New Age Islam Edit Bureau
02 August 2017
How Qatar Mesmerizes Activists?
By Turki Aldakhil
Stop the Ethnic Cleansing In Myanmar
By Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi
A Rogue Remains Loose In the Middle
By Tariq A. Al-Maeena
New Strategy Required To Ease Syria's
By Daniel R Depetris
Jordan And Israel: Fraught And
Troubled Times For The ‘Best Of Frenemies’
By Yossi Mekelberg
Once Upon A Time In The West, Leaders
Listened To Scholars: They No Longer Do
By Mohammed Nosseir
New US-Russia Schism Will Hurt Middle
By Maria Dubovikova
Panama Papers: Pakistan’s Justice
System Catches Up
By Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
1 August 2017
Qatar belongs to a category of countries
that has its own ways of setting traps and hunting preys. It finds others’
weaknesses and suddenly pounces on its prey without making it feel enslaved.
It finds a student on a scholarship who has
all these rightful ambitions and who is racing against time to surpass others
and gain more education and knowledge. It then sends someone to sit with him to
understand his mentality. Once it realizes that his line of thought agrees with
it and that he likes public appearances, it organizes a seminar in a research
centre and brings him to Doha after paying a hefty ticket and making expensive
hotel booking. It provides him with exceptional care and then makes him the
star of the seminar.
When it is time to say goodbye, it simply
tells him one thing “don’t forget it was Qatar which supported it.” Of course
this young man has been fascinated with money and when he returns home, he
receives a research paper by an esteemed thinker and which the research center
that held the seminar is asking him to evaluate. The young man is thus amazed
and he wonders if he is a genius to that extent!
This is where he becomes euphoric and
becomes a captive of the state that hired him as part of its agenda. His mind
has now disappeared for good and he’s become the captive of exaggeration and
egocentrism. He becomes a tool in Azmi Bishara’s propaganda machine and is even
used against his own homeland when there’s a battle. There are countless
examples to that, and to official authorities these are simply proven facts.
Then Qatar baits a publishing house which
needs money or which barely has enough money. It invites the publisher to Doha
and gives it even more attention than the young man. When he meets the
country’s leaders, they realize they have similar orientations and that he has
the tendency to collaborate with the Qatari project.
After a lavish welcome, huge sums of money
are transferred to his account. He thus becomes a pawn used against his own
country and begins to view Qatar as his own country and Doha as his own
capital. This is achieved via projects that purposely appear to be preaching
Islamic principles, interpreting the Quran or supporting Muslims across the
Two Distinct Approaches
This shows that Qatar adopts two approaches
when it comes to supporting terrorism. The first one is direct support of the
establishment of organizations such as Nusra Front or ISIS or the Popular
Mobilization. The support is either direct, by providing money and arms, or
through fake abductions which Doha resorts to in order to provide these groups
with millions of dollars. It grants members of these groups Qatari passports to
enter stable countries and carry out destructive operations.
The second approach, which I think is more
dangerous, is a deceitful attitude of exploiting other people’s causes and
financial needs. In the leaked audio recordings between late Libyan leader
Muammar Qaddafi and former Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa and Qatari foreign
affairs minister Hamad bin Jassim, they say that Qatar directs envoys and
attaches to follow up on whoever has a need or requires medical cure or direct
support or help in a personal matter. Hamad bin Jassim said that “these things
cost nothing” considering that Qatar spends its abundant money to recruit
others against their countries.
Qatar tried to attract Saudi thinkers,
preachers, authors and journalists and established organizations that are
allegedly intellectual, political and strategic. It also established the
Academy of Change to urge young men and women to revolt. Considering their age,
young men were lured by money and they became Qatar’s captives. It is haram
(ill-gotten) income because the aim is to incite against Saudi Arabia and it
also reflects the desire to topple the Saudi regime, as they put it!
Direct recruitment of terrorists is clear
but we must shed light on the deceitful recruiter who’s trying to lure young
men to serve the Qatari project. Some academics were granted Qatari citizenship
and they gave up their original nationality since they ideologically agree with
Qatar’s rulers who have a Brotherhood mentality.
Some Brotherhood supporters have been so
naïve to the point where they denied they’ve been recruited by Qatar for
ideological purposes. This is Qatar and these are its tricks.
