Pakistan-Sharif, corruption probe: Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered further investigations into corruption allegations leveled against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but ruled there was insufficient evidence to order his removal from office. Asia Times reports that Sharif stands accused of failing to explain the source of money in offshore companies and of lying to parliament after allegations arose from leaks contained in the so-called “Panama Papers.”
Elections-Jakarta, radicals victorious: Anies Baswedan’s emphatic victory in Jakarta elections left Islamic conservatives cheering and secularists wringing their hands over the future direction of the country. John McBeth writes that Baswedan’s margin of victory raises new questions about Indonesia’s much-vaunted reputation for religious tolerance and, more importantly, how it might further embolden hardline Islamic splinter groups.
Beijing-Pyongyang, friendship over? China’s leading Korean War scholar Shen Zhihua has joined the chorus of advocates calling for China to take a tougher line with North Korea by saying the two are “no longer brothers in arms”. Asia Unhedged reports that Beijing, by allowing such criticism of a fundamental pillar of foreign policy, is considering a major shift in how it handles Pyongyang.
Duterte’s dazzling diplomacy: The Philippines president has become one of the world’s most travelled leaders and, after high-profile trips in China, Japan and key Southeast Asian nations, Duterte just concluded a week-long tour of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. Richard Javad Heydarian reports that, with typically unorthodox diplomacy, Duterte secured around US$1 billion in pledged investments during his Middle East trip, mainly in tourism, agriculture and healthcare.
Asia-Film: Udine sponsorship: The Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy, has long championed the cause of commercial Asian cinema. For the first time, Asia Times is supporting the festival’s Campus program, by helping to sponsor five aspiring young Asian writers that will spend two weeks working alongside five European counterparts at this year’s festival, that starts on April 21.