Posts Tagged ‘Nawaz Sharif’

Pakistan currency tumbles ahead of election

July 17, 2018

Jailed ex-PM Nawaz Sharif begins appeal against corruption conviction

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Nawaz Sharif — The Islamabad High Court will hear the appeals filed by Sharif, Maryam and Safdar challenging the verdict against them. (Reuters)

By Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad and Kiran Stacey in New Delhi

Pakistan’s currency took another tumble on Monday as Nawaz Sharif, the country’s jailed former prime minister, launched a legal appeal against his conviction for corruption, adding to political uncertainty ahead of next week’s election.

The Pakistani rupee slid more than 4.5 per cent against the dollar to close at PKR128 on Monday, with analysts predicting the new government would have to appeal for help from the International Monetary Fund to stave off a foreign currency crisis.

Policymakers have now allowed the carefully managed currency to fall around 20 per cent against the dollar since the beginning of last December as one way of managing an escalating balance of payments problem.

Lower exports and higher imports have led the country’s stocks of foreign reserves to decline to $9.5bn in recent months — not enough to cover two months’ worth of imports.

The latest slide in the currency was prompted in part by the news on Monday that Mr Sharif and his daughter have lodged appeals against their corruption convictions, three days after being jailed in Lahore.

They had both been sentenced in absentia on charges of owning property for which they could not account. They have protested their innocence, with family members suggesting the convictions are part of a conspiracy by the country’s powerful army, with which Mr Sharif has regularly clashed.

Pervaiz Rasheed, a former minister in Mr Sharif’s cabinet, said on Monday: “Legal experts including former justices who have looked at this case have concluded that there is no solid basis to the accusations.

“Mr Sharif, his daughter and her husband have approached the Islamabad High Court to seek a reversal of the verdict against them”.

Mr Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party is one of two favourites to win this week’s election, alongside the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which is led by Pakistan’s former cricket captain, Imran Khan.

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Imran Khan

Allies say Mr Sharif returned home on Friday from London to be arrested in part as a political gamble to win sympathy from the electorate.

“The most important verdict still has to come from the Pakistani public,” said one former member of his party. “Nawaz Sharif is convinced that if that verdict lands in his favour, the court’s verdict will be left behind.”

Arifa Noor, a political commentator for the Dawn newspaper, said: “There is a body of opinion which believes that a sympathy vote will emerge in favour of Nawaz Sharif on election day.”

Whichever party wins this week, analysts predict the country’s new prime minister will soon have to approach the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.

“The new government will have to return to the IMF soon after it gets in to office,” said Muhammad Suhail of Karachi’s Topline securities.

The president of a privately owned Pakistani bank added: “The economy has become Pakistan’s immediate problem number one. You will need to have tough and decisive actions very soon.”

https://www.ft.com/content/5ce9b97a-88c2-11e8-bf9e-8771d5404543

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Ousted Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif arrested on return, as bomber kills scores

July 14, 2018

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, both facing lengthy prison terms, were arrested minutes after landing in the country on Friday as they returned seeking to revitalize their flagging party ahead of a July 25 election.

 

Nawaz Sharif gestures as he boards a Lahore-bound flight in Abu Dhabi. Photo: 13 July 2018
Nawaz Sharif has been arrested after flying home from the UK. Reuters photo

Underscoring the tensions gripping Pakistan in the run-up to the poll, a suicide bomber had killed more than 100 people at an election rally a few hours earlier, in the deadliest such attack in the country in more than three years.

A Pakistani mourns over a dead body of his family member who is killed in a bomb attack, at a mortuary in Quetta, Pakistan, Friday, July 13, 2018.
AP Photo/Arshad Butt

“I’m aware of the fact that I’ll be jailed, but it’s a very small price to pay for the great mission to save the sanctity of the vote in Pakistan,” Sharif told Reuters on board the plane minutes before touching down in the central city of Lahore.

Uniformed men escorted the Sharifs, who were sentenced in absentia on corruption charges last week, off the commercial flight, and a spokesman for their Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party confirmed they were arrested soon afterwards.

Their return represents a high-stakes gamble, but could shake up an election race riven by accusations Pakistan’s powerful military is working behind the scenes to skew the contest in favor of ex-cricket hero Imran Khan. He describes Sharif as a “criminal” who deserves no support.

Clashes broke out on Friday evening at the main highway entry point to Lahore between pro-Sharif protesters and police who had been deployed in their thousands, a Reuters witness said. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The security situation has improved in recent years in nuclear-armed Pakistan, but the substantial threat still posed by militants was starkly illustrated by the attack on an election rally of a regional party in Baluchistan province, in southwestern Pakistan, that killed 128 people.

The bombing was the third incident of election-related violence this week.

THOUSANDS ON STREETS

After their arrest at the airport in Lahore, Sharif and his daughter were immediately put on another plane and flown to the capital Islamabad, PML-N media coordinator Muhammad Mehdi said. Local media said they were then taken to Adiala jail in the nearby garrison town of Rawalpindi.

