Pakistan Agriculture Modernisation           

Published 2014-01-20 07:18:59

ADMIRABLY, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is making a long-term plan for Pakistan.

However, there is no provision in the five-year plan to improve the country’s agriculture sector.

Our farm production yield is low compared to other nations. We hear every year about bumper crops of cotton, wheat, rice, but our production yield per acre for every crop is one-third of other developed nations.

Farmers in China, India, Malaysia, Russia, the UK, the US, etc, are all using drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, shallow green house and many other new agricultural technologies to improve their crop yield by 300 – 400 pc. Although pesticide, fertiliser and tractors arrived in Pakistan decades ago, agriculture technology has not improved.

Introducing these new technologies requires extensive training of our farmers as these will fetch them higher yield and more income. They will also help reduce the use of water, pesticide and fertiliser for the farm.

But for many new technologies there is also a high initial cost which our poor farmers cannot afford on their own and will hence require extensive government grants and loans.

And with higher yield and higher income, our farmers will have an authentic chance to come out of poverty while helping to reduce food insecurity in the country.

Therefore, increasing our farm yield by 300 per cent within the next five years should be the government target. This will lead to higher exports, higher economic activities and help to take out 65pc of our people involved in agriculture out of poverty.

Shahryar Khan Baseer Peshawar

Abortions and Family Planning in Pakistan

Published 2014-01-19 07:58:08

Young Samia*, a mother of one, seemed to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders: surrounded in the everyday struggle of survival and a never-ending cycle of family crises, Samia discovered that she was pregnant. Despite running from pillar to post, she couldn’t find a doctor who could help. At last, she resorted to swallowing contraceptive pills, that too in abundance. The foetus was aborted, but then started heavy bleeding and severe abdominal pain. A midwife was soon involved. But Samia’s case worsened. She died a month later.

Samia isn’t the only one who used abortion as her primary and preferred means of family planning: 23-year-old Fatima Bibi, a mother of two who works as a maid in Karachi, also swallowed pills to abort an unwanted pregnancy. “Back in our village in interior Sindh, we were always told family planning is wrong, as children are a gift from Allah,” said Fatima. “My husband, Ejaz, and I obviously never resorted to family planning before. We had one child each year after marriage, and when I conceived for the third time, we realised we couldn’t afford another child at all. We aren’t rich, but we want to educate our children. Therefore, we decided to abort without telling anyone. My husband brought me some pills and it was done.”

Such is the plight of thousands of women and their families in Pakistan. According to ‘Post-Abortion Care in Pakistan: A National Study’ – an examination carried out by the Population Council and published in August 2013 – 14 pregnancies out of 100 end in induced abortions every year. The highest rates of aborted pregnancies are found in Balochistan, with 38 abortions per 1000 women. This is followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 37 per 1000, Sindh with 31, and Punjab with 25.

A review of the existing data on the subject, interviews and discussions with the local healthcare providers confirm that only 30 pc of Pakistani couples use contraceptives, while an alarming 46 pc of women avoid them actively despite being aware of family planning. Much of this is simply because families and women believe in prevalent myths, taking unplanned pregnancies as “God’s will.” When it comes to women’s will, 11 pc want to space births while 14 pc want to stop childbearing altogether. Further probing confirms it is fear and suspicion that restrains women from using contraception, who later resort to unsafe abortions unfortunately.

In Fatima’s case, she conceived a second time when her youngest one was only a year-old. She was breastfeeding her second child when the third was conceived. “At the time, we didn’t think any family planning method was needed,” she said.

Doctors argue that an alarmingly high percentage of undesirable pregnancies end in illegal abortions for two main reasons: first, a lack of awareness as well as an active disregard for contraception/family planning; and second, the unavailability of skilled healthcare providers to advocate and galvanise family planning. The second factor impacts healthcare in rural parts of the country, because of which unsafe abortions occur and maternal mortality rates increase.

“Family planning is about making informed decisions if and when a woman wants to conceive. A gap of at least two to three years helps the mother to recuperate, and reduces the infant mortality rate. As a result, babies tend to be healthier,” argued Dr Hyder Ali Khan, who works at the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Shaikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore.

Meanwhile, a research carried out by USAID states that 24 pc of women don’t have access to reasonable family planning services, which indicates they have an unmet need for contraception. In such cases, an unmet need is the main cause of unwanted pregnancies, eventually leading to unsafe abortions, typically performed by untrained midwives under unhygienic conditions.

