The Asian Age – Here’s why the Chinese model is unsuitable for Pakistan’s government

The second feature is the absence of rule of law, rather than its unequivocal application.

Umair Javed

Op/Ed, 04 December 2019. Every few months or so, the demand for a ‘presidential system’ of government in Pakistan makes an appearance on various social media sites. This happens most prominently on Twitter, where a number of users share similarly worded tweets, all using the same hashtag.

On its own, there’s nothing wrong with the demand for a constitutional redesign. Political systems are, theoretically, not set in stone, and neither are constitutions.

Parties in a number of countries have contested for power on platforms that seek to change electoral systems, voting formulae, power-sharing arrangements between different social groups, and relations between the executive, legislature, and the judiciary.

If anything, initiating a public conversation on institutional redesign is certainly more practical and preferable than cheerleading for ad hoc interventions by a particular organ of the state.

The most recent chorus of presidential fetishism is also slightly different from previous iterations on at least two counts. One is its frequency, which seems to be picking up pace since this government took office in July 2018.

It appears an ever-increasing number of people from one side of the partisan divide believe that the lack of executive authority with the Prime Minister’s Office, the reliance on largely incompetent ministers, and the cumbersome legislative procedures required to push through ‘change’, are holding the country back.

The second change is the citation of two countries as case studies worthy of emulation, China and Turkey. While the infatuation with Erdogan has been around for a while, the systemic embrace of Turkey is relatively new.

What’s also interesting is that believers in the ‘China model’ seem to be increasing in proportion to the country’s enhanced footprint on Pakistan’s economic and strategic decision-making. The drawing room logic is some variant of ‘if their system allows them to build a motorway at lightning speed, it’s surely worth importing’.

Less facetiously, high growth rates, ‘strict rule of law’, zero-tolerance for corruption, and the overall welfare success of this developmental model are usually cited as reasons for systemic emulation.

This is curious because China’s actually existing political system (what drives its well-publicised growth story) is considerably under-discussed in mainstream political conversations across Pakistan.

The print and electronic media doesn’t report on China’s domestic politics, and it rarely reveals any insight into what drives economic growth. There’s a recurring caricature of strong leadership, mythical levels of anti-corruption, and decisiveness, in drawing rooms, WhatsApp groups, and TV studios alike, but that’s where the depth of it ends.

Leaving aside the moral and functional desirability of parliamentary democracy in ethnically fractured societies, and China’s own authoritarian behaviour with minority groups, it is worth clarifying some important features of China’s political economy before embracing it as an ideal.

In an excellent new book on the past, present, and future of economic systems, titled Capitalism, Alone, Branko Milanovic draws a sharp contrast between two ideal types of capitalism that have shown relative durability. Liberal meritocratic capitalism, exemplified by the US, and increasingly characterised by plutocratic levels of inequality and disparity.

And political capitalism, exemplified by China, which stands as the only present-day alternative to organising politics and economics in a particular configuration, since the implosion of communism (or state socialism).

China’s political capitalism, according to Milanovic, rests ironically on certain pillars some of which seem to be at odds with its popular caricature in the Pakistani imagination.

Tracing the current system back to Deng’s reform period, Milanovic argues that political capitalism exhibits two main features: The first is a highly skilled, technocratically efficient, and meritocratically recruited bureaucracy.

This bureaucracy (which is clearly the primary beneficiary of the system) has as its main duty to realise high economic growth and implement policies that allow this goal to be achieved. Growth is ultimately needed for the legitimisation of continued bureaucratic and party rule.

The second feature is the absence of rule of law, rather than its unequivocal application. This, Milanovic argues, is necessary to ensure that the interests of businessmen (and the private sector in general) are never in a position to become primary drivers of government behaviour.

Instead, the state retains authority and autonomy precisely because it can choose to apply the law to whomever and wherever it wishes.

By arrangement with Dawn

https://www.asianage.com/opinion/columnists/041219/heres-why-the-chinese-model-is-unsuitable-for-pakistans-govt.html

Sikh24.com – India’s dubious face towards Sikhs has again come to fore, says Akal Takht Jathedar

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab, 03 December 2019. Commenting on the U-turn taken by the Indian government about commuting the death sentence of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana, the SGPC appointed acting Akal Takht Jathedar has said that the dubious face of the Indian government towards Sikhs has once again come to fore.

Giani Harpreet Singh has once again directed the SGPC and Shiromani Akali Dal to boost efforts for the pardon of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana.

Notably, the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah has today said that no one has been pardoned. Replying to a question posed by Congress parliamentarian Ravneet Bittu about pardoning death sentence of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana, he asked Ravneet Bittu not to go by media reports as no one has been pardoned.

India’s dubious face towards Sikhs has again come to fore, says Akal Takht Jathedar

Brustem Celebration of the 550th Janam Din of Guru Nanak Sahib – Gent-Sint-Pieters

Brustem – Sint-Truiden – Limburg – België
Brustem vliegveld – Divan in hangar !
17 November 2019


The hangar used as Divan Hall


Sikh flag – Nishan Sahib


Sikh flag – Nishan Sahib


This is where many people went to on 17 November

Gent-Sint-Pieters
20 November 2019


Do not board


Diesel train from Eeklo to Ronse

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The New Indian Express – Amit Shah’s remark on Balwant Singh Rajoana’s death pained Sikhs: Akali Dal

Rajoana, who is currently lodged in Patiala Central Jail, is the prime accused in the case and he will now serve life imprisonment.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 03 December 2019. Saying the Sikh community was pained and anguished, the Akali Dal on Tuesday described as “very unfortunate” the statement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah on not commuting the death sentence of Babbar Khalsa terrorist Balwant Singh Rajoana for the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.

