Merchants of Faith

BY

QADRI

Cross post http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/04/05/merchants-of-faith/

“The massacre on Easter Sunday in Lahore of over 70 members including Christian minority and others by Harkatul Ahrar- one of the factions of Punjab based Punjabi Taliban has proved to be a catalyst for getting the Pakistan Army and Rangers inducted into direct operation against terrorists whereas provincial government maintains that it has no groups of terrorists in Punjab and has denied that any operation by the army/rangers is independent of Punjab government. However, ISPR claims that army Chief GRS decided to act on his own following the Easter Sunday mayhem and that army/ Rangers will not be reporting to the Punjab government. Their actions would be independent of the provincial government,” states Wajid Shamsul Hasan, former High Commissioner of Pakistan to United Kingdom. He poses a question oft asked by many, “To overtly counter this military’s interference, Ministry of Interior mysteriously allowed public procession on the 40th day of assassin Mumtaz Qadri’s execution( usually this ceremony is held after 40th day of death but in this case it was held on 27th day).This led to siege of federal capital for four days by over 5000 clerics and eye to eye confrontation. It seemed connived that protestors were given free hand by the law enforcers.”

The siege ended once their demands, multidimensional in nature were accepted though Minister Interior Chaudhry Nisar was categorical in saying no written agreement was entered upon.

A source who wishes to remain unnamed states, “The declaration of successful negotiations and government’s commitment to uphold Namoos- e- Rasalat and acceptance of most of their demands will ease the pressure due to Qadri’s hanging amongst the Brelvis. Their move into Islamabad, the police action and the rally participants ease and comfort indicate connivance of authorities in the affair. It needs to be seen how the days ahead indicate the military and government equation on critical issues. There is real pressure on the government with the Army serious on a crackdown in Punjab.”

The dharna followed on heels of a huge suicide attack at Lahore’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal park that killed 72 innocent people and injuring many more. It shook the government out of its complacency that Punjab was a peaceful haven.

PJ Mir of Din News has a different perspective, “The spectacular dharna witnessed in D Square was nothing more than to degrade the government,  challenge it, ridicule it and above all underestimate it. It must have been an expensive exercise for all concerned predominantly not friends of Pakistan to have suffered a setback ably negotiated by Chaudhry Nisar Inc, but it should not have reached the state it did. I would suspect whilst perhaps talks were going on, they must have failed with the result army moving in
This message must be avoided at all costs for the future in the better interest of the State, however those who insulted the armed forces and  leaders in the social media as well as on stage must be booked as per the law, and no concession be shown under any circumstances.”

Anger at this massive dharna was expressed by different sections of the society and the manner in which the country was made hostage to a group. Dr Ikram Advocate: Lawyer, Author, Columnist and member of Adjunct Faculty at LUMS says, “Once again the government has surrendered before the forces of obscurantism that are bent upon to push Pakistan towards theocracy. Nawaz et al has proved once again that legacy of Zia-ul- Haq still prevails. It is very unfortunate that clergy is encroaching upon people’s rights by taking justice in their hands and declaring anyone, they choose as a kafir. In a democratic process they do not get majority vote but by in the name of religion prevails upon an elected government. The fault is of course lies with the government and State institutions that show helplessness before these forces. In this scenario, Pakistan will remain victim of bigotry, fundamentalism, extremism, intolerance, militancy etc. This is anarchy.”

However, one must pause, reign in our emotions to think the options government had to deal with the situation. Refuse talks? Open fire upon participants? Any other confrontational scenario? Each was a non-starter in terms of restoring peace. At that point and time, the government took the only viable recourse open to them.  Was funds given out to defuse the situation? Wajid Shamsul Hasan says, “Internal rifts among MNS ministers has become very obvious. They are moving on different directions. This was manifested when Finance Minister Ishaq Dar- a relative of Nawaz Sharif was assigned to deal with the Islamabad dharna instead of Chaudhry Nisar who had earlier appointed a team of bureaucrats to negotiate with the protestors. Dar was assisted by one Rafique Pardesi- a businessman from Dubai who actually negotiated the deal and it’s alleged that huge amount was allegedly passed to defuse the situation.”

Whether or not change of funds took place, the government succeeded in containing the situation well. The question that is of paramount importance in the backdrop of the show of strength by the Merchants of Faith is the undeniable fact that religious group have gained greater strength. This has to be dealt with. This once they dispersed. How much can the government afford to give in the next time to restore peace? Can the country be held hostage to any group for any period of time?

Asha’ar Rehman, Resident Editor Daily Dawn, Lahore, says, “I think that the government has for the first time realized that PML N’s old links with the mullahs have been considerably weakened over time. It must also take notice of the fact that these are elements the army would want it to deal with in its own- – with some analysts going so far as saying that these mullahs were actually there at the behest of the army. The PMLN proxies, mullahs close to the party, are not working probably because there has been a proliferation of religious right among all sects. These are satellites who can operate on their own and cannot quite be controlled by religious affairs ministry or a bunch of go between maulvis. They must consolidate and develop some centralized leadership for negotiations with the government but the problem is that the moment this process of centralization begins more factions emerge and they are resourceful enough to go on their own. The difficult question for the government and the already established Sunni groups is how to first bring the entire protesting factions under one umbrella for some kind of engagement.  Islamabad was a manifestation of the insight between various groups to seize the leadership. The PML-N government would be taking a huge risk if it believes that this situation — too– would take care of itself. It must find agents that can help it connect with the wide spectrum of Sunni parties.”

Rehman has a strong point in what he says. He points towards a parallel situation in terms of collecting different factions onboard to engage into peace talks in Afghanistan.

The question is can PML N afford angry mullahs in its native Punjab? Another question is with Army serious about dealing with these Merchants of Faith will PML N fully support this drive? Should both be on different pages, will it lead to a three-way chaos? The Merchants of Faith have tested the waters; another dharna may not be far away, what is the government’s strategy- if any?

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9

 

 

 

Pakistan’s ‘Quaker Oats Man’

 

Reminiscing about my childhood, the image of the Quaker Oats tin box is indelibly etched in my mind. Featuring the “Quaker Man” logo, the picture of the white haired distinguished looking man, in a swish black coat, white cravat and a black hat, brimming with good health conveyed good breeding.  The company states, “The ‘Quaker man’ does not represent an actual person. His image is that of a man dressed in the Quaker garb, chosen because the Quaker faith projected the values of honesty, integrity, purity and strength.” (Website for Quaker Oats Company FAQ January 22, 2009)

For heaven’s sake guys, when a cereal company deems it important to link the product with good ethics and good values linking up with purity and goodness of product- should not leaders of a nation in reality have honesty, integrity, purity and strength? (As in strength of character) If yes, what on earth is Panama Leaks about (Being bandied around crudely as Pajama Leaks).

The 11.5 million documents obtained originally by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung have undergone investigation that has been led by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).  It details 214,000 offshore entities, and as per a report, “Offshore accounts aren’t illegal but are often used as tax havens for money laundering and corruption. Many of these entities were reportedly found to be shell companies established in order to help several of the law firm’s clients, through more than 500 top banks worldwide, allegedly hide income and transactions worth billions of dollars….”

