The News – LHC bans airing ‘anti-judiciary’ speeches of Nawaz, Maryam

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 16 April 2018. The Lahore High Court (LHC) has banned airing anti-judiciary speeches of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and other PML-N leaders and directed media regulator to decide the matter within 15 days.

A full bench of the LHC comprising Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Atir Mahmood and Justice Shahid Bilal Hassan was hearing the case.

Over a dozen petitions were filed in the LHC, seeking court order to ban contemptuous speeches by PML-N leaders and initiating contempt proceedings against them.

The petitioner appealed the court to direct Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) not to air their speeches as they are speaking against the judiciary since the Panama Paper verdict.


The News – A war with no winners

A Rauf K Khattak

Op/Ed, 10 April 2018. Do ideologies rule the world? Do they last? Yes, they rule and last as long as they serve the purpose of powerful nations or individuals. This is a cynical statement. But cynicism is not without reason or it would not have existed.

Adam Smith, a Scottish economist, wrote his book ‘The Wealth of Nations’ (1776), which is considered to be the Bible of capitalism. His ideas ran counter to the prevailing economic theories of his day, especially mercantilism. He propounded the idea of free trade.

Free trade does not have a single, unified definition. It generally refers to trade between nations without any artificial barriers introduced by the government. He said that free trade brought wealth and prosperity to individuals and nations and, thereby, increase the sum-total of human welfare.

Governments, he said, should allow the “invisible hand” to rule the markets. If everybody acts from self-interest and is spurred on by the profit motive, then the economy will work more efficiently.

Smith wrote that it is as if an “invisible hand” guides the actions of individuals for the common good. Government action, however, was required to impose anti-trust laws, enforce property rights, and police and protect the industry essential for national defence.

This idea was further developed and refined by British politician and economist David Ricardo in 1817 when he presented the law of comparative advantage.

Simply stated, if two nations trade and one of them is more efficient in producing both goods A and B, it should produce good A in which it is more efficient and leave good B to the other trading partner nation to produce.

As a result, trading goods A and B with each other becomes more beneficial, even when one nation is more productive than the other.

Britain adopted free trade and became the leading industrial nation of the 18th and 19th centuries. It gathered enormous amounts of wealth and riches. Unfortunately, the ideology applied to Britain only. Its vast colonies were excluded from this ideology.

Let’s not forget how it pulverised the weavers of Bengal. Textile was the leading industry of the Subcontinent at the time. Soldiers were sent to destroy the looms so that the factories owners of Lancashire could thrive.

The worst example was the Salt Act. Britain’s Salt Acts prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt – a staple in their diet. Citizens were forced to buy the vital mineral from the British who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over manufacturing and selling salt, also exerted a heavy salt tax.

Defying the Salt Act, Mahatma Gandhi started the Salt March or the Salt Satyagraha in March 1930 – a trek of 240 kilometres on foot to the sea to make their own salt. The British called it an act of rebellion.

The Roaring Nineties and globalisation, an era of great optimism and great expectations, heralded not only free movements of goods and services but also resulted in free movements of finance and ideas. The world is one village, it was proclaimed.

Reams of paper were wasted celebrating globalisation and high-minded pronouncements came from intellectuals of all stripes. Poor nations were given hope that their days of deprivation will soon be over. The West will become the East and the East will become the West and happily the twain shall live.

China appears on the world stage with economic reforms called ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’. These reforms were started in December 1978 by reformists within the Communist Party of China that was led by Deng Xiaoping.

In three or more decades, it became the second largest economy of the world and was referred to as the factory of the world. According to the World Bank, more than 500 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty over the last three or more decades.

Unable to cope with a surging China, America’s public opinion shifted inwards and compelled Trump to push his ‘America First’, agenda.

Adam Smith has once again been turned on his head. On March 9, Trump slapped a 25 percent tariff on steel and 15 percent tariff on aluminum imports, daring the world to start a trade war. He said: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win”.

Ignorance is a voluntary misfortune. It is the mother of impudence and the nurse of obstinacy. Wars, whether they involve physical warfare or trade, have never been won. It is the war that wins.