There is a verse of a poem written by the
great Arab poet Abu Al-Tayyib Al-Mutanabbi more than a thousand years ago that
states that some facts are undeniable.
In the present day, this describes the
pathetic condition of the Rohingya Muslims who have been subjected to genocide
and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. This has been the testimony of all international
human rights organizations as well as prominent international figures who have
been able to visit that country, which was closed to the outside world for more
than half a century.
Thousands of Myanmar Muslims have been
killed at the hands of Buddhist extremists with the blessing and connivance of
the security forces. Tens of thousands of others have perished while fleeing to
escape persecution in their country. The mass graves unearthed recently in
Thailand are clear proof of the extent of the atrocities being perpetrated
against these hapless people.
Those who survived death and who are
languishing in camps in Bangladesh and elsewhere account for hundreds of
thousands of people. All of this happen at a time when the elected leader of
the country Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, vehemently denies
all the atrocities against Rohingya Muslims at the hands of the army and the
In March, the United Nations Human Rights
Council constituted a fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights
violations, such as murder, displacement, looting, rape, and the burning of
houses and places of worship by members of the Myanmar army and security forces
against Rohingya Muslims. This was in response to an attack on a military post allegedly
by some Rohingya insurgents in October 2016. The mission was headed by the
noted Indian woman lawyer Indira Jaising with Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka)
and Christopher Dominic Sidoti (Australia) as members.
The response of the Myanmar government was
not in favor of entertaining the UN mission. The country’s de facto leader Suu
Kyi and her government refused to grant visas to the mission members and she
justified this by saying that sending such a panel to Rakhine state would lead
to a further worsening of the conflict between different sections of society in
that region. The government also denied the entry of media persons, relief
workers and human right activists to Rakhine state where Rohingya Muslims are
facing ethnic cleansing and genocide.
The head of the UN Human Rights Commission
has replaced Jaising with Indonesia’s former Attorney General Marzuki Darusman
who was earlier in charge of making an assessment of the human rights situation
in North Korea. The UN rights chief did not cite any reasons for this change.
However, some observers pointed out that Jaising was removed following her
remarks to a section of the media that Rohingya Muslims are exposed to the
danger of genocide, and that this was no longer a secret.
What prompted the Myanmar government to
oppose the UN fact-finding mission and was it because of its chairperson, who
was eventually replaced? Will the government entertain the new mission and
facilitate it to discharge its duties by granting them visas and allowing them
access to the places where the victims reside? Or will the government continue
denying visas to members of the mission based on the false justification that
sending such a panel to Rakhine state would further exacerbate the situation,
as if the intentions of the current government are different from the
intentions of previous governments that deprived Muslims of their most basic
Many think that the incumbent government
has treated the Rohingya more brutally than previous ones, especially after the
October attack. This attack might have been the handiwork of the authorities to
justify their atrocities against Rohingya Muslims after branding them as
illegal migrants from Bangladesh even though their existence in the region can
be traced back for centuries to a time when they had their own emirates and
kingdoms in the Arakan (Rakhine) region.
It is obvious that the regime in Myanmar is
a racist. This is evident from the law that they have enacted entitled
“Protection of religion and race.” Rohingya Muslims are deprived of
citizenship, as well as all rights that citizens enjoy, in addition to freedom
of movement besides imposing restrictions on marriage and childbirth. The
authorities are involved in encouraging Buddhist extremists to get rid of
Rohingya Muslims by killing and expulsion. Now the state and its army and
security personnel are carrying out ethnic cleansing.
Since last October, more than 1,000 people
have been killed and over 75,000 have been expelled while large numbers of
women have been victims of rape. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya
have fled to neighbouring countries.
According to UN reports, Rohingya Muslims
are the most persecuted minority in the world. The situation for Rohingya
Muslims has further worsened since Suu Kyi and her party assumed power in
Myanmar. All evidence shows that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and her party
govern a country that is practicing ethnic cleansing and mass murder.
In this scenario, the United Nations, its
organs and affiliated organizations, as well as the Organization of Islamic
Cooperation and all its members, especially the Muslim neighbours of Myanmar,
should shoulder the responsibility of protecting this defenceless people from
the atrocities, which are as a clear as broad daylight.
