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Aftermath of a verdict

Is it 'game over' for Nawaz Sharif?


On July 28, another prime minister of Pakistan was sent home without completing his tenure. Mian Nawaz Sharif, a power premier and the only man to have been elected three times to this position, was disqualified by a five-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Five-zero was the decision. The decision was not totally unexpected; the build-up to the decision had led one to believe that, one way or the other, the then prime minister was certainly in trouble.

The disqualification of Sharif was not on corruption charges related to Panama - those charges are to be probed by an accountability court now and an order has been given to file references in this regard - but on a debatable technicality related to his 'iqama' (United Arab Emirates work visa). Sharif had to step down because he was employed by his son's company, Capital FZE, as chairman of its board at a basic salary of 10,000 dirham per month from August 2006 to April …

“The court has upheld what the PM was saying all along” Dr Musadik Malik

Do you think the Panama verdict is in favour of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) and the celebrations by party members are justified? If so, why did the prime minister not address the nation after the Panama judgement came out as had earlier been announced?

Dr MM: There was never a point in time when the prime minister announced that he was going to address the nation post the Panama judgement; we don’t know how this rumour started and why. He had already addressed the nation when he thought he needed to submit himself for scrutiny. And everyone was critical, asking why he had done this, why there was a need to speak to the people of Pakistan. But the PM felt he needed to come clean, to come to the people and tell them the entire story, and also to say he would submit himself for further investigation because he had nothing to hide. He also offered to present his family [for scrutiny] – even those family members who don’t live in this country, who live abroad, who are residen…

“Not a single judge has accepted Nawaz Sharif’s defence” Aitzaz Ahsan

There are many who feel that the PPP and its leadership’s recent statements against the PML-N are irrelevant in the current political scenario. How would you respond?

AA: First of all, if a party holds a majority in any one province, it cannot become irrelevant. So for the PPP to continue to hold Sindh will keep it relevant even though it may perform poorly in Punjab. In the federal system, the government of a province is sufficient to give the party an important place on the political stage and the PPP appears to be in no danger of losing Sindh. If it is returned with a majority from Sindh and a majority in the Sindh Assembly, it will remain relevant. The theory that it has become irrelevant to the political events and processes in Pakistan is probably based on its poor performance in the Punjab. But this is a Punjab-based analysis.

I believe that the PPP will take a share of the Punjab vote and representation. It is strong in some districts of southern Punjab. And the Nawaz governmen…

Silence of the Lambs

It is not often that we see Pakistan’s political parties avoiding comment on a matter of national importance, but General (R) Raheel Sharif’s new appointment to lead a 39-country Saudi military alliance is one such issue where many of them are keeping mum. Members of both, the ruling party – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) – and the opposition – the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – were clearly hesitant to say anything on the record regarding this issue.

Newsline approached the PPP for comment, but received no official response from them. Some analysts believe this is because the PPP has reached a deal with the establishment and does not want to offend the military establishment by taking sides. While the PPP denies these rumours, the party’s silence on Raheel Sharif’s new ‘job’ does lead to speculation, especially in light of recent events related to Ayyan Ali, the return of Sharjeel Memon from Dubai, and the acceptance of Dr Asim Hussain’s bail plea by the Sindh High Court.

While…

Interview: Qamar Zaman Kaira

Why do you think the PPP was wiped out in the 2013 elections after being in power for five years? Why did it not do well anywhere except Sindh?

There are two dimensions to this. First of all, there was election management and manoeuvering. This is quite clear; both the PPP and the PTI have the same stance on this issue. Having said that, a perception was built, which wasn’t based on any reality. Sitting Chief Justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, a section of the media, and the Muslim League in opposition, acting as a troika, tried to create a [negative] image of the PPP, and they were quite successful in demonising the party. We did not pay much attention to the media, and unfortunately, we paid for it as people bought into all of this.

They say that we did not do anything; that we were an administrative failure; that we were busy looting this country. Now let’s look at Pakistan in 2008 when we came to power, and in 2013 when we handed over power to another government. This will give you a rea…

A welcome’s hopeful afterglow

Normally, when two countries announce a bilateral meeting, there is a certain amount of certainty that it will take place. But the question “will they, won’t they?” is asked every time there is a scheduled meeting between officials of India and Pakistan. Decades of bitterness, hostility and mistrust between the two nuclear neighbours inevitably warrant such uncertainty till the very last second. Back in August, the first-ever National Security Adviser (NSA)-level talks were called off at the last minute due to preconditions set by India that were unacceptable to Pakistan.

Rapid thaw in relations

When it was initially announced that India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would be attending the “Heart of Asia” conference in Islamabad, some were sceptical. But in the backdrop of the “brief contact” between the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers in Paris and the subsequent meeting of the NSAs and Foreign Secretaries of the two countries, in Bangkok earlier this month, many other…

Terror taunt, peace stop

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the new building of the Afghan parliament, constructed by India, in Kabul this morning.

He made several allusions to Pakistan while addressing the Afghan parliament: "Afghanistan will succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the border, when nurseries and sanctuaries of terrorism are shut and their patrons are no longer in business."

This remark was obviously directed at Pakistan. Who would have thought that hours later, Modi would be having tea in Lahore with his Pakistani counterpart?

That Modi is social media-savvy is no secret. This time too he used Twitter to make one of the most important policy decisions: "Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi."

His tweet created a media frenzy in both countries.

Anchor and lawyer Fawad Chaudhry said it was no secret that Sharif was keen on building relations with India.

When Modi came to pow…

Changing the narrative for peace

December 16, 2014, is a day that will haunt our memories forever. Around 150 people — more than 120 of them children — were brutally murdered, nay massacred, by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists at Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar.

Pakistan has seen so many terrorist attacks in the last decade that we have lost count. All we know is that more than 60,000 civilians have lost their lives in these attacks and thousands of security officials have also been martyred. All lives are equally important; they all matter but the way these children were killed shook each and every one of us. Those children who survived the attack are scarred for life. We cannot even begin to imagine how their lives have changed forever.

This attack also changed Pakistan — not in entirety but in some ways. There was palpable anger in society after the APS attack. As a result, the pro-Taliban narrative was changed; the military establishment changed its tune, so did the politicians and the media. But …

Distorting history

At Pakistan’s first international education and cultural festival, School of Tomorrow (SOT) — held in Karachi last week — I moderated a session titled, ‘Teaching History and Social Studies in Intercultural Societies’. The three panellists included a physicist who is also a professor, an architect and a journalist. The discussion was made interesting because all the panellists were quite open in highlighting the fact how we teach children distorted history from day one. While we were discussing history and social studies being taught in Pakistani classrooms, I was reminded of a quote by Roger Schank. Mr Schank — a radical educator, Artificial Intelligence theorist and cognitive psychologist based in the US — pointed out something very interesting in an interview recently. He says: “We are taught made-up history by our respective governments. All history is a bunch of lies; we are living in a fictional world.”

Thus, his views on history can be applied globally. All countries glorify th…