Volume 21 Issue 5 May 2017
By Faizan Usmani

Asia, the world’s largest continent, is often characterised by its long-standing adversities and socio-economic issues. Amidst prevailing penury and widespread destitution, however, there is a hope for those who need it the most.

Japan is the leading country in the Asian region in all standardised perspectives of economic growth and technological advancement. But what makes the East Asian nation truly the leading member of the international community is its lasting vision of a world free from poverty, inequality and turmoil.

‘ADB can reflect on its achievements in Pakistan with pride.’

An exclusive interview with Xiaohong Yang, ADB Country Director for Pakistan

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


Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Zeba Jawaid

Javed Ansari

Faizan Usmani
Hafiz Inam
Mahrukh Farooq

S. G. Jilanee

Khawaja Amer
Yaseen Anwar
Mirza Aqeel Baig
Huzaima Bukhari
Sijal Fawad
S. M. Hali
Dr. Ikramul Haq
S.G. Jilanee
Taha Kehar
Dr. Raza Khan
Taj M Khattak
Hadia Majid
Aadil Nakhoda
S. Mubashir Noor
Hujjatullah Zia

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.



By Yaseen Anwar

Since the meltdown of 2008, which created a Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the International Monetary System and the global landscape has been altered and plagued with volatility, instability and uncertainty. We have faced negative rates in Europe and a lingering existential sovereign debt crisis with painful austerity measures. With low growth rates in the U.S. and recessionary Europe, Asia collectively going forward, commands higher growth rates and the resources to support sustained economic development. Between 1980 and 2016, the world annual growth generated was 3.5%. Without China, it would have been only 2.7%. Going forward, global economic stability can be achieved by harnessing the Asian growth rate potential through regional and global integration.

Though the much talked about Panama Case verdict immediately brought the PML(N) party workers to the streets, distributing mithai and doing the dhamal, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is still on tenterhooks as he, along with his two sons, have been asked to appear before a Joint Investigation Team (JIT). The Supreme Court has asked the JIT to submit its final report within sixty days. The Supreme Court will also monitor the proceedings of the team on a periodic basis. Denying a clean chit to the Prime Minister, the court has ordered a multi-agency probe against the incumbent prime minister. In its judgment, the SC has directed NAB, FIA, SBP, SECP, ISI and MI to nominate representatives to probe whether the prime minister and his family members had accumulated assets beyond their known sources of income.
Interestingly, the leader of the bench that heard the Panama case is Justice Asif Saeed Khosa. His note in the Supreme Court's verdict started with a reference to Mario Puzo’s popular 1969 novel “The Godfather” and the quote ‘Behind every great fortune there is a crime,’ which is very telling. In his novel, the author recounts the machinations of a Mafia family. Mario Puzo’s novel was a popular piece of fiction and was turned into a hit film. It is believed that the epigraph of the novel was inspired by a sentence earlier written by Honoré de Balzac in French. The quotation selected by honourable Justice Khosa was enough to demonstrate his perceptions about the case. Before Justice Khosa, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja is also known to have made use of a quotation from literature in one of his judgments.

The judgment, comprising 540 pages, was based on a 3-2 split decision. The five-judge bench included Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed, in their note, considered Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif disqualified while the other three judges favoured composition of a JIT to establish the facts before a final decision could be taken. As such, this can be termed as no more than an interim verdict. It may be mentioned here that Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed, who decided that Nawaz Sharif stood disqualified after they heard the Panama Case, will succeed Chief Justice Saqib Nisar as the 26th and 27th Chief Justices, respectively, of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Though the prime minister has been given a breathing space of 67 days, his chances of facing the humiliation of being removed from office are not over. The 3-2 split judgment of the five-member bench has certainly not cleared him or his family of allegations of misconduct. The first family has to face JIT investigations into the money trail and the properties they own in London. The JIT is authorized to examine the evidence and material pertaining to the case, relating to or having any nexus with the possession or acquisition of the London flats or any other assets or financial resources and their origin. The JIT has been mandated to submit reports of its progress before a special bench – a request for its formation is part of the judgment. The JIT has also been given a sixty-day deadline to file its final report.

In light of a very carefully drafted and comprehensive decision, the victory celebrations of PML (N) workers and voluble speeches of its leaders on this interim decision were definitely premature as the final verdict was at least 70 days away. The note of dissent from the two honourable senior-most judges should be taken rather seriously, especially in light of Justice Khosa’s reference to The Godfather, a Mafia don. Moreover, though three judges have not agreed to Justice Khosa and Justice Gulzar, there is a consensus that the Sharif family has failed to provide substantive evidence regarding the source of the money used to buy expensive properties in London.