After independence from Britain, the US embraced free trade as a policy, but only when it was favourable to it. The most prominent trade war of the 20th century was ignited by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which imposed steep tariffs on almost 20,000 imported goods.

America’s trading partners retaliated with tariffs on US exports, which plunged to 61 percent from 1929 to 1933. America had to repeal tariffs in 1934. It was such a disaster that it held sway over American trade policy for 80 years.

Free trade between rich countries and poor countries usually does not work to the benefit of both
Man in Blue

The writer is a former civil servant and a former minister.


The News – Contempt petitions against Nawaz: LHC bench dissolved after judge’s recusal

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 02 April 2018. The bench formed by the Lahore High Court chief justice to hear a contempt of court case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz was dissolved as a judge recused himself from the bench.

Justice Shahid Mobeen, member of the three-judge full bench of the LHC, recused himself on personal reasons.

Last week, the LHC Chief Justice Yawar Ali formed the new full bench headed by Justice Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi, which also comprised Justice Shahid Mobeen and Justice Atir Mehmood to hear the case.

Justice Shahid Bilal Hasan who was previously a member of the bench has been transferred to the Multan bench.

The previous bench was formed on March 19 to hear petitions against the alleged anti-judiciary speeches of Sharifs and other PML-N leaders.

The petitioners contended that the PML-N leadership had been making derogatory speeches against Supreme Court judges since the verdict of Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification in the Panama Papers case.

The News – If I were you, I would have died of shame, says CJ to Nehal Hashmi

Federal Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 26 March 2018. Expressing his displeasure, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar said to Nehal Hashmi “If I were in your place, I would have died of embarrassment”.

He was hearing the contempt of the court case of Nehal Hashmi, a leader of the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N), being held in the Supreme Court (SC) here on Monday.

A three-member bench headed by the chief justice, held the hearing during which Hashmi pleaded forgiveness before the court at which the CJP asked if the PML-N leader could make this appeal.

The CJP angrily remarked that Hashmi had offended the SC and asked him to repeat the same words. To this, Hashmi responded that he had not made any such statement.

Justice Saqib Nisar said, “How about we appoint Rasheed Ahmed Rizvi as a mediator and show everyone what you said?” The video of Hashmi’s statement was shown in the court afterwards.

He asked Hashmi to tell for whom he used these inappropriate words. When the CJP asked Rizvi the same question, he replied that he has not said any such thing against the judges. “Not any lawyer can make such a statement, this institution is our identity,” Rizvi said.

When the CJP asked him to tell who was hearing political cases, Hashmi said that he could swear before the court.

The CJP said, “Let’s witness the justice of lawyers today. Rizvi should tell what he said about the court. Can Hashmi use the same words for himself? The lawyers should tell how the people abusing outside the court be punished? Doesn’t he feel ashamed that he was enjoying parties in Islamabad after making an excuse of cardiac pain.

The CJP said that Hashmi had no embarrassment over his attitude. “If I were him, I would have died of shame”.

However he said, “If the lawyers forgive him, we will also forgive him.”

Later, the hearing case was adjourned till tomorrow.

The News – Baroness Sayeeda Warsi wins libel payout from Jewish News over defamatory allegations

Murtaza Ali Shah

London – UK, 19 March 2018. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Britain’s first Muslim female cabinet minister and former Chair of the Conservative Party has won libel damages and legal costs from the influential Jewish News over an article that wrongly suggested she had sought to excuse the actions of Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.

After Sayeeda Warsi took legal action and sued the publication for defamation and libel, the Jewish News has published a front page apology and agreed to pay Warsi £ 20,000 in damages, which she said she is donating to a handful of charities, as well as her legal costs.

The defamatory article, which was also published on Jewish News Online, was written by former army officer Colonel Richard Kemp in which the author claimed that Warsi had objected to action being taken against British Muslims who murder and rape for the terror group. Warsi said in her libel action that these claims were “untrue and offensive”.

Before the matter reaches the London High Court, the Jewish News accepted the allegations were “wholly untrue and should never have been published”.