Such a scenario positions healthcare workers as crucial players in raising awareness about family planning and making contraceptives available at reasonable costs. The expertise, attitude, body language and willingness of a skilled healthcare worker to provide assistance is of utmost importance, otherwise couples remain unconvinced. At times, repetitive counselling might be needed especially when males are reluctant in practicing family planning.

“Family planning helps a couple in managing their household better, strengthening their financial position, securing education for their children and evaluating the nature of their relationship. There are many modern and safe family planning methods available nowadays, and are easily accessible through healthcare workers,” Dr Hyder argued.

Lady health workers claim that getting the message across can often be very problematic. “Each health worker goes to as many as 200 houses a month in urban and rural districts, advocating family planning,” explained a lady health worker, speaking to Dawn on condition of anonymity. “We wear a smile, keep our body language positive and during our discussions encourage the couples to mutually decide about extending their family, removing their fears about contraception. We explain to them how important it is for the males to participate in family planning, that it can’t work without them.”

Name changed to protect privacy

20pc of all households in Lahore now own at least one car           

Published 2014-01-20 07:19:06

“IF one were to go by all this flaunted wealth, it would appear that people in this city are living life in another country.” A friend of mine from Karachi made this observation whilst standing outside a glitzy shopping mall in a well-kept part of Lahore. The caustic remark made me take stock of the surroundings, and had it not been for the sagging electricity wires and the rusting, ugly poles carrying them, the entire setting would’ve been perfectly at home in some decidedly un-Third-World country.

There is little doubt that Lahore, at a glance or a gaze, appears to be a very prosperous city. The level of infrastructure development — exhibited through a web of flyovers, underpasses, and highway-esque roads — is far superior to other urban settlements in the rest of the province. Along the way are obvious markers of consumer-driven modernisation — restaurants, consumer goods retailers, hotels, and shopping malls — all of which cater to a restricted income spectrum that has the lower-middle class on one end and the ultra-elite on the other. Finally, inhabiting this garish landscape is a population that takes extra pride in gratuitous exhibitions of wealth and ostentation. These displays are humorously chalked down to the ‘big hearts’ (khulay dil) and other such essential traits of the city’s natives.

An obvious outcome of Lahore’s development has been rapid suburbanisation. This refers to the development of spacious, gated communities and commercial areas further away from what’s traditionally been considered the centre of the city. Nearly all of the southwestern parts of Lahore district have seen a conversion from low-income settlements or mid-sized agricultural holdings to private or publicly run housing societies and marketplaces designed for the nouveau riche/upwardly mobile middle class.

This rapid demand for relatively spacious housing, planned neighbourhoods, and other accompanying amenities — such as the Beaconhouse School System branches, and fast food chains — comes in the face of rising incomes for a certain portion of the population. According to the Punjab government’s cluster survey, 20pc of all households in Lahore now own at least one car (the figure is as high as 40pc in some areas), so they obviously need space to park them and roads to drive on. Similarly, inter-generational cultural change means joint holdings get distributed, and as family structures get ‘nuclearised’, the demand for new housing goes up.

However, the darker side of Lahore is its rapid gentrification. This refers to significant increases in land and rental prices, and development of higher-end commercial spaces, resulting in the purposeful or inadvertent elbowing out of low-income households from residential and public spaces.

This current process of gentrification is not just a market-based phenomenon, arising out of private-sector growth, but also an outcome of government planning priorities that appear to favour people with cars and fetishes for consumer goods.

Areas within the city previously designated for low-income families, such as Nishtar Colony and Kot Lakhpat, have seen no form of rent control or government action against speculative activity. As a result, rental rates now hover around Rs15-20,000 per month — twice the rate of minimum wage — for two-bedroom portions. This astronomic rise is taking place in a city where 26pc of the population, mostly from the lower-income group, lives in rented accommodation.

A few weeks ago, the government announced it would be acquiring 45,000 kanals of land in the southeastern fringe of the city for a new middle-class housing scheme. This scheme will be served by a dedicated new road, thus ensuring higher plot prices, and will displace people living in at least four villages, many of whom actually work in the city as labourers.

