Nawaz is out, now what?


Two months into his 10-year long jail sentence on charges of corruption, three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, were released from prison. The release came soon after the Islamabad High Court suspended their sentences in response to their appeals. According to Justice Athar Minallah: “The prosecution has failed to show the properties belong to Nawaz Sharif. It also failed to prove how was Maryam Nawaz sentenced under the same charge sheet which convicted Nawaz Sharif.”


In July 2018 Mr Sharif was sentenced “after being found guilty of corrupt practices related to the ownership of four luxury properties in central London linked to his family. His daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, received seven years for abetting a crime and one year for not co-operating – sentences which were due to run concurrently – while son-in-law Safdar Awan was given a one-year sentence for not co-operating. The convictions also barred them from seeking public office for up to 10 years after release.”


The National Accountability Bureau, can still appeal this ruling before the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

‘Is this how Pakistan will get off FATF Grey List?’

Pakistan is facing an internal financial crisis, the economy needs more investment and we need a positive image of Pakistan to end our increasing international isolation. For that to happen one of the many things we need is to get off the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Grey list.
However, the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to permit the globally designated terrorist organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its humanitarian arm Falahi Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) to continue relief and charity work in Pakistan. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has placed both these organizations on its list of sanctioned terrorist organizations.
In January of this year the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), prohibited companies from “donating cash to the entities and individuals listed under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions committee’s consolidated list”. This sanctions list “includes the names of al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, JuD, FiF, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other organizations and individuals.”
That Pakistan has allowed a globally designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed, someone who has put on the UNSC sanctions list as a terrorist in 2008, to run charity operations inside the country sends just the wrong message to the global community.
According to a news story: “The two-member SC bench including Justice Manzoor Ahmed Mulk and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood rejected the federal government’s appeal against Lahore High Court’s verdict. JuD’s network includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services. The JuD and FIF alone have about 50,000 volunteers and hundreds of other paid workers, according to two counter-terrorism officials.”


Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif’s death and her opponents’ bad taste

Sixty-eight year old Begum Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif, wife of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, passed away in a hospital in London, after one year of battling cancer.
Ever since Begum Kulsoom’s illness last year, detractors of Nawaz Sharif and many supporters of Imran Khan claimed her illness was only a ruse to help keep her husband out of jail.
Even Aitzaz Ahsan, Senator from the Pakistan Peoples Party, had doubted the illness of the former first lady and said “Harley Street Clinic is owned and operated by Sharif family.” However, he apologized “to Sharif family” today “for hurting their sentiments with his statement about Kulsoom Nawaz’s illness.”
Chief of Army Staff, General Bajwa also condoled with the family with DGISPR tweeting that “COAS expresses his grief and heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family on sad demise of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz. “May Allah bless the departed soul eternal peace at Heaven-Amen.”
However, the PTI crowd has shown that it lacks manners, dignity, and taste —all qualities Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif demonstrated in standing up to Musharraf dictatorship.
Kulsoom Nawaz served as the president of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz from 1999 to 2002, during the initial years of General Pervez Musharraf’s coup when her husband and brother in law were both in jail.
She, along with her daughter Maryam Nawaz, were also placed under house arrest by the Musharraf regime. As mentioned in all her obituaries, “Begum Kulsoom led defiant, lonely protests against the Musharraf regime to get her husband freed from prison.”


Princeton Economist’s Withdrawal from Advisory Committee Exposes Pakistan’s Bigotry Problem

Pakistan has once again lost the opportunity to benefit from the potential of its diaspora and also made itself a mockery in front of the world. The case of Prof Atif Mian’s appointment to the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) and then making him resign only exposes Pakistan’s bigotry problem.

Dr Atif Mian, a Princeton University Professor for Economics, Public Policy and Finance known for his work on finance and macro-economics, was nominated to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC) but later his name was withdrawn because he happens to be a member of the Ahmadiyya sect, which Pakistan’s mullahs (& the country’s constitution) describe as non-Muslim. Ahmadis are widely discriminated against in Pakistan and are targets of persecution.


The real tragedy in this saga is that Imran Khan’s government could have anticipated the reaction of the Islamists and their followers and if he and his advisors did not have the guts to face it then they should not have created the controversy involving a good man & a world-renowned economist. Prof Atif Mian did not need or want the position. Pakistan would have benefitted from having his expertise. Following Prof Mian’s resignation, two other Pakistani-origin economists, Asim Khwaja from Harvard University and Imran Rasul from UK have also resigned.

In the words of lawyer and human rights activist Yasser Latif Hamdani, “The unceremonious removal of Princeton economist Atif Mian by PM Imran Khan shows the end of meritocracy in Pakistan. Atif Mian, the great Princeton economist who was unceremoniously removed from his position on Imran Khan government’s Economic Advisory Council, is not the one who lost out. It is Pakistan’s loss.” In his latest piece the ‘Insulting removal of Princeton prof shows Pakistan has forgotten Jinnah’s view on Ahmadis,’ Hamdani gives the long list of “Ahmadis who tried to serve Pakistan but were murdered in cold blood.” “The downward graph of Pakistan has interestingly followed Ahmadis’ marginalisation. This is not because Ahmadis are the only ones talented but because their marginalisation has also meant the end of meritocracy in Pakistan. Pakistan will continue to lose unless it reverts to Jinnah’s wise words that religion caste or creed has nothing to do with the business of the state.”


The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also released a statement that ‘Faith no criterion for public service.’ According to HRCP: “There is overwhelming evidence to show that Dr Mian was eminently qualified to serve on the EAC and that his contribution to economic policy making in Pakistan would have been immensely valuable. The government’s decision to withdraw this nomination on the grounds that it might prove divisive – merely because he happens to belong to the Ahmadiyya community – contravenes Article 27(1) of the Constitution of Pakistan, which clearly states that ‘no citizen otherwise qualified for appointment in the service of Pakistan shall be discriminated against in respect of any such appointment on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth.”


Further, “The withdrawal of Dr Mian’s nomination does not augur well. The spate of faith-based attacks this year, not only on the Ahmadiyya community, but also on the Christian, Shia Hazara and Hindu communities, should make it clear that any steps by the state that are seen to legitimize religious discrimination are unacceptable. Defending human rights is necessarily a question of moral courage and HRCP strongly urges the government to avoid any sort of precedent that allows a person’s faith to trump all other criteria for public service.”

Is Naya Pakistan truly Naya or is it still as Purana as always

In a recent editorial The Daily Times made this point clearly when it said that Imran Khan’s “government has more riding on it than perhaps previous ones in recent times. For the simple reason that it promised change across the board.”
Asking the question “Who is part of this Naya Pakistan” the DT Editorial stated that for “a real revolution to take place” the Government must amend “Article 248  of the Constitution which provides absolute presidential immunity from  criminal and civil proceedings. After all, PM Khan fought this election  on an accountability mandate; with repeated promises that this would  start from the very top.”
Further, the Editorial pointed out “the crucial matter of what to  do with the constitutional stipulation that the posts of Prime Minister  and President can be held by Muslims only.” Also, if the Imran Khan government wants to prove it is inclusive then there is a need to also improve the number of women in the cabinets, both at federal and provincial levels. “At the federal level, there are only three women ministers out of a total of 21. When it comes to the provinces, the Punjab boasts just one woman minister while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan do not even manage that. The two women ministers in Sindh both belong to the PPP.”