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AFTER TERRORISM, SRI LANKA IS SEETHING WITH HATRED AGAINST ISLAM AND MUSLIMS, SAYS LONDON ECONOMIST…

SECTARIANISM IN SRI LANKA

FIGHTING HATRED WITH HATRED

SRI LANKANS HAVE RESPONDED TO ISLAMIST TERRORISM

BY TERRORISING MUSLIMS..

COLOMBO:

THE CHARGEs sound silly but the consequences are not. One Muslim lady’s crime was to wear a shirt printed with a ship’s helm. Her accusers said it looked like the wheel of dharma, so she must be mocking Buddhism, the religion of the majority. A young Muslim man was nabbed for having threeSIM cards in his pocket, and a broken memory card. True, he worked in a phone shop, but police insisted he must have snapped the memory card to hide nefarious contents. A rich Muslim doctor was accused of having secretly sterilised 4,000 women by pinching their Fallopian tubes. More than 700 of the supposed victims have complained, enraged by rumours of a fertility “jihad”against non-Muslims.

JUST OVER a month ago, on Easter morning, jihadist terrorists killed more than 250 people around Sri Lanka in a series of suicide-bombings. It is not surprising that since the attacks, jittery police have arrested more than 2,000 people, nearly all of them Muslim. But with suspicion among the public running high, calls for extra vigilance soon morphed into harsher demands. A Buddhist monk threatened to fast to death unless three prominent Muslim officials, accused of having links to terrorists, resigned. Instead, on June 3rd, all nine Muslim ministers, as well as two Muslim provincial governors, quit in protest.

RAUFF HAKEEM, one of the ministers and the head of a largely Muslim political party, describes his constituents as “petrified”. He fears that in Sri Lanka’s fragile and polarised state it is all too likely that cynical politicians will exploit the nasty mood. Some may want to distract attention from the security services, which failed to heed repeated warnings of a looming terror attack. “The vast majority of right-thinking people cannot be held hostage by a radical fringe,”he says. “The problem is when the radical fringe has political patronage.”

AFTER DECADES of civil war (which pitted the ethnically Sinhalese, Buddhist majority against largely Hindu Tamils), one might expect Sri Lankans to be wary of demonising minorities. Alas, many are doing just that. Since the bombings in April, police have not just randomly arrested Muslims, who are about 10% of the population, but responded lackadaisically to repeated mob attacks against Muslims and Muslim-owned businesses. Facebook groups have organised boycotts of Muslim-owned shops; fake pictures of huge weapons caches “found in mosques”have circulated. Landlords have evicted Muslims because of their faith. A taxi firm advertises that its drivers are Sinhalese; that is, not Tamils or Muslims. A big poultry company has destroyed its stocks of packaging, so it can roll out a new version, proudly stripped of halal certificates.

MUSLIM LEADERS point out that they had for years warned authorities about the emergence of cult-like radical groups. After the bombings, it was local Muslims who led police to what was believed to be the jihadists’lair. Co-religionists also took it upon themselves to demolish one of the radicals’mosques with sledgehammers.

SOME MUSLIMS have called for introspection. The prosperous Muslim elite, they say, has for too long turned a blind eye to creeping extremism. This is partly a product of widespread migration to the Gulf, and partly a reflection of a global trend among Muslims to abandon “diluted”local forms of Islam in favour of a “purer”Arabian kind. At the same time Buddhist groups with similarly narrow-minded inclinations have also gained ground. And just when Sri Lanka needs strong leadership to steer clear of such obvious dangers, its leaders stand disgraced.◼

(THE ECONOMIST, JUNE 8th, 2019)

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سعودی عرب، مصر اور عرب امارات کی مدد سے، سوڈان کی فوج، سوڈانی عوام کا قتلِ عام کر رہی ھے!!! لندن اکانومسٹ کا چشم کُشا تجزیہ…

PEOPLE POWER MEETS BULLETS

Sudan’s Tiananmen?

PRO-DEMOCRACY PROTESTERS ARE BEING

SLAUGHTERED

IN KHARTOUM!!!

