Articles of the year 2006

The Glitz and the Reality
Published on August 01st 2006

he latest Review of the Gwadar Port by Abdul Majeed Chief National Transport Research center Islamabad The News July 31, makes for very disturbed reading, and does highlight a perception that I had pointed out almost a year ago, which shows quite clearly that the vested interests have indeed teamed up with a section of the bureaucracy, and they have set up about sending vast sums of money on projects high on glitz, and of no use to the country.Gwadar Port. Of no possible use in the near or distant future: Karachi, and an already underutilized PQA can take upto another 50 years before they come to their capacity, and can always be expanded.The only immediate use for Gwadar will be if the Baluch declare UDI, in which case they will have a fully functioning Port at their disposal, giving them complete autonomy.

In short some magnificent White elephants are being constructed at a horrific cost to the nation, that our future generations will be paying for. The new Islamabad Airport which is being planned will be empty for the next fifty years, even though a billion Dollars will be spent upon it. What traffic are the planners counting on.? Karachi Airport, at 400 Million Dollars is underutilized, with only twenty international airlines operating from Karachi, with only xx daily flights. !

Lahore Airport another 400 Million Dollars, a dream of the Sharif brothers could have worked if the India Pakistan border was to completely dismantled which is not likely for another 58 years! The Hawkeye surveillance system at 1.2 Billion dollars, which will give us an increase of 300 miles of Radar warning, when the actual launch may be from only 28 miles at Amritsar, so 1.2 billion dollars will definitely not give much in the way of bolstering our defence, and may be put to much better use, as in the case of bolstering the Navy for defending our shipping lanes, which have no cover whatsoever.

The 1.2 billion spent on buying brand new 777 aircraft to fly non-stop to the US. An order placed after 9/11, should be treated as a completely insane act, for PIA does not have the traffic to launch non-stop flights, and these are only planned by airlines well after the routes have been saturated. Note: Emirates has only recently started their non-stop flights to New York, and Emirates taps into daily flights from Dacca, Colombo,Calcutta, Bombay,Madras,Delhi,Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi, Tehran. What are the planners in the PIA head office thinking of, and who have they succeeded in fooling to layout 1.2 Billion Dollars for such a stupid acquisition.I wonder how many top class universities could be established in Pakistan at only a fraction of the cost of a 777, but the danger would be in churning out top class Graduates without an employment in the near future.The KBD at 15 billion, and the other like Bhasha and xx at 2 billion a piece make interesting and rich pickings for the designers, consultants, world bank actuaries, who stand to make a large fortune on the signing of these projects.The statistics offered by the Government to show the economic development have already been rubbished by their own Treasury benches, and the stark reality of the failure of the Privatization of KESC, which is making many Karachiites wishing that it was renationalized, for the performance of the Arab/Siemens Duo is certainly making one wish for the good old days. If within a matter of months KESC has sunk to such low levels of performance, we should have some forms of performance clauses of such utilities built in. Karachi is facing Power riots, unheard of in fifty years.

KPT is another profligate spender who has completed a fountain to compete with Geneva and Jeddah, only the KPT fountain is now not working, and God only knows when it will start. In the meantime the Underpass at Schon circle stands flooded with 5 feet of water, which has made the traffic problems far greater than they were before. No doubt the Chairman will plead act of God as he did in the Tasmanian Oil spill!All the above do show that the vested interests have gone beyond their sensibilities, and produced some very glitzy presentations to push their projects through, without the scrutiny that a democracy would have required. The President has been conned by the presenters, in their rush to give him spectacular feats of engineering, but all to no avail. We will be down fifty Billion Dollars with white elephants--- that don't work which our future generations will have to pay for.Of all the above, except for Karachi and Lahore Airports, Mr President its all happening on your watch. So the sooner you put a stop to it the better, for the Glitzers may have fooled you but they can't fool the people.