Saturday, May 14, 2016

Trump's Backtrack on Muslim Ban; India's Map Law; Pakistan Commission on Corruption

Donald Trump has said his Muslim ban "hasn't been called for yet" and it was "only a suggestion". Is the presumptive Republican nominee for president backing away from his call "for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States"? If so, why? Has the Republican party helped him understand how the GOP's dog-whistle campaigns work? Will Trump's racism and Islamophobia become less overt now in the general election campaign? Has London Mayoral Election affected GOP's campaign?

Why is the Indian government pushing a highly punitive legislation for those found guilty of "incorrect maps of India" not showing all of Kashmir as part of India? Will the law also apply to the Hindu Nationalists pushing maps of Akhand Bharat, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, which are patently incorrect? How will digital mapmakers try to not run afoul of this law if it passes the Indian parliament?

Why is the Chief Justice of Pakistan resisting "the constitution of a toothless commission" to probe offshore companies owned by Pakistani politicians and others including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family? Why did Chief Justice Jamali say that such a commission "will serve no useful purpose , except giving a bad name to it"?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Ali Hasan Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (

Trump's Backtrack on Muslim Ban; India's Map... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Trump's Backtrack on Muslim Ban; India's Map Law; Pakistan Commission on Corruption from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Trump Phenomenon

London Mayor Sadiq Khan Hails Triumph of "Hope Over Fear"

Non-Muslim Leaders in Muslim Majority Countries

Islamophobia in America

Hindu Nationalists' Akhand Bharat

Panama Leaks 

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel


CanadianBoy said...

After Pakistan , which pulled out of India-mooted South Asian Satellite Project, Afghanistan too has shown no interest in the venture.

Sources said Bangladesh too is not very keen on the satellite project as it is set for launch of its own geostationary communications satellite Bang Bandhu-1.

Riaz Haq said...

'He’s our hero': #Hindu nationalists rally for Donald #Trump in #India

On a hot afternoon in Delhi, a group of men sat around a fire chanting Hindu mantras.

Idols of Shiva and Hanuman watched on as the group performed a havan puja, a ceremony of worship which they hoped would bring good fortune for the subject of their prayers.

Someone had printed out a picture of his face and thumbed vermillion on his forehead, in a sign of reverence.

Alongside the incense, offerings and Hindu gods, he looked somewhat out of place, but the photograph was instantly recognizable: it was Donald Trump.

Vishnu Gupta, leader of the Hindu Sena, the organisation that arranged the ceremony, said that the puja was one of many events the group was organising to gather support for Trump in India, and – he hoped – help the controversial Republican candidate win the presidency.

A rally would soon follow, and demonstrations outside the US embassy in Delhi urging Indian-origin Americans to vote for Trump will be on the menu for coming months, Gupta said. “He’s our hero,” he said. “We are praying for Trump because he is the only one who can help mankind.”

Gupta’s motives for supporting Trump were simple: “He’s the only many who can put an end to Islamic terrorism.”

Trump’s hardline stance on Muslim immigration to the US and his rhetoric against Isis and other terror organisations seem to have caught the imagination of the young Hindu fringe leader, who has grown up in a political climate where communal strife between Hindus and the Muslim minority has led to violent clashes on both sides.

Shourya Sharma, a 27-year old software developer who is a supporter of the incumbent Hindu nationalist BJP party in India, agreed. “Politicians in India don’t want to go hard on Muslims because they need the Muslim vote,” he says, claiming that India’s neighbouring Pakistan had fueled terrorist activity by Indian Muslims.

“The Obama administration emboldened Pakistan to trespass into Indian territory. The threat of Isis is also looming over India. We need support from an ally like the USA,” Sharma said.

Trump has made contradictory claims on his stance on India. His promise to revise US immigration policy and take outsourced “American” jobs back from India have raised anxiety in the country, especially among the middle classes, who often aspire to study or work in the US or have relatives in the country.

At a rally earlier this week, Trump mocked an Indian call centre worker and mimicked his accent. On the other hand, earlier this year, in an interview with CNN, he said: “By the way, India is doing great. Nobody talks about it. I have big jobs going up in India.”

Riaz Haq said...

#India map law issue heats up. #Pakistan asks #UN to stop it. #Kashmir #China via @WSJ

Pakistan has asked the United Nations to stop the passage of an Indian law that requires map-makers to show the disputed territory of Kashmir within India’s borders.

Islamabad’s contention: the region falls within Pakistan’s boundaries.

Kashmir has been at the center of a long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan. Both countries control part of the Himalayan region, but claim it in its entirely. The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars over it.

India drafted legislation earlier this year, seeking to penalize those who depict its borders “incorrectly.” India’s official maps include territory governed by Pakistan and China but claimed by India.

