Govt leaves legacy of incompetence, corruption

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) said on day Sunday the democratic government has left a legacy of massive corruption and incompetence pushing country and masses into total gloom.

Those who take politics as a lucrative business secured their future through plunder while leaving 180 million people insecure, said Farida Rashid, President IWCCI.

Speaking to business community, she said that last five years would be remembered as a black chapter in the history of Pakistan.

The government made new records of incompetence, corruption, nepotism, lawlessness, bulldozing laws and clash of the institutions, she added.

Farida Rashid said that most of the economic, fiscal, foreign and internal policies of the government met with failure while Pakistan faced international disgrace on various occasions.

Government continued to plunder national resources during five years but made a history of loot during its last few days, she observed.

She said that almost all the policies were made to please nobility which took toll on Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs), rupee lost value, record loans were borrowed while collections and forex reserved dwindled.

Government failed to provide enabling environment, improve law and order as well as the circular debt contributing to flight of capital, shifting of industrial units and brain drain.

Incoherent policies left millions jobless while 10 million youth stepped in the job market with no opportunities available. Even the largest urban employment providing sector of textile failed to create a single job, she informed.

Farida said that oil and gas exploration was systematically discouraged to justify import of costly fuel for which the CNG sector was also destroyed.

Government took around Rs 2.7 trillion loans from international lenders out of which 2.3 trillion were used to finance politically run Public Sector Enterprises but none could come out of losses to become profitable entity.

Unprecedented corruption estimated at Rs 1800 billion, shook the foundations of the country and put its very survival.

Masses must learn a lesson as Pakistan cannot afford another round of such democracy, observed Farida Rashid.

Through the lens; Iraqi women, power and resistance

By Hammad Mahmood:

A debate organized on International Womens day highlighted the miseries of Iraqi womens facing day-to-day life after war. During Saddams dictatorship no Political party has a right to form, No womens organization to form work for womens rights, Highlighted womens issues or protest for their rights, Ban on Trade unions to form to protect workers rights and there is o freedom of speech under his regime.

Kurdish people treated as second-class citizens in their own Country and 1991-genocide Kurdish community lost thousands innocent loved ones.

People have no life under Saddams dictatorship and womens faced allot threat in the society and cant move freely. This is the situation in Saddams dictatorship and US Told Saddam was a threat to the world and according to Tony Blair’s autobiography” Highest number of child deaths in the world was in Iraq under Saddam Hussain.”

Thats the health conditions of Iraqi people under dictatorship.

After the intervention of US and allied forces world think that a big change could came to Iraqi community. Iraq is at number 2 in corruption in the world and news are coming they are transferring money to abroad.

Iraqi parliament has a 25% presentation of womens but not a positive work is highlighting for womens rights. Iraqi women activist told the audience that few womens are protesting for their rights kidnapped by a group tortured the womens and given them threat if u protested next time for womens rights u would be gang rapped and if u still continued u would be murdered.

No representation for womens rights in the parliament. Speaker told that no politician cant speak against child marriage its un-Islami, is this not a child abuse to bind child at the age of ten Years in wedding.

Islam is official religion of Iraq but in country representation many religions. Womens are openly writing and criticising against religion, fighting for secular constitution.

First International womens day celebrated in 2004 attended by 1000 people still womens in Iraq facing the problems trafficking, prostitution, kidnapped.

On media presentation of womens in war, No shame presenting war pictures. Life under Saddams regime and life under US and allied forces are same.

Us divide Iraq Shia and Sunni conflicts and in Iraqi society sectarian violence increasing. Oil looted, Museums looted under, typical orientation about Middle East is presenting in media, Main question what representation required in media.

24 hours of broadcast during Ashura but no coverage for womens rights in media educated womens cant do jobs because of heavy bombardments.

Call for national debate on risks associated with pipeline project

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) on Friday called for a national debate on risks associated with the Iran pipeline project.

We doubt will and ability of the government to ensure import of natural gas from Iran through a controversial pipeline, said Farida Rashid, President IWCCI.

Government claims to relieve country of energy crisis by importing natural gas from Iran, the quickest and cheapest way to fulfil our energy needs, remained confined to statements over the years, she said.

Speaking to women entrepreneurs, she said that in December 2012, President Zardari unexpectedly cancelled a trip to Iran due to US opposition to the project but now government has been issuing statements of rejecting US pressure days before dissolution of assemblies.

She said that all the statements of politicians claiming to reject US pressure on pipeline from gas surplus Iran are aimed at gaining popularity as country remained ill prepared to face US confrontation.

What took government to become aware of the political and economic risks posed by chronic power and gas shortages after five years of rule, asked Farida Rashid.