WHERE JUST weeks ago the scent of freedom was in the air, there came the smell of smoke and cordite. The sounds of jubilant song gave way to those of automatic gunfire and the screams of the dying. In the early hours of June 3rd Sudan’s armed forces moved against pro-democracy protesters who had been holding a sit-in since April outside the army’s headquarters in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. They shot and killed more than 100 people, including some children. All that remains of the carnival of democracy that had sprouted there are burnt tents and rubbish.

IT WAS the worst violence since demonstrations toppled Sudan’s brutal dictator, Omar al-Bashir, in April. It was also the most gruesome. People were whipped, raped and robbed. Bodies were slung into the Nile. Doctors treating the wounded were beaten and shot. In Omdurman, across the river, rescuers fished out the bodies of people who had been hurled, screaming, off a bridge.

RESIDENTS OF the capital likened the carnage to atrocities committed by government forces and its militias during Sudan’s long civil wars. Not coincidentally, the bulk of the bloodshed this week was the work of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary force linked to the Janjaweed, a militia responsible for genocide in Darfur. Thousands of its troops now patrol Khartoum.

ON JUNE 3rd the Transitional Military Council, which took over after Mr Bashir’s fall, turned off the internet and phone networks. Its leader, Abdel-Fattah Burhan, said the junta would form an interim government and hold elections in nine months. The Sudanese Professionals Association, which has spearheaded the uprising since it began last December, rejected the plan.

TROUBLE HAD been brewing for weeks. Protesters and the junta were tussling over who would control the country’s transition to democracy. Negotiators had agreed on some issues, such as the establishment of a civilian-led parliament and cabinet, and a three-year transition before elections. But talks stalled over the contentious issue of who would be in charge of the highest decision-making body, the sovereign council.

TO BREAK the deadlock, the protesters declared a national strike, while the juntaturned to its powerful deputy head, Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo (who is widely known as Hemedti) and hisRSF. A former camel-rustler who had dropped out of primary school, Mr Dagalo rose to prominence after turning his clan of Arab nomads in Darfur into a gang of the Janjaweed. Horse-riders from that militia suppressed a rebellion 15 years ago by burning villages, slaughtering civilians and raping the women who couldn’t escape.

TODAY, MONEY and diplomatic support from anti-democratic Arab regimes have emboldened the junta. Mr Dagalo had previously sent at least 3,000 mercenaries to fight for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Yemen. His forces are well-equipped and battle-hardened, and he has rich friends. The junta’s call for financial help was quickly answered. Saudi Arabia and the UAE sent $500m and promised another $2.5bn. Egypt’s security forces, no stranger to coups, are thought to have offered advice.

YET THE JUNTA’S swift resort to violence may have increased the risk of civil war. It could, perhaps, have let the protests gradually run out of steam. Instead, it unleashed death just before the start of Eid, the festival to celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan. “The country will never forgive them for gunning down innocents the day before Eid,”says a doctor from Khartoum. Soldiers and policemen not affiliated with theRSFare said to be furious about the bloodshed. Troops in several garrisons have mutinied and tried to break into armouries to grab weapons to fight theRSF.

THE KILLINGS also raise questions over where exactly power resides. Mr Dagalo, who denies orchestrating the violence in Khartoum (the government also claims theRSFwas not involved), is thought to have presidential ambitions. If so, he may seek to undermine any transition that weakens him. He “needs state power to protect his interests”, says Magdi el-Gizouli of the Rift Valley Institute, a think-tank. “He is effectively terrorising the population of Khartoum into submission.”

HE IS not the only one with an incentive to thwart democracy. Mr Bashir kept himself in power for 30 years by playing factions off against one another. Many in the junta fear a new order, especially if it establishes the rule of law. Some fear justice for atrocities in Darfur or elsewhere.

THE LATEST killings give the top brass even more reason to worry. The junta is “basically in the same exact boat as Bashir”, who faces charges of genocide at the International Criminal Court (ICC), says Ahmed Kodouda, a political analyst.

