Global warming and the promise of nuclear fusion – 26 Dec 2022

Fusion energy could be a carbon-free source of power, but would take decades of work before commercial benefits

As discussed in the article in this space last week, the developed world is prepared to put a large amount of money at the disposal of the developing world to help fight the consequences of global warming. Most of the damage poor nations are now confronting was caused by centuries of fossil fuel burning by today’s developed world. Global warming has caused faster melting of mountain ice which is causing floods in countries downstream. Warmer air also carries more water which brings heavy rains. Pakistan saw both consequences of global warming in the summer 2022 which caused loss of some $30 to $40 billion to the economy. This is equivalent to about a tenth of the current GDP. While the past cannot be fixed, the future can be handled. One way of doing this is to use fusion to generate power. There is good news from the scientific community in the US about the possibility of going on this route.

As some commentators wrote for an American newspaper, “Fusion energy is the ultimate clean-energy dream. It’s what powers the sun. Researchers have been trying for decades to mimic that process. But creating what amounts to a mini star that can be hooked up to the electrical grid has been an expensive, grindingly slow, often frustrating process, with electricity from fusion always seemingly at least couple of decades ago.” That notwithstanding the news that a laboratory had brought the Sun to the Earth was exciting enough for politicians to take note of it. Senator Charles Schumer of New York, a Democrat, declared the scientists’ and engineers’ work propitious enough to make a statement full of excitement. “This astonishing scientific advance puts us on the precipice of a future no longer reliant on fossil fuels but instead powered by new clean fusion energy,” said the senator.

What excited the majority leader in the US Senate was the news that came on December 5, 2022 from the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California that used lasers to fire a synchronised shot at a golden cylinder about the size of a jelly bean. The bean had hydrogen which was bombarded with exquisite precision on a capsule containing the frozen grain of the gas.

What made this an exciting news was that for a fraction of a second, the temperature in the hydrogen capsule exceeded that in the core of the sun, bringing about a merger of hydrogen atoms into atoms of helium. This is the process that keeps the sun incredibly hot with inexhaustible supply of heat. The amount of heat that was used was less than what was generated. This was the first time this deed had been achieved in a controlled experiment. There was a net gain when 2.05 megajoules of energy fired by a team of lasers produced 3.15 megajoules. However, it required a facility the size of a sports stadium to operate one of the most powerful laser arrays in the world.

This could become a carbon-free source of power, but it would take decades of work before the commercial benefits are fully realized. Lasers for the moment are very inefficient. Those used in the California laboratory required about 300 megajoules — enough to power an average home for three days. For the technology to become commercially viable, the reaction involving the fusion of hydrogen atoms would have to be repeated at rapid sequence and targets will need to be manufactured at low cost in large numbers.

As Sabine Hossenfelder, a physicist, put it in a newspaper article, “The decision to ramp up investment into fusion in the wake of the breakthrough is ultimately a question of how much we value the lives of future generations. Wind and solar energy often require large installations that take up huge swathes of land (with exception of offshore wind). Moreover, solar and wind work better in some parts of the world than in others. Much of Europe is farther north than the United States and gets less sunlight during the winter. Most of Europeans don’t live on islands that can be surround with wind farms.” Various parts of Britain are close to the sea and massive investments are being made by several cities that are on the coast to develop wind farms. Nuclear power — eventually sourced from fusion operations at the moment at the experimental stage — is a way to generate huge amount of power from a small space. If space is scarce as is the case in many countries — in particular in the crowded parts of Africa and Asia — nuclear is the way to go. This breakthrough may bring about a revolutionary change in the way energy is produced in the developed world but it won’t matter much for poor nations such as Pakistan.

With billions of dollars of additional development funds on their way to the developing world through institutions such as the IMF and the development banks such as the World Bank Group, Pakistan should set up a mechanism to determine how this money can be put to use to deal with the consequences of global warming. Here the country has a precedence it can use to solve a problem of water availability when the flows in the rivers that had sources in the ice-covered mountains declines. This will happen when the ice cover in the mountains loses thickness. The precedence is the Indus Water Replacement Works that were based on the Indus Water Treat signed in Karachi in 1960 by President Ayub Khan of Pakistan and the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The anticipated change in the amount of water into the Indus River system — first a lot and then little as the ice melts — would need to be dealt with by constructing massive storage dams in the rivers on the Indus as well as on its tributaries that came to Pakistan’s share as a result of the 1960 Water Treaty. In a study done by the World Bank’s engineering department some years ago, 12 sites on the Indus and its system of rivers were suggested that could create large water storage facilities that would provide water in the rivers when the flows begin to decline. This scheme was termed the ‘Indus Cascade’ and would need billions of dollars to construct. The under-construction Dasu dam is one such operation.

