Monthly Archives: November 2014

Gauri Khandekar: Modi’s Foreign Policy Mantra: Geoeconomics, Regional Hegemony, Global Aspirations

As an emerging power with global aspirations, India must first befit a regional power

Within just six months in power, Narendra Modi has managed to induce a dramatic overhaul of India’s hitherto muffled and ill-defined foreign policy, and has dramatically increased his country’s global profile. Successful summits with the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Japan, China, Nepal and Bhutan were topped off with a high-profile visit to the United States (US) from 27-30 September. Modi’s US visit was his most interesting foreign trip: barred from entry to the US for nine years because of accusations over his role in the Gujarat massacre of 2002, the red carpet to the White House was rolled out. Modi received a ‘rockstar’ reception in the US, especially from Americans of Indian origin, for example addressing 18,000 people at Madison Square Gardens in New York.

Unlike his predecessors, Modi has underscored foreign policy as a priority from the beginning alongside a strong mandate to put India’s economy in order. Modi aspires to re-invigorate India’s emerging power status, which suffered in recent years due to poor economic growth. He has not only injected focus and ambition into India’s foreign policy, but also linked it directly to his plan to transform India’s economy. Launched in September 2014, ‘Make in India’ has become Narendra Modi’s signature programme Continue reading

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Filed under AGORA, China, Energy, Europe, FRIDE, NATO, Pakistan, Politics, United States

The 2014 General Election in India and its Impact on the Region

Professor Lawrence Sáez spoke at the PIIA on 25 November 2014. His talk was reported in Dawn: see BJP appeasing non-Hindutva voters to broaden support base. The talk is summarised below.

The 2014 general election in India is historically important because it provided the winning Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with a convincing parliamentary majority in India’s lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha. The mandate given to prime minister Narendra Modi will enable his administration to govern unencumbered by fickle coalition coalition partners. The BJP victory raises some concerns about possible policy hardening by Mr Modi, a controversial and polirising figure in Indian politics. Narendra Modi’s dictatorial style of governance and his inaction at controlling riots against Muslims in Gujarat have tarnished his state’s economic success as chief minister of Gujarat.

An analysis of the 2014 general election shows that Narendra Modi’s appeal may extend beyond a core nucleus of extreme Hindu nationalists and cosmopolitan business groups. Since last leading a government ten years ago, the BJP has learnt how to broaden its appeal. Continue reading

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Dr Reeza Hameed: Supreme Court’s Opinion on the President’s Reference

At last, the Supreme Court’s opinion on the President’s reference has seen the light of day, albeit unofficially, and it makes miserable reading. The feature that stands out in the opinion is not only the unctuous tone which the Court has adopted in responding to the President’s request for an opinion, but also the sanctimonious view it has taken of the importance of its own opinion given in an advisory capacity, and the un-judicial language with which it has chosen to castigate those who have taken a view contrary to its own. The engagement of the Court in this manner on a controversial issue at the request of a person who sought its opinion on his capacity to stand for re-election at a poll that he was about to announce is bound to affect its own dignity and standing in the eyes of the public both at home and abroad.

The defining characteristic of the Court’s jurisdiction under Art 129 (Consultative jurisdiction) is that the question that is referred to it by the President must be one of public importance. The recent reference related to the qualification of the incumbent President in his individual capacity and nobody else. Continue reading

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Filed under Courts, Discussion, Dr Reeza Hameed, India, Legislation, Sri Lanka

The 2014 Indian Elections and their Impact on the Region: A Talk by Professor Lawrence Sáez

Dr. Lawrence Sáez, Professor in the Political Economy of Asia, Department of Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, will address the members of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on “The 2014 Indian elections and their impact on the region” on Tuesday, 25 November 2014 at 4:00 p.m. sharp in the Library of the Institute.

 You are cordially invited to attend this session. Professor Sáez’s numerous publications can be viewed here and some of them include:

(2011) South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC): An emerging collaboration architecture. London: Routledge.

