Volume 23 Issue 7, July 2019
By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Of course, answers will differ from person to person. Early into the Indian election, PM Imran Khan wanted Narendra Modi to win; his hard-line government alone could solve Kashmir, said Khan. But better informed and more astute observers held otherwise. They worried about the 180 million Indian Muslims, an increase in aggressive anti-Pakistan actions, and a still harsher crackdown in Kashmir. Pakistani liberals mourned the election outcome the loudest. But, what might seem bizarre to an outside observer, the mainstream media – particularly the virulent anti-India Urdu press – was mostly quiet.

Dr. Moonis Ahmar

The vision of greater India was articulated by India’s first and longest serving Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-1964). It was under Nehru’s leadership that India was able to pursue a policy of self-reliance and established its industrial base. Like Chairman Mao’s Communist China, Nehru’s India invested on human resource in order to rid the country of foreign dependence.

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Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Javed Ansari

S. G. Jilanee

Faizan Usmani
Syeda Areeba Rasheed

Noor Javed Sadiq

Amna Sarwar Sandhu
Atif Shamim Syed
Ayaz Ahmed
Azhar Ali
Dr. Moonis Ahmar
Dr. Raza Khan
Hadiqa Iqbal
Komal Niazi
Muhammad Ali Khan
Muhammad Atif Ilyas
Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
Nadya Chishty-Mujahid
Noor Javed Sadiq
Pervez Hoodbhoy
Rafi Khan
S. Mubashir Noor
S.G. Jilanee
S.M. Hali
S.R.H. Hashmi
Sabria Chowdhury Balland
Sehrish Fatima
Syed Kamran Hashm
Taha Kehar
Taj M Khattak
Wajahat Ali Malik
Yaseen Anwar

Haroon Rasheed
Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Riaz Masih

Business Unit Head
Syed Ovais Akhtar

Aqam-ud-Din Khan

Shehryar Zulfiqar

SouthAsia is published every month by Syed Jawaid Iqbal for and on behalf of JAWZ Communications (Pvt.) Ltd.

Views expressed by the contributors are not necessarily shared by the editors.

Published since 1977 as Thirdworld, the magazine was re-launched in 1997 as SouthAsia.



A U.S. federal government commission, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was formed under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. The U.S. President appoints the USCIRF Commissioners, who review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom globally and make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress accordingly.

While the accountability process received more emphasis after the PTI government came into power, it had been felt for some time that a cleaning of the Augean stables was due. There were many ills that plagued governance and administration. They were hindering Pakistan’s progress and needed to be set right. There were even suggestions that the Chinese or the Saudi model be implemented. However, Pakistan is a sovereign nation with its own accountability laws and it also has the mechanisms in place to conduct inquiries against persons alleged to have gone beyond their means to accumulate wealth or use their official positions for personal advantage. The best example is the massive money laundering by Asif Zardari, the Sharif family and others.

After much endeavour by the investigating agencies and the accountability courts, the two major political houses, namely those of the Sharifs and the Zardaris, have finally been exposed and their top leaders indicted. They are now facing court trials for their serious offences. There are many other politicians who face the same fate and would be prosecuted when the time comes. Pakistan’s judicial system at all levels has its own limitations and can only try a limited number of cases at a time. The accountability process has, however, started and will reach its logical end. In addition to the top political leaders and their family members, there are many other elements that need to be investigated and punished because, over the years, they have all used their power and authority to get personal gains at the cost of a people who are generally not aware of their rights and continue to survive in abject poverty.

Pakistan’s bureaucracy also needs to be put on the mat. They are the ones who have been colluding with the politicians and have shown them the path to corruption. Had the bureaucracy not been corrupt itself, the politicians would have found it very difficult to steal from the nation. The cases of bureaucrats like Fawad Hasan Fawad and Ahad Cheema have acquired a high profile nature but there must be so many others who need to be investigated. For the time being, the process is slow and needs to be speeded up.

It is commendable that the military for its part is leading the way and is applying its own laws to investigate and punish officers falling out of line. The best thing is that they have initiated the process from the very top and have handed out exemplary punishments to top generals found guilty. They say this is a continuing process and will apply to all personnel accused of any misdemeanour. There is also reported corruption in Pakistan’s judiciary, especially at the lower levels. It is encouraging to note that the judiciary has also launched an accountability process and allegations of corruption are being investigated from the highest level. The matter of Justice Qazi Faez Isa that is in front of the Supreme Judicial Council is a case in point. Perhaps, a similar system of investigation and prosecution should also be introduced in Pakistan’s financial and corporate sector. There have been many wrongdoings in this area and people at large have suffered because of the selfishness of those few who have suppressed financial and corporate information in their own interest.

