Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

15 March 2020, Sunday

PTI wants opposition’s support for ‘South Punjab’

The government cannot ban media: Islamabad High Court; COVID-19 tally rises to 30: National Institute of Health (NIH)

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In brief

PTI wants opposition’s support for ‘South Punjab’

Lakshmi V Menon  

On 14 March 2020, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Foreign Minister Shah Mehmoud Qureshi sought support of opposition parties Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and others to create a novel south Punjab province. He said the opposition must collectively support the government to create the province rather than make statements for political mileage. (Dawn, 15 March 2020)

Qureshi explained that PTI required two-thirds parliament majority for the province’s creation, a part of PTI’s election manifesto to ensure power-decentralization to grassroots level. He added that PPP had faced the same obstacle during their term. 

Arguing that developmental issues of Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan and Rahim Yar Khan were inter-connected, Mr. Qureshi said that the new province was an administrative necessity for “the Senate, NFC Award, separate high court and distribution of resources”. He pointed out that from 1970 to 2019, south Punjab was denied its due share of the nation’s resources and had their developmental plans diverted to other provinces. 

While addressing misunderstandings regarding the issue of two secretariats, Mr Qureshi clarified that there existed no constitutional or legal hindrance to the establishment of two separate secretariats – one in Bahawalpur and another in Multan – for the future province of south Punjab. He added that PM Imran Khan had directed to form decisions after thorough consultation and deliberation to avoid imposition of opinions.


In brief

The government cannot ban media: Islamabad High Court

Lakshmi V Menon  

On 14 March 2020, during the hearing of the case on media regulations and ethics, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) warned that banning of media by government “as happening in a neighboring country (India)”, was never allowed by constitutional courts. The court also directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to submit details regarding the proposed regulatory rules for social media. (Dawn, 15 March 2020)

The advocate challenging the regulations, Jahangir Jadoon, accused Pemra of trying to curb Geo TV’s broadcasting post Jang Group editor-in-chief Mir Shakilur Rehman’s arrest. Hamid Mir, a famous journalist argued National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had disobeyed IHC’s order by detaining Rehman. Further, he informed IHC regarding the government’s notice to regulate social media; federal ministers said the notification was not the federal cabinet’s decision. Hamid said such regulations, which weren’t notified in the official gazette were illegal. On 13 March, Indian government had similarly shut down two channels, he added. 

Pemra and PTA maintained that the regulatory committee was formed by PM Imran Khan owing to national and global criticism. 

Athar Minallah, IHC Chief Justice expressed distress about Pakistan’s 143rdglobal rank given by the Rule of Law index for the ‘freedom of expression’ factor. Stating that for nation-building constructive criticism was necessary, he adjourned the hearing for a period of two weeks.

Meanwhile, a case on reporting of court decisions in misleading ways that created doubts regarding the veracity of the news was also taken up by the IHC.


In brief

COVID-19 tally rises to 30: National Institute of Health (NIH)

Lakshmi V Menon 

On 14 March 2020, National Institute of Health (NIH) Executive Director Maj Gen Dr. Aamer Ikram confirmed to Dawn that two more patients tested corona-positive from Islamabad and Karachi, increasing the tally to 30. Prime Minister Imran Khan assured that he was personally overseeing the direction of the adopted anti-virus measures and urged the nation to not panic. (Dawn, 15 March 2020)

All provinces assured implementation of the National Security Committee decisions (13 March) during the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on COVID-19’s maiden meeting, chaired by SAPM on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza. Dr. Mirza said health screening of travelers, laboratory tests, quarantine facilities, surveillance, and prevention of spread were being implemented. Helpline 1166 assures public assistance, he added. CM Syed Murad Ali Shah notified that till 5 April, marriage functions and public gatherings in halls, including Sufi Urs celebration, and training and educational institutes would remain suspended.

SAPM on Information Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, federal Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch, Inter-Services Public Relations’ director general, National Disaster Management Authority’s chairman, four chief ministers and others attended the NCC meeting.

Meanwhile, Sindh province announced the shutdown of shrines, cinemas and marriage halls for three weeks; and Dr. Mirza clarified that 1,822 pilgrims were sent back to their respective provinces from Taftan quarantine facility in Iran-Pakistan border on 13 March 2020. Previously, MNAs had accused the government of withholding over 3000 people in the facility.

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