In a statement Carter-Ruck, the law firm that acted for Sayeeda Warsi, said: “As Jewish News has now accepted, these allegations were wholly untrue and should never have been published.

Baroness Warsi is utterly appalled by the actions of ISIS and all terror groups (indeed, she is widely reported to be on an ISIS death list herself) and has never said anything to remotely suggest otherwise.

She also believes that ISIS fighters returning to the UK should face the full force of British law.

“As well as publishing a front page apology, Jewish News has also agreed to pay Baroness Warsi £20,000 by way of damages (which she will be donating to The Savayra Foundation UK, a women’s empowerment charity, Nisa Nisham, a Jewish and Muslim Women’s network, Wakefield Hospice and others) as well as legal costs.”

The Savayra Foundation UK is Warsi’s charity set up to promote education and empowerment of women. It works with widows and orphans in Pakistani city of Gujjar Khan. Parts of the libel victory amount will go towards this charity.

Commenting on the outcome, Baroness Warsi said: “The article was untrue and offensive. Predictably, it was widely shared online and on social media and caused a divisive debate, and as a consequence I was subjected to much abuse over a period of 7 months.

I am a passionate supporter of interfaith relations, and unfounded allegations such as the ones published by Colonel Kemp and Jewish News serve only to reinforce and inflame the divisions between communities.

I indicated at the outset that an early apology and retraction could have brought this matter to an end; however, the contempt with which Jewish News dealt with the matter for the first 6 months forced my hand. I am pleased that they have now apologised and accepted that Colonel’s Kemp’s article was utterly false and should never have been published.

By contrast, as perhaps befits an individual who appears to wantonly publish inflammatory and offensive comments without a thought for the consequences (let alone the truth), Kemp himself has been too cowardly even to respond to my solicitors’ correspondence.

I’m delighted that the damages which Jewish News have agreed to pay will be put to such good causes, including for women in both the Muslim and Jewish communities, so something good can emerge from this sorry episode”.

The News – Imran Khan says FIA documents prove Maryam beneficial owner of companies that own Sharifs’ London flats

Saturday, 10 March 2018. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan on Saturday posted on Twitter a set of documents from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) which he said prove Maryam Nawaz is beneficial owner of companies that own Sharif family’s London flats.

Khan wrote that Maryam Nawaz had no source of income “so money (was) stolen from Pakistan and laundered by Nawaz Sharif in Maryam’s name”.

In another tweet he says the documents expose the lies of the Sharif family from the Qatari letter to Trust deeds to the Calibri font [???].

He also posted a clipping of one of Maryam Nawaz’s TV interviews and said “Brazen lies of Maryam Nawaz simply to protect family properties because they were acquired with corruption money”.

The News – World Sikh Parliament goes to UNHRC

Murtaza Ali Shah

London – UK, 03 March 2018. The Sikh representatives from a number of countries linked to the World Sikh Parliament (WSP) gathered in Geneva to update United Nations officials and member states on the WSP initiative to gain support for the right to self-determination for Sikhs to form an independent homeland called Khalistan.

At the start of the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Sikh leaders arrived in Geneva for the first time to hold talks with the UN officials after communications were exchanged with Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Vojislav Šuc, the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

15-member Coordination Committee of World Sikh Parliament told The News that they have been told when fully developed the WSP will become the representative political body of the sovereign Sikh Quam (nation), which is currently stateless, at the international level.

The WSP will be the international voice of the sovereign Sikh Quam (nation) and will lead engagement with international political institutions and structures like the United Nations, Commonwealth and European Union on relevant issues, said the WSP.

This latest political development at the United Nations this week will be a huge boost to those campaigning for a sovereign Sikh state with the agreed mission statement for the World Sikh Parliament to work towards the creation of a sovereign Sikh state of Khalistan.

The agreed membership criteria for the World Sikh Parliament is each of the 150 representatives must: fully subscribe to Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala Ji’s assertion that the attack on the Darbar Sahib Complex laid the foundation stone for Khalistan; categorically support the Sarbat Khalsa Declaration of Khalistan on April 29, 1986, subsequently supported at the Sarbat Khalsa 2015; and have a proven track record of commitment and working towards Khalistan due to the organisations in which the person has served.