The bill, expected to be put before Parliament later this year, proposes a fine of up to 1 billion rupees ($14 million) and prison time of up to seven years for any violation.

“The official map of India has been depicting the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir as part of India which is factually incorrect and legally untenable,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday. The statement added the government had written letters to the United Nations “to urge India to stop such acts which are in violation of international law.”

If passed, technology companies like Alphabet’s Google and Apple will need the permission of India’s government before “acquiring, disseminating and publishing or distributing any geospatial information of India.”

News channels, and even foreign governments, have been reprimanded by both nations for the depiction of their boundaries.

Pakistan came down heavily on Tajikistan last week after a map showing India’s rendering of the border was displayed at an event attended by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

India took Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera English off the air for five days last year for showing maps with “parts of Indian territory inside Pakistan.” The U.S. State Department altered the maps of both countries on its website after New Delhi said the depiction was inaccurate in 2012.

India’s Foreign Ministry said the bill would move ahead despite Pakistan’s objections. “The proposed bill is an internal legislative matter for India,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said at a press briefing. “Pakistan or any other party has no right to interfere in it.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan’s first homemade #Digital Mapping Solution to be launched. #Telenor

Telenor Pakistan and TPL Trakker have joined hands to introduce Pakistan’s first homemade digital mapping solution.

According to local media reports, a Memorendum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the two tech firms, under which TPL Maps has been launched. “TPL Maps has been created using state of the art technology that will not only provide real time intelligent routing but also give users access to live traffic updates, turn-by-turn navigation and smart search options,” said the app description on Telenor Apps.

The app features smart search option that has over 1.35 million Points of Interests (POIs) which allows users to reach their desired destination by choosing the POIs from across Pakistan. The homemade TPL Maps covers over 500 cities and 800,000 distinct housing addresses, which are spread over a road network of 280,000 km.

Whereas, the Pakistani made TPL Maps also includes 2D models of over 55,000 POIs which helps users identify and reach their desired location in the shortest time period possible.

“We have developed Pakistan’s first comprehensive digital mapping solution via Pakistani talent and resources because we believe a localize, in depth mapping solution for Pakistan will define the future of digital payments, ecommerce, 3G/ 4G and social networking activities. TPL Maps, equipped with smart features, will offer services that will change the future of consumer behavior, navigation, distribution process management, advertising and many other areas alongside navigation and maps related services,” said Ali Jameel, CEO TPLTrakker.

The maps app allows any smart phone carrier to choose the best route on the back of latest navigation technology and thorough traffic information, which provides accurate, real-time traffic information from over 200,000 GPS equipped vehicles.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's man Doval's meddling: #India losing the neighbourhood - The Hindu. #Nepal #SriLanka #Maldives #Pakistan #BJP

Save for Bhutan and perhaps Bangladesh, much of South Asia has major grievances against New Delhi today. Clearly, then, there is something fundamentally wrong with the BJP-led government’s neighbourhood diplomacy. If so, what is it that New Delhi has done to deserve the ire of its neighbours? While New Delhi’s not-so-friendly relationship with Islamabad is unsurprising, what has provoked the other countries, some of which figured very high on Mr. Modi’s bilateral priorities, to suddenly come out openly against India?

Nosey in Nepal

One of the major reasons for India’s growing unpopularity in the regional capitals is its increasing tendency to interfere in the domestic affairs of its smaller neighbours, either citing security implications or to offset the target country’s unfriendly strategic choices. Take the case of Nepal, for instance. New Delhi was deeply upset with the Constitution passed by the Nepalese Constituent Assembly in September last year. Its unhappiness resulted from the legitimate feeling among the people of Terai, especially the Madhesis and Tharus, living close to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, that they have been short-changed by the country’s new Constitution. But a substantive political argument was thwarted by poor diplomatic style.

Meddling in Sri Lanka

If New Delhi’s Mission Kathmandu was both a failure and distasteful, its ‘subtle interference’ in Sri Lanka in the run-up to the island nation’s elections last year has set a dangerous precedent. New Delhi had proactively promoted the coalition led by Maithripala Sirisena to defeat the then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa whose anti-Tamil record and pro-China tilt was resented by New Delhi. Several reports at the time claimed that Colombo had asked New Delhi to withdraw the Research and Analysis Wing’s station chief in Sri Lanka for allegedly working to ensure the victory of the anti-Rajapaksa coalition.

While involving ourselves in regime changes in the neighbourhood is a terrible idea in the longer run, we must ask whether the regime change in Colombo has actually prompted it to declare itself pro-India. Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, while visiting India last year, removed any such misgivings by saying, “Sri Lanka is neither pro-India nor pro-China.” The new government in Colombo has been vigorously courting Beijing for economic and infrastructural assistance, something it knows fully well that New Delhi can only provide in small measure.

