Volume 21 Issue 8 August 2017
By S.G. Jilanee

With ever changing allegiance among politicians, Pakistan has become lota land.

Politics in Pakistan has always been a commercial activity. Political parties are not based on ideology with committed members. The Muslim League was not relevant any more after it achieved Pakistan. Yet, politicians still cling to the label sanctimoniously. They even give it various sub-titles to distinguish their “ownership,” such as Muslim League (Nawaz), PML(Q) and PML (Functional). The first, as the name indicates, is Nawaz Sharif’s property, the second is led by Chaudhry Shujaat and the third, by the Pir of Pagara. What ideology they stand for, what doctrine they promote, remains unknown.

By Khawaja Amer

The recent decision by a number of PPP stalwarts to join PTI has created quite a stir in the political scene and the pundits are finding it difficult to predict the outcome of the 2018 general elections.

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Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Zeba Jawaid

Javed Ansari

Faizan Usmani
Khawaja Amer
Syeda Areeba Rasheed

S. G. Jilanee

Sanghmitra S Acharya
Dr. Moonis Ahmar
Ulfat Amer
Mirza Aqeel Baig
Mujtaba Baig
Huzaima Bukhari
Muhammad Ali Ehsan
Mahrukh Farooq
Shakeel Farooqui
Dr. Ikramul Haq
S.G. Jilanee
Dr. Raza Khan
Zehra Khawaja
Taha Kehar
Dr. Syed Ali Madni
K. A. Naqshbandi
S. Mubashir Noor

Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Haroon Rasheed
Riaz Masih


Syed Ovais Akhtar

Hira Sarwar

Muhammad Aamir

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 Shakeel Farooqui

Changing political loyalties overnight is a very common practice in this part of the world, specially Pakistan. There is no denying that democracy is in decline mainly because of the nuisance of political turncoats who do not believe in any ideology and jump from party to party in search of greener pastures. They are so thick-skinned that they don’t feel shy joining the party they were condemning only yesterday. Had this happened in a civilized country, the voters of the lota’s constituency would have never voted for him again.

Outside the Supreme Court building and across the country, the decision was received amidst cheers and tears. The exceptional judicial action against a sitting prime minister was a defining moment in Pakistan’s democratic appraisal and definitely a step forward in the efforts to establish the rule of law. Some may perceive the judgment as radical but there cannot be two opinions that the verdict has not derailed the system and, above all, the decision is very much within the constitutional framework. The unanimous decision of the five-judge bench has laid the foundation of an independent judiciary not subservient to the chief executive, though the ruling has further deepened political divisions in the country.
The fact, remains that it has not disturbed the democratic political process as contemplated by the supporters of PML(N).

The Supreme Court decision to disqualify Nawaz Sharif for life from holding public office is a landmark decision which brought down Sharif's third term in power to an unceremonious end --- roughly one year before the scheduled general elections which would have made him the first ever Pakistani prime minister to complete a full five-year term. Without going into the merits and demerits of the decision, the apex court has definitely created history and the people in general see light at the end of the tunnel. It is a signal of warning for those who openly live beyond their declared and legal sources of income and wealth. The decision can certainly be termed as the beginning of a new era of public accountability. The investigation concluded, “A significant disparity existed between Mr. Nawaz’s family’s declared wealth and its known sources of income.” The time has finally come for the people of Pakistan to derive the benefits of true judicial supremacy and say no to corruption by electing a more transparent and more accountable leadership ---undoubtedly a great achievement - and the judiciary deserves solid commendation.

The exit of of Nawaz Sharif from the country’s political landscape has in a way shaken the very roots of dynastic politics that has been damaging democratic institutions and values in the country. The Supreme Court ruling has also broken the perception of the PPP leaders that Sharif being a Punjabi leader was untouchable while leaders from Sindh and the other smaller provinces could easily be dispensed with. The bench said that on the basis of JIT information, cases would be opened against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Captain Muhammad Safdar, Maryam, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz as well as the former premier. The decision has thus set a trend which will have far-reaching effects and both known and unknown corrupt politicians may go in hiding, leaving the space open for only those who fulfill the requirements of Article 62 and 63. How many politicians can then qualify for contesting the general elections is a tricky question. Then at least the known corrupts will definitely not be in the field. So the decision can be termed as the beginning of a new era in Pakistan’s tainted democracy.

