Pakistanis vote for ouster premier’s seat in Parliament

Pakistani army soldiers help polling officers carry election materials received from the election commission office in Lahore on Saturday, for the by-election of the parliamentary seat held by Pakistan's ousted former prime minister. (AFP)
Updated 18 September 2017

Pakistanis vote for ouster premier’s seat in Parliament

LAHORE: Pakistanis voted on Sunday in a by-election for the parliamentary seat in Lahore made vacant by the disqualification from public office of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The two main candidates were Sharif’s wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and Dr. Yasmin Rashid from Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
The NA-120 constituency, with 321,786 registered voters, is a stronghold of the ruling PML-N. The result will be declared on Monday.
Neither of the two women were able to vote. Kulsoom Nawaz is in London recovering from surgery and Dr. Yasmin is not registered in the constituency.
The two main parties turned the by-election into a referendum on the Supreme Court’s decision on July 28 to bar Sharif from public office.
The PML-N urged voters to express their support for Sharif through the ballot box, while the PTI asked them to reject a political leader linked to corruption by the court. The ruling party views itself as a populist movement, and losing the by-election would damage its position.
The allegations against Sharif stem from the Panama Papers, documents leaked in 2016 from the law firm Mossack Fonseca. They suggest that Sharif’s family owns millions of dollars worth of property and companies around the world through offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.
After the Supreme Court verdict, Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar were summoned by the National Accountability Bureau, Pakistan’s anti-graft watchdog. They refused to appear, pending a hearing on their petitions of appeal to the Supreme Court to reconsider its verdict and withdraw references to corruption.
A five-member judicial bench rejected the petitions last Friday, “for reasons to be recorded later.”
Sharif’s party believes a conspiracy against the former prime minister, and not corruption charges, led to his dismissal. Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Saturday that although they accepted the verdict, history would judge Sharif’s removal differently.
Anusha Rahman, the minister for information technology, said she was disappointed by the verdict. “Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification should have been reconsidered,” she said, because he had never been paid a salary by Capital FZE.
However, the political analyst Qamar Cheema told Arab News: “The Supreme Court had enough evidence, plus Nawaz Sharif and family did not provide sufficient evidence to vindicate themselves.”
Cheema said the PML-N was likely to make a comeback in the 2018 general election, but “Nawaz may try to politicize the Supreme Court” if he found himself cornered.


Namibia rejects German genocide reparations offer

Updated 4 min 4 sec ago

Namibia rejects German genocide reparations offer

WINDHOEK: Namibia’s President Hage Geingob on Tuesday said reparations offered by Germany for mass killings in its then colony at the start of the twentieth century were “not acceptable” and needed to be “revised.”
German occupiers in Namibia killed tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people in 1904-1908 massacres, which historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century.
In 2015, the two countries started negotiating an agreement that would combine an official apology by Germany as well as development aid.
Geingob on Tuesday was briefed by his government’s special envoy Zed Ngavirue on the status of negotiations.
The briefing took place ahead of a final round of talks for which a date has yet to be set.
“The current offer for reparations made by the German government remains an outstanding issue and is not acceptable to the Namibian government,” Geingob said in a statement after the briefing, adding that Ngavirue had been asked to “continue with negotiations for a revised offer.”
No details were provided on the offer.
The president also noted that Germany had declined to accept the term “reparations,” as that word was also avoided during the country’s negotiations with Israel after the Holocaust.
Ngavirue rejected Germany’s reference to reparations as “healing the wounds” and said the terminology would be subject to further debate, according to the statement.
Berlin was not immediately available for comment on the claims.
Germany has acknowledged that atrocities occurred at the hands of its colonial authorities and some officials have even recognized it as a genocide.
But the country has repeatedly refused to pay direct reparations, citing millions of euros in development aid to the Namibian government.
Namibia was called German South West Africa during Germany’s 1884-1915 rule, and then passed under South African rule for 75 years, finally gaining independence in 1990.
Tensions boiled over in 1904 when the Herero rose up, followed by the Nama, in an insurrection crushed by German imperial troops.
In the Battle of Waterberg in August 1904, around 80,000 Herero fled including women and children.
German troops went after them across what is now known as the Kalahari Desert. Only 15,000 Herero survived.
The German government has so far refused to apologize for the killings.