Volume 23 Issue 1, January 2019
 
 
 
By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Allahabad is now Prayagraj. Mughalsarai Junction Railway Station has been officially renamed as Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction. Three years earlier, the signs for Aurangzeb Road in Delhi were painted over to bear a new name – APJ Abdul Kalam Road (after India’s missile hero). More changes lie ahead. About two dozen or so Indian cities allegedly owe their names to Babur ki auladain (sons of Babur) of which a few are Ahmadabad, Karimnagar, Jamalpur, Faridpur, Hajipur, Moradabad and Secunderabad. They too might disappear from the map of India and emerge reincarnated with Hindu names.


By Dr. Sanghmitra S Acharya

Rising oil prices, dearth of jobs, farmers’ suicides and rural distress, broadening inequality - both economic and social and the aftermath of demonetization and levying of GST - all have been serious issues waiting to be addressed sincerely.

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PRESIDENT & EDITOR IN CHIEF
Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Business Unit Head
Syed Ovais Akhtar

EDITOR
Javed Ansari

ASSISTANT EDITORS
Faizan Usmani
Syeda Areeba Rasheed

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
S. G. Jilanee

CONTRIBUTORS
Abdul Basit
Ali Raza
Aneela Shahzad
Anish Mishra
Awais Anwer Khawaja
Dr Muhammad Babar Chohan
Dr. Arshad Syed Karim
Dr. Moonis Ahmar
Dr. Raza Khan
Dr. Sanghmitra S Acharya
Humza Irfan
Inamullah Marwat
Irshad Ahmad
Khalid Hussain Mir
Mahrukh A. Mughal
Manish Rai
Mohammad Jamil
Nadil Shah
Nadya Chishty-Mujahid
Osama Rizvi
Pervez Hoodbhoy
S. Mubashir Noor
S.G. Jilanee
S.R.H. Hashmi
Saima Mirza
Saleem Qamar Butt
Senator Rehman Malik
Taha Kehar

GRAPHICS & LAYOUT
Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Haroon Rasheed
Riaz Masih

CIRCULATION & COORDINATOR
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.




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By S.G. Jilanee

It was in 1992, when some Hindu zealots serendipitously discovered that the pulpit of the mosque built by the Mughal Emperor, Babur at Ayodhya, a.k.a. the Babri Masjid, was the exact spot where King Dasrath’s first queen, Kaushilya, delivered her son, Ram. The discovery ignited a wave of religious fervour and extremist Hindu organisations - religious and political, exploited the situation to push their communal agenda.


Two individuals who have played a primary role in Pakistan’s political journey are Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari. Nawaz Sharif has served as Prime Minister of Pakistan three times while Asif Zardari has completed a successful five-year term as President of Pakistan. Both have now been charged with money laundering through corruption. Prime Minister Imran Khan has declared in very clear terms that he will carry out accountability under all circumstances. A banking court has extended interim bail of former President and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur till January 7, 2019. They are required to account for the money they are alleged to have laundered and the rule of law will apply to them with the same equitability as it has been done to Nawaz Sharif. The latter was handed down a verdict on Monday, December 24, 2018 in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference by an accountability court. The sentence comprises seven years in jail and a fine of $2.5 million. Sharif has been acquitted in the Flagship Investments reference. His plea of transfer from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi to Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore was also accepted by the learned court.

The influence of law in society depicts the level of fairness and justice by which every individual is treated, regardless of the person’s standing. Rule of law in a healthy society places a constraint on individual and institutional behaviour. It does not matter what office an individual holds. It is the principle under which all members of society (including those in government) are considered equally subject to. Accountability of each individual is very important in this regard and all individuals and institutions, whether belonging to the government or in the private sector, are accountable under the law. It needs to be reemphasized that Pakistan was established as a welfare state where rights of all citizens were to be wholly protected and where the rule of law would be implemented in letter and spirit.

The main objective of a welfare state is to create social and economic equality and to ensure fair standards of living, fair access to justice, freedom of faith, complete transparency in decision-making of the judiciary and respect of human rights. It is clear that in Pakistan’s seven decades of independence, none of this has ever been followed. A human rights commission report published in 2015 provides a shocking situation of human rights in the country. The people of Pakistan suffer from continuous and serious human rights violations but they have never had access to speedy justice. The summary courts established during the various martial laws did provide speedy justice to some extent but this did not continue for very long. An independent and properly functioning judiciary in Pakistan has always been a prerequisite for the rule of law but it had to be backed up by a just legal system and the right of every individual to a fair hearing. In the present times, this seems to have been ensured by the incumbent judiciary which is acting independently and it is for this reason that many people having held the highest offices in the land are now facing the courts. The Pakistan government also needs to revisit the legal system. It must ensure adequate legal representation, effective legislation, open court trials, transparent rules of procedure, and rule of law.

