Dawn – Where did funds for properties in KSA, London, and Dubai come from: Supreme Court judges ask PM’s lawyer

Haseeb Bhatti

Updated 19 July 2017. A day after the Supreme Court (SC) pointedly inquired about Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s money trail, the premier’s counsel reiterated that his client had presented details of all his assets to the joint investigation team (JIT) that was mandated to probe allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family.

Senior counsel Khawaja Harris on Wednesday told the three-member apex bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, that the prime minister had provided details of all assets and sources of income in the form of tax returns.

“We will take a decision after looking at all the evidence,” Justice Ejaz Afzal told Harris as he completed his arguments before the bench. “Bring the [money trail] record and the discussion on the documents will end.”

Ishaq Dar’s lawyer begins arguments

“Have you also brought a Qatari letter with you?” Justice Azmat Saeed asked Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s lawyer, Tariq Hasan, as he began his arguments before the bench.

The lawyer’s defence bore similarities to the arguments presented by Harris, as he told the court that the JIT had exceeded its mandate. An objection to the JIT’s report was included in the documents submitted to the apex court on Dar’s behalf on Monday.

“If you have so many objections, you should go to the trial court,” Justice Azmat Saeed remarked.

Hasan alleged that Dar had been “dragged” into the case by the JIT and did not actually have any direct involvement, to which Justice Ijazul Ahsan replied, “I can tell you Ishaq Dar’s connection to this case.”

The name of the finance minister’s nephew is included in the transactions relating to the Gulf Steel Mills, the judge elaborated, adding that money from the Hill Metal Establishment was transferred to the minister’s son, Ali Dar.

The judges quizzed the lawyer on his statement that the JIT had been “dishonest” in its investigations and hadn’t reviewed the submitted documents. “You had said that you did not submit any documents, yet you’re giving these statements,” said Justice Ijazul Ahsan, asking the lawyer to submit further documents at the next hearing (Thursday).

Dar’s confession in Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference

Echoing the objection by the PM’s lawyer, Hasan said that the JIT did not have the mandate to recommend reopening cases.

Referring to the Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference, Justice Azmat Saeed pointed out that Ishaq Dar had refused to accept his confessional statement in the reference that was recorded before a district magistrate in Lahore on April 25, 2000, as his own.

In the statement, Dar had reportedly admitted to money laundering of $14.86 million, and opening two bank accounts under the names of Sikandar Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi for Nawaz Sharif’s brother.

During the initial Panamagate case hearing, Dar and his lawyers had maintained that the statement was “written under duress.” Speaking to the media after his appearance before the JIT, Dar had said that the statement was not written by him.

“If the confessional statement is deemed false, than the pardon [in the case] will also be unacceptable,” said the judge.

Sharif family’s foreign properties

During his arguments on Wednesday morning, Harris said that according to the laws of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), “an individual cannot be held accountable for the properties and assets that are in the name of his wife and children.” He added that the PM’s relatives had also not concealed any assets.

In reference to the judges’ observation that the PM had remained evasive in answering the questions put forward by the JIT, Harris responded that the team had not inquired about any other properties, maintaining that his client had not concealed any assets, nor did he own any benami properties.

“The real question is where did the money for [the Sharif family’s] properties in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and London come from?” Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked. “We have not yet received an answer to this fundamental question.”

The judges told the lawyer that Chapter Four (Gulf Steel Mills/Gifts) of the JIT’s report contains “dangerous” documents and talks about the trust deed of the four Avenfield flats in London’s Park Lane neighbourhood, executed between Maryam Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz in February 2006, which was declared false by the JIT in its report over.

Harris told the bench that the PM, when asked about the trust deed by the JIT, had acknowledged that he was aware of the settlement, but did not know the details. He added that his client can only be held accountable for the properties under his name, maintaining that the PM has no connection to the London flats.

“Are there any records available with Hassan and Hussain Nawaz that can prove that the PM does not have any connection with the London flats?” asked Justice Ejaz Afzal.

If Hussain is the beneficial owner of the flats, then proof for the same should be provided, he remarked, noting that in the documents received by the court, Maryam Nawaz is shown as the beneficial owner.

“The connection between the PM and the London flats is based on speculation. There are no documents available to prove this,” the lawyer said.

“Why do you keep insisting that all the records are available?” Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked the lawyer, directing him to show the documents relating to the agreement signed with Minerva Financial Services Limited, the holding company for Nescoll Limited and Nielson Enterprises Limited, the owners of the four London flats, to ascertain who signed them.

