Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Is This the End of the Road for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif?

With Panama leak papers, has Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif run out of options?

Two offshore companies that were incorporated in 1993 & 1994 bought two expensive Park Lane flats which to this day as per their own admission are owned by Nawaz Sharif family. Prime Minister's three children were rather young at the time and probably had no justifiable resources to acquire such expensive properties, hence the implication that the possibly the purchase was funded by Mr. Nawaz Sharif himself!. There is a lot of noise in the country, but critical questions that arise are:

1. Where did the money come from in the first place and how was it transferred overseas
2. Is there money laundering and tax avoidance involved
3. Were the properties declared in Wealth Tax returns by Mr. Nawaz Sharif
4. Were these properties declared to Election Commission of Pakistan when Mr. Nawaz Sharif filed papers to run for office.

in 1993 & 1994 Pakistani citizens were allowed to maintain foreign currency accounts, so transfer of funds overseas may not be a violation. However source of funds and lack of declaration in income and wealth tax returns and non declaration to Election Commission are very serious offences.

Parliamentary Committee and the proposed Judicial Commission notwithstanding, these revelations are serious and require serious answers from the Prime Minister, who has tried to wiggle out of this controversy, but he now seems to be at the end of the road. He seems to have sought Mr. Asif Zardari's help but does not seem to be forthcoming or is perhaps available at too high a cost. 

Irrespective of fairness of 2013 elections, PMLN, the ruling party should complete its term. The only choice for the Prime Minister is to step aside and facilitate an in-house change i.e. another member of his party should take over as Prime Minister. If the Judicial Commission clears Mr. Nawaz Sharif of any wrong doing (which is a tall order), then he should come back and resume his position.

In this scenario who is likely to take over as Prime Minster? The ideal candidate is Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, the development minded  Chief Minister of Punjab. But he is not a Member of National Assembly, a prerequisite to be elected Prime Minister. His son could resign his National Assemblyshahbaz sharif photo: Shahbaz Sharif Shahbazsharif.jpg
seat and Shahbaz Sharif could then contest a by election from that seat. This process will take a couple of months, but if the Prime Minister announces he will step down in favor of his brother then the heat will die down on him. Also, Shahbaz Sharif is well regarded in Military circles, so the currently rough civil military relationship can also be reset. The Federal cabinet also needs a major overhaul and it will be good opportunity for a new Prime Minister to get rid of many of the incompetent and verbose Ministers. Also, with no Foreign Minister in place for the last three years, Foreign Policy has suffered major damage, relations with United States, Iran and India seem to be heading South and require a fresh approach and rather quickly. 

The question then arises, who will take over as the Chief Minister of Punjab? The ideal candidate will be the Federal Interior Minister, Ch. Nisar Ali.
Ch Nisar directs FIA and NACTA to take immediate action against ...

But Sharifs are not likely to give up their bastion to an outsider, so likely candidate is Shahbaz Sharif's son, who having vacated a seat in National Assembly for his father could contest from the seat his father gives up in Punjab Assembly. Thus the domain of Punjab remains in Sharif hands.

The Shahbaz Sharif option poses one major problem, It is rumored that relations between Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif are currently less than warm, so Nawaz Sharif may be reluctant to hand over power to his sibling. He will probably want to the new Prime Minister to be compliant.

There are many candidates running around hoping to be noticed, but if Shahbaz Sharif is not the option then the most logical choice is the current Speaker of National Assembly, Mr. Ayaz Sadiq.
Ayaz Sadiq

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Picture courtesy Jim Cole/Associated Press

While Bernie Sanders gave a run for the money to Hillary Clinton in Kentucky he knows very well that he has no hope in hell to win Democratic nomination. Hillary Clinton has double digit lead in New Jersey and in California, the largest State with most delegates.

Bernie Sanders' continued presence in the race only helps Donald Trump and gives him more time to attack Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party.

It would be sensible for Sanders to realize that he has accomplished a great deal already and he should help influence Democratic platform for the general election and get out of the way so that Hillary Clinton can focus on the wily Donald Trump.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016



Donald Trump was supposed to win all but one State in Tuesday's primaries, but he ended up with only seven, Cruz won three and Rubio won one. For a candidate to be nominated for the Presidential race he needs to win 1237 delegates by the time Republican Party convention comes around in July. So far, the delegate count is as follows:

                                          Trump     315
                                          Cruz        205
                                          Rubio      106

The Republican establishment hates Trump with a passion. They feel he is crazy and high jacking their party. They equally despise Cruz for his obstructionist attitude in the Senate and for shutting down Government funding a couple of years ago. They appear to have coalesced behind Rubio for now and seem to be using him as the attack dog against Trump and with some success too. Rubio's sharp attacks on Trump since last week calling him a con man, may have made some voters think twice about voting for him.

If Trump wins 1237 delegates by the convention, there is nothing the Republican establishment can do as he will then be the Party nominee to challenge Hillary Clinton, who with 1055 delegates out of 2382 required is nearly half way to the nomination.

However, if no candidate wins 1237 delegates, the Republican establishment will then come into play. They could bring an outsider as a compromise candidate and maneuver the freed up delegates to vote for a new candidate. Rubio could then be rewarded as a Vice Presidential candidate. He is too inexperienced to be a President, but with him on the ticket, Republicans could garner some of the Hispanic electorate, which they normally don't do well with.

There is some speculation already on who who could be such a candidate? One of these two gentlemen would most probably be ready to step in:

Mitt Romney

Mayor Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York

However for this to happen, Donald Trump has to fail in several States and not get the 1237 delegates required for the nomination.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Republican Race for Nomination

Rubio & Cruz, can one of these contenders pose a serious challenge to

Trump for Republican nomination?

To win the Republican Party's nomination a candidate has to win 1237 delegates from a total 2472. So far Trump has 81 Rubio & Cruz 17 each. The challenge seems insurmountable.  Trump is also  leading in 10 of 11 states coming up on Super Tuesday, March 1. New York Times says that after super Tuesday Trump could end up with 479 delegates to Cruz & Rubio's 164 each. Though in reality Cruz could have more as he is leading his home state of Texas, which has a rich haul of 155 delegates. The question then remains how do Rubio or Cruz stop Trump running away with the nomination?

The answer lies in the outcome of March 5 primary which includes Rubio's home state of Florida, with 99 delegates, where Trump is currently leading Rubio by ten points. But after last night's mauling of Trump in the debate, the tide could turn in Rubio's favor. If Rubio loses his home state, it is game over for him, but if he wins Florida, then Trump could be in some difficulty as he may not garner majority delegates in California and New York, which are liberal states and not too enamored with his shenanigans.

The way things stand right now, Trump looks likely to get enough delegates from other states to win nomination outright irrespective of the fact that Republican establishment despises him and want to see him lose. However, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that come July 18, 2016 the start date of Republican convention in Cleveland that no single candidate has 1237 delegates. There  will be horse trading and maneuvering to win or steal delegates. But if still no candidate has a majority, all delegates will be set free and will be free to vote for any candidate of their choosing. In such a scenario Republican establishment could prevail and maneuver Rubio's nomination. So if Trump wants the nomination, he has to win outright majority of delegates.

In the attached article New York Times presents a scenario where Rubio could lose every state and still win the nomination:

The pity of it all is that the most likable candidate, John Kasich, Governor of the crucial state of Ohio and the candidate likely to present a challenge to Hillary Clinton is too far behind with only six delegates. He may be a formidable candidate for Vice President though. In recent years no candidate has won the Presidential race without winning Ohio and Kasich may be able to deliver that state come November elections.