Volume 21 Issue 1 January 2017
By S.G. Jilanee

India has mounted a relentless campaign to smear Pakistan as a sponsor of terrorists. It uses every gimmick to embarrass and every forum to vilify Pakistan. The latest occasion was the Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar, where Afghanistan president, Ashraf Ghani also chimed in to give an earful to Pakistan’s delegate – the PM’s foreign affairs adviser, Sartaj Aziz.

Earlier, India boycotted the SAARC summit to be held in Islamabad, pulling Bangladesh and Afghanistan as well with it. The meeting had to be cancelled. Next, Prime Minister Modi again reviled Pakistan at the BRICS summit in Goa.

By Dr. Moonis Ahmar

On September 24, 2016, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi while delivering a speech in the southern Indian city of Kozhikode warned Pakistan that, “we will isolate you. I will work for that. India would continue to push to make Pakistan a pariah state in the eyes of the international community. We will intensify our efforts and force you to be alone all over the world.”
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Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Zeba Jawaid

Javed Ansari

Mahrukh Farooq – Faizan Usmani
Feature Writer: Khawaja Amer

S. G. Jilanee

Dr. Moonis Ahmar
Zeeshan Ahmed
Khawaja Amer
Zufah Ansari
Huzaima Bukhari
Muhammad Ali Ehsan
Tariq Faruqi
Dr. Ikramul Haq
Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
Hafiz Inam
S.G. Jilanee
Dr. Raza Khan
Taha Kehar
Zehra Khawaja
Dr. Syed Ali Madni
K.A. Naqshbandi
S. Mubashir Noor
Tahira Sajid
Faizan Usmani

Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Haroon Rasheed
Riaz Masih

Aqam-ud-Din Khan

Waqas Jan
Syed Ovais Akhtar
Hira Sarwar

Shehryar Zulfiqar

Danish Shahid

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 Khawaja Amer

After the cancellation of the SAARC summit in Islamabad and Pakistan’s embarrassment at the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar, political observers and commentators on international affairs believe that Pakistan is fast heading towards complete isolation. They argue that barring China, most countries in the region consider Pakistan a terrorist state while others perceive it as a ‘bad boy’ and, as such, they prefer to keep a safe distance.

Though the official word on the fate of population census is finally positive, it has been such a tricky ride announcement after announcement and deadline after deadline that it is hard to actually believe that it will really be executed this time round. The best bet, however, is to hope for the best. On its part, the Supreme Court of Pakistan deserves definite commendation for making a concerted effort to save the country from a rudderless leadership by rejecting reasons for delay in conducting the population census and ordering the government to announce a definitive timeframe for holding the much-needed headcount.

While taking suo motu notice on delay in census, Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali was quoted as saying, “We have beautifully decorated the green book [Constitution] in cupboards only to be forgotten. Our only anxiety is that the constitutional obligations should be implemented in letter and spirit at all costs.” Following the decision, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presided over a meeting of the Council of Common Interests which agreed to begin Pakistan's sixth population census on March 15, 2017.

If history is anything to take cue from, fears of uncertainty on this crucial count are not misplaced. After the first census in 1951, there should have been six held by now and, in line with the Constitution, a seventh would have been due in the next few years. Instead, we have just had four – 1961, 1972, 1981 and 1998 – and, rhetoric aside, there was never a realistic chance of the various deadlines being met that were announced in the last ten or so years. Financial constraints and logistical issues have been often cited for the delay, but it is not too hard to detect the basic reason: lack of political will to hold census, which is nothing but raw material for all the key social, economic and demographic indicators. These, in turn, form the basis to work out formulae for distribution of resources among the provinces, delimitation of electoral constituencies, job quotas, water apportionment and such other sensitive issues. Without census data, socio-economic planning is just guesswork. And if one were to point any one reason behind the mess in Pakistan, it would be poor planning because the headcount required for preparing a correct cost-effective forecast is not available. The last census in Pakistan was conducted in 1998 and during the last 18 years the massive migration to the major cities has given birth to new demographic realities across the country. The unaccounted immigrants have worsened the situation further.

The government now must act on a war footing for making arrangements for holding the census without any further delay and assign the task to a parliamentary committee comprising representatives of all parties in parliament to avoid unnecessary confusion. The committee should be headed by a federal minister and prepare a list of requirements, including collecting cost estimates from the Census Bureau, meet with relevant staff to make plans, review and update Census Boundary and Annexation Survey maps, and return to Census Bureau with its input. This should be followed with recruitment and subsequent training to enumerators, crew leaders and clerks. It is also important that this census use the state-of-the-art technology for enumeration and data tabulation. This will eliminate the errors when data is digitised later. Aerial photography and GPS units should be used to demarcate Census geography. The government should consider collaborating with digital giants like Google, which has extensive experience in collecting such data. In fact, such tasks could be outsourced to such companies so that data is digitised and archived using the global best practices parameters. It may even be cost-effective.