The News – Call to preserve Sikh heritage

Kiran Butt

Lahore-Panjab-Pakistan, 25 February 2018. The sixth edition of Lahore Literary Festival offered soul-searching topics to feed Lahorites’ appetite for art and literature but the limelight was drawn towards the preservation of heritage in its true spirit.

“There are nearly two million people in Pakistan who follow the faith of Sikhism, which can be a reason to promote Pakistan’s soft image but it was not being tapped properly,” said Amardeep Singh, the author of the book “The Lost Heritage: The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan”, while speaking at a session “Sikh Heritage after the Raj” in Hall-II on Saturday, the opening day of the LLF 2018.

He narrated his journey to 36 cities of Pakistan within a short span of 30 days, which shows his motivation to know more about the Sikh heritage in all parts of the country. He started his journey to see Sikh legacy because his father inspired him to do so.

He said, “It is the legacy which is not usually discussed. I felt so heartbroken when I wasn’t allowed to go inside the forts of Jamrud and Attock.

The Sikh community built 24 forts along the Indus and now there are one or two left.  I went to explore many gurdwaras and came across the one near Rawalpindi, and a man, who was the caretaker of that holy place, told me ‘we have been using this place as a community hall after it had served as a medical centre for nearly 30 years after Partition.

Some people came and started digging out the hall of the gurdwara as they thought there is a treasure buried but the villagers stopped them and saved the place from getting demolished.” Every citizen has to do his part to protect the heritage.

I can bet if you preserved those heritage, hundreds of Sikhs will pay thousands of rupees to visit their holy places and it will increase the tourism of Pakistan and its softer image will get its due hype all over the world.”

“Spirituality always tried to bring people together. Hazrat Mian Mir laid the first stone of Golden Temple. He also belongs to us. We have massive respect for Baba Farid and Baba Bulley Shah. There was a Muslim ‘Bhai Mardana’ who used to accompany Guru Nanak.

At the time of Partition, his community moved to Pakistan as they believed that this border will not be permanent. But now they are here in Pakistan and still visit the gurdwaras and pay their tribute to our holy saint,” he added.

He requested the government of Pakistan, saying, “To paint every monument in white is not a good way to preserve the heritage. The fresco on each old building tells different stories of that era. After many decades we will have the money to restore these priceless pieces of history but till then they will vanish”.

He said, “Many Sikhs want to do something for the restoration of their holy places and I think every minority should do their effort to save their cultural and religious heritage.

My work inspires every community to work for the betterment of their own community and religious heritage. I adore Pakistani government for putting some effort to restore the heritage but they still have to do a lot more and we are ready to help them in every manner.”

The News – Sedition charges filed against Mani Shankar after his KLF session

Karachi-Sindh-Pakistan, 17 Feberuary 2018. Former Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has been indicted with sedition and defamation by a BJP leader after he reportedly praised Pakistan and insulted India.

At the ninth Karachi Literature Festival held last week, Indian diplomat Mani Shankar had stated during a session placed around India-Pakistan relationship that he values Pakistan’s policy of seeking to reconcile through dialogue, an approach that he believed India had not yet espoused.

The statement has caused enormous backlash in Shankar’s home country, with one BJP leader going as far as filing a case of sedition and offense against the eliminated leader.

The case filed by BJP’s head of Kota district OBC wing, Ashok Choudhary, has been admitted by the additional chief judicial magistrate court in Kota, with the hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

The case has been filed under sections 124(A), 500 and 504 of the Indian Penal Code, with Shankar’s statements described as an expression of love for Pakistan and pride for Islamabad not instigating talks with New Delhi.

In the petition filed against Shankar, Chaudhary states, “the statements in favor of Pakistan have deeply hurt my patriotism and passionate sentiments for my country.”