Where is the money trail?

During Tuesday’s hearing, the apex bench had asked about the PM’s money trail, saying, “We’ve been waiting for it since day one.” The prime minister and his family members had remained evasive in answering the questions put forward by the JIT, added the judges.

The bench had reminded the PM’s lawyer that the onus of establishing a money trail after claiming ownership of the Avenfield flats was on the Sharif family, adding that the money trail of the flats “remained shrouded in mystery, even to this day.”

The apex bench had also asked the counsel point-blank whether the judges should form their own opinion over the concealment of facts by his client or refer the matter to an accountability court.

Harris had argued that the JIT had exceeded its mandate by recommending the SC to reopen 15 cases against his client. He also questioned the authenticity of the documents obtained from the UK and the UAE that were included in the JIT’s report.

The bench had resumed the Panamagate case on Monday, nearly three months after ordering the formation of a JIT to investigate the allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family.

Presenting his statement before the bench on Monday, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) lead counsel Naeem Bokhari had requested that PM Nawaz Sharif should be asked to come to the court for questioning. During his arguments, Bokhari highlighted several findings of the JIT report that he said “incriminate” the Sharif family.


Dawn – Panama drama

Dr Niaz Murtaza

Op/Ed, 18 July 2017. The moral and practical cases are clear. The prime minister must himself quit, JIT report apart, as for months he has failed to prove legitimate his family UK flats.

While his sons are the owners, his role as clan head and recipient of big gifts from them morally cripples him. Sordid details of alleged huge wealth are shamefully out in public. Distracted, he cannot govern and will damage Pakistan and its democracy.

But he may quit only if he feels the Supreme Court will fire him. The court started an inquiry based on mere though strong suspicion via its wide 184(3) optional powers. Many had criticised this unprecedented act. But it has so far docked a sitting prime minister and the precedent is established.

Thus, such inquiries will now be seen as useful action templates against others. However, the scope of 184(3) in such cases must be defined to avoid swamping the court that must coax the government to make NAB stronger to keep its own role exceptional.

While that happens, it must also ensure that others accused of titanic crimes, eg Zardari, Musharraf and Altaf, are tried soon to dispel any charges of judicial selectivity.

Even with Sharif, sticking to the law or strong precedence is important to avoid political upheavals. This means conviction only after a fair trial in a trial court, even starting trial only if the JIT report goes beyond suspicion towards physical evidence.

A flawed democracy has shown its edge over 40 years of unelected rule.

The law gives the right to disqualify to the ECP but some lawmakers have been disqualified directly by the courts, mostly where guilt could be shown easily sans trial, eg, degrees proven faked. Even if the JIT gives obvious proof against Nawaz, the ECP must be allowed to decide.

If he is not disqualified, then we may hit rough weather if the PTI starts street protest spread over months without result like in 2014. Irrespective, Pakistan will remain in limbo till the next polls. Sharif can spare us all this by resigning.

Pakistan is seeing real accountability of its top leaders for the first time, invariably under democracy. In weeding out corrupt leaders electorally and now legally, a nine-year-old flawed democracy has shown its edge over 40 years of unelected rule.

Had we stuck to democracy instead of looking towards Pindi, things would have been much better politically today. Some claim that this affair stems from the security establishment wanting to pre-empt a meek Sharif from being more assertive once he gains a Senate majority and a fourth term.

This idea cannot be rejected outright. But neither can it be accepted without proof, which may be impossible to get given their opaque ways. In the past, they have acted against civilians not toeing their line. Are they now so bold and proactive to act against a future uncertain threat?

It is tough to form even initial views on this issue. Such rumours, even if true, must not stop Sharif’s trial. But they make it more crucial that the trial meets high standards of proof and process. The rule of law means not just that crooks are tried but also that the trials are fair.

Sharif’s exit would not end civil-military tensions, which are rooted in the simple reality that Pindi’s security policies run Pakistan. Political rulers soon grasp this reality and resent so many critical calls being off-limit for them. This starts a tug of war between the twin cities.

We know about generals (wrongly) betraying their civilian benefactors: Ayub, Zia and Musharraf. But civilians (Bhutto and Sharif) groomed by the security establishment have (rightly) turned against it too. The same may happen with Imran, even if he now has the army nod.