DEMONSTRATORS, MEANWHILE, are enraged by the betrayal of their democratic revolution. From Al-Haj Yousif, an outlying neighbourhood of Khartoum, come reports of fresh protests suppressed by gunfire. In hospital corridors, doctors and patients alike sing protest songs, vowing not to abandon their struggle.

AVERTING A CIVIL WAR IN SUDAN may require trade-offs between justice and peace. Outsiders, including Western governments and the African Union, have condemned the violence and called for a civilian-led transition. But many, including Britain, also insist that those responsible for war crimes be held accountable and handed over to the International Criminal Court. The fear is that Sudan may get only one of these things, or neither.◼

(THE ECONOMIST, JUNE 8th, 2019)

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PAKISTAN’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS WORLD’S MOST SLOW, INCOMPETENT AND CORRUPT, SAYS LONDON ECONOMIST…

THE DEATH PENALTY IN PAKISTAN:

The ultimate wrong!

Miscarriages of justice are breathtaking

in their frequency and cruelty…

ISLAMABAD:

THE DAY Ghulam Qadir and Ghulam Sarwar were acquitted of murder after a miscarriage of justice should have been a moment to celebrate. The brothers had been awaiting execution for over a decade, only for the Supreme Court belatedly to quash their case. Eyewitness testimony against them was shaky and the prosecution case flimsy, the justices declared. Yet when officials sought to bring the pair the good news, they had a shock. They had been hanged a year earlier. No one had told the court or their lawyer.

THIS COMBINATION of injustice and incompetence is common in capital cases in Pakistan, a new report argues. TwoNGOs, the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, which is based in Pakistan, and Reprieve, based in Britain, have studied the 310 known cases in which the Supreme Court reviewed death sentences between 2010 and 2018. They found that the justices revoked 78% of them. About half of those overturned ended in outright acquittal. The rest saw sentences commuted or a review initiated. If these proportions hold for Pakistan’s 4,700 death-row prisoners, some 1,800 should be set free. As many should have their sentences commuted or their cases retried or reviewed. But such reprieves do not come quickly. The average death-row prisoner spends ten years under threat of execution before the case reaches the Supreme Court.

THE COUNTRY’S highest judges often complain that lower-court convictions rely on dubious “eyewitness”testimony. Sometimes it is directly at odds with the physical evidence. Particularly suspect are “chance”witnesses—people unrelated to killer or victim who, prosecutors claim, happened to observe a murder or other crime by coincidence. These witnesses often give evidence deemed clinching even if there is no proof they were present when the crime was committed. Such witnesses are sometimes people known to bear a grudge against the accused.

THE SUPREME COURT also often questions the reliability of the police. Corrupt cops have been found not only to tamper with (or concoct) witness statements, but also to plant evidence and collude with victims or their families. Confessions are often extracted by beating.

BLUNDERING AND INCONSISTENCY are also rife. Bungled identity parades, in which the police do not stick to required procedures, undermine even cases in which credible witnesses identify culprits. The lower courts can be arbitrary, too. Evidence strong enough to send one suspect to the gallows, for instance, is deemed too weak to convict his co-accused.

THEN THERE is the question of which offences merit execution. A total of 27 crimes can lead to a death sentence, ranging from murder, treason, kidnap and drug smuggling to blasphemy. But many Pakistanis are put on death row for crimes the highest court does not believe warrant execution. Over the nine years theNGOs looked at, the court did not uphold a single death sentence for a non-lethal offence. Even for murders, it appeared to favour life sentences for all but the most heinous. Yet lower courts often impose death sentences for drug crimes, for example.

SUPREME MERCY

MORE THAN 500 people have been executed since 2014 (pictured is the central jail in the north-western city of Peshawar, where some of the hangings took place). And yet the Supreme Court seems ever more sceptical about capital cases. In 2018 it upheld the death penalty in just 3% of those it reviewed. Among the death sentences it overturned was, most famously, that imposed on an alleged blasphemer, Asia Bibi, which it said was based on “concoction incarnate”. Amnesty International, a London-based watchdog, has recorded a drop in recent executions, from at least 87 in 2016 to 60 in 2017 and 14 in 2018. Yet Amnesty recorded at least 360 death sentences handed down in 2016, over 200 in 2017 andupwards of 250 last year.

