Point to Ponder October 2023!

Agriculture is a complex system in which natural resources, whether they be land, seed or water, play a critical role in socio-economic and political scenarios. For a water scarce country like Pakistan, the dilemma is now increasing. This critical issue was highlighted with an emphasis on promoting drip irrigation system at the “Food-Water Nexus: Connecting Dots,” hosted by the Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) in collaboration with other institutes; this matter has been raised at other fora as well. Pakistan stands at 14 out of 17 extremely high-water risk countries, remaining on the list of ten-most water-stressed countries and if the depletion of water resources continues, it will face severe water scarcity by 2025. The demand for water is 274 MAF, whereas, the supply is about 191 MAF. Around 94 percent of the groundwater is used in the agriculture sector while 80 percent of the water is consumed by mainly four crops, rice, cotton, sugarcane, and wheat. These crops contribute only 5% to the GDP. Currently, there is 15 percent water shortage during the ongoing Rabi season that began on October 1.

A politician, Mr. Altaf Shakoor of, Pakistan Democratic Party, has asked the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to focus on the issue of saline water irrigation in Thar and other desert areas where salt water lakes are present and can turn our deserts into grain baskets. According to him, many countries in the world successfully use saline water to grow crops with salt-tolerant seed varieties; Pakistan’s wheat research institute had also produced salt-tolerant wheat seed but has not been pursued further.

The caretaker government in Sindh has directed the provincial Forest and Wildlife Departments to start GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping of Kirthar National Park land, cancel illegal allotments and retrieve illegally occupied forest land. According to the Secretary of Forest and Wildlife Department, Najam Shah, the province had 3.4 million acres of forest land. Out of 232,205.7 acres of encroached forest land, 191,175.2 acres have been retrieved, with 41,030.5 acres were still encroached. In addition, 34,713.05 acres of forest land were illegally allotted, of which 21,274.56 acres have been cancelled.

Based on a land record digitization project, the Sindh government has initiated the digitization of land records of the entire province. Sindh Government has set a target of online facilitation and mobile application for the improvement of revenue records and getting information online. According to the Minister of Revenue, Industries & Commerce Mohammad Younus Dagha, about 580 officials from provincial finance and revenue departments have been transferred during the current caretaker government to ensure transparency within the system.

According to reports, Pakistan’s fundamental concern is only management, not resources. There is immense scope for value addition in the fields of human resource, agriculture and mining. These three sectors, if properly utilized and managed at least for 10 years, will have the potential to steer the country out of the economic quagmire.

Land ownership remains a critical aspect of agrarian society; six people were killed and five wounded in a fierce gun battle between armed men of two rival groups of Kalhoro and Junejo clans in Shikarpur district. Since the start of the dispute over a piece of agricultural land, more than 40 persons have lost their lives in clashes between the two groups.

Neoliberalism at Play!

On the behest of the World Bank, the caretaker government is considering amendments to taxation regime for retail, agriculture and real estate sectors. Imposition of wealth tax on moveable assets is also being proposed, which would allow generation of additional revenue up to four per cent of GDP (approximately PKR4 trillion) in the short term.

According to a senior economist Tobias Haque, real estate and agriculture should yield a revenue of 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively, of the GDP which would be equivalent to about PKR 2.1 trillion and PKR 1 trillion, respectively, according to official GDP size. This should be done immediately to “reduce or refine the current 12.5-acre tax exemption threshold to bring more agriculture land into the tax net,” and ensure appropriate categorization of land on the basis of size, location, irrigation status and area-based productivity aspects into tax rates. Pakistan’s total revenue collection averaged 12.8 percent of GDP in the past decade, is substantially lower than the South Asian average of 19.2 percent.

The Focus on Agrochemical Agriculture and Genetically Modified Seeds

Under the caretaker government, the Ministry of Planning and Development has put agriculture development projects at top priority; it has allocated billions of rupees under the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) 2023-24, as they are deemed to have a ‘huge potential’. In this context, the agriculture sector is a top priority for the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), as well.