The man is not money hungry like Sharif, but power hungry and hates sharing power and limelight more than Sharif. So, ties between him and the security establishment may not be easy if he wins. His victory is iffy even if both father and daughter are barred.

The Sharifs are a big clan and some will survive legally to run. The PML-N, representing strong Punjabi groups, will not disappear like PML-Q. But the two right-wing Punjab parties may become more even politically.

Some say Panama will end sleaze in Pakistan. Sleaze originates from the needs of vast sections of our economy. With billions of dollars of capital flows coming from China, which is only slightly less corrupt than us, the needs of much of both local and foreign capital will encourage sleaze and low rule of law (barring security).

Morally speaking, sleaze must end. But the moral lens is only prescriptive, not predictive like social sciences lenses. However, the former is proactive, the latter passive. Only by using both can we tackle sleaze. The bi-lens view reveals long-term democratic struggle as the best tool against sleaze.

The writer heads INSPIRING Pakistan, a progressive policy unit



Dawn – RAW operating from Afghanistan to create unrest in Pakistan: General Zubair Hayat

Karachi, 15 July 2017. Pakistan is fully aware of the threats emanating from hostile intelligence agencies, especially Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), against the country and the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Chairman Joint Chiefs of the Staff Committee, General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, said this while speaking as the chief guest at a ceremony of the 107th Midshipmen commissioning term and 16th Short Service Commission Course at the Pakistan Naval Academy outside Karachi on Saturday.

He said these foreign intelligence agencies are operating from Afghanistan and other locations to foment unrest in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan.

“Their designs [and] oblique actions to sabotage CPEC are also well known,” he said.

General Hayat said Pakistan is confronting adversaries who are involved in an “indirect sub-conventional warfare against us”.

Pointing to the existential conventional threat emanating from India, General Hayat said asymmetry has reached a critical threshold in the east.

In order to counter such threats, the country’s armed forces are committed to undertaking “synergetic national efforts”, he said.

“Make no mistake, we will beat back the enemy’s design.”

General Hayat said Pakistan’s security forces along with law-enforcement agencies are playing a crucial role in tackling “external state-sponsored elements operating through local proxies”.

Former defence secretary General (retd) Alam Khattak had said last year that RAW has established a special cell at its Head Quarters in New Delhi to sabotage CPEC and the plan is executed via Afghanistan.

“RAW and Afghan NDS have launched joint secret operations against Pakistan by using three Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif,” he said at the time.

General Hayat in his address said Pakistan seeks a harmonious co-existence with all countries, especially its neighbours, adding that it will continue to make efforts for peace in Afghanistan.

“Stability, security, peace in Afghanistan is fundamental to the security of Pakistan.”

He, however, warned that Pakistan’s quest for peace and stability is not a “one-way traffic” but it has to factor in national interest and sovereign rights.

General Hayat congratulated the passing-out cadets for successfully completing their training. He said maritime security all along the coast, especially Gwadar, had assumed added significance in view of CPEC developments.

The commission term included 100 cadets, including 72 Pakistan Navy cadets and 28 cadets from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain.


Dawn – Footprints: Tolerance is still alive in held Kashmir

Fahad Shah

Srinaga, 14 July 2017. The killing of Amaranth temple pilgrims in held Kashmir has shown that tolerance is still alive in the Valley irrespective of the ongoing political conflict. The public outrage regardless of the victims’ communal identity has terrified hate-mongers into silence.

The killings took place on Monday after a bus carrying 40 passengers from Gujarat state, which was not a part of the Amarnath pilgrims’ convoy, left Srinagar and came under heavy fire in Botengoo village, in southern Kashmir’s Anantnag, 60 kilometres from Srinagar. In the 30 seconds of shooting seven people were killed and 20 injured.

Amarnath Yatra is an annual Hindu pilgrimage, during which thousands of people visit a cave, located at a height of 12,756 feet in the Himalayas, to pay obeisance to Shiva. The pilgrims have to pass through a 30-kilometre trek to reach the cave, which was discovered by a Muslim family.

The pilgrimage, however, has also come under the political radar due to the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. In 2008, when a piece of land was transferred to the Amarnath Shrine Board, an uprising erupted in the Valley. Eighty civilians were killed during clashes with Indian forces. The order was later revoked.

On Monday, when the news of the killings spread across Kashmir, condemnations started pouring in from all sections of society, militant leaders included. The incident united people on an issue that is seen as a blot on the culture and ethos of Kashmiri society.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti spent Monday-Tuesday night with survivors of the attack at the Anantnag district hospital and apologised for their loss.