Their swift departure prevented PML-N workers staging a hero’s welcome on the streets of Lahore, where Sharif’s brother, Shehbaz, led between 10,000 and 20,000 party supporters on a march in defiance off a citywide ban on public gatherings ordered by the caretaker government that took over in June, as Pakistan’s constitution requires in the lead-in to an election.

Pakistan’s third major political movement, the Pakistan Peoples Party, joined the criticism of the crackdown, with its prime ministerial candidate Bilawal Bhutto Zardari questioning why Sharif’s supporters would be prevented from gathering.

“Why is Lahore under siege? Right to peaceful protest is fundamental for democracy,” tweeted Bhutto Zardari, the son of two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated at a political rally in 2007.

The country’s media regulator warned local news channels to abstain from airing statements “by political leadership containing defamatory and derogatory content targeting various state institutions specifically judiciary and armed forces”, the regulator said in a statement.

DISCORD WITH MILITARY

Sharif returned from Britain after an anti-corruption court handed him a 10-year jail term and sentenced his daughter and political heir to seven years in prison over the purchase of luxury flats in London in the 1990s.

Sharif alleges the military is aiding a “judicial witch-hunt” against him and the PML-N. The party’s past five years in power has been punctuated by the civil-military discord that has plagued Pakistan since its inception.

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Pakistan’s Army General Bajwa

“Democracy, and a democratic government has to be respected,” Sharif told Reuters. “There can’t be two parallel systems and two parallel governments running in a country. If that starts happening, it is catastrophic.”

The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since 1947, has denied interfering in modern-day politics. It plans to place 371,000 soldiers around polling stations so there can a “free and fair” elections, an army spokesman said this week.

Sharif’s return from London, where his wife Kulsoom is critically ill and undergoing cancer treatment, comes at a time of dwindling fortunes for his party, which a year ago was considered a run-away favorite to retain power.

Recent opinion polls suggest PML-N is losing its lead nationally to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of arch-rival Khan, whose anti-corruption message has resonated with many Pakistanis.

Sharif was ordered jailed in a case stemming from 2016 Panama Papers revelations that showed they owned the apartments through off-shore companies. Maryam was convicted for concealing ownership of the apartments. They both deny wrongdoing.

After the Supreme Court ousted Sharif as prime minister last July, the courts barred him from heading the party he founded. His brother Shehbaz became PML-N’s president, but Sharif remains the power behind the throne.

Since then, a host of his allies have been either disqualified by the courts, or face corruption cases. Many PML-N lawmakers have also defected to Khan’s party.

PML-N has also been shaken by internal divisions. Sections of the party oppose Sharif’s combative approach against the army and fear it will turn off voters in a deeply conservative and patriotic Muslim nation of 208 million people.

Additional reporting by Saad Sayeed in Islamabad, Asif Shahzad in Lahore and Syed Raza Hassan in Karachi; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alex Richardson

Ousted Pakistan PM flying home to face jail, authorities lock down Lahore city

July 13, 2018

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, both sentenced to lengthy jail terms in absentia, are due to return to Pakistan on Friday in a high-stakes gamble to galvanize their beleaguered party ahead of a July 25 general election.

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Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif (L) and his daughter Maryam Nawaz (R) attend a UK PMLN Party Workers Convention meeting with supporters in London on July 11, 2018. (AFP)

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Authorities have mobilized more than 10,000 police officers ahead of their arrival and plan to block roads with shipping containers to shut down the city of Lahore. Supporters of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party say they will march to the airport there, where the former prime minister is due to land, in defiance of a ban on all public rallies.

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Sharif is returning from Britain one week after an anti-corruption court handed him a 10-year jail term over the purchase of luxury London flats and sentenced his daughter and political heir to seven years in prison.
Their return could shake up an election race marred by claims Pakistan’s powerful military was skewing the contest in favor of ex-cricket hero Imran Khan.

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Imran Khan

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Sharif alleges the military is aiding a “judicial witchhunt” against him and his PML-N party. The party’s past five years in power has been punctuated by the civil-military discord that has plagued Pakistan since its inception.

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“Nawaz really believes this is about democracy and his legacy,” Musadik Malik, Sharif ally and former PML-N cabinet minister, told Reuters.

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“That is why he is willing to lose 10 years of his life over this.”

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Sharif’s PML-N expects a groundswell of support as he returns from London, where his wife Kulsoom is critically ill and undergoing cancer treatment.

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To prevent PML-N workers staging a hero’s welcome on the streets, authorities said they will arrest the father and daughter upon landing and transport them to the capital Islamabad by helicopter, local media reported.

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Party officials say the police have started a crackdown against them, detaining hundreds of workers in the early hours on Friday.

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Recent opinion polls suggest PML-N has lost its lead nationally to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of arch-rival Khan, whose anti-corruption message has resonated with many Pakistanis.
Khan has painted Sharif as a “criminal” who has looted the state for decades, and welcomes his prison term as overdue accountability.

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Sharif was ordered jailed after failing to explain how the family acquired the London flats in a case stemming from 2016 Panama Papers revelations that showed they owned the apartments through off-shore companies. Maryam was convicted for concealing ownership of the apartments. The both deny wrongdoing.

