Sunday, July 30, 2017

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

7 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #PanamaVerdict "worth applauding.....difficult but necessary conclusion"

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-ouster-in-pakistan-is-actually-a-glimmer-of-hope/2017/07/30/ba8e13da-73bc-11e7-8839-ec48ec4cae25_story.html?utm_term=.0d6cbed1588a

The (Panama) papers revealed that three of Mr. Sharif’s children owned or could sign authorizations for offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands. This raised questions about the origins of the family wealth. Mr. Sharif told the court through his lawyer that he did not own any shell companies or property through offshore holdings himself, without addressing whether his children did. The Panama Papers led to protests, and calls for his resignation, including from opposition party leader Imran Khan, the former cricket star.

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The court subsequently created a five-member panel to investigate, and the panel’s report accused Mr. Sharif’s family of perjury, forgery and hiding assets. It found, among other things, that Mr. Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, potentially falsified ownership documents that were dated 2006 but written in a font that was not commercially available until 2007. The court then acted unanimously to force him out of office.

Pakistan undoubtedly faces a period of political uncertainty. The next elections are scheduled for 2018. Meanwhile, Mr. Sharif’s ruling party enjoys a strong majority in Parliament. He is expected to install a loyalist as interim prime minister this week and, longer-term, his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, in the post. Whatever the political outcome, Pakistan seems likely not to be shaken from its desire for closer relations with China, which is pouring $50 billion into infrastructure projects as part of its attempt to build a massive trade route. Pakistan’s military and its intelligence service also will remain powerful forces behind the scenes of the Muslim-majority nation, a nuclear weapons state.

Still, Pakistan has so often been a miasma of uncertainty, impunity, coercion and violence that it is worth applauding the Supreme Court’s determination to see this case to a difficult but necessary conclusion. It’s a glimmer of hope for accountability and rule of law in a nation that could use much more of it.

Ahmed F. said...

As for Pakistan's fresh start, how many have their been during the past 70 years? Several. And none have borne fruit. Thus my realism.

How much is the future going to differ from the past?

Is this a radical break?

Maybe, but I am not persuaded. Of course, I am willing to sit and weight. It is a testable hypothesis. It will either be accepted or rejected by the data as the future unfolds.

Just so everyone knows, I was very optimistic about Pakistan's prospects up to the disaster that befell the country in 1971. Then I saw what ZAB was doing and that led to a series of disappointments and depression.

I stopped following developments back home, focusing mostly on its military history (which continues to be my primary focus).

After the blunder in Kargil the spring of 1999, I sensed a need for change and began writing and reading just about everything that was published about Pakistan. I would not have spent so much time reading and writing if I did not sense something could still happen that would change the future of the country.

But nothing did. I stopped writing a few years ago, overcome by pessimism.

As they say, "A pessimist is a former optimist who kept notes."

Would you and the others please explain the rationale for your optimism? I would love to be proven wrong. I am all ears.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahmad: "Would you and the others please explain the rationale for your optimism? I would love to be proven wrong. I am all ears."

Impunity is Pakistan's biggest problem.

Ousting Nawaz Sharif is a good start toward establishing rule of law and justice for all regardless of their power or privilege.

It gives me great hope for the future.

Here's a post I wrote recently offering just one example of how ruling politicians steal from Pakistan's children to damage its future:


http://www.riazhaq.com/2017/07/political-patronage-pakistan-school.html


Education spending in Pakistan has increased at an annual average rate of 17.5% since 2010. However, the school enrollment and literacy rates have remained flat and the human development indices are stuck in neutral. This is in sharp contrast to the significant improvements in outcomes from increased education spending seen during Musharraf years in 2001-2008. An examination of the causes shows that the corrupt system of political patronage tops the list. This system jeopardizes the future of the country by producing ghost teacher, ghost schools and absentee staff to siphon off the money allocated for children's education.

Riaz Haq said...

