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Crushed by a Superpower

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‘ICARCUS: The Life and Death of The Abraaj Group’ with give attention to Arif Naqvi by Professor Brian Brivati was printed by Biteback on 20th July 2021 and by Vanguard Books in Pakistan in Mid-August 2021 Arif Naqvi was a determine of world significance and affect earlier than his sudden and devastating fall from grace and arrest at Heathrow Airport on April 10, 2019. The western media has up to now advised the story of the spectacular fall as if it was the inevitable collapse of a corrupt firm run by corrupt Pakistanis. It’s the traditional story in regards to the traditional suspects. The traditional one-dimensional and inherently prejudiced manner wherein non-whites success tales must be taken down. Nevertheless, a brand new e book has appeared which units out to problem this standard image with an evidence-driven account, written by a former Professor who now works in worldwide growth and consultancy and understands the interior workings of world politics and worldwide capitalism.  The media protection of Arif Naqvi in a lot of the western press has learn like a protracted press launch by the US Division of Justice. Unfounded allegations are offered as information.  Allegations in an indictment that was designed to win over what they name within the US a grand jury in order that price range may very well be allotted to the case are offered as truths. No petty story is just too small to be repeated on this determined bid for consideration and prizes. In most of this protection, the Pakistani should be a thief as a result of the prosecution say he’s a thief and if the US says it so we should all repeat it as true. Arif Naqvi has been accused, tried and condemned within the western media and corners of our personal media with out as soon as having the prospect to current his facet of the story or the proof that can counter the simplistic and deceptive story that has been put out. That stage of assault will not be solely an assault on a person, it’s an assault on a rustic and a religion. There’s a line of barely hid Islamophobia in a lot that has been written and broadcast on this story within the west, miserable in its content material and predictable in its tone. This racism is just one dimension of the story in fact, there’s additionally a deeper and extra telling pressure at play: energy politics. 

If you’d like illuminating as to how energy politics works in an age of globalisation, learn Icarus: The Life and Demise of the Abraaj Group. In telling the story of how a agency which had absolutely ‘drank the globalisation Kool-Aid,’ in its phrases, was introduced down via underhand means by nation-state energy, and the way that course of was then spun into merely being extra of the identical previous white-collar crime, Icarus supplies helpful instruction on how the world works and the course that worldwide politics will go. 

The place the e book actually shines is in its examination of the Chinese language Belt and Highway Initiative, the push-and-pull it creates in Pakistani politics and the way Karachi Electrical exerted such a gravitational pull upon an internationalist, actually boundary-crossing firm comparable to Abraaj which nonetheless couldn’t escape the tug of its founder’s roots upon its offers. The look right into a Chinese language funding operation comparable to that to purchase Karachi Electrical at such a detailed in stage supplies glorious context for an viewers who might have solely heard of the BRI within the summary when it comes to the massive initiatives in Pakistan. It each lays out the processes, how of the three Chinese language firms concerned, two dropped out to offer Shanghai Electrical Energy a transparent run at it with their $1.77 billion supply, and it lays out the rationale on a strategic stage, why the Chinese language need sure ports and the way their operations in particular international locations match right into a wider sample. It does so clear-headedly, rationally, and with out having to slide into concern mongering to make its factors. From a Pakistani perspective, Icarus vividly paints a political image of an institution torn between a US-friendly army, an rebel populist get together led by an ex-cricketer and a pair of conflicting historic relationships with the Nice Powers staring one another off over Karachi. Preserving the information and figures facet of the story to a great minimal permits this vibrant drama to play out to full impact.

Into the center of this, in fact come Arif Naqvi and the Abraaj Group. Nobody who creates and grows an organization to the purpose it could elevate a $6 billion funding fund may ever be accused of being naïve, or not understanding how the world works. Icarus itself demonstrates Abraaj’s previous canniness in moments of political stress and flux – notably the Arab Spring. As an organization that prides itself on its Center Japanese dwelling information, their success in ready out the turmoils of 2011-12, of conserving their cool whereas others round them misplaced theirs, within the first stands undoubtedly as a second of vindication, a excessive level of the primary of two iterations the e book treats them as having, that allowed them to go onto larger and higher issues. The important thing query of Icarus, subsequently, is the place they misplaced that canniness, if certainly they did, or was it merely a case of being overmatched by a superpower. The reply it involves is a little bit of each. As with so many, Arif Naqvi was vocally anti-Trump, fairly understandably within the expectation he would by no means win election. Unforeseeable maybe, however an error in mild of his place as a person depending on American friendship. Icarus lays out the closeness of Naqvi to Imran Khan’s PTI, he was planning to promote Abraaj to take up a everlasting place in Pakistani politics. The e book’s conclusion that Naqvi each believed the rhetoric of globalisation, that the day of the nation-state was executed, and that America believed its personal spiel to the purpose of forsaking nationwide curiosity, if not naivety, is an endearing idealism that offers misinform the portrayal of him as a greedy criminal.

In the end, Icarus’ lesson is that nation-states and their pursuits cease for no rules. If Naqvi’s mistake was forgetting this, then what Icarus does properly to show is that it was via some real idealism, and that the rules of impression investing have been making an attempt to make the world a greater place. Solid apart by competing superpowers, Icarus reveals the human price to such video games. But it surely additionally tells us that ultimately there are limits to the cosmopolitanism of the west and its liberalism. Limits to the spheres wherein Muslims are tolerated and past which they’re at all times in peril of being completely confined.

–The author is a political 

commentator based mostly in London.



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