The Planning Commission has decided to focus their energies on cage culture cluster development project; commercialization of potato tissue culture technology; establishment of consumer-sourcing seed authenticity system and strengthening of laboratories of Federal Seed Certification and Research and Development, among others. Besides, the Prime Minister’s Initiatives for Green Revolution project worth PKR 5000 million is also a landmark project initiated to address key constraints to productivity of agriculture.

It is felt that Pakistan’s food product exports face a hurdle based on international standards; in this context projects are being initiated to address issues faced in sector for fruits and vegetables. The aim is to reduce on-field and post-harvest losses of selected fruits and vegetables, and strengthen their value chains based on using value-adding technologies through public-private partnerships.

The Ministry of Industries and Production presented strategies to fulfil urea requirements for the 2023-24 Rabi season; the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has sanctioned the immediate import of 200,000 tons of urea fertilizer. The committee also mandated a continuous gas supply for the fertilizer industry.

In addition, the Variety Evaluation Committee of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) has recommended 10 new high yielding genotypes of oilseed crops and two of sugarcane for commercial cultivation in the country. At present, there is a large gap of 66 percent between supply and demand of certified seeds in the country. In addition, there is a huge burden on foreign currency, as Pakistan imported edible oil, mostly palm oil, worth US$4.5 billion in 2022.

As has been done in the previous years,  Punjab government has decided to promote oil seed cultivation in the province by offering subsidy to farmers in a bid to cut the country’s edible oil imports bill, and improve their income by encouraging cultivation of non-conventional crops; the provincial agriculture department will offer PKR 5,000 per acre subsidy for a total 100,000 acres to be brought under imported canola hybrid variety cultivation in the Rabi season, sowing for which will begin within days. A farmer may claim the subsidy for a maximum of five acres.

A meeting at the Ministry of National Food Security and Research has focused on the seed sector. Consultations were on streamlining the seed sector by using advanced genomic technologies as well as of IT systems for transparency. The presence of International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is evidence that international actors, lodged in the United States (US) are also intervening in the seed policy setting arena. The country head of IFPRI, Pakistan, presented salient features of a report titled, ‘National Seed Sector: Prospects and Challenges.’ The report points out that the national breeders` intellectual property rights are being pirated. The meeting also discussed the issues related to biotech seeds and resolved to settle this in compliance with national and international rules.

According to James McNee, First Secretary, Canadian Embassy in Pakistan, Canada has been exporting grains, canola, and other agricultural products to Pakistan. But for him a handicap is the need for modifying legislation on GMOs to transform its existing agricultural production. He pointed out that grain institutes in Canada and Punjab province have joined hands to further study the GMOs that are being raised in Canada for their suitability to the soil of this region.

Genetically modified seeds, in the context of poultry feed is also being pushed. Increased retail chicken prices are being attributed to the ban on the import of soybean a key ingredient of poultry feed. Last year, there had been a ban imposed on GM soyabean mainly produced by United States, Brazil and Argentina, a key content of the poultry seed. According to Mr. Tariq Cheema, formerly federal minister for national food security and research, Shehbaz Sharif government, “the poultry industry is acting like a `mafia` to force the authorities to allow the use of a “known carcinogenic ingredient. They`re playing with the lives of people. GM soybean causes cancer.”

Apart from promoting hybrid and GM seeds, neoliberal policies based on market digitalization are also being promoted for agricultural marketing. The Market Committees Management Information System was officially launched in Lahore. Caretaker Agriculture Minister SM Tanvir launched the system; the digitalization of this system would improve tax collection processes & maintain accurate records of market activities while reducing instances of black marketing. The digitalization process is already in process through the use of Kisan Card; farmers that register themselves are able to ‘benefit’ from various government schemes like subsidies, loans, insurance among other.

In addition, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is launching a new project to promote modern trends and mechanization in agriculture in various member countries including Pakistan. In addition, the Sindh Water and Agriculture Transformation (SWAT) project of the World Bank is already ongoing; the project is meant to increase agricultural productivity by introducing modern techniques.

 A focus on the fisheries industry is also quite clear. According to an expert on fisheries sector of KP, GB and AJ&K, Omar Hayat Khan, the abundance of suitable water in quality and quantity in the shape of springs, streams, rivers and lakes provides opportunity for production of trout fish in millions of metric tons per annum, as well yield job creation. However, it needs translation into a formal ‘billion-dollar industry.’

