War tensions and Mohmand Dam

  • When government and opposition work together

With the advent of technology and then its uncontrolled spread across the globe, information has become a bone of contention, a reason to fight for between countries. Intelligence is part of such actions. Earlier, there were spies, just spies, now espionage is altogether a different ball game. Technology has helped finance terrorism and Kulbushan Jhadav is one such example. In the pursuit of information and intelligence, nations collide against each other and it results into blood. However, our side has always responded with maturity and has continued to show grace. We keep reiterating that our top priority is peace but if Indian forces escalate tensions at border, Pakistan shall bounce back with a stronger response and we actually proved it. It was a military victory by shooting Indian jets down, and then it was a diplomatic victory when Prime Minister Imran Khan shunned Modi’s war escalation attempts by announcement of release of our tea-cup guest Abhinandan. It was warmly welcomed in Pakistan and all across the globe, Indian media however tried to portray it as their own win but we need not to blame them, that’s their bread and butter.

This is not the first time that Pakistan has showed grace and attempted to de-escalate war tensions. On May 27, 1999, Flight Lieutenant Kambampati Nachiketa of Indian Air Force was taken into custody by our armed forces and Pakistan had a heart big enough to release him after he spent eight days in Pakistan. It was an unprecedented move and whether it was lauded or not diplomatically, memories have faded but no other nation could muster up such courage and show such maturity, the way Pakistanis have behaved in the last week.

Coming back to the information system spreading its network, the bad part holds the major portion. This technology has facilitated war; electronic media and social media have added fuel to the fire over the period of time. One such example is Google. If you google the benefits of war, it gives you enough reasons to reconsider your approach towards peace. Indian side is probably sticking to the same benefits, but just the way all that glitters is not gold, all that’s on google is not wise either. These wars and border tensions are not about just blood, casualties or taking charge of enemies’ check-posts, it has gone beyond that. The after effects of war-mongering hinder the progress of growth and de-escalate development. Your government’s priority becomes peace, your forces’ priority your border security and your priorities as a citizen are disheveled, you worry less about kids’ education, less about your job prospects, much less about the future but all about your present – there are no long-term plans.

Peace and better sense must prevail, and our precious time must be spent on improving our governance model

This is what happened to Mohmand Dam contract when it went unnoticed because people had no time to debate on something that relates to the future. Approval accorded for award of Mohmand Dam contract wasn’t much debated because Pakistan had a bigger issue at hand after the Pulwama attack on February 14. Despite this dam’s significance for dealing with water scarcity and energy sector’s shortcomings, this controversial deal was awarded but the case wasn’t highlighted much when announced on February 22 because our priorities at that time were different. It is not that the contract was awarded without much ado, and it’s not that it shouldn’t have been awarded. Chairman WAPDA had made it public in one of the pressers that WAPDA is negotiating with JV for further discount in the bid. Although, in the case of lowest bid, government is not required to negotiate further but the authority did and as per the evaluation document available on PPRA website, now the CGGC-Descon JV’s evaluated cost is PKR183, 523, 482, 980, excluding provisional sum of PKR40, 939, 965, 667. JV was made to rationalise the cost after the efforts of authority and the pressure built upon it by opposition.

The purpose of this example here is that when we are not in the mode of war, we have ample energy to oppose the government or question the system. Due to the objections made by PPP leadership and by Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif, who also quoted examples from his tenure about negotiating further with the lowest bidder, the contract has formally been awarded in a win-win situation where government shall also be able to save billions of rupees while getting the dam built in time.

This is productive opposition that stood against the government, raised an objections and it resulted productively. It is pertinent to mention here that role of opposition in the recent crisis has also been exemplary, if government and opposition continue working closely for the good of masses then there’s nothing that can dare harm the country. Hence, peace and better sense must prevail, and our precious time must be spent on improving our governance model instead of war settlements. Our side has realised this, it’s time for Indian government and their citizens to realise it as well.