Nawaz Sharif vindicated as Supreme Court refuses to reopen Hudaibiya Paper Mills case

Former prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif . (AFP)
Updated 15 December 2017

Nawaz Sharif vindicated as Supreme Court refuses to reopen Hudaibiya Paper Mills case

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday unanimously rejected the appeal to reopen the 17-year old corruption case against ousted Premier Nawaz Sharif and his family members.
In an appeal, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB ) sought to re-open the case commonly known as the Hudaibiya Paper Mills.
The country’s anti-graft body, NAB, alleges that the Sharif family used the company in the 1990s to launder about $10 million out of Pakistan; Sharif and his family members deny the allegation.
The court order has brought some relief for Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif who was also accused in the case. The Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif from office in July this year due to concealment of financial assets and that forced him to step down.
Pakistan has been in political turmoil since Nawaz Sharif’s judicial ouster, which was largely flayed by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party members who called the ouster a conspiracy against a democratically elected government.
National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq is the latest member of the political corps and senior government officials to speak of an alleged conspiracy to derail democracy in Pakistan. He expressed his fear that the current assemblies may not be able to complete their full terms.
In an interview this week, Sadiq said he has “enough information to believe that a conspiracy was being hatched” to “disrupt the (democratic) system.” This was quoted on a local television channel and he added that the recent sit-in protests by far-right activists in different cities were also part of this “greater plan.”
According to the media, Sadiq also hinted at the involvement of external forces in political maneuvering to destabilize the government and stressed that the US would eventually question political stability in Pakistan if such “experiments went unabated.” His statements have caused great concern, not only among politicians but among the general public as well.
The government is already facing difficulty in getting the constitutional amendment passed by the Upper House, Senate, which is required for delimitation of constituencies after the recent population census — a prerequisite for holding next year’s elections on schedule. Any delay in elections would essentially mean an interim setup taking over until constitutional requisites were fulfilled.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, however, said he was optimistic that the assemblies would complete their term.
After a meeting with Nawaz Sharif in London on Thursday, Abbasi confidently said: “Our government will have smooth sailing and an interim government will be formed in June.”
As the opposition party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) demands snap elections alleging governmental incompetence and corruption, religious groups oppose the government over an amendment which the government calls a clerical error. While opposition parties are forging different alliances to add to the mounting pressure on the government, Pakistan appears unsure of its political course.

 


World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

Updated 34 min 12 sec ago

World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

  • Economist and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee will attend the event

JAIPUR: The 13th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) started on Thursday.

 Known as the “greatest literary show on earth,” the five-day event brings to one venue more than 500 speakers of 15 Indian and 35 foreign languages, and over 30 nationalities.

 Among the festival’s participants are Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

 The event has been expanding, with over 400,000 people attending it last year and even more expected to show up this time.  The growing crowd has made the medieval Diggi Palace, which hosts it, look small, and organizers are planning to shift the event to a bigger venue next year.

 Scottish historian and writer William Dalrymple, one of the organizers, said: “The first time we came to the Diggi Palace in 2007, 16 people turned up for the session of which 10 were Japanese tourists who walked out after 10 minutes, as they had come to the wrong place. Things have improved a little since then. We are now formally the largest literature festival in the world.”

 Dalrymple, who has extensively written on medieval India and South Asia, has played a pivotal role in promoting the festival.

 The other two organizers are its director, Sanjoy K. Roy, and writer Namita Gokhale, who along with Dalrymple made the JLF become one of the most sought-after events in India.

 “Why has the literary festival taken off in this country in this extraordinary way? It goes back to the tradition of spoken literature, the celebration of literature orally through the spoken word has deep roots in this country,” Dalrymple said.

 “So the idea that a literary festival is a foreign import is something that can’t be maintained. We’ve tapped into something very deep here. Literature is alive and is loved in India,” he said.

 Inaugurating the festival’s 13th edition, celebrated British mathematician Marcus du Sautoy said: “Every number has its own particular character in the story of mathematics. For me it is 13; 13 is a prime number, an indivisible number, and the JLF is certainly a festival in its prime.”

 The festival this year is taking place amid a raging debate about India’s new citizenship legislation and mass agitation on the issue of preserving the secular fabric of the nation.

 Reflecting on the prevailing mood in the country, Roy, in his opening remarks, said: “We are now faced with a situation where we see a spread of the narrative of hatred. Literature is the one thing that can push back against it and so can be the arts. All of us have a responsibility to do so and this is not the time to be silent anymore.”

 Gokhale said: “Ever since its inception 13 years ago, we at the Jaipur Literary Festival have tried to give a voice to our plural and multilingual culture. We live in a nation which is defined by its diversity, and it is our effort to present a range of perspectives, opinions, and points of view, which together build up a cross-section of current thinking.”

 She added: “We seek mutual respect and understanding in our panels — it is important to us that these often conflicting ideas are respectfully presented and heard. We also resist predictable and self-important all-male panels, and try to ensure that the vital voices of women resonate through all aspects of our programming.”

 One of the attractions of the event this year is the presence of Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, who won the prize in economics last year.

 There are also panel discussions on Kashmir, the Indian constitution and history.

 The prevailing political situation in South Asia is also reflected by the absence of Pakistani. Before, popular Pakistani authors would attend the JLF, but delays in visa issuance and a hostile domestic environment forced the organizers to “desist from extending invitations.”