Sharif's Offshore Co Defense; India Threat to Bangladesh Water; Sykes-Picot Centenary

How was Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's parliament speech defending his family's offshore assets received in Pakistan? Was he perceived as sincere? Was his speech effective? Did it answer the 7 key questions posed to him by the combined Opposition? Or did it raise many more questions than it answered? How will Panama Leaks impact Pakistani politics and governance going forward?

How severe is India's drought? Will India's massive $400 billion project to divert Brahmaputra and Ganga Rivers solve India's water crisis? How will it impact Bangladesh? Will it devastate the livelihoods of 100 million Bangladeshis living downstream? Does Bangladesh have any recourse with India similar to the mechanisms built in India-Pakistan Indus Water Treaty (IWT) to protect Pakistan's interest?

What is Sykes-Picot accord that was signed between Britain and France in May 1916 after the fall of the Ottoman Empire? Why is ISIS bulldozing the Middle East borders created by Sykes-Picot? And why do the Kurds share this goal with ISIS? Has the colonial-era Sykes-Picot contributed to the rise of ISIS today? What about the contribution of subsequent events like the creation of state of Israel and western invasions of the Middle East to the rise of ISIS?

What happened to EgyptAir Flight 804 flying from Paris to Cairo? Did an act of terror bring it down? Or was there a fire on board due to a technical failure like an electrical short-circuit in the cabin? Why was there a smoke alarm on board prior to the crash? Was it a bomb? Why has there been no claim of responsibility by any terrorist organizations so far?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/0gJUALGaml4





https://vimeo.com/167596956



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Views: 284

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 27, 2016 at 4:22pm

#Pakistan's #NawazSharif to Have Open-Heart #Surgery. Had Heart Surgery in 2011 for Rapid Hearbeat, Hole in Heart.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/28/world/asia/pakistan-nawaz-sharif-...

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan, who has been facing increased political pressure over the extent of his family’s wealth, will undergo open-heart surgery next week in London, his daughter and government officials said Friday.

It will be the second open-heart operation for Mr. Sharif, 66, who has been treated for heart problems over the past five years.

Mr. Sharif left for London last Sunday for a medical checkup and had been scheduled to return this week. In his absence, Ishaq Dar, the finance minister, a relative of Mr. Sharif’s, is managing the day-to-day running of the government.

Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the defense minister, said Mr. Sharif would return to Pakistan one week after the surgery, if allowed by his doctors.

Details of the prime minister’s impending surgery were reported Friday by his daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, in a series of postings on her Twitter account.

Ms. Sharif said a team of surgeons had advised her father to undergo the surgery after scans and tests, but she did not describe precisely what the surgeons would do. She said Mr. Sharif would be on medication for the next three days and undergo the operation on Tuesday.

The prime minister first underwent open-heart surgery in 2011 after a cardiac procedure to treat atrial fibrillation, an irregular and often rapid heart rate, resulted in a perforation of his heart, his daughter said. He has required regular medical checkups since.

In April, Mr. Sharif abruptly went to London in the middle of a political crisis over revelations in leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm, known as the Panama Papers, that his family had amassed secret offshore wealth. The London visit led to rumors, which proved unfounded, that Mr. Sharif might not return.

The leaks revealed that three of Mr. Sharif’s children controlled shell companies through which they owned expensive residential properties in London.

The revelations have caused an uproar in Pakistan, an impoverished country with a history of corruption and malfeasance, and opposition politicians have pressed Mr. Sharif to resign.

Mr. Sharif, whose family’s riches were made primarily through dealing in steel, has denied any wrongdoing and has offered to be investigated.