A Rogue Remains Loose In the Middle East
A rogue has been loitering about long
enough in the region. For decades now. And its presence has not been a very
reassuring one; at least not to the hosts on whose land this menacing rogue
wanders about, spreading venom in its path. The rogue? None other than the
state of Israel in its current form.
Its leaders are continuously bleating about
nuclear threats from other regional nations. Remember, they did the same thing
about Iraq some years back with alarms of “weapons of mass destruction” through
their proxies in the US government, leading George W. Bush and company to
embark on an adventure that opened a Pandora’s box of miseries that continue to
haunt us today.
Meanwhile, this rogue nation is pursuing
its policy of grabbing and annexing what little land the Palestinians can hang
on to through aggression, targeted killings, executions, burning of civilians
and dwellings and it has explained away all of this as being “in the interests
of national security.”
Israel has long learned to play the game
craftily. It started by portraying itself as a victim as it began its journey
in a strange land and slowly began pushing out the lawful residents, albeit
with massive support from Western nations who were continually garlanded with
the collective guilt of the first holocaust during World War II, and who were
goaded to make amends for past deeds by defying all democratic norms and siding
with this monster. It did not matter that their victims - the Palestinians -
had nothing to do with events of the past. It was simply an expedient solution.
The Arabs have tried to battle and even
reason with this monster to no avail. In a previous attempt, a resolution was
initiated by Egypt to declare the region a nuclear-weapons-free zone and called
on Israel to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The resolution would have
applied less stringent supervisory conditions on Israel in comparison to those
recently agreed upon with Iran. Since Iran had already sealed an agreement with
the world powers on greater nuclear transparency, this vote became the first
attempt to ask Israel to follow suit.
But the monster was not having any of that.
It did not want any of its nuclear weapons program under any sort of
international monitoring. Instead it began an earnest campaign of lobbying and
arm-twisting to ensure that the resolution did not see the light of day.
Predictably enough, with the Zionist lobby working overtime, the International
Atomic Energy Agency’s General Conference voted down the resolution, which
called for international supervision over Israel’s nuclear facilities.
Israel gloated in the aftermath of the
results calling it a great victory following the culmination of a massive
international campaign against the resolution. Those predictably siding with
Israel were the United States, Canada, Australia, and EU members while Russia,
China, Turkey and South Africa sided with the regional countries in backing the
resolution. Thus, secrecy is ensured for the Israelis who can go about
developing their nuclear weapons that will one day be turned against their
Not content to bask in victory, this rogue
today has stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, situated in Jerusalem and the third
holiest shrine of the Muslim world. It has fired tear gas and stun grenades on
the congregation assembled for prayer; it has closed down freedom of access. It
has prevented Muslim worshipers from attending to their religious calling. It
has usurped their rights as well as their lands. It has embarked on a policy of
murder and humiliation, one guaranteed to elicit a response that could be
quickly put down by superior Israeli firepower and then explained to a
compliant media as “a quelling of rebellion by terrorists”.
This ongoing policy of aggression by a
nuclear-powered rogue that has been granted the freedom to remain unchecked
does not bode well for a peaceful region.
By Daniel R DePetris
August 1, 2017
The UN does already have someone in place
to set a policy shift in motion.
For the last five years, US policy on the
Syrian civil war has revolved around supporting the United Nations' efforts to
find a political accommodation between the main combatants in the war - and
reminding anyone who will listen that only a political resolution will end the
grinding conflict for good.
Unfortunately, the policy hasn't kept pace
with military reality. Bashar Al Assad's position on the ground is better than
it has ever been; he has no incentive to do what the international community
wants - to end the carnage and eventually transition out of the presidential
That means a new strategy is required, one
that recognises that if a political solution was not attainable in the past
it's highly unlikely to be attainable in the future. Instead, the US and its
partners should do what they can to freeze the conflict in specific geographical
areas, just as the United States, Russia, and Jordan successfully did in
southwestern Syria several weeks ago.
