2018-19 budget as ‘non-conventional’ budget

Pic 1

 Ilyas Ahmed Bilour, Dr. Pervez Tahir, Dr. Abid Suleri and Dr. Vaqar during special seminar on Post-Budget (2018-19) organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute

 

Making amnesty scheme as part of finance bill was wrong decision, Ilyas Bilour

Islamabad (Monday, April 30, 2018): This year the budget 2018-19 is non-conventional as compared to the last four years budgets, where the government presented a popular budget with an eye on the upcoming general elections. There is need to understand the budget in totality and need to have informed criticism and praises of the budget. Whereas, the opposition political parties have to present their shadow budget that should give the formula to reduce the taxes rate, reduce the poverty and enhance employment opportunities. 

This was the crux of the analysis by the experts at a special seminar titled “Post Budget (2018-19) Overview and Analysis” organized by Sustainable development Policy Institute (SDPI), here on Monday.

Speaking on the occasion Ilyas Ahmed Bilour, Ex-Senator, ANP and Former President FPCCI said that making amnesty scheme as part of the finance bill was wrong decision of the incumbent government. He said there should be minimum 20 percent tax rate for non-filers and tax evaders, as 5 percent tax return is very low and should not be passed.  No one has taken their white money out of Pakistan but the black money and they must be charged with high tax percentage. He added. He further said that this budget is going to increase the prices in the market and will hurt poor the most.

Later, Dr. Pervaiz Tahir, Former Chief Economist Pakistan said that the big challenge for the next governments is to sustain and build upon the growth rate of 5.78 percent amid huge fiscal and current account deficits.  “In my assessment this time Pakistan may not go to IMF to meet its development expenditures, as the government hoped to collect maximum revenues from the amnesty schemes”, he said. To roll back the populism factor from the budget would be very difficult for the next government, he added.

While criticizing the Federal Board Revenue performance, Dr Pervaiz said that the institution is beyond repair where it collects less revenue than its own expenditures. “What’s the point in having such loss-making organization”, he lamented. He said FBR is not the federal but national agency and its targets should increase the number of tax filers not revenues.

Speaking earlier Dr. Abid Qayuim Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI while covering the expenditure side of the budget said the incumbent government has presented a deficit budget with increased expenses as compared to last year. He said after spending on three non-discretionary expenditures mainly debt, defence and day to day government’s expenditures, the government may be left with least revenues and more development expenditures, which would further widen the fiscal deficit. The government may left with no choice but to go for IMF program if it failed to manage resources to finance the development expenditures till June this year, he added. Dr Abid said our GDP growth rate was not correctly captured and we need to rebase our GDP growth, where Uber, Careem, Zameen.com, Daraz.pk and other dozen of services were not captured in GDP formula.

Joint Executive Director, Dr Vaqar Ahmed while commenting on the revenue side of the budget 2018-19 said it is a good sign that Pakistan’s economy has seen growth on the back of CPEC. The past two quarters have also seen an uptick in exports. He said distortions in the tax regime can be addressed through budget 2018-19. There is a need for reducing number of withholding taxes which in essence act as regressive indirect taxes and the corporate tax regime need to be simplified. This would require removing distortions created by alternate corporate tax, minimum turnover tax, super tax and advance tax, he added.

“The distortions created by customs duty laws can be corrected by merging all duties including para tariffs, additional customs duties and regulatory duties”, said Dr Vaqar adding that the effective indirect taxes faced by agriculture are still higher in comparison to peer economies. He said the fiscal policy should be formulated in a manner so that Pakistan grow without accumulating more debt, economic growth translates into exports competitiveness and growth is led by investment and not consumption expenditures.

-ENDs-

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