Volume 22 Issue 1, January 2018
By Shahid Javed Burki

IAt this time, Saudi Arabia is going through a process of succession to the Kingdom's throne that is different from all those that came earlier. Six times before the current unfolding of events, the throne passed from one son of King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud to another. Ibn Saud who established the kingdom through conquest died on November 9, 1953 leaving behind scores of sons from dozens of wives. Twice the sons of the same wife, Hussa bint Ahmed Ali Saudari, ascended the throne.

By Khawaja Amer

For a person like me who landed at Jeddah International Airport in 1975 to join the editorial department of the first English language daily of Saudi Arabia ‘Arab News’, the change taking place soon after Mohammad bin Salman started calling shots is simply amazing - in fact unbelievable. Riyadh was then a very restricted city. No foreign carrier could land at Riyadh Airport and those who wanted to visit Riyadh had to board the national carrier Saudia. All the foreign embassies were located in Jeddah. The embassies were allowed to operate from Riyadh in 1984.

Click this photo to view
the 'Genesis Awards' video.


Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Zeba Jawaid

Javed Ansari

Faizan Usmani
Khawaja Amer
Syeda Areeba Rasheed

S. G. Jilanee

J. Enver
S. M. Hali
Huzaima Bukhari
Dr. Ikramul Haq
Vice Admiral (R) Iqbal.F. Quadir
S.G. Jilanee
Mirza Aqeel Baig
Dr. Moonis Ahmar
S. Mubashir Noor
Dr. Muhammad Ali Ehsan
Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
Mujtaba Baig
K. A. Naqshbandi
Dr. Raza Khan
Sajjad Ahmad
Shahid Javed Burki
Taha Kehar
Taj M Khattak
Ulfat Amer
Zehra Khawaja

Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Haroon Rasheed
Riaz Masih


Syed Ovais Akhtar

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 Taj M Khattak

Those familiar with Middle East politics are aware that the region is characterized by multiple destabilizing dynamics like the decades old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the historical Sunni-Shia divide, the Saudi-Iranian opposition - all rooted in cultural, religious and political divisions. To this, of late, has been added the Saudi -Israeli rapprochement against Iran. An American investigative journalist, Robert Parry, best known for his role in the Iran-Contra affair, has gone to the extent of suggesting that Saudi Arabia paid as much as US $16 billion to Israel for this alliance.

Despite President Trump’s threat to cut US funding to countries that did not back the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and a firm warning from the US’s UN representative Nikki Haley, that Washington would remember which countries “disrespected” America by voting against it, 128 UN members rejected Trump and his policies --- obviously a very clear message to the US president that the world is not going to accept any nonsense from him. Even Pope Francis rebuked Trump’s Jerusalem decision. “I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days,” the Pope said. A clear majority of the global community — in fact, more than half of the UN’s member countries — voted overwhelmingly for a resolution, sponsored by Egypt and co-sponsored by Pakistan, calling the US decision to alter the status of Jerusalem as “null and void” while stressing upon all states to refrain from the shifting of diplomatic missions to Jerusalem.

The 128 countries that favoured the resolution calling for Tel Aviv to be retained as the capital of Israel, included Muslim states as well as the wider community of the global south, along with most EU member states. Amongst the nine who voted against, apart from the US and Israel, were tiny island nations and a couple of Central American states. Many other countries abstained. This united stand to restrict any act of bullying by America has established the fact that from now onwards, the hegemony of any single country will not be accepted. It was quite interesting though that just after the voting results came out, a CNN analyst was seen celebrating the US’s upper hand in the vote, based on the fact that 9 members had voted against the resolution and 35 had abstained. There was no mention in the analysis that 128 UN members had trampled the resolution.

The voting result has proved that if a country tries to influence or threaten another country by flouting international law and globally accepted norms, there is a forum strong enough to rebuke that country. Now every nation, irrespective of its status and strength can make its voice heard. It is definitely encouraging to note that countries alike Egypt and Pakistan, who receive billions in US aid, voted as per their conscience and did not succumb to threats. The vote was not only a powerful moral victory for Palestine but a victory of human rights and dignity. Moreover, it has been proved that the Palestine and Kashmir problems cannot be solved through bullying or intimidation. The solution is in recognising the rights of the people of these territories.

The overwhelming support in favour of the resolution tabled by the less developed countries despite the ham-fisted intervention by Trump and Haley can, in a way, be termed as a referendum against Trump’s often unilateral and rude foreign policy. It also shows that the developing countries have grown up enough to sacrifice aids and grants for a bigger cause. The awakening is definitely historic in context of US comments. “... when we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have expectation that we will be respected,” said Nikki Haley. She went on: “If our investment fails, we have an obligation to spend our investment in other ways … The United States will remember this day.”