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MILITARY FAVOURITE

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Sharif, 68, has cast himself as a defender of democracy, a far cry from the start of his political life when he was the protege of military dictator General Zia ul-Haq and had his career nurtured by the generals in the 1980s.

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He was elected prime minister in 1990-93. A second stint in power was ended by a military coup in 1999, prompting a period in jail for Sharif and years in exile in London. When he returned to power in 2013, he clashed with the military over how to deal with Islamist militants and his desire for friendlier relations with arch-foe India.

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After the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif in July 2017 for not declaring a small source of income which he denied receiving, he toured the nuclear-armed country urging voters to protect the “sanctity of the vote.”

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“Despite seeing the bars of prison in front of my eyes, I am going to Pakistan,” Sharif told Pakistani journalists this week in London, where he vowed to re-assert “civilian supremacy.”

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The opposition Pakistan People Party (PPP) has also alleged “pre-poll rigging” this week, but did not specifically name the armed forces.

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The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since 1947, has denied interfering in modern-day politics. It plans to place 371,000 soldiers around polling stations so there can a “free and fair” elections, it added.

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‘WE ARE WINNING’

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Sharif’s return comes at a time of dwindling fortunes for his party, which one year ago was considered a run-away favorite to retain power.

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After the Supreme Court ousted Sharif last July, the courts barred him from heading the PML-N party he founded. His brother Shehbaz became PML-N’s president, but Sharif remains the power behind the throne.
Since then, a host of his allies have been either disqualified by the courts, or face corruption cases. Many PML-N lawmakers have also defected to Khan’s party.

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PML-N has also been riven by internal divisions. Sections of the party oppose Sharif’s combative approach against the army and fear it will turn off voters in a deeply conservative and patriotic Muslim nation of 208 million people.

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The kind of reception Sharif receives on the streets of Lahore will be viewed carefully in Pakistan, where political popularity is often measured by the size of rallies that politicians can attract.

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PML-N leaders say authorities have began a crackdown against union council leaders, the street-level party workers who bring out people on the streets.

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“Those who think they can scare us…open your ears and hear this: we are winning this election,” Shehbaz Sharif told reporters in Lahore on Thursday.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1338066/world

Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan

July 11, 2018

To predict what will happen when Nawaz Sharif lands back in Pakistan, we need to look at what has happened as a result of the NAB conviction that has awarded prison sentences to him, Maryam Nawaz Sharif and Captain Safdar.

Opponents of Nawaz Sharif have celebrated the conviction. This was predictable. But at this stage, how much does the gloating of his opponents really matter? The 2013 election saw the people of Pakistan award Sharif the single greatest window of opportunity ever afforded to a Pakistani democrat. Almost everything that has happened since then has involved Sharif voluntarily handing over chunks of the space he was gifted back to his opponents, be they elements within the military and intelligence establishments or their unofficial spokespeople in the national media or Imran Khan and his horde of angry malcontents or, most recently, his critics within the superior judiciary.

By Mosharraf Zaidi

Image result for Nawaz Sharif, photos

The NAB conviction is a moment of climax for this diverse but predictable array of Nawaz Sharif haters. This moment began in April 2016 with something they had little to do with (the Panama Papers), and culminated on July 6, 2018 with the NAB conviction. Short of, God forbid, an actual hanging or assassination, Nawaz Sharif haters have had their day in the sun.

What about Nawaz Sharif lovers? They too are reasonably predictable. The boss has just been GIKd. Again. For the third time. This time, the process has marinated much longer and the institutional mechanisms enacting the beheading are stronger. And the boss himself? He is older and slower. An aching desperation adorns the PML-N. The NAB conviction was anticipated only for the details, not the outcome. The party is torn. On the one hand is the new party president – whose grievance at being denied a chance to graduate from provincial boss to national leader goes back not to July 2017, when Nawaz Sharif was removed from office by the Supreme Court, but all the way back to June 2013 when his elder brother chose to leave him in Lahore, instead of inviting him to be part of his cabinet in Islamabad. On the other hand is the telegenic crown princess – whose sense of entitlement to the throne has been carefully cultivated by her father, and whose conviction by the NAB court maybe the more important cut to the jugular of the N in the PML-N.

The two camps may be at odds with each other but are passionately pro-Nawaz Sharif. So Nawaz Sharif lovers will do what they have thus far: put up a good rhetorical fight, but refuse to fight to the death. The fights to the death are for the Bhuttos and Bugtis and Azeem Ahmed Tariqs of Pakistan. The PML-N is, to its credit, a party whose DNA is about winning – not dying. So when Nawaz Sharif lands in Pakistan, the party will fight – to win, the whole of the National Assembly, or a provincial assembly, or a single National Assembly seat, or a provincial one. Micro or macro, the PML-N’s DNA is winning, not dying. From 1999 to 2013, the N in the PML-N waited for a win. Today, tomorrow, in 2023 or in 2028. Nawaz Sharif lovers will hang on, as long as they are convinced there is a win at the end of this Panama storm.