Riling the Maldives regime

Maldives, yet another traditional ally of ours, has also been resenting the Indian reactions to its domestic political developments. New Delhi, being highly critical of how the pro-India former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed was jailed by the current regime under terrorism charges, publicly stated that “we are concerned at recent developments in the Maldives, including the arrest and manhandling of former President Nasheed”. The Maldivian government responded by saying it hoped that India would “adhere to the principle of Panchsheel and will not intervene in domestic politics of Maldives”.

During External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Maldives in October last year, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen’s office issued a sharply worded statement that his “government will not tolerate foreign parties interfering with the country’s domestic issues”.

Riaz Haq said...

Journalist Kevin Hall talking with NPR Fresh Air host Dave Davies about his research on Panama Leaks:

Well, there are several forms of front companies. In the most basic sense, it's a company that is created to hide assets or to give the appearance of having a functional business. They're also - you can have a foundation, which is a version of that that's a little more secretive. The key to a lot of these companies is the ability to hide true ownership, that you have directors, who aren't the real owners of the company, named. I think that's really the big thing that distinguishes them.


Well, some of the legitimate reasons would run the gamut from real estate transfers - if you're purchasing property, say, in Panama - because it was easier to transfer that property to another. And then there are transfer taxes that you don't have to pay. So there's a financial gain in doing it this way, but it's also ease in property transfer. That would be one aspect. Another might be estate planning. Maybe you don't like the estate tax in the United States. And you keep certain assets overseas, and you try to find ways to pass on inheritance without going through the U.S. tax system. That would be another.


There is a gray area. And as we found in the documents, people go right up to the end as close as they can. And of course, U.S. tax law has been modified so much since the Reagan era that all of these loopholes have been written into it specifically to kind of get around some of these laws.


Well, I think the key thing is the money is still the important part. The law firm isn't necessarily involved in any way with the money. And that's what's been so frustrating because you're looking at what are called company formation documents. This company sets up a shell company in the Seychelles or British Anguilla, places like that. You don't actually, in most cases, see the money. You don't know where that money is. You presume the money is in Liechtenstein or Luxembourg or Switzerland. And with the U.S. crackdown on UBS and HSBC and the Swiss banks, it's driven I think more people into this offshore world if they're looking to camouflage that money they have back in Switzerland.


What's so interesting about this company Mossack Fonseca is the kind of menu of options they provide. They can just simply create a company for you. They can create what's called a private enterprise foundation. They can help you get a Panamanian visa if you either purchase property or invest in Panama. It gets as complex as going into derivatives trading. We've found some evidence that they actually help customers, place them into derivatives trading in real complex securities.

They have an asset management arm. They have a mail forwarding service. They also provide - if you want to have the appearance of being a legitimate brick-and-mortar company, they'll provide you a website, a phone number, an office suite, everything to make it look like you're a legitimate brick-and-mortar company.

Right, those are called shelf companies, as opposed to shell companies. And a shelf company is ready to roll. They're offered in the United States too. And sometimes, a legitimate use of one of these might be you're purchasing - one American company is buying another American company. And they need to do it quick. And they're going to incorporate in Nevada or Wyoming or, you know, pick your state. That would be a legitimate use. It's already ready to go. You don't have to wait seven days. You complete the transaction, and you're ready to roll.

Riaz Haq said...

#Republican Sen. Bob Bennett from #Utah Apologized to Muslims for #Trump While on Deathbed. #MuslimBan via @nbcnews

In the final days of his life, former Utah Republican Senator Bob Bennett turned to his son and asked him, "Are there any Muslims in this hospital?"

The question caught his son, Jim Bennett, off-guard. It felt like a non-sequitur, and he thought it may have had something to do with his father's recent stroke.

But Jim said his father, even after the stroke, was "sharp as a tack."

"So I was standing there with him in the hospital and out of nowhere he asked me, 'Are there any Muslims in this hospital?'" Jim Bennett told NBC News Wednesday evening.

"I said, 'Yes, dad, I'm sure there are.'" Jim said of the conversation, which was first reported by the Daily Beast. "And he was very emotional and said, 'I want to go up to every single one of them and apologize, I want to go up to every single one of them and tell them how grateful I am that they are in this country and apologize on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump.'"

Jim Bennett said that when he later spoke to his mother, Joyce Bennett, about the conversation, she told him that expressing a sense of inclusion for ostracized populations, especially Muslims, had become "something that he was doing quite a lot of in the last months of his life."

Joyce told her son that his father had approached people wearing hijabs in an airport to "let them know that he was grateful they were in the country and the country was better for them being here."

