Daily Briefs

Photo : The Express Tribune

17 March 2020, Tuesday

President Arif Alvi in China to convey solidarity

Opposition comes together to condemn the arrest of Jang group owner

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In brief

President Arif Alvi in China to convey solidarity

Lakshmi V Menon

On 16 March 2020, President Arif Alvi arrived in Beijing for the two-day China visit on the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping. The accompanying Pakistani delegation includes Minister for Development, Planning and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and senior bureaucrats. (The News International, 17 March 2020)

Senior Chinese officials, Chinese Minister of Rural Affairs and Agriculture Han Changfu, Pakistan Ambassador to China Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi and other officials from Pakistan Embassy in Beijing welcomed Preseident Alvi. He was presented the guard of honour by a People's Liberation Army contingent. 

As per reports, during his maiden bilateral visit to China, the President wishes to convey solidarity with the Chinese government on the coronavirus outbreak and learn how to effectively tackle the epidemic. President Arif will attend separate meetings with Premier Le Keqiang, President Xi Jingping and Chinese leaders; and sign wide-ranging MoUs.
The visit will provide an opportunity to appraise global, regional and bilateral issues in a manner to advance the All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership and “shared goals of promoting peace, prosperity and development”, while congealing bonds of “unparalleled mutual trust, understanding and commonality of interests” between the “iron brothers” and staunch partners.

In brief

Opposition comes together to condemn the arrest of Jang group owner

Lakshmi V Menon 

A joint petition was filed in the Islamabad High Court, against the arrest of Jang group owner Mir Shakilur Rehman and the government crackdown on Geo TV, by three opposition parties - Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The petition was signed by lawmakers of JI and JUI-F, former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal. The petition will be heard on 18 March. (Dawn, 17 Marc 2020)

On 16 March, hearing the petition filed by Mr. Rehman’s wife, challenging the detaining and physical remand of the Jang owner in connection with the allegation of 1986 allotting of 54-kanal land to Mr Rehman by then Punjab CM Nawaz Sharif, the IHC issued a notice to National Accountability Bureau. 

The petitioner’s advocate Zafarullah Khan cited secretary of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Pemra chaiman Saleem Baig and NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal as accused. Petitioners said the superior courts’ orderings (8 March 2020 detailing guidelines and parameters for NAB regarding arrest) and constitutional fundamental rights were violated, alleged NAB of abusing its statutory powers of arrest under 1999 National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) and accused the PTI government of curbing free media.

As per reports, on 24 March, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah’s division bench will hear a similar petition filed by advocate Jahangir Khan Jadoon (representing Ahsan Satti) against the alleged shut down of Geo TV and its relegation to lower numbers. The petition cites chairmen of NAB and Pemra as respondents and calls for the IHC’s declaration of controlling media as ‘illegal’.

Despite cooperating for the investigation and the unverified complaint, Mr. Rehman was arrested on 12 March by NAB.
In brief

513 per cent increase in Foreign Investment

Lakshmi V Menon 

On 16 March 2020, State Bank of Pakistan released data showing that during the first eight months of the current fiscal year, foreign investment in Pakistan peaked by 512.9 per cent standing at $3.336 billion (from $650.6 million during the corresponding period of FY19). (Dawn, 17 March 2020)

FDI peaked by $793.7m during the July-February of FY20. FDI rose to $562.6m in February 2020 in comparison to $115.8m in February 2019. FDI from China, Norway, Malta and Hong Kong amounted to $696.5m, $288.5m, $148.2 and $105.8m correspondingly. 

The peak followed the foreign investment of $2.161bn in Pakistan’s debt papers. Since the commence of FY20, foreign investors have concentrated on Pakistan’s investment bonds and treasury bills offering lucrative trade prospects. But owing to the coronavirus global shutdown, investors withdrew $606m from Pakistan Investment Bonds and Market Treasury Bills in March. 

During July-February of FY20, power sector experienced highest inflow ($575.6m) followed by communications ($471.8m) and electrical machinery at ($143.4m). Highest outflow was experienced by communication sector ($106.1m), followed by personal services ($69.7) and power sector ($85.5m).
Although total investment had manifolded through the foreign inflows into capital markets, withdrawals due to COVID-19 will bring down the final tally of FY20.

In brief

Coronavirus: Centre confirms 94 cases, but Provinces’ tally tops 183

Lakshmi V Menon 

On 16 March 2020, addressing reporters at the launch of Command and Control Centre for COVID-19 in the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), SAPM on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza confirmed 94 COVID-19 cases and dismissed rumours regarding death of coronavirus patients. However, Sindh province confirmed 150 cases of its own, peaking the total tally to 183. (Dawn, 17 March 2020)

According to Dr. Mirza, 14 designated labs were providing free virus testing, 961 suspects had been tested and 289 admitted to hospitals. He said, most of the newly confirmed cases were among Sindh pilgrims returning from Iran (kept in the Sukkur quarantine facility). Pilgrims coming from Taftan would be quarantined for 14 days before returning to their respective provinces