Why government did not initiate the project soon after coming to power which would have disallowed energy issue to undermine the countrys stability, helped revive economy and saved millions of jobs, she questioned.

Farida Rashid said that US would never allow Iran to increase its presence and influence and boost foreign exchange reserves at a time when west has imposed tighter sanctions on Tehran even if it means crumbling Pakistans economy, a long-time American ally.

Government should clarify how it would deal with tough US sanctions when country is heading towards a default due to mismanagement and corruption, she said.

We are facing a highly unstable balance of payment situation, forex reserves are at unsatisfactory level and government is unable to pay for imports for over sixty days which necessitates entering into a stand-by agreement with IMF, she added.

President of the IWCCI called upon a national debate on pros and cons of the project at a time Pakistan needs an IMF loan of 9-10 billion dollar loan from the IMF which will be impossible without US nod, she said.

Farida Rashid said that we will never have reliable energy supply from Iran unless US stop looking at the project from a political angle and start considering it imperative for survival of Pakistan.

Investment in women will open the doors to prosperity

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: President Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) Farida Rashid has said that development in South Asia is tied to peace and development of women which are confronting many cultural, legal and social barriers.

Barriers are impeding growth of women and keeping them to play their due role in the development of country by full participation in the economic activities, she said.

She said this while speaking at a 2-day conference of presidents of women chambers and female entrepreneurs from Saarc region organised by CIPE (Centre for International Private Enterprise) in collaboration with Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Dhaka.

Farida Rashid said that indicators for health, welfare, education, and income for women of this region are among the lowest in the world despite attention of donors and governments which must be analysed in detail.

She said that building the capacity of women is something which is not getting due attention of authorities as well as private sector which is a great impediment in improving business climate for ladies.

The president IWCCI said that situation in Pakistan is far from satisfactory but better from some Saarc counties while the recent unanimously approval of the much-awaited Trade Organisation Act by Pakistan is a great move in the right direction.

Stressing the importance of coalition of women business associations in the region, Farida Rashid said that entrepreneurship development needs sharing ideas, best practices, and experience with groups having little exposure.

Farida Rashid said that CIPE has imparted training to around 100 business chambers and associations to improve their capacity which is a great service to the country and region.

During the conference, the participants shared ideas like business and strategic plans, exchanged ideas for future collaboration in terms of visioning, training and trade promotion activities.

Microcredit summit campaign report launched

Islamabad, Special Report by Mr. Ghulam Haider: About 13 million fewer of the worlds poorest families received access to microcredit and other financial services in 2011, says Microcredit Summit Campaign report captioned Vulnerability: The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report 2011.

However, contrary to the global trends, microcredit sector has witnessed a robust growth in Pakistan, which has been ranked by the Economic Intelligent Unit among top countries for offering conducive environment for microfinance sector growth. As a sector developer, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) is in the driving seat to control the trajectory and disbursed over Rs. 14 billion during the year under review resulting in an increase of Rs. 2,545 million in the outstanding loan portfolio and contributing almost 76 per cent of the total increase witnessed by the microfinance sector in Pakistan.

PPAF is the strategic and exclusive partner of Microcredit Summit Campaign for reporting and in terms of realizing its aims and objectives. Since its inception, PPAF has disbursed more than $850 million through 5.2 million microcredit loans. Currently, almost half of Pakistans microfinance market share is financed by PPAF through over 50 microfinance banks, microfinance institutions and other civil society organizations in 92 districts across the country.

It is for the first time since 1998, when the Microcredit Summit Campaign began tracking this data, the total number of clients and number of the poorest families reached has declined. The total number of clients was reported to have fallen from 205 million to 195 million and the sub-set of families living in extreme poverty, defined as less than $1.25 a day, from 137 million to 124 million.

Most other parts of the world saw moderate or slowed growth, with the exception of 1.4 million new clients in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this reverse in 2011, microfinance institutions still provided microloans to more than 124 million households living in extreme poverty. Assuming an average of five persons per family, this means that more than 621 million people were affected; this is twice the entire population of the United States.

The report argues that getting the industry back on track will require a new understanding of clients needs, preferences and aspirations as well as designing new tools for delivering products and services at lower costs.

The report highlights an ongoing challenge how does the sector more effectively connect with those around the world who are financially excluded. The Microcredit Summit Campaigns continued examination of innovative ways to reach underserved communities, like the potential of digital technology combined with appropriately designed products and services will be critical in accelerating financial inclusion.