A fraction that own land in the villages will be given exemption plots, while everyone else will have to find new spaces further out to populate. This displacement will be similar to the one seen during the army-managed expansion of Defence Housing Authority in the eastern end of the city.

Such processes are common in other parts of the Third World too, but what is striking is the near-consensus within Lahore on this particular pattern of development. Unlike in Karachi, where organisations like Shehri, or in some cases even political parties, have sought to protect low-income populations from displacement, not many people seem to be bothered about the biased nature of development, or the accompanying elbowing out of the poor.

Everyone who matters seems to passively buy into the idea that low-income, ‘less-modern’, spaces need to be hidden from view, and the city garlanded with concrete and glass.

Even some inner quarters of the old city, the few remaining residential pockets for low-income households, have undergone rapid commercialisation or ‘beautification’. This is to ensure that ‘real Lahori’ neighbourhoods, and their accompanying artifacts, can be consumed and enjoyed by those living elsewhere.

By visiting these older neighbourhoods for exotic food, or for staging wedding photo-shoots amidst Mughal architecture, the better-off attempt to fulfil their need for cultural authenticity, given that sterile gated communities offer no such solace.

None of this gentrification and careful manicuring of space can alter the reality of Lahore’s heavy reliance on low-income labour. They work in factories, retail outlets, restaurants, and households, forming an integral, albeit rarely acknowledged part of everyday life. Without them, the city’s economy and many segments of its population would simply be unable to function.

Knowing this, a bare minimum would be to expect that they be given some stake in the way the city is designed, managed and maintained. However, given the overwhelming consensus for the status quo, this expectation will likely remain unfulfilled for quite sometime.

The writer is a freelance columnist.

On a wing and a prayer

Updated 2014-01-20 10:24:49

Until it became something of an affront to its long-suffering passengers, Pakistan International Airlines’ slogan, “Great people to fly with” was not an empty boast. Earlier ads mention its “record regularity, top performance”; one breezily announced, “Every airline has a thing. You know, like serving 179 hors d’oeuvres or something like that. Our thing is being on time.”

Innovation was its hallmark. It was the first Asian airline to operate a jetliner and the first in the world to show inflight movies on international routes. But that was then. How the mighty have fallen. Short-sighted, flawed policies over the last few decades have left PIA a shadow of its former self, with poor inflight service, delayed and cancelled flights, and a monthly deficit of three billion rupees between revenue and expenses which has to be covered with bank loans, thus trapping it in a vicious cycle of debt. Corruption, an ageing, gas-guzzling fleet, and overstaffing on political grounds further stretch its limited resources.

Fire-fighting tactics keep operations going. For instance, with nine of PIA’s 34 aircraft grounded, the management recently took four aircraft – two each from Czech and Turkish private airlines – on wet lease, a contract that includes the aircraft, cockpit crew, partial cabin crew, and maintenance. By all accounts, this short-term solution has been a successful move. The 15 to 20 flights added on both domestic and international routes are all turning a profit.

In fact, a senior management source says, “If we could carry on the entire PIA operation with wet lease aircraft, and tell the operational staff to sit home, the airline can stand on its own feet again. The amount of fuel we save per hour on these newer aircraft is equal to their hourly rental of $2500.”

Despite their financial benefits, these wet lease operations have met with resistance from the airline’s pilots and engineers on the grounds that they make the airline’s existing infrastructure redundant. However, in many ways the infrastructure itself is an albatross around the airline’s neck and pressure from employees’ unions prevents retrenchment even if it makes eminent business sense.

For example, of the engineering division’s total annual budget of 20 billion rupees, only three billion rupees worth of repairs are carried out locally but its 4,000 personnel remain on the company’s payroll.

Contrary to the perception that the major drain on PIA’s resources are the salaries for its bloated employee base, the company spends barely 15 per cent of its revenue on salaries as compared to other airlines which spend about 30pc. However, the remuneration structure is skewed in favour of pilots, cabin crew and engineers – who comprise 40pc of the employees but consume almost 60pc of the salary budget. “The problem is the quality of manpower,” says a source. “I have so-called MBAs working under me who don’t know financial basics. What else can one expect when their starting salary is Rs25,000?”

Political appointments exacerbate the dearth of qualified manpower and institutionalise a culture of impunity. “A large number of such appointees who had earlier been sacked – often for good reason – were reappointed under the previous government,” says a pilot. “Many of them came in, collected their arrears and resigned the very next day.”

