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Oppressed Voices

Oppressed Voices

Ghazanfar Abbass is a senior journalist who has worked with Rohi TV and BBC Urdu Service. He has a long experience of working with local communities and takes a deeper interests in their issues. He will moderate this blog that would give Voice to the oppressed. We call them oppressed because they do not get as much coverage in the mainstream media as they deserve. Here we will discuss the economic impoverishment, political instability and the agendas that promote a sence of deprivation among Saraikis, Baloch, Pashtuns, Hazaras, Sindhis and the people of Gilgit and Baltistan. Each area has its own context but the over-riding arch seems to be about identity--they feel that they are not treated equally and are not given the respect and the right to decide their own affairs. We will try to find more common thread in their diverse range of deep-rooted deprivation. We shall devote this space here to have a dialogue on their long-time aspirations. You may disagree with many things published here please share your argument.  

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Voice of the oppressed

Voice of the oppressed

Ghazanfar Abbass is a senior journalist who has worked with Rohi TV and BBC Urdu Service. He has a long experience of working with local communities and takes a deeper interests in their issues. He will moderate this blog that would give Voice to the oppressed. We call them oppressed because they do not get as much coverage in the mainstream media as they deserve. Here we will discuss the economic impoverishment, political instability and the agendas that promote a sence of deprivation among Saraikis, Baloch, Pashtuns, Hazaras, Sindhis and the people of Gilgit and Baltistan. Each area has its own context but the over-riding arch seems to be about identity--they feel that they are not treated equally and are not given the respect and the right to decide their own affairs. We will try to find more common thread in their diverse range of deep-rooted deprivation. We shall devote this space here to have a dialogue on their long-time aspirations. You may disagree with many things published here please share your argument.  

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SheeshNag-Secrets of the creepy Capital

Tera kya ho ga Malik?

This biggest question doing the rounds in Islamabad: Is this the beginning of the end for Malik Riaz of Bahria Town? This is largely because of the PML (N) government coming to power in Islamabad and Lahore—not to mention the opposition dominated by Imran Khan’s PTI—no friend of Malik Riaz. So far, the Malik mafia continues to survive. Malik’s favourite, Islamabad Police IG Bani Amin continues to survive despite repeated strictures by the Supreme Court. The Caretaker government changed all Police IGs in the provinces but could not implement this decision in Islamabad. Now, the government, when asked by the Islamabad High Court, has cleverly employed a bureaucrat who is known to be his friends to inquire his role in the escape of General Pervaiz Musharraf from the Supreme Court premises. We already know that the responsibility will be pinned on some lowly officials. However, more important question is: how will the new PML (N) government behave viz-a-viz Malik Riaz. Two opposing theories prevail on this issue. According to one theory Malik Riaz is having sleepless nights as he does not have the same leverage in the new government. He could not have his choice of MNAs elected even from Islamabad. He fears that soon the administration is Islamabad will change and with this all the inquiries against him will re-open. He failed to have his nemesis, Chaudhary Nisar, lose from his constituency. It’s a death knell for him if the Supreme Court gives decision against him in one of the many cases against him. There will not be any Bani Amin to risk his life and career for him. So far, he takes in pride in the fact that he has never spent a night in jail despite the cases of murder, extortion, land-grabbing, forgery and fraud. Things might change now. But then, many say, the PML (N) government is as compromised as the last one. Shahbaz Sharif and his son, Salman, are known to have good relations with him. The theory goes that he has spent billions of rupees on getting his friends elected. We don’t know how many of them are on his pay-roll and which one of them will take over the crucial committees that supervise his interests. We have our figures crossed and are watching. Wait for a bomb shell soon…….

V e n o m In c . T h i s s h o u l d n o t b e h e l d against me in a court of law as I solemnly declare that these are absolute lies, dirty whispers and wild speculation that I have heard while crawling in the dark power corridors of the creepy Capital. You will believe them at your own risk Shh...If you have venom to spill please don’t hesitate to share with us on our blog at www.thespokesman.pk

 

Baabay di gall

Soil fertility and biogas boost

With the world seemingly headed towards water wars in the not-too-distant future, being the custodians of the Indus basin we are among those ‘elite’ countries that are not water deficient. This abundance of waters boosts up the credentials of our soil as well, with Pakistan possessing six and a half million hectares (16 million acres) of saline and alkaline soils starting from Khushab, a district of Punjab, down to regions in Sindh. Our only problem is that it is brackish.