Within 30 minutes of announcement of the judgment, it was made known through the TV channels that the Prime Minister would be addressing the nation that evening. However, apparently when the Prime Minister was made to realize by some of his advisers that the judgment was actually NOT in his favour, he decided not to address the nation. It is obvious that the judgment has further weakened the Prime Minister’s position. It would have been more in the fitness of things if Nawaz Sharif had resigned his premiership after being told that two of the senior-most judges felt that he should have been disqualified. He could have nominated someone else from his party to complete his tenure just as the PPP had done when Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani was punished by the Supreme Court. Such an action would have established Nawaz Sharif as a person with high moral courage and his image would have been strengthened in the eyes of the public. While the decision and Nawaz Sharif’s stubbornness has weakened his position, it has also not strengthened the position of Imran Khan. Both of them have to wait for the final verdict with patience. It is hoped that better counsels will prevail on both sides. Nawaz Sharif needs to advise his workers to stop slinging mud on the opposition and concentrate on doing proper homework for appearing before the JIT.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal


India-Bangladesh Nexus

Besides sharing borders, what brings India and Bangladesh closer to each other is their unreasonable aversion to Pakistan. Though both Pakistan and Bangladesh are the leading beneficiaries of Chinese investments and trade relations in the South Asian region, it has been India’s Machiavellian approach that it has helped widen the chasm between Pakistan and Bangladesh to capitalise on the differences created on a political basis. The anti-Pakistan agenda might serve the Indian interests in the long run, but it will in no way benefit a country like Bangladesh that has a lot to share with Pakistan than with its immediate western neighbour. Gone are the days when the Mukti Bahini revelled in their success sitting in the lap of India. Times have changed and those always looking for India’s support would be disappointed when posed with the real threats. Bangladesh needs to reconsider its regional priorities and arrive at a much-needed balance in its policymaking.

Zainab Azkar Shamsi,
Ankara, Turkey.

Increasing Firewood Consumption

According to latest research by the College of Science and Technology (CST) of Bhutan, firewood consumption in Bhutan is very high, in comparison with the rest of the South Asian nations. According to Bhutan Energy Data 2015, around 85 per cent of Bhutan’s total energy consumption comes from firewood. Considering the fact that most uphill areas in the country lack electricity, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and other clean energy resources, firewood has been the primary source of cooking energy, causing pollution in the environment, as well as a number of respiratory diseases among the hill populations. To overcome the issue, the CST research recommends expediting the implementation of the rural electrification programme, an initiative taken by the Bhutanese government a couple of years before, but it hit snags owing to lack of financial and logistics resources. The government must consider the matter on a priority basis and needs to utilise its available resources to complete the rural electrification programme without any more delay.

MB Subba,
Thimphu, Bhutan.


Rigging in Census

This is with reference to the cover story on Pakistan’s on-going census. No doubt, conducting the census is the biggest development made by the PML-N government. However, it has failed to address the concerns of various political groups and demographic experts who foresee possible post-census rigging by some invisible hands that always come into action to skew the numbers in their favour. The census is considered to be crucial as it helps a country determine its current population data and statistics that contribute to the planning and development process. It is the responsibility of the Pakistan government to ensure transparency in the census.

Raza Akhtar Bilgrami,
Quetta, Pakistan.

Fall of Sri Lankan Cricket

What makes the Sri Lankan cricket team a promising side is the young blood it has successfully injected in the squad. Even though its recent performance against minnows Bangladesh was not that of a leading international side, Sri Lanka has set a precedent by constantly providing ample opportunities to its emerging players who are picked from a pool of club cricketers in an organised manner. For the Sri Lankan Cricket Board, the team building process is a never-ending exercise and to create a blend of both new and experienced players, it believes in putting different combinations on the ground on a consistent basis. For the majority of cricket lovers in the world, Sri Lanka’s poor performance against England, South Africa, Australia and now against Bangladesh at home is indicative of its downfall, but to me Sri Lanka is heading in the right direction and will be able to reclaim its glory soon.

Harsha Marapona,
Kalmunai, Sri Lanka.

Growing Saudi Influence

This is with reference to the article by Dr. Ikram Ul Haq and Huzaima Bukhari on growing Saudi influence in the Maldives. This was quite a biased analysis and was simply based on baseless aversion to Saudi Arabia mainly because of its religious stature and significant economic strength. Though the writers tried to define Saudi Arabia's influence using the term Wahabism, they did not acknowledge the leading role the country has been playing to unite a rather scattered Muslim community. Saudi Arabia is neither a colonial empire like the former Great Britain nor it aims to pursue any expansionist ambitions to subjugate the rest of the Muslim countries or non-Muslim world. Being in the most central position in the Muslim world in a number of ways, it tends to be the most generous Muslim nation, helping out the needy countries with no strings attached.

Farid Uddin Shahab,
Karachi, Pakistan.

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