Sunday, July 16, 2017

India Cattle Slaughter Ban; Panama JIT Report; Trump Russia Collusion

Why did the Modi government ban cattle slaughter across India? Why did the Indian Supreme Court block it nationally? Was Modi government targeting India's Muslim minority that depends on the $16 billion meat and leather industry? Are such steps consistent with the constitution of a "secular democracy"?

Sharif Family Being Investigated by Panama JIT
How historic is Pakistan's corruption investigation into the allegations against a sitting prime minister and his family? What is in the JIT report about country's ruling Sharif family? Is it hard evidence of Sharifs' corruption as its supporters believe? Or is it just rumors and innuendo and part of a conspiracy to unseat Prime Minister Sharif? How will Pakistan Supreme Court deal with it? Will it lead to disqualification and removal of Prime Minister Sharif from office? How will it affect Pakistan's political stability and economy?

What was the Trump tower meeting of June 9 2016 meeting about? Was Donald Trump Jr attempting to collude with the Russian government as alleged to defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton? Is this illegal or improper? How will it affect the ongoing Congressional and Special Counsel investigations into Trump Campaign's alleged collusion with Russia?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Hinduization of India

Hindutva: A Legacy of the British Raj?

Lynchistan: India is the Lynching Capital of the World

Panama JIT in Pakistan

Comey Testimony on Trump

FBI Director Comey's Firing

Trump Appointments

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel


Shams S. said...


I hope you had a chance to in fact read the full JIT report and its supplements comprising the documents in evidence. The SC is now going to evaluate if the evidence was collected "in accordance with the Law of Evidence".

Hope it helps.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s Turn Toward Intolerance. #Hindutva #Islamophobia #cow #Modi #economy #jobs #BJP

Narendra Modi’s landslide victory as prime minister of India in 2014 was borne on his promises to unleash his country’s economic potential and build a bright future while he played down the Hindu nationalist roots of his Bharatiya Janata Party.

But, under Mr. Modi’s leadership, growth has slowed, jobs have not materialized, and what has actually been unleashed is virulent intolerance that threatens the foundation of the secular nation envisioned by its founders.

Since Mr. Modi took office, there has been an alarming rise in mob attacks against people accused of eating beef or abusing cows, an animal held sacred to Hindus. Most of those killed have been Muslims. Mr. Modi spoke out against the killings only last month, not long after his government banned the sale of cows for slaughter, a move suspended by India’s Supreme Court. The ban, enforcing cultural stigma, would have fallen hardest on Muslims and low-caste Hindus traditionally engaged in the meat and leather industry.

It would also have struck a blow against Mr. Modi’s supposed priorities: employment, economic growth and boosting exports. The $16 billion industry employs millions of workers and generated $4 billion in export income last year.

More disturbing was his party’s decision to name Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu warrior-priest, as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, and a springboard to national leadership. Mr. Adityanath has called India’s Muslims “a crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped” and cried at one rally, “We are all preparing for religious war!”

This development led the analyst Neerja Chowdhury to observe: “India is moving right. Whether India moves further right, and Modi begins to be looked upon as a moderate, I think that only time will tell.”

On Tuesday, India’s film censor board, headed by a Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart apparently intent on protecting Mr. Modi and the party from criticism, ruled that a documentary film about one of India’s most famous sons, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, cannot be screened unless the director cuts the words “cow,” “Hindu India,” “Hindutva view of India” — meaning Hindu nationalism — and “Gujarat,” where Mr. Modi was chief minister at the time of deadly anti-Muslim riots in 2002.

This might seem like merely a farcical move by Hindu fanatics, if it were not so in line with much else that is happening in Mr. Modi’s India, and if the implications for India’s democracy weren’t so chilling. But this is where Mr. Modi has brought the nation as it prepares to celebrate 70 years of independence on Aug. 15.

Riaz Haq said...

#Dubai #law firm confirms #Pakistan PM's Dubai job papers as 'legal'. #PanamaCase #NawazSharif A Dubai law firm has submitted a legal opinion to Pakistan's Supreme Court on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's alleged employment in Dubai, verifying that the employment documents which imply he was employed by Capital FZE in Jebel Ali Freezone (Jafza) in Dubai until 2014 are 100 per cent legal.

The legal firm Khalifa bin Huwaidan Advocates was consulted by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that has submitted a 254-page report to the Pakistan's Supreme Court into Nawaz' family wealth.

The court held its first hearing on Monday to decide the fate of the prime minister who is contesting the corruption investigation. He has denied any wrong doing.

The Dubai law firm submitted its report to the Supreme Court on Monday, Khalifa bin Huwaidan, lawyer and legal advisor at the firm, told Khaleej Times.