Some such work has been done in Pakistan under what is called the ‘Water Vision 2025’ which will be undertaken by WAPDA in three phases. Pakistan should set up a working group that would give operational meaning to the ‘cascade’ idea. This was done in the case of the Indus Water Replacement Works and could be done again. While fusion may eventually provide countries such as the US with carbon-free energy, Pakistan has different needs. These too would need large amounts of financial resources as was the case with the Indus works in the 1960s and 1970. Large amounts of new money may become available once the promise made by the rich nations at Sharm el-Sheikh is fulfilled. Pakistan should prepare itself to use this capital resource.

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Pakistan’s TTP blunder – 26 Dec 2022

The number of attacks in K-P has gone up significantly since the Taliban returned to power in Kabul

The suicide attack in Islamabad’s residential area on December 23 was a grim reminder that terrorism is raising its ugly head again. It was not a surprise for those who follow the resurgence of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) since the Afghan Taliban returned to power in neighbouring Afghanistan. The number of attacks in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has gone up significantly since the Taliban returned to power in Kabul. The erstwhile tribal areas have been witnessing TTP sponsored attacks on a daily basis. Reports of such attacks have not made it to the mainstream media because they are preoccupied with political developments or they are under the illusion that the urban centres are safe.

However, the attack in Islamabad should have been the wakeup call for all those who were taking the TTP threat lightly. The question everyone wants to know is: how is the dreaded terror outfit, which was successfully driven out and eliminated, staging a comeback? It is a legitimate question since many in power circles celebrated the return of the Afghan Taliban hoping that this would end Pakistan’s security woes. The optimism stems from the fact that an Afghan Taliban government would be Pakistan-friendly and a change of government would end space for hostile elements, including RAW, in Afghanistan to exploit the situation.

Pakistan was confident that the Afghan Taliban would take care of their security concerns. It was because of this reason that Pakistan accepted the Afghan Taliban offer of seeking talks with the TTP and its affiliates. The process led to a ceasefire and raised hopes for a possible peace deal. As part of the confidence building measures, Pakistani authorities allowed a number of TTP members to return to their homes on the pretext of reunification with their families. The understanding was that those fighters would come back unarmed. The evidence, however, suggests that they returned with arms.

The matter was dealt with by the security establishment and civilian and local authorities had no knowledge if those militants were returning in big numbers as part of a deal. That resulted in some clashes between the police and returning militants in K-P. As TTP members started returning from Afghanistan in big numbers, the number of attacks began to rise in K-P districts. This was the first sign that the idea of allowing these people had started backfiring. The presence of militants in K-P, particularly in the Swat region, compelled locals to take to the streets as they feared the return of terror. Authorities tried to downplay the development and K-P ministers said militants returned to see their families. This was a public admission that militants did not sneak into Pakistan but were facilitated.

Those developments alarmed critics and locals who knew that the TTP, like in the past, would use the pretext of peace talks to regroup. But those sitting at the helm dismissed those fears and took the TTP threat lightly. Looking at the situation now it is clear that the strategy to hold talks with the TTP has failed. Those who advocated a peace deal with the dreaded group made a major miscalculation. The cost of that blunder will be huge. In fact the country has started paying the price for that folly. The situation has deteriorated to the extent that a full-scale military operation is now on the cards to reverse the gains of TTP.

Consultations are under way to revisit the strategy towards the TTP after the change of command in Pakistan Army. A major decision, including an operation against the militants in K-P, is expected in the next couple of weeks. While a major policy review may be underway, will those who miscalculated or took the TTP threat lightly after Afghan Taliban takeover be held accountable?

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‘Minorities’ and their rights – 26 Dec 2022

The writer holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham, UK. He tweets @NaazirMahmood and can be reached at:

Talking about minority rights is essentially an attempt to change the world for future generations; how societies treat their minorities often reflects their ideals for the future. We can mimic developed countries in talk, but we can’t do the same in practice unless we improve the lot of the marginalized.

Every year International Minorities Rights Day is observed on Dec 18 to uphold the right to freedom and equal opportunities for minorities across the world. In 1992, the United Nations declared this day and adopted the statement on individuals’ rights – for ethnic, linguistic, national, or religious minorities. The day tries to promote dignity and respect for minority groups and highlights the challenges and issues the minority communities of diverse origins have been facing.