Pakistan’s sitting Prime Minister’s three off springs; Hasan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and Mariam Nawaz are listed, as are relatives of Chief Minister Punjab’s relatives, also some senior judges, politicians and media moguls have been named in the list.

The spotlight has fallen on the Prime Minister who was forced to address the nation on TV. Worse followed with the latest bombshell by a local newspaper quoting WB website claiming,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as the owner of two secret offshore companies. It disclosed that Hussain Nawaz, son of Nawaz Sharif  transferred 1.9 million dollars to his father. According to the website Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif  was the owner of two off shore companies Shamrock and Chendron Jersy. There were some accounts associated with 12 off shore companies.” (April 10, 2016)

Panama Leaks is claiming skulls. Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Israel’s Prime Minister who” handed over his office to Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, the agriculture and fisheries minister for “unspecified time” following revelations that Gunnlaugsson once owned – and his wife still owns – an offshore investment company with multimillion-pound claims on Iceland’s failed banks,” (The Guardian, April 5, 2016)  People have taken to streets demanding Cameron’s resignation.

The papers are not necessarily evidence of wrongdoing. According to The Guardian, using offshore structures is legal. “There are many legitimate reasons for doing so. Business people in countries such as Russia and Ukraine typically put their assets offshore to defend them from `raids’ by criminals, and to get around hard currency restrictions.” (The Dawn, April 4, 2016)

Can the paper trail be traced to ascertain the core question of where the money is flowing from? It certainly brings the morality of the transaction (s) in question.  Business Insider writes, “While anonymous company structures hidden in offshore holdings are not illegal, the leaks reveal the extent to which many high-level political figures have relied on shell companies to conceal their wealth, launder money, or evade taxes. A memorandum from a Mossack Fonseca partner contained in the leak reads, “Ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes,” according to The Guardian.” (April 3, 2016)

Meetu Jain writing for the Outlook India magazine quotes ex JNU Professor and black money expert Arun Kumar, “It might not be illegal but what about the morality? If it were a straightforward deal, why would businessmen employ the services of a company such as MF? And this is besides the fact that a poor country is losing out on taxes if companies are set up in jurisdictions such as these tax havens,” he adds. (April 8, 2016) A global tax avoidance problem requires a coordinated response, and the papers point to the urgent need for much more transparency in the movement of global finance capital as stated by The Hindu April 7, 2016.

Pakistan’s opposition parties have categorically criticized Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his decision to form a judicial commission to probe his family in ‘Panama Papers’ revelations. “Everyone wants something done vis a vis black money accounts in Panama. Nawaz Sharif took the initiative by announcing a judicial commission to probe the scandal and his family to defuse the current onslaughts. There is a consensus that this judicial commission is hogwash. Indeed, it will not have an access to secret documents running into millions. Therefore, the JC will be neither here nor there. However, there would be lot of Ho ha. I think people in transparency should demand of Nawaz Sharif, his family members especially to sue the company of lawyers that leaked the paper to ask them to provide evidence in a court of law in Panama. If that is not possible then they should call upon ICJ to conduct investigation in the matter and try those involved if the accusation of money laundering is false. Pakistan government and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should not hesitate to seek redress in international legal forums to clear his name. As far as the Judicial Commission in Pakistan is concerned, it would not do anything nor is considered credible. It will launder the PM and his family,” says Wajid Shamsul Hasan, former High Commissioner in UK for Pakistan.

What is needed to bring truth to light is not a judicial commission without any access to paper trail but a forensic audit writes a friend. However, will such a team have access to all documentation? Without this, any effort to quash the Panama Leaks story will fail.

Sarcastic quips, cartoons flash like lightening across the net on the Pajamas….oops the Panama Files. I share only one forwarded to me:

“Nawaz Sharif has appointed Judicial commission to probe and inform Nawaz Sharif if Nawaz Sharif has stolen money without telling Nawaz Sharif so that Nawaz Sharif can decide whether Nawaz Sharif did anything wrong against Nawaz Sharif or not …”

Whither Pakistan’s Quaker Oats Man?

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9.

Panama Leaks: refusing to blow over?

Cross post http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/04/18/panama-leaks-refusing-to-blow-over/

 

 

This one refuses to blow over. Used to having one crisis deflected by another, diverting attentions of both media and the common man- Panama Leaks has become the Sharifs’ nightmare that has defied a conventional pattern. It has refused to go away.

“These findings show how deeply ingrained harmful practices and criminality are in the offshore world,” said Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley and author of “The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens.”(ICIJ The Panama Papers)

Amid the furor that resulted in the wake of the leaks-, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif rushed into announcing formation of a judicial commission, seen as a desperate attempt to save his premiership. Two Supreme Court judges have turned down offer to head the bench. What will the bench do? What can it do? This is not a case of  a judicial nature strictly speaking but one of a financial nature. The question is the origin of the point where the monies came from. “So far no explanation has been found plausible enough for the defence of Sharif family’s offshore accounts and where those mega amounts emanated from. While British Prime Minister David Cameron has come up with his tax records but the Sharif family members don’t have anything that much to show as paid tax in the national exchequer.” (Wajid Shasul Hasan, former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK, April 12, 2016: local newspaper)

As the mayhem increased, spiraling out of control Sharif flew to UK, for treatment for a cardiac condition. The timing has raised questions, writes The New York Times, “The timing of the visit immediately prompted rumors that Mr. Sharif might not return to Pakistan until investigations were completed.” (April 14, 2016)

In his absence, Ishaq Dar and Maryam Sharif were designated to take decisions. A decision that has raised a great deal of criticism in the media, particularly the social media. “Nescoll Limited, Nielson Holdings Limited, Coomber Group Inc., and Hangon Property Holdings Limited are four companies owned by Maryam, Hussain and Hassan. As many as six properties were purchased in London during 2007 and 2008 through these offshore companies. Shahbaz Sharif’s relative Ilyas Mehraj, has been mentioned as a major shareholder of a company though he firmly denies it. Another relative of the Punjab CM Samina Durrani owns three companies; the latest was opened in 2010.” (April 4, 2016 local newspaper)

Disgust, anger, frustration of the common man is palpable in every discussion, real or virtual. A friend writes, “Constitution’s prime responsibility is to protect the county and its people. Is the Constitution effectively doing so?”