Lack of accountability pervades virtually all aspects of the airline. Senior executives create posts to accommodate relatives – which may perhaps explain the plethora of general managers in PIA. ‘Orders’ are placed for expensive spare parts that are already available in the inventory and over-invoicing in every department is rife.

More serious still, fuel constitutes the biggest chunk of its expenses – at least 60pc compared to about 40pc in other airlines. This is not just because of PIA’s older aircraft but also, according to PIA sources, because of pilots who routinely take more fuel than required, thereby incurring needless additional expenditure.

“They treat the airline like a personal fiefdom,” says a pilot. “Fuel requirements depend on the aircraft’s total weight, but pilots don’t wait to be informed of it before making fuel calculations.”

The general consensus among industry professionals is that privatisation is the only way to salvage PIA and run it on professional lines. Until that happens, it seems Pakistan’s flagship carrier will continue to flounder, caught between farce and tragedy.

Energy policy is going nowhere

Updated 2014-01-18 10:25:15

“My government is devoting its time and resources to tackling the energy problem,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in his first address to the nation in August.

By the time he said this, his government had cleared unpaid bills of Rs480bn of all public and private power producers and their fuel suppliers, which, he said, had secured 1,700MW of electricity for the national grid. The National Energy Policy (NEP) was also ready towards end-July.

Almost six months down the road, his government is finding it tough to meet even the reduced power demand in winters, while the gas shortages have left people complaining of the difficulties of cooking food and heating water. At the same time, private power producers are grumbling about fresh unpaid bills.

The ambitious NEP seems to be going nowhere, at least not for the moment. Fatigue and desperation are slowly overtaking the ministers and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, tasked to reform the collapsing power sector and woo private investors.

Potential investors are waiting for the government to first implement the promised power sector reforms before they invest in new generation projects.

The MoUs signed by the Punjab and federal governments with Chinese companies ‘interested’ in investing in power generation here are so far worthless pieces of paper.

“The so-called energy policy is no more than a ‘concept’ paper and its targets are unlikely to be achieved in five years,” argues a former Pepco boss.

“It is a flawed document authored by those with no experience of or stake in the power sector. No milestones have been set and no execution strategy formulated.”

His comment isn’t off the mark. Apart from having substantially raised the electricity prices for all consumers to reduce power subsidies from 1.8pc to 0.3-0.4pc of GDP, the government is yet to execute other aspects of the ambitious policy that promises an investment of over $25bn in the power sector to end blackouts by 2017 and produce surplus electricity by 2018.

The delay in reforms has increased transmission and distribution losses from 28pc to 29-30pc and added another Rs89bn to the unrecovered bills from July to November 2013. The campaign against

gas and power thieves has fizzled out. The planned import of electricity from Central Asia, Iran and India has been put on the back burner and the energy conservation strategy postponed until summer.

The planned import of LNG from Qatar and gas pipelines from Iran and Turkmenistan remains uncertain. The land for Gadani Power Park, which is to produce 6,600 megawatts of coal-based electricity and bring down the price to $0.10 a unit by 2018, is yet to be acquired.

The government claims it intends to construct Diamer-Bhasha dam from its own pocket and Dasu dam with multilateral assistance, but the work on these or other hydropower projects is unlikely to start soon.

The proposed conversion of four oil-based private power plants is now considered unfeasible, not least because of logistical problems in transporting imported coal from the port. Besides, a new tariff is yet to be announced for them.

Restructuring and reform of public power generation and distribution companies to

prepare them for privatisation is not going anywhere because boards have not been reconstituted; chief executives haven’t been appointed; and decision-making powers haven’t been transferred. The overhaul of the power sector regulator is also yet to take place.

However, credit must be given to the government where it is due. A couple of thousands of megawatts are expected to be added to the national grid once the Neelum-Jhelum, Nandipur and other small thermal and hydropower projects are completed. “The present government is pushing these projects,” says a former Hubco boss.

Many term the growing energy crunch, which saw blackouts of up to 18 hours in urban and 22 hours in rural areas in 2013, as the biggest national security threat. “Electricity is the major hurdle in Pakistan’s economic take-off. Even terrorism isn’t as big,” a businessman argues.