When Prof Sagar Samejo and Chandar Keswani called from Karachi inviting me to speak at the festival-and-seminar they were organizing, I was a bit reluctant due to my other commitments, but they would accept no apologies. The Forum for Rights of Marginalized Communities (FRMC) has been trying to highlight the issues minority communities have been facing in Pakistan. This year the topic of the seminar was ‘Rights of marginalized communities – issues and challenges’. Sagar Samejo and Senator Gianchand were the coordinator and organizer of this timely seminar whereas Khushhal Premee moderated it. Sagar himself is a son of the Thar desert where life can be both adorable and pitiful. Like most other children in that area, Sagar received his primary education from his village’s open-air school. Through sheer hard work, he went on to acquire an MSc in chemistry from Sindh University.

This background helps us understand how some people overcome all obstacles to achieve academic excellence, and then do not confine themselves to personal gains. Sagar has been an activist from his college days and thanks to his love for democracy and progressive politics he could join the ranks of those who challenged Gen Ziaul Haq’s military dictatorship. He ended up in jail and endured hard imprisonment from 1978 to 1982. His active participation in the Movement for Restoration of Democracy in the 1980s is exemplary. His literary quests also groomed him as a fine Sindhi poet and short-story writer.

Through the efforts of Gianchand and Sagar Samejo – with full support from Culture and Education Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah and senior PPP leader Nisar Khuhro – the festival and seminar became a huge success. Gianchand himself is an engineer from Umarkot and was only the second Dalit to become senator of Pakistan on a PPP ticket in 2015. Credit must go to the PPPas it sent the first Hindu woman Ratna Bhagwandas Chawla to the Senate of Pakistan in 2006, and then the first Dalit woman Krishna Kohli in 2018.

Though minority issues get some highlights here and there, the most marginalized seldom get any attention. Many of their leaders – not all – puff up their chests and strut around in the corridors of powers while not doing much for their communities. Only some of them are able to develop a measure of personal trust with their own people while becoming well-heeled and developing an intimate knowledge of politics. It is not only religious minorities alone that face such situations; cultural, ethnic, and linguistic minorities also face nearly the same or similar challenges.

To be able to eliminate all forms of discrimination against minorities is an uphill task, as full equality and freedom for minorities calls for creating awareness about the respect for minorities that is hard to come by. A policy of non-discrimination at all levels that the state must enforce and every tier of government must implement is perhaps the only way forward. The theme by the UN for 2022 was ‘All in 4 Minority Rights’. Though some people take exception to the use of the word ‘minorities’ for cultural or religious communities, this is an accepted term by the UN.

Though there is no universal definition of minority, a community that lacks influence economically, politically and socially, and whose population is negligible is usually called a minority. This definition leaves much to desire as a minority at the national level may not be a minority at the provincial level. If we define less than five per cent population as negligible at the national level, all non-Muslim groups combined having less than four per cent share in Pakistan’s population we can subsume under the definition of minorities. But at the provincial level it may be different.

In Sindh nearly five million people are non-Muslims, making them almost 10 per cent of the province’s population – so in any way they are neither negligible nor a minority unless you further divide them into diverse religions or religious groups. This is where another problem creeps in about the definition of Hindus whose major population centres are Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas divisions where nearly half of them reside. Many Dalit community members identify themselves as a distinct group of scheduled castes which they claim is different from Hindus.

At the seminar, Chief Guest Sherry Rehman took strong exception to the words ‘minority’ and ‘scheduled castes’. Though this remains a debatable issue, the word ‘minority’ is acceptable to the UN and ‘scheduled castes’ are also constitutionally recognized even in India. In Pakistan, the Dalit community is the most marginalized not only by the majority but by upper caste Hindus too. Increasing incidents of kidnapping and forced conversions of their girls has become a major issue for them. Various civil society organizations such as the Dalit Sujag Tehreek have raised their voice against such incidents and demanded protection for the community. Balmiki, Bhagri, Bheel, Gowari, Jogi, Kolhi, Meghwar, and Oad are among the most oppressed people in this region.

So far both the federal and provincial governments have been unable to take appropriate measures to check the injustices that take place against and within the community. This is an issue of grave economic and social backwardness and just by declaring equality in the constitution and other legal documents, it will not get resolved. The Sindh government especially must do much more than just nominating advisors, assistants, legislators, and ministers; improving their conditions of living and working should be a priority. Despite the passage of the Hindu Marriage Act-2016, Dalit families are still facing harassment and feeling insecure.