The Microcredit Summit Campaign is a project of RESULTS Educational Fund a US-based advocacy organization committed to creating the will to eliminate poverty. The Campaign brings together microfinance practitioners, advocates, researchers, investors, donors and stakeholders to promote best practices in the field, stimulate interchange of knowledge, work towards reaching 175 million of the worlds poorest with microfinance and help 100 million poorest families lift themselves out of severe poverty.

As the lead institution for grassroot development in the country, PPAF works through civil society partner organizations to focus on the disadvantaged and marginalized across Pakistan. Adopting an integrated, multi sectoral, community-led, demand driven strategy, PPAF approach is to develop inclusive, representative, transparent and accountable institutions of the poor. The catalytic role of women in program design, delivery and impact is at the core of all interventions.

Social inclusion, political mainstreaming and empowerment of women form the bedrock of change and transformation by PPAF. Aggregation of their voices, awareness and education are fundamental to state-citizen relationships. Legal rights in the constitution and Shariah laws especially as they relate to divorce, property rights/inheritance, custody of children, voter registration and acquisition of national identity card are essential features of the social mobilization effort.

Flexible rules for establishing women’s chamber demanded

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Tuesday said new rules framed to create chambers for women, small traders and cottage industry should be flexible enough to attract the business community.

Some clauses in the Trade Organisation Bill 2013 approved by the joint committee of National Assembly and Senate Standing Committees on Commerce recently will only benefit the business community if it is widely accepted, it said.

The current set of rules may prove unappealing for majority of businessmen leaving the whole exercise counterproductive, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

The legislation for setting up business chambers in every district of the country will only benefit millions of small traders and business women if conditions are relaxed, he said.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that condition of 150 members for a chamber and 100 members for womens chambers having a valid National Tax Number would be difficult to meet in some small districts.

He said that majority of businesswomen work from homes with no exposure, minimum opportunities and dependence on middlemen. They dont possess NTNs and there is less likelihood that many would get one to secure membership in a chamber.

Similarly, many in the trading community, which are already weary of FBRs highhandedness, will find option to join chambers of small traders on the cost of exposure to tax authorities unpleasant, he said.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that existing chambers are commerce are dominated by certain groups serving the interests of some medium and large enterprises with small traders having no voice.

It is an open secret that not a single chamber conducts an election but rely on selection procedure which is a cause of heartburn among many legitimate businessmen.

Free elections give more power to the voters to engage in the decision-making process, while the chambers prefer a system that is based on blatant self-interest.

Government should ensure that the new law is acceptable to small traders who have already expressed reservations over dominance of FPCCI-linked politicians in the concerned NA and Senate bodies otherwise shutter down will remain first option for small traders in case of any disagreement.

Govt serious about empowering women: Ghurki

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: Federal Minister for National Heritage and Integration Samina Khalid Ghurki on Tuesday said government is taking significant steps to empower women which is a prerequisite for national development.

Government had taken remarkable steps for empowering women in the country while paying special attention to businesswomen in urban and rural areas, she said.

Talking to a delegation of Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) led by its founder President Samina Fazil and sitting president Farida Rashid.

Samina Khalid Ghurki said that legislations focusing women shows our commitment to strengthen the women.

She said that expos are a good tool to empower women and government will fully support Islamabad Expo 2013 being organised by IWCCI.

Ghurki said unless women were economically strengthened, they would be treated as second grade citizens and would have no access to their rights.

The federal minister said that Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) was another unprecedented step of the government to protect and empower women economically.

Government wants an end to gender discrimination in the country and had a mission to mobilise the collective strength of women to turn this region into a safe land, she said.

Samina Khalid Ghurki said that government wants private sector participation to boost capacity of the women to ensure good future for our next generations.

Talking at the occasion Samina Fazil and Farida Rashid said that women are still much more likely than men to be poor and illiterate with little access to medical care, property ownership, credit, training and employment.

Lauding the initiatives of the government to empower women, they said a lot is to be done to invest in women development without which goal of national development is not achievable.

The roles that men and women play in society should not be socially determined, Samina said adding that women’s empowerment is vital to sustainable development and the realization of human rights for all.

Women delegation from OSJK terms AJK visit historic

Srinagar, MTT News Desk: In Occupied State of Jammu & Kashmir (OSJK), terming their visit to Azad Kashmir a historic and emotional moment, the 10-member delegation of women activists from occupied Kashmir returned from Muzaffarabad after attending a 3-day cross-LoC conference from November 5 to 7.

The delegation members on arriving in Srinagar told media that the visit would serve as a roadmap for future dialogues.

Returning home with a bagful of memories, the activists said they are proud of being the first batch of women delegates to cross LoC and hold discussions with women activists and civil society members of Muzaffarabad.