But the future may not be in the hands of Nawaz Sharif lovers or haters. It is likely to be in the hands of a wider, larger, more important group of people. The same people that were instrumental in handing Nawaz Sharif the keys to the car in 2013, the same people that ensured he survived the 2014 dharna and the same people that are being courted by both anti and pro-Nawaz Sharif narratives. It isn’t the party partisans that have decisive political power. It is the so-called non-partisans, the fence-sitters, the undecideds that make up the majority of the electorate: this is where the predictability begins to stutter a little bit.

The anti-Nawaz Sharif narrative is compelling and potent – corrupt, low energy, old, interested in the 2018 election only because his daughter has been persuaded by two sets of courtiers. The PML-N’s substantial riches of electables have convinced her that she is destined to become a historic people’s prime minister in the mould of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. The substantial oversupply of Lahori intellectuals with faujophobia have convinced her that she is destined to be the one to finally contain the army and put it in the stricter confines of where it belongs: in the barracks (in the mould of nobody, ever. Yet).

The anti-Nawaz Sharif narrative is that it is ridiculous that biological happenstance should generate national stature for Maryam Nawaz Sharif. That a five-year term that began with promises of substantial economic growth and transformation, could not even turn around the one flagship public-sector enterprise that is worth saving: PIA. That the man who claims to want to make peace with India let the 2014 Dastgir-Sharma trade deal with India slip away into oblivion without so much as a whimper. The anti-Nawaz Sharif narrative is that on all the things that Nawaz Sharif says matter the most: Asian Tiger economic growth, civilian control of foreign policy and a normalised, peaceful South Asia – Nawaz Sharif has failed, over and over and over again.

Against this narrative, which is part-organic, part-manufactured, part-true, part-harsh is the pro-Nawaz Sharif narrative. This is the one the Noonies, if they are smart, will deploy to great effect as we approach July 26. This narrative is also potent and compelling – and the people that have Pakistan’s best interests in mind and heart would be well-advised not to ignore it entirely.

Pro-Nawaz Sharif voices may appeal to improved infrastructure, reduced loadshedding, the substantial improvement in the economy and the enhanced geographic, strategic and economic potential of the country. But anti-Nawaz Sharif voices have their own versions of all of these subplots. The pro-Nawaz Sharif narrative may be helped by delivery, but its beating heart isn’t about delivery. It is also not what the Noonie electables and Lahori intellectual faujophobes will have you believe. It is not ‘vote ko izzat do’ nor ‘establishment versus the people’ nor as my dear friend Cyril Almeida often says “Nawaz versus the boys”. The pro-Nawaz Sharif narrative is simple: How fair is all this?

Is it fair that the PML-N is being dismantled through a campaign of intimidation and blackmail? Is it fair that one man and his family’s corruption is haram, but the universally acknowledged corruption of others is halal? Is it fair that Gen Musharraf’s never-ending treatment for spinelessness and his hunt for a backbone continues in Dubai, while the Sharifs are grilled by JITs, disqualified by the Supreme Court and convicted by NAB? Is it fair that journalists are discouraged from making arguments that may seem to favour Nawaz Sharif? Is it fair that the very judiciary that Nawaz Sharif helped free has not only disqualified and convicted him, but may be seen to have some sort of a vendetta against him?

The people of Pakistan are, in the aggregate and above all things, a fair people. Nawaz Sharif may not merit any sympathy at all for his current predicament. But the people of Pakistan will not only be looking at his conduct.

On July 25, Pakistanis will also enter the voting booths having witnessed the conduct of all the other actors in Pakistan’s phenomenal array of politics, public policy and national discourse. Pakistanis can and have forgiven corruption, incompetence and callousness. But they have rarely forgiven blatant unfairness. The most ebullient Nawaz Sharif haters may be his ultimate secret weapon. Pakistanis are fair, and Pakistanis love the underdog. Those that are sincere in wanting to rid this nation of corruption must remember this as Nawaz Sharif descends back onto Pakistani soil this week.

The writer is an analyst and commentator.

http://www.mosharrafzaidi.com

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/340107-nawaz-sharif-s-return-to-pakistan

Pakistan: Perceptions of election rigging

July 8, 2018

Saima Shaukat is a die-hard supporter of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), and was among the people who had gathered at Lalak Chowk in Defence Housing Authority, Lahore, to stage a sit-in against the alleged rigging in the 2013 election.

“Where is my vote?” was the common refrain at the time.

Saima had also joined the PTI’s sit-in in Islamabad in 2014 which had eventually forced the Nawaz Sharif-led government to form a judicial commission, led by Justice Nasirul Mulk (the incumbent caretaker prime minister), which had dismissed that the 2013 elections had been “systematically rigged”.

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Saima, a post-graduate degree-holder in journalism, is excited about her party’s chances of forming a government after the July 25 elections. But this time around, she has no concerns about rigging.

“I do not see any room for rigging under the strict watch of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Supreme Court. There will also be deployment of the army at polling stations in the presence of a vibrant media… the 2018 elections will largely be rigging-free, I believe as a voter,” Saima says.

Ironically, the issue of election rigging now appears forgotten by the PTI and it has instead become the prime concern of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PLM-N).

“If the 2013 elections were run by the returning officers, as the PTI and PPP claimed, then the 2018 polls are being run by ‘aliens’,” PML-N’s information secretary Senator Mushahidullah Khan says, referring to the role of the establishment.