Similarly, an expected US delegation to review the installation of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in shrimp-catching nets has led to various stakeholders (fisheries departments, and others) to address this issue that has been present for many years. Pakistan’s shrimp exports to the US has been banned since 2017 because fishermen were not using the TED in their nets, endangering turtles. It is speculated that Pakistan has missed out $150 million in annual exports to the US.

While pushing for trade liberalization at home, similar trends are also seen for the export sector; the Pakistan’s Ambassador in China, Moinul Haque inaugurated the Pakistan National Pavilion at the Sichuan Agriculture Expo in Chengdu, where numerous Pakistani companies were promoting country’s agricultural products.

UNICEF has reported, more than 1.5 million children require lifesaving nutrition interventions. In Pakistan, the 2022 floods inflicted vast damage to the infrastructure, including 30,000 schools, 2,000 health facilities, and 4,300 water systems making access to safe drinking water and sanitation low. Further, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) about 2.14 million children are suffering acute malnutrition in various parts of Pakistan. Malnutrition has been attributed to number of issues including inadequate food quality and quantity, heightened food insecurity, insufficient sanitation coverage, elevated rates of diarrhea, acute respiratory infections (ARIs) and fever, as well as suboptimal health-seeking behavior. In response, projects co-funded by the European Union (EU), as well as International Rescue Committee (IRC), Medical Emergency Resilience Foundation (MERF) and others is providing therapeutic food and other services in various areas of the country.

Hunger and malnutrition as well as climate change has been used to promote not only biofortified therapeutic foods in the country but also for crop biofortification. It is being said that climate change-related unexpected temperature variability and extreme weather events lower agricultural yields and in reduction of nutritional value of staple crops in Pakistan; the panacea is switching to biofortified crops to deal with growing malnutrition in the country. Farmers, are being ‘convinced’ to switch to biofortified crops such as zinc wheat, which are more nutritious having adequate amounts of Zinc, Iron and other micronutrients. In this policy option, there is no mention of the added burden to Pakistan’s ‘starved foreign reserves.’

It is interesting that there is news about a survey on milk quality and safety conducted by the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) informs that 54 percent of fresh milk samples were unsuitable for human consumption, and 92 percent did not comply with quality and safety standards. Institutions that support neoliberalism, hold a position where fresh milk should be corporate-controlled; issues of safety and hygiene are being propagated as a shield for transferring the dairy market from small and landless farmers to global dairy corporations. The basic neoliberal law that is being used to push this framework is lodged in the WTO agreements of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) mechanisms and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), and of course indirectly Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement.

It is worth noting that Nestlé Pakistan recorded revenue of PKR 151,153 million for the third quarter of 2023, an increase of 24.9 percent as compared to the same period last year. According to Nestle, this growth is based on the wide spectrum of their products as well as ‘demand generating activities’ of the corporation as well as emphasis on localization of raw and packaging material has led to an improvement in operating profit. It’s worth reminding our readers that Nestle products include dairy products, juices and water: a majority based on local agriculture production. How many of these billions of rupees in profits actually benefit the real producers and how much is taken out of the country?

State’s Agriculture Growth Projections, and Contestants

There are predictions that the country will attain its agricultural growth target of 3.5 percent for 2023-24; the agriculture sector contributes 22.9 percent to GDP and 37.4 percent in employment generation, ensures food security and provides raw material to the industrial sector. Official projections for increase in cotton production was 126.6 percent over last year; rice to show an increase of 12.7 percent and 18 percent in area and production, respectively, over last year. For livestock, the share in agriculture sector is likely to increase by 64 percent.

Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) has raised concerns with respect to ‘cartelization’ of Sindh rice millers, who are not paying a ‘just price to paddy growers for their produce’ who based on moisture presence in paddy crops are already being paid less than offered rates. According to the SCA senior vice president Nabi Bux Sathio, last year Pakistan had exported 3.8 million tons of rice and earned $2.28 billion in foreign exchange; exporters fetched $600 per ton of coarse variety rice at the highest possible rate at the end of the export season. Out of these 3.8 million tons, 2.5 million tons were a coarse variety of rice to which Sindh contributed about 85 percent share. Sindh Abadgar Ittehad (SAI) has also pointed to ‘cartelization’ of Sindh rice millers and has appealed to the caretaker prime minister to intervene; the rice millers had offered PKR 4,500 per 40kg to farmers before harvesting but later “. . . due to the cartelization of millers and a nexus between them and rice exporters, the rate of paddy plummeted to PKR 3,200 to PKR 3,000 per 40kg”.

SAI has rejected the idea of corporate farming, called for fixing sugarcane rate at PKR 600 per 40kg. The government was planning corporate farming and had initiated project in the Cholistan area of Punjab where vast lands were given to another country while machinery was to be provided by China.

The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) has fixed the wheat production target at 32.12 million tons for rabi season 2023-24, an increase of 12.20 per cent over last year’s 28.2m tons. The production target would be achieved from 8.9 million hectares.

However, agriculture experts have called for increasing per acre yield productivity, given the ambitious wheat production target of over 33 million tons expected for the 2023-24 season. The emphasis seems to be on vertical growth by enhancing per acre yield.

October is the month for the International Day of Rural Women, as well as the World Food Day. Therefore, this month is marked by many peasant rights activities and actions. According to the Hari Welfare Association (HWA), it is deeply concerned by the failure of federal and provincial governments to safeguard the rights of rural women in Pakistan.  The Sindh Women Agriculture Workers Act (SWAWA) though passed in 2019, which categorically recognizes women agriculture workers, remains unimplemented in Sindh.

In rural Sindh, more than 70% of women are employed in agriculture, but often lack access to education through different structural barriers such as patriarchy and feudal tribal systems. Low literacy rate contribute to the heightened abuse and women rights violations, and suffer from poverty, malnutrition and hunger.

A report by HWA, “the State of Peasants’ Rights in Sindh in 2022” was launched at the HWA office, Nawab Shah. The report reviews the legislative, policy, and administrative frameworks in place and highlights the challenges faced by peasants and rural workers. And highlights the need for enforcement of laws such as the Sindh Tenancy Act 1950, the Sindh Tenancy Amendment Act 2013, the Sindh Bonded Labor (Abolition) System Act 2015, and the Sindh Industrial Relations Act 2013.

The World Food Day was commemorated as the ‘World Hunger Day’ by an alliance of small and landless farmers, Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) in collaboration with the Asian Peasant Coalition, in Ghotki, Sindh. Recent reports by UNICEF and World Banks have stated that 333 million children (one in every six children) worldwide live in extreme poverty including 62 million children in South Asia. The World Food Program estimates that 345 million people worldwide suffer from severe hunger; these figures show the aptness of PKMT, and APC call which points out the true state of affairs. 

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has provided data according to which Pakistan’s trade deficit narrowed by 42.25 percent in the first quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal year 2023-24; exports decreased by 3.78 percent to $6.899 billion in this period whereas, imports declined by 25.36 per cent to $12.188 billion during the first quarter of fiscal year 2023-24.

In the first quarter of the financial year of 2023-2024, exports of agriculture and food products from Pakistan increased by 37.4 percent as compared to the same period during 2022-2023. Major increases were in export of Sesame seed, meat, fruits and vegetables, fish and fish products.

Based on data from Pakistan Customs, the Afghan transit cargo flow of containers have shown a 39 percent increase in the past year. According to the commerce secretary, Afghan exports are approximately worth $1 billion, but imports had risen to $6 billion in FY23. With fears of illegal entry of goods in Pakistan through this transit trade, a ten percent processing fee has been levied on items imported under the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement.

Ambassador of Turkiye would like to see a bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Turkiye to reach USD 20-25 billion, and the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI) have suggested exploring new avenues to export to Turkiye, which would also include industrial collaborations and transfer of technology. The Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan has suggested that the long Pakistan-Iran border could be turned into an economic border, while both countries could trade in Chinese Yuan. Pakistan could export live animals, meat, wheat and rice while Pakistan could import from Iran fuel, building materials and food products. According to the Iranian Ambassador, CPEC was an important project for both countries, and Iran could provide energy to Pakistan for CPEC projects at economical terms.