Millions of pounds worth of #London property of #NawazSharif family could be SEIZED by #Pakistan govt #PanamaVerdict

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/837407/pakistan-government-mayfair-nawaz-sharif-corruption-investigation

Sharif, Pakistan's longest-serving PM, was disqualified by the Supreme Court last week following revelations first revealed in last year's Panama Papers linking him to his son's UK property empire.

Hassan Sharif, 41, who lives in one of his family's Mayfair apartments, is believed to hold at least 15 flats, houses and offices in Britain, despite having "no declared source of income".

Mr Sharif has said the allegations are part of a conspiracy against his father.

A Joint Investigation Team in Pakistan found Mr Sharif had founded a number of companies in London with an accumulated loss of more than £10million, all while building "an empire of real estate in the UK", the Times reported.

Investigators said they therefore believe that "the build-up of assets was through irregular means and Hassan Nawaz was used as a proxy to build up family assets”.

They said: “It is a reasonable assumption that more properties in the UK have been held by Hassan in his name or in the name of his companies or in the name of his family members."

The investigation will focus on the three Mayfair flats owned by the Sharif family, including Hassan Sharif's home address.

As well as the former prime minister and his son Hassan, his other son Hussain and daughter Maryam are also part of the probe.

Hussain and Maryam used the properties as leverage for a £7m loan from Deutsche Bank in 2008, the Panama Papers revealed.

Sharif's involvement is relatively minor and not strictly corruption.

He is alleged to have received £2,000 from his son Hassan's Dubai-based company which he failed to declare, a disqualifying offence under the constitution.

Sharif claims he never received the money.

Speaking in Islamabad on Saturday, the deposed PM said: "How can I file a tax return on a salary I never received?"


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...

‘Over-invoicing by power companies’: PIL in Delhi HC seeks SIT probe against firms
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is currently investigating over a dozen firms, including firms of the Adani Group, Essar Group and Reliance ADAG Group, among others for alleged over valuation of Indonesian coal imports and power equipment imports between 2011 and 2015.

http://indianexpress.com/article/business/companies/over-invoicing-by-power-companies-pil-in-delhi-hc-seeks-sit-probe-against-firms-4842567/lite/

The NGOs, through senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, have alleged that some power firms are involved in “over-invoicing of about 400 per cent of power equipment and fuel in order to siphon off money to their promoter firms registered in tax havens and also in order to inflate electricity tariffs which are based on the cost of equipment and fuel”.
“This is a very serious matter involving tens of thousands of crore. The CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry against some Adani Group firms, which was closed during the tenure of Ranjit Sinha, who is now being investigated by the SIT. Over-invoicing by these firms leads to taking more loans from banks than is required, cheating of consumers as higher tariffs are passed on to the consumers and cheating of shareholders of these firms as money is being siphoned off abroad,” Bhushan said.
On Wednesday, Justice C Hari Shankar recused himself from hearing the case as he has appeared for some of the firms named in the petition in the past.

The counsel appearing for the Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, said the government is opposing even the issuance of notice in the petition as it would “jeopardise the entire power sector.”
The high court will now hear the case on September 20.
According to the DRI, overvaluation of power equipment and coal has the effect of artificially raising the tariff values fixed by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission or the respective state regulatory commissions.
The DRI has alleged that several traders are directly importing Indonesian coal but the invoices are “routed through one or more related /associated intermediary firms based abroad” after artificially inflating its value. To justify the inflated price, “manipulated test reports” of the quality of coal is submitted to PSUs and Customs. This coal is then supplied to public power generation firms at the “artificially inflated import price and the inflated price is remitted from India to the intermediary firms abroad which remit only the actual price to the suppliers of the coal and the balance is siphoned off elsewhere”.

Riaz Haq said...

Eroding democratic values
Zahid HussainUpdated October 04, 2017

https://www.dawn.com/news/1361527

"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"

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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.