The Panama Papers are “a blessing in disguise” … Watch Video
The paper trail from Panama to Pakistan is a long and mysterious one and it reveals much about Pakistan’s first family’s vast wealth and international property empire. The leaked documents, which are linked to dozens of venal “super rich” politicians, had even forced Iceland’s prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson to resign. Yet Ramón Fonseca argues his firm is the subject of a “witch hunt” and it has done nothing wrong; there is “more dirty money in New York and London,” he says. His claim is backed up by Bill Browder, who made his fortune in Russia but has since converted into an ardent Putin critic; owing to the former KGB head turning Russia into a kleptocracy, he says. Browder argues London is a “brothel” for dirty Russian money. He is equally adamant that Cameron’s anti-corruption drive is just “hot air”. This post captures and recalls our recent Panama Papers discussion.
Financial regulators and tax authorities worldwide have expressed huge interest in the disclosures in the papers because the International Consortium for Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) has created “a searchable database that strips away the secrecy of nearly 214,000 offshore entities created in 21 jurisdictions, from Nevada to Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands.” Indeed, the gigantic leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records is clearly groundbreaking. The documents show the details of the manner in which the world’s political and economic elites have used “crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies” to hoodwink tax authorities. Continue reading
With its present policies, Pakistan is on its way to becoming a “cyber leper”. The speakers also agreed that cyber security is a matter of national security.
Despite being plagued by dictatorship and corruption, Pakistan does possess the ability to make advances, even leaps, in transparent and effective lawmaking. But as the recent conundrum disclosed by the contentious Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2015 (“the Act”) so ably demonstrates, even under the guise of democracy, Pakistan seems to be sleepwalking into rather dangerous territory. Described as quite draconian, controversial and retrograde when juxtaposed with the panoply of rights guaranteed by fundamental rights under Articles 9 to 28 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, the Act has been almost universally denounced. In a joint talk yesterday by Ammar Jaffri (formerly of the FIA) and Barrister Zahid Jamil, we learned that our country is doing poorly in writing robust legislation that targets root problems but does not compromise on individual rights. The basic flaw in the present approach to cyber crime in Pakistan appears to be that the wrong ministry is dealing with this important area of the law.
Rather than the ministry of interior, the task of prevention of electronic crime is erroneously allocated to the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication. For example, in the UK, the country from which we inherited such a rich legal and institutional framework, the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill is moved on the Home Secretary Theresa May’s initiative. The Act introduces a series of new provisions that pose a grave risk to freedom of expression and privacy in Pakistan. It has been condemned in international circles for expanding surveillance Continue reading
Following the attack on the APS, Pakistan removed the moratorium on the death penalty. The hangman Albert Pierrepont said capital punishment is “a primitive desire for revenge”. This post looks at the case of Sri Lanka.
There has been an organised move to bring back the hangman and implement the death penalty in Sri Lanka. Several weeks ago, Colombo District MP Hirunika Premachandra presented in Parliament an adjournment motion for the revival of capital punishment in Sri Lanka. She said that once the motion went through Parliament she would request President Maithripala Sirisena and the government to consider bringing back capital punishment. The motion seems to have been grounded in the member’s belief that capital punishment is the solution to the increasing anti-social and violent activities within the country. An adjournment motion does not end in a vote but some members of the government supported the motion while others spoke against it. In the course of the debate, the Minister of Justice made a statement in the House, confirming the government’s intention to sign the UN moratorium in November 2016. Subsequent to his statement in Parliament, the Minister was reported to have said that the moratorium on the penalty will continue but it will not be abolished.
The death penalty is a cruel, inhuman or degrading form of punishment and it should be eliminated from the statute books. It is pre-meditated killing by the state. Curiously, even before the fair member had tabled her motion in Parliament, the Prison Commissioner had advertised the vacancies for the post of hangman and refurbished the gallows at the Welikade Prison. In the vernacular, a hangman is referred to as vadhaka, commonly known as ‘alugosuwa’, a word which is of Portuguese origin (algoz). Continue reading
Despite the Democratic filibuster in the US Senate of the Republican resolution of disapproval in relation to the Iran deal, difficult questions loom over Tehran’s nexus with Damascus and the appalling state of affairs in Syria. Large swathes of Syrian territory – historically allocated to France through the arbitrary Sykes-Picot Agreement 1916, dismembering the Ottoman Empire, between Britain and France – have been lost to the so-called “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (ISIS/ISIL). After four years of carnage, war and the displacement of millions, Syria’s borders have been completely redrawn with the result that the government retains control of a mere 30-40 percent of the country’s original de jure territory. Constantly changing battle lines and tactics make it impossible to predict what the future holds. This round up looks at future trends and directions in Syria’s brutal war and the gamut of issues shrouding peacemaking in that country.
The media reports that in 2015 the Royal Air Force carried out more than 100 drone strikes against ISIS/ISIL jihadis – with 29 strikes in August, the surge continued in the first week of September and 14 strikes were conducted. This is so irrespective of the fact that in August 2013 David Cameron’s government lost its bid to join US-led strikes in military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; the motion in support of military intervention was defeated in Parliament by 285-272 votes. The fact that British citizens are being killed in drone strikes under an official “kill list” is all the more alarming for human rights lobbyists in the UK (where, of course, there is no death penalty). Unsurprisingly, Mohammed Emwazi – the balaclava clad knife wielding ISIS executioner initially known only as “Jihadi John” – is said to be number one on the list. Continue reading
Filed under Al Qaeda, Criminal law, Cyber Warfare, Discussion, Europe, ISIS, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Syria, The Middle East
This is a review by Khaled Ahmed of Professor Anna Suvorova’s new book Benazir Bhutto: A Multidimensional Portrait, BB spoke at PIIA on 24 February 1996 and she addressed our members …
After reading Tavleen Singh’s book Durbar, I became firm in my belief that ruling dynasties in South Asia routinely experience tremors within the family tree that the charisma-drunk masses don’t always grasp. Now, Anna Suvorova, professor of Indo-Islamic culture and head of the department of Asian Literature at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, has written Benazir Bhutto: A Multidimensional Portrait about the Bhuttos of Pakistan. In South Asia, the masses repose blind trust in dynasties, contrasted strangely with the intense loathing some sections of the population feel for the lineal hero. Needless to say, there is a lot of juice in it for Bhutto-haters, despite a sincere and almost successful effort to appreciate what was good in her. The paterfamilias, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, will always be remembered as the man who gave us the 1973 constitution. He mobilised the common man and took leadership out of feudal hands and made possible the rise of the middle-class politician.
His land reform didn’t work; neither did his belated, nationalisation-based, confiscatory socialism. Combative rather than conciliatory, he was tribal in his nursing of revenge and could be violent in the treatment of the disobedient. His eldest, Benazir, can be called great because she transcended the “exemplary” charisma of her father, cured herself of the economic totalitarianism that was the party shibboleth, worked to fend off the international isolationism practised by her father as “heroic defiance”, married Asif Ali Zardari as a rejection of her father’s “inflexibility”, and wrote the famous Continue reading
This 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
Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Courts, Criminal Justice, Criminal law, Discussion, Europe, Immigration, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, The Middle East, UK, United States
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