The European Parliament has extended the current generalized system of preferences (GSP) for another four years until 2027 for developing countries, including Pak­istan, to enjoy duty-free or minimum duty on exports to the European market. However, according to analysts, the long-term future for exporting goods to the EU will be based on the type of electricity used for manufacturing. These measures are being taken under Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), a new set of trade rules for imposing taxes on imports from non-EU members. Starting now, businesses in EU have to provide information on ‘carbon emission-intensive’ aspects of imported products, and this could make Pakistani export products more expensive in the European markets.

Cnergyico, formerly known as Byco Petroleum Pakistan Limited (BPPL), has imported the country’s first private-sector shipment of Russian crude oil. Russia is offering discounted rates after its exports were banned in Europe.

Increase in gas tariff for the ongoing fiscal year have been approved by Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, along with import of 200,000 metric tons of urea for the Rabi season. Further, import of one million ton of milling wheat through Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) has also been approved.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan, the federal government’s total debt (domestic and external) stocks reached PKR 64 trillion by August 2023, mainly due to exchange rate volatility

The economy continues to be based on foreign loans. According to the “World Bank Annual Report 2023: A New Era in Development,” in fiscal year 2023, Pakistan was International Development Association’s (IDA) top borrower, securing $2.3 billion in funding. The Economic Affairs Division (EAD) has reported that Pakistan`s foreign assistance inflows rose by about 58 per cent in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.

The World Bank has projected positive growth return for Pakistan in fiscal year 2023-24, but at a rate of only 1.7 per cent, while the economy remains dependent on capital inflows to finance substantial fiscal and current account deficits. On the other hand, the IMF’s latest growth forecast is well above the recent forecasts from the World Bank and ADB.

While the flow of loans comes in freely, the conditionalities are also there. The care taker Privatization Minister Fawad Hassan has affirmed the government’s decision to divest major loss-making state-owned enterprises, so as to get rid of the drain on resources. He has held meetings with World Bank officials for divestment of PIA and other state-owned entities for optimizing the performance of ex-Wapda Discos, a process in which the World Bank has agreed to provide help. In addition, the caretaker government has decided to privatize Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) on Government to Government (G2G) basis, as Privatization Commission has failed to finalize restructuring plan in eight years. The World Bank has critiqued this form of privatization, based on fears of litigation in divestments to foreign states under government-to-government contracts, and advised public offerings through stock exchanges followed by privatization under transparent oversight of the parliament. Quite interesting that the French Ambassador to Pakistan has expressed interest in gaining insights into Pakistan’s privatization strategy on which he was then briefed by the Privatization Minister, Mr. Fawad Hassan. It’s worth pointing out, that all this is happening under a caretaker government.

According to a preliminary research, global carbon dioxide emissions are expected to rise around one per cent to reach a new all-time high in 2023. Scientists say carbon pollution will need to be cut almost in half this decade to meet the world’s targets of limiting global warming and avoiding catastrophic climate impacts.

The ongoing climate crisis, which of course is based on the carbon emissions of industrialized rich countries, finds expression in the misery of the people in countries like Pakistan. According to the “World Bank Annual Report 2023: A New Era in Development,” South Asia is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters, and in the past 20 years, climate disasters have impacted 750 million people, which means more than 50 percent of the population. South Asia, which is one of the poorest regions in the world is suffering from intensifying heatwaves, cyclones, droughts and floods. The changing climate could sharply diminish living conditions for up to 800 million people.

According to the ‘State of Global Water Resources 2022 Report’ published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), over 50 percent of the global catchment areas exp­erienced deviations from normal river discharge conditions in 2022. From 2000 to 2018, the total glacier mass balance decreased by more than four percent.

Climate change has wrecked the hydrological cycle which is a result; extreme weather events, such as droughts and extreme rainfall events are taking a heavy toll on lives and livelihoods. At the same time, high temperatures lead to melting snow, ice and glaciers that result in intense floods as we have seen in Pakistan numerous times.