Times Of Oman, writes on the interesting ‘co-incidence’ of many directly or indirectly having a part or influence in the matter converging to London, “But just when a rising tide can be sensed from miles in Islamabad, three key figures, who, all hold major roles in how what will pan out in the days ahead — Prime Minister Sharif, PTI chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan People’s Party(PPP)’s head honcho Asif Zardari — have converged on London for different reasons. In the case of the first two, it is merely a timeout; Sharif is undergoing medical checkup for a heart condition and Khan to raise funds for his Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital back home. So what’s in store? Most likely, the key to survival for the beleaguered Sharif may again lie with the canny Zardari, who, while extracting his pound of flesh, is widely tipped to just cushion Sharif enough not to let him fall.” (Kamran Rehmat April 16, 2016)

Rehmat seems to have hit the bull’s eye if Daily Times report is to be believed, “The embattled ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is all set to sign an ‘NRO’ with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in London. According to the new ‘agreement’ between the two parties, former president Asif Ali Zardari and his colleagues will help government pull out the prime minister from the current crises. Both PPP and PML-N will also work jointly to curtail the powers of Rangers and NAB in Punjab and Sindh. A strong response is visible within the ranks of PPP over Zardari’s decision to ‘help out’ Nawaz Sharif. Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani and Aitzaz Ahsan are strongly opposing the likely reconciliation agreement. They are of the view that PPP’s vote bank in Sindh may drop in consequence of the likely agreement. However, Asif Zardari, Rehman Malik and Farhatullah Babar are in favour of the reconciliation pact, as they think if Nawaz Sharif resigns, the next prime minister, whether he is Ch Nisar or Shahbaz Sharif, can create problems for the PPP.” (April 18, 2016)

The question I raise here is, is Panama Leaks about political parties’ gains and settlement between themselves or does people aspirations and Pakistan’s welfare count at some point? Member of a forum wrote in context with Panama Leaks that resonates with the thinking of the common man, an excerpt of which I share here, “’We have all being hearing about our political leaders on Panama leaks. They all are talking about their own interests and trying to achieve the maximum out of this critical position for their own interests and parties. PPP wants that all their cases of corruption should be finished by NAB and safe exit to be given to Zardari to come back to Pakistan. Cases against Dr Asim should be dropped. Rangers should be called back from Sindh.FIA should no more interfere in the Sindh affairs.MQM wants that the money laundering and connection with RAW with them should not be pursued. Altaf Hussain should be allowed to come on media. Fazal ur Rehman wants that the Women Protection Bill should be abolished and they should have some more say in the government. PTI wants that Nawaz Sharif should resign and parliament be dissolved so they have a better chance to come into power again. Judiciary wants that they should regain their lost prestige by not participating with anyone party and leave these parties to decide on their own. Establishment is trying to keep away from this mess and hold on to their well deserved reputation on not dislodging the government even in this critical position. NAB and FIA are busy trying to save their positions by just ignoring the complete matter and not taking action against anyone on their own. Media is trying to gain the extra mileage from their customers by breaking news before any other media house. It is really painful to see people from all parties coming on media and defending their parties by blaming other parties that they have done more corruption than them. No party defends their corruption but instead in answer blame the other party for more corruption within their party. Nobody has still come up with a comprehensive answer to defend themselves whether it is the ruling party or the opposition. My only question is where is the voice of the general public of Pakistan. Why everyone is trying to use them for their own objectives. Nobody has even bothered to think about their miseries and wishes. They are just thought to be a toilet paper to be used and thrown away. I strongly feel that the general public of Pakistan will not get anything from their leaders as their goals are totally different to their respective leaders.” Right or not, such are now the perceptions of the general public.

Panama Leaks is not blowing over. The geographical barriers are down. News flashes around the world within seconds of its happening. This one will have to be dealt with. Whether honorably or dishonorably is to be seen.

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media Laws in Pakistan.’ Her mail ID is yasmeenali62@gmail.comtweets at @yasmeen_9

 

Prosecuting Pak Army Officers in Bangladesh

Failure of Pakistan Government to launch protest

That Mukti Bahini played a pivotal role in the dismemberment of Pakistan is a recorded fact and reflected in the statement of Deputy Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament Shawket Ali, “I would give hundred per cent credit to India for the liberation of Bangladesh.” (Bangladeshi Newspaper ‘The Independent” December 17, 2011)

Archer Blood, writes, “Indian soil was made available for training camps, hospitals and supply depots for the Mukti Bahini or “Liberation Force” of the Bengali resistance movement. The Mukti Bahini came to enjoy that great asset of a guerrilla army, a safe haven to which it could retire for rest food, medical supplies and weapons, safe from the pursuit of its conventionally operating and legally restricted foe. India was in fact waging a proxy war against Pakistan.” (Book: The Cruel Birth of Bangladesh – Memoirs of an American Diplomat” published by The University Press Limited, Dhaka in 2002: pg 304)

Martin Woollacott in a brilliant book review of “Dead Reckoning” by Sarmila Bose says, “Yet when she underlines how stretched the Pakistani forces were, how unready they were for the role of suppression that was thrust on them, and how perplexed they were in the face of a Bengali hostility that seemed to them so disproportionate, what she writes rings very true. The killings by Bengalis of non-Bengali minorities, of Bengalis who stuck with the idea of a united Pakistan, and even of some Hindu Bengalis – all of whose deaths were attributed at the time to the Pakistani army – needs to be reckoned in any fair balance.” (The Guardian July 1, 2011) Bose a senior research fellow at Oxford University – and a former BBC presenter – “says the Pakistani army has been “demonized” by the pro-liberation side and accused of “monstrous actions regardless of the evidence”, while Bengali people have been depicted as “victims”. Her book says the Bengali nationalist rebellion in what was then East Pakistan “turned into xenophobic violence against non-Bengalis” especially against West Pakistanis and mainly Urdu-speaking people who migrated to East Pakistan from India at the time of partition who were known as Biharis.” (BBC News June 16, 2011)

The facts are also well detailed in a book Blood and Tears (Published 1974) by historian Qutubuddin Aziz. It details 170 eyewitness accounts of atrocities on non-Bengalis and pro Pakistan Bengalis by Awami League militants and other rebels in 55 towns of then East Pakistan between March-April 1971 with photographs.

British Historian L. F Rushbrook Williams writes, “Whenever the troops (of the Pakistan Army) when into action, a minimum of force was used; they did not interfere with peaceful concessions or political meetings, but only with mobs engaged in looting and arson. But the fact is that there were far too few of them to maintain order effectively in an enormous city like Dacca and with the virtual breakdown of the machinery of civil government because of the campaign of non-cooperation-a campaign rigorously enforced by intimidation of every kind-the situation both in the capital and in many places throughout East Pakistan became chaotic. It was widely believed that nothing could break the hold of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and Awami League over the county, and that the Army, scattered as it was in small groups except for larger bodies stationed clear of the Indian frontier, would be helpless in face of the Awami League’s determination to achieve full control.” (Book: The East Pakistan Tragedy published by Drake Publishers Inc. NY in 1972, pg: 54)

Reportedly, close to two hundred Mukti Bahini terrorists were incriminated in heinous crimes. This does not include another hundred give or take,  Mukti Bahini terrorists for fighting against the State and sedition. A list of those incriminated detail horrible nature of crimes against innocent civilians.