CONCERNS ABOUT the use of the death penalty are long-standing. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), in power from 2008 to 2013, introduced a moratorium on executions in 2008. But the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, which defeated thePPP in the election of 2013, pledged to lift the moratorium to tackle a tide of crime and militancy. Indeed, it did so just days after an attack in 2014 on the Army Public School in Peshawar, where the Taliban killed more than 140 people, including 132 children.

IN THEIR new report theNGOs argue that Pakistan’s capital-punishment regime is so broken that the government elected last year, led by Imran Khan, the prime minister, should impose another moratorium immediately. He seems unlikely to listen. That leaves it to the Supreme Court to temper some of the injustices of the judicial system over which it presides…

(THE ECONOMIST, JUNE 1st, 2019)

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کوئی اور مہذب جُمہوری مُلک ہوتا، تو اب تک، چیئرمین نیب گھر جا چُکا ہوتا… مگر یہ پاکستان ھے…!!!🤣

وسعت اللہ خان کا کالم: چیئرمین نیب اور آڈیو ویڈیو کی تیرتی لاش

کالم

“گذشتہ ہفتے اچانک ایک پاکستانی چینل ( ٹی وی ون ) پر چیئرمین نیب جسٹس ریٹائرڈ جاوید اقبال اور ایک خاتون کے درمیان حساس و طرح دار گفتگو کا ایک آڈیو اور ویڈیو کلپ نشر ہوا اور پھر اچانک اس سے لاتعلقی اختیار کر کے چینل نے معذرت کر لی۔ مگر سوشل میڈیا اور سیاسی حلقوں کو بہرحال مصالحہ ہاتھ آ گیا۔ رسیلے مواد کی میمز بننی شروع ہوئیں، انکوائری کے مطالبے ہونے لگے، چیئرمین نیب کے استعفی کا مطالبہ سامنے آ گیا۔

کئی اسے چیئرمین نیب اور ایک خاتون کا ذاتی معاملہ قرار دینے لگے۔ کئی نے دلیل دی کہ چونکہ نیب ایک حساس ادارہ اور کرپشن کا سراغ لگا کر سزا دلوانے کا ذمہ دار ہے لہذا چیئرمین سے لے کر نچلے درجے تک تمام نیب افسران کا اخلاقی معیار عام لوگوں سے بلند ہونا ان ذمہ داریوں کا ناگزیر تقاضا ہے تا کہ نیب کا چہرہ بے داغ رہے۔

میں یہ ماننا چاہتا ہوں کہ یہ ایک مرد اور خاتون کا ذاتی معاملہ ہے جس میں کسی تیسرے کو ٹانگ نہیں اڑانا چاہیے۔ مگر ماننے میں واحد رکاوٹ یہ ہے کہ اس آڈیو اور ویڈیو کی مرکزی کردار طیبہ گل اس سال سولہ جنوری سے دو مئی تک نیب کی حراست میں رہ چکی ہیں اور فی الوقت ضمانت پر ہیں۔ طیبہ کے شوہر فاروق اب بھی نیب مقدمات میں ماخوذ اور کوٹ لکپھت جیل میں قید ہیں۔

طیبہ تسلیم کر چکی ہیں کہ یہ آڈیوز ویڈیو انھوں نے ہی ریکارڈ اور ریلیز کی ہیں۔

نیب کی جانب سے اب تک یہ تو کہا گیا ہے کہ یہ میاں بیوی ایک بلیک میلنگ مافیا کا حصہ ہیں اور جو الزامات چیئرمین نیب پر لگائے گئے ہیں وہ جھوٹے ہیں۔

جسٹس ریٹائرڈ جاوید اقبال

مگر آج تک نیب کی جانب سے بصری و صوتی مواد کی صحت کو چیلنج نہیں کیا گیا اور نہ ہی یہ وضاحت کی گئی کہ آڈیو اور ویڈیو میں جو شخص طیبہ سے فون پر یا میز کے آر پار گفتگو کر رہا ہے وہ جسٹس جاوید اقبال نہیں کوئی جعلساز ہے جو ان کی آواز اور روپ دھار کر اداکاری و صداکاری کر رہا ہے ۔