According to a report by FAO, a staggering $3.8 trillion loss in crop and livestock production has been reported over the past 30 years due to disasters. This equals an average annual loss of $123 billion, or five per cent of global agricultural GDP.  Average losses over 30 years have increased across all the main agricultural product groups, with an average of 69 million tons of cereals, 40 million tons of fruits and vegetables and 16m tons of meat, dairy products and eggs lost annually due to extreme events; a $3.8 trillion loss in crop and livestock production has been reported over these three decades.

Numerous projects have been floated by neoliberal institutions, however there seems to be reliance on the private sector. The IMF has asked the private sector to ‘drastically’ increase its climate-related investments in the poor countries. Will these projects than like it has happened over many decades, result in flow of funds from poor countries to rich, through intellectual property rights on shared technologies and knowledge sharing?

According to an Oxfam International report, world’s poorest countries face budget cuts topping $220 billion over the coming five years due to a debt crisis that has pushed dozens to the brink of default.

The conditions imposed by IMF have been having a diabolical impact on the working class and peasantry in the country. Inflation in the first quarter (July to September) surged to 29.04 percent in FY24 from 25.11 percent over the corresponding period of last year. State Bank of Pakistan has projected 20-22 percent average inflation for FY24 from 29.2 percent in FY23. Wheat flour prices saw a staggering rise of 81.29 percent while rice prices experienced a rise of 64.71 percent. The ongoing economic crises have multiple impacts on the people. A truly tragic incidence was the killing of a person by three others, when he failed to return a loan of PKR 50,000.

As part of resisting the ongoing false solutions provided by industrialized countries for climate change, a Global People’s Caravan was organized from many countries including Pakistan. In Shikarpur, Sindh, PKMT held a People’s Caravan highlighting the plight of the peasantry, especially women in face of the ongoing climate as well economic crisis.

It was reported that “the caravans will build up to the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) of the UN Climate Change Conference happening in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from Nov 30 to Dec 12. Similar caravans or actions in various countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and other regions are planned throughout October-November 2023. . . . They are holding to account imperialism – the global empire of the wealthiest countries’ finance oligarchs and their monopoly corporations.”

Other sectors of society, such as students of Sindh University held a rally against student fee increase, ban on student unions, and other issues. It was noted that in just a period of seven months, the university implemented fee hikes by 45 percent. Urban and rural communities in Karachi and Peshawar have been carrying out sit-ins against the long hours of power outage and other injustices related to energy supply.

In Tangwani town, Kandhkot-Kashmore, a large number of paddy growers, along with their children, took out a rally against rice millers and traders for refusing to offer more than 50 per cent of the agreed upon price of their crop without any valid reason. Similarly, rice farmers of Garhi Khairo, Jacobabad staged a protest sit-in against paddy price being offered to them by traders. According to them, the government of Sindh had fixed paddy price at PKR 4,500 per 40kg but the traders were only paying PKR 2200-2300 per 40kg.

Farmers associations in Balochistan also protested against WAPDA, due to long hours of unannounced power shortage which had resulted in destroying livelihood of farms, as destruction of agriculture produce has left them unable to repay loans taken from commercial banks. Other farmer movements have also protested demanding international financial institutions should write-off loans of countries like Pakistan, that also suffer from climate crisis. Similarly, the salaried class has also been protesting against the World Bank proposal of inflicting further taxes on this class.

A shutter down strike was carried out in Gwadar over shortage of drinking water. Please note, Balochistan home and tribal affairs department has banned the blocking of main avenues and highways in Red Zone across the province under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. In Khairpur, the Khairpur police registered an FIR against 16 reporters along with around 100 people, who were holding a protest in Hingorja against a lesser rate than the officially fixed price of cotton.

In Sukkur, irrigation department employees have been agitating with slogans ‘Eliminate corruption and save irrigation,’ so as to ‘cleanse the department of the menace that had hollowed out one of the oldest institutions of the province.’ In the geo-political arena, there have been many developments in this month which will change the course of human history in the context of understanding genuine democracy and human rights. October 7, 2023 will be remembered for years to come. After many decades of atrocities by Zionist Israel, the Palestinian Resistance hit back; this feat looms large over all nations, whether they have stood up against the US-backed Zionist entity of Israel, or those who have supported this fascist formation.

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