Pakistan is estimated to have lost 10pc of its GDP in the last five years due to power shortages, leading to declining private investment and a growth rate well below South Asia’s average.

Chances are the consumers will suffer long power cuts and higher electricity prices during the next summer. If that happens, street protests and riots cannot be ruled out.

Taking a cue from how the ruling PML-N leadership used protests to rally the public against its predecessor, the opposition, particularly Imran Khan’s PTI, will not shy away from them either to discredit the government.

Saudi Arabia to raze Prophet Mohammed’s tomb to build larger mosque

Saudi Arabia to raze Prophet Mohammed’s tomb to build larger mosque

January 13, 2014 4:51 pm Comments Off Views: 18338

The key Islamic heritage site, including Prophet Mohammed’s shrine, is to be bulldozed, as Saudi Arabia plans a $ 6 billion expansion of Medina’s holy Masjid an-Nabawi Mosque. However, Muslims remain silent on the possible destruction.

Work on the Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina, is planned to start as soon as the annual Hajj pilgrimage comes to a close at the end of November.

“After the Hajj this year, in one months’ time, the bulldozers will move in and will start to demolish the last part of Mecca, the grand mosque which is at least 1,000 years old,” Dr. Irfan Alawi of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, told RT.

After the reconstruction, the mosque is expected to become the world’s largest building, with a capacity for 1.6 million people.

And while the need to expand does exist as more pilgrims are flocking to holy sites every year, nothing has been said on how the project will affect the surroundings of the mosque, also historic sites.

Concerns are growing that the expansion of Masjid an-Nabawi will come at the price of three of the world’s oldest mosques nearby, which hold the tombs of Prophet Mohammed and two of his closest companions, Abu Bakr and Umar. The expansion project which will cost 25 billion SAR (more than US $6 billion) reportedly requires razing holy sites, as old as the seventh century.

The Saudis insist that colossal expansion of both Mecca and Medina is essential to make a way for the growing numbers of pilgrims. Both Mecca and Medina host 12 million visiting pilgrims each year and this number is expected to increase to 17 million by 2025.

Authorities and hotel developers are working hard to keep pace, however, the expansions have cost the oldest cities their historical surroundings as sky scrapers, luxury hotels and shopping malls are being erected amongst Islamic heritage.

A room in a hotel or apartment in a historic area may cost up to $ 500 per night. And that’s all in or near Mecca, a place where the Prophet Mohammed insisted all Muslims would be equal.

“They just want to make a lot of money from the super-rich elite pilgrims, but for the poor pilgrims it is getting very expensive and they cannot afford it,”

Dr. Irfan Al Alawi said.


A general view of the Prophet Mohammed Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Medina (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams) A general view of the Prophet Mohammed Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Medina (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams) 

Jabal Omar complex – a 40 tower ensemble – is being depicted as a new pearl of Mecca. When complete, it will consist of six five star hotels, seven 39 storey residential towers offering 520 restaurants, 4, 360 commercial and retail shops.

But to build this tourist attraction the Saudi authorities destroyed the Ottoman era Ajyad Fortress and the hill it stood on.

The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimated that 95 percent of sacred sites and shrines in the two cities have been destroyed in the past twenty years.

The Prophet’s birthplace was turned into a library and the house of his first wife, Khadijah, was replaced with a public toilet block.

Also the expansion and development might threaten many locals homes, but so far most Muslims have remained silent on the issue.

“Mecca is a holy sanctuary as stated in the Quran it is no ordinary city. The Muslims remain silent against the Saudi Wahhabi destruction because they fear they will not be allowed to visit the Kindom again,” said Dr. Al Alawi.

The fact that there is no reaction on possible destruction has raised talks about hypocrisy because Muslims are turning a blind eye to that their faith people are going to ruin sacred sites.

“Some of the Sunni channels based in the United Kingdom are influenced by Saudi petro dollars and dare not to speak against the destruction, but yet are one of the first to condemn the movie made by non Muslims,” Dr. Al Alawi said.


What Is POP & IMAP & Which One Should You Use For Your Email?

POP vs IMAP   What Is POP & IMAP & Which One Should You Use For Your Email? If you have ever set up an email client or app, you will have certainly come across the terms POP and IMAP. Do you remember which one you chose and why? If you are not quite sure what these terms stand for and how each affects your email account, this article will shed some light. The article explains how POP and IMAP work and will help you decide which one best fits your needs.