کیا اسے محض حسنِ اتفاق سمجھا جائے کہ بقول طیبہ گل آڈیو اور ویڈیو سامنے آنے کے بعد 21 مئی کو ان کے بیٹے، دیور، پہلے سے نظربند شوہر اور ان کے خلاف مزید تین ایف آئی آرز کٹ گئیں۔

اور 25 مئی کو نیب نے چیئرمین اور چھ دیگر افراد کو بلیک میل کرنے اور بے بنیاد پروپیگنڈے کے الزامات میں دونوں میاں بیوی کے خلاف ایک اور ریفرنس احتساب عدالت میں دائر کر دیا۔

اس ریفرنس کی سماعت سترہ جون کو ہوگی۔ تو کیا عدالت چیئرمین نیب کا موقف بھی قلمبند کرے گی؟

نہیں معلوم کہ یہ معاملہ اگلے چند دنوں میں سلجھے گا یا مزید الجھے گا یا اس کی جانچ کسی بھی سطح پر ہوگی کہ نہیں۔ البتہ چیئرمین نیب چونکہ ایک آئینی عہدیدار ہیں لہذا ان کے منصب سے لگنے والے الزامات کا صاف ہونا بہت ضروری ہے۔

اس کا سیدھا آسان فوری طریقہ تو یہ ہے کہ آڈیوز اور ویڈیو کی فرانزک جانچ کروا لی جائے تاکہ اصلی نقلی کا پتہ چل جائے۔

نیز طیبہ اور چیئرمین نیب کے زیرِ استعمال فونز کی بھی فورنزک جانچ ہو جائے تاکہ کالنگ ریکارڈ سے واضح ہو جائے کہ کس نے کس کو کب کتنی بار کیوں فون کیا اور اگر کسی آڈیو ویڈیو مواد کا تبادلہ ہوا تو اس مواد کی نوعیت اور غرض و غائت کیا تھی ؟

اس فرانزک جانچ کا فائدہ یہ ہوگا کہ حاسدوں کے منہ بند ہو جائیں گے اور جب چیئرمین نیب اپنے ماتحتوں کے اگلے اجلاس کی صدارت کریں گے تو ماتحت دل میں کوئی اوندھا سیدھا خیال لائے بغیر باس کی بات پوری توجہ سے سنیں گے۔

فرض کریں فرانزک سے ثابت ہوتا ہے کہ کردار، گفتگو اور ویڈیو اصلی ہیں۔ تب سوال اٹھے گا کہ آخر کیا سبب تھا کہ ایک زیرِ تفتیش ملزمہ اور چیف تفتیش کار کی ملاقات و گفتگو مروجہ قانونی قواعد و ضوابط سے ہٹ کر براہِ راست ہوتی رہی۔

لیکن اگر اس ذاتی معاملے کو ادارے کے ذریعے دبانے یا بذریعہ میڈیا اس کا رخ موڑنے کی یکطرفہ کوشش ہوتی رہیں تو منہ تو عارضی طور پر بند ہو جائیں گے مگر عہدے کے اخلاقی تقاضوں پر لگنے والا متعفن سوالیہ نشان انصاف کے سمندر پر پھولی لاش کی طرح تیرتا رہے گا۔

امید ہے چیئرمین نیب جو سابق چیف جسٹس آف پاکستان بھی ہیں معاملے کی نزاکت سمجھتے ہوئے یہاں تک نوبت نہیں آنے دیں گے…!!!”

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“IMF TELLS PAKISTAN TO LET THE CURRENCY FALL,” SAYS THE LONDON ECONOMIST…

PAKISTAN’S ROCKY FINANCES

Catch 22

The IMF has agreed to break Pakistan’s fall. Again

FAMILIARITY, THEY say, breeds contempt. Few countries are as familiar with the IMF as Pakistan, which has previously obtained 21 loans from the fund, as many as Argentina. On May 12th this familiarity deepened further. The government, led by Imran Khan, a former cricketer who heads the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, said it had reached a deal to borrow $6bn more over three years. The agreement now awaits formal approval from the fund’s bosses in Washington and the support of other international lenders, including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

THE LOAN will relieve Pakistan’s dollar shortage but do little to improve the IMF’s standing in the country. In return for its money, the fund expects the government to raise tax revenues and utility prices, impose discipline on provincial spending—and let the currency fall, if need be. That will help narrow Pakistan’s wide trade and budget deficits. But it will also curb growth and increase inflation in the short term.

