Volume 23 Issue 2, February 2019
By Senator Mian Raza Rabbani

The passing of the 18th Amendment back in 2010 can be referred to as a ‘Constitutional Revolution’ in Pakistan’s political history. To me, the word ‘revolution’ better describes the passage of the 18th Amendment because it is an extraordinary achievement for a country that had, for decades, languished in colonialism even after its independence from British rule.

By Justice (R) M. Shaiq Usmani

Our much-amended and much-abused Constitution, after its tumultuous birth on 1973 in the wake of the breakup of Pakistan, has been mutilated every so often by those in power mostly to suit their own political ends. In fact this process of mutilation began immediately after the promulgation of the Constitution in 1973 when the then incumbent Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto introduced various amendments to facilitate the introduction of reforms that were part of his political agenda.

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Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Business Unit Head
Syed Ovais Akhtar

Javed Ansari

Faizan Usmani
Syeda Areeba Rasheed

S. G. Jilanee

Adnan Aamir
Amna Sarwar Sandhu
Asma Khalid
Atif Shamim Syed
Awais Anwer Khawaja
Ayaz Ahmed
Beelam Ramzan
Dr. Moonis Ahmar
Hafsa Bashir
Imran Jan
Inamullah Marwat
J. Anver
Komal Niazi
M. Shaiq Usmani
Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
Muhammad Waqar Rana
Muneeb Qadir
Murtaza Talpur
Nadya Chishty-Mujahid
Riaz Ahmed
S.G. Jilanee
Samar Quddus
Senator Mian Raza Rabbani
Shabana Mahfooz
Syed Adnan Athar Bukhari
Tariq Asad
Taseer Salahuddin
Uzair Sattar

Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Haroon Rasheed
Riaz Masih

Aqam-ud-Din Khan

SouthAsia is published every month by Syed Jawaid Iqbal for and on behalf of JAWZ Communications (Pvt.) Ltd.

Views expressed by the contributors are not necessarily shared by the editors.

Published since 1977 as Thirdworld, the magazine was re-launched in 1997 as SouthAsia.



By Muhammad Waqar Rana

The 18th Amendment since its adoption has been a source of a serious and large controversy. The matter is once again in the news after some recent statements from different quarters. Apparently, there is a division of opinion over it amongst various stakeholders. Some circles believe that the Amendment has undermined and weakened the Federation while some provinces and politicians understand that the Amendment gave them autonomy from the domination of the Punjabis and the Establishment.

The United States of America has decided to exit from Afghanistan and it is said it will complete the task in the next 18 months. This is the longest war that America has fought and it is obvious that the world’s mightiest military power has failed to cow down the Afghans. It is not that America is exiting Afghanistan in victory but is doing so in ignominy – just as it did in Vietnam.
Afghanistan had been a central U.S. foreign policy concern since 2001, when the United States, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, led a military campaign against Al Qaeda and the Taliban government that harboured and supported it. In the intervening 17 years, the United States suffered around 2,400 fatalities and the US Congress appropriated more than $132 billion for reconstruction there. But it did not get anywhere to establishing its hegemony over Afghanistan.

U.S. President George W. Bush blamed Osama bin Laden, who was living or hiding in Afghanistan, for the September 11 attacks. He demanded that the Taliban hand over bin Laden and expel al-Qaeda. The Taliban declined to extradite Bin Laden unless they were provided clear evidence of his involvement in the September 11 attacks. The U.S. dismissed the request and invaded Afghanistan. Despite all their maneuverings, the Americans were never successful in subjugating the Taliban. Now the Trump administration feels it must withdraw at least half of its forces as this is telling on the American economy. This is what led to the recent round of peace talks involving the United States, representatives of the Taliban, the Afghan government, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.

Not maintaining long-term U.S. military bases and firm guarantees that Afghan soil will not be used to stage attacks on other countries, were the two major demands of the Taliban. America said it would provide substantial financial assistance for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan. Although the Taliban repeatedly demanded complete withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan, later they seemed to be amenable to the US maintaining its bases in Afghanistan. However, the Americans seem to have accepted that their bases would have no role in Afghan security but would be meant for maintaining U.S. presence for overall regional stability. Another peripheral objective of the U.S. is to keep close contact with future Afghan governments in order to ensure that the country does not become a safe haven for terrorist organizations again. Pakistan is not averse to the American demands but wants a ‘regional consensus’ since permanent presence of the U.S. military in Afghanistan would certainly raise eyebrows in Russia, Iran and even China. These countries fear that America may use Afghan soil to advance its own strategic designs in the region.

Afghanistan is the world’s 45th largest country with a population of some 31 million. Its GDP per capita stands at about $2,000. In comparison, the GDP of Ethiopia is $2,200 while that of Gambia is $1,700. The country’s overall position is 207th among some 220 countries of the world. Its neighbour Pakistan has a world ranking of 172 while India, which is in the same region, stands at 157. Afghanistan is a landlocked country. The land has historically witnessed many military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, the Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviets, and since 2001, by the United States with NATO-allied countries. It has been termed as "unconquerable" and nicknamed the "graveyard of empires” and America has again proved that.

