Volume 22 Issue 4, April 2018
By Pervez Hoodbhoy

The Paris based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has sent its grim message to Islamabad, placing Pakistan on the gray list for terror financing. But it’s the sister city of Rawalpindi – home to the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army – that’s actually been spotlighted. No one doubts that that the response will be formulated here, not by the elected government.

By S.R.H. Hashmi

It is indeed extremely worrying that unless Pakistan takes measures before the next FATF meeting scheduled for June to satisfy the FATF Committee of having a practical action plan as well as a serious resolve to tackle the issue of terror financing, the country could end up on the black list.

Even placement on the grey list could be disastrous as it would deprive Pakistan of loans and assistance from international agencies while Europe could claw back the preferential treatment that it gives to Pakistani exports, which are already on a downward spiral.

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Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Zeba Jawaid

Javed Ansari

Faizan Usmani
Khawaja Amer
Syeda Areeba Rasheed

S. G. Jilanee

Dr. Ikramul Haq
Dr. Moonis Ahmar
Dr. Muhammad Ali Ehsan
Dr. Raza Khan
Faizan Usmani
Huzaima Bukhari
Kamal Azfar
Khawaja Amer
Mirza Aqeel Baig
M. Shaiq Usmani
Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
Mujtaba Baig
Pervez Hoodbhoy
S.G. Jilanee
Shahid Javed Burki
S. M. Hali
Soha Sheikh
S.R.H. Hashmi
Syeda Areeba Rasheed
Syeda Izma
Taha Kehar
Taj M Khattak
Ulfat Amer
Zehra Khawaja

Neha Ansari

Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Haroon Rasheed
Riaz Masih


Syed Ovais Akhtar

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 Shahid Javed Burki

The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering was formed at the G7 meeting in Paris in 1989. Its formation reflected the increasing concern among the world's rich countries that terrorist activities were being supported by large flows of funds, mostly from the Arab world and also from the Diaspora formed in developing countries in Europe and North America. The money was being provided by private individuals who believed in the causes being pursued by various terrorist organizations. The FATF was given a wide mandate to cleanse the system of international finance.

An independent judiciary is considered a necessary element of democracy. The present Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has promised that democracy will not be derailed in the country. The confrontation between the executive and the judiciary that is currently visible may have led to speculations about the imminent collapse of the democratic system but so long as Justice Nisar leads the Supreme Court of Pakistan and is assisted by the judges currently on the bench, prospects of such a confrontation taking place are rather remote. In fact, this is a defining moment in the history of Pakistan’s judiciary as a stark reminder has been given to the people of the connection between the independence of the judiciary and the progress that democracy is experiencing in Pakistan. It can be said that the judiciary has a significant role to play in checking the executive and the legislature and in protecting the constitution. The relationship between the judiciary and the government in light of the recent developments involving the Supreme Court and the ousted Prime Minister, are for all to see. Pakistan’s judiciary, historically seen as relatively passive in political matters, is now going through a new phase. It has emphasized with due force that democracy is not in danger. A strong judiciary is clearly vital in any democracy and it will be important for the key institutions and players to find the right balance to ensure the success of Pakistan’s journey on the road to democracy.

There has been much debate in Pakistan’s political circles, in the media and among the general public that the state’s highest judiciary is not sticking to its original task of hearing judicial cases and dispensing justice and that it is stepping into such administrative matters as the upkeep of state hospitals, the quality of water provided to cities and the cleaning of municipal garbage. Ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also spoken of the judiciary’s complicity in past coups. The present Chief Justice is accused of having a personal grudge against Nawaz Sharif and this is said to be reflected in the passing of verdicts of corruption against the former PM. The Chief Justice and his fellow judges in the Supreme Court are said to have some kind of a bias against the PML (N) and its former boss. It is gratifying to note, nevertheless, that the feathers of the Chief Justice have not been ruffled by such allegations and he continues to protect democracy by reiterating that the Doctrine of Necessity has been "buried". He has also pointed to an impression being given that there was a threat to democracy or that the judiciary would become a party in the derailment of democracy. The Chief Justice has stressed that this was not true and has also said that the judiciary was an important pillar of the state because trichotomy of powers was the spirit of democracy.

The Chief Justice says he was quite aware that the courts were not dispensing justice to the people the way they should have and the people were being deprived of their basic rights. In recent months, the Chief Justice has spoken very emphatically of judicial reforms because there were thousands of cases pending across the country’s judicial system. The Chief Justice has vowed to introduce reforms in the sector to ensure speedy justice. The CJP was also quite aware that it was important for him to take suo moto actions where required. It is obvious that if he did not go around examining the water supply or garbage situation or inspecting public hospitals, the executive arm would never pay heed to these administrative anomalies and the public would continue to suffer. In Karachi, the Sindh Government and Local Government have continued to bicker among themselves over whose job it is to supply water to the public or to pick up the city garbage. In Lahore, the provincial administration is busy with building roads, flyovers, etc. Their latest ‘baby’ is the Orange Train, which they are in a hurry to finish before their constitutional term is over and an interim government takes charge prior to the elections. As such, they do not seem to be interested in attending to other problems that the city dwellers are experiencing.