TARGETS INCLUDE cutting the budget deficit (before interest payments) to 0.6% of GDP next fiscal year (which starts in July) from the 1.9% that the IMF reportedly expects for this year. The government has talked about removing tax breaks worth about 350bn rupees ($2.5bn or 1% ofGDP) and raising the price of gas and electricity for large consumers. It has pledged to give the central bank more autonomy in its fight against inflation, currently over 8%. It will also let market forces dictate the rupee’s exchange rate, which has been devalued by 18% against the dollar in the past year.

TO EASE the public’s pain, the IMF will allow more spending on welfare schemes, such as a cash-transfer programme named after Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister who was assassinated in 2007. But her son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who now leads her party in opposition, seems unimpressed. After the government this month appointed a former IMF official to head the central bank, Mr Bhutto Zardari accused it of surrendering Pakistan’s autonomy. “How can IMF negotiate with IMF?”he asked. A cartoon in the Friday Times, a local news weekly, showed Christine Lagarde, head of the fund, negotiating with herself.

IN TRUTH, Mr Khan’s government tried hard to keep its distance from the fund. Instead of agreeing to a deal as soon as it came to power last August, it turned for help to friendly countries, including Saudi Arabia (which gave $3bn and deferred a similar amount of oil payments), the United Arab Emirates ($2bn already and more to come) and China ($2.2bn). China is investing heavily in Pakistan’s roads, ports and power plants: the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Some view this lending with suspicion, seeing Pakistan as a victim of China’s “debt-trap diplomacy”.

SUCH AN assessment seems premature. CPEC spending may have contributed to the increase in Pakistan’s imports (the country’s current-account deficit exceeded 6% of GDP in the year to June 2018). But because this import spending was presumably matched by an inflow of Chinese capital, it cannot have been responsible for the dangerous dwindling of Pakistan’s foreign-currency reserves over the past year.

THAT WAS Pakistan’s own fault. The previous government maintained an exchange rate that was too strong for exporters and fiscal spending that was too strong for its revenue-raising powers. Restoring stability was always going to require the kind of painful policy reforms the IMF often prescribes and oversees.

NOT THAT the IMF will find it easy. Pakistan is a regular taker of its loans but not a diligent follower of its advice. Many of the reforms it has just promised have been pledged repeatedly before, including widening the tax net, rationalising utility prices and respecting the central bank’s autonomy. Successive governments have been slow to follow through, afraid of angering powerful domestic constituencies.

BUT THE IMF has been similarly reluctant to cut Pakistan off, for fear of the upheaval that would ensue. “Governments have tried to ‘game’ the IMF, and achieved partial success each time,” write Ehtisham Ahmad and Azizali Mohammed, former IMF advisers. Pakistan’s public might dislike the IMF less, if they knew how frequently their leaders disregard it.

(The Economist, May 18th, 2019)

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COLONIALISM MINDSET STILL LIVES ON, AMONG THE SOUTH ASIAN SOLDIERS, SAYS LONDON ECONOMIST…

Where the Raj lives on!!

Colonialism bequeathed an unfortunate sense of

entitlement to South Asia’s soldiers!!!

IMRAN KHAN seemed weary, but otherwise in good form. Enthroned at his official residence, Pakistan’s prime minister tossed out well-rehearsed bromides about his plans for a naya or “new”Pakistan. He was just hitting his stride when an unsmiling, crisply uniformed soldier marched in, tapping his watch. Mr Khan begged for a few more minutes before mumbling excuses and following his minder out. Later, at an informal gathering, an ebullient general assured journalists that “my boss the PM” was fully in charge of the army and intelligence services, and that they were all “trying to convert Pakistan from a security paradigm to a development paradigm”. A cabinet minister nodded and chuckled obsequiously as the general spoke.

