Volume 22 Issue 11, November 2018
By Zafar Mahmood

Ineffective and lackluster governance of the water economy is the root cause of our problem. We start with examination of the water scarcity issue in comparison with average productivity of water. A cubic meter of water in Pakistan produces 0.13 kg of agricultural produce. In comparison, the same quantity of water produces 0.39 kg in India. In China the produce is 0.28 kg and in the US, it is 1.56 kg. Other countries like Canada produce even more. The reason for better produce is use of modern irrigation techniques. 90% of water in Pakistan is used in agriculture. We can easily save 50% of this quantity. But our farmers are not inclined to leave the age-old flood irrigation practice.

By Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Kalabagh, meaning ‘black garden,’ is a small town located 20 miles away from Mianwali, a border district between Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Before the creation of Pakistan, the town was known as the ‘Black Garden,’ because it had many banana orchards which, from a distance, looked like black clouds hovering over the area.

Click this photo to view
the 'Genesis Awards' video.


Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Javed Ansari

Faizan Usmani
Syeda Areeba Rasheed

S. G. Jilanee

Aadil Nakhoda
Abdul Basit
Aisha Khan
Aneela Shahzad
Atif Shamim Syed
Dr M. Asif
Dr Murad Ali
Dr. Imran Khalid
Dr. Mansoor Akbar Kundi
Ifrah Shoukat
Imran Jan
Javed Qazi
Khalid Hussain Mir
Muhammad Atif Ilyas
Muhammad Fraz Ismail
Muhammad Muneeb Qadir
Muheeb Ahad
S. G. Jilanee
S. M. Hali
Sarwar Bari
Syed Jawaid Iqbal
Syed Kamran Hashmi
Taimoor Akhtar
Taj M Khattak
Uzair Sattar
Wajahat Ali Malik
Zafar Mahmood

Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Haroon Rasheed
Riaz Masih

Business Unit Head
Syed Ovais Akhtar

Shiraz Khanji

Aqam-ud-Din Khan

SouthAsia is published every month by Syed Jawaid Iqbal for and on behalf of JAWZ Communications (Pvt.) Ltd.

Views expressed by the contributors are not necessarily shared by the editors.

Published since 1977 as Thirdworld, the magazine was re-launched in 1997 as SouthAsia.



By Sarwar Bari

Water is life. Ignorance is death. Especially in the age of automation, ignorance is a killer. The higher the ignorance, the greater the likelihood of casualty. We waste water callously, at home and in public, as we believe water will continue to pour. While we still practice flood irrigation, the world has moved on to drip and sprinkler irrigation. Should we continue with this wasteful practice, ten more mega dams will not be enough to fulfil our needs.

Aasia Bibi, a Christian citizen of Pakistan has been acquitted of the charges of blasphemy after a nearly decade-long court battle. This is a welcome move in many ways. First, the Supreme Court verdict will go a long way in clearing the perception in the international community about the vulnerable state of religious minorities in Pakistan. In terms of the Blasphemy Law, in particular, the world has been sceptical about the correct imposition of the very law that seems to target mostly those who are in a minority and have poor economic backgrounds. This means they have limited means and evidence at their disposal to defend and prove themselves innocent against any blasphemy charges that are brought against them. These charges, if proven true, can translate into a death sentence.

The complainants in Aasia Bibi’s case had quarrelled with her and could be reasonably suspected of having dragged her to the court out of malice. The fact that a formal police complaint was lodged at least five days after the incident created further suspicions that evidence could have been fabricated. If that were not enough, some glaring disparities emerged in the depositions of different witnesses about the specifics of what happened when, where, and in whose presence? Pakistan's criminal justice system puts the burden of proof on the prosecution. The slightest deficiency anywhere along the process translates into a benefit for the defendant. But, for eight years, this did not happen in Aasia Bibi's case.
As is clear from the Supreme Court judgement, the case ought not to have travelled beyond the trial court stage in Sheikhupura district back in 2010. But it did, because it was no ordinary case. And because it was no ordinary case, the ruling is likely to go down in the annals of Pakistan’s law as a historic judgement. Observers of Pakistan's legal scene also point out that the blasphemy charges against Aasia Bibi were not unique.

Though Pakistan’s blasphemy law is referred to as a sword hanging over the heads of the minority population, the release of Aasia Bibi is a welcome development. Other than improving the tarnished image of the country, the verdict also proves the neutrality of its court system that defies the looming pressure exerted by the overwhelming majority only to protect the most vulnerable and goes the extra mile to maintain the writ of the state. The acquittal of a Christian woman, a mother of four, who had been on the death row since 2010 owing to blasphemy accusations, has many other aspects as well. In fact, it was not a matter related to the majority versus minority equation. It was a dual between the right and the wrong and, luckily, justice prevailed in the end, freeing Aasia from grave injustice and saving her from the noose of death.