The UN does already have someone in place
to set a policy shift in motion. Special Envoy Staffan De Mistura, the
Italian-Swedish diplomat appointed by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
to preside over the Syria portfolio, has been indefatigable in his efforts to
end the violence. Barely a week goes by without De Mistura flying to regional
capitals, meeting with representatives. And yet despite this Herculean effort,
De Mistura has been unable to make any headway in a diplomatic process that
much of the international community considers dead or dying. De Mistura is
certainly not to blame; he is perseverance and determination in human form.
Discussions over confidence-building
measures, which have proven instrumental in other negotiations, continue to be
difficult to sustain. Even De Mistura appears to accept this sad fact, telling
journalists before the beginning of the seventh round of Syrian talks that
while he continues to hope that the Syrian government and rebel delegation
begin to get serious, he has been "disappointed many times during these
last four years and Syrians have been disappointed during the last six
years." There is no reason to believe that the next round of diplomacy in
Geneva scheduled for this September will be any more successful than the last
So if talks about Syria's politics have hit
a dead end, it's time to take a hard look at the reality of the situation. Most
importantly, De Mistura needs to lower expectations about what is possible.
Throughout the last six years of conflict and attempted mediation, every single
bid that has concentrated on the politics of Syria - how the country will be
governed after the war ends; who will be represented in a transitional
government; what should and should not be included in a new Syrian
constitution; what happens with Assad - have collapsed.
Assad does not want to negotiate on the
politics because he no longer needs to - his position on the ground is the best
it has ever been. With the exception of Damascus' eastern suburbs and the
northern city of Raqqa, all of Syria's major cities have been retaken by the
regime or pro-regime militias. Assad's political opponents are increasingly
hemmed into enclaves in Syria's Idlib and Deraa provinces - at great cost to
the country's infrastructure and to the detriment of the millions of civilians
who live (or used to live) there. Assad may be a brutal tyrant, but he's also a
rational actor who understands that the direction of the war has been going his
way ever since the Russian air force bailed him out with a bombing campaign in
the fall of 2015.
Not all of the agreements reached over the
previous years, however, have been failures. Accords focusing on separating the
warring sides in specific areas, establishing truces to deliver humanitarian
assistance, and allowing injured civilians to leave these zones for medical
treatment have been slightly more successful. While it is indisputable that the
regime has broken many of ceasefire accords it has signed, the de-escalation
agreements arranged over the previous three months have resulted in at least a
decline in hostilities that would not have ordinarily been possible. Although
it is still too early to label both ceasefire deals a success - and while it is
certain that breaches are inevitable - agreements that focus exclusively on
security while leaving political questions to the UN have been more effective
than meshing the security and the politics tracks together. It remains to be
seen whether the decrease in hostilities will last over the long term, but it
is difficult to dispute the argument that concentrating on stemming the
bloodshed first and exploring options for political reconciliation second have
had a more positive impact for the civilians on the ground.
At this stage in the war, after six years
of combat, a half a million fatalities, a region teeming with Syrian refugees,
and 13.5 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance, it is time for the
international community to drop their hopes at the door. The world can continue
to pray for a time when Assad magically makes the transformation from a
manipulative and sociopathic war criminal to a conciliator. Or it can do things
a little differently by leveraging its influence over Syria's combatants to
strike agreements that provide some semblance of peace for the Syrian people on
This change in approach will not win
anybody the Nobel Peace Prize, but it may be the best Syrians can hope for
Jordan And Israel: Fraught And Troubled
Times For The ‘Best Of Frenemies’
Relations between Jordan and Israel were
put to the test in the past fortnight, near to breaking point. Between the
crisis over the Haram Al-Sharif and the shooting of two Jordanian citizens by
an Israeli security guard, who was attacked by one of them, it took intense
diplomatic efforts to at least temporarily patch things up.
As I wrote here this week, in this most
unpredictable region, two separate incidents became connected. The tragic
shooting incident provided Israel with the necessary pretext to make
concessions in the shape of removing the newly introduced security measures at
the entrance to Al-Aqsa Mosque. Nevertheless, the insensitivity with which
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu handled the return of the Israeli security
guard was a painful rebuke for King Abdallah of Jordan.
