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01 March 2020, Sunday

Pakistan is upbeat about the US-Taliban deal in Doha

The Middle Class has no role in politics: Karachi Literature Festival; Two more cases of coronavirus confirmed in Pakistan

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

Main Story
Pakistan is upbeat about the US-Taliban deal in Doha
D. Suba Chandran

What happened?
On the deal that was just concluded in Doha between the US and the Taliban, Imran Khan tweeted: “We welcome the Doha Accord signed between the US and the Taliban. This is the start of a peace and reconciliation process to end decades of war and suffering of the Afghan people. I have always maintained that a political solution, no matter how complex, is the only meaningful path to peace.” One could sense, that Pakistan is extremely upbeat about the deal.

Why is Pakistan upbeat about the deal?
From the beginning, Pakistan has been insisting that the Taliban is a part of the solution in Afghanistan and not a problem. Islamabad was also against any military approach vis-à-vis the Taliban. The reason is simple – Pakistan even today consider the Taliban as their boys. 

Second, the deal recognizes and even legitimizes the Taliban as a central player in deciding the future of Afghanistan. Pakistan does not trust the elected leadership in Kabul. Despite the initial attempts at rapprochement, the Karzai and Ghani governments ended up increasing the political distance between Islamabad and Kabul.

Third, Islamabad would want the return of the Taliban to power in Kabul. It would also reduce the Indian influence in Afghanistan; the Karzai and Ghani governments have increased the Indo-Afghan partnership, much to the dismay of Pakistan.

Fourth, the deal would also pave the way for the exit of American soldiers from Afghanistan. Pakistan has always been wary of the presence of American troops in Afghanistan, for it upset the Pakistan-Taliban relationship. There have been instances in which the Afghan troops either led by or with support from the Americans, militarily responded to Pakistan across the Durand Line. An American exit means that Pakistan would have an upper hand across the Durand Line.

What is the background?
Pakistan has been the chief patron of the Taliban. It was one of the few countries to recognize the Taliban regime in the 1990s. 

Since 9/11, Pakistan attempted to play the role of a mediator between the US and the Taliban. Post-Musharraf period, Pakistan lost the edge, as the US took on the Taliban militarily. Subsequently, the US under Zalmay Khalilzad initiated a dialogue, sidelining Islamabad.

Pakistan tried to remain relevant through the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, that comprised of Afghanistan, China and the United States. The QCG met multiple times until Khalizad initiated the Doha dialogue directly with the Taliban. Islamabad was initially upset with the sidelining, and tried influence the Taliban from not taking part in it. 

Later, Khalilzad made a few visits to Islamabad to appraise the Doha process, though he did not bring Pakistan directly to the negotiating table.

Short Note
The Middle Class has no role in politics: Karachi Literature Festival
Lakshmi V Menon
The News International (1 March 2020), reported about the 11th edition of the Karachi Literature Festival held on 29 February 2020. While addressing a session titled ‘The Political Character of Pakistani Middle Class’, economist Asad Sayeed said that Pakistan’s middle class remains divergent in the tussles between the elite and the lower classes of the society. “First of all, they have to stand united” he remarked.

According to the News, Senior journalist Salahuddin claimed that “the middle class (utilised and suppressed by power pockets) lacks the capacity to bring about societal change”. “Intellectual deprivation in the middle class is alarming” he added.  Furthermore, he spoke of their inability to play a noteworthy political role due to the Pakistani elite’s influence and said that striving to bring about societal transformation is more important than fighting classism. Dr Huma Baqai, associate dean of Institute of Business Administration accused the authorities of creating hindrances for the upliftment of women and youth who campaign for change while addressing their labours to dismiss the Aurat and Student Solidarity marches as failures. She added that the state’s economic condition has weakened the once strong middle class.

Middle class reverberates its political voice through social media platforms. However, a budding ‘meritocratic’ elite or professional upper class is weighing down on the burgeoning middle class. 

Short Note
Two more cases of coronavirus confirmed in Pakistan
Abigail Miriam Fernandez
On 29 February 2020, two more cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been confirmed, one in Islamabad and the other in Karachi. This makes it a total of four people that are being treated for COVID-19 in Pakistan. At a joint press conference, the PM’s Special Assistant on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza addressed the issue and stated that the patients are being handled according to clinical protocols and that all measures are being taken to address any concerns. Further, he assured that surveillance on Ports of Entry would be reinforced so that a person having COVID-2019 can be identified and quarantined there itself. He also added that a committee with representatives from the ministries of Health and Information, as well as ISPR, will be constituted to launch a national awareness campaign on COVID-19 (The News).

The virus has spread rapidly across the world and to new zones in recent days, reaching nine new countries including Azerbaijan, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, and the United States.  

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