Sharif returns to Pakistan, scotching opposition speculation

Nawaz Sharif
Updated 26 September 2017
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Sharif returns to Pakistan, scotching opposition speculation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned to Islamabad from London on Monday, laying to rest speculation that he had fled the country to evade an ongoing corruption trial against him and his family.
Sharif had been abroad with his children tending to his wife, who is recovering from throat cancer treatment.
Sen. Dr. Asif Kirmani, special assistant to Sharif on political affairs, told reporters that Sharif will appear before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday regarding the graft cases, which accuse him of mass corruption, tax evasion and concealment of assets.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) nominated Sharif’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz as candidate for NA-120 Lahore District by-election, after the seat was left vacant by Sharif’s judicial ouster.
The party won the much-anticipated by-election after a rigorous campaign by Sharif’s daughter in her mother’s absence.
Pakistan’s accountability court is set to conduct a hearing into three cases against Sharif, and one against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, as filed by the NAB.
Dar returned from London on Sunday, accompanying Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to face the courts. But in a twist on Friday, Pakistan’s Senate passed an election bill for 2017 dropping a clause that barred Sharif from leading his PML-N party.
“Knowing what he faces is NOT accountability, the man decides to return. It is not about this person anymore. It is the battle of 200 million,” tweeted Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz.
“It takes great courage and valor to be willing to pay the price for challenging what needs to be changed. Not everyone can do that.”
The Sharifs fear they may not get a fair trial, and have spoken of a conspiracy against them. But political analyst Zahid Hussain said the family had ample time to satisfy the Supreme Court before its final verdict.
The cases against the Sharifs stem from the Panama Papers leak in 2016 from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which suggest the family owns millions of dollars’ worth of property and companies worldwide via offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.
“I won’t say it’s a conspiracy, because that means the Supreme Court was party to some kind of conspiracy with either the security agencies or somebody else. That’s just not correct,” Hussain told Arab News.


Indian cancellation of defense equipment orders hurts investor sentiment: Experts

A tender was withdrawn for short-range surface-to-air missiles, with Israel’s SPYDER system having been the front-runner. Supplied
Updated 32 min 42 sec ago
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Indian cancellation of defense equipment orders hurts investor sentiment: Experts

  • New Delhi scrapped a $500 million deal for Israel’s Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile. Israel had agreed to transfer the technology to India, and had set up a factory in a venture with an Indian company
  • Modi wants the country to decrease its reliance on foreign firms, reduce its import bill and manufacture equipment in-house

NEW DELHI: The Indian government’s penchant for canceling or withdrawing tenders for defense equipment at the last minute is likely to hurt investor confidence in the country, experts said on Sunday.
New Delhi called off a $9 billion deal to co-develop with Russia a next-generation fighter aircraft, after the state-owned Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said it would do the job in-house, Indian media reported this week.
Under the deal, a significant amount of the research would have been carried out in India. Russia had agreed to tailor the aircraft to Indian needs, and was to hand over all the technology, the Economic Times reported.
India is the world’s largest importer of defense equipment, and imports at least 90 percent of its equipment, including parts for assembly.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants the country to decrease its reliance on foreign firms, reduce its import bill and manufacture equipment in-house.
But India lacks much of the high-end technology needed for such equipment, which is why deals where foreign partners agree to share technology are useful for its long-term plans, experts say.
When such deals are canceled, “it greatly reduces confidence in India,” said Saurabh Joshi, editor of StratPost Media Pvt Ltd., a defense news website.
“We can’t willy-nilly… accept arguments that a particular equipment can be developed and produced indigenously before such tenders are withdrawn,” he added.
“There should be an adequate test to develop and produce indigenously. Otherwise, we’re simply postponing an acquisition process by 10 to 15 years, and it’s the armed forces that have to go without critical equipment until then.”
Experts say one reason for the government canceling orders could be a lack of funds. The Russian deal is not the only one to be jettisoned recently.
New Delhi scrapped a $500 million deal for Israel’s Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile. Israel had agreed to transfer the technology to India, and had set up a factory in a venture with an Indian company. The reason given for the cancellation was the same: To develop the missiles indigenously.
A tender was also withdrawn for short-range surface-to-air missiles, with Israel’s SPYDER system having been the front-runner, experts said.
On average, it takes a tender at least six years to go through the various steps before the final purchase order can be placed.
Any company that loses a bid has to account for that time and investment to its head office and its board, Joshi said.