Eyewitness accounts and the police statement clarified that the attack was not aimed at the pilgrimage and that the bus came under fire when gunmen were attacking police and a paramilitary party.

Whether it was a targeted attack or not, seven people who were returning from the Amarnath shrine were shot dead.

Security lapse

Questions have been raised about the security lapse as the pilgrimage is a heavily guarded annual event. Jammu and Kashmir’s deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh told NDTV that the attack came as a shock to the nation.

“Yes, definitely this is a big lapse. We have to enquire why the bus left at 5 pm, why it was allowed to take to the road after sunset,” he wondered, echoing the feelings of many others.

Questions are also being targeted at the PDP-BJP coalition government, with former chief minister Omar Abdullah saying that New Delhi needed to take a long, hard look at the deterioration in the situation after installation of Mehbooba Mufti as chief minister.

The situation in Kashmir has been extremely volatile since the killing of popular rebel commander Burhan Wani on July 8 last year. In the bloodshed following his killing, at least 100 civilians were shot dead during clashes with Indian forces and 15,000 were injured.

The Monday killings are, however, being seen as isolated and unpremeditated.

The government has stepped up security around Amarnath Yatra, whose one route passes through southern Kashmir, the most volatile areas of the region.

In the Valley, militancy is on the rise and the number of protests has swelled. For the first time in many years, two militants from Srinagar were shot dead on Wednesday night.

The attack on pilgrims has come at a time when the Valley is battling a political crisis, a rage of youth against the government and growing incidents of violence.

While Kashmiris did question whether the attack was on pilgrims or not, they lost no time to come out against the attackers, largely calling it as an act of terror. It shows the political movement in Kashmir has come a long way and religious differences do not play a role.

Although Kashmiris have been able to separate religion from politics, a new wave, led by former Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Musa, has found takers among the youth. His assertion that the ongoing movement is for an “Islamic caliphate”, and not for a nation state, is reverberating in many parts of Kashmir.

It is in this backdrop that the mature response by Kashmiris to the killing of pilgrims is being seen as a positive development.

In addition to the widespread condemnation over social media platforms, Kashmiris organised a sit-in on Tuesday evening in which several civil society members, human rights activists, journalists and students, participated.

The Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a human rights group, has called for a probe by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

There have been major human rights violations in Kashmir over the past 30 years since the armed uprising started in 1989. There has been a persistent demand that Pakistan and India allow the UNHRC to send a fact-finding mission to Kashmir.

The issue of human rights violations in Kashmir has been a major concern for everyone, but hardly any corrective measure has been taken to stop it or an investigation carried out.

The Monday attack should be a starting point for carrying out investigations into all killings and human rights violations.

Kashmir has always welcomed Hindu pilgrims and will not tolerate any act of terror against people of other faith.

The people of Kashmir can understand the feelings of those whose kin were killed this week and how it feels when justice is not delivered in such cases.


Dawn – JIT says PM couldn’t ‘satisfactorily answer most of the questions’


Karachi, 12 July 2017. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing money laundering allegations found Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “could not satisfactorily answer most of the questions” during his appearance on June 15.

The JIT report, submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, said he was “evasive, speculative and non-cooperative”.

“He was generally evasive and seemed preoccupied during the interview,” the report said. “Major part of his statement was based on ‘hearsay’. He remained non-committal, speculative and at times non-cooperative while recording his statement before the JIT,” said the team’s analysis of the prime minister’s statement.


Dawn – JIT submits Panama probe report to SC today

Malik Asad

Islamabad, 10 July 2017. The most powerful, and perhaps, most controversial joint investigation team (JIT) in the country’s history will submit its final report on alleged money laundering by the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the Supreme Court today (Monday).

Besides other evidence, the report will consist of the statements of PM Sharif; Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif; the PM’s children Hussain, Hassan and Maryam Nawaz Sharif; son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar; PM’s cousin Tariq Shafi; friend Javed Kayani and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is the father-in-law of the PM’s younger daughter.

The government, however, has already shown its hand, vowing not to accept the investigation report in the absence of the statement of former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, a key defence witness.

Sources say that the report may not be as damaging for the ruling family as they are anticipating. “Though it won’t be pleasant, it is not the worst for the Sharif family as such,” a source confided.