"Normally businessmen establish companies in Dubai if they want to maintain a visa status in the company but in this case, (Nawaz Sharif) was an employee in a Jafza-based firm," he confirmed.

Khalifa's conclusion was based on the copy of the labour contract Nawaz had with Capital FZE, and said "The contract is 100 per cent legal."

The legal opinion has been readied based on the UAE labour laws, he said. It earlier emerged that Nawaz Sharif was employed as chairman of the board for Capital FZE company in Jafza from August 2006 to April 2014 and was withdrawing a salary of Dh10,000. However, his employment status was terminated in 2014 after the company was dissolved. This was a year after he became the prime minister of Pakistan for the third time.

The Sharif family has denied that a salary was withdrawn and said that the visa was to facilitate visits to the UAE. However, as per the UAE Labour Law, all employees have to receive a salary through a bank account under the UAE's Wage Protection System (WPS), failing which the firm can be blacklisted and shut down.

Also as per the UAE law, if no record of a salary transfer to the bank is found, the employer is held liable not the employee. However, it is not clear who owned Capital FZE before it was dissolved.

Hussain Nawaz, son of Nawaz Sharif has rejected the JIT findings that his father was being paid by the Dubai firm. He said that his father never received any salary from the aforesaid company. Hussain said that his father was appointed as chairman only for facilitation of visa and visits to the UAE in 2006.

The JIT report has also revealed that Nawaz did not disclose this information before running for the highest public office in 2013 which is against the Constitution of Pakistan. The JIT findings are based on its correspondence with Jafza.

A legal opinion from a Dubai firm verifying the legality of the employment contract will leave no room for Nawaz to contest this in court.

This result is also likely to impact the case against the Sharifs, which are being probed after the Panama Papers revealed in 2016 that three of his children owned offshore companies and assets not shown on his family's wealth statement. The assets in question include four expensive flats in Park Lane, London.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan SC warns #Sharifs children of 7 years in #Jail if their papers found forged. #PanamaCase

The JIT, among other things, has observed that some of the documents submitted by the children of Mr. Sharif were tampered with.

The children of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could face up to seven years in jail if it was proved that they had submitted fake documents to the Panama panel probing the money laundering allegations against the family, the Supreme Court warned on Thursday.

The apex court heard the Panamagate scandal case for the fourth consecutive day since the hearing began on July 17, following submission of a report by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on July 10, which was tasked by the court to probe allegation of corruption against Mr. Sharif and his family.

“The punishment for submitting forged documents in the court is seven years in jail,” warned the three-member panel of judges.

The JIT, among other things, has observed that some of the documents submitted by the children of Mr. Sharif, 67, were tampered with.

A trust deed provided by the Prime Minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and executed in 2006 was written in Calibri font which was not commercially available till 2007. It was also notarised from an office in London on Saturday which is officially an off day, raising concern about the authenticity of the document.

Similarly, Government of Dubai has revealed that the documents of Gulf Steel Mills provided by the Prime Minister’s son Hussian Nawaz were forged as there was no record of those documents.

Justice Ejaz Afzal is heading the probe panel comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

They also warned Salman Akram Raja, the lawyer of Mr. Sharif’s children, against a media trial in the case after some of the documents presented by him were leaked to media and were discussed in talk shows on Wednesday.

“You have been conducting a trial in the media and the documents (submitted to the court) have already been discussed in the media,” said Justice Saeed.

“There is a media dais outside, you should give your arguments there as well,” he told Mr. Raja, who assured the court that he had not released any documents to media.

Meanwhile, Mr. Raja presented his arguments in details. The arguments were still going on when the court adjourned the proceedings till July 21.

The judges on Thursday again asked the Mr. Sharif family to provide the money trail of its various businesses in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.K.

“The main question is, where did the money for these businesses came?” asked the panel.

Later, Fawad Chaudhry, member of a legal team representing Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), told media outside the court that the hearing might be completed by Friday.

“For us the case is over. Sharif would have to go home and then jail for corruption. His children would also land in jail for forgery,” he said.

Minister of State for Information Marriyam Aurangzeb said that the Prime Minister has been vindicated as there is no proof of any corruption against him.

“The Prime Minister was accused of money laundering and corruption but none of the allegations have been proved,” she said.

The scandal surfaced when the Panama Papers leaks last year revealed that Mr. Sharif’s sons — Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz — and his daughter Maryam owned offshore companies which managed their family’s properties. The assets in question include four expensive flats in Park Lane, London.

Opposition parties allege that the London flats were purchased through illegal money which Mr. Sharif and his family have rejected. However, they have been unable to satisfy the court about the source of money used to purchase these properties.