I could write a thesis on the research based data of the onslaught of atrocities on non-Bengalis. However, it is time to fast forward to present and to focus on some questions resulting from it. Sheikh Hasina Wajid, daughter of late Sheikh Mujeeb, has declared trying in abstentia, officers of Pakistan Army for war crimes of 1971. An International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh by 2012, indicted nine members of Jama’at’ e Islami  and two from Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Has the ICT followed transparency in trial? Not so records Al Jazeera, “Human Rights Watch and the International Bar Association are just two of a number of bodies that have formally criticized the ICT for being incompatible with international standards on matters of transparency and fairness, and for not following due process.” (October 29, 2014)

Bergman, David writes, “In January 2013, Brad Adams of HRW was deeply concerned regarding one Bali, who appeared as a witness in Delwar Hossain Sayeedi case. The defence wanted to give evidence reference to the case in November 2012. Bali was restrained by some police officers at the courthouse that day and some eye witnesses recorded his being whisked away in a police van. HRW has pointed out the government made no effort to find him while the attorney general rejected the accusation of abduction. Later in May 2013, Sayeedi and Bali were found to be in an Indian prison. He accused the state of abducting him and threatening to kill both him and Sayeedi. (New Age, ‘Witnesses allege State Abduction”, May 16, 2013)

Richard Sisson and Leo E Rose writing in 1990 in their book “War and Secession: Pakistan, India and the Creation of Bangladesh” stated that it remained impossible to obtain reliable estimates of how many ‘liberation fighters’ were killed in combat, how many Bihari (non-Bengali) Muslims and supporters of Pakistan were killed by Bengali Muslims, and how many people were killed by Pakistani, Indian or AL guerillas units (Mukhti Bahainis) fire and bombing during the war. In this case, the only credible source would have been the population census conducted before 1971 and after the war which Bangladesh did not do.

Haseena Shaikh’s government is therefore to be applauded to have determined the atrocities committed per person per Army Officerto the complete exclusion of those committed by Mukti Bahini. Opinion in Pakistan drawing rooms revolve around Bangladesh being used as a proxy for India aimed at raking coals and creating a front that not only opposes Pakistan but also aiming to besmirch her Army at a time when it is involved in a long drawn out battle against terrorism within her borders.  Not to forget the turmoil created by Panama Leaks involving the highest civilian office that has created a serious credibility issue for the incumbent Prime Minister.

Bangladesh has worked closely with India since its inception. Though Bangladesh can be forgiven for acting as it does for being no friend of Pakistan- my question is; why has the Pakistani government failed to launch a protest with the Bangladesh government? Can this be viewed as Pakistan civil leadership’s traditional acrimony? Can this be accepted as an excuse not to stand up for your countrymen?

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media Laws in Pakistan.’ Her mail ID is yasmeenali62@gmail.comtweets at @yasmeen_9

 

Rehabilitating Pakistan’s IDPs

Cross post http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/05/23/rehabilitating-pakistans-idps/

Pakistan Army in June 15th 2014, moved into FATA to clear the area of terrorists. This led to mass displacement of residents leading to added burden on Pakistan economy already trying to struggle with nearly two million displaced when military operations were conducted in Swat in 2009. Added to this is resettlement of the displaced resulting from floods of 2010 across a huge area of Pakistan hitting roughly 20 million people.  According to FDMA (FATA Disaster Management Authority) 87, 778 families of North Waziristan are registered duly as displaced.  Besides this, a daily newspaper reports nearly a million fled to Afghanistan. (Quoting Foreign Policy January 16, 2015)

Whereas, the rehabilitation should have been the first priority of the government, only a paltry amount of Rs 500 million was approved in 2014 for the purpose. (Dawn Newspaper, June 18, 2014)  Though later, funds and support has come from donor agencies, friendly countries and loans, the work is cut out for the government. It is timely implementation of this project that is need of the day.

In my many an Op-Ed I have always stated that military operations are a part of multidimensional mechanisms that must be put in place. This includes reconstruction of homes, revival of civic amenities, education, health facilities, job opportunities and speedy justice to name a few.  If one recalls, NAP (National Action Plan) among its must do, states: ‘ keeping the rehabilitation of IDPs as the top-most priority, administrative and development reforms in FATA will be expedited.’

 

Interestingly, some extremist outfits are providing relief facilities to the IDPs – The Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), which changed its name to FIF (Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation), has volunteers moving through camp, providing ease to the IDPs. “The organization has over 200 volunteers distributing aid across Bannu, with 25 ambulances on standby. And it is not just JuD that is free to operate in this region. Just half a kilometer before the sports complex, a large banner in blood-red color bears the name of Masood Azhar, and calls him the Ameer-ul-Mujahideen. The camp, which provides water and medical facilities, also has a queue of people waiting to see the doctor.” (Dawn Newspaper, July 4, 2014) This is, without reservations a volatile situation. These people living in poverty, displaced from their homes can be a fertile breeding ground for recruits.  The International Crisis Group in 2009 rightly notes, “prohibit Jihadi groups banned under the Anti-Terrorism Law, including those operating under changed names, from participating in relief efforts.” This is as applicable today as it was in 2009.

The military operation in FATA has to pass through many phases. First is the weeding out of extremists. Then ‘holding’ the place to ensure it is clean of the extremist factor. The third is to rebuild the infrastructure. According to a report sent via a private source who has just returned from North Waziristan, “Infrastructure is simply destroyed including markets and residents. Now how it is implemented and reorganized to offer opportunities for the returnees will take some time. This is the in-between period where returnees do not want to go back because nothing is available and lot of restrictions are imposed in terms of moving around for any business purpose. They are afraid because bulk items are smuggled and through Afghan market being cheaper. Swat had different dynamics where all the commodities were available including water, good weather conditions and education level was way better. These issues need understanding. In FATA these people can’t survive like this. One of the failures of Mohmand Agency return was that major business is based marble factory and there is no electricity / water. Then why one should go back for dead business. In Bajaur where cultivation is major porting and again tube wells were powerless. North Waziristan residents are mainly traders and at the moment the infrastructure and clear passage for trade is not available. Same in case in Bara where authorities are asking so much documentation that they are least interested to re set up the market or business.”

The fourth and most testing is the transfer of power to the civil government in due course of time. “New markets being constructed in Miran Shah, Mir Ali, and other places too. The accessibility is getting better or restoring back however, the threat exists and locals are not very much comfortable to go back due to suffer reasons including security. The main challenge will be when return of the IDPs will be completed with thinning out of military and taking over by civil government. This will take some good time to create tense free environment back,” writes another source on ground.

‘More than 300,000 families have been displaced from their homes in the tribal areas, mostly from North Waziristan.’(Pakistan Today, January 10, 2015) However, once the Army steps back, the mechanisms of civil structure need to be in place, oiled and operating to ensure a safe environment.  Having a strong, well-trained and well-equipped police force is the backbone of security structure. Unfortunately, inadequate attention has been given to developing a quality police force-although in some situations, it has shown exceptional capability in dealing with the issue at hand.

How to make the police force in FATA effective is something of crucial importance.