IMAP is short for Internet Message Access Protocol, while POP translates to Post Office Protocol. In other words, both are email protocols. They allow you to read emails locally using a third party application. Examples of such applications are Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora, GNUMail, or (Mac) Mail.

The original protocol is POP. It was created in 1984 as a means to download emails from a remote server. IMAP was designed in 1986 to allow remote access to emails stored on a remote server. Essentially, the main difference of the two protocols is that POP downloads emails from the server for permanent local storage, while IMAP leaves them on the server and just caches (temporarily stores) emails locally. In other words, IMAP is a form of cloud storage.


How Do POP & IMAP Compare?

The two protocols are best compared by looking at their most basic workflows.

POP Workflow:

  • Connect to server
  • Retrieve all mail
  • Store locally as new mail
  • Delete mail from server*
  • Disconnect

*The default behavior of POP is to delete mail from the server. However, most POP clients also provide an option to leave a copy of downloaded mail on the server.

IMAP Workflow:

  • Connect to server
  • Fetch user requested content and cache it locally, e.g. list of new mail, message summaries, or content of explicitly selected emails
  • Process user edits, e.g. marking email as read, deleting email etc.
  • Disconnect

As you can see, the IMAP workflow is a little more complex than POP. Essentially, folder structures and emails are stored on the server and only copies are kept locally. Typically, these local copies are stored temporarily. However, you can also store them permanently.

Sending Mail   What Is POP & IMAP & Which One Should You Use For Your Email?


What Are The Advantages Of POP?

Being the original protocol, POP follows the simplistic idea that only one client requires access to mail on the server and that mails are best stored locally. This leads to the following advantages:

  • Mail stored locally, i.e. always accessible, even without internet connection
  • Internet connection needed only for sending and receiving mail
  • Saves server storage space
  • Option to leave copy of mail on server
  • Consolidate multiple email accounts and servers into one inbox

What Are The Advantages Of IMAP?

As mentioned in the introduction, IMAP was created to allow remote access to emails stored on a remote server. The idea was to allow multiple clients or users to manage the same inbox. So whether you log in from your home or your work computer, you will always see the same emails and folder structure since they are stored on the server and all changes you make to local copies are immediately synced to the server.

As a result, IMAP has the following advantages:

  • Mail stored on remote server, i.e. accessible from multiple different locations
  • Internet connection needed to access mail
  • Faster overview as only headers are downloaded until content is explicitly requested
  • Mail is automatically backed up if server is managed properly
  • Saves local storage space
  • Option to store mail locally

Email   What Is POP & IMAP & Which One Should You Use For Your Email?


What Is The Best Email Protocol For Me?

Obviously, it depends on your specific variables and you probably have an idea of what is best suited for your situation already. The points below should help to make a final decision.

Choose POP If…

  • you want to access your mail from only one single device
  • you need constant access to your email, regardless of internet availability
  • your server storage space is limited

Choose IMAP If…

  • you want to access your email from multiple different devices
  • you have a reliable and constant internet connection
  • you want to receive a quick overview of new emails or emails on the server
  • your local storage space is limited
  • you are worried about backing up

If in doubt, go with IMAP. It’s the more modern protocol, it allows you to be flexible, your email is automatically backed up on the server, available server space usually isn’t an issue these days, and you can still store important emails locally.

What protocol did you choose and do you think you need to revise your decision?

More Articles On This Topic

How Does An Email Server Work? [Technology Explained]

6 Reasons Why You Should Stop Using Desktop Email Clients In Favour Of Web-Based Options

3 Ways To Sync Thunderbird Emails Across Multiple Computers

How To Download & Back Up Your Gmail & Other Google Data


“….POP is useful if you plan on keeping all email local. Basically, it treats Gmail as a glorified POP recipient. Email is always downloaded locally; although you have the option to keep the downloaded messages stored in Gmail. It’s also useful when you’re using Gmail to forward email or if you’re in the process of migrating away from Gmail.

IMAP is better if you want to keep email stored remotely on Google’s servers. Only message copies are stored locally; headers and message bodies are downloaded on-demand when you access each folder….”



More with a different angle :
How I switched from Gmail to (and how you can too)

This article was written for Thunderbird but also applies to Mozilla Suite / SeaMonkey (though some menu sequences may differ):