Israel shares with Jordan not only its
longest border, but also a web of common interests. Considering that about 60
percent of Jordan’s population is Palestinian, many of them refugees, it
inherently constrains how close the Hashemite Kingdom’s cooperation with Israel
Though the peace agreement between the
countries was signed at the height of the Oslo Accord euphoria, even then most
Palestinians felt that the late King Hussein was rushing into it and thereby
undermining their bargaining power with the Israelis. They might not be too far
off the mark, especially when the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
in 1995 was followed by the first Netanyahu government. There has always been
the fear among the Palestinians that having signed the agreement with Egypt and
Jordan and having the military threat of Syria all but eliminated, there would
be almost no incentive for Israel to show flexibility in negotiation with them.
The longer the impasse in the
Israeli-Palestinian process lingers, the deeper the resentment among
Palestinians toward the cooperation between the Hashemite Kingdom and Israel.
King Abdallah, somewhat unguarded in a conversation with a journalist, remarked
that “in 2016, for the first time, we captured and killed 40 (Daesh) terrorists
in two major incidents. Ninety-six percent of them were of Palestinian origin.”
He connected this phenomenon directly to the lack of progress in affairs
between the Israelis and the Palestinians: “So if we don’t move the
Israeli-Palestinian process forward, that is a major recruiting [opportunity]
for disenfranchised and frustrated people.”
Historically, for Jordan and Israel
strategic and economic cooperation have been paramount. Israel regards
stability in Jordan as essential to its own security and also in containing the
growing discord in the West Bank. Intelligence cooperation between the two
countries’ security establishments in order to contain extremism has become a
matter of routine.
Jordan is a fragile state due to its lack
of natural resources, as well as the fact that almost one-third of the nine
million people who live there are not Jordanian nationals, including 657,000
Syrian refugees. This puts immense pressure on its resources as support from
the international community falls short. Not surprisingly, it has asked Israel
not only for security and political support, but also to assist its economy
with jobs and energy supply, for instance.
Commonality of interests cannot disguise
tensions, as a consequence of Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians in the
occupied territories and in the holy places in Jerusalem. This inevitably puts
King Abdallah in a very precarious situation vis-a-vis his own population,
whereby he is left with very little choice but to rigorously criticize Israel’s
behaviour to the extent of at least appearing to be rethinking relations with
The Netanyahu government behaves as if it
is completely oblivious to the potential impact of its policies on its
neighbour, and how it might harm Israel’s interests as a result. Twenty years
ago, in his first term as prime minister, Netanyahu demonstrated recklessness
in sanctioning the assassination of the Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on
Jordanian soil. When the Israeli agents were caught in this failed operation, Netanyahu
was forced to accede to King Hussein’s demands to instantly provide the
antidote to save Meshaal’s life and to release the leader of Hamas at the time,
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, from an Israeli jail. Otherwise, the Jordanian king
threatened to sever diplomatic relations.
Netanyahu, in the face of the gravity of
the situation, agreed to these demands, but seems to have learned nothing from
the experience. Consistently he embroils Israel in a lose-lose situation.
Netanyahu’s handling of the situation in the
Haram Al-Sharif was driven by narrow political considerations, in complete
disregard of the need to delicately defuse an extremely explosive situation.
The hero’s welcome he bestowed on the returning Israeli security guard, in
front of the rolling TV cameras, was a cheap PR stunt, pandering to his
supporters. Whatever happened in the shooting in Amman, at least one person who
was killed there, the landlord was completely innocent.
Netanyahu might have been within his rights
to insist on bringing back the Israeli security guard, who Israel claims
enjoyed diplomatic immunity. Nevertheless, turning it into a photo opportunity
was provocative and offensive to the king of Jordan and the Jordanian people.
Reading hundreds of articles and essays by
Western scholars every year has turned me into either a well-informed citizen
or an addict of inapplicable, unrealistic ideas. My meticulous examination and
scrutiny of Western scholars’ thoughts has certainly sharpened my political
thinking, but it has not necessarily been of any added value to my country,
Egypt. The gap between the ideas produced by intellectuals and what politicians
actually do is continually widening, leaving citizens around the world lost in
Scholarship in the Western world, and
especially in the US, is a large industry dominated by highly-qualified
professionals, thousands of scholars who work to shape their fellow citizens’
thinking patterns and to influence decision-makers. The field is dominated by
the creme de la creme of Western academe, and attending their debates is often
an insightful and pleasant experience.