According to those privy to the investigation, the case hinges on two parallel money trails for the Park Lane apartments: one based on the Rehman Malik investigation, and the other provided by Hussain Nawaz to the apex court.

FIA recommends booking SECP chief for record tampering

The Rehman Malik investigation of 1998 connected the purchase of the London properties with alleged money laundering.

In addition, the ‘forced confession’ of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is also being used to establish a case against the Sharif family. This was why the JIT summoned almost all important characters named in both the Rehman Malik report and Mr Dar’s ‘confession’.

The JIT also summoned National Bank of Pakistan CEO Saeed Ahmed, and some officials from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), among others.

Another important character, a British-Pakistani Kashif Mehmood Qazi, was also summoned. According to Rehman Malik’s account, four bank accounts in the Qazi family’s name were used to allegedly launder the Sharifs’ money.

Mr Qazi had initially refused to testify before the JIT, citing security concerns, but sources said the investigation team had managed to convince him to file a statement.

Though sacked Federal Investigation Agency officer Inam R. Sehri also submitted a 250-page report to the JIT, which supported the money trail identified by Rehman Malik, the sources said that the JIT did not give much weight to it.

Mr Sehri also offered to become a witness against the Sharifs, but was not summoned by the investigation team, sources in the former FIA officer’s family confirmed to Dawn.

Qatari evidence

Since the JIT did not record the statement of the former Qatari prime minster, it is being assumed that the JIT will not consider the money trail provided by Hussain Nawaz, who was summoned by the JIT six times and examined for around 30 hours in all.

The leadership of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is visibly unhappy with this development, and makes no secret of its disdain for the report, which does not include the statement of Sheikh Al-Thani. This message was clearly conveyed by four key cabinet ministers at a press conference on Saturday.

The JIT reportedly wrote to Sheikh Al-Thani thrice, and the former Qatari prime minster responded in writing. Sources said there were differences over the issue of jurisdiction; the JIT wanted him to testify him inside the territorial jurisdiction of Pakistan and offered to host him in Pakistan or record his statement at the Pakistani embassy at Doha.

Sheikh Al-Thani, on the other hand, believes that since he is not subject to Pakistani law, he may be deposed by the JIT at his palace.

There is precedent for the recording of a foreign national’s statement outside Pakistani territorial jurisdiction: a JIT probing the murder of former PM Benazir Bhutto recorded the statement of US lobbyist Mark Siegel in 2009 at his residence.

On the basis of this statement, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had implicated former president retired General Pervez Musharraf in the case.

Later, an Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi recorded Mr Siegel’s second statement under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code via video link from the US embassy in 2015.

During hearing of the Panama Papers case at the Supreme Court, one of the judges on the implementation bench had remarked that the Qatari evidence could be discarded if Sheikh Al-Thani did not testify before the JIT.

NAB trail

The JIT also recorded the statements of three chairmen of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), including the incumbent chief. It also recorded the statements of other officials from NAB, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other institutions.

The JIT questioned the first NAB chairman, retired Lt Gen Syed Mohammad Amjad, under whom the bureau had filed three corruption references against the Sharif family.

He was also the NAB chief that pardoned Ishaq Dar, who was then an accused in the corruption references, but later turned approver.

The second NAB chairman, retired Lt General Munir Hafeez, was also examined by the JIT.

According to a former NAB deputy prosecutor general, the Hudaibya Paper Mills reference was adjourned sine die while Gen Hafeez was the chairman.

Incumbent NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry was the last witness examined by the JIT.

Sources said Mr Chaudhry was asked why NAB did not appeal the Lahore High Court (LHC) order to quash the Hudaibya reference, and why he did not authorise a re-investigation.

In response, the NAB chief is said to have handed over a minute sheet, signed by then-prosecutor general K.K. Agha, along with his legal opinion for why the LHC order should not be appealed.

Besides the prosecutor general, an additional deputy prosecutor general who handled the case also opined against filing an appeal, Mr Chaudhry told the JIT.

The documents, handed over to the JIT by the NAB chairman, explained that since the “elder Sharif (Nawaz Sharif’s father) is now deceased”, it would be a waste of “NAB’s time and resources” and may be presumed as “victimisation”.
It was “the opinion of the prosecution that this is not a fit case for an appeal,” the documents maintain.

SECP tampering

Separately, an FIA team investigating allegations of record tampering by the SECP has found its chairman, Zafarul Haq Hijazi, guilty of altering the records of Chaudhry Sugar Mills, owned by the Sharif family, and has recommended the registration of an FIR against him.