Water is of pivotal importance to our life. It has got a myriad of uses but the major three faucets for utilisation of water are drinking water, agriculture (irrigation) and industrial use.
In an earlier article I talked about agriculture in detail and how one could pull brackish water from the soil through biogas plant to reclamate the alkaline and saline soils of Pakistan and utilise the slurry manure to improve the conditioning. 
The salinity and the alkalinity of a soil is a veritable menace for our agriculture, which is one of the major factors for low crop productivity. The salt tolerance of a plant can be defined as the capacity to endure the effects of excess salt in the medium of root growth. Salinity is the concentration of dissolved mineral salts present in waters and soils on a unit volume or weight basis. The major solutes comprising dissolved mineral salts are the cations: sodium (NMa), calcium (Ca), bicarbonate (HCO2), carbonate (CO3), and nitrate (NO). Soil salinity can affect plant growth both physically (osmotic effect) and chemically (nutritional effect and/or toxicity).
Soil salinity problems can result from dry land saline seeps, improper drainage or water management on irrigated soils, or cultivation of naturally saline soils. Soil salinity is strongly linked to water movement though the soil profile. When sub-soil moisture containing salts moves upwards and evaporates, salts are precipitated at or near the soil surface. Soil amendments such as gypsum (CaSO), calcium chloride dehydrate (CaC12-2H,O) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4) have been used for the reclamation of saline-alkaline soils.
As our reservoirs of water help nourish our soils and in turn bolster our agriculture, we would be able to profit from another very promising sector that is awaiting our attention: biogas. 
There are 29 million cattle and 25 million buffaloes in Pakistan; therefore, we have massive livestock dung available in our country, enough to produce a million of megawatt electricity. Biogas typically refers to a gas produced by breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Biogas is produced by an aerobic digestion or fomentation of bio degradable material, such a manure, municipal waste, green waste, plant material and crops. Biogas comprises primarily methane and carbon dioxide and may have small amounts of hydrogen sulfide moisture and siloxanes. 
This energy release allows biogas to be used as fuel, which can be used for heating, cooking or as a different engine fuel. Biogas plant is the name given to an aerobic digester that treats farm waste for energy crop. During the process, an airtight tank transforms biomass waste into methane producing energy that can be used as an internal combustion engine. By converting manure into methane biogas through millions of cows and buffalos available in the country, we would be able to produce million kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to power millions of home across Pakistan. In fact, one cow or buffalo can produce enough manure in one day to generate 3 KW hours of electricity. Only 2.4 KW hours of electricity are needed to power a single hundred watt light bulb for one day. Furthermore, by converting manure into methane biogas instead of letting it decompose, we can significantly reduce the global warming gases. Raw biogas produced by digestion is roughly 60 percent methane and 29 percent carbon dioxide. Owing to simplicity in implementation and use of cheap raw material in villages, it is one of the most environmentally sound energy sources for rural areas. 
Domestic biogas plant converts livestock manure into biogas and slurry, and the fermented manure. This technology is feasible for small holders with livestock producing 50 kg per day i.e. equivalent to 5 cows or buffaloes. The manure has to be collectable to mix it with water and feed it into the plant. The slurry is a clean organic fertiliser that potentially increases agriculture productivity by solving the salinity and alkalinity of soil.
In Pakistan, presently there are many companies operating to provide the biogas plant with a range of Rs 50 to 95 thousand producing about 10 to 20 cubic meter gas every day. NARC, Ministry of National Food Safety and Research have put up an experimental biogas plant at the premises at Chak Shahzad to show and provide technology to the interested farmers. And they have divulged the nitty-gritty and the financial implications required to run a successful biogas plant.
It is high time entrepreneurs invested in the sector and provided a state-of-the-art biogas plant to the small farmers. It could help the dairy farmers meet the country’s energy requirements as well. A lot of work on biogas has been carried out in UK, India, China, USA, Brazil and information can be gathered from these countries through the Web. After getting the information one can work on learning to produce biogas in the country. 

The writer is former federal minister and writes a blog for The Spokesman

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