Published Date: Dec 12, 2012
SDPI PRESS RELEASE NO.2 (SDC DAY 2)
Speaking at 2nd day of SDPI’s Annual Sustainable Development Conference (SDC), the State Minister for National Food Security and Research, Moazzam Khan Jatoi has said that government is in the final stages to launch National Food Security Council to address the issue of food insecurity in the country.
The three-day conference titled “Sustainable Development in South Asia: Shaping the Future” is looking at future of sustainable development in South Asia. Delegates from South Asian countries as well as from 15 other countries around the world are participating in the conference.
The Minister said that government is pursuing National Zero Hunger Program to address hunger and malnourishment in Pakistan. However he differed to the food insecurity figures of the country and said that these are estimated a bit high. He also informed that social safety net programs in the country such as BISP have been institutionalized through legislation to ensure their sustainability.
Dr. Abid Suleri, Executive Director SDPI said that effective research and evidence based studies help in finding out the effectiveness of government policies. Dr. Abid also explained that food security is not ensured by increased food production which is commonly considered as benchmark for food security, and added that the universal access to affordable food and its consumption must be the priority agenda for states in the region.
At another session on food security at the conference, the panelists discussed “integrated food security phase classification (IPC),” a special situational analysis tool, developed by WFP, that is being used to measure food security in Pakistan. The panelists at the session included Kaija Korpi from FAO, Italy; Erminio Sacco from Bangkok; Maria-Bernardita from Philippines; Saheb Haq from WFP Pakistan; and Dr. Abid Suleri, ED, SDPI. The session concluded with consensus that IPC has the potential to be a highly useful tool for determining the level of food insecurity in Pakistan. While there were some shortcomings identified in IPC framework, these can be addressed in collaboration with Global Support Unit, which is working diligently to address those issues.
Deliberating on session ‘Climate change triggers migration’ eminent social activist, Feryal Gohar said that absence of women voices in mainstream government policies, create barriers in reaching out to government in times of environmental crisis. Shafqat Kakakhel, member Board of Governors, SDPI, commented on the vulnerability of women in times of humanitarian crisis and said that much hope hinges on the upcoming CoP19, which will be held in Warsaw next year. Lena Lindberg, Country Director, UN Women said that migration undermines economic growth, threatens social stability, and widens gender and poverty gaps. She said that women are forced to work on farms when their men migrate for better economic opportunities, as a consequence of an environmental disaster. Dr. Giovanna Gioli from Germany added that plight of women in migrant households is worsened by factors including social discrimination, lack of education and land rights. Stephen Commins talked on the role of institutions in providing justice to affectees of environmental crisis. Zahida Rehman deliberated on how women can use innovative and indigenous strategies to cope with natural disasters, especially in the absence of government.
During the session on ‘Future of Global Governance and Development” the panelists shared how increased accountability, inclusiveness and representativeness at all levels is important for the global governance to work. Johannes Blankenbach from USA said that unilateral policies are not effective in the new world order and there is need to go beyond transnational boundaries to tackle global challenges of development. Dr Hans Frey said that soon, the concept of national boundaries might dilute due to technological advancements while giving rise to global citizenship. Nadeem Ahmad said that global systems such as UN are loosing credibility in South, and called for removing imbalances in UN system and also to reform global economic and financial structures to make them more adaptable to the needs of developing world. Stephen Commins from University of California said that globally MDGs could not deliver as they were based on international power imbalances, and argued that global governance should offer accountability mechanisms. Dr. Sunil Dasgupta from University of Maryland commented that move from G-8 to a greater G-20 is an indicative of increased representation of South in the decision making at the global level. Mome Saleem and Shakeel Ramay from SDPI said that way forward for South Asia is to rise above the existing intraregional conflicts and have a common voice at the global level particularly on the need to make the global system more inclusive.
Speaking at session “Civil-Military Imbalance and its Policy Implications,” Former DG ISPR Major General (Retd) Athar Abbas said that internal weakness of the state invites aggression and provides opening to external interferences. He further said that military rule is always counter-productive in long run, adding that continuity of democratic process and practices are essential to develop institutions and society. Bishnu Upreti from Nepal stated that instead of following western paradigm on civil military relations, the region must construct a local framework on the basis of common understandings and close interaction with all stakeholders to achieve stability, peace and democracy. Talking of Indian context for military operations, Dr. Sunil Dasgupta said that execution of military operations in India is determined by factors including, civil government; public support for using force and military preparedness. Concluding the session, Dr. Saeed Shafqat stated that South Asia is a politically fragile and conflict prone region where civil military relations are highly contextual and process oriented. “Western frameworks are unable to define civil military relations in the region. “these frameworks are not ideal for South Asian Countries, which are suffering from conflict and political instability,” he added.
Speaking on the session “Third Wave of Democracy in South Asia”, Dr. Talat Mehmood from Social Science Research Centre, Germany said that ‘The third wave of democracy has strengthened the democracies around the world, however, the quality of democracy is another question, he added. He also cited Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI), which states that with the ranking of 110th out of 128, Pakistan is among the least democratic states in the world. Professor Jon Breman from Netherlands said that equality is the societal frame for democracy. Criticising west, he added that although the west has adopted process of equality but unfortunately at the stake of de-democratizing other regions of the world. Abdul Wali, of PIDE Islamabad deliberated that Pakistan is an extremely un-democratic country, where dysfunctional and inept democracy prevails due to imbalances in power structure. Discussing the power struggles, the speaker also pointed out the factors that destabilize the situation for their interest threatening the national security. Team Leader Awaz and eminent social activist, Haris Khalique said that politicized social movement and redistribution of resources are essential for participatory, equitable and inclusive development in the region. He said that states now needs to redefine their selves as without equality, the concept of democracy is deficient and in-exclusive. Shams Ul Mulk, Former Chief Minister of KPK said that local government system introduced in year 2001 was the first time when real democratic set-up was made at the gross root level, where people had their say in democratic process. Nihal Rodrigo, Former Secretary General, SAARC, Sri Lanka added to the discussion that China’s development owes to its willingness to learn from small countries and that’s what is needed by South Asia region to learn from others.
The session on “conflicting female and feminist identities” was chaired by Dr. Saba Gul Khattak, former member of planning commission. Speaking at the occasion, Shama Dosa from Canada said that 9/11 was one such manifestation which re-fuelled the constant debate between the orient and the occident and the subject and the other. She said that feminists around the world need a paradigm shift of being self-critical and conscious of the choices they make, if they are to bring a change in society. Dr. Nathalène Reynolds, Visiting Fellow, SDPI talked on conflicting identities and also debated the issue of secularism in west. She said that surprisingly in year 2009, 57% of Swiss voters approved the initiative proposed by the populist right to make the construction of minarets illegal. Nida Karmani said that Muslim women’s networks around the world are signs of dynamism and are challenging the dominant construction of the ‘Muslim woman’ as oppressed and passive.