The FIA submitted the 28-page report to the apex court on Saturday, where it endorsed the JIT’s allegation of record-tampering against the SECP.

Besides the registration of a case against the chairman under Sections 466, 472 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947, the FIA also recommends disciplinary proceedings against SECP Director Ali Azeem and Maheen Fatima, who heads the Internal Audit and Compliance Department.


Dawn – India denies medical visa to Pakistani woman seeking cancer treatment

Saifullah Cheema

Islamabad, 7 July 2017. The Indian Embassy has rejected the medical visa application of a 25-year-old Pakistani tumour patient who was due to travel to India for treatment, citing deteriorating relations between the two countries as the reason for refusal, the patient’s mother told DawnNews on Friday.

Inderprastha Dental College and Hospital (IDCH) in Ghaziabad was to provide surgical treatment to Faiza Tanveer for a recurrent ameloblastoma, a cancerous oral tumour which is aggressive in nature, according to documents acquired by DawnNews.

The hospital had invited Tanveer and her mother Parveen Akhtar to India for treatment, requesting a 20-day medical visa for the duration of their stay in the country, the documents said.

Akhtar said the pair were told by local medical professionals that chemotherapy would be challenging as the target area is a particularly sensitive one, given the close proximity to her ears, nose and eyes.

They were told that Jinnah Hospital would be able to perform chemotherapy, but Tanveer’s eyeball would need to be removed for the process, which Tanveer and her mother were unwilling to opt for.

Treatment in India is cheaper than in the United States or Singapore, Akhtar said, adding that it was why they chose to apply there for treatment.

IDCH had quoted the cost of treatment to come to about $20,000, and Tanveer’s classfellows had raised Rs 1.6 million for the Lahori’s treatment, Akhtar said, adding that they had deposited Rs 1m with IDCH already.

However, due to the rejection of the visa application, Tanveer will be unable to avail treatment in India.

Akhtar said embassy officials informed her it was possible she may be able to acquire a medical visa if the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz wrote a letter to India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj regarding the matter.

She appealed to politicians in both countries to help facilitate her daughter’s visa application.


Dawn – How a Hindu temple was renovated by a Muslim and a Sufi shrine revamped by a Sikh in Pakistan


Haroon Khalid

Lahore, 5 July 2017. The long turret of a temple rises unexpectedly amid tall minarets and round green domes in a busy area.

It stands like a reminder of an unwanted past, a memory we would like to bury deep within our communal subconscious, afraid it might challenge how we want to see ourselves.

The top of the turret carries a scar of battle that has been fought several times, between two groups locked in perpetual conflict.

The latest round of this battle roared its ugly head on a cold December morning in 1992, when passionate supporters of Jamaat-i-Islami and others not attached to any political party surrounded this temple, determined to bring it down to avenge the demolition of the Babri Masjid about 1,000 kilometres from here in a country they fought tooth and nail to separate from, but one that continues to be an obsession.

The temple, however, stood its ground. It was not willing to concede the space it had occupied for several centuries. It was not ready to hear that it did not belong in this new country.

It eventually won the battle, the mob lost interest and left, while the residents of the area who had evacuated the temple upon the mob’s arrival returned to their homes.

Brick by brick

Bheru da Sthan or the abode of Bheru is one of the oldest standing temples in Lahore, an ancient city believed to have been founded by Lav, one of the twin sons of Ram and Sita.

The temple was built on the spot to which Godar, Prince Dara Shikoh’s treasurer, was brought after being rescued from the dungeons where he had been kept after he was caught deceiving the prince.

Godar was visited in the dungeons by a man who later identified himself as Bheru. The man asked him to shut his eyes and brought him here. A free Godar started living in Shah Alami area in Lahore and constructed a small temple here at the spot he had last seen Bheru.

The temple was given its contemporary shape (including a vast complex and several rooms) during Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule over the Sikh Empire in the 19th century. The Maharaja’s Muslim concubine, Mora, gave Rs 1,400 for the temple’s construction.

When Mora’s mother had taken seriously ill, all the hakims and healers failed to cure her. She was then informed of a man who lived in this temple, a descendant of Godara and a magician, who exorcised the djinns from Mora’s mother.

As a reward, Mora summoned bricks from all the 100 villages that had been granted to her by the Maharaja for the construction of this temple and donated money.