Will the process end here or will it continue --- is the most pertinent question. Let the verdict be just the beginning and the process to bring all the corrupt politicians before the law must go on, followed by a concerted effort to bring back the looted wealth siphoned off from the country. The Supreme Court seems determined to continue the crusade against the corrupts and stay as strong, objective and brutal as it is now to ensure that the qualification of Article 62 and 63 is strictly and evenly applied to all the party heads, party leaders and serving assembly members. There is no denying of the fact that an objective and powerful judiciary is the foremost requirement and an absolute must for a democratic state. The Supreme Court has rightly acted in its power and authority.

Finally a Martin Luther King, Jr. quotation for all the five judges of the Supreme Court who gave their verdict in the case against Nawaz Sharif, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal


Future of Karachi

One needs to understand what Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah is looking to achieve. He and his party leader Bilawal Bhutto has time and again expressed their wishes to rule Karachi, the financial hub of the country, where PPP has less public and political support in terms of the number of ballots. Having taken most of power back from the city government, it appears Murad Ali Shah has been actively pursuing his Mission Karachi, a well-calculated plan to politically hold the metropolitan by winning the majority of the city’s seats in the next election. If this is really going to happen as planned by PPP’s think tank, the future of the city will be at a critical point. This is because changes brought through political engineering may serve certain elements for a brief period, but in the long run this tends to be detrimental to city’s peace and socio-economic stability.

Mushtaq Ahmed,
Hyderabad, Pakistan.

Utilisation of Public Funds

In Bangladesh, under-utilisation of public funds is not a new phenomenon. In 2016 again, the Bangladeshi government miserably failed to utilise funds that were allocated into the Annual Development Programme (ADP). As per the news report, the government managed to spend less than 66 per cent of its development budget in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year. As the financial year is about to end, the fate of the unused 34 per cent of development funds hangs in the balance. The trend is very disappointing. On one hand, the government bemoans the lack of monetary resources required for development and public welfare, but on the other it is unable to use the available resources to the fullest, a clear sign of incompetency, mismanagement and poor governance. The Government of Bangladesh must take this matter seriously and find the root causes behind underutilisation of public funds.

Syed Mahmood Hasan,
Khulna, Bangladesh.


Kalabagh Dream

This is with reference to last month’s cover story on Kalabagh Dam (KBD). Pakistan must be the only country where construction of such crucial water infrastructure as dams and barrages becomes a controversial issue. This reflects our true character as a nation that has yet to define what its priorities are and how long it will take to decide on matters of huge importance. Given the frequency and scale of the floods that hit the country at regular intervals, the negligence being shown on constructing dams and reservoirs is beyond any rational measure. On the government’s part, the lack of willingness to make KBD should be termed a sheer crime against the nation, while those political parties and so-called opinion leaders that openly oppose Kalabagh because of its location must come forward with other alternatives. Since a dam tends to be an essential part of water infrastructure, one wonders in what direction Pakistan is heading towards to achieve its development goals without building dams and investing in the development of its decaying water infrastructure.

Syed Ali Mujtaba,
Kohat, Pakistan.

A Good Move

Recently, India has officially become the member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which has emerged as an important global platform due to its geopolitical and economic significance in today’s multi-polar world. Though it happens to be quite a delayed entry into the SCO, it was crucial for India to join the organisation since it is currently one of the leading organisations that is chiefly focused on central Asia and its neighbourhood, a region where India has no land connectivity. The SCO membership will help India get access to central Asian markets and will also help in improving its diplomatic ties with China, who in exchange for this may ask India to support its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) initiative, the world’s largest infrastructure development project connecting Asia with European and African countries. Becoming a full member of the SCO may also help India to resolve its settle long-standing border disputes with China in a peaceful manner.

Kamal Agrawal,
New Delhi, India.

Time to Act

Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba has been recently elected as the new Prime Minister of Nepal. He has returned to the Premier's Office for the fourth time in the last two decades, a luxury that can be only enjoyed in a politically struggling country like Nepal that has already seen a total of ten prime ministers in the last ten years. Deuba enjoys a unique distinction, as whenever he becomes the head of the state his rule brings in a reign of political anarchy and chaos in a seemingly democratic setup. As the lady luck strikes again for Deuba, he has the golden opportunity to prove his critics wrong by running the state in an appropriate manner without indulging into vindictive politics or using its powers to settle personal scores. I believe he will show some maturity this time, as today’s Nepal can no more afford any adventurism in the name of saving democracy.

R. F. Dharmalal,
Lalitpur, Nepal.

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