Volume 20 Issue 10 October 2016
By Shahid Javed Burki

The world has benefited enormously from the process of globalization. The Bretton Woods conferees created a new set of global institutions in 1946 like the World Bank. Today’s world also needs institutional engineering of the same scale.

By S.G. Jilanee

Though it is called “World Bank,” but actually, it is more like a philanthropic institution than a typical commercial bank, because, its motto is “working for a world free of poverty.” That is the goal it has been pursuing single-mindedly for 72 years since its founding in 1944. It gives loans to countries for 25-years plus a five-year grace period on soft terms.

Commercial banking is done by its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which gives loans against collateral and imposes conditions on the borrowing countries, requiring them “to correct their macroeconomic imbalances in the form of policy reform. If the conditions are not met, the funds are withheld.”
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Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Zeba Jawaid

Javed Ansari

Mahrukh Farooq – Faizan Usmani
Feature Writer: Khawaja Amer

S. G. Jilanee

Dr. Moonis Ahmar
Khawaja Amer
Bushra Batool
Shahid Javed Burki
Dr. Mohammad Anwar Butt
Huzaima Bukhari
Muhammad Ali Ehsan
Yasmin Elahi
Mahrukh Farooq
Dr. Ikramul Haq
S.G. Jilanee
Zehra Khawaja
Dr. Raza Khan
Dr. Syed Ali Madni
S. Mubashir Noor
Fatima Siraj
Faizan Usmani
Hussain H Zaidi

Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Haroon Rasheed

Aqam-ud-Din Khan

Waqas Jan
Syed Ovais Akhtar
Hira Sarwar

Shehryar Zulfiqar

Danish Shahid

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 Dr. Moonis Ahmar

When the Second World War was still underway, on July 1, 1944, a conference participated in by allied powers was held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to discuss the post-war financial and monetary system. It was at that conference that the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (later renamed as the World Bank) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were established as the two major global financial institutions to deal with monetary and financial issues which were expected to emerge after the end of the Second World War.

It looks like Saarc is dying a slow death considering that India has pulled out of the 19th Saarc Summit to be held in Islamabad in November, along with four other South Asian countries and Pakistan had no alternative but to postpone the summit. India started the domino effect by first announcing not to attend the moot. This was followed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. It is clear that these five countries are negating the very spirit of the Saarc Charter by their decision not to attend the 19th Summit and all because India has cast the shadow of its bilateral problems on the multilateral forum. Why India is behaving in this manner is because it has developed a certain stance on the Uri incident of September 18 and is blaming Pakistan for having been behind the attack. It is clear that the largest Saarc member is using the weapon of abstention to divert attention (unsuccessfully though) of the world from the atrocities that it is continuously perpetrating in Kashmir. However, in doing so, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is effectively contradicting his own call to fight poverty in the region and is closing the doors to so many other avenues of cooperation that Saarc has opened over the three decades since it has been in existence. On the whole, the performance record of Saarc has not been very satisfactory, as it is. Though a regional grouping of eight countries, it has failed to give South Asia the sort of unified image that was originally envisaged. Most importantly, while bilateralism was never a part of the Saarc objectives and disputes between any two member countries were never to be brought to the table, India’s behaviour is very much out of place and the fact that four other nations are following the decision is even worse.

The Saarc grouping comprises India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives. It represents 3% of the world's area, 21% of the world's population and over 9 percent of the global economy. It was established in 1985 as a regional cooperation platform that would help member countries solve their problems of poverty, unemployment, inflation and low rate of growth by cooperating among themselves. The model that it emulated was that of the ASEAN, EU, the Gulf Cooperation Council, SCO and many other regional forums. Self-reliance is a common quest for peace and development for all the countries that comprise Saarc. The grouping champions the spirit of mutual trust, understanding and a sympathetic appreciation of the political ethos that exists among the member countries. It promotes cooperation that should be based on respect of the principles of sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of member nations. It was in this spirit that the South Asian Free Trade Association (SAFTA) treaty was signed so that trade barriers could be removed between the Saarc countries. The treaty involved a phased elimination of tariffs and establishment of a mechanism for dispute settlement among members. In other important areas too, the primary focus of Saarc was to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity by realizing their full potential. In specific terms, these objectives covered agriculture, health and rural development, meteorology, telecommunication, postal services, transport, scientific and technological development, sports, art and culture, prevention of drug trafficking and abuse, women’s development and education.