However, while scholars stimulate the minds
of Western citizens, they seem to have lost the ability to influence their
leaders. The world is split between knowledgeable people capable of producing
functional ideas and ignorant people in authority who insist on applying their
volatile ideas — with no meeting point between the two. Today, politics is
completely under the control of powerful politicians whose credo is realism and
who know how to change things physically on the ground. Meanwhile,
sophisticated scholars are trying to produce relevant ideas that are quickly
made irrelevant by decision-makers’ actions.
Internet connectivity has substantially
boosted access to the work of scholars worldwide. People are no longer obliged
to read only the work of local scholars. Regardless of where they live, they
can easily read and follow the works of their favorite scholars and discard the
ideas that their countries impose on their societies. What used to be called
the “battle of ideas” (most pleasant events at which scholars clashed mentally
to produce excellent, functional ideas, reviving people’s minds and better
serving their nations) no longer exists, especially among international
Western scholarly institutions and
publishers tend to support only their fellow Westerners’ work, ignoring ideas
developed by non-Westerners. Not only do they publish Western works
exclusively; more dangerously, their minds are shaped by the Western thinking
pattern. The Western world does not see any logical arguments in most
non-Western scholarly writing; it publishes only works that are in line with
its way of thinking, declining to consider — and, obviously, to publish —
scholarly perspectives that contradict this line of thought.
Nowadays, most powerful Western countries
are thrusting aside the works of their scholars, replacing them with physical
action that achieves their goals more easily and quickly. The ability of these
countries to realize their objectives by imposing their decisions on others has
diminished efforts by scholars to change the world with their ideas. Sadly,
these nations are not held accountable for their actions; their trial-and-error
policy has become a phenomenon that we must live by.
Until the time comes when citizens can no
longer tolerate the accumulated mistakes of their leaders, powerful nations
will continue to dominate the world and to hold sway over scholars. Scholarly
thoughts, however, will not expire, banking instead on the emergence of new
political leaders who will revisit these ideas and restore their relevance. We
are left with a single option: To hope that some sensible people will be
persuaded by scholars’ works and support their ideas — and that the world will
eventually become a better place.
Amid the worst diplomatic rift since the
1970s and 1980s, Russia has urged the US to show “real political will” to
repair ties. Seven months after Washington expelled 35 Russian diplomats under
the pretext that US diplomats were being oppressed in Moscow, Russia has
expelled 755 American diplomats in response to new sanctions imposed by
Washington. This marks the start of a political and diplomatic war between the
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on
Sunday: “We had hoped for quite a long time that the situation will somehow
change, but apparently if it changes, it won’t be soon.” His spokesman Dmitry
Peskov said it “will take time for the US to recover from political
schizophrenia,” adding: “Moscow wants constructive cooperation with
Peskov was signaling to the US that a new
diplomatic and political war will lead to further polarization of countries
into Eastern and Western alliances. New US sanctions against Russia for its
aggression against its neighbors and its unproven interference in last year’s
American presidential election represent a witch-hunt. The sanctions were
imposed despite opposition in the White House.
The Trump administration’s weakness has led
to such decisions being taken by Congress. This will hurt America’s political
reputation internationally. With the Senate overwhelmingly approving a bill to
toughen sanctions on Russia, Putin said Moscow still “has things to say and is
able to further restrict areas of common activities, which may be sensitive for
the American side.” This shows confidence in Russia’s ability to retaliate
The first reason for this diplomatic war is
not alleged Russian meddling in the American election, but Moscow winning the
battle in Syria against the US-led alliance, as well as in the wider Middle
East and further afield. So the US started finding pretexts to take measures
against Russia, its officials, diplomats and businessmen.
The second reason is that despite Western
sanctions, Russia’s economy is strong and vibrant as it has natural resources
that other countries badly need, such as oil and gas. So any talk of great
damage done by sanctions is cynical and baseless.