Riaz Haq said...

Eroding democratic values
Zahid HussainUpdated October 04, 2017

"Most worrying is that this person-specific amendment (to help Nawaz Sharif) in the law and the manner in which it was railroaded has further eroded democratic norms. Now anyone condemned by a court of law can form and lead a political party. Ironically, a person barred from holding public office can still be kingmaker and continue to run the government through proxies"


The government, which is preoccupied with the political rehabilitation of the former prime minister, is fast losing its governing space. The clash among institutions has made the situation extremely chaotic. The bizarre incident outside the accountability court on Monday during the appearance of the former prime minister is quite ominous. The controversy over the deployment of the Rangers reflects an anarchic situation.

It is, indeed, a serious issue that the interior minister did not know who called the Rangers. The situation turned weirder still when Ahsan Iqbal was stopped from entering the court premises. Surely the Rangers did not come there without orders from somewhere. His public outburst and remarks about a state within a state demonstrated his helplessness.

It is certainly not a good omen for the government. The incident reinforces the perception about the government’s shrinking governing space while it is focused more on defending the ousted prime minister and his family. It is not enough to shout from the rooftop about the ‘invisible hand’. It is the governance, stupid. We have already seen the establishment gaining greater space.

Nawaz Sharif has called for a grand national dialogue among political parties. One cannot disagree with the proposal. There is, indeed, a serious need for the main political parties to come to an agreement on some kind of framework to strengthen the democratic process. But Sharif’s call may have come too late and at a time when he has been disqualified for not being honest and is facing trial. That makes the other political parties suspicious of his intent. There is scepticism that it is all about him being bailed out of his plight.

Sharif had a great opportunity to strengthen the institutionalised democratic process over the last four years. Instead, he rendered parliament ineffective and weakened other civilian institutions thus allowing nonelected elements to expand their space. He established his personalised rule with the help of close family members. Even the cabinet seldom met and was virtually turned into a rubber stamp. His current confrontational approach towards the judiciary will not inspire other political parties to gather.

Surely there is a need for a charter of democracy or grand national dialogue to establish civilian supremacy and remove the existing imbalance of power that has allowed non-elected institutions to undermine elected civilian governments. But personalised power is not an alternative for civilian supremacy. Democracy is not limited to winning the electoral mandate, it also means implementing the rule of law and democratic accountability. One wishes that Nawaz Sharif understood this.

More importantly, there is a need for an economic charter among political parties to guarantee the continuity of economic policies irrespective of whichever party is in power. Perhaps, this will become possible after the elections.

Riaz Haq said...

Journalist Explains How Panama Papers Opened Up The World's Illicit Money Networks


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Before Donald Trump was elected president, some of his business partners on Trump-branded hotels and condos and the Miss Universe pageant were oligarchs from Russia and former Soviet bloc countries who kept a lot of their money hidden in the secret world of shell companies. Those business partnerships are the subject of the final chapter of my guest, Jake Bernstein's new book, "Secrecy World."


GROSS: Well - and as you point out in your book about the Panama Papers, it became hard - it became difficult for Donald Trump to get funding from U.S. banks because of his bankruptcies or near bankruptcies and because of all the money he spent in civil suits. So he looked to other places. And I guess Russia was one of those places. The oligarchs were among those people he turned to.

BERNSTEIN: Yeah. I mean, he absolutely, you know, hungered for that money. And he was doing business with people who were very much in that orbit, you know, people like Tevfik Arif who is - had a company called Bayrock and worked with Trump on the Trump SoHo, which Trump gave naming rights to and did other stuff for you. And Tevfik Arif is a guy who made - his family made their initial fortune the fall of the Soviet Union. They ended up with a bunch of chemical factories that had been privatized.

GROSS: So another investor in Trump SoHo through Bayrock was Alexander Mashkevich, a Ukrainian billionaire. Who's he?

BERNSTEIN: Alexander Mashkevich is - now sort of claims - even though he was on investor handouts for Trump SoHo, he claims that he never actually invested in it. So that's sort of an open question. But Mashkevich is part of a group of folks who are - do heavy - were heavy into mining in Africa and other places. There was quite a bit of controversy about their activities there. And they were sort of sketchy enough that even Mossack Fonseca had some red flags about their activities and had second thoughts about taking on companies from them. And Mashkevich, ironically, was on the same boat in Turkey with Tevfik Arif during this prostitution sting. Now, both men claim that it was not prostitution. They were just on this boat with a lot of young women. And it was completely, you know, above board, so to speak.