“The rigging has already begun as my leaders — Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif — have been talking about every now and then. We are being denied a level-playing field… our candidates have been forced by ‘hidden hands’ to switch their loyalties (a reference to a video of PML-N candidate Rana Iqbal Siraj in Multan, who claimed he was tortured and threatened by intelligence personnel, only to eat his words), the National Accountability Bureau has been active in taking action against our party men only (a reference to the arrest of PML-N candidate Raja Qamarul Islam who is contesting against Chaudhry Nisar in Rawalpindi). The courts keep on disqualifying PML-N’s candidates. Almost every tactic is being applied to stop the PML-N from returning to power, which has no precedent in the past. This pre-poll rigging began since the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif (from the office of the prime minister) in July 2017, and the PTI is a beneficiary of this rigging,” says the PML-N senator.

Talking to Dawn about his party’s concerns regarding Election Day, the senator says: “The way we are being targeted ahead of elections shows that there may be something in store for us on polling day too. We saw during the by-poll in NA-120 (now NA-125), Lahore, in September last year that voters carrying PML-N slips were being denied entry to several polling stations to vote for Begum Kulsoom Nawaz. We are watchful in anticipation of rigging attempts on polling day.”

However, Mudassar Rizvi of the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) is of the view that rigging is more of a ‘political term’ and to prove it has never been easy task.

“There are either irregularities or illegalities in an election and if illegalities are committed deliberately it becomes rigging. In 2013, form 15 (now form 45, number of ballots) was allegedly missing in 35 per cent polling stations of the country that could not be proved eventually.”

He says it is always difficult to prove illegalities (rigging) in a court of law.

“A total 411 election petitions were filed in courts after 2013 polls and interestingly most of the complaints belonged to the PML-N, not the PTI.”

He says rigging is more or less a perception. “When a party leader like Imran Khan or Nawaz Sharif talks about rigging their voters believe this claim and develop this perception,” he says.

Mr Rizvi believes that some electoral reforms introduced in this election may minimise some concerns of political parties over rigging as some grey areas in the process seem to have been addressed.

They include measures like “making a returning officer (RO) a direct party in the court by an aggrieved candidate, the ECP is empowered to punish ROs, no transfer and posting without the knowledge of the ECP, electronic transmission of form 46 (election result of a polling station) and provision of its hard copy to the ECP within 48 hours”.

Ironically, the issue of election rigging now appears forgotten by the PTI and it has instead become the prime concern of the PML-N.

The ECP, too, is confident that a number of measures they have introduced have addressed the issue of candidates’ complainants with regard to irregularities and illegalities (rigging).

“This time we have imported fine ballot paper from the UK and France. Political parties will now have no complaint about its quality like they had in 2013 when they complained of its ink spread over the paper (ballot). We have introduced some security features of the ballot as well securing it completely from any kind of tampering,” ECP spokesperson Altaf Khan told Dawn.

The ECP is also using technology — result transmission system (RTM) — under which a presiding officer will take a snapshot of the result soon after its compilation and send it to the ECP and the RO concerned, he says.

“It will redress a common complaint that a presiding officer has taken away the result to his home.”

Besides, he says, reforms have been brought about in the result management system (RMS).

“Now only one RO has been tasked with maintaining the result of one constituency, lessening the burden on him for other adjoining constituencies, and that will help an error-free and timely compilation of the result of a constituency,” he says, adding that an RO has also been equipped with a laptop and a couple of data entry operators for consolidation of results.

The ECP official further says it has also separately set up a monitoring wing, while keeping an eye on violation of the election code of conduct.

In addition to this, the ECP has engaged international experts to train its staff for the upcoming elections.

“We will make sure that all political parties get a level-playing field in the elections,” Mr Khan says.

Like Saima, PTI’s senior leader Shafqat Mahmood has expressed satisfaction with the measures the ECP has taken to ensure transparent polls.

“By and large the ECP’s measures to ensure free and transparent polls are satisfactory as we see that this time intention (of ECP and caretaker government) is good.”

The PTI leader says even though the PML-N is claiming that the election has been rigged, in fact the PML-N is committing pre-poll rigging openly through its local body representatives (councillors, chairmen). Although the caretaker government has suspended the local body governments, PML-N’s councillors, vice-chairmen and chairmen are active in Punjab to facilitate their provincial and national assembly candidates, he claims.

A PML-N activist in Lahore says the 2013 elections were easy for the PML-N to win since the establishment was siding with them at that time.

“Now this is for the first time the PML-N is going into the polls without any patronage of the establishment rather in fight against it (establishment)…so things are pretty difficult for the PML-N and of course those fighting against the establishment talk about rigging which is an obvious fact in our system of politics,” he says.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2018

For more live updates, follow Dawn.com’s official news Instagram account@dawn.today

https://www.dawn.com/news/1418725/analysis-perceptions-of-election-rigging

Pakistan ex-PM Sharif sentenced to 10 years for corruption

July 6, 2018

Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison by a corruption court in Islamabad Friday, lawyers said, dealing a serious blow to his party’s troubled campaign ahead of July 25 elections.