Commenting on the US style of dictation, the Turkish Foreign Minister said, “Before this meeting, a U.N. member state threatened all the other members and we were all asked to vote ‘no’ or face the consequences. This is bullying.” The historic event has proved that time has come for the US to redraft its foreign policy and change strategies based on personal whims and not on ground realities. It is, in fact, time for America to think about the changing world scenario after the overwhelming rejection at the UN.

Well done Egypt, well done Pakistan! This was further emphasized when US Vice President Mike Pence recently said in Kabul that President Donald Trump had put Pakistan on notice for providing safe havens to the Taliban. Chairman of the Pakistan Senate, Mian Raza Rabbani, retorted in the same coin by saying that Pakistan accepted no such ‘notices.’

Syed Jawaid Iqbal
Editor in Chief


Politics around Padmavati

The film ‘Padmavati’ has become a bone of contention and some Indian states such as Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat and Bihar have already banned the film even before its release. Despite the fact that the Central Board of Film Certification has yet to issue a clearance certificate to the film, most politicians in India believe it is more of a religious issue than a cultural matter and therefore Padmavati should not go on screen even if the Central Board passes the film after some necessary cuts. Regardless of political differences, I endorse the views expressed by most politicians - that in a multicultural and multi-religious society like India, one cannot afford to create unnecessary controversies in the name of artistic creativity or freedom of expression. The makers of the film should also realise the sensitivity of the matter and avoid featuring historical figures in films.

Arjun S. Kumar,
Chhattisgarh, India.

A Forgotten Minority

Lhotshampa constitutes about 35 per cent of the total population of Bhutan. However, similar to the Rohingya of Myanmar, they can be referred to as another oppressed minority in the world that has been deprived of its homeland because of ethnic reasons. Sandwiched between the Bhutanese and Nepalese nationalism, Lhotshampa is an ethnic minority with Nepalese origin, but they are not allowed to live in Nepal because the country does not consider them as its own citizens. They are supposed to be native to southern Bhutan, but Bhutan does not recognise them as its legal citizens because of their Nepalese origins, despite the fact that Lhotshampa hve been living in Bhutan for centuries. Standing nowhere at the moment, they are recognised by the international community as Bhutanese refugees, who were expelled from Bhutan as ‘illegal immigrants’ a couple of decades ago. Unfortunately, the forced expulsion of Lhotshampa from their homeland has yet to be taken as a serious matter of concern.

Sabitri Karma,
Thimphu, Bhutan.



Viability of Technocracy

This is with reference to your cover story on the viability of a government led by technocrats in place of politically elected representatives. Though running of government matters by technocrats seems to be a workable option, but it does not suit a democratically struggling country like Pakistan where external forces tend to manipulate the electoral process to fulfil their own agenda in a seemingly democratic setup. In my opinion, it is not a good idea to install technocrats in ministries because they don’t have any public support, the raison d’être of a democratic state. I think it has been the inability of elected representatives to set any example of good governance in the country, but one should also blame those unseen hands behind the scene that often intrude to derail the system. In short, it is better to strengthen democracy than opting for unconstitutional means to govern the country.

Farid Uddin Shahab,
Karachi, Pakistan.

A Historical Move

In October 2016, the then Nepalese parliament passed the National Health Insurance Act. A historical move by the former government, the Act entitles a family of five to receive Rs. 50,000 per year for health coverage after paying a minimum premium of Rs 2,500 per year.
Thanks to the National Health Insurance Act, now acquiring health insurance has become mandatory for each family in Nepal, while a separate budget is also being allocated to provide comprehensive health coverage for the rest of the population, particularly those living in rural areas. In its initial phase, the Act has been implemented in 36 districts and will be soon executed in the remaining districts. The credit of this move must be given to the former government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba who, in a very brief stint as a prime minister, took the much-needed step to give some relief to the people.

Sunita Kumari,
Pokhara, Nepal.

Ailing Democracy in Kuwait

Kuwait is one of those countries in the world where democracy has not been a primary focus. However, irrespective of its poor track record in terms of democracy, the Kuwaiti government has been showing a hostile attitude towards those who want it to be governed purely by democratic means. In the last 11 years, Kuwait’s national parliament has been dissolved seven times, while most politicians, mainly from the opposition, have been sentenced to jail over a raid on parliament in 2011 when some members of the opposition party gathered around the parliament to seek resignation of the then prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Sabah. Since then, many citizens, lawyers, journalists as well as members of the civil society have been arrested for ‘undermining the stability of the country,’ which is not true. This shows democracy has a long way to go in the country.

Muzaffar Ali,
Dubai, UAE.

©2018 SouthAsia.com.pk. All Rights Reserved