According to a report, this will involve, “rehabilitation of Levies facilities (posts, pickets), the provision of equipment and training and the establishment of correctional facilities.” However, major reforms to upgrade police structure should be the first priority including the nature of training imparted. This requires financial commitment, which must be made; provision should be made from counter-terrorism funds. ‘Specialized counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency training for selected junior and middle ranking police officers in reputed international law enforcement training institutions,” will go a long way in improving the ability of police force in FATA to keep the area terrorist free. (Role of Pakistan Police in Counterinsurgency:  Brookings Counterinsurgency and Pakistan Paper Series No 5)

Like Pakistan Army, who was thrown into WOT within its borders, was not geared to fight such a war initially-likewise, police force in Pakistan is not trained in counterterrorism combat. The ability of the Army to fight WOT is different today. However, same cannot be said of the police force in FATA. “Lack of police expertise in countering the growing extremist menace is undermining the stability of the Pakistani state and claiming thousands of lives in terrorist attacks. This shortcoming is catastrophic, as counterterrorism will be part of the portfolio of the Pakistani police for years to come.” (Special Report by United States Institute of Peace) Asking Sri Lankan experts to train police force in FATA makes imminent sense as Sri Lanka has fought a civil war for over 25 years and prevailed over it.

Reading through President Obama’s Policy Options in Pakistan’s FATA, (By Hassan Abbas) I came across a very out-of-box suggestion that I share here: “The state should adopt a special focus on FATA’s youths as one of its top priorities in order to delink them from the violent circumstances to which they are accustomed. This could be done by making major investments in schools, vocational training, and incentives for starting small businesses. These youths grew up listening to the legendary tales of the Afghan jihad against the Soviets and, in that light, many of them saw the Arab and Central Asian fighters as gallant warriors and heroes. Traditional norms of hospitality (according to Pashtunwali code) further encouraged them to continue to look after and even defend these foreigners when Pakistan’s security forces began searching for them.”

The people of North Waziristan must be actively involved in policing their ground- by smart data provision to law maintaining authorities.

Unless and until a strong police force is established that is trained in counterterrorism strategies, the crucial step of taking over reigns from the Army may be a long time in coming!

 

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9.

 

 

 

 

Using diplomacy as a tool

Cross post http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/07/04/using-diplomacy-as-a-tool/

BY  

 

Uri Dubinin, Professor of the Department of Diplomacy of MGIMO-University of the RF MFA, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation defines the role of diplomacy beautifully, “What is the art of diplomacy? While the art of war lies in the ability to claim victory through the force of arms, the art of diplomacy aims to achieve the goals set through peaceful means. It is, therefore, the antithesis of using force to solve international problems. In the art of diplomacy, it is the international community’s accumulated experience that serves as a weapon, as does – and herein lies the essence of it – an innovative, creative approach to problems arising. It is on the basis of this that one acts to provide a solution.”

The first step to successful diplomacy is information gathering. Talks with representatives of other nations must be based on effective information gathering. Only with reliable information can a situation be intelligently assessed and a practical narrative developed for discussions on any emerging situation or area of mutual interest.  Smart diplomacy intelligently evaluates the extent to which the concession another may be willing to give in negotiations of any nature. It needs shrewd deductions.

Pakistan lacks a coherent, long-term view on issues that reflects in its poor diplomatic efforts-if any.  Governments come and governments go, the thrust towards issues involving nations remains even- of course needing periodic assessment based on emerging situations. War in neighboring Afghanistan is weakening Pakistan as a modern state, policies that are more India-centric than focusing on using diplomacy as a tool to develop  better relations in the region as well as internationally makes her muddle her way through emergency situations more on ad hoc basis than based on any long- term strategy.

“Pakistan needs to get out of its in-depth strategic cliché vis-à-vis Afghanistan that has at long last proved to be neither here nor there. How fallacious it was can be seen by the fact that first the Taliban terrorists used Pakistan as their strategic depth and now India has found its strategic depth in Afghanistan to negate Pakistan’s regional importance.” (Wajid Shamsul Hasan, June 15, 2016)

International relations must be based on national interests. There are no permanent friends or permanent enemies. With Afghanistan, Pakistan has been unable to step out of the paradigm of Cold War era. The ground realities now are different. Different policies or a combination of policies are needed to redefine the relationship.

Pakistan’s lack of strong policies are pushing her in a cocoon where she stands regionally and internationally isolated. This is an unhappy situation. Signing of Chahbahar Port Agreement by Afghanistan, Iran and India indicates the frustration by the three neighbors towards achieving success in having trade and business with Pakistan.  ‘The development of the port of Chabahar expands a trade route for the land-locked countries of central Asia that bypasses Pakistan.’ (Local newspaper May 23, 2016)

Sir  Ernest Satow, author of well-known  Guide to Diplomatic Practice, writes, “Diplomacy, is the application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of official relations between the Governments of independent States, extending sometimes also to other relations with vassal States.”

Yet Pakistan has yet to appoint a full-fledged Finance Minister, relying instead on Sartaj Aziz, and trained economist with Tareq Fatemi a former diplomat as a junior de facto foreign minister. The Foreign Minister (as the portfolio is with Nawaz Sharif) with the Prime Minister are on a long leave from the country, often photographed shopping at Harrods. “The inadequacies in the Foreign Office appear to be in sync with Sharif’s way of running his government where short-term expediencies continue to dominate long-term interests. Since late last month, Sharif has been in London, where he underwent open-heart surgery and is now recuperating. His absence from Pakistan has triggered uncomfortable questions over exactly how the business of the state ought to be run without the prime minister.” (Gulf News, June 28, 2016)

Diplomacy needs to be flexible. It must. One must choose one’s battles and every battle is not fought with bullets. Gaining trust of other nations’ key figures is mandatory to develop a relationship that leads to more listening than demanding. However, by firing salvos of hate and arrows tipped with vituperative poison, how can such individuals gain the trust of host nations where appointed to represent their country? Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to Sri Lanka and United States says, “Diplomacy requires flexibility. If a nation binds itself to ideology, flexibility in diplomacy suffers. Since Ayub era, we have an ideological commitment to determining friends and enemies. There is no pragmatism. The most effective diplomats are those who are deemed friends by other countries. But our discourse marginalizes anyone who is liked by those we describe as enemies (Israel, India) or unreliable superpower (US). How can a diplomat who speaks against others be the one to gain their favor? However, the irony is that the moment a Pakistani diplomat earns the trust and friendship of foreigners; he comes in for attack and abuse at home. Our  ideological disposition completely precludes cooperation with India or Israel and we assume that anyone who is a friend of ‘kuffar’ is not reliable. Moreover, we cannot simply repeat our national narrative to others. They have their own interests and views. Diplomacy requires acknowledging their interests and not denying completely that they know something too. Denial of facts known to all is lying, not diplomacy.”

Talking to a very senior diplomatic friend, I was struck by one thing he said. Pakistan’s government, in his opinion should have cultivated a coterie of intelligent people including diplomats and writers. Each group talking in favor of different countries. An extended arm of the government foreign office aimed at developing relationship with and winning confidence of key people there to gain information and assess that information for Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts to further her national interests.

Pakistan’s foreign policy is unconditionally been formed by the circumstances it came in creation. However, high time the approach and narrative must change with ground realities.

 

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9.

Controlling Corruption

BY ArticleYAA

Cross post http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/08/01/controlling-corruption-2/

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
(Alan MooreV for Vendetta)

Pakistan is not the only country, which has been stigmatized with corruption. However, Pakistan is one of the countries where lack of accountability at many levels rules supreme.

