Asad Durrani
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The Nations Next Door is a daily roundup of the most interesting news and views from across South Asia.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan bans ex-spy chief Durrani from leaving the country because of a book he wrote

Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt General Asad Durrani has been placed on Pakistan’s no-fly list in light of several controversial statements made by him in a book he co-authored with India’s former spymaster A.S. Dulat, called The Spy Chroniclesaccording to The News.

Durrani had been summoned to the Pakistan army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi because his statements were considered in violation of the Military Code of Conduct.

A formal court of inquiry, headed by a serving lieutenant general, has been ordered to probe the matter in detail.

“Competent authority has been approached to place the name of Lieutenant General Asad Durrani (Retired) on the exit control list,” a press release by the military spokesperson said.

Lt Gen Durrani (Retired) served as the ISI chief from August 1990 to March 1992.

Geo News adds: Durrani’s summoning to the GHQ, or Pakistan army headquarters, came after former premier Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senator Raza Rabbani voiced their reservations about the book.

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Nawaz demanded that an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee be summoned, while former senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani also severely criticised the teaming up of former chiefs of Pakistan and India’s spy agencies to write the book.

The book, penned in a casual dialogue format between the two ex-spy chiefs moderated by Indian journalist Aditya Sinha, reveals some startling pieces of information about Kashmir, India and Pakistan’s tense relations, spies and clandestine agencies, politics and heads of states, as also doctrines, Afghanistan, Russia, the US, and Osama bin Laden.

Former Pakistan chief justice Nasirul Mulk picked as caretaker PM

Pakistan’s former chief justice Nasirul Mulk has been named caretaker Prime Minister for two months before the 25 July general elections, according to Dawn.

Hailing from Mingora in Swat, Justice Mulk is known as the man who, in 2012, convicted former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of contempt of the Supreme Court. The highest court had ordered that the government write to Swiss authorities with a request to reopen a case charging then president Asif Ali Zardari and his late wife Benazir Bhutto for corruption and Gilani had refused to do so. Justice Mulk held him in contempt and sentenced for a symbolic 30 seconds. He, however, left the issue of disqualification to the election commission.

Earlier, in 2011, Justice Mulk had dissented from the majority judgment in the Mukhtaran Mai gang rape, which had sought to let off her rape accused for lack of proper evidence. Mulk pointed out that in Pakistan, “the inefficient criminal justice system, the patriarchal mindset of the police and judiciary and the lack of sufficient medico-legal facilities frighten victims”.

In 2002, Mukhtar Mai had been ordered by the local panchayat or ‘jirga’ to be gang-raped because her brother allegedly had sexual relations with an older woman of the Mastoi tribe.

Justice Mulk held that “jirgas cannot be allowed to arbitrarily punish in the form of wattasatta marriages and gang rape to settle disputes without being answerable to the law”.

Mulk is fond of playing golf and is often seen taking a walk in the Margalla hills around Islamabad.

What’s a ‘caretaker’ government and why does Pakistan have it?

Unlike several democracies, including India, Pakistan appoints a “neutral” person to oversee an interim caretaker government until elections are held. The government’s primary job is to ensure a conducive atmosphere for holding free and fair elections. The country recently announced it would hold general elections on 25 July.

In India, for example, the elected government of the day remains in charge until the new government takes over.

According to a report by Democracy Reporting International (DRI) — a non-profit organisation claiming the development of democratic institutions worldwide — Pakistan is the only democratic country that adopts this method of preparing for elections.

Nawaz Sharif credits democracy for turning Pakistan into a nuclear power

Ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, at an event to commemorate Youm-i-Takbeer, or the 20th anniversary of Pakistan’s nuclear tests, has said that an elected prime minister had initiated the country’s atomic programme (Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) and another elected prime minister (himself) had carried it through the last stage successfully, Dawn reports.

But Pakistan’s journey to become an “economic power”, Sharif complained, had been cut short by his ouster. “Is this why I’m being punished? Is this why I have to go to NAB (national accountability bureau) courts every morning?” Sharif was quoted as saying.

He also recalled learning about India’s nuclear tests during a trip to Kazakhstan, and developing a friendship with former US President Bill Clinton during the nuclear programme.

Kabul and Islamabad talk peace at high-security meet in Pakistan

A top security delegation from Afghanistan held talks with Pakistan officials Monday to discuss peace, reported Tolo News. The Afghan delegation was headed by national security adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar.

“High-level meetings were held with Pakistan’s national security adviser, army chief, the leadership of Pakistan security institutions, deputy minister of foreign affairs, head of operations, the economic adviser of Pakistan’s Prime Minister and other high-level officials, the meetings were held in a cordial and conducive atmosphere,” Afghanistan’s national security council said in a statement.

Both countries agreed to work to implement the 66 items of commitment in the ‘joint action plan for peace and solidarity’. “Pakistan and Afghanistan have expressed the resolve to work together to strengthen bilateral relations and improve the security situation in the region,” said Pakistan’s official statement after the meeting.

Officials are said to have also discussed security issues between the neighbours, terrorism, mutual cooperation and regional issues.

Pakistan Punjab makes history by appointing first woman advocate general

Asma Hamid will soon be named the advocate general of Pakistan’s Punjab province, making her the first woman to hold this position in the country, reports The Express Tribune. Chief minister Shahabaz Sharif approved her appointment Monday.

Hamid has a post-gaduate degree in constitutional law from Harvard University. She successfully represented Punjab in several cases in the Lahore High Court and the apex court as the additional advocate general.

India introduces MIP on Sri Lankan pepper

Sri Lankan pepper producers will face serious difficulties if India doesn’t cut back on the Rs 500 per kilo minimum import price (MIP) imposed on pepper, reports The Island. Effective from 2017, India has imposed duties on black paper and spices, which has increased the prices of pepper to $7,700 (Rs 5.2 lakh) per metric tonne. Chairman of the Spices & Allied Products Producers’ & Traders’ Association (SAPPTA) G.S. Chatoor said, “The business is practically at a standstill. India is our main export destination and we are still not feeling the pain because the harvest has not come in yet.”

According to the newspaper, pepper is mainly harvested between the months of October and November, and if India, an enormous consumer of pepper, does not change its policy, pepper producers in Sri Lanka would not receive adequate compensation for their crops and even face the danger of shutting down.

Nepal’s ruling Communists join hands with Madhesi party

The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) joined hands with the Madhesi Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal (FSF-N) by signing a two-point agreement Monday at Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s official residence, reports Kathmandu Post.  

Senior NCP leaders Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dalal, or Prachanda, and FSF-N chairman Upendra Yadav, a key Madhesi leader who has split from the ruling Madhesi party, the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, have reportedly signed the agreement.

The move further strengthens the hands of Oli’s government, while weakening the stand of the Madhesi leaders on seeking a just and more egalitarian constitution in Nepal.

Women in Maldives face flak for removing hijab

Women in Maldives continue to be shamed for refusing to wear the hijab, according to a report by Maldives Independent. Twenty women interviewed said questioning of faith, admonishment from family and outrage remained common reactions. Almost half of the women interviewed, including those who removed it due to health issues, went back to wearing the headscarf after being rebuked by friends and family.

The article highlighted the pressure on young girls to wear the hijab due to the strengthening Islamic influence in the country.

“For kids who wear hijab, somehow they’re made to believe their body is a sexual object. When you cover them up, you’re internalising in them a notion that most parts of your body are sexualised,” said one of the women interviewed.

By Priyamvada Grover and Sharanya Munsi.

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