“(Sharif) has been awarded 10 years imprisonment and an eight million pound ($10 million) fine” over the purchase of high-end properties in London, defence lawyer Mohammad Aurangzeb told AFP.

Prosecution lawyer Sardar Muzaffar Abbas also said that the court had ordered the properties, in London’s exclusive Mayfair, be confiscated by the federal government.

© AFP/File | Nawaz Sharif was ousted as prime minister by the Supreme Court last year following a corruption investigation

Sharif is currently in London, where his wife is receiving medical treatment for cancer. The verdict immediately raised questions over whether he would return to Pakistan.

He was ousted as prime minister by the Supreme Court last year following a corruption investigation.

He was also banned from politics for life, handing the presidency of his ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party over to his brother, Shahbaz, who is leading the party’s campaign ahead of Pakistan’s second-ever democratic transition of power.

The Sharif clan and their supporters have repeatedly denied the allegations of corruption, suggesting Nawaz is the victim of a conspiracy driven by the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for roughly half of its 70-year history.

He has since repeatedly accused the military of wanton political interference, while journalists and activists have spoken of pressure by the military to censor positive coverage of the PML-N campaign amid allegations of a “silent coup”.

AFP

Pakistan: National water crisis

June 7, 2018

A massive water crisis awaits Pakistan and the country is said to run dry by 2025

June 07, 2018
Dawn

Chief Justice (CJ) Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday ordered PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan to submit his recommendations by June 21 on how to tackle the national water crisis.

Ahsan was also told to prepare a report on the supply of drinking water and water reserves in the country.

The chief justice was hearing a suo motu case on water shortages and lack of supply throughout the country. During the hearing today, he criticised former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari for “doing nothing” on the water crisis during their tenures.

A man is filling his bottles with clean drinking water from a spring at Margalla Road.

 

Vote ko izzat do (respect the vote) means that you give people their fundamental rights,” he said, referring to a slogan that is being used by Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.

Justice Nisar also said the authorities could no longer ignore the problem and will have to take “practical steps” to solve it.

“We are wasting water and minerals worth billions of rupees in the ocean,” he remarked. He also criticised the “tanker mafia” for not paying a “penny to the government” in taxes.

The CJ summoned the chief commissioner of Islamabad, the Capital Development Authority chairman, cantonment board officials along with politicians Malik Abrar, Malik Mehboob and Zamarud Khan in court on Friday.

Justice Nisar had taken a suo motu notice of the water crisis in the country on Monday, saying that it would be the Supreme Court’s “top priority” in the weeks ahead.

He had added that the court will hear cases regarding water shortage across the country.

“What have we done for our children if we can’t even provide them water?” he had said.

The SC heard cases regarding water shortage in the capital today. The apex court’s Karachi and Lahore registries will hold hearings on June 9 and 10, respectively. The chief justice will also hear cases related to water issues in the Peshawar and Quetta registries.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1412610/top-court-orders-aitizaz-ahsan-to-submit-recommendations-on-water-crisis-by-june-21

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Terrorism, celebrity controversies and cricket wins are what rule Pakistan’s headlines but beneath all the commotion the country is battling a severe problem – a massive water crisis.

Reports by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) has alerted that the country will reach absolute water scarcity by the year 2025.

Name of imageA boy is placing his cans in the queue to fill with clean drinking water from a hydrant pump in Baldia Town, Muhajir Mohalla.  File

The UN report also highlights that the most immediate threats would be water availability to the masses and Neil Buhne, UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Pakistan said, “No person in Pakistan, whether from the north with its more than 5,000 glaciers, or from the south with its ‘hyper deserts’, will be immune to this.”

Name of imageA boy drinking water from hand pump in a slum in Islamamabad.  Online photo by Saad Abbasi.

To put it in perspective, Pakistan is on its way to become the most water-stressed country in the region, by the year 2040, according to the report.

Despite the warnings, the general population thinks that authorities do not seem to take water insecurity seriously.

Name of imagePakistan is on its way to become the most water-stressed country in the region, by the year 2040, according to the report.  File

Pakistani actor known for voicing his concerns on social media, Hamza Ali Abbasi’s tweet said: “@iamhamzaabbasi: Pakistan is running out of water….. Fast” and added that a dam needs to be built immediately.

Tweeps were overall concerned about the country’s priorities. User @Teepusahab said: “Pakistan is wasting 13 million cusec water into the sea, and will be waterless in a few years but hey we have nuclear bomb to deal with our thirst.”

Anas Tipu@teepusahab

Pakistan is wasting 13 million cusec water into the sea, and will be waterless in few years but hey we have nuclear bomb to deal with our thirst. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Another tweet by @RuhidaPTI said: “Kalabagh dam which will increase the water resources of the country is being opposed while Thar coal project, which will consume huge amount of water and will contaminate all water, air and land resources of Pakistan is being advocated by the government.”

روحیدہ ملک@RuhidaPTI

Kalabagh dam which will increase the water resources of the country is being opposed while Thar coal project, which will consume huge amount of water and will contaminate all water, air and land resources of Pakistan is being advocated by the government.