Bennett, a three-term Republican Senator who lost in Utah's 2010 Republican primary to two tea-party opponents, had become increasingly concerned with Trump's rhetoric in recent months, even after he had initially written off the billionaire businessman when he first jumped into the race.

"I think he got increasingly troubled as he saw the Republican Party becoming the party of Trump," Jim told NBC News. "I think Trump's rise was really the motivation for him to recognize the importance of expressing his desire for inclusion. He just felt it was his responsibly to push back."

Jim said that his father became interested in Islam after 9/11, citing a desire to be informed about the religion while making policy decisions in the wake of terrorist attacks.

"He spent a lot of time studying Islam and wanting to be informed enough to that he wouldn't be making decisions on the floor of the Senate ignorantly," Jim said.

Bennett also took issue with Trump's comments related to immigration, considering the former Senator's support for comprehensive immigration reform was a contributing factor in his 2010 defeat.

"He felt like immigration required a comprehensive solution," Jim said of his father, "And that didn't go over well with Utah delegates who just thought that building a big wall, in a Donald Trump fashion, was the only way to go."

Jim Bennett told the story about his father's comments about Muslims at both memorial services for his father, telling NBC News he "was so grateful to be able to see that demonstration of integrity when there were so many other things that could have been front of mind for him during that time."

"I was just very proud of him," Jim said. "It just demonstrated the integrity of my father wasn't just a public front, that even in personal moments of his last days, this was something that was of deep concern to him, and that he was thinking of other people before he was thinking of himself."

Riaz Haq said...

#Clinton is trying to woo #Muslim voters. They could make all the difference. #Trump

Two years ago, Muslims made up just under 1 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study. But the population is growing; Emerge USA, which collects data on Muslim voters and has a political action committee to support candidates, puts the number at closer to 2 percent of the population.

Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia “alone add up to almost 1 million Muslim voters,” said Khurrum Wahid, a Miami-based lawyer and the organization’s founder. “With a decent voter turnout in those states, Muslims will be the swing vote in both the presidential and many close House races.”

Most Muslim Americans now lean Democratic, according to the Pew study. In past decades, many were fiscally conservative, pro-family and eager to see their cities get tough on crime. Surveys conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American Muslim Alliance in the aftermath of Bush’s 2000 election found that between 72 percent and 80 percent of Muslims polled said that they had voted for him. But after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Bush’s rhetoric on religion and decision to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, the majority began voting Democratic.

At the same time, Muslims are generally less politically active than the larger American population; only 62 percent of those who were U.S. citizens were certain that they were registered to vote, compared with 74 percent of adult U.S. citizens overall, according to Pew.

To reach those voters, the Clinton campaign has appointed two state-level Muslim outreach coordinators to work with Mitha, and the campaign also has dispatched Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, and Huma Abedin, Clinton’s close adviser and deputy campaign manager, to key swing states across the country.

Ellison estimates that he has met with at least 10 Muslim groups since the July convention. One recent Monday morning, he showed up in a tiny Orlando doctor’s office where the campaign was holding its kickoff phone bank for Muslim volunteers and rattled off reasons Muslims should vote for Clinton.

Riaz Haq said...

India’s new school textbooks favor Hindu nationalist themes, making minorities uneasy

In a book titled “Tejomay Bharat,” or “Shining India,” Batra also says that America cannot take credit for research into stem cells, which he says were discovered in the Mahabharata, a Hindu epic poem — an assertion with no scientific backing.

Batra’s books are part of the curriculum in the western state of Gujarat, where Modi was chief minister, a position similar to a governor, for a decade before he became prime minister.

Religious conservatives have flooded India’s Human Resource Development Ministry with recommendations that many fear will blur the line between government and Hinduism. One proposal recommends eliminating English as a compulsory language in schools. Another recommends studying mathematics as discussed in the Vedas, the oldest Hindu scriptures.

“Why should we not teach Vedic math or science?” said Ajju Chouhan, the Uttar Pradesh state leader of the Bajrang Dal, one of the most militant Hindu groups. “There is proof in the scriptures about achievements of Indian scientists that the West refuses to accept. We have to create a nation where our students are proud to be Indian.”

There is increasing concern over the growing Hindu nationalism since Modi became leader.

In December, the Bajrang Dal stirred controversy when Ajju Chouhan and others carried out a mass conversion of 15 Muslim families in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. The families later said they had no idea they were being converted to Hinduism and attended the ceremony thinking it was part of a government anti-poverty program.

Other Hindu groups have recently drummed up fears of a “Love Jihad” — a disparaging term for marriages between Hindus and Muslims that nationalists argue could dilute Hinduism in India.