Where does the Sharifs’ indictment leave Pakistan? Same place as yesterday

After much drama, an accountability court has proceeded to indict Nawaz Sharif and his kin for obtaining their foreign properties and businesses through dubious earnings. The indictment was a result of yesterday’s hearing in which only Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain Safdar Awan were present. Nawaz is in London tending to his wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, who is undergoing chemotherapy. The hearing was originally scheduled to take place on October 13th. On the day though, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s (PML-N) workers and lawyers barged into the court and created a ruckus claiming that their client had been manhandled and requested another date for the hearing. Also, ...

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When public monuments sprinkle salt on another community’s wounds

The constant struggle to control the past and the future by dominating the present took a new turn in Charlottesville, Virginia, over Robert Edward Lee’s statue. Now, public monuments are becoming polemical in Australia. Erecting and pulling down public monuments in democracies during peacetime provides a new battlefield, in stark contrast to the acts of armed men drunk on victory. In 2003, when the Americans bludgeoned their way into Iraq, they gleefully helped Iraqi citizens pull down Saddam Hussein’s statue while much of the world cheered. When the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas, most of the world wept. Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin’s statues received applause ...

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Pakistan’s foreign policy, cross-country trade and internal security: For better or for worse?

Is Pakistan’s foreign policy in mayhem or is it a work in progress? This is a tough question for any political analyst. On one hand, the dwindling Pakistan-US relationship has drawn a lot of unsolicited criticism, while on the other, the increasing cooperation between China, Russia and Pakistan is claimed to be a stepping stone to country’s long-term growth. Pakistan has recently been under a lot of fire since Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has clearly stated that Pakistan will neither fight the US-Afghan war on its own soil nor will it be used as a scapegoat. Abbasi stated, “Nor can we endorse any failed ...

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Are the German election results and the Catalonia referendum a wake up call for the EU?

Major political decisions of Spain’s Catalonia region and Germany’s former Prussia, (lately East Germany), are influenced by their history despite their distinct means and objectives. Both are trying to shape a future perceived to be compatible with the historical perspective of their self-image. While many Catalonians seek independence from Spain, Germany happily reunited in 1990 and is now seeing its political power balance imperceptibly mutating. In the long-term, both can stoke a crisis of unity within sovereign member states and the European Union (EU). Catalonian demands for independence will encourage simmering independence movements in Spain, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France and ...

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Can the Kurdish referendum potentially destabilise the Middle East?

Over the last few weeks, political conversations in Iraq have mostly revolved around the historic Kurdish referendum. This referendum allowed the Kurds to declare independence from the Iraqi central government in Baghdad. The Kurds are a stateless ethnic group of people who inhabit spaces in modern-day Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. They’ve been one of the most persecuted groups in history and it was only recently, in 2005, that they gained constitutional recognition in Iraq. A few days before the referendum, I asked an Iraqi friend about what the referendum entails and if it would prove to be successful. He smiled and informed me that Baghdad had been resisting ...

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Making Pakistan (un)proud: Too consumed by domestic issues to care about overseas Pakistanis, Khwaja Asif?

Blunt and evasive are two adjectives that best describe Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s recent conversation with the Asia Society. It was held in union with the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Asif, a vocal critic of Donald Trump’s version of American foreign policy, admitted that Trump’s position on the Afghanistan-Pakistan (AfPak) region was an “utter disappointment”. However, I personally felt that his elusive response to the question regarding Pakistani-Americans was an utter disappointment. The interviewer, a world-renowned journalist and author, Steve Coll, mentioned the increasingly polarising nature of the American society, which the foreign minister sharply labelled as a bad sign for the future. Coll also referred to the ...

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Can Islam and democracy coexist in today’s world?

Germany has given its verdict and elected Angela Merkel for the fourth consecutive term. Her victory has relieved many as her popularity took a nosedive after her brave decision to take in refugees in 2015. However, at the same time, the reduced margin of her victory has also raised alarms. The German far-right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), has accumulated 13% of the total votes, becoming the first such party to win so many seats in more than 50 years. The improvement in its vote tally is remarkable, given the fact that it only won 4.7% of the total votes in the 2013 elections, narrowly missing the ...

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13,000 Pakistanis voted for far-right parties – should the remaining be worried?

Following the Supreme Court decision regarding Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification from his prime ministerial position, the NA-120 seat needed to be filled immediately. Fortunately for the Sharifs, the NA-120 by-election results allowed Kulsoom Nawaz to fill this vacant seat.  NA-120 has been a stronghold for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) since 1985 when Nawaz won and became the chief minister of Punjab. From then onwards, Nawaz’s party consecutively won the NA-120 seat eight times in 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 2002, 2008, 2013 and now in 2017. The NA-120 by-election results did not only highlight PML-N’s stronghold, but also highlighted the emergence of two far-right Islamist parties – Milli Muslim League (MML) ...

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We commend Punjab for banning medical treatment abroad, but will politicians like Nawaz Sharif actually adhere to it?

Despite what the popular opinion may be, the Punjab government must be commended for taking objective measures to ensure austerity in the province. The Punjab government has imposed an extensive ban, restricting all ministers, MPA’s and officials from travelling abroad for medical treatment at the government’s expense. Furthermore, the government has banned recruitment against vacant posts, imposed a complete ban on the procurement of locally assembled and imported new vehicles, amongst various other bans. The ban that I feel is most welcome is imposing a restriction on travelling abroad for medical treatment. Healthcare in Pakistan poses a major problem for every government. ...

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The freedom to make or amend constitutional laws is Pakistan’s fundamental flaw

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi recently remarked that Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution may be scrapped with the consultation of all parties. In case readers have forgotten, this particular article had provided the grounds of Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification. Constitutionally, Abbasi is correct, as Article 239 titled ‘Constitutional Amendment Bill’ states the following in clause (5): “No amendment of the Constitution shall be called in question in any court on any ground whatsoever.” Furthermore, clause (6) states, “For the removal of doubt, it is hereby declared that there is no limitation whatsoever on the power of the Parliament to amend any of the provisions of the Constitution.” Therefore, if Article 62 is ...

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