Twitter user @Jeebeeee highlighted: “There will be soon no water available… but guess what? All we care about is the ban of #VeereDiWedding.”

Name of imageThe Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) warns country will approach absolute water scarcity.  Reuters

Twitter user and journalist @faizanlakhani suggested some reasons for the issue. He said: “According to IMF, Pakistan ranks third amongst countries facing water shortages and a major reason behind this is the excessive use of water without any mechanism to save it.”

Faizan Lakhani

@faizanlakhani

According to IMF, Pakistan ranks third amongst countries facing water shortages and a major reason behind this is the excessive use of water without any mechanism to save it.

Reports are attributing the crisis to climate change and poor management around the country.

https://gulfnews.com/news/asia/pakistan/water-crisis-pakistan-running-dry-by-2025-says-study-1.2230115

Lessons Learned: Blunders committed in isolation (without consultation with other government institutions)

May 30, 2018

A few military generals planned and conducted the operation without taking other institutions in the country into confidence.

‘From Kargil to the coup: Events that shook Pakistan’ by Nasim Zehra

Speakers at a book launch on Tuesday emphasised the need for learning a lesson from the Kargil military operation which they said was a blunder committed in isolation (without consultation with other institutions) in the country and without anticipating the world response to it.

A few military generals planned and conducted the operation without taking other institutions in the country into confidence. The then prime minister also went to Washington without consulting any other national institution to settle the issue with President Clinton in a one-on-one meeting. Now is the time to learn from such mistakes and jointly bring the country out of choppy waters without indulging in the civil-military conflict any more, was the nutshell of views expressed by the speakers at the launch of ‘From Kargil to the Coup’ written by journalist Nasim Zehra at a local hotel.

Read: When Pakistan and India went to war over Kashmir in 1999

To start with, the writer dispelled the impression that the launch coincided with the present political (civil-military) situation. “I am launching it just when it is complete,” she said.

Launch of Nasim Zehra’s book on Kargil war

Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said it was foolish to repeat mistakes wondering if any lesson was learnt from the Kargil operation in the country’s war colleges. There existed other institutions in the country (other than the military) when the operation was conducted but they were wary of one another. “Four people decided the operation without estimating its consequence. In fact they did not have the ability to think of it,” she said.

Image result for Nawaz Sharif with military leaders, photos

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is greeted by army chief General Pervez Musharraf on arrival at the snow-clad town of Kail on the border in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir in this February 5, 1999 file photo. — Reuters

She said the decision-makers did not anticipate how India, China, the USA and the UN would think of it and moved forward Pakistani soldiers into Kargil even without a withdrawal strategy. Withdrawing Pakistani forces from Kargil without any cover was wrong. Similarly, what Nawaz Sharif did as the prime minister in this connection was also wrong, she said.

Retired Lt Gen Ghulam Mustafa said military and political leadership were not on the same page when the Kargil operation was conducted. “We need to handle such situations collectively,” he said.

The civil-military divide which the country witnessed at the time of the Kargil operation still exists. “Why don’t we come out of it,” he asked rhetorically.

He said the enemy was making concerted efforts to harm Pakistan but “our nation stands divided.” It’s high time concerted efforts were put in to handle the enemy, he said.

Militarily speaking, he said, the objective of the Kargil operation was not wrong. Had there been proper planning and full logistical support, the operation could have delivered the desired results of clogging the support line of India in Kashmir, he believes.

He said as a soldier he always dreaded Indian military’s habit of introspection and learning from all wars with Pakistan including the one it won in 1971. “We never did this,” he said.

Former foreign secretary Salman Bashir explained how he worked for a composite dialogue with India in 1997 and said there was an absence of institutional (collective) decision in the Kargil operation. There was a certain naivety at the national level, he said, contesting Gen Musharraf’s claim that the Kargil operation flagged up the Kashmir issue. “How a superpower or the UN could resolve the Kashmir issue… thinking of it was naivety, “ he said. He said Musharraf had in fact followed in Nawaz’s footsteps in normalising relations with India.

Prof Ayesha Jalal said the book was like a thriller as it chronicles the Kargil events as they unfolded. Terming the Kargil operation a misadventure, she asked, “why Pakistan never learns from its mistakes. It is in the habit of hushing up follies like the Kargil operation and the Operation Gibraltar of 1965 in the name of national interest. Those who took the decision (of Kargil) had a myopic view of the world, and pushed Pakistan to an armed conflict. Pakistan needs to move ahead without indulging in who is superior,” she said.

Journalist Arif Nizami said by removing Gen Musharraf, Nawaz Sharif had underestimated the army. He went to Washington to negotiate with President Clinton on the issue without any institutional consultation, appearing nervous and shaky in the White House. Pakistan did not gain anything from the Kargil operation strategically. Musharraf had blamed Nawaz Sharif for sabotaging the Kargil operation, he said.