There are a number of Scheduled Caste Organizations such as the All Sindh Kolhi Association, Bhagri Welfare Association, Bheel Intellectual Forum, Oad Samaji Tanzeem, Pakistan Meghwar Council, and Sindh Kolhi Ittihad. Unfortunately, many of these organizations are at loggerheads with each other and some within. For example, the Sindh Kolhi Ittihad is divided into the Nemdas group and the Ranshal group.

Though Scheduled Caste Hindus claim to form the majority of the Hindu population, their representation in the political sphere is minimal. For example, the Pakistan Hindu Council has thousands of members but only dozens of them are from the scheduled castes. They demand that in the census they should be registered as scheduled caste Hindus rather than just Hindus.

The same applies to the National Commission of Minorities in which Dalit names were not proposed. It is worth recalling that in 1956, Pakistan government had declared up to 32 castes and tribes as scheduled castes in the country. Now they are victims of double discrimination from within and outside of their religion. A majority of Dalit population works as farm help or does menial jobs while also enduring discrimination, exploitation, harassment, humiliation, and even violence on various pretexts.

The festival and seminar succeeded in highlighting these issues but unfortunately the mainstream media in Pakistan does not pay much attention to such events and issues.

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Why are the young leaving? – 26 Dec 2022

In a recent public opinion survey to gauge whether Pakistanis wish to stay in Pakistan or leave the country, the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) asked survey respondents about their choice to live in Pakistan or leave if given an opportunity and the reason behind making the choice.

The survey results show that 37 per cent of Pakistan’s population wishes to leave the country and settle abroad. The desire to leave Pakistan is much higher in male youth between the ages of 15 and 24 years as 62 per cent respondents in this category wished to leave the country. The desire to escape Pakistan was also higher in cities where 40 per cent of the population preferred to leave Pakistan while only 36 per cent respondents from the rural areas chose to leave Pakistan if the opportunity presented itself.

The PIDE survey also claims that the desire to live outside of Pakistan is highest in Balochistan where 42 per cent wish to leave Pakistan and lowest in Punjab where 35 per cent wish to leave the country.

Perhaps not surprising that when asked for the key reason behind wishing to move and live overseas, a majority of the respondents identified economic reasons or the possibility of attaining better living standards as their key motivation. However, a sizeable portion or 44 per cent of those who chose the option to move abroad said that gaining more respect was the key driving force behind their wish. What is more surprising is that in Sindh and Balochistan the desire for more respect outweighed the urge for better income as the main reason behind wishing to leave the country.

The breakdown further shows that in Sindh more respondents chose the reason to move out of Pakistan for more or better security. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, gender equality and biological basis for identity were major reasons behind the wish to move out of Pakistan.

A somewhat similar survey by Gallup Pakistan in June last year concluded that 26 per cent Pakistanis wished to move abroad as opposed to 70 per cent Pakistanis who felt connected to the country and preferred to live and work in Pakistan. The worrying trend of more and more young Pakistanis wishing to leave Pakistan was also captured by the Gallup Pakistan which had pointed out that young Pakistanis under the age of 30 years had a higher desire to leave Pakistan as opposed to the older population.

The desire to migrate for greener pastures, better education and better opportunities is certainly not new nor is it peculiar to Pakistan. That a large population of young Pakistanis is increasingly preferring to leave Pakistan ought to be of concern. Another alarming aspect is that it is not the need to improve one’s economic future alone that is traditionally behind migration. Respect, security, gender equality and ethnic or biological identity offered as reasons by Pakistanis to emigrate speak volumes on the failings of the country with regard to its people.

Migration is a hard choice to make for humans though it has a centuries-old history. Modern migration is not just the suffering of one society through brain drain and enrichment of another through skill. There is vast literature on the social, cultural and development impact of migration on individuals, households and societies. The boost available to Pakistan’s economy through remittances from migrant labour is also well-acknowledged.

The effects of migration on human emotions have also shaped magnificent literature and art through societies. Bruno Catalano’s Les Voyageurs or ‘The Travellers’ statues unveiled in 2013 in Marseilles have become a haunting symbol of economic migration and the loss of home and belonging to an individual. The bronze statues show hollowed men with huge portions of body parts missing carrying a briefcase that is both weighing them down and also their only means of support – serving as poignant reminders of the individual cost of migration.

To unpack the desire of more young Pakistanis wishing to migrate from Pakistan, the youth’s growing alienation with Pakistan and its present and future must also be analyzed. Young people’s desire to leave the country also raises serious questions on the malfunction of our society, as of our leaders and governments, on national, social, civic and cultural integration of our diverse youth across Pakistan. It is this continuing failure which is at the heart of the youth’s disaffection.