Shah made the announcement in the Lok Sabha while responding to Congress MP and Beant Singh’s grandson Ravneet Singh Bittu during Question Hour.

Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal, whose party is in alliance with the BJP in Punjab, said in a statement: “We all feel aggrieved today. We thought we had moved ahead when news statements appeared last month disclosing the death sentence of Rajoana had been commuted.”

“However, today’s assertion has shocked everyone. There is a feeling of hurt that justice has not been done to the Sikh community and the spirit of the clemency which was espoused on the occasion of the 550th Prakash Purb has not been carried through.”

He said the Akali Dal stood for adopting a humanitarian approach in the case and had conveyed in this regard to the Union government through various representations.

“We feel this is a deserving case for clemency as Rajoana has spent more than 23 years in prison without parole. The SAD is against the death penalty as a matter of principle and has also represented to the Union government as well as the President on this issue,” Sukhbir Badal said.

He said a high-level delegation would meet the Union minister soon and apprise him about the sentiments of the Sikh community and urge that Rajoana’s death sentence be commuted.

Addressing the Home Minister, the Ludhiana MP asked in the Lok Sabha: “Why did you commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana?”

Responding in Hindi, Shah said: “Please, don’t go by media reports. Koi maafi ki nahi gai (the sentence has not been commuted).”

The Home Minister’s statement was contrary to the reports last month which said that the Union Home Ministry had commuted Rajoana’s death sentence.

Rajoana, 52, who is currently lodged in Patiala Central Jail, is the prime accused in the case and he will now serve life imprisonment.

A former Punjab Police constable, Rajoana was sentenced to death on August 1, 2007, by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Chandigarh.

The Home Ministry this September had approved the commutation of Rajoana’s death sentence to a life-term as a humanitarian gesture ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, a decision which was criticised by Bittu.

Besides Rajoana, the Home Ministry had granted a special dispensation to eight other Sikh prisoners from various jails in the country on the occasion.

On March 28, 2012, the Home Ministry had stayed Rajoana’s execution following clemency appeals filed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the Sikh body managing religious shrines.

Beant Singh and 16 others were killed in an explosion outside the Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh on August 31, 1995.

Dilawar Singh, a Punjab Police officer, had acted as a suicide bomber to assassinate Beant Singh.

Rajoana was the second bomber in case Dilawar Singh failed to kill the Congress leader. Rajoana had cited the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as the reason behind the killing of Beant Singh.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/dec/03/amit-shahs-remark-on-balwant-singh-rajoanas-death-pained-sikhs-akali-dal-2070902.html

Scroll.in – The Daily Fix: Why India will find it tough to ensure that Sri Lanka keeps its promises to Tamils

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has made it clear political rights of minority Tamils will not be his focus.

Sruthisagar Yamunan

New Delhi – India, 04 December 2019. Last month, Sri Lanka witnessed a regime change as the Rajapaksa brothers came back to power. While Gotabaya Rajapaksa became the president, his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa has been appointed the prime minister.

Both have faced allegations of ordering war crimes during the last stint in power, when thousands of Tamil civilians were killed by the Sri Lankan military in the final stages of the civil war in 2009.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s first visit abroad was to India last week. He met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi after India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar went to Colombo to personally deliver the invitation.

However, the Sri Lankan president’s comments after his meeting with Modi have raised concerns about how the new regime will handle the question of the country’s Tamil minority. Rajapaksa made it clear in an interview to The Hindu that devolving political rights to the Tamil-dominated areas will not be his priority. Rather, he will focus on the regions’ economic development.

The majoritarian language he deployed to make this point was startling. Full devolution of powers as per the Indo-Sri Lankan accord of 1987 will not be implemented “against the wishes and feeling of the majority [Sinhala] community”, he said.

The comment invited sharp criticism from politicians in Tamil Nadu, who urged the Modi government to ensure the safety and dignity of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Many in the southern Indian state feel that economic development without consummate political rights will lead to a demographic alteration of the Tamil regions, given the difference in prosperity between Tamils and majority Sinhala population.

However, as The Indian Express argued, Modi is in no position to push Sri Lanka on the question of rights for Tamils after what his own government has done in Kashmir.

The Centre removed the special status given to Kashmiris under the Indian Constitution in August and enforced a complete lock down of the region to stop people from protesting. Some of the restrictions on communications continue to date.

In a way, what India has done in Kashmir is to reverse the devolution of some rights agreed to around the time of Independence, when the region acceded to India. Having acted in this manner at home, it will be impossible for the Modi government to demand a higher degree of rights and autonomy for a minority population in another country.

This is possibly what emboldened Rajapaksa to make the statements that he did right after a meeting with Modi. During the meeting, the Indian prime minister said he was confident that the Sri Lankan government would pursue a process of reconciliation to meet the “aspirations of equality, justice, peace and respect of Tamils”.

Persuading Sri Lanka to devolve rights to the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka is a commitment that successive Indian governments had made. This culminated in the Indo-Sri Lankan accord of 1987. While parties in power may change in India, this should not affect the policy of the government. In its eagerness to keep the Chinese away from Sri Lanka, the Indian government should not ignore its promises to Tamils across the Palk Straits.

https://scroll.in/article/945733/the-daily-fix-why-india-will-find-it-tough-to-ensure-that-sri-lanka-keeps-its-promises-to-tamils