The 10-member delegation comprised Prof Nusrat Andrabi, Nighat Shafi Pandit, Prof T Joldan, Prof Qurat-ul-Ain, Prof Effat Yasmeen, Prof Ravinderjit Kour, Prof Rekha Chowdary, Prof Yasmin Ashai, Ellora Puri and Ayesha Saleem.

This was the first visit of women activists from Kashmir to Muzaffarabad since 1947. First such conference was organized in Srinagar in November 2007 and the last was held in Gulmarg in September 2011.

The main motive of the visit was to include women in the peace-building process.

Women form 50 per cent of the total population but ironically when it comes to peace building this 50 per cent is neglected. We are the ones who are worst hit by turmoil and deserve to have a say in the conflict discourse, said Nusrat Andrabi who was heading the delegation.

We have appealed both the governments to make the travel hassle free to the other side so that visit of people especially senior citizens, students and women groups engaged in holding of such conferences can be facilitated, she added.

Andrabi said things that came fore in the discussions mainly revolved around women empowerment in peace building and representation of women in political arena.

Women should get active representation in politics then only can our voices be heard. We want at least 33 per cent representation for females in political arena. This will help in addressing women issues in a better way.

It was resolved that a cross-LoC women team be constituted for working on women issues and the victims of conflict. It can work as a pressure group for addressing the women issues and in delivering justice to the half widows and widows.

Nighat Shafi Pandit said the women discourse needs to get proper recognition. We want that the voices of women should be heard at all levels. A Kashmiri woman has suffered on all fronts as a mother, a wife, a daughter or a sister.

People of the other side received us with high spirit. It was an emotional moment and all of us were in tears. We are looking forward that the conference bears positive results and plays an essential role in bridging the gap between people of the two sides.

She said the team visited University of Muzaffarabad and interacted with the students and the staff there.

Women’s involvement must for sustainable development: CDA

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: Member Planning and Design CDA Syed Mustafain Kazmi on Wednesday said that burden of this poverty on women must be reduced to ensure their empowerment which will trigger the national development.

Country can only progress if women are not neglected for which their empowerment is of paramount importance, he said.

He was speaking to women entrepreneurs representing Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) and Abbottabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI).

Founder President IWCCI Samina Fazil, President IWCCI Farida Rashid, President AWCCI Firdosia Fazal, Adviser IWCCI Malik Sohail and other officials and members of both chambers were also present on the occasion.

Mustafain Kazmi said that Chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz is very keen to promote women; particularly businesswomen for which has formed a high-powered committee which will propose steps to achieve goal of gender equality and women empowerment.

He said that CDA will give preferential treatment, concession and free services to women where possible as the present government is committed in creating an enabling environment for masses, business community and for women in particular.

Member Planning and Design CDA Syed Mustafain Kazmi said that meaningful and sustainable economic development must involve all citizens as economic growth can guarantee social harmony and prosperity.

He said adding that poverty alleviation strategies are the central part of the overall national development initiatives.

At the occasion, Samina Fazil said that the women are a catalyst for change if the objective of eradicating poverty is to be attained.

Farida Rashid said that policymakers should design development interventions in a way that could financially empower women to make a difference in their living conditions.

Malik Sohail, who is also Chairman Media FPCCI, said that in todays globalized world a level playing field for men and women is imperative.

We need to explore innovative ways to overcome the obstacles to empower women and ensure gender equality, said Kazmi.

CDA takes major women empowerment initiative

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: Chairman CDA Syed Tahir Shahbaz on Friday said we will do everything to achieve goals of gender equality and women empowerment.

We are here to support every businesswoman of the city, we can consider modification of rules to accommodate you, he said while talking to a delegation of female entrepreneurs led by Samina Fazil, founder president Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI).

Member Planning and Design CDA, Syed Mustafain Kazmi, Member Engineering, CDA Sanaullah Aman, other officials, President IWCCI Farida Rashid, Chairman Media FPCCI Malik Sohail and others were also present on the occasion.

Chairman CDA Syed Tahir Shahbaz said that businesswomen will be given preferential treatment, concession and even free services wherever possible.

He formed a special committee headed by Mustafain Kazmi and asked the delegation to furnish specific and applicable proposals aimed at collective good of women.

After receiving concrete proposals, the CDA Board will respond with positive input, he assured. He said that fundamental transformation is needed in the distribution of power, opportunity, and outcomes for women.

Business community should take more initiatives to empower women, Shahbaz added.

At the occasion Samina Fazil said that womens organizations need the space and resources to bring about the societal transformations that remove the constraints, fulfil the potential, and guarantee the rights of women.

Farida Rashid said that at a time when women are making a mark in every sphere of life, it is ironical that the role of women is still limited due to lack of social integration.

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