If we want to analyze reasons for corruption- we need to see it in context with the factors like policies followed by a country, internal political parties dynamics, the cultural traditions of bureaucratic set up, political history of a country and it’s developments.

A simple definition of corruption is ‘the abuse of public office for private gain.’ Public office misuse in different forms is global. It can be in form of bribery, kick backs, theft of official resources so on and so forth. In government, corruption takes place both at bureaucratic and political levels. Corruption flourishes when institutions are weak and policies the maidservant of few individuals. Appointments of blue eyed to the exclusion of merit. Causes of corruption must be viewed in the context of strength or weakness of institutions springing from political developments, a nation’s policies (or lack of it and bureaucratic traditions.

Corruption in systematic manner may be seen as being institutionalized with informal manner of working superseding the formal rules, which are relegated to being a piece of paper only. It becomes extremely vital for a strong legal system to be in place aimed to check any corruption taking place. Governance must be strong to stymie corrupt practices, disallow informal rules from taking over and promote accountability.

According to a report by Transparency International in 2014 published in a local newspaper South Asia is the ‘most corrupt region in the world. The watchdog group found serious problems with anti-corruption efforts in Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. All six countries have public bodies charged with stopping corruption, but “their hands are tied by political control over the staff appointments and budget,” the group said in a report.’

The negative cascading effect of the massive alleged corruption is brain drain, frustration, fertile ground for recruiting candidates for terrorism and lack of investment in the country. Doug Bandow in an exclusive report for Forbes states, “The practice of democracy has been consistently corrupt, incompetent, and disillusioning.  The political system is essentially authoritarian with a democratic veneer.  Despite the presence of an educated and talented elite, Pakistan lacks the lush civil society that characterizes most Western nations.  The government is simultaneously ubiquitous and ineffective, discouraging individual and communal action. Attempts by the Pakistani government to micro-manage the economy have failed. The ill consequences of government economic control have been exacerbated by political instability.  Only brave or foolish outsiders enter the Pakistani economy.  In fact, foreign investment has collapsed since 2008, dropping by more than four-fifths.  Unemployment and inflation are high; economic infrastructure is decrepit; even Islamabad suffers routine power outages.” (May 20, 2013)

He quotes Vali Nasr, author and former State Department adviser, Pakistan “is nuclear-armed, in near conflict with India, has a dangerous civil war with its own extremists, is now subject to one of the most brutal terrorism campaigns against its population, and is now coming apart along sectarian lines.”

Countries like Pakistan must target towards strengthening institutions, going strictly by the formal rules, inculcate accountability and develop long term sustainable policies geared to support economic and social development. The government needs policies that co-relate with the needs of the citizens. Energy shortages have serious fallout effect on production, exports, and jobs. Yet it has not been addressed effectively. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

A strong legal system in form of courts and laws is needed to curtail corruption. Excessive taxations on sectors already under burden lead to people look towards loopholes in system it to exploit to their advantage. Illegal cash flow internationally must be checked to curtail corruption. Hiding of looted wealth abroad must be checked across the board without exceptions. European Union for example, approved the 4thAnti-Money Laundering Act “which requires EU member-states to create registers of the beneficial owners of companies established within their borders.”(Transparency International March 10, 2016) Freedom of Press, Social Media and easy access to Information is an important aspect of building confidence of the government with the public. According to a World Bank report, smart technology use can reduce corruption. “Perhaps one of the most fertile sources of corruption in the world is associated with the purchasing activities of the state. Because the awarding of contracts can involve a measure of bureaucratic discretion, and because most countries have long histories of graft, kickbacks, and collusion in public procurement, more and more countries have opted for procedures that guarantee adequate levels of openness, competition, a level playing field for suppliers, fairly clear bidding procedures, and so on. Chile is one country that has used the latest technologies to create one of the world’s most transparent public procurement systems in the world. ChileCompra was launched in 2003, and is a public electronic system for purchasing and hiring, based on an Internet platform.” (May 14, 2014 on Six Strategies to fight Corruption)

Was it not  Niccolò Machiavelli in his masterpiece The Prince wrote, “It is much safer to be feared than loved.” However, the benchmark of good leadership is much higher in the modern day world. A leader must be respected.

“Choose a leader who will invest in building bridges, not walls. Books, not weapons. Morality, not corruption. Intellectualism and wisdom, not ignorance. Stability, not fear and terror. Peace, not chaos. Love, not hate. Convergence, not segregation. Tolerance, not discrimination. Fairness, not hypocrisy. Substance, not superficiality. Character, not immaturity. Transparency, not secrecy. Justice, not lawlessness. Environmental improvement and preservation, not destruction. Truth, not lies.” (Suzy KassemRise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)

The days of Machiavelli are over. Power can no longer me attained by deception, coercion, navigating through lies and high handed tactics. British historian Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Sirs, this is the era of Wiki Leaks. This is the era of Panama Leaks. Honesty and accountability has to flow from the top.

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media Laws in Pakistan.’ Her mail ID is yasmeenali62@gmail.com  and tweets at @yasmeen_9

 

India and Pakistan: Impossible relationship?

BY  ArticleYAA

Cross post http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/08/22/india-and-pakistan-impossible-relationship/

It is a complicated relationship that has failed to make much headway over time. Both can do with peace between them yet neither is willing to change the traditional approach and narrative. This has led to limited use of peace bringing measures. Halfhearted measures have not delivered. They never do.

The bloody revolution that gave birth to Pakistan coupled with impediments created by India in equitable division of assets gave rise to a strong anti-Indian feeling. ‘According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), India still owes it a little over Rs5.6 billion – mainly on account of assets held with the RBI “pending transfer to Pakistan.”  According to historian S Aijaz Husain, total assets that the government of Pakistan was entitled to receive from the RBI amounted to Rs1.7 billion. However, the SBP received assets worth only Rs1.2 billion. (Express Tribune July 16, 2014)

Three wars later, the bitterness continues. Afghanistan once seen as strategic depth area for Pakistan is with time viewed as potential strategic depth space for India with justifiable reasons. How does one interpret burning of Pakistan flag at Chaman border by Afghans post Baluch protest at Modi government’s comments on Baluchistan?

A much bigger county than Pakistan, India’s approach has never sought to dispel Pakistan’s fears. Both nations have focused more on being a ‘national security state’ as opposed to a ‘national welfare state.’

India-Chinese border disputes and Chinese closeness to Pakistan adds yet another dimension to regional politics. However, there is much in common between India and China in terms of economic and strategic interests to let the CPEC overshadow it. Further, the effort to launch of Project Mausam is India’s answer to Chinese Maritime Silk Road and the most noticeable effort to counter China by Modi government. India perceives the Pak-Chinese economic developing ties as a direct threat to its desire to rise as the regional superpower.

Besides, India is concerned about China investing not only in Pakistan but also in Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. More recently, China blocked Indian entry in in NSG.