It is hoped that in the coming times, courts in Pakistan will be well on their way towards inculcating merit and public interest in dispensation of their judgments – and that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government will stand by its commitment to fight corruption.

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Syed Jawaid Iqbal
Editor in Chief

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Brexit Countdown

According to Arnold J. Toynbee, a British historian, every civilisation is subject to both rise and fall. More than an outcome of man-made disasters, it tends to be a naturally and gradually occurring phenomenon that leads to a civilisation’s downfall, despite its all grandeur and shining glory and history is witness to such occurrences time and again. The breakup of the British Empire is the most recent example that corroborates Toynbee’s theory and also exposes the vulnerability of human expansionism that has to surrender to unseen powers. As the Brexit deadline is approaching, the erstwhile global powerhouse seems to be at a loss to decide which direction it should choose to stay afloat. From expansionism to isolationism, this is perhaps the most crucial era in the history of the United Kingdom, where both unity and kingdom is found in a threatened state.

Mark Kimberly
Washington, D.C.


Talking with the Taliban

In November last year, the Russian Federation hosted a meeting in Moscow with the Taliban to bring nearly a two decade-long war in Afghanistan to its end. Many such countries as Pakistan, China, India and the US were also invited to sit together to forge a path to peace in the war-torn region. I think it is a major development and the negotiations with the Taliban should be continued in the new year as well. Since the US-led Afghan forces have utilised almost all military options under their sleeves to stabilize the long-troubled country by defeating the Taliban forces, the international community must pressurise the Trump administration to now resort to some peaceful means to end the stalemate. Such reconciliation efforts with the Taliban should not be taken as an act of cowardice and anything that could bring peace to the country would always be a better option than fighting a deadly war with no end in sight.

Shahzad Qadar,
Kabul, Afghanistan.

 

 

Homegrown Water Crisis

This is with reference to last month’s cover story on ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan.’ A separate Muslim state based on the two nation theory, Pakistan soon emerged as a classic example of a dream which went wrong after its inception. Contrary to the vision envisaged by Quaid-e-Azam, the country lost its direction as soon as its founder died. Called ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan,’ the country ideally belonged to the suppressed minority of the sub-continent, but soon after the Quaid’s demise, it saw its foundations shaken to the core when its successive leaderships divided the ‘Land of the Pure’ into ‘East Pakistan’ and ‘West Pakistan.’ The break-up of the country in 1971 was not enough to safeguard its founding ideals as rise of provincialism and ethnicity-based politics turned the country into a truly a multi-nation state. The need of the hour is to revert to the basic idea that was envisaged by the founding fathers.

Syed Mehboob Rabbani,
Karachi, Pakistan.


Reforming the Tax System

The PTI government is taking a number of corrective measures to reform the country’s ailing tax system. There is no doubt about the sincerity behind these reform measures. However, the way they are being undertaken shows the immaturity of the Ministry of Finance which seems to be operating on a trial and error mode. The ministry has separated the task of revenue collection from tax policy formulation. As a result, the Federal Board of Revenue is now only responsible for tax collection and administration. Seemingly, the move is a major one, but it is still not sufficient to improve tax collection in the country. In the past, similar moves were made in the electricity and gas sectors, but no significant improvements were noted in the overall functionality and operations of the sectors. Instead of resorting to cosmetic measures, the finance ministry should find some sustainable directions to reform the tax system.

Bina Ilahi,
Hyderabad, Pakistan.


Anti-encroachment Drive

The on-going anti-encroachment drive in Pakistan has shaken the whole nation. Where many are happy, the concerned victims are questioning the law for looting them all these years. As businesses are not being compensated or re-allocated, there seems to be no logic in depriving people of their livelihood without providing them any alternatives. I agree that Pakistan needs a deep cleanse, but detaining shopkeepers and uprooting on-ground businesses is an act that must be condemned. The anti-encroachment spree has left businesses in a tragic trauma. According to one estimate, nearly 50,000 families have been affected mostly in urban areas of the country. That is a huge number. I feel faulty planning is turning the anti-encroachment drive into a catastrophe. Something must be done to stop this.

Naveeda Shah,
Lahore, Pakistan

 
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