It is true that some progress has been made in many areas but a lot more needs to be done. Saarc was created for promoting regional cooperation yet South Asia is one of the most illiterate and poorest regions of the world even now. Problems such as illiteracy, unemployment, poverty and low productivity continue to plague the region. Numerous summits, meetings and agreements have been conducted and concluded and yet there are no tangible improvements in South Asia. In fact, there is the view that Saarc has created more problems than it has solved. It now seems India has lost interest in Saarc and in achieving the aims and objectives for which it was created. Perhaps, the one single factor that pulls India back from going ahead with further developing Saarc and helping make a success of it is the fact that it cannot digest Pakistan’s reality as the region’s second biggest power. That is perhaps the reason why, much in contravention of the spirit of Saarc, it allows its bilateral disputes with Pakistan to adversely affect the grouping. Perhaps India is more interested in giving a forward heave to Sasec (South Asian Sub-regional Economic Cooperation), which consists of all the Saarc countries except Pakistan and Afghanistan. Emerging as a more successful sub-grouping in the past 15 years, it has implemented 33 projects worth more than US $6 billion. At the same time, Saarc has been allowed to become a tragic travesty of how Jawaharlal Nehru wanted South Asia to show Europe its place. Is there a future for Saarc?

Syed Jawaid Iqbal


Destitutes called Dalits

In India, Dalits are the most marginalised and deprived people who have been subject to all kinds of socio-economic injustice, caste-based discrimination and physical torture by the upper caste Hindus for centuries. Deprived of such basic facilities as education, health and sanitation, there are some 300 million Dalits who have been living a miserable life because they belong to the lowest rung of the Hindu caste system and are not allowed to worship, work or live with the people of higher castes. In the name of religion, exploitation of Dalits is common in India, while some people even go the extent of killing Dalits on petty issues and go unpunished. The pace of such atrocities against Dalit communities appears to be picking up in Modi’s tenure.

J. S. Rajesh Kumar,
Nagpur, India.

Olympic-sized Humiliation

Pakistan was given a wild card entry to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, as none of its players qualified for any event in the Games, including the men's field hockey. In its sports history, the country sent the smallest ever 18-member delegation to the Games, which included 9 officials. Their representation was merely a token one in only four games - judo, swimming, shooting and athletics. Pakistan could not win a single medal at the Olympics. It was in 1996 when Pakistan won a bronze medal in hockey and the country has not been able to win a single Olympic medal for the last 24 years. Despite showing such dismal performance, no action has been taken against the Pakistan Olympic Committee. This only shows that sports have hit the dead end in Pakistan.

Ahmed Ali Khan,
Gujranwala, Pakistan.


Term Extension

This is with reference to the cover story on the extension of COAS’s term. No doubt, Gen. Raheel Sharif has been doing a commendable job and under his leadership Pakistan has achieved a number of strategic goals and objectives, particularly in terms of the ongoing war on terror. However, I think an extension in his term is not a wise approach. The leadership of any national institution is always subject to change, but it is its internal strength, lasting vision and consistency that should be kept alive. Since the Pakistan Army is one of the most stable institutions in the country, a change in its leadership will not affect its functionality. Let the new army chief follow the good work done by Gen. Raheel Sharif.

Ahmed Mursaleen Siddiqui,
Karachi, Pakistan.

Sloppy Restoration

Recently, a senior official of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Nepal expressed concerns over inappropriate rebuilding and refurbishment of historic sites which were damaged in last year’s earthquake. Located in the Kathmandu Valley, such partly-damaged historic sites include Majudega and Kasthamandap of the Hanumandhoka Durbar Square Monument zone, as well as Rani Pokhari, a 17th-century heritage site, which is now being rebuilt using cement in place of such materials that are normally used in the rebuilding of historic structures. The rebuilding process is being performed in a slapdash manner without paying attention to standard procedures that must be followed in the restoration. Since Rani Pokhari and the rest of the destroyed sites in the country have historical, cultural and religious significance, the government must carry out the restoration programme with proper care and attention.

Amal Pasupati,
Kathmandu, Nepal.

Save the Sundarbans

Being built on an area of some 1800 acres at Rampal Upazila in Khulna city, the Rampal power plant is Bangladesh's largest power plant. The 1320 megawatt coal-based plant is an initiative of the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (BIFPC), a joint venture between the Bangladesh Power Development Board and the National Thermal Power Corporation of India. According to standard criteria, a coal-based thermal power plant must be located at least 25 kilometres away from ecologically sensitive sites. Therefore, various environment protection agencies have shown their concerns about the Rampal power plant, which is located 14 kilometres from the Sundarbans, a UNESCO world heritage site that is also the largest mangrove forest in the world. The power plant needs to be relocated, as it is in complete violation of the Ramsar Convention, an international environmental treaty for the conservation of wetlands.

Parveen A. Saqib,
Dhaka, Bangladesh.
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