Other than logistics, there are a couple of technicalities that the authorities need to be clear about before undertaking the exercise. It is a bit surprising that after all the bad blood that was created in 1998, there has been no procedural change planned for enumeration purposes. The anomalies had led to serious protests in Urban Sindh, which plays host to a large immigrant population. In the wake of unrest in Northern Areas and the resultant southward movement, the issue this time round is bound to be even more crucial. Besides, the definition of urban and rural areas is also up in the air because of the change the local governance system has undergone in the intervening period. The delay, though unconstitutional, could still have had a positive connotation if it could have been used to sort out such thorny issues. It is advisable to preempt political backlash afterwards and everything should be done to ensure that much. After all, it is not like asking for the moon, or is it?

Syed Jawaid Iqbal


Uncertainty after Demone-tisation

Most political leaders passionately talk about bringing an overnight change in the system without assessing the long-term impact of such one-off adventures. The recent demonetisation move by the Narendra Modi government suggests the same approach. According to economic experts, demonetisation is a gamble which could put the Indian economy in peril and could lead the country to some serious crises later. Despite being taken with good intentions, a wrong step can never produce the right results. Desperately playing hardball with so much urgency to prove himself a visionary leader in Indian history, Modi has been setting a wrong precedent. In the name of serving the broader public interest, he seems to be working on a personal agenda, sacrificing public objectives to fulfil vested interests.

S. V. Ajit,
Delhi, India.

Controversial Cybercrime Law

The Bangladesh government is going to enact a cybercrime law to ensure digital security, check cybercrime and criminalise offences that are committed over the internet. Quite a positive step though major clauses of the proposed law have major issues, making it a bit controversial piece of legislation even before its final enactment. Most importantly, the law authorises the police and security agencies to monitor overall internet activities in a covert manner, which is nothing than an intrusion into the lives of citizens. Many terms and expressions used in the draft law are vague, such as “acts of defamation” and “use of computer or other electronic devices to hurt religious sentiment and/or to harm the overall stability and law and order of the country.” Taken as a whole, the draft law needs an immediate review, as it largely fails to define actions that would lead to punishment and it also does not provide procedural safeguards to the accused.

Mohammad Akram,
Sirajganj, Bangladesh.


Symbol of a Failed State

This is with reference to last month’s cover story on the current state of politics in Pakistan. A timely write-up, it should have shed some light on the perpetual rift that is found between the ever-flourishing establishment (both military and civil) and the elected public representatives who are mainly considered makeshift legislators compared to the bureaucratic lot of civil servants, or the movers and shakers of the system. More than a clash of the titans, the unending tussle between the bureaucracy and the parliamentarians seems to be an inherited misfortune, plaguing the country since its creation. No matter what its effects have been on the country, the never-to-be-settled differences between the government and the mafia-like establishment have brought us nothing but impoverishment, unending poverty and ignorance to live with. Isn’t this the makings of a failed state?

Syeda Bushra Saeed,
Karachi, Pakistan.

State of Stateless Rohingya

The Rohingya, a Muslim minority of Myanmar, can be termed as the most oppressed minority in the current period. Driven out of their homeland, they have been reduced to stateless refugees, while no country has any intent to provide them the much-needed shelter. Myanmar, as it appears, has a clear-cut policy to push the Rohingya out of the country through violence and other forms of repression. Despite the change of government, the country has not revised its approach towards the resettlement of Rohingya people. On the other hand, the international community has been turning a deaf ear to the issue, as if nothing wrong has been happening in Myanmar. Up to now, hundreds of Rohingyas have been ruthlessly killed and thousands thrown into the sea through the organised ethnic cleansing being perpetrated for the last many years. Truly a humanitarian crisis, the current state of stateless Rohingyas exposes the double standards of international human rights champions.

Firdous A. Bhanji,
Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Need for Digital Currency

Recently, the Indian government has launched a demonetisation move to control the flow of black money in the country. In India, the banned currency notes of the denomination of Rupees 500 and 1000 comprise over 80 per cent of the total currency circulation in the country. However, the sudden ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has created a serious cash crisis, causing major unrest among the people of the country. Quite a bold step, the burning issue of black money circulation and its generation needs to be handled with some sustainable, long-term reforms, compared to drastic, short-term interventions or politically-influenced one-time measures. A long-term remedy, issuing e-coins or e-currency can help such corruption-hit countries as India and Pakistan to control black money, eradicate corruption and encourage the general public to disclose their hidden assets to the government. Resorting to digital currency is a viable option and will help eradicate or, at least minimise corruption.

Syed Farman Ghani,
Torotno, Canada.

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