The mob in a frenzy to bring this temple down may not have known that it was constructed thanks to the generosity of a Muslim.

Even if they were made aware of it, the story would have been rejected as an anomaly because it would not have fit the framework that they use to understand history.

In this framework, Muslims can only destroy Hindu temples and Hindus do the same to Muslim shrines.

Rise to fame

Just outside the walled city of Lahore is one of the most important Sufi shrines of the city, Data Darbar, dedicated to the city’s patron saint Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh. This shrine lends Lahore its monker of Data ki nagri, or Data’s city.

About 1,000 years old, the shrine has witnessed the evolution of the city, the arrival of the first Muslims, the construction of the walled city under Malik Ayaz, the governor appointed after the Mahmud of Ghazni’s invasion and its transformation from a small town to a grand urban centre under Mughal emperor Akbar.

The shrine stood its ground through the rise of the Khalsa Empire, the emergence of the colonial bureaucratic state and the transformation of the city from a multi-religious metropolitan to a Muslim-dominated city that saw the exodus of Hindus and Sikhs during Partition and the erosion of their religious symbols.

In post-Partition Lahore, it emerged as the most important shrine in the city. In the new state, with increased symbolic significance came political patronage. From Z A Bhutto to General Zia, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, all made multiple visits to the shrine and contributed to its extension.

A vast courtyard was constructed around a small shrine, including a basement for qawwali, a madrassah and a library. The tall minarets of the mosque behind the shrine are a part of Lahore’s iconic skyline that includes Badshahi Masjid, Lahore Fort, Minar-i-Pakistan and the smadh of Ranjit Singh.

Data Darbar did not always enjoy this social and political significance. For much of its long history, it was only a modest structure even as state patronage was extended to other Sufi shrines of the city, including that of Mian Meer, believed to be the patron saint of Dara Shikoh.

Once again defying popular perceptions, it was during the tenure of Maharaja Ranjit Singh that shrine began to grow. A library was built here, the first of its kind, with a vast collection of handwritten copies of the Quran.

The religious texts were donated by Maharani Jind Kaur, Ranjit Siingh’s youngest wife who, after his death, briefly served as her young son Maharaja Duleep Singh’s Regent.

This rare collection of handwritten Qurans brought many admirers to the shrine, gradually increasing its significance.

Today as thousands of devotees pay homage to the patron saint of Lahore every day, it is conveniently forgotten that a Sikh Maharani played a crucial role in the development of this shrine, just as the fact about a Muslim concubine of the Maharaja renovating a Hindu temple has faded from memory.

This article was originally published on Scroll and has been reproduced with permission.

Haroon Khalid has an academic background in Anthropology from LUMS. He has been traveling extensively around Pakistan, documenting historical and cultural heritage. He is the author of Walking with Nanak, In Search of Shiva: A study of folk religious practices in Pakistan, and A White Trail: A journey into the heart of Pakistan’s religious minorities.


Dawn – Pakistan’s anxiety

Moeed Yusuf

Op/Ed, 4 July 2017. In a recent op-ed published by the New York Times, former US national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley and I argued for a US approach to Pakistan that centred on understanding Pakistan’s strategic anxieties.

We argued that encouraging an India-Pakistan dialogue, including on how to coexist in Afghanistan, and efforts for a political settlement in Afghanistan offer the best hope for the US to get greater Pakistani support in Afghanistan.

Expectedly, a fair share of American policy readers didn’t bite. These voices much rather see the US punish Pakistan to coerce a change in its attitude.

Of course, on the Pakistani side, you can always trust some to read too much into everything: for many here, the op-ed was a camouflaged attempt to blame Pakistan for sheltering the Afghan Taliban and legitimise India’s primacy in South Asia.

But neither of these reactions worried me as much as some of the more complimentary feedback from Pakistani readers, especially those who matter in the policy arena.

I say complimentary only because they vindicated the thrust of our argument by confirming that those entrusted to make decisions for this country remain fixated on India.

The views represented genuine concern, some truth, and quite a bit of conspiracy theory, all of it echoing a simple fact: Pakistan won’t budge until it feels its worries about India’s clout in Afghanistan are being addressed.

An approach that is India-centric is holding back progress

These responses also exposed just how blinded the Pakistani strategic mind is to its own follies. The angst towards the US is deep. Ultimately, Washington, Kabul, and Delhi are seen as the root of the problem. Many feel their anti-Pakistan agenda is so set there’s no point in trying to engage constructively.