In its 2018 Human Development Report, the UNDP had shared some staggering statistics on the availability of basic facilities to the youth of Pakistan to live, grow and prosper –painting a rather bleak picture. According to the UNDP report, based on consulting more than 130,000 people across Pakistan of which 90 per cent were youth including from marginalized and underprivileged young communities, if the youth of Pakistan were viewed as 100 people, only seven had access to sports facility while a whopping 93 did not have access to any sports facility. Only six had access to a library and 94 had no library access; only one had a car, 12 had motorcycles, 10 had bicycles and 77 had none of these transportation facilities. There is little evidence to suggest at the end of 2022 that any considerable investment was made to alter these statistics for Pakistan’s youth.

In the latest PILDAT Voice of Youth Survey conducted from November 22 to December 2, young people wish to see decisive focus and action by Pakistan’s political parties on managing rising inflation, unemployment and corruption through the 2023 General Election. Their key concerns, following the identification of the above top three issues are: a solution to the issue of lack of availability of quality education and the rising cost of fuel within the country. Disenchanted with political uncertainty and chaos in the country, a whopping majority of 70 per cent of the youth respondents also favoured holding of early general election than the scheduled time towards the end of 2023.

A lot is written and researched on what Pakistan needs to do to take advantage of the demographic dividend, but it is not possible through youth-focused human development. There is also no dearth of information on what young Pakistanis really need from the state. What is needed is policy intent and required bandwidth to address the challenges faced by the youth.

The writer is an analyst working in the field of politics, democratic governance, legislative development and rule of law.

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The TTP threat – 26 Dec 2022

THE TTP`s return to the capital last week should not come as a surprise. The warning signs have been growing in intensity since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Through political statements, protests and popular movements such as the PTM, the people of KP have been ringing alarm bells, demanding action, and rejecting the group`s potential resurgence. The fact that these calls have gone largely unheeded indicates Pakistan urgently needs to revisit its centreperiphery dynamic.

The centre-periphery model is used to conceptualise networks, hierarchies and power dynamics in fields ranging from economics to philosophy to politics. Centres are where power, money, industry and dynamic possibility are concentrated; in an economic context, goods and capital accumulate in centres before trickling down to peripheries. But across most disciplines, understandings of centres and peripheries are routinely critiqued and re-evaluated.

There is a growing recognition that the centre-periphery model is often flawed, underestimating the contributions, vitality and necessity of so-called peripheries. Most obviously, in a postcolonial context, it is now widely accepted that the peripheries (ie the colonies) were the key centres of wealth generation, the wings that held aloft the centres of imperial power.

Why is this relevant when it comes to the T TP? Because once again, the group is back in news headlines and subject to strong condemnation because its activities have affected the centre. The suicide attack in Islamabad on Friday was terrifying, but not unexpected.

The so-called peripheries have been increasingly subject to the TTP`s brutality for almost two years. The number of civilian and law-enforcement casualties at the hands of the TTP have more than doubled since the Afghan Taliban came to power in August 2021. KP has been the worst hit: the T TP and its affiliates have carried out 148 attacks against the province`s police since the start of this year.

The peripheries have been appealing to the centre to take action. The calls for a counterterrorist response have come in various guises: in the form of PTM`s demands for dignity, justice and the right to be differentiated from militants that truly threaten Pakistan; in the form of Mohsin Dawar`s warnings that negotiations with the TTP were futile, and would only embolden the group; and in the form of mass anti-militancy protests in Swat.

That these fears, opinions, experiences and demands were largely disregarded in both political and security contexts is largely due to the fact that those opposing the TTP in recent years particularly from the erstwhile tribal areas are perceived to be tan-gential, rather than an intrinsic part of the national whole. As long as problems such as death threats, extortionate demands, and murderous attacks by the TTP were restricted to the peripheries, there was little motivation to act decisively, let alone preemptively, among political and military power centres.

And so here we are, back to the future.

Earlier this month, the TTP claimed that it now occupies a `vast portion` of the former tribal areas. Unconfirmed reports are also circulating of some Baloch separatist leaders joining hands with the TTP, highlighting again how neglect of the so-called peripheries can lead to unmanageable challenges.

These developments are a throwback to the mid-2000s, when domestic militant groups were able to consolidate, leading Pakistan into its arguably darkest decade.