Nasim Zehra said she had tried to objectively chronicle the Kargil events as they occurred and dispelled the impression that the operation was a part of a plan to oust Nawaz Sharif. In fact, Musharraf was given another important office after the operation, she said, adding that the book was an attempt to find out what the country did wrong.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1410922

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Related:

Book launch by Nasim Zehra: ‘From Kargil to the coup: Events that shook Pakistan’

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/05/29/book-launch-by-nasim-zehra-from-kargil-to-the-coup-events-that-shook-pakistan/

Pakistan Army to investigate former ISI chief over claims in book

May 29, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army on Monday set up a ‘court of inquiry’ to investigate former director general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani’s collaboration with A.S. Dulat, former chief of Indian spy agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), in what is being seen as a lightning-rod book project that has stirred heated controversy, and asked the government to impose travel ban on him (Gen Durrani).

Image result for Asad Durrani, photos

AsadDurrani

“A formal court of inquiry headed by a serving lieutenant general has been ordered to probe the matter in detail. Competent authority has been approached to place the name of Lieutenant General Asad Durrani (retd) on Exit Control List (ECL),” ISPR Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted.

Asks govt to place Durrani’s name on exit control list

Mr Durrani had earlier been “called to” the General Headquarters to provide his personal clarification over his involvement in the book project and the assertions that he has made in the book. The book The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI, and the Illusion of Peace was last week launched in India. It contains conversations between Mr Durrani and Mr Dulat that were mediated by an Indian journalist.

Also read: The former ISI chief should be willing to justify what he has written

The two former spies have in the book touched upon some of thorny issues that have kept Pakistan-India ties strained for decades and at times pushed them to the brink of war. These issues include terrorism, particularly the Mumbai attacks, Kashmir, spy wars and the influence of defence bureaucracies and spy agencies in the two countries.

The military is taking it as a potential case of violation of ‘Military Code of Conduct’, which it says is applicable to all serving and retired military personnel. Section 55 of the Military Law, which relates to “conduct unbecoming of an officer” is considered to have a very wide scope.

The court of inquiry would look into the book and determine if its content and Mr Durrani’s involvement with the book was culpable and then based on its findings it would make recommendations to the army chief on how to proceed further with the matter.

In the worst-case scenario, former military officers fear, court martial proceedings could be initiated against him. If the army chief determines that there is sufficient ground to start court martial, then the process would begin with the recording of the summary of evidence.

“It is the first stage in the process in which the court would examine the available evidence and find if some wrong has been committed,” a retired military officer explained, adding it was more of an official inquiry.

Although no time frame has been provided for the court, but another retired officer said such courts usually worked on a daily basis.

The book contains several controversial statements attributed to Mr Durrani, including those on the independence enjoyed by ISI in its decision making, the 2011 US Special Forces Operation in which terror kingpin and Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was eliminated, the possible eventual outcome of spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case and probably the way the Kashmir movement was planned to be controlled, but many believe that he did not spill any classified secrets.

Defence analysts, however, say he could be at fault for not getting prior permission for the book and then not getting his part vetted and cleared by the army, which is the usual procedure.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1410634

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Pakistan, India former spy chiefs’ allegations necessitate disciplinary committee

May 28, 2018

TWO former spy chiefs across the seemingly unbridgeable Pakistan-India divide in conversation with a writer was an unusual enough premise for a book.

Guaranteed to draw widespread interest and likely to stir debate if the subjects of the book offered candour instead of guarded comments, Spy Chronicles appears to have led to more controversy than either the Indian or the Pakistani state seem willing to accept.

Retired Gen Asad Durrani, the ISI chief between August 1990 and March 1992, and embroiled in the Mehrangate election rigging scandal yet again, has been summoned to GHQ tomorrow to explain comments he has made in the recently published book co-authored with former RAW chief A.S. Dulat.

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DG ISPR Gen Asif Ghafoor has tweeted that Mr Durrani will be “asked to explain his position on his views attributed to him” in the book and suggested that a “violation of the Military Code of Conduct” has been committed by the former spy chief.

In the absence of any details so far about which statements attributed to Mr Durrani in the book are considered a violation of the code of conduct, further information by the military, presumably after Mr Durrani’s appearance before a disciplinary committee in GHQ, are necessary.

Mr Durrani’s comments in the book are now a part of the public record and so should the official complaint against him be made public.

Obfuscation and non-disclosure at this juncture will only deepen and prolong controversy.

Following former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s recent hard-hitting allegations against sections of the state, Mr Durrani’s comments indicate a propensity by the state to push out from the national discourse — at least the controlled, public aspects of it — topics that are uncomfortable for the state or for the powerful individuals within it. That must change.

Nawaz Sharif is the only three-term prime minister in the country’s history and Mr Durrani is a veteran spymaster who has maintained a public profile more than two decades after retirement from the military.

Both men will clearly be aware of some genuine state secrets, but both can be assumed to have a good understanding of what is unquestionably damaging to the country when discussed in public and what may be painful for some to hear but that must be explored and exposed in the true national interest.

In the more immediate case of Mr Durrani, now that he has gone on the record with his book, he should speak publicly about his motivations for agreeing to the joint venture and his intentions in claiming what he has in the book.

Spy chiefs and ex-premiers in more advanced democracies have routinely published memoirs and written books on policy matters without stirring too much controversy.

In fact, such books are seen as an effort to aid the public historical record. Mr Durrani should be willing to justify what he has written.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1410264/spymasters-speak

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