Nawaz Sharif's Disqualification; Indian Defense Industry; White House Chaos

Why did Pakistan Supreme Court's 5 judge panel unanimously vote to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding elected office after Panama Leaks JIT? What was the basis for it? Can it be compared with the conviction of Chicago gangster Al Capone who was convicted for lesser charges of tax evasion, not multiple murders? Are those crying "conspiracy" right? Was the apex court influenced by the military? What is next for Pakistan? Will this decision help reduce corruption in high places? Will democracy be weakened or strengthened by continuing accountability of politicians, generals and bureaucrats?
Politicians Dominate Names of Offshore Company Owners in Panama Papers 


Why did the Indian Army's vice chief say "Pakistan probably has better defense industrial base"? Is it out of frustration with the performance of India's defense industry? How's Prime Minister Modi's "Make In India" initiative doing since 2014 when it was launched with a lot of fanfare? Has India's dependence grown or shrink since then? Why is the White House in such chaos? Who's responsible for it?

President Donald Trump? His top aides? His outgoing chief of staff Reince Priebus? or his newly hired communications director Anthony Scaramucci? Will General Kelly as the new chief of staff bring an end to the infighting and restore order in the White House?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Ali Hasan Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/ITFGYgjMPuY





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Panama JIT in Pakistan

Did Musharraf Steal Pakistani People's Money?

Modi's "Make in India" Hype

Aircraft Sales Lead Pakistan's High Value Military Exports

Trump's White House

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Burying Dar-nomics. #Pakistan #PMLN #PPP #Corruption #Taxes #Exports #Industry #Economy Sakib Sherani

https://www.dawn.com/news/1352190

Here is a snapshot of PML-N’s economic policies in numbers.

On top of these new taxation measures, the government has been withholding refunds of businesses of around Rs150bn to Rs200bn while collecting advance tax to bolster its revenue performance under the IMF programme. Measures such as the foregoing in particular, including the levying of sales tax of up to 52pc on high speed diesel, a main stay input for the entire economy, have been particularly damaging for industry.

In terms of borrowing, the government’s debt-accumulation since 2013 has pushed up total public debt from nearly Rs14.5 trillion in FY13 to around Rs21.5tr by June 2017 — adding Rs7tr in just four years. More worryingly, the PML-N government has contracted new foreign loans of nearly $40bn in four years, an unprecedented amount, pushing total public external debt outstanding in net terms (after repayments), from $51bn in June 2013 to $62bn at the end of March 2017.

Under the third leg of economic policy under Mr Dar, the exchange rate has appreciated 26pc in real effective terms since December 2013 — hurting exports while giving a boost to all manner of imports including non-essential consumer and luxury items. In addition, the overvalued exchange rate has acted as a spur to capital flight from the country.

A combination of unaddressed structural challenges from the past, and Mr Dar’s policy framework since 2013, has resulted in Pakistan’s export sector (manufactured goods) shrinking to 6.9pc of GDP from around 14pc in the mid-2000s.

So the first order of business for the new PML-N prime minister should be to undo the punishing taxation burden on industry imposed by Mr Dar’s policies, and to rectify the policy framework in ways that will boost industry, in particular exports, in the long run. With Pakistan no more sleepwalking into a balance of payments crisis but sliding into one (even with international oil prices at around $50!), the government’s policy space and options are becoming limited. It, or its successor, will need to begin talking to the IMF for a new loan programme sooner rather than later, which will curtail freedom of movement for introducing industry- and investment-friendly policies.

However, some immediate concrete policy measures to reduce the cost of doing business in the country (on the taxation side), combined with a strong signal that the PML-N government is moving away from Mr Dar’s damaging economic policies, will be welcome as well as hopeful news for Pakistani industry.

Tailpiece: Thank God for the PPP government in Sindh! In a huge service to real democracy, its uninterrupted misrule since 2008 has buried some apologetic myths forwarded since the July 28 Supreme Court ruling to ‘defend’ the pathetic non-performance of political governments.

With the military commanding the heights in foreign and security policy, and not in terms of economic governance, it cannot be blamed if Thari children die each year due to lack of medicines in public hospitals, or if roads in Larkana are in a shambles, or there are heaps of uncollected garbage in Karachi. With around Rs2,100bn transferred to Sindh from the centre since 2013 under the National Finance Commission awards, in addition to the nearly Rs200bn tax collected by Sindh itself over this period, the issue is not even of money.

