Volume 21 Issue 3 March 2017
By S.G. Jilanee

Fall is to decline as spring is to winter. One follows the other. In the case of the Pakistan Peoples Party, the decline has taken the party inexorably to its ultimate downfall.

Recall the halcyon days of the PPP’s past. Then it was the beacon of hope for the people. Founded in 1967 at the Gulberg residence of Engineer Dr. Mubashir Hasan in Lahore, it infused the masses with a new spirit. Z.A. Bhutto shone on the political firmament like a comet, mesmerizing the masses with his charisma and tying veteran journalists like Oriana Fallaci into knots with his wit.

By Dr. Raza Khan

The renewed and much-awaited efforts by the PPP leadership to revive the party as a countrywide political entity and a force to reckon with in the political arena of the country seem to have fizzled out as the young political heir of the Bhutto clan, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, could not make a big impact.
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Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Zeba Jawaid

Javed Ansari

Faizan Usmani
Hafiz Inam

S. G. Jilanee

Asna Ali
Khawaja Amer
Dr. Moonis Ahmar
Mukee Bano
Huzaima Bukhari
Muhammad Ali Ehsan
Shakeel Farooqui
Dr. Ikramul Haq
Farhia Jabbar
S.G. Jeelani
Dr. Raza Khan
Zehra Khawaja
Taha Kehar
Dr. Syed Ali Madni
K. A. Naqshbandi

Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Haroon Rasheed
Riaz Masih

Aqam-ud-Din Khan

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.


The cover of SouthAsia January 2017 issue carried a map in which Jammu & Kashmir was not shown as disputed territory. This was an inadvertant error and is regretted.

By Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

When the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was founded in 1967 in Lahore, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was elected as its Chairman at the first convention. The party is now struggling hard to regain its status of the largest national party. The main stumbling block, according to many, is the perception that the PPP has been rendered as nothing but “Zardari League” and the even energetic young Bilawal Bhutto cannot take any decision independently as Chairman. The historic struggle of the party against unconstitutional rule and its struggle for less-privileged classes was once its hallmark and identity. It is now a matter of past glory for many critics and cynics inside and outside the party.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, inaugurated in Islamabad in August, 2013, is a strategic cooperative partnership between Pakistan and China. Pakistan needs it to overcome its economic and development imperatives and social and energy problems while China needs the project to expand its periphery of influence, consolidate its global presence and secure its future supply routes of energy and trade. It can be said that it’s a win-win situation for both countries. At the moment, CPEC is an under-construction development program that would connect Gwadar Port in southern Pakistan to China’s northwestern autonomous region of Xinjiang via highways, railways and pipelines. It is termed as a ‘game changer’ as it would usher in a new era of economic progress and prosperity for both countries. It has the potential to turn Pakistan into a hub of regional cooperation and is of immense importance for the revival of its economy, resolution of the energy crisis and strengthening the country through development of infrastructure. The Chinese government has said it will finance Chinese companies to build $46 billion worth of energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan as part of CPEC which was conceived by the leaderships of China and Pakistan as a highly significant step. It is fast moving forward, creating immense trade and commerce opportunities for the whole region. The political stability that CPEC promises for the region is clear and can be described as a big forward thrust. It is obvious CPEC has its enemies as well and these are the enemies of both Pakistan and China since CPEC is a project for shared prosperity through broad and solid cooperation. It is a product of China’s vision of regional prosperity since it will make shared connectivity a success on so many different planes and effectively counter today’s conflict-ridden and increasingly polarized world.

CPEC will open doors to immense economic opportunities for Pakistan that has seen nothing so far but a lack of development and progress because of its inadequacies and lost opportunities. The project represents a new era of economic development. It will create new job opportunities in the country, ushering in revolutionary economic development. It will also create vast new business opportunities. In fact, every major corporation and company around the world would want to have a base in Gwadar or somewhere in Pakistan when the project starts coming to fruition because of its geo-strategic and prime location. The fruits of the project would certainly reach all corners of Pakistan – a country that has always been mired in poverty and backwardness. It is commendable that every care has been taken to ensure that no area of the country is deprived of the benefits of CPEC. What is further reassuring is that the Pakistan Armed Forces are ensuring that the development projects proceed without any let or hindrance. Under CPEC, energy and road infrastructure projects have been prioritized. In Gwadar, a 300-megawatt power plant is being installed and land has already been allocated for the Gwadar Free Trade Zone with special concessions. In addition, projects pertaining to an Exclusive Industrial Park Processing Zone and a Mineral Economic Zone are also being taken up on priority basis. In addition to the Free Trade Zone, exemptions in customs and taxes have also been granted. Gwadar will also soon get a new airport to serve the region while the port is already well-equipped.