But differences persist between the government and opposition political parties over how an investigation would be done, and lengthy negotiations are taking place between the two sides to establish the terms.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 25, 2016 at 8:38am

From Indian diplomat-politician Sashi Tharoor:


The possibility of India revisiting the Indus Waters Treaty signed with Pakistan in 1960 has also aroused some strategists, and even MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup, who said pointedly that “any cooperative arrangement requires goodwill and mutual trust on both sides”.
Under the treaty, India has control over three eastern rivers — Beas, Ravi and Sutlej —and Pakistan the western rivers of the Chenab and Jhelum. Swarup darkly hinted that it was in jeopardy: “For any such treaty to work, it is important there must be mutual trust and cooperation. It cannot be a one-sided affair.”
But the treaty under which the waters of the Indus and its five tributaries are distributed between the two countries is not purely a bilateral affair; it was brokered by the World Bank, whose involvement will be automatically triggered if India unilaterally abrogates it.

Nor can it be done like turning off a tap; various measures would be required to ensure that Indian cities do not get flooded with the water that is no longer flowing to Pakistan.


And then, we would set a precedent and we would be loath to see China follow on the Brahmaputra, where it is we who are downstream. We have long been a model state in our respect for international law, and our adherence to morality in foreign policy, even offering humanitarian assistance to Pakistan after earthquakes and floods.
Starving people by cutting off their water would be profoundly unworthy of us. This is why the treaty has, as Omar Abdullah recently pointed out, survived four wars and a unanimous resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly calling for its scrapping.
Under the existing Treaty provisions, however, India is entitled to make use of the waters of the western rivers for irrigation, storage, and even for producing electricity, in a “non-consumptive” manner, through “run-of-the-river” projects that do not reduce the ultimate flow to Pakistan.
Oddly enough, we have never taken advantage of these provisions, which are exactly what the Chinese say they are doing with their frenetic dam building on the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra, upstream from India. If we were simply to do what we are allowed to under the Treaty — we are entitled to store up to 3.6 million acre feet on the western rivers — it would be a more effective signal to Pakistan than arch statements from the MEA.

https://www.thequint.com/uri-attack/2016/09/25/scrapping-the-indus-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 1, 2016 at 8:16am

As #India threatens #IWT with #Pakistan, #China blocks tributary of #Brahmaputra in #Tibet for dam http://toi.in/PJ_yAa via @timesofindia

BEIJING: China has blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra river in Tibet as part of the construction of its "most expensive" hydro project+ , which could cause concern in India as it may impact water flows into the lower riparian countries.
The Lalho project on the Xiabuqu river+ , a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo (the Tibetan name for Brahmaputra), in Xigaze in Tibet involves an investment of 4.95 billion yuan ($740 million), Zhang Yunbao, head of the project's administration bureau was quoted as saying by Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency on Saturday.
Xigaze also known as Shigatse is closely located to Sikkim. From Xigaze, the Brahmaputra flows into Arunachal Pradesh.
Terming it as the "most expensive project", the report said the project, whose construction began in June 2014, was scheduled to be completed in 2019.
It is not clear yet what impact the blockade of the river+ will have on the flow of water from the Brahmaputra into the lower riparian countries like India and Bangladesh as a result, it said.
Last year, China had operationalised the $1.5 billion Zam Hydropower Station, the largest in Tibet, built on the Brahmaputra river, which has raised concerns in India.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 17, 2017 at 10:04am

India's river-linking project will be disastrous: Water man Rajendra Singh


http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/riverlinking...


For the ‘Water man of India’ Rajendra Singh, who turned around life in the arid regions of Rajasthan with his inventive water conservation techniques involving the local communities, the steps taken by the Modi government in this sector have been disheartening. Prime among his concerns is the strong push by the government towards interlinking India’s rivers.

“This will be disastrous for my country. It will displace a lot of people and cause undesirable effects, with floods on one side and drought on the other. Rivers are not like roads. They have own gene pool and own life. What we need is the linking of our heart and brain with the river. This involves conservation projects involving the local communities. Linking of rivers will lead to privatisation of water resources,” he says. He was talking to The Hindu during his visit to the city to participate in a seminar on the revival of the Bharathapuzha on Tuesday.

Back in 2002, when the previous BJP government mooted the idea, he was the first one to study its after-effects, by travelling across the country to all rivers proposed to be linked. When the UPA government came, he presented his impact studies and the project was shelved, only to be revived under the Modi government.