The News – Death in Afghanistan or bitter life in Pakistan: refugees’ choice

Peshawar-Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa-Pakistan, 10 February 2018. Death awaits you in Afghanistan, says refugee Mohammad Wali, insisting he prefers to endure a grim existence in a Pakistani camp than return home and be killed.

Islamabad has increasingly put Afghan refugees in the crosshairs in recent weeks, claiming that militants hide in Pakistani camps and calling for all refugees to be repatriated as part of a campaign to eliminate extremism.

But in Afghanistan, nearly four decades after the Soviet invasion sent the first refugees flowing over the border, the resurgent Taliban fight on, with civilians repeatedly caught in the carnage.

Days after a spate of deadly attacks killed more than 130 people, Wali, wearing a shabby coat, said a recent call to his family in the Afghan capital was filled with only dire news.

“They told me of terrible attacks and of the bombers blowing them up and nothing else,” the fruit seller said.

Pakistan hosts roughly 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, the UN says. A further 700,000 undocumented are also believed to be living in the country.

Pakistanis have long viewed them suspiciously, with police accused of harassment and extortion along with arbitrary arrests.

“Even our caps were taken here (by police),” said Wali.

In recent weeks anti-refugee rhetoric by officials has heated up again, notably as they come under increased US pressure over militant safe havens.

“Pakistan has also been stressing the need of early repatriation of Afghan refugees as their presence in Pakistan helps Afghan terrorists to melt and morph among them,” the foreign ministry said, following a suspected US drone strike in the tribal belt last month.

The official pressure coincides with a souring of public opinion toward refugees, with some Pakistanis saying Afghans have overstayed their welcome.

“Enough is enough, we served them for 40 years, shared our houses and treated them as guests,” said Peshawar resident Mehmood Khan.

The UN´s refugee agency has warned against any forcible or coerced repatriations, insisting they be voluntary.

In late January, Pakistan extended a deadline by 60 days for refugees holding proof of registration cards to leave its territory.

But as security in Afghanistan deteriorates further, refugees at an Islamabad camp said volunteers would be in short supply.

‘Nothing left’

Women carried buckets of water on their heads at the camp on the outskirts of Islamabad as young children played cricket in the dust near mud brick homes that lack electricity and clean water.

But none who spoke to AFP wanted to leave, all citing security and work as day labourers.

“There is nothing left in my homeland… only war and fighting,” said Hajji Shahzada, 60, who came to Pakistan during the Soviet invasion four decades ago.

A recent report by the Norwegian Refugee Council found that seven out of 10 Afghans who had returned after living as refugees abroad have been displaced twice, chased from place to place by the insurgency.

The findings should give nations hosting Afghan refugees pause, said NRC secretary general Jan Egeland.

“Now is not the time to deport Afghans… It can destabilise the whole region and lead to immeasurable suffering,” he said in the report.

Often the refugees end up in major urban centres such as Kabul, competing for scant resources.

Kabul, straining to manage its expanding population and feeble economy, has failed to help them, says Sher Agha, a representative for the refugees in Islamabad.

“Providing jobs and employment is another issue, but at the very least they need shelter,” he told AFP.

‘Better to live’

The conditions are so bleak that “many” returnees are sneaking back across the porous border and quietly taking up their lives in Pakistan, multiple refugees told AFP.

Abdul Malik was born an Afghan refugee in northwest Pakistan, living there for more than 40 years. But in 2016 he repatriated with his Pakistani wife and children.

They settled in a village near Jalalabad, in eastern Nangarhar province, where the Taliban and the Islamic State group have been waging a turf war.

“It was the most unpleasant experience of my life,” Malik, wrapped in a traditional Pashtun shawl, told AFP during an interview in Peshawar.

The water was contaminated, the air was polluted, there were no doctors, no clinics, no employment, nothing but “bad roads and difficult conditions”, he said, along with the constant fear of a brutal death at the hands of militants.

He lasted three months before sneaking back into Pakistan, as many other Afghan families who could afford the journey have done.

Wali, who spoke to AFP at the Islamabad camp, said he would rather endure uncertainty in a country that does not want him than return home.

“Better to live here even if we face hunger and thirst,” he explains.

“At least we will not die.”