(2004) Banking Reform in India and China. Palgrave MacMillan.

(2002) Federalism Without a Centre: The Impact of Political and Economic Reform on India’s Federal System. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Professor Lawrence Sáez is Professor in the Political Economy of Asia in the Department of Politics at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS), University of London.  He is also co-director of the Centre on the Politics of Energy Security. He is also a visiting professor at SciencesPo, Paris.  His research is focused on comparative political economy, particularly as it pertains to the challenges of economic reform across different industry sectors in emerging markets. Continue reading

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Editor: Terrorism, Deprivation of Citizenship and Statelessness Case in United Kingdom Supreme Court

images-1-1This post relates to an ongoing national security case in the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court and involves jihad and terrorism and the executive’s powers of deprivation of citizenship.

This is yet another case related to terrorism. It readily demonstrates that people from diverse backgrounds are attracted to Islamic extremism and that the UK is fertile ground for breeding fanatics. The dilemma for the UK, of course, is that an increasing number of young men and women holding British citizenship are so utterly disillusioned with life that they are willing to embrace martyrdom in the name of “radical” Islam. Consequently, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced further powers to prevent jihadis from entering and exiting the UK (see more in “comment” below). Born in Mongai, Vietnam in 1983, the appellant, known only as “B2”, lived in Hong Kong with his parents prior to the family’s arrival in the UK in 1989. After claiming asylum they were granted indefinite leave to remain and later in 1995, when B2 was 12, they also acquired British citizenship. B2 and his parents never held Vietnamese passports and they never took any steps to renounce their Vietnamese nationality. In fact, the only document linking B2 to Vietnam is his birth certificate.

B2 is British educated. He attended a college of design and communications in Kent. He converted to Islam when he was 21 and it is contended that following his conversion he allegedly descended into Islamist extremism Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Courts, Criminal Justice, Criminal law, Discussion, Europe, Immigration, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, The Middle East, UK, United States

Faiz Ahmed Faiz: The Romantic Rebel

Faiz Ahmed Faiz is an icon of Urdu poetry and belongs to that galaxy of poets which counts among others Ghalib and Allama Muhammad Iqbal as its shining stars.

Faiz was born in Sialkot, also the birth place of Iqbal. Both belong to Punjab, ‘that green patch between mountain and desert’. Faiz wrote romantic poetry infused with a revolutionary zeal. Victor Kiernan, who translated the works of Iqbal and Faiz and introduced them to the English speaking world, said: ‘Iqbal was a prophet of a newly incandescent Islam, Faiz a freethinker feeling his way towards Marxism’.

Biographies of Faiz mention that he was born into an academic and literary family. In fact, Faiz was from a poor family. His father was a self-made scholar.

Faiz had his early schooling in a traditional madrassa. He became academically proficient both in Arabic and English, and secured post-graduate degrees in both disciplines. Interestingly he secured his honours degree in Arabic under the tutelage of Syed Mir Hassan who had also tutored Iqbal.

At some point in his life, Faiz got drawn into Marxism and became a committed communist and joined the Progressive Writers movement which boasted as its members the likes of Sajjad Zaheer. Continue reading


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Case Note: Tarakhel v Switzerland

TARAKHEL v. SWITZERLAND – 29217/12 – Grand Chamber Judgment [2014] ECHR 1185 (04 November 2014)

Abjectly neglected but strategically vital, war-torn Afghanistan’s festering wounds are unlikely to heal anytime soon. When my friend John and I recently met the Afghan Ambassador in the UK at his modest Ealing residence, sitting in the shadow of twin photographs of the Lion of Panjsher and President Karzai (as he then was) but nevertheless pragmatically arguing the case for peace with the Taliban, H.E. Dr Yaar and his staff were emphatic that Afghans are mistreated by the British and European authorities but that no one is bothered by it. Dr Fazal, a veteran battlefield doctor and a mild-mannered and pious leader of the Afghan community in the UK, who accompanied us to the meeting, concurred with H.E. Dr Yaar. Afghanistan’s stability is in everyone’s interest but that country’s future is looking exceedingly uncertain. The plight of Afghans seems just endless.

