Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

03 March 2020, Tuesday 

With Afghanistan, no need to involve the US to resolve bilateral issues, says Pakistan

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

With Afghanistan, no need to involve the US to resolve bilateral issues, says Pakistan

by D. Suba Chandran

What happened?
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, was quoted saying: “They should talk directly to Pakistan. The US is planning to withdraw and we will always remain neighbors… If I have an issue with Afghanistan, I will not ask Washington to play a role.”

Qureshi was responding to a recent US-Afghanistan declaration that stated, “The United States commits to facilitate discussions between Afghanistan and Pakistan to work out arrangements to ensure neither country’s security is threatened by actions from the territory of the other side.”

Why is Pakistan wary of engaging the US with its bilateral relations vis-à-vis Afghanistan, but wants Washington to intervene vis-à-vis India?

What is the background?
At the political level, there are multiple issues between Islamabad and Kabul. From border issues along the Durand Line to Islamabad’s support for Taliban and the Haqqani network, Afghanistan has multiple complaints against Pakistan.

The US, though was not formally involved in any negotiation between the two countries, at the ground level and on operational issues along the Af-Pak border, the US was very much a factor in Pak-Afghan relations.

Kabul is worried that Pakistan with stronger military power and the crucial Taliban card on its side, will be able to dictate Afghanistan on security matters. Kabul is convinced that Pakistan continues to exert influence over the Taliban, and hence comfortable, that the US is a part of the discussions. So, Afghanistan would prefer that the US helps Kabul to negotiate with Islamabad. On the other hand, Pakistan does not want the US, not because issues are bilateral, but it is apprehensive that the latter would side with Afghanistan.

Besides, Pakistan’s policy towards Afghanistan is not dictated by its Parliament; instead, it is led by the Establishment. The political leadership in Pakistan would not want this reality to be acknowledged in public.

Though Pakistan wants to believe that it has addressed the trust factor in bilateral relations with Afghanistan, for Kabul, it remains an issue. Qureshi was quoted to have stated: “If I have an issue with Afghanistan, I will not ask Washington to play a role. You know a trust deficit has existed and Pakistan has done its best to bridge that trust deficit.”



Federal Minister for Human Rights and Journalists Union backs Aurat March
by Abigail Miriam Fernandez

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari on 2 March 2019 condemned the religio-political parties and their leaders who were trying to put a stop to the Aurat March which is to be held on the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8. According to Dawn, the minister had stated that “Our government is committed to ensuring an end to discrimination against and harassment of women and it has put in place programs, policies and legislative measures to empower women and girls”. (Dawn, 3 March 2020)

Pakistan Federal Union for Journalists (PFUJ) President Shahzada Zulfikar and Secretary-General Nasir Zaidi also issued a joint statement the same day condemned threats given by some opposers to organizers and participants of the Aurat March. According to the News, the PFUJ leaders have stated that threats such as these raise a serious concern regarding the fundamental rights of citizens, particularly women and minorities, in the country and situation such as these contribute to hate speech against women’s rights advocates. (The News, 3 March 2020)

Further, they highlighted the fact that the Aurat March is part of a proud tradition of women’s rights movements in Pakistan and that the PFUJ stands in unity with the women who have been celebrating International Women's Day for generations and their fight against the struggle for women’s rights. The PFUJ urged the government to ensure that the marchers are provided necessary security so that they can hold a peaceful march.


13.6 per cent rise in exports
by Lakshmi V Menon

On 3 March 2020, Dawn reported that contrary to the slump trend, Pakistan’s exports showed double-digit growth in the month of February. Trade analysts credit diversion of orders (especially clothing and textile) by European and North American countries from China due to the spread of coronavirus for this surge. However similar growth in upcoming months is uncertain and conditional.
In December 2019, exports’ proceeds fell by 3.8 per cent. The trend continued in January. However, in February a growth of 13.6 per cent was recorded; edging the proceeds up to $2.13 billion. (Commerce Division) For the fiscal year 2020, the export projection is $26.187bn (from $24.656bn in FY2019).
According to reports, imports from January-August 2020 are projected at $31.3bn, 14.39percent lower than during the same period in FY2019. Further, the imports may stagnate at approximately $4bn per month in the coming months. (Dawn March 3, 2020) 
Previously, the Commerce Division, aiming to negotiate and seek “preferential market access” had awarded customs duties exemption, cut the cost of materials (raw and semi-finished) used in exports, and promised a sales tax refund

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