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WRITING ON THE WALL

Even a cursory analysis of the three Nawaz Sharif sackings as PM reveals one constant sordid fact, his incurring penchant to listen to a bunch of “unelectable advisors” who constantly feed his already inflated ego about his supposed omni-potency. The 1993 sacking did him wonders, turning an Establishment “puppet on the throne” into a politician of some standing in his own right. In the second sacking in 1999 the Army swiftly countered Nawaz’s civilian coup, the Punjab CM brother Shahbaz Sharif was put into handcuffs lost out for no fault of his own. Shahbaz survived the last sacking in 2017 a year ago, giving the workaholic a unique opportunity to show off his development projects, mostly in Lahore, and shrug of Nawaz’s charismatic giant shadow to lead a political life of his own. Maryam had nothing to do with Nawaz’s second sacking, everything to do with his third.

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BEGGARING PAKISTAN THROUGH “DEMOCRACY”

When criminals or the corrupt disguise the original ownership and control of the proceeds of criminal conduct by making them appear to have derived from a legitimate source, this is known as money-laundering. Billions of dollars of criminally derived money is laundered through financial institutions every year globally, however criminal money can be laundered without […]

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NAB BECOMING EFFECTIVE AGAIN

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) came into existence on 16 Nov 1999. Simultaneously Special Investigation Wings (SIWs) were raised from the ISI to assist National Accountability Ordinance (NAB) in collecting relevant information about the accused persons. FIA and ACEs directors of all four provinces with NAO provisions of ‘power to seek assistance were placed under direct command with investigation officers and allied staff for conduct of probes, inquiries/investigation and filing of references by NAB. Corps NAB Cells were transformed into RAB (Regional Accountability Bureaus),eventually becoming Regional NABs under directions of the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan.

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NATIONAL WATER POLICY

The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) delivered a grim warning that “water” availability in the country had touched the “water stress line” in 1990 before crossing the “water scarcity line” in 2005, without positive action the country would run out of water by 2025. “Despite having the world’s largest glaciers, Pakistan is among the world’s 36 most water-stressed countries. As the population rapidly increases, water demand is projected to far outstrip supply. Immediate coordinated planning and implementation is required to avert disaster”. Without measures to save rapidly depleting water resources, climate change coupled with rapid urbanisation and population growth will further impact the availability of water. With a drought-like situation likely in the near future, the gravity of the situation can be graphically illustrated from the per capita availability of water in 1947 being over 5,000 cubic metres, has shrunk to just 1,000 cubic metres today.

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THE CPEC STORY

With the Pacific Ocean dominated by the US and Japan while the Indian Ocean by the US (conceivably along with its new ally India), China has to turn to its centuries old land routes. As far back as the 11th century, Genghis Khan was exhorting his generals not to depend upon the seas but upon merchants and land routes for trade. In 1941 Japan went to war being denied sea access to sources of raw material in South and Southwest Asia. An efficient network of land, sea and air passages in Asia, Europe and Africa, that would not be prone to intervention by hostile powers during times of crisis, the “One Belt one Road” (OBOR) strategic initiative was thus launched by the Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.

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ABRAAJ FIGHTS BACK

The allegations of mishandling investors’ funds against Abraaj, a firm that has grown to become one of the most trusted private equity names and one of the developing world’s most influential investors, shocked investors and financial institutions triggering distress signals. Hue and cry raised complaints by some investors having ulterior motivation that the Dubai-based Abraaj Group had mishandled their money. The forced firm to file for provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands. Such a court-supervised provisional liquidation would allow Abraaj to restructure debt, negotiate with creditors and sell assets if needed. It would also allow a moratorium on the holding company’s unsecured claims. The filing would also enable Abraaj to continue talks with possible equity partners for a deal to acquire its fund management operations ie excluding the $1 billion healthcare fund which was the subject of allegations. This application had the full support of the Company’s secured creditors who reiterated their desire for provisional liquidators to be appointed to formulate and implement a restructuring of the Company’s liabilities which would be in the best interests of all concerned.

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JUSTICE DELAYED, JUSTICE DENIED

When former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi announced July 25 as the Election Day 2018, the mystery was why (1) he gave only 60 days instead of the 90 days that he could and (2) why he did not pay heed to the extremely hot weather of June and July which would not only make campaigning almost impossible but deter voters from coming out to vote? The third part of the puzzle fell into place when Khawaja Haris, legal counsel of Mian Nawaz Sharif, withdrew from representing his client in the corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). That effectively threw a legal spanner in continuing the trial process of conviction of the Sharif family in three corruption references in the accountability court, accused of money laundering, tax evasion and hiding offshore assets. Add to that perjury, forgery, falsifying information, intimidating judges and investigating staff, etc.

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UNDOING A GANGSTER HEAVEN

Consensus on matters ensuring security and welfare of the common man is rarely achieved by our Parliament. Such unanimity is only displayed when their own self-interest is at stake, like approving increments in their salary, added perks and privileges, etc. In October last year all the parliamentary parties banded together to delete as many as 19 declarations from the nomination papers to be submitted by candidates for the upcoming general elections, effectively eliminating key information about their education, close relatives, occupation, finances, net assets and liabilities, loan default, taxation returns and evasion thereof, criminal proceedings and business interests, etc. Unless they have something to hide what earthly reason can anyone have for not declaring truthful details about himself and his family?

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PAKISTAN’S PLACE IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD

In an increasingly globalised world, we are geographically very beneficially at the crossroads separating South Asia with Central Asia and the Middle East, this must be converted to our geo-political advantage. The new nation state of Pakistan felt quite vulnerable because of Indian hostility on its eastern borders and by Afghanistan’s obstinate refusal on the western borders to recognize the newly formed state. The early compulsions formulating Pakistan’s foreign policy was that we had no choice but to find strong support in the world to help guard its very existence. There is no certainty as to what would have happened if Pakistan had opted for Soviet Union’s support instead of choosing US as an ally. Given the social and mental setting of our early leaders, the evolving global cold war scenario found Pakistan aligned with the US as a natural choice, the Pakistan Army relying fully on American weaponry and equipment for its defensive needs. Our membership in SEATO and CENTO severely limited our foreign policy options.

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THE CARETAKER REGIME

Headed by former Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, the Caretaker Regime taking office today includes in its mission statement (1) running the affairs of the govt according to the Constitution and (2) administrative and operational back-up to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for conducting of free and fair Parliamentary elections on July 25, 2018, or whenever they are held. One is hoping that the Caretaker Regime must not only be neutral and impartial manner but be seen to be so.

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