The third reason is Russia’s growing global
influence, especially in the Middle East, which hurts US interests. Moscow has
very strong relations with Iran, Syria, Qatar and Iraq, which are pivotal to
Middle East stability. As such, Russia’s measures are in self-defense as it
believes the US is planning regime change, similar to what happened in Georgia
and Ukraine, under slogans of freedom and democracy.
The alliance of Russia, China, Iran and
North Korea, especially after recent ballistic missile tests by Tehran and
Pyongyang, has driven the US to behave offensively against Russia again,
dashing hopes for normalized ties under President Donald Trump. This will
create a new battlefield in the Middle East, Africa or Asia for both countries
to flex their muscles and extend their control.
It is now clear that the atmosphere between
Putin and Trump at the G-20 meetings in Hamburg was far from cordial, as they
sparred over Syria’s use of lethal weapons against its own citizens, Russia’s
support for Bashar Assad and its alleged interference in the US election. This
signals a sharp deterioration in bilateral ties since Trump became president.
Panama Papers: Pakistan’s Justice System
Who says the long arm of justice does not
catch up one day, irrespective of the position of the highest office holder?
The news that Nawaz Sharif has resigned as
prime minister of Pakistan following a decision by the country’s Supreme Court
to disqualify him from office, should be celebrated as evidence that whatever
the rights and wrongs of the person involved, even in countries with so called
poor governance, justice finally catches up one day.
The ruling came after a probe into his
family’s wealth following the 2015 Panama Papers dump linking companies to the
prime minister and his family. A five-member bench in the court handed down the
Sharif is not the first prime minister to
lose his position following the leaking of documents from the Panamanian law
firm as others have fallen foul of the scandal, as Iceland’s prime minister was
forced to resign after documents appeared to reveal that he and his wife
concealed millions of dollars worth of investments in an offshore company.
In its 2016 Corruption Perception Global
Index, Transparency International listed Iceland in 14th position and Pakistan
116 in global ranking, so the bar for Pakistan to take action against a sitting
prime minister was far higher for Pakistani justice than for Iceland.
Conscious of the historical decision that
it made and emboldened to pursue similar cases further irrespective of the
political consequences, the court has recommended anti-corruption cases against
several individuals, including Mr Sharif, his daughter Maryam and her husband
Safdar, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and others.
No politician with a troubled conscience in
Pakistan is now safe, and the population will expect the same treatment meted
out to all elected and non-elected ruling party elite irrespective of party affiliation.
The train of justice has started to roll and cannot be shuttled into a backyard
and those who advocate transparency and accountability worldwide should
celebrate the court decision.
Sharif, who was serving as prime minister
for a record third time, was less than a year away from becoming the first in
Pakistani history to complete a full term in office. He served as prime
minister from November 1990 to July 1993 and from February 1997 until he was
toppled in a bloodless coup in October 1999.
Wheels of justice
Allegations of corruption have chased
Sharif since the 1980s. Much of what the Panama Papers revealed was the subject
of a federal inquiry in the mid-1990s, but the wheels of justice have creaked
on very slowly since then until the explosive and detailed Panama Papers
revealed the extent of foreign assets of worldwide politicians.
The leaks in April 2016 revealed that three
of Mr Sharif’s children owned offshore companies and assets not shown on his
family’s wealth statement. The companies were allegedly used to channel funds
to acquire foreign assets, including some apartments along Park Lane in
London’s Mayfair area, locations favored by the rich and mighty of many
No one can of course take way the right of
individuals to do what they want with their honestly gained money gained hard
working and enterprise, but what is unacceptable is for government officials to
abuse their position for monetary gain and bring disrepute to the hallowed
office of public service.
The insinuation that the companies were
meant to hide or launder ill-gotten wealth or to avoid taxes called Mr Sharif’s
credentials into question. In Pakistan there was predictable anger and joy in
equal measures as the country’s divisions fell largely along party lines but
many have also expressed concerns over Pakistan’s political culture and the
future of the country itself but they do not need to worry.
The unanimous court ruling has shown to
everyone that no politician will be above the law, and in this significant
victory, Pakistan can move forward and say to the rest of the world that we
have done what few others have dared do, given the wide scale revelations of
the Panama Papers scandal.
For once, Pakistan is making the headline
news for the right reasons and we may still hear of a future Pakistani Premier
peacefully serving out his full five year term in office.