Container: Pros and cons

1204

Muhammad Sohail Ahmed

IS Islamabad a city of containers? Physically yes, it looks like a city with a large number of containers, placed at Chowk points or routes in a standby mode. If you want to dispatch your goods from Islamabad to Karachi, the cost of transportation is half the cost of transport from Karachi to Islamabad. The reason is that there are more imports received at the port city of Karachi. Afghan transit trade adds to this traffic upcountry. However, for a trader, the confiscation of containers is causing anxiety. Different traders have shown apprehension that their export orders are getting delayed which could result in a financial loss as well as the loss of foreign exchange to Pakistan. What is interesting for us is that these containers which provide safe means of transportation through shipments are an important tool for effective utilization in trade and politics. For example, in the past political upheavals, the containers were used by the politicians to stage protests at D-Chowk Islamabad or approach routes to Islamabad. One such container offered a luxurious stay to the political leadership for boarding and lodging with friends around. It also provided a ready-made stage to mount and start fireworks of politics. Although, such demonstrations create a pull on economics, the trade, the environment and distraction from core burning issues such as Kashmir. Since 5 August the Indian government has turned Kashmir into a closed container for the Muslims in a state of fear, anguish and trauma. With one lac martyred, one and a half lac arrested, leaving one lac orphans their homes turned into closed containers now for almost three months.
They can, however, dig the graves in their houses where it is different from containers. They can’t speak from the rooftops of their houses to complain or ask for help. Containers are a wakeup call for the so-called champions of peace, a wakeup call for the women’s rights champions, a wakeup call for UN and a matter of shame for Indian fascist leadership. It has been reported that the government and opposition have reached an agreement to allow the opposition to hold its rally at H-9 ground Islamabad instead of the D-Chowk. Being close to Kashmir Highway this activity is likely to interfere in the public route particularly those passing from Kashmir Highway. We should remember Kashmir on Kashmir Highway. Containers provide a secure means of transportation through the sea. USA ports receive thousands of containers on a daily basis. After the attack on Afghanistan in 2002, there came a brain wave in the minds of policymakers. US forces started to transport Afghan prisoners in the containers. It was thought that these will be safe as well as a discrete means of transporting Taliban prisoners, particularly while transiting through the terrain of war-torn Afghanistan where the US forces had no authority or control.
During this process, they failed to appreciate and arrange the provision of fresh air and appropriate human transportation conditions of the prisoners of war. Absence of human rights representatives could not monitor the situation as they were not present on the ground which resulted in mass casualties of Afghans due to asphyxia. Unfortunately, no one has taken up the matter in the ICJ or UN. No cases of war crimes could be reported against the invading forces by any independent organization to date. Besides, human traffickers also gave it a try for illegally transporting human beings into the USA as illegal immigrants. This option did not work well and the inhabitants of these locked containers died en-route for various reasons. These events made the US government think of introducing the container security initiative or CSI which bounds the container dispatching nation to get it inspected and sealed prior to shipment. This seal is then opened in the USA by the customs authorities. Therefore, the probability of receiving a surprise on the US ports was reduced. The Congressmen moving these bills had feared that a nuclear device could be shipped on an American bound vessel for detonation in a US port. One can well understand that a docile container lying on the roadside is not that simple as it covers the entire spectrum of conflict starting form as political speech to a nuclear holocaust. What is there for us, in Pakistan, the answer is that it should be intelligently used to boost our exports. The livestock export through improvised containers should be planned. Prime Minister has recently approved medium and small scale entrepreneurship development program. The CEO of this Authority is likely to be appointed in December 2019. A three-year strategy is being planned for implementation.
It is time to develop a livestock export plan in this model. The completion of the first phase of CPEC provides better road connectivity. Firstly, a national level CPEC utilization plan should be prepared. The containers from China to Gwadar, on their way back to China, should be loaded with Pakistani goods exported to China. Pakistan exports livestock as a byproduct of its dairy industry and earns 14 percent of its GDP. Its index grew up to 141 in 2015, indicating that it has a great potential for exports if investment is made for breeding animals in farms. The investment can either be made through Government or Foreign Direct Investment. The initiative of the Government for enterprise development and financial support can bring a large influx of exportable livestock. The Government should consider establishing livestock handling zones at Gwadar. One plant for slaughtering and packing meat is established at Karachi Bin Qasim Port. Frozen or chilled meat should be shipped or airlifted for exports. During Eid-ul-Azha season there is a demand for sacrificial animals in the Gulf countries. Small size dhows should be used for their shipment on the lines of African Nations {Somalia and Sudan} model. I believe that livestock export model using the investment from local or foreign resources and utilizing CPEC infrastructure will be very helpful in boosting exports from Pakistan leading to poverty alleviation, economic growth, food production and address the climatic change. After all the livestock does not involve any rocket science, it is all the expertise of Allah the only and only one with no helper or idols to share in His domain.
—The author is a freelance writer and Retired commodore of Pakistan Navy.