It does not have to be this way. Pakistan has previously demonstrated the potential to reframe its centre-periphery model. The 18th Constitutional Amendment provided a roadmap for empowering all provinces,undermining policies that might conceptualise any part of the country as peripheral. And going by media reports, the security establishmentthis summer did not concede to the TTP`s demand to reverse the Fata merger, indicating little appetite to treat certain parts of Pakistan, and certain Pakistani citizens, as expendable.

But there is a long way to go. In the counterterrorism context, lessons should be learned by ensuring that the revitalised Nacta and future efforts by provincial CT departments are well coordinated, with information access and strategic decisionmaking flowing across all parts of the country. More importantly, a top-down, centralised approach should be made subservient to the learnings and preferences of areas most affected by the TTP.

Beyond the security realm, a dramatic reframing of Pakistan`s centre and it s peripheries is required, with a greater effort made by key stakeholders to value all parts of the country, and all its citizens, as central. This approach would tackle the structural drivers such as unequal access to education, justice, employment, opportunity that fuel militancy in the first place, and reiterate that all Pakistanis are deserving of security and prosperity.• The writer is a political and integrity risk analyst.

Twitter: @humayusuf

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Gilgit police register FIR in woman murder case – 26 Dec 2022

GILGIT: Gilgit police on Sunday registered a case against an unknown person for allegedly killing a woman during a robbery attempt in Gilgit.

Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid Khan has sought a report from police about the incident. Gilgit Jutial police station on Sunday registered a first information report (FIR) against the unknown persons involved.

According to police, the victim (50) was a resident of Noor Colony, Jutial Gilgit. The FIR stated that a masked man with a gun entered the victim`s house where she lived with her two sons and two daughters.

The man entered from the inner gate and tried to rob the family members; upon their resistance, he shot the woman. She was rushed to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) but she lost her life.

Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Gilgit region Farman Ali told Dawn that it is rare that such an incident occurred in Gilgit. `The incident created panic among local residents,` he added.

Mr Ali said that a committee was formed to investigate the case, adding that he will be arrested soon.

Mutaib Shah, a civil society activist from the area told Dawn that this incident has raised the eyebrows of locals. It is the first incident of its kind and locals feel insecure now.

He urged police to arrest the culprits urgently and give them exemplary punishment under anti-terrorism laws.

The GB chief minister has given strict orders to police to use all resources to arrest the person involved in this incident and give him severe punishment, besides adopting a strict policy to protect the life and property of citizens and improve security arrangements with the support of the community.

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Shot fired by man at his nephew kills woman – 26 Dec 2022

SUKKUR: A shot fired by a man at his nephew during a brawl at their home hit a woman, who died on the spot, in Aalim Jatoi village of Lakhi Ghulam Shah taluka in Shikarpur district, police said on Sunday.

They said Ali Murad had a heated argument with his nephew over some domestic matter. It turned so serious that Murad took out a gun and fired at him. However, a woman member of the family who was trying to pacify Murad suddenly moved between them and the bullet hit her. Murad fled the area to escape arrest.

Road accident: A motorcycle rider was killed when the two-wheeler was hit by a speeding car along the Garhi Yasin section of Indus Highway in Shikarpur district.

The deceased was later identified as Ramzan Jaffri.

The car driver was arrested and the four-wheeler was impounded, the police said.

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Wrong answer – 25 Dec 2022

There are a variety of motives for the industrial policy measures Biden has pushed through. The climate ones in the Inflation Reduction Act and the infrastructure bill are both obvious and important. There is also the belief that these measures will hasten economic growth. There is a good case for this. Much research shows that infrastructure spending increases productivity and growth. There are certainly visible bottlenecks that can constrain the economy, which became clear with the supply chain problems during the pandemic.

There is also a national security issue. This can be overplayed. We don’t really need to worry about being cut off from supplies of key inputs from Canada, and probably not from Western Europe, in the event of a military conflict. On the other hand, being heavily dependent on semiconductors from Taiwan, in a context where a conflict with China is unfortunately a possibility, is a problem. For this reason, some reorientation towards domestic production make sense.

However, one of the main motivations for these measures is to reduce income inequality by increasing domestic manufacturing. This is not likely to be the outcome.

Manufacturing and Inequality: One of the great tragedies of the last four decades was the war on manufacturing, pursued by politicians of both parties, that centered on a policy of selective free trade. While we continued to protect doctors and other highly paid professionals from foreign (and domestic) competition, our trade policy was quite explicitly designed to put our manufacturing workers in direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world.

This competition had the predicted and actual effect of costing us millions of manufacturing jobs, and putting downward pressure on the wages in the jobs that remained. Since manufacturing had historically been a source of relatively high-paying jobs for workers without college degrees, our trade policy had the effect of increasing wage inequality.