“I have been a member of the National Ganga River Basin Authority from 2009. When the new government came, I was removed from it. They do not listen to the concerns we raise. No dissent is allowed under the Modi government,” says Mr. Singh.

Growing up in a Zamindari family in Uttar Pradesh, discussions with his teachers and farmers contributed to his understanding of life around him.

“But my father never gave me any liberty. When I completed my education, I joined government service and my father got me married. Three years went by and in 1984, when my wife went home to give birth to my son, I quit my job, caught a bus from Jaipur and took a ticket to the last stop.”

He landed in Kishori village, near Gopalpura, where he set up a small clinic. But, 72-year-old Mangu Meena, an elder of that village, told him that the village needs water, more than education and medicine.

“He showed me underground aquifers inside wells and taught me the methods to recharge such aquifers.”

He built water banks on the earth and check-dams to hold back water in the wet season, to recharge groundwater and thus retaining the water even in summer. He involved the communities living along these rivers, making them owners of the resources. Three decades later, the model has spread across Rajasthan and elsewhere, creating villages with surplus water even in summer. In 2001, he won the Magsaysay Award for community leadership. Earlier this year, he won the ‘Stockholm Water Prize’, known as the Nobel Prize for Water.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 10, 2022 at 7:00pm

India and Bangladesh in talks for major river agreement ahead of PM Hasina’s visit

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-and-bangladesh-in-talk...


India and Bangladesh are likely to ink at least one major river agreement later this month, The Hindu has learned. The planning for the agreement is being tightly guarded by officials on both sides as water sharing between the two countries is considered to be a sensitive subject given the fact that it often takes political meaning.
Apart from the major agreement(s) under discussion, sharing of data of river waters and better flood control planning are expected to feature in the upcoming meeting of the Joint River Commission (JRC) that will meet in the last week of August ahead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's September 6-7 India visit.Also Read | Good neighbours: On India-Bangladesh tiesIn response to a query, The Hindu learned that there is a "strong possibility" that an agreement on the Kushiyara that flows from Assam into Bangladesh is part of one such agreement that may get "done" during the JRC. A diplomatic source also hinted at a "major agreement" involving the Ganga may also be taken up as there is a "strong urge" to achieve a big river agreement ahead of Prime Minister Hasina's visit, which may be her last trip to Delhi before Dhaka goes into election mode next year.Teesta waters agreementThe Awami League government has been insistent on sealing the Teesta waters agreement, which has eluded settlement so far. Ms. Hasina visited India during October 2019 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Dhaka in March 2021 and during all high-level interactions, Bangladesh conveyed its urgency over the Teesta issue.In that context, Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami had earlier referred to  “domestic challenges” hinting at the role of the West Bengal government, while explaining the delay in the Teesta waters agreement. However, it is understood that India has agreed to offer Bangladesh a package on river waters-related deals that will be considered a significant advancement in terms of sharing of river resources with Dhaka.Also Read | India, Bangladesh should work on river management: JaishankarWhile political ties between Delhi and Kolkata have been a reason that apparently stalled Teesta waters, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was in Delhi last week and met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on issues that are relevant to her state. Ms. Banerjee's visit, which came in the backdrop of the tightly-guarded India-Bangladesh negotiation, has contributed to the speculation on river water sharing between India and Bangladesh.Other rivers in focusConvening the JRC has been a long-pending demand of Bangladesh as the ministerial-level meeting was last held in 2010. While several rivers-related developments have unfolded between the two sides in the meantime that need to be given a coherent policy-related shape, the JRC is the suitable platform for such initiatives.It is understood that the next JRC will focus on the "positive side" and take the negotiation beyond the Teesta and to "other big rivers" and intensify collaboration on the rivers like Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gomti, Dharla and Dudhkumar, where India and Bangladesh have greater scope of collaboration. Trans-boundary rivers constitute an important component behind the recent economic success of Bangladesh as it generates livelihood for millions in the country.Bangladesh and India share 54 rivers and Dhaka has been keen on accessing more data from the Indian side to plan better fisheries and flood control strategies. 

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