It boils down to corruption pure and simple. Large-scale, pervasive and systemic corruption has been widely documented as the undoing of many resource-rich but underdeveloped countries, particularly in Africa, which have no civil-military imbalances to worry about. Regular, ongoing attempts to shift the blame from bad governance and grand corruption (political sleaze) to tensions in civil-military relations are disingenuous as well as a disservice.
Riaz Haq said…
Trump’s Threat to Democracy
Nicholas Kristof
Nicholas Kristof JAN. 10, 2018

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/10/opinion/trumps-how-democracies-die.html

Two political scientists specializing in how democracies decay and die have compiled four warning signs to determine if a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:

1. The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules. 2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents. 3. He or she tolerates violence. 4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media.

“A politician who meets even one of these criteria is cause for concern,” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, both professors at Harvard, write in their important new book, “How Democracies Die,” which will be released next week.

“With the exception of Richard Nixon, no major-party presidential candidate met even one of these four criteria over the last century,” they say, which sounds reassuring. Unfortunately, they have one update: “Donald Trump met them all.”

We tend to assume that the threat to democracies comes from coups or violent revolutions, but the authors say that in modern times, democracies are more likely to wither at the hands of insiders who gain power initially through elections. That’s what happened, to one degree or another, in Russia, the Philippines, Turkey, Venezuela, Ecuador, Hungary, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Poland and Peru.

Venezuela was a relatively prosperous democracy, for example, when the populist demagogue Hugo Chávez tapped the frustrations of ordinary citizens to be elected president in 1998.

A survey that year found that the Venezuelan public overwhelmingly believed that “democracy is always the best form of government,” with only one-quarter saying that authoritarianism is sometimes preferable. Yet against their will, Venezuelans slid into autocracy.

“This is how democracies now die,” Levitsky and Ziblatt write. “Democratic backsliding today begins at the ballot box.”

Likewise, the authors say, no more than 2 percent of Germans or Italians joined the Nazi or Fascist Parties before they gained power, and early on there doesn’t seem to have been clear majority support for authoritarianism in either Germany or Italy. But both Hitler and Mussolini were shrewd demagogues who benefited from the blindness of political insiders who accommodated them.

Let me say right here that I don’t for a moment think the United States will follow the path of Venezuela, Germany or Italy. Yes, I do see in Trump these authoritarian tendencies — plus a troubling fondness for other authoritarians, like Vladimir Putin in Russia and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines — but I’m confident our institutions are stronger than Trump.

It’s true that he has tried to undermine institutions and referees of our political system: judges, the Justice Department, law enforcement agencies like the F.B.I., the intelligence community, the news media, the opposition party and Congress. But to his great frustration, American institutions have mostly passed the stress test with flying colors.

“President Trump followed the electoral authoritarian script during his first year,” Levitsky and Ziblatt conclude. “He made efforts to capture the referees, sideline the key players who might halt him, and tilt the playing field. But the president has talked more than he has acted, and his most notorious threats have not been realized. … Little actual backsliding occurred in 2017.”

Riaz Haq said…
New #UK #property law could spell doom for #Pakistan politicians. #NawazSharif #MaryamNawaz #PanamaPapers #London #Corruption

https://www.aninews.in/news/world/europe/new-uk-property-law-could-spell-doom-for-pak-politicians201802051452480001/

London [UK], Feb 5 (ANI): The United Kingdom Government has introduced new rules which gives the law enforcement officers sweeping powers to usurp assets and properties that have been accrued through "dirty money."

The new rules have been designed to stop corrupt people from using the UK as a safe haven to amass unaccounted wealth. Individuals can be fined and jailed if they make misleading statements.

British authorities have the right to freeze and recover properties of more than 50,000 pounds if individuals cannot give a genuine explanation on the source of the property and legal proof showing that they have acquired the property legally, The Dawn reported.

The UWO (Unexplained Wealth Order) that initially came into force on February 1, looked to target Russian businessmen and industrialists having assets in the UK. However, the new property law could, however, spell the same trouble for some Pakistani politicians.

Another issue that goes against Pakistani politicians is "the lower threshold as a UWO made in relation to a non-EEA [European Economic Area] PEP [Politically Exposed Person] would not require suspicion of serious criminality".

London-based anti-corruption group, Transparency International (TI) said that it has identified properties worth 4.4 billion pounds in the UK that can be taken up in the new legislation.