It is to bring the fruits of democracy to the people that the Chief Justice and his fellow judges have taken upon themselves the task that the executive should have actually been performing in a democratic setup. However, since the attention of the executive seems to be diverted to exigencies of a political nature and the need for public good, which is the basic spirit of a living democracy, is not being fulfilled, the judiciary is performing this additional task. The best thing is that democracy is not being allowed to become a casualty in the path of public good.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal
Editor in Chief


Rise of Intolerant India

A democratic state is where space to express is abundant. In the last few years, however, there have been evidence in India which cannot be considered democratic. For instance, noted journalist and a well-known critic of the right wing, Gauri Lankesh, was killed in September 2017, in a similar way as rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi and Govind Pansare. A renowned rationalist and a medical doctor from Maharashtra, Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in 2013. He was the founder-president of an anti-superstition advocacy group. Like Dabholkar, Govind Pansare was killed in February 16, 2015. He was a supporter of Dabholkar’s movement against black magic and advocacy for inter-caste marriages. He spoke out against the Hindutva glorification of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mohandas Gandhi. A few months later, former vice chancellor of Kannada University, Malleshappa Kalburgi was shot dead. He was a progressive voice and was critical of the superstitions in Hinduism. Is the freedom of expression enshrined in the Indian Constitution actually guarding the rights of the citizens?

Sanghmitra S Acharya,
New Delhi, India.

Rising Malnutrition in Children

As per the WHO, malnutrition tends to be a critical condition created by inadequate intake of macronutrients and micronutrients, containing essential calories, proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats. Malnutrition accounts for more than 40 per cent under-five deaths every year. Therefore, it has now been declared as a medical and humanitarian emergency posed to global health. Pakistan is one of those countries where malnutrition level among children is rising at an alarming rate, while not many efforts are being made to tackle the issue. In Pakistan, the last National Nutrition Survey (NNS) was carried out in 2011, which revealed that more than 40 per cent children in the country were stunted and over 11 million children were chronically malnourished. The survey suggests that more than 3.5 million children are highly vulnerable to various chronic and infectious diseases. I appeal to the Ministry of Health of Pakistan to address such a large-scale deficiency in children on a war-footing.

Sughra Parveen,
Jhelum, Pakistan.



Circular Debt Trap

This is with reference to last month’s cover story on the ever-escalating circular debt in Pakistan’s energy sector. Since the annual fiscal budget is going to be announced in the mid of April, it would be another budget burdened with a massive amount of ‘ghost money’ that has been circulating in the form of debt with no chance of paying it off any time soon. Other than budget allocations, the ongoing circular debt in the power sector always ends up rolling over for the next years. Therefore, the matter has become a constant hindrance, affecting the macroeconomic development of the country, despite foreign direct investment flows, particularly in the last few years. Once again, makeshift arrangements are being made to clear the balance sheets of power companies. However, the repayment of the same will require annual payments from the next budget at the expense of public welfare. Hence, the vicious cycle of debt continues.

Mujtaba Haider,
Islamabad, Pakistan.

Booming Fertilizer Sector

In an agrarian economy, the fertilizer sector plays a decisive role in the overall economic growth and development of the country. However, the role played by this sector is mostly taken for granted almost in all South Asian countries, which is not a healthy sign by any measure. The Bangladesh fertilizer industry has come of age and has emerged as one of the leading industries earning sizable foreign exchange for the country. Often referred to as an allied agricultural industry, the fertilizer sector has been doing a commendable job for the betterment of poor farmers and small landholders who are otherwise deprived of economic perks enjoyed by government officials, corporate firms and their agents. It is also the largest taxpayer in the country, providing employment opportunities to hundreds of thousands of people living in rural areas in particular.

Birjees Ilahi,
Dhaka, Bangladesh.

A Welcome Exit

In February, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma resigned from the presidency of South Africa. His presidential term was tainted with charges of personal misconduct, fraud, money laundering and corruption. Publicly nicknamed the ‘Teflon’ president, Zuma’s resignation as South Africa’s President is being interpreted as a positive development for the country as his much-delayed exit has somehow brought an opportunity to clean up the government and restore its public image. Having had enough of widespread corruption and of rampant government wrongdoings, the people of South Africa were looking for an institutional cleanup since ages. However, the institutional overhaul was not possible owing to the presence of corrupt officials in the government setup, which also gave rise to corruption in the private sector. Better late than never, we hope Zuma’s exit would also be the end of his legacy, fraught with embezzlement and dishonest practices.

Andre M. Friedrich,
Johannesburg, South Africa.

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