Coming to the present scenario, in my Op-Ed of July 2014 I had written that is still relevant:

Modi has a very limited experience of foreign policy. His appointment as the national security advisor has been Ajit Doval. Looking into Ajit Doval’s past and thought process is interesting as it reflects upon the shape of foreign policy India would like to map out with Pakistan. Let’s be very clear. The position Ajit Doval holds is not a ceremonial one.  It’s a powerful seat that has a strong place in the nuclear line of command. Ajit Doval holds sway over Indian intelligence agencies. His predecessors hailed from the diplomatic core; not Ajit Doval. He is from the intelligence operations. He has been part  of a think tank with expertise in Pakistan and China affairs. The second he steps out of this ambit, he will have to heavily lean on others for expert advice. To say that Ajit Doval’s background is interesting is an understatement. He had infiltrated the Golden Temple reportedly in the uniform of an ISI officer, he was involved in negotiating the release of hijacked prisoners of the Indian Airlines Flight 814 in Kandahar in 1999 and “handed over insurgents” from Kashmir and Mizoram. Quoting The Hindu, “Mr Doval has talked of the importance of covert action. In a 2012 article, he defines these as “a low cost sustainable offensive with high deniability aimed to bleed the enemy to submission.” In his view, “the most effective way of dealing with terrorism would be to identify boys who have got the courage of conviction to match that of the fidayeens and who are capable of taking risks. Identify them and put them in action.” He notes, ominously, “Pakistan has its own vulnerabilities many times higher than India.” (Published June 23, 1014)

Recent volley of negative statements by not only the senior officials of Modi government but also its military continue on lines on maintaining tensions high leading to the same from Pakistan. Is it to be interpreted at a desperate attempt to divert attention from Kashmir uprising?

Pakistan contends Indian Occupied Kashmir to be a part of Pakistan not India. Present protests in Occupied Kashmir and upheaval reminds me of Ispahani, who, in 1948 in his capacity as first High Commissioner to the US, , during the UN deliberations on Kashmir in the same year, wrote to Jinnah: “Eventually, the Kashmir dispute will have to be settled in Kashmir, and not at Lake Success [then the UN headquarters].” In the meantime, though, Ispahani also cautioned Jinnah that he should quickly appoint many more, and better calibre, diplomats for Pakistan, as, “Nehru is barging in his ambassadors all over the place.” (Pallavi Raghwan, June 22, 2016)

The current uprising in India-occupied Kashmir is a genuine upsurge. Pointing fingers at Pakistan is akin to clutching at straws to cover for one’s own inefficiency.

The approach by both nations as a consequence of the bitterness from their very birth due to actions and reactions has led to limited use of involvement of peace building measures, limited use of involvement of international comity of nations to resolve the irritants, limited use of using diplomacy as a tool to move towards a lasting peace.

There is no simple answer to the question of attaining peace between both. However, the initiative of taking the first steps usually should come from the bigger of the two. This is undeniably India in terms of area and population.

Both nations may consider temporarily putting a freeze on territorial dispute and focusing on baby steps in diplomatic and economic fields.

Both nations may consider focusing befriending nations closer to the other nation; this applies more to Pakistan than to India. The circles of both need strengthening to breach differences directly and indirectly. Sir  Ernest Satow, author of well-known  Guide to Diplomatic Practice, writes, “Diplomacy, is the application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of official relations between the Governments of independent States, extending sometimes also to other relations with vassal States.”

Let us try moving to resolving our internal issues and applies more to India than to Pakistan, strengthening diplomatic ties with each other. This does not mean to say we ignore the issues we face between each other. It does mean to say however, both our narratives need to change-at least temporarily to establish grounds to be able to talk about these irritants.

 

 

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9.

The power of hate speech

BY  ArticleYAA

Cross Post: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/08/29/the-power-of-hate-speech/

“Your freedom ends where my nose begins.”

The power of hate speech which can merge with incitement to violence can be horrific. No wonder most civilized countries in the world make an exception to these under their law of Freedom of Expression.

“Hate speech is a communication that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence. It is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and the like Hate speech can be any form of expression regarded as offensive to racial, ethnic and religious groups and other discrete minorities or to women.” (Page 25 of my book ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan)

 Use of derogatory expressions that incite negativism fall within the ambit of hate speech. Words like nigger, faggot, homo, queer are all terms used to provoke members of a society against others. Such terms degrade those for whom they are used.  In the world that we live in today, with geographical barriers down, a world fraught with wars, hatred and conflicts, can the world, and media in specific, afford to vent more hatred, more conflicts by ignoring the legitimate and valid limitation that must be taken into consideration while exercising the right to freedom of expression?

Irresponsible use of freedom of expression is an abuse of the right. Those exposed to hate speech are all kinds of people, educated, uneducated, frustrated, maybe having faced injustices. It is the frame of mind, it is that one moment that may accept the full impact of hate speech in any form and commit an act, later repented, but cannot be undone.

Incitement to offence cannot be allowed in exercise of the right to freedom of expression. Incitement to offence is a real encouragement to commit a crime. It can be through persuasion, threat, advice, direct help of any kind. The intention must be for the crime to be committed. A plea that the person encouraging the other to commit an offence, did not know the  act was an offence will not stand. Ignorance of law is no excuse. Anger words spoken by politicians on electronic media, which has a huge impact in a country like Pakistan.

Freedom of expression, like any other liberty, brings with itself a very heavy responsibility, on the shoulders of all of us exercising that right and in particular upon those who are placed in positions to influence policies, impact and form public opinion. At no stage, can we encourage criminal acts and then feign innocence or shrug off the responsibility that goes with freedom.

Whether incitement is against an individual person or a group which may be based on ethnic, racial or any other ground, it stands as limitation against the right to freedom of expression.

Under Pakistan law, both are treated as exceptions to freedom of expression. Different laws overlap placing restrictions on both. Under Article 19, Constitution of Pakistan 1973 both incitement to violence and disturbing public order are exceptions to the rule. Hate speech and incitement to offence can and does lead to disturbing the public order. How do we determine what’s incitement to violence and what is not? Any person, who, knowingly, urges another, by an act or by words to commit an offence under law, will be said to have incited that person to violence. Legally defined to incite will mean, “To arouse, urge, provoke, encourage, spur on, goad, stir up, instigate, set in motion, as to “incite” a riot.” (Black’s Law Dictionary: sixth edition. Centennial Edition (1891-1991) Pg 762)

 

Article 6 of the Anti- Terrorism Act 1997, of Pakistan deals in depth with terrorism Article (6) (b) “The use or threat is designed to coerce and intimidate or overawe the Government or the public or a section of the public or community or sect or create a sense of fear or insecurity in society;

 

Article (6) (2) :An “action” shall fall within the meaning of sub-section (1), if it:

(a) involves the doing of anything that causes death; (b) involves grievous violence against a person or grievous bodily injury or harm to a person; (c) involves grievous damage to property; (d) involves the doing of anything that is likely to cause death or endangers a person’s life; (f) incites hatred and contempt on religious, sectarian of ethnic basis to stir up violence or cause internal disturbance;
(g) involves stoning, brick-bating or any other forms of mischief to spread panic.”

