loader

Pakistan This Week


Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 172, 2 May 2021

German foreign minister's visit on Afghanistan, COVID-19 resurgence, Karachi by-elections and Justice Isa's case



From Kabul to Karachi

Pak-Germany: Afghan negotiations on the agenda as German FM visits Islamabad; COVID-19 surge: Armed forces deployed to help the government; NA-249 by-elections: Bliss for PPP, dismay for MQM and PTI; and, Justice Isa Case: Supreme Court accepts review petition in a presidential reference

PR Team

Vishnu Prasad, Vishal Rajput, Abhiruchi Chowdhury,  and Rishabh Yadav


Pak-Germany: Afghan negotiations on the agenda as German FM visits Islamabad 
What happened? 
On 29 April, the German foreign minister Heiko Maas reached Islamabad for a brief visit and held talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The two ministers discussed the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan; Qureshi called for a 'responsible withdrawal and steady progress by the Afghan parties towards a negotiated political settlement'. Further, they discussed the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan; Maas assured Qureshi of the same via the COVAX initiative. The two ministers also discussed the possibility of enhancing bilateral economic cooperation between Pakistan and Germany.

What is the background? 
First, the decision to pull US and NATO forces out of Afghanistan. This has resurrected Pakistan as a major player in the Afghan negotiations. Many in Pakistan had feared that they would be sidelined in the Afghan reconstruction, with the new regime turning to India for support. However, recent developments have seen the international community recognizing Pakistan as a significant player in the process. 

Second, on 21 March, US Secretary of State Lloyd Austin had held a telephonic conversation with Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa; both discussed Afghanistan. 

What does it mean?

The two foreign ministers discussing the Afghan negotiations, read jointly with the US secretary of state and the Pakistan army chief broaching it barely a week earlier, reflects how important a player, the international community think believes, Pakistan is to the Afghan negotiations. This is a turnaround for a country that, a decade ago, was staring at an uncertain role in Afghanistan. With the NATO withdrawal virtually ensuring that the Taliban will regain control of the country sooner or later, Pakistan, along with Russia and China, looks set to have a major role to play in Afghanistan.


 
COVID-19 surge: Armed forces deployed to help the government
What happened?
On 2 May, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reported 864 cases, Balochistan 159; Punjab 1707; and Islamabad more than 500 cases. At the same time, 7,22,000 recoveries were reported.

On 29 April, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives said that the vaccination for the age group 40 to 49 years would start from 3 May.

On 27 April, Pakistan deployed the armed forces in 16 major cities to assist the civil authorities in controlling the spread of the third wave of coronavirus.

What is the background?
First, the surge in COVID-19 cases. All provinces across Pakistan have witnessed a surge in cases, with Punjab being affected the most. In the backdrop of Ramzan, there is has been a major increase in the footfall in the local markets with SOPs being flouted, contributing to the rapid surge in the cases.

Second, the vaccination drive. In the earlier vaccination drive, Pakistan reportedly vaccinated their citizens under 50-59 years of age group. However, amid the rapid rise in the cases, civil authorities fear to see the same consequences as India if they do not vaccinate a larger chunk of their population. Moreover, there were reports of vaccines running out of stock and people turning towards private healthcare centres and the black market to get the vaccination jabs. There are three major Chinese companies, Sinopharm, CanSinoBio and Sinovac, providing vaccine to Pakistan. Apart from this, Russia has also provided Sputnik V to Pakistan.

Third, deployment of the armed forces. As the civil authorities and their system have reportedly been trying hard to control the pandemic, the armed forces were called in to assist the civil authorities in health, law and order and vaccination program. Reportedly, police forces were facing pressure to ensure the SOPs were followed. Hence, the primary reason to call in the armed forces was to make sure that people adhere to the government guidelines of the closure of public markets and people remain in their homes.

What does it mean?
As the COVID-19 cases are rapidly surging, Pakistan's health care system is already crumbling, and if it fails to vaccinate all the majorly affected cities, it will lead to more COVID-19 deaths. The failure of civil authorities to convince people to avoid stepping out of their homes during these days of Ramzan has aggravated the situation. As Eid is approaching, there is a more considerable risk of people getting affected by the great conglomeration of citizens. Pakistan authorities have taken a wise decision of calling armed force in helping in running the internal affairs, but it is quite uncertain if this decision would yield a more significant result of stopping the cases.



NA-249 by-elections: Bliss for PPP, dismay for MQM and PTI
What happened?
On 28 April, according to the provisional results for the by-elections held in NA-249 the PPP candidate Qadir Khan Mandokhail emerged victorious. He was closely followed by PML-N's candidate Miftah Ismail who was shown leading in the earlier trends but fell short by just 683 votes. TLP's candidate Allama Nazir Ahmed came third who was followed by PSP's candidate Mustafa Kamal. The incumbent party in the NA-249 constituency, PTI stood fifth. The voter turnout as per the ECP results was 21.61 per cent and a total number of 73,471 out of 339,561 votes were cast. NA-249 is a newly created constituency that was formed in 2018 by combining the erstwhile NA-239 and NA-240. The by-election took place due to the resignation of previous National Assembly member PTI's Faisal Vawda owing to his dual nationality controversy.

