Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to appear this week before a panel investigating allegations against his family's offshore companies and money laundering.
In a letter obtained by RFE/RL and dated June 8, the Joint Investigation Team probing the allegations asks Sharif to appear before the panel on June 15 and "bring all relevant record/documents/material” related to the case.
"Yes, the government has received a letter by the Joint Investigation Team in which he has been directed to appear before this committee and he will appear in front of them," Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said late on June 11.
It would be the first time in Pakistan’s recent history that a sitting prime minister appears before such an investigating panel.
Sharif, who has denied allegations of wrongdoing, has been under investigation since 2016 by the Supreme Court.
The probe, linked to the release of the Panama Papers, focused on millions of dollars Sharif’s family holds in offshore assets and whether he lied to authorities about it.
The court ruled in April that there was insufficient evidence to remove Sharif from office, but ordered further investigation of the allegations.
The Joint Investigation Team has already questioned Sharif’s sons.
An anti-corruption investigation commission has ordered Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to appear before the commission for an inquiry related to the alleged graft charges against him and his family members, as was revealed in the Panama Papers leak. It may be recalled that in April, the Supreme Court in Pakistan had ordered a joint investigation team of anti-corruption officials, along with the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence, to investigate the claims and submit a report within 60 days.
The standoff between members of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government took a turn for the worse on Tuesday after the administration of the Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) baton-charged the protesting young doctors.
The move, however, drew a mixed response from doctors while politicians used the opportunity to criticise the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led (PTI) provincial government.
“Yes, the doctors were trying to instigate the government so that the government would take action against them and the issue would be highlighted on the front pages of newspapers,” a senior doctor dealing with the issue said, adding that that now the HMC had made it easy for the doctors but tough for the government to deal with the issue since doctors, who were not part of the agitation, have now announced to stand by YDA. The YDA members have been protesting against the government for nearly a month, demanding compensation for their deceased friends, restoration of the Post Graduate Medical Institution, endowment funds for trainee medical officers and house officers, implementation of security act for doctors, time scale promotion and accommodation for doctors.
They had even set up a hunger-strike camp, but the government had not budged on their demands. Unions of doctors including the Provincial Doctors Association (PDA) Malgari [Friends] Doctors, Insaf Doctors Forum (IDF) [the medical wing of PTI] and others stayed away from the protests, isolating the YDA. But on Tuesday the police and YDA staff clashed at HMC.
“I don’t think they [other doctors] will stay away [from the protest] anymore, at least they will protest the baton-charge,” a senior doctor at HMC said.
“Yes, we will not remain silent, but it does not mean we will shut down things and create problems for the patients,” PDA Chairman Dr Shah Sawar told The Express Tribune, adding that although the HMC made a grave error, the PDA would mediate between the HMC and the YDA.
YDA Patron-in-chief Dr Alamgir Yousafzai stated that they had decided in a meeting to continue their strike at HMC, adding that YDA’s Punjab chapter had also expressed solidarity with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) chapter.
By Zhao Gancheng
Two Chinese citizens were kidnapped in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan Province and allegedly killed by the Islamic State (IS) last week.
"The Chinese side is working to learn about and verify relevant information through various channels," according to China's Foreign Ministry.
China does not tend to get involved in other countries' domestic affairs and is not linked with the quagmire in the Middle East, and thus its citizens have normally not been targeted by terrorist groups. However, the number of Chinese kidnapped overseas seems to be increasing in recent years.
Terrorists kidnap citizens for various reasons. Beijing has no intent in meddling in other countries' politics, and thus politics is unlikely to be a motive. However, China, with its growing international influence, is now playing an increasingly active role in the world arena, and as a result, some extremists may target Chinese citizens for ransom or for sensational media impact.
Religion is another motive for abduction. The two Chinese citizens kidnapped were reported to be doing missionary work in Pakistan, and this may offend local religious groups, especially radical ones.
As an increasing number of Chinese enterprises are going global, the likelihood that China falls victim to international terrorist forces is correspondingly rising. With the advancement of Beijing's Belt and Road initiative, a large number of Chinese engineers, workers and citizens are expected to participate in building infrastructure and other economic projects in countries along the route, and thus may be exposed to higher security risks. This doesn't mean that terrorist groups are now targeting China - it's a result of scale. The percentage of Chinese citizens being attacked overseas is not as high as that of foreigners.
It is worth noting that with the rampant activity of IS, religious extremists are seeing expanding clout worldwide and are penetrating into regions with tough security situations, such as South Asia.
Pakistan, in particular, is one of the worst-hit countries by terrorism, and may see a higher number of security incidents. As an intimate friend of China, Pakistan is a pilot country in the Belt and Road initiative, and a destination of a large amount of economic, trade, infrastructure and other projects that China has invested in. Beijing's huge investments in Islamabad are coveted and thus may easily fall victim to terrorist groups.
In addition, Pakistan is known for its poor security record, and has long been a hotbed of international terrorism. This may pose a severe threat to China's projects in the region.
It is a tough task for Beijing to strike a balance between security and the need to go global. With the advancement of the Belt and Road initiative and enhanced regional connectivity, China is expected to put more efforts into relevant security issues. Things will be better if the Chinese government can forge close links and have effective communications with its local partners.
People-to-people interactions are of vital importance. Apart from economic and infrastructure investments, improving effective communications among the two peoples is another significant task for China.
How to react to terrorism groups when asked for ransom is an issue worth attention as well. The US once claimed that it would never pay ransom to kidnappers as this may encourage more kidnappings. Whether Washington's way of handling the issue could be adopted as a universal practice is still hard to say. After all, each country has its respective national condition. Wisdom and time are needed for the Chinese government to find a solution to balance the need to go global and the need to lower the security risks for its citizens.