Setting aside an earlier court judgment can be just another routine matter for the court, but the frequency of such judgment reversals calls into question the way the country’s justice system works. The interpretation and effective imposition of the law cannot be left to the discretion of a few judges who defend their decisions in the public but think twice about their own decisions when they are challenged by the convict. The on-going trend when previous judgments are annulled by a court on the basis of insufficient reasoning is quite alarming and needs urgent review. No doubt, there is always room for difference of opinion and honourable judges cannot be made an exception. However, the point to consider is how such differences can be ironed out in the judiciary.

What the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar said later, sums up the whole situation. He said nobody can tolerate blasphemy of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and "we are ready to sacrifice our lives for him. But, how can we punish someone when there is no ground to build a case against them."

Besides acknowledging the Supreme Court’s brave decision, it is also important to recognise the positive role of the government that acted sensibly after the verdict came. Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his firm resolve in the matter. Despite having much less experience in handling such situations, his government resorted to preventive measures as soon as the verdict was announced in order to maintain peace and communal harmony. Despite all odds, the government has clearly reaffirmed its policy to keep the country moving forward on the path of national development.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal
Editor in Chief


Publication Par Excellence

I am a regular reader of SouthAsia, subscribing to the magazine for more than five-years. This is the first time I am writing to you to appreciate your overall efforts and particularly to acknowledge the notable change in the magazine’s layout and placement of more cover story articles. In the past, the cover story used to have a limited number of articles, but for the last few months it has more elaborate and comprehensive pieces, comprising more write-ups and intriguing opinion pieces that discuss the subject from different directions. I think you must keep it up and include more pieces in your main stories for a detailed review of the matter under discussion. SouthAsia has emerged as a quality journal, imparting valuable information and intriguing views on a range of national, regional and international issues. For this, your editorial staff deserves appreciation.

Dr. Syed Mubeen Murtaza
Karachi, Pakistan.

Breakthrough by Pakistani Scientist

According to a recent news report, a Pakistani scientist Muhammad Waqas Usman Hingoro has made a major breakthrough in the field of cancer biology. During his research study, Hingoro discovered the unanimous cancer-killing mechanism that can effectively be used to cure a wide-range of cancers. Working along with a team of international cancer biologists at the City University of Hong Kong, the Karachi-based scientist unleashed the ability of a specific component of red blood cells to carry drug delivery nanoparticles to the affected parts of the human body. This is a major achievement and must be highlighted by the media to portray a positive image of the country. This will also help the international community know about the role and contribution of overseas Pakistanis in the world of science and knowledge.

Salma Iqbal,
Peshawar, Pakistan.



Role of DFIs

This is with reference to last month’s cover story on the World Bank and its contribution to social sector development and financing in Pakistan. Honestly speaking, there is no denying the role of the development finance institutions (DFIs) in the socio-economic progress of the country. However, it has become quite a normal trend to categorically rule out the significance of DFIs and interpret their overall contributions to the country in a negative and derogatory manner. Interestingly, those who don’t know anything about economics and finance tend to make every effort to speak against the IMF, the World Bank, etc. but only for point scoring at the cost of misleading public opinion. One should not forget the fact that the World Bank and the rest of the DFIs have been providing capacity-building and technical assistance grants to Pakistan since its creation. Therefore, it is necessary to acknowledge the DFIs’ long-term role in serving and strengthening the various sectors of the country, instead of criticising them just for the sake of it.

Riaz Ahmed,
Gujranwala, Pakistan.

Murder in the Consulate

The alleged mysterious murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is shocking news. To make things more mysterious, Saudi Arabia took more than two weeks to admit Khashoggi’s killing but this delay turned the whole story into a thriller. The incident looked more like a planned assassination and pointed to the duplicitous diplomatic and political manoeuvres that the most affluent countries brazenly use to serve their insidious agenda. However, the killing of a veteran journa-list will have long term consequences. It also raises many questions about the way some people are dealt with. In this context, Saudi government needs to introspect its political approach and must clear its position regarding the developments concerning Jamal Kashoggi.

Nafees Alam,
Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Afghanistan Stalemate

Afghanistan is mostly projected in the world media for its never-ending war. However, there is another downside of the war-torn country that merits the world’s attention. Many parts of Afghanistan have been in a grip of drought for more than two years, while the number of internally displaced persons has increased by 1.2 million owing to the perpetual war between the government and the Taliban. Truly a humanitarian crisis, the drought is adding more misery to the poverty-stricken people of this unfortunate country that has virtually been downgraded to a well-trodden battlefield where big powers play war games. It has become obvious that no side has any interest in bringing in peace and stability to the region. The misfortunes continue while the present and the future of the country is at stake.

Abdul Ghani,
Kandahar, Afghanistan.

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