This is not all, Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Act, VI of 1950 also contains provisions to deal with situations that endangers, with intent to influence safety or ideology of Pakistan.

 

The unfortunate speech by Altaf Hussain’s and the subsequent killing of one person and injury to many, the firing taking place outside of a media house, pelting of stone at police and media house staff by party supporters cannot be condoned. True enough that Altaf Hussain is based abroad and one may only protest to the UK government and as always Scotland Yard has promised to evaluate the speech.

To give credit to Farooq Sattar, he handled a tricky situation with the ease only a seasoned politician can. His eloquence, choice of words and aplomb can only be marveled at. A later statement denouncing Hussain followed. Irrespective of his pulling off the situation, the people, cynical now of power games; speak of it as whitewash. “No,” I was told, “This is a master stroke a day before Mayor Election.” Another wrote, “So long as Altaf Hussain  stays he’s the last word. He is the Quaid of his party. What does one mean by accepting him as one, but distancing oneself from a particular statement given by him?”  Yet another states that those who physically did the harm on ground are very much here and need to be booked under relevant laws to restore public faith in law and order agencies.  Another feels part issues will be handled in London. Yet some question if Sattar can be accepted by his workers on the same level as Altaf Hussain. Some say it is a diversion. There is a famous Urdu proverb that I am reminded of in light of these opinions, roughly translated it means, “For every mouth there is an opinion.”

Is this avalanche of opinion jumping to conclusions too soon? Yes it is, says renowned journalist Farrukh Khan Pitafi, “Of course there is a chance that this all might be for the mayor election. But I think regardless of sound bytes it is too early to dismiss developments as mere optics. Patience is needed.”

Pakistanis are famous for their patience with their leaders.

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media Laws in Pakistan.’ Her mail ID is yasmeenali62@gmail.comtweets at @yasmeen_9

Altaf Hussain & the British Laws

Cross Post http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/09/06/altaf-hussain-the-british-laws/

BY  ArticleYAA

The question as to whether or not the UK government can take any step against Altaf Hussain on his diatribe, hate speech and incitement to violence on varied occasions has been hotly debated on various forums and mainstream media in Pakistan. More so now than ever before. This piece is an effort to cut through the flak.

Unlike most nations, UK does not enjoy a written/codified Constitution. It is largely based on court judgments, Acts of Parliament, Conventions etc. The Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression was not explicitly recognized under the Common Law as opposed to other rights like the right to reputation (Law of Torts) or the right to own property and other similar rights. Howe ever, as a result of Human Right Act of 1998, the status of Fundamental Rights including Freedom of Expression has changed in UK.

Article 10 of the ECHR provides: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requesting the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises. (2) The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

There are nonetheless, reasonable restrictions (exceptions), provided for in the provisions in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act of 2005, Terrorism Act of 2006 and the Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006.

The question that is pertinent is can the UK government punish any naturalized citizen (dual citizen) for making speeches or taking any action that may negatively affect another country?

One needs to read the British Nationality Act 1981 (with Amendment : inserting section 66 of Immigration Act 2014 to deprive a naturalized person  of British citizenship “on the grounds that they had conducted themselves in a manner “seriously prejudicial” to the vital interests of the UK, and there are reasonable grounds to consider that they could be eligible for another nationality. In reaching a decision to deprive on these grounds, the Home Secretary can take into account conduct which took place prior to this section coming into force.” (Deprivation of British citizenship & withdrawal of passport facilities: Melanie Gower: Standard Note SN/HA/6820, House of Commons)

The present shape of law as enunciated in Section 40 gives the Home Secretary the following powers, thereby revoking British citizenship status if:

  • The person obtained their citizenship status through registration or naturalization, and the Home Secretary is satisfied that this was obtained by fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact (s40(3));
  • The Home Secretary considers that deprivation “is conducive to the public good”, and would not make the person stateless (s40(2); s40(4));
  • The person obtained their citizenship status through naturalization, and the Home Secretary considers that deprivation is conducive to the public good because the person has conducted themselves “in a manner which is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom, any of the Islands, or any British overseas territory”, and the Home Secretary has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is able to become a national of another country or territory under their laws (s40(4A)).

“A person may be deprived of their British citizenship even if this would leave them stateless. “Conducive to the public good” means depriving in the public interest on the grounds of involvement in terrorism, espionage, serious organized crime, war crimes or unacceptable behaviors.” (Deprivation of British citizenship & withdrawal of passport facilities: Melanie Gower: Standard Note SN/HA/6820, House of Commons)

“Baroness Smith also noted, “Currently, the law allows the Home Secretary to deprive a person of their citizenship status for two reasons: first, if the person acquired it using fraud, false representation or concealment of a material fact; or, secondly, if the Home Secretary is satisfied that, in doing so, it is conducive to the public good and that the person would not be left stateless as a result. Clause 60 seeks to amend the second condition to, in the words of a Minister in the other place, ‘ensure that individuals who are a serious threat to this country cannot retain citizenship simply because deprivation would leave them stateless.’” (Making UK Citizens Stateless: Full Text of the Lords’ Debate on Theresa May’s Citizenship-Stripping Powers, March 17, 2014: Andy Worthington)

 

However, how will UK law view such behavior exacted towards Pakistan by their naturalized citizen ? Can this behavior be considered and translated as prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom? Can it be interpreted as a serious threat to UK herself? Will the alleged crimes by Altaf Hussain  be deemed as having committed a crime under British Law? Will it mean that an individual allegedly inciting violence and named in many cases in another country be deemed as a security threat damaging UK interests as well by damaging its standing in international comity of nations and negatively effecting friendly relationship with the grieved nation? Yes and no. It will depend upon the interpretation entirely that can go either way.

Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi in a letter to the Home Secretary,” found it incredulous that despite numerous speeches from his home in London through which he clearly incites his followers to commit murder and violence that no action has been taken by the authorities.” (News Report in local daily August, 31, 2016) This is in relation to Scotland Yard’s view that information provided to them is inadequate.

In the famous Chahal Case 1996, Court in Strasbourg ruled that, “the British Home Secretary cannot balance the human rights risk to an individual if they are deported against the security risk to the UK if they stay. This applies once it is established that the person to be deported is at substantial risk of suffering torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.” (The Guardian UK June 26, 2006)

In December 2013 however the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported a significant increase in the use of deprivation powers in 2013, in part due to British citizens travelling to fight in Syria. (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, ‘Rise in citizenship-stripping as government cracks down on UK fighters in Syria’, 23 December 2013)

“A Home Office response to a Freedom of Information request, published in December 2014, stated that 37 individuals had been deprived of their British citizenship on either “conducive to the public good” grounds, or grounds of fraud, false representation or concealment of material fact. None of the individuals were sole British nationals.” (Deprivation of British citizenship & withdrawal of passport facilities: Melanie Gower: Standard Note SN/HA/6820, House of Commons)

Interestingly, another piece of legislation The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill 2014-2015 allows seizure of British passport and expulsion from UK without repudiating their citizenship.

Viva Zapata!