Global Pulse: Shinzo Abe more unpopular than Trump, Panama precedent in Pakistan, an unforgiving Putin


Shinzo Abe could be doing worse than Donald Trump. He was already in the midst of colossal scandals. Now, his defence minister and army chief have resigned. His party has lost yet another local election. And his poll ratings –lower than Trump’s – are down some 30 points.

Caught in a whirlpool of troubles, the Japanese Prime Minister, who had only last week agreed to be questioned over allegations of cronyism, has sparked talk of a second humiliating departure as prime minister. After only a year in power in 2007, with his party having lost control of the upper house of parliament and a minister at the centre of a financial scandal, Abe had stepped down exactly a decade ago. In addition to his premiership, what might be in jeopardy this time around is Abe’s longtime controversial goal of revising Japan’s American-written postwar constitution.


It is not uncommon for politicians to go to lengths to undermine their adversaries. But Ukrainian President Petro O. Poroshenko may have gone to extremes to sideline his political rival. After a bitter fallout with friend-turned-foe Mikheil Saakashvili, Poroshenko stripped the former president of his Ukrainian citizenship, leaving him stateless – a move that could set a dangerous precedent in Ukraine.

Saakashvili, who responded to the decree in a Facebook post, said that the president had “crossed the line”, and was risking another popular rising in the country. The former allies, who had once been together in resisting the Kremlin, had fallen out when Saakashvili thought that the Poroshenko government was not doing enough to fight corruption and set up an opposition political movement.


North Korean hackers are becoming more interested in money than secrets, says a report by a South Korean government-backed institute. With illegal moneymaking schemes like drug trafficking, gunrunning and counterfeiting becoming difficult with stricter sanctions by the United Nations, North Koreans are increasingly looking towards hacking as a source of making profits.

Earlier the hacking attacks were carried out to cause social disruption or purloin secret data. But now there is a marked shift in the attacks mounted by the country. Short of currency to pay for imports, Pyongyang has trained a large army of hackers, who are not only a cheap means of espionage, but also moneymakers for the globally isolated country now. The report says that North Korean-linked hackers were, in fact, behind the recent digital theft of $81 million from Bangladesh’s central bank.


It is a day when Pakistan awaits a judgment that could upend the Sharif family’s fortunes. But an editorial in Dawn newspaper opines that irrespective of the outcome, the Panama Papers case has already changed something fundamental in Pakistan. With a sitting prime minister and his family having been required to explain the sources of their income and wealth, the case has set a much needed precedent in a country where public officials routinely live beyond their declared sources of income.

If the country’s Supreme Court delivers a judgment which is well-reasoned and well-argued, it would go a long way in furthering the cause of accountability and give fresh impetus to Pakistan’s rocky democratic project. Much after both Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan exit Pakistan’s political landscape, the country will need an independent judiciary to help keep the democratic process thriving.


A few hours before the United States Senate voted 98-2 for new sanctions on Russia, Vladimir Putin did not seem to be in a forgiving mood. Calling the American plans for the sanctions “illegal”, Putin warned that Russia “cannot put up forever with this boorishness”.  Moscow’s initial optimism that the Trump administration would promptly reverse the sanctions imposed under Barrack Obama has now faded away with relations between the two superpowers worsening rapidly.

Trump, an avowed advocate of better ties with Russia, could veto the Bill, but that, in turn, can be overridden by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate – an easily achievable vote in this case. The House of Representatives too passed the Bill with an overwhelming majority of 419 votes to three – perhaps as a result of the Kremlin’s meddling in the US and its unabated aggression in Ukraine.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s