It has already prepared a list of five cases and feels that the investigation would not be delayed for long. This also includes the Avenfield House flats case, involving former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Suspecting Sharif as the owner of four Avenfield House flats worth eight million pounds, TI said in a statement, "The Land Registry documents showing the four properties are owned by two companies registered in the British Virgin Islands- Nescoll Limited and Nielsen Limited.

"According to information published as part of Panama Papers, these companies were controlled by the former prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. In 2017, Pakistani authorities initiated an investigation into these assets, which found that they were purchased without a mortgage between 1993 and 1995, just after Sharif reported a growth in wealth without any plausible declared source of income. In July 2017, Sharif was removed from the office after the investigation found that he had failed to disclose these properties on his official asset declaration," added TI.

Igor Shuvalov, the Russian first deputy prime minister is the alleged owner of two flats worth 11.44 million pounds at 4 Whitehall Court in London.

Sharif is not the only politician to have links to a series properties in the UK.

Other media reports have mentioned that various Pakistani politicians have also purchased properties and amassed unaccounted wealth in the UK.

India's most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim has been reportedly linked to a series of properties across the United Kingdom, according to a UK media report.

The UK newspaper compared the details from documents prepared by Indian authorities related to the records held by UK's Companies House, Land Registry and the Panama Papers.

The documents also alleged that Ibrahim's right-hand man, Muhammed Iqbal "Mirchi" Memon, amassed huge properties in the UK, such as hotels, mansions, and houses in South-East England.

Memon held at least 11 company directorships in tiling, construction and lettings firms in the UK before he died in 2013 after suffering a heart attack. He had consistently denied his involvement in Ibrahim's cartel.

Memon, also a suspect in the 1993 Mumbai attacks, had sought refuge in London after the blasts and attempts to extradite him to India had failed. He sought refuge in London after the 1993 Mumbai attacks. India has tried to extradite him but in vain.
Riaz Haq said…
Judiciary shoring up ‘rule of law’ in #Pakistan. #NawazSharif disqualified based on JIT findings, #SharifFamily being investigated by #NAB after #PanamaPapers Leak

http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/shoring-up-the-rule-of-law-in-pakistan-1.2178550

For ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, defiance towards the judiciary may well seem like a road to an eventual political rehabilitation, but the writing on the wall is clear: His rule has definitively ended

By Farhan Bokhari, Special to Gulf News
Published: 17:01 February 24, 2018

A decision by Pakistan’s Supreme Court last week, to remove former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as head of the ruling party, must trigger further optimism for a nation where democracy is still taking root.

The ruling not only knocked out Sharif as leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), a party created in his name, but the verdict also presented a powerful ray of hope for rule of law to finally take shape.

In Pakistan’s 70-year history, the citizens have become split into two categories on matters of law: Those who are law abiding and those who not only trample upon the law, but consider it their right to do so. Such reckless behaviour has fuelled what has widely come to be known as Pakistan’s crisis of governance, whose ill effects have seeped into every-day life.

It is no secret that Sharif, since his ouster last July, following a Supreme Court verdict, has repeatedly questioned that ruling. For him, being forced out on a Supreme Court verdict was blatantly unfair and struck at the heart of Pakistan’s democratic evolution. Some of his closest supporters even joined hands to publicly claim that the former prime minister became a victim of a grand conspiracy, possibly aimed at weakening the country’s democratic fabric.

Yet, beyond such rhetoric lies the powerful reality of the need to finally play by the rules.

The case against the former prime minister was triggered following revelations of large-scale unaccounted offshore wealth belonging to three of his children, which formed part of the so-called ‘Panama leaks’ — a comprehensive set of documents that was leaked from the offices of a Panama-based law firm. The revelations finally blew the lid off the dark world of secrecy that shrouded the Panama-based offshore bank accounts of the rich and wealthy the world over. For years, critics had pointed towards safe havens such as Panama where banks have zealously guarded the identity of their clients and their sources of wealth, irrespective of where those assets came from.

The global fallout from this saga put many to shame and brought about the downfall of figures like the Icelandic prime minister at the time. But Sharif chose to distance himself from the controversy by arguing that the wealth in his children’s name was legitimately earned from his family’s offshore businesses.

The outcome of the case, following a long-drawn trial in the country’s apex court, finally saw Sharif’s departure as prime minister last year. For the politically uninitiated, there are two aspects to the case that are excessively troubling.

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