In this riveting case which paradigmatically demonstrates the difficult issues linked to asylum seeking in Europe, the Grand Chamber of the Strasbourg Court (ECtHR) held at para 122 that, in the absence of first obtaining “individual guarantees from the Italian authorities that the applicants would be taken charge of in a manner adapted to the age of the children and that the family would be kept together”, returning the Afghan applicants concerned from Switzerland to Italy “would be a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.” Continue reading

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Dr Reeza Hameed: President’s Reference to the Supreme Court

z_p21-March-02It would be impossible for the Court to arrive at a considered opinion within such a short period of time …

It is reported in the media that President Rajapaksa has referred to the Supreme Court for its opinion the question of his own competency to contest a further term, and that the Registrar of the Court, on the instructions of the Chief Justice, has written to the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) inviting submissions in writing but denying an opportunity to make oral arguments in Court. Furthermore, submissions are required to be submitted to Court no later than 3.00 pm on 7 November, which gives anyone less than 48 hours to do so. It appears that the Court is required to give its opinion to the President on 10 November 2014.

It is evident that President Rajapaksa has made this reference purportedly acting under Article 129 (1) of the Constitution, which provides for the Court to exercise it consultative jurisdiction. A president, acting under this provision, may refer ‘a question’ (not any question) Continue reading


Filed under Courts, Discussion, Dr Reeza Hameed, Pakistan Horizon, Politics

Landmark Judgment: Tamizuddin Khan versus Federation of Pakistan

The Governor-General’s power of dissolution was withdrawn because the Independence Act did not permit him to dissolve the Constituent Assembly …

Despite its secular and democratic roots, Pakistan is a country where constitutional freedoms have been suppressed and coups, corruption and cronyism have prospered. Unsurprisingly, because it fell prey to dictatorship shortly after Independence, the country is often labelled a “failed state”. Perhaps somewhat ironically, over and above the grim reigns of despots like Ayub, Yahya and Zia, the demise of democracy in Pakistan is directly attributable to the judiciary. On the other hand, the decision in Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan (Petitioner) v Federation of Pakistan (Respondent No.1) & Others (Respondents) 1954 SHC 81 is an example of an early landmark judgment which set a different standard (analysed in detail below) for upholding the rule of law. To the people of Pakistan, who are damned by oppression, even six decades later, it symbolises what could have been a much brighter future.

Indeed, to this day, if anything, our indulgence in the Sind Chief Court’s rationale repays freedom and the rule of law which were shortchanged when this meticulous judgment was deplorably reversed by Muhammad Munir CJ in Federation of Pakistan v Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan PLD 1955 FC 240 where he sinfully held that the Governor-General’s assent was necessary to all laws passed by the Constituent Assembly. Continue reading


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Dilip Simeon: The Broken Middle

If justice perishes, human life on earth has lost its meaning – Immanuel Kant

Once crime was as solitary as a cry of protest; now it is as universal as science. Yesterday it was put on trial; today it determines the law – Albert Camus

The year 1984 remains India’s Orwellian year par excellence.

Why? Because it is the defining moment at which the language of public life became loaded with the requirement of deceit. The gap between official and political utterances and the evidence of our eyes and ears became an unbridgeable chasm; and even the thin pretension that state institutions and the Government of India existed to uphold the law of the land and the security of citizens was dropped into a furnace and evaporated into thin air. There is nothing more terrifying than the sensation that truth itself has ceased to exist, that silence is all that is left to us because no one is listening, or none may be trusted. That was what I, and many of my friends and fellow citizens, felt in those three days in late 1984 – and indeed in the months and years that followed. Continue reading

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