On 1 May, the Election Commission of Pakistan issued a stay order to withhold the provisional results for the NA-249 elections owing to the opposition's claim of malpractices in the election counting. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of PML-N has claimed PML-N did not receive 30 Form 45, more than 100 Form 45 on which there is no signature of polling agents, and 34 polling stations have not WhatsApp the results. PML-N's application for the recounting of votes will be heard on 4 May. 

What is the background?
First, Karachi as the MQM stronghold. The city has been a citadel of the MQM  since the 1980s due to the large presence of Urdu Speaking voters. The first shock came to the party when PTI ended its winning streak in the elections of 2018. The party slipping to the fourth position behind the TLP should ring alarming bells in the leadership of MQM. 

Second, another setback for PTI in by-elections. The biggest shock in the by-elections has come to PTI which from winning the NA-249 seat in 2018 has slipped to the fifth position. This is the third consecutive defeat for PTI after Nowshera and Duska By-elections. Karachi has a strong Pashtun population which in recent years have mostly voted for the PTI but now has shifted to TLP. Also, the price hike has become one of the major concerns of common people which is why we are seeing a downfall in the popularity of PTI.  

Third, the continuing electoral rise of the TLP. TLP has been making inroads not just in Punjab but in major urban cities like Karachi too. This signifies the increasing popularity of TLP due to its indulgence in taking up prominent religious issues. Even after the violence in Lahore, TLP's popularity has not gone down which many had predicted. Issues like Khatme Nubuwwat entice Muslims from all the communities, thereby we see a decrease in the vote share of other major parties of Karachi.  

What does it mean?
The surprising win for the PPP could be attributed to the lower turnout observed in the elections due to harsh weather conditions in Karachi, the fear of spreading Corona and the month of Ramzan. The margins are very less which means after the recounting of votes, the election results might change and Miftah Ismail might clinch victory. Also, a similar trend has been observed in this By-election as well where the opposition is reluctant to accept the results and cries foul play. Election Reforms is going to be a hot issue in the coming days. Nevertheless, it is a wake-up call for the PTI before the next general elections as it is seeing a rapid decline in its popularity.


 
Justice Isa Case: Supreme Court accepts review petition in a presidential reference
What happened?
On 26 April, the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) accepted the review petition challenging the court judgement in the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa and overturned its earlier order by a majority of six to four.

On 28 April, Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) decided not to proceed anew against Justice Isa based on the Federal Board of Revenue's (FBR) findings on the three offshore properties of Justice Isa's spouse and children.

What is the background?
First, the case against Justice Isa. The government initiated a presidential reference against him over the allegations of not disclosing the details of foreign properties in the income tax returns that were in the name of his spouse and children. The SC, in June 2020, repealed the presidential reference on the grounds of illegality. However, the verdict directed the FBR to conduct an inquiry into the foreign assets of his wife. The latest judgement overturned these directions given to FBR.

Second, the case of Justice Isa.  The various judgments authored by him have been critical of the functioning of state machinery for not fulfilling their constitutional mandate. Many of his strong-worded judgments have irked the corridors of powers and made them insecure as he is poised to become Chief Justice of Pakistan in 2023. Many believe that Justice Isa became the target of the deep state after his Quetta judicial commission report and the judgement on Faizabad dharna. The judicial commission report, investigating the Quetta suicide bombing, highlighted the failure of state institutions in implementing the anti-terror laws and providing security to the citizens. Similarly, his judgement on Faizabad dharna indicted the security agencies of working in "excess of their mandate" and urged all institutions to work within the parameters of the Constitution.

What does it mean? 
The recent judgment clears the impediment for Justice Isa to become the Chief Justice of Pakistan in 2023. While the Supreme Court was able to safeguard its judicial independence, it fell short on initiating an enquiry to look into the roles of officials who were involved in creating such a reference in the first place, which involved illegal surveillance and invasion of privacy. The judgement does not diminish the ability of the government and establishment to encroach on the affairs of the judiciary, and in future, we are going to witness the power tussle between the institutions for the maintenance of separation of powers.

Recent Publications

PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Insights
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Insights
PR Short Notes
PR Short Notes
PR Comments
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Reports
PR Comments
PR Comments
PR Insights
Pakistan This Week
Pakistan This Week
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Comments
Pakistan This Week
PR Comments
PR Insights
PR Comments
PR Comments
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
Pakistan This Week
Pakistan This Week
PR Comments
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Comments
PR Comments
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Insights
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Comments
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Insights
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Insights
PR Insights
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
PR Short Notes
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
Pakistan This Week
PR Insights
Pakistan This Week
Pakistan This Week
Pakistan This Week
Pakistan This Week
PR Comments
PR Comments
PR Comments
PR Comments
Analysis
Analysis
PR Review
PR Comments
PR Review
Brief
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Brief
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
PR Comments
PR Comments
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Brief
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
PR Review
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Brief
Analysis
Brief
Analysis
Brief
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Forecast
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Forecast
PR Comments
PR Comments
PR Comments
PR Comments
PR Comments
PR Comments
PR Comments
PR Comments
Brief
PR Comments
PR Comments
PR Comments
PR Comments
PR Comments
Brief
Brief
Forecast
Update
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
PR Comments
Analysis
PR Comments
Brief
Analysis
Brief
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
Analysis
PR Comments
Analysis
PR Comments
Analysis
PR Comments
Analysis