THE GENERAL’S home, a colonial mansion dotted with photos of children at elite foreign universities, is located in Rawalpindi, the older twin city to Pakistan’s purpose-built capital, Islamabad. More specifically, it sits on a military base which is itself inside a cantonment. These exclusive garrison-suburbs are a peculiar feature of South Asian cities. India has 62 of them spread over 200,000 acres, Pakistan 43 and Bangladesh 30. As bubbles of leafy comfort ambered in pre-war gentility, complete with flower-sprinkled traffic circles, manicured lawns, tennis courts, officers’ messes and servants’quarters, cantonments are among the least-altered holdovers of the British Raj.

THEY ARE also an urban planner’s nightmare. The low-rise, low-density zones have in most cases long since been engulfed by crowded, bustling cities. Yet municipalities have little say over how cantonments are run. Intended for an alien army of occupation, they remain protected by sweeping pre-independence edicts. A military area that includes golf courses, officers’ housing, lavish headquarters for different service branches and an entire air base slashes a Manhattan-sized slice out of central Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Residents of Navy Nagar in Mumbai tee off onto lush fairways facing the Arabian Sea next to some of the most expensive property in the world. Far inland in Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, the armed forces occupy not only a huge cantonment, but three-quarters of the Red Fort, another spectacular Mughal-era monument.PAKISTAN’S ARMY is still occupying new territory. The Defence Housing Authority (DHA), which was created in 1980 to support veterans and their families, has used its land-appropriating powers to build a sprawling property empire. In Pakistan’s biggest city, Karachi, it owns the entire district of Clifton, a swanky suburb with half a million residents and 15km of beachfront.DHA phases I-XI take up the entire south-east quarter of Lahore, the second-biggest city, including the main business district. “By introducing modern designs in construction of houses, infrastructure and essential associated facilities it has infused a new life in ‘Defence Living’, that is beautifully energetic, attractively vibrant and conveniently livable,”gushes the DHA’s website.

PAKISTAN’S SUPREME COURT is less enthusiastic. In a recent ruling that admonished theDHA for ignoring orders to open its accounts to public scrutiny, a judge remarked that the agency “seems like a government operating within the government”. Another judge was harsher: “You people run your business by using widows and martyrs as a shield, and you pocket royalties in their name.”In his cantonment mansion, the general scoffs at such rebukes. The DHA relieves the government from supporting veterans, he says. Besides, it is the country’s biggest taxpayer.

IN INDIA it is civilians who call the shots. Bureaucrats and politicians often enjoy perks, including gracious colonial bungalows, that are every bit as grand as officers’. There is greater public scrutiny, too: a recent government report took the army to task for failing to collect more than a decade of rent from a deadbeat tenant. Yet India’s army, every bit as spit-and-polished as Pakistan’s, if not as commercially unrestrained, does enjoy other colonial indulgences. A raft of special laws, some of them holdovers from emergency rules the British imposed during the second world war, allows its soldiers near-impunity in parts of the country that are deemed to be troubled. Following a terrorist attack on an army convoy in Kashmir in February, the army has simply closed the road involved for two days a week, even though it is the main highway through a valley with 7m residents. The echoes of the Raj are not lost on the locals…

(THE ECONOMIST, MAY 11th, 2019)

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UNDER THE TITLE, “THE LIMITS TO FRIENDSHIP,” THE VENERABLE LONDON ECONOMIST WRITES:

“China dropped its objection to a proposal in the UN to list

MASOOD AZHAR, the leader of a Pakistani jihadist group,

as a terrorist….

This allowed the UN to declare sanctions on Mr Azhar,

including the freezing of his assets and a travel ban….

His group, JAISH-E-MUHAMMAD, claimed responsibility

for a suicide-bombing that killed 40 soldiers

in Indian-administered Kashmir in February…

China had previously opposed such sanctions,

apparently in deference to Pakistan, a close ally…!!!”

(THE ECONOMIST, MAY 4TH, 2019)