The war ravaged country needs to emerge from its continuing misfortunes and its people need a much better deal than what they have been subjected to for years on end. The country has become a refuge and launch pad for terrorists and the IS are also using it. This must be stopped in the interest of regional peace. Development of the Central Asian States bordering Afghanistan would be speeded up once peace comes to this country and lines of communications, such as roads and railways, would be laid across the country. It would also be possible to construct gas lines leading from the Central Asian States to Pakistan and India. Afghanistan would also then become an active component of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and reap many economic benefits for its people. Afghanistan have suffered for too long. It deserves a better deal.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal
Editor in Chief


Shameful Victory

As expected, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed recorded a landslide victory in recent parliamentary polls in Bangladesh. However, there is nothing to write home about her one-sided win over the opposing party, namely the Jatiya Oikya Front that was not even allowed to run an obstacle-free election campaign, let alone equally compete or win the election. Hasina’s third consecutive win can be termed as the continuation of the status quo that serves the country’s elite, comprising the civil-military bureaucracy and a corrupt political mafia as well as the ever-growing capitalists that are well-fed through a system crafted to suit their money-driven motives. Behind the façade of socio-economic progress, today’s Bangladesh is still languishing in deep-seated poverty, unending hunger and increasing unemployment, while those who are at the helm of affairs rejoice the success of Awami League’s rule because it goes well with their long-term agenda. Simply put, Hasina Wajed is just a face representing the powers that be.

Salma Humayun
Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Say No to Israel

Nowadays, many TV anchor-persons and leading columnists are asking the PTI government to revisit Pakistan’s principled policy towards Israel. They believe Pakistan needs to bring a paradigm shift in its policy towards Israel and recognise the Jewish state to explore untapped opportunities and derive potential benefits from one of the most advanced economies that is ranked among the top 20 nations of the world in the UN's Human Development Index. Pressing the government for another U-turn, many foreign policy experts deem the move necessary because of its multi-pronged benefits. Without any doubt, Pakistan needs out-of-the-box solutions since the country is currently sandwiched between a deep economic recession and a looming humanitarian disaster in terms of unrestrained population increase, increasing unemployment and more people falling below the poverty line with each passing day. However, recognising Israel as a legitimate state would itself be another disaster for a crisis-hit country and any such romanticised moves should always be avoided to respect the public sentiments at any cost.

Farhana Izhar,
Quetta, Pakistan.



Homegrown Water Crisis

This is with reference to last month’s cover story on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s over-reliance on Hindutva-based politics and its devastating impact on India’s secular outlook. With merely a couple of months to achieve the ambitious vikas agenda, Modi ji perhaps finds it quite easy to secure the majority vote in the forthcoming elections by exploiting peoples’ religious sentiments through such self-gratifying measures as erecting statues and re-naming cities, streets, towns, railway stations and airports that have Muslim names. Such tactics do work to safeguard political gains but for a limited period. A government is always judged on the basis of its performance in those areas that directly impact the peoples’ socio-economic uplift. Unfortunately, Modi sarkar has miserably failed in addressing India’s real concerns and is now resorting to such measures that could satiate the religious fervour of the majority, but at the cost of making them deprived of their basic right to access to education, employment, health-care and housing facilities.

Dr Jagdish Chandra,
Pune, India.

Doctrine of Necessity

Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s former prime minister and the head of the Muslim League-N, is back in prison. At the same time, time is ticking for Asif Ali Zardari, the former President and co-chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party, who now looks a step closer to prison or disqualification. Interestingly, both party heads are under trial on almost similar charges of financial corruption and it is not clear which way the accountability process would go in the coming months. However, keeping in view the track record of Pakistan’s political history, a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) cannot be ruled out and despite their seemingly proven wrongdoings, both Nawaz and Zardari could be granted amnesty by the incumbent government to avert a formidable political crisis in the country. God forbid, if this happens, it would be no less than a doomsday scenario for a country where the doctrine of necessity still rules to absolve and turn any heinous misconduct into a pardonable act.

Shamim Siddiqui,
Lahore, Pakistan.

Flawed Quota Politics

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Singh Modi is one of those opportunists who go the extra mile to secure their traditional vote base through caste-based reservations and quota-based reforms and that too at the expense of undermining the social justice provisions of the Constitution. That breach happened when the Rajya Sabha recently passed the 124th Constitution Amendment Bill to provide 10 percent reservation in education and government jobs for 'economically weak' people across castes and religions. In hindsight, the move seems to be another political manoeuvre taken by PM Modi in a desperate attempt to recover the vote base the BJP government lost in the recent assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. This suggests that in the age of meritocracy, some people still rely on resorting to quota-based politics for short-term political gains.

Sundararaman P. Srinivasan,
New Delhi, India.

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