It also decimated many towns and cities across the country that had been heavily dependent on manufacturing. There is no shortage of places, especially in the industrial Midwest, where the major employer closed up shop and left a community without a viable economy.

It is easy to identify villains in this story, NAFTA, the high dollar policy pursued by Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, admitting China to the WTO, all contributed in a big way to the loss of manufacturing jobs. They also placed downward pressure on wages in the jobs that remained, but that doesn’t mean that getting manufacturing jobs back will be a step towards reducing inequality.

The problem is that the wage premium in manufacturing has largely disappeared due in large part to U.S. trade policy. The graph below shows the average hourly earnings for production and non-supervisory workers in manufacturing and the private sector as a whole.

As can be seen, the average hourly wage in manufacturing used to be higher than the average wage in the private sector as a whole. In 1980, it was 4.1 per cent higher. They crossed in 2006 and have continued to diverge in the years since. The average hourly wage for production and non-supervisory workers in manufacturing is now 8.9 per cent less than the average for the private sector as a whole.

This is not a comprehensive measure of the wage premium since we would have to also consider benefits, which have historically been higher in manufacturing and also specific worker characteristics, like age, education, and location, but this sort of change in relative wages almost certainly implies a large reduction in the manufacturing wage premium.

A big part of the reduction in the manufacturing wage premium is the decline of unionization in manufacturing. In 1980, close to 20 per cent of the manufacturing workforce was unionized. This had fallen to just 7.7 per cent by 2021, only slightly higher than the private sector average of 6.1 per cent.

Furthermore, while the Biden administration has been very supportive of unions, there is little reason to believe that the return of manufacturing jobs will mean a substantial increase in unionized manufacturing jobs. From the recession trough in 2010 to 2021, the manufacturing sector added back over 800,000 jobs. However, the number of union members in manufacturing actually dropped by 400,000 over this period.

While there will undoubtedly be some good-paying manufacturing jobs associated with the reshoring efforts in these bills, there is no reason to think they will have a major impact on income inequality. The impact of trade on manufacturing over the last four decades is not reversible. Losing millions of jobs in the sector was terrible from the standpoint of income inequality, but getting some of these jobs back will not be of much help.

Intellectual Property: Where the Real Money Is: Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of these bills is the fact that there is literally no discussion of who will own intellectual property being created through government spending in these areas. For some reason, there is virtually zero interest in policy circles in discussing the impact of intellectual property on inequality, even though it has almost certainly been a huge factor. Just as Republicans don’t like to talk about climate change, Democratic policy types don’t like to talk about intellectual property. They are much more comfortable just making assertions like “inequality is due to technology,” rather than discussing how some people have been situated to get most of the gains from technology.

The idea that intellectual property derived from government-supported research can lead to inequality should not sound far-fetched. The Trump administration, through Operation Warp Speed, paid Moderna over $400 million to cover the cost of developing a Covid vaccine and its initial Phase 1 and 2 trials. It then paid over $450 million to pay for the larger Phase 3 trials, in effect fully covering Moderna’s cost for developing a vaccine and bringing it through the FDA’s approval process.

It was necessary for Moderna to do years of research so that it was in a position to quickly develop an mRNA vaccine, but even here the government played a very important role. Much of the funding for the discovery and development of mRNA technology came from the National Institutes of Health. Without its spending on the development of this technology, it is almost inconceivable that any private company would have been in a position to develop an mRNA vaccine against the coronavirus.

Excerpted: ‘Industrial Policy is Not a Remedy for Income Inequality’.


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Jurisprudential void – 25 Dec 2022

JUDGES in Pakistan`s constitutional courts are not referred to as `textualists` or `purposivists` or `living constitutionalists` or even `common-good constitutionalists`.

These characterisations are immaterial.

The judges, in our context, are primarily either `relief-giving` or not; they either grant `stays` or don`t. In our legal circles, as a result, we have not even developed a vocabularyaroundthejurisprudentialbent of judges, since that is not a metric we employ to gauge a judge.

In this, there are similarities in how narratives remain stagnant in the context of politics. The conversations, for the most part, circle around whether a particular politician is corrupt, or less corrupt or marginally corrupt. We have yet to evolve to a stage where the conversation moves beyond the personal integrity of the electoral candidate to the policy framework or approaches togovernance thatthe candidate proposes.

Not that the question of personal integrity is insignificant, but it seems to be a luxury, not yet afforded to us, to be able to meaningfully have a discussion with respect to the overarching vision of conducting a government that the prospective elected officials ought to be required to present.

