Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

2 March 2020, Monday

US-Taliban Doha Deal: Pakistan wants to name and shame the spoilers

Pakistan to request the British government to deport Nawaz Sharif; Seven days closure for Afghan border at Chaman

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US-Taliban Doha Deal: Pakistan wants to name and shame the spoilers

D. Suba Chandran

What happened?
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Foreign minister of Pakistan, on his return from Doha after witnessing a signing of a deal between the US and the Taliban, addressed a press conference in Islamabad. During the conference, commenting that “there will be hiccups, there will be difficulties and there will be no smooth sailing,” he also asked for a mechanism “to identify and blame and shame the spoilers.”

Who could be the potential spoilers? And what could spoil the deal?
In the press conference, the foreign minister stressed on the need for the “timely start of intra-Afghan dialogue, prisoners’ swap, troop withdrawal to keep Doha peace momentum.” (Dawn, 2 February 2020). To start the intra-Afghan dialogue, much would depend on where Kabul stands, and how united it is. With the differences between Abdullah and Ghani already in the open, it is not likely to be an easy task for Kabul.

Second, Ghani has already made a statement on prisoners’ swap. He is reluctant to release the Taliban prisoners – more than 5000, who are in the prison. Unless there is a reliable ceasefire in place, he is less likely to release them. Taliban is likely to insist on the release of the prisoners as the prerequisite to start any dialogue.

So, who could be the possible spoilers for Pakistan? Since it is backing the Taliban from the beginning, they could not be a spoiler. So, the first in Pakistan’s list has to be the government in Kabul.

Will the US be a spoiler for Pakistan, if there it decides to go slow on the drawdown, or decide to keep a residue force inside Afghanistan?

And what about a section within the Taliban? It is an open secret now that the Taliban is no more monolithic since the death of Mullah Omar. If the Taliban fail to deliver on the deal – in terms of either starting an intra-Afghan dialogue (it could link the same to the release of all its prisoners), or return to its violent ways, what will Pakistan do?

Forget about taking action against the Taliban, will Pakistan be upfront and willing to name and shame the Taliban? Or the Haqqani network? Or its own intelligence agencies, if there are clear evidence of interfering?


In short...
Pakistan to request the British government to deport Nawaz Sharif
by Abigail Miriam Fernandez

With the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government deciding to seek deportation of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from London, the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N has stated that Sharif will move the Lahore High Court against the Punjab government’s denial to grant him an extension of his stay in London. According to the Dawn, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told reporters that “Government departments concerned will start the process of writing a letter to the United Kingdom from the coming week.” (DAWN, 2 March 2020)

Punjab PML-N’s information secretary and MPA Azma Bokhari stated to reporters that they have received a written order from the PTI’s Punjab government regarding their refusal to grant an extension of Nawaz Sharif stay abroad on flimsy grounds. Further, there have been doubts over the illness of the former prime minister leading to the lack of trust over the official process to allow Sharif to go to the UK. Some have raised suspicion over the authenticity of medical reports of the Punjab government’s doctors while others are blaming courts for their biased views and a few others holding the government responsible.

The Lahore High Court had granted bail to Sharif on medical grounds for four weeks in October 2019. Last week, the Punjab government had refused to extend Sharif’s bail, stating that it had found no legal, moral or medical ground requiring an extension in his stay abroad.

Seven days closure for Afghan border at Chaman
by Lakshmi V Menon

On March 2 2020, Dawn reported that Pakistan’s interior ministry on March 1, notified that “The competent authority has decided to close Pak-Afghan border at Chaman (with over 7000-8000 people crossing daily), w.e.f 2nd March 2020 for an initial period of 7 days in order to prevent the spread of Coronavirus on both sides of the border in the best interest of the people (of the two) brotherly countries.”

Pakistan has informed the Afghan government regarding the decision. Isolation wards have been established at Chaman; medical practitioners would remain there. Sindh government (where two cases have been reported) said educational institutes will remain shut till March 13. On March 1, in the district of Chagai, eight Iranians returned across the Taftan Pak-Iran border, over 1,300 Pakistani citizens from Afghanistan and 131 from Iran returned. On February 28 and 29, 1,150 Pakistanis returned crossing the border at Taftan. Previously, on February 23, Pakistan had sealed its borders with Iran as deaths were reported in Qom due to the virus outbreak. 

Meanwhile, Iran and Pakistan have decided to reopen the borders for three days for the return of stranded citizens after health screening; and Chinese nationals, working at petroleum extraction sites, are being screened by the tehsil administration of Pindighaeb.

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