They want Pakistan to look to China instead. When I expressed my disappointment, I bewildered them. They were complimenting me for my argument, but I was taking issue. Here is why.

The op-ed was an argument intended for the US policy enclave. It echoed my view that the more commonly touted US policy options like sanctioning Pakistan are not likely to deliver the desired results for the US.

I also believe some of what is being talked about in US policy circles could rupture the bilateral relationship altogether and destabilise Pakistan, creating an even bigger problem for the US in the long run.

But this view should have offered no solace to Pakistani decision-makers.

As important as it is for US policymakers to recognise that no policy that ignores Pakistan’s fixation on India will succeed, this in no way justifies Pakistan’s outlook.

So now, to the Pakistani policymaker

Pakistan’s India-centred strategic paradigm is one of the biggest drags on the country’s progress. Data to prove this is indisputable. I have contended Pakistan must invert its traditional refrain of ‘politics before economics’ with India by transforming itself into a transit and investment hub for the region.

This is just about the only way Pakistan can retain a solid negotiating hand with India in the long term while furthering its (and the region’s) human welfare goals.

The status quo is untenable because it isn’t working, differential with India is growing by the day. Also, no one in the international community, including China, accepts the logic of Pakistan’s approach anymore.

Second, while I accept the unfairness of looking at Pakistan from a purely Afghan lens, as many in the US do, far more important for Pakistani policymakers is to recognise what their policies may have done to reinforce this.

In a post-9/11 world where proxies that espouse Islamist ideologies are out of fashion, extremist elements have continued to use Pakistani soil to attack targets elsewhere.

This is not the place to unpack the finer debates and disagreements on the realities surrounding this issue. The bottom line is that the presence of externally focused extremist groups in Pakistan has done more to harm to its international standing than anything else. And it promises to continue bringing grief if things don’t change.

Finally, let’s stop pretending that China offers a substitute to the US. No good can come out of goading a US policy machinery already frustrated with Pakistan. Even the Chinese have been saying this.

Yes, the US needs Pakistan. But the opposite is also true. The US is the largest export market; it, and not China, wields influence over the international financial institutions Pakistan depends heavily on. The military benefits greatly from its relationship with the Pentagon and wants it to continue.

Unfortunately, none of this is will be heeded. But neither is my view on US policy going to wrest the anti-Pakistan momentum in Washington. The US and Pakistan are on a collision course that will hurt both, and the region. Pakistan should not wait for the US to prevent it.

The writer is a foreign policy expert based in Washington, DC


Dawn – Panama Papers JIT probe enters crucial, concluding stage

Inamullah Khattak

Islamabad, 2 July 2017. The powerful six-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) tasked with probing the business dealings of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his sons abroad is entering a crucial stage, with the investigation heading towards conclusion.

Sources told Dawn the JIT was in the process of winding up the probe by next week, after which it would finish compiling the final investigation report by the second week of July before it was submitted to the apex court by the July 10 deadline.

On Saturday, the JIT in its meeting reviewed the documents pertaining to the business and tax records of the Sharif family that were submitted by Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

In this regard, the JIT is summoning members of the Sharif family once again. The premier’s cousin Tariq Shafi will appear before the high-powered JIT on Sunday, when insiders said he will be re-examined over his statements recorded during his earlier appearance before the body.

And on Monday, the JIT consisting of members from SECP, National Accountability Bureau, State Bank of Pakistan, Military Intelligence, Inter-Services Intelligence and Federal Investigation Agency, has summoned Hussain Nawaz, the prime minister’s elder son.

Hassan Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz will appear before the body on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, in what officials said will be the concluding week of the JIT tasked with collecting evidence within two months.

Insiders told Dawn News that the JIT summoned members of Sharif family for the second time after investigators found contrast between statements recorded by them and the documents submitted by relevant government departments.

The JIT was formed by the Supreme Court after its verdict on the Panama Papers case was split 3-2 among a five-judge bench, with the two dissenting notes in the judgment authored by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed.

The two judges had ruled against Sharif, saying he should be disqualified, whereas the other three were in favour of forming a JIT.

Despite the hype over the JIT and its ongoing investigations, legal and investigation experts feel the report, once it is presented to the court, will simply be the beginning of a long process.

Legal experts feel that the JIT’s report, once it is completed, may lead to further hearings.