So too for the judges. The evaluation of a judge, at the time of elevation or otherwise, is primarily on the basis of whether the judge has a decent disposal rate of cases, does not completely misread the law, is reasonably honest, and likeable enough, with enduring relations with both bench and bar.

What remains missing in this discourse is the approach the judge adopts towards the law, the jurisprudential philosophy to which the judge is committed, and whether that judge remains largely faithful to that commitment.

Commitment to a particularised jurisprudential philosophy is, foremost, a potential safeguard against ad hocism: it accords some semblance of predictability. After all, a jurisprudential commitment to, say, textualism is there for all to see. At least with respect to a particular judge, then, a litigant and their lawyer can reasonably assess the likelihood of success of certain arguments as opposed to others. In other words, the range of possible outcomes is narrowed down.

Second, it provides for a benchmark against which the judgements of a judge can reliably be assessed. For instance, if a selfproclaimed textualist strays from textualism, for reasons not easily discernible, then that judge exposes himself/herself to criticism for not abiding by his/her own commitment. The tendency, if there`s any, to reach particular results in particular cases, for reasons unknown, remains in check.

Similarly, advertent and inadvertent prefer-ences that the judges sometimes have towards particular lawyers or litigants, are also amenable to exposure.

Third, and importantly, there can be additional enriching conversations around which framework should be adopted and is most favourable in our legal context. For instance, US supreme court justice Scalia rigorously mounted an intellectual challenge to living constitutionalism and the idea of balancing tests, for the sole reason that they allowed too much discretion to a judge. His proselytizing commitment to textualism was justified on the basis that it acted as a restraint for judges to sneak in their worldviews and policy preferences in deciding disputes, displacing the will of the people enacted in the text with their own will, thus undermining the principles of democracy.

The embodied text presumably reflects the will of the people; a judge`s personal preferences do not. Purposivism, therefore, where the justices lool(for means to advancethe purpose of the enacted text, going beyond the text, borrowing from the legislative history or speeches made by the legislators, at times, manufacturing a purpose, is something the Scalia brand of jurists frown upon.

In our context,where the superior judiciary`s involvement is repeatedly sought in all sorts of matters, a free-standing jurisdiction is sometimes exercised where there is often no text as a guide to begin with, let alone any invocation of principles of how to interpret it. Further, if most of the lawmaking is to happen through ordinances, then again, the entire rationale of paying heightened deference to the enacted text is done away with.

But this is not to say that a judge cannot change their positions over the course of their career as more opportunities become available to evaluate and assess the practical ramifications of one`s jurisprudential priors. At the same time, however, there has to be an identifiable coherence in how a judge approaches a particular set of legal issues. And this legal coherence or intelle ctual integrity, if you will in turn, allows lawyers and litigants to have at hand some predictability of what the outcome will be if a particular set of facts and law are put into what is currently a judicial black box. • The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad.

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Elderly woman burnt to death in house fire – 25 Dec 2022

TOBA TEK SINGH: An elderly woman was burnt alive at Jhang when a fire broke out at her house on Friday night.

According to the Rescue 1122, Sabila Bibi (66), the wife of Muhammad Ali, was asleep alone at her house near Rasheed Chowk in Millat Colony when the fire broke out due to unknown reason.

The firefighters extinguished the fire and found her body completely burnt. Police shifted the body to the Jhang District Headquarters Hospital for autopsy.

In a fire incident in the Samundri area of Faisalabad, a running bus was burnt near Football Stadium after a fire broke out in it reportedly due to electric short circuit. All passengers jumped out of the bus and no one was hurt in the incident. The bus was going to Multan from Faisalabad.

Meanwhile, two cousins fainted as a result of smoke which accumulated in a room of their Ghaziabad locality house in Faisalabad.

They had set wood on fire to keep themselves warm. They were identified as Abdul Rauf (18) and Muhammad Waqas (22). Both of them were admitted to the Allied Hospital.

ENCOUNTER: An alleged robber was shot at and injured in an encounter with police in Faisalabad`s Gulberg Police Station area.

Police said they stopped at a picket three suspects riding two motorcycles but they opened fire on the policemen who retaliated the fire. As a result of the firing, one of the suspects was wounded; however, his accomplices managed to escape.

The injured outlaw, identified as Muhammad Sabir, was shifted to the Allied Hospital. Police claimed that Sabir was wanted by police in dozens of cases of robbery while he had shot a constable of Jhang police in an encounter some days back. The suspect had injured a citizen also over resistance. Correspondent

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