Pakistani media has played a useful role in the fight against corruption but lacunas exist in the media as well. There is no mechanism to hold it accountable and resist pressure from owners of media groups – or even governments, local and foreign. Many journalists succumb to threats coming from political factions or sometimes they willingly tilt towards yellow journalism in print or host planted shows on TV. It is said that with freedom comes responsibility but it is unfortunate that while Pakistani media have used its freedom to the fullest, its lack of responsibility is hurting the nation. There is no code of ethics that the media works by and there are no limits that the media places on itself in national interest. The situation is made even worse by the social media that works in a ‘no holds barred’ environment. Since intervention by the government would amount to mugging the media, a system of checks and balances needs to be put in place by the media itself.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal
Editor in Chief


Faith in Imran Khan

This is related to the last month’s cover story on Imran Khan’s recent tenure, his commitments and people’s expectations from their Prime Minister. Tabdeeli and Naya Pakistan were the most sought-after words during the 2018 elections and when Imran Khan came to power, people expected this Tabdeeli to be implemented but it was not. Also, after the government approached the IMF for funding, many pointed out Imran Khan’s previous statements when he said that he would not take loans, if he comes to power. People should realise that he would not have approached the IMF if it were not for the worsening economic conditions. Reading S.R.H. Hashmi’s article was a relief knowing that someone still has complete faith that Imran Khan will bring glory to the nation.

Sumaira Mohsin,
Islamabad, Pakistan.

Bad Omen

The contrived jingoistic circumstances and communal narrative spawning the return of Hindutva has driven Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power yet again. This is, indeed, a bad omen for South Asia. It is a grim reminder of pre-partition conditions — an emphatic endorsement once again of Jinnah’s vision and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s ‘Two-nation Theory’ which won us Pakistan.

Zia Hashmi,
Karachi, Pakistan.

Kashmir Question

Since the partition between India and Pakistan, Kashmir has been a topic of grave concern. It was even the cause of three wars in 1948, 1965 and 1999 but the problem still remains unresolved. Though the area is famous for its extraordinary natural beauty and resources, it is still tangled and entrapped between India and Pakistan. The Kashmiris are suffering with loss of property, money and lives. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and in the case of another war between them, the entire region, including Kashmir, would be destroyed. There is some hope of bilateral talks between the two countries though Modi is still not clear.

Cami Mendez,
Ontario, Canada.


Alamgir Back

It was really good to see our very own Alamgir, the first pop singer of Pakistan, performing once again in Karachi. As soon as I got the news that he was visiting from Atlanta to perform for his fans, I rushed to the Alliance Francaise in Karachi. The experience was entertaining and the whole environment was mesmerising with people humming his songs as he sang for straight two hours without a break. The program was named ‘Unforgettable Melodies by Alamgir’ and it was a roaring success. If you too are one of his fans then don’t be sad that you didn’t get the opportunity to meet him as he will be back in October to record a series of music programs for PTV.

Daud Aftab,
Karachi, Pakistan.



Staying Positive!

Only a few magazines have the capability to stay up to date and SouthAsia magazine is one of them. After seeing Pakistan’s national budget 2019-2020 in its ‘Special Feature’ section, I was certain about my opinions as it is the most talked about subject in Pakistan these days. The country is indeed facing the most daunting economic challenges with the rise of dollar rates and things are expected to deteriorate further. What is needed is an efficient financial system that gives sustainable solutions for a peaceful future. In my opinion, people should not lose hope. As stated by Farhat Ali, ‘The show for Imran Khan is not yet over and he will bounce back.

Kevin Keller,
London, England.

Water Sovereignty

This is with reference to the article by Nisar Memon on ‘Water Politics’. I second his opinions that Pakistan indeed is facing a water crisis for a very long time. The 1960 Indus Water Treaty between Pakistan and India also proved to be just ‘a piece of paper’ for the Indians as the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi has been threatening to stop the flow of Indus waters to Pakistan. Further, the water that comes from the glaciers has been polluted with faeces, plastic and waste material, depleting its quality and damaging the marine life. Pakistan has a large population and it is increasing every day which has further reduced the quantity of available water per capita. If this persists, water will be a natural victim affecting the people and the country at large.

Tahira Fatima,
Melbourne, Australia

Going Green

The government of the Philippines has made it mandatory for graduates to grow at least 10 plants before collecting their degrees. This is a great move and will surely help the cause of the environment. I would like to request the authorities to make a similar policy for Pakistan to make this country greener and healthier. The policy would lead to many positive results besides making Pakistan beautiful. It could also help us protect ourselves from heat strokes and solar radiation as well as prevent several diseases.

Hafiz Zahoor,
Larkana, Pakistan

Regional Tensions

The current tensions between the USA and Iran are increasing. The US aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln is already in the Persian Gulf. However, Iran is following a “restraint” policy. Any escalation in the region would not be a positive sign for the neighbouring countries. The statements by the US security adviser John Bolton are dangerous for the whole world. Moreover, terrorist attacks in Balochistan region have also increased, apparently to disrupt the progress of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. These tensions will affect the whole region. It is time for Pakistan to present a united front and protect itself from the evil designs of the USA and its cronies, like India and Israel.

Abdul Khalique,
Karachi, Pakistan.

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