BERNSTEIN: So the company behind this was called Bayrock. And the person behind Bayrock was Tevfik Arif who is a - originally a Russian guy - Eastern bloc guy who comes to America and starts doing real estate deals. And he had extensive business with Trump. He had - his office is actually in Trump Tower, you know, right below Trump's office in Trump Tower at the very top of the building. And Tevfik Arif is a guy who has some questionable moments in his past, including he was ensnared in a prostitution sting in Turkey that ultimately goes nowhere because none of the young girls would testify. And Arif also received money from a shady Icelandic conglomerate with questionable revenue sources funneled through the secrecy world.

Riaz Haq said...

Timeline of Events: The 2013 Miss Universe Pageant

Russian singer Emin Agalarov speaks onstage with his father Aras Agalarov during a news conference after Brady won the Miss USA 2013 pageant on June 16, 2013, in Las Vegas.

British-born music promoter Rob Goldstone began representing singer Emin Agalarov, son of billionaire real estate investor Aras Agalarov. At the time, Emin was married to Leyla Aliyeva, the daughter of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev.

March 21, 2013
In a Facebook post from New York, Goldstone announced he would be attending the Miss USA pageant in June. He served as a preliminary round judge at the event.

May 31, 2013
Emin Agalarov released a music video featuring 2012 Miss Universe Olivia Culpo. This collaboration led Golstone to meet with the head of the Miss Universe Organization, Paula Shugart, according to Mother Jones.

June 15, 2013
"Fun meeting with Donald Trump," Rob Goldstone posted on Facebook.

June 16, 2013
During the Miss USA pageant, Trump announced the location for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant: Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia. Trump was joined on stage by Aras Agalarov, president of Crocus Group, and his son. The elder Aras later told a Russian news outlet that Trump greeted him warmly, saying, "'Look who came to me! This is the richest man in Russia!'"

Later in June, the Russian parliament passed a series of anti-gay laws. In an interview with Miss Universe co-host Thomas Roberts before the event in November, Trump defended his decision to keep the pageant in Moscow.

June 18, 2013
Trump tweeted about the upcoming pageant. "Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow - if so, will he become my new best friend?" he wrote.

November 9, 2013
Miss Universe took place at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia. Emin Agalarov performed at the event.

November 13, 2013
In an interview with Forbes, Emin Agalarov said Crocus Group, "may theoretically consider a possibility of building a Trump Tower as one of our skyscrapers."

Riaz Haq said...

A 104-page report released by Human Rights Watch (#HRW) stated that at least 44 people were killed and 280 injured in more than 100 attacks by cow vigilantes across 20 #Indian states between May 2015 and December 2018. #Modi #Hindutva #India … via @ABCNews

The crimes largely target minorities, and go unpunished due to the support of law enforcement and, HRW said, "communal rhetoric by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to spur a violent vigilante campaign against consumption of beef and those engaged in the cattle trade".

HRW said 36 Muslims were killed in the reported time period, and police "often stalled prosecutions of the attackers, while several BJP politicians publicly justified the attacks".

'A free pass'
Victims are also from India's Dalit (formerly known as "untouchables") and Adivasi (indigenous) communities.

Human rights activist Harsh Mander told The Guardian many of the killings were filmed, with the footage shared.

"This 'performative' aspect of the violence recalls, for me, the lynchings of African-Americans in the US as a way of showing the status to which a community has been reduced."

Many Hindus consider cows to be sacred and most states ban slaughtering cows, but the need to "save" cows and the proliferation of cow-protection groups around the country are recent phenomena.

The Guardian reported that many Hindus in Kerala and Tamil Nadu eat beef, as well as members of less-powerful castes in need of a cheap source of protein.

HRW found a 500 per cent increase in communally divisive rhetoric in speeches by politicians, 90 per cent of which were from BJP members.

About 90 per cent of the attacks were reported after the BJP's ascension to power in May 2014, and 66 per cent took place in BJP-run states.

"Calls for cow protection may have started out as a way to attract Hindu votes, but it has transformed into a free pass for mobs to violently attack and kill minority group members," said HRW's South Asia director, Meenakshi Ganguly.

"Indian authorities should stop egging on or justifying these attacks, blaming victims or protecting the culprits."

HRW said many cow-protection groups have clear ties to the BJP.

'These vigilantes get political shelter'
The report itself focused on 11 cases in four states that resulted in 14 deaths, and the Government response in each.

In almost all the cases, HRW found, police stalled the investigations, didn't follow procedure, or were complicit in the ensuing cover-ups.

"Police face political pressure to sympathise with cow protectors and do a weak investigation and let them go free," one retired senior police officer in Rajasthan told HRW.

"These vigilantes get political shelter and help."