The critical challenge for Pakistan in 2017 will be to manage the social, political, and environmental expectations as a result of operationalizing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Under China’s “One Belt, One Road” regional initiative, Pakistan is implementing an infrastructure upgrade program to build new highways, overhaul and build new railways and provide the infrastructure to support 10,000 MW of additional power besides upgrading cyber connectivity. While this is intended to bring new jobs, Pakistan’s leadership needs to manage expectations more judiciously at the provincial level to avoid potential inter-provincial conflicts. It must also be cognizant of the possibility of environmental threats that an initiative of this scale presents to a country which is already vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. Pakistan should embrace this huge opportunity wisely and with caution and reap the economic benefits to enhance its regional power and prestige. This is an opportunity that must be capitalized on so that Pakistan can come out of its poverty and set into motion the cycle of progress that it so richly deserves.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal


Business Friendly Budget

The annual budget of India, known as the Union Budget, has recently been announced. To create infrastructure and build business facilities, the Budget has allocated nearly 4 lakh crore in investments, which is a positive move. As per the budget announcement, the government is going to revise the existing labour code to cater to the changing needs of today’s business organisations, IT and technology-based firms in particular. Moreover, the government has also decided to abolish the notorious Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to make it easier for international investors to do business in India without falling prey to bureaucratic redtape. Overall, the budget is business-friendly and will help India revive private investment.

Shrikumar Rajeev,
Gurdaspur, India.

Governance sans Transparency

According to the National Corruption Barometer Survey (NCBS) by the Bhutan Transparency Initiative (BTI), Bhutan is suffering from different forms of large-scale corruption, particularly at the government level. As per the NCBS report, nepotism and favouritism is becoming quite a standard practice during the recruitment process of government jobs, while most employees get promotions or are transferred to far-flung areas of the country mainly on the basis of their political beliefs and affiliations. In public organisations, decisions are deliberately delayed to serve the vested interests of existing power groups that make the most of public funds and facilities that are otherwise meant for public use only. According to the survey, lack of access to information, poor leadership, an inadequate accountability mechanism and the lack of transparency are the other leading factors that contribute to increasing corruption in the land. For a country like Bhutan, the situation is alarming and the government should look into the matter immediately.

S. V. Namgyel,
Thimpu, Bhutan.


Arms versus Bread

This is with reference to last month’s cover story on the purchase of arms and ammunitions by poor countries in the name of national defence at the cost of depriving their nations with basic food, education and health. In general, overspending on arms seems to be an upshot of continued insecurity in the region, restricting vulnerable countries from spending on the social security of their people. However, the irony of providing protection to the nation becomes more apparent when the lot of well-protected people are left with little or nothing to eat and are fated to lead miserable lives. On the other hand, those safeguarding the country’s borders not only enjoy social security but also have a well-defined career path, as well as a satisfactory plan on how to lead a decent life after retirement. More than the arms-versus-bread conundrum, the misery mostly refers to the flawed priorities of a state that helps its citizens sleep hungry but peacefully every night.

Syed Ali Akbar,
Islamabad, Pakistan.

Well-Deserved Test Status

In a recent executive board meeting of the International Cricket Council (ICC), the issue related to granting of Test status to Afghanistan and Ireland was discussed, while the final decision in this regard would be taken at the ICC Board meeting in April this year. Afghanistan has been an Associate Member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) since 2013 and has been a top performer compared to the other associate and affiliate ICC members. Though it is the youngest side playing international cricket, it has emerged as the most competitive cricket team, faring well against both associate and full members of the ICC. Recently, Afghanistan beat Ireland and Zimbabwe by clear margins. It’s top players are actively participating in such franchise-based cricket leagues as Pakistan Super League (PSL), Indian Cricket League (IPL) and the Big Bash League (BBL) of Australia. Briefly put, when it comes to the granting of Test status, no other team deserves it more than Afghanistan.

Noorullah Yousuf Zai,
Kabul, Afghanistan.

New Election Commissioner

Making some overdue changes in the Election Commission (EC), the Bangladesh government has appointed a new Chief Election Commissioner and four commissioners. This is supposed to be one of the major developments made by the existing government in terms of addressing political concerns that have been raised by the opposition parties, including some members of the Awami League (AL). Quite a delayed move by the government, the appointment of a new Chief Election Commissioner is a welcome step and the people of Bangladesh are expecting a lot from the new election chief whose primary responsibility is to hold free and fair elections in the country. Considering the manner in which previous general elections were held, it is of utmost importance for the commission to ensure fair and participative elections, giving equal opportunity to all major and small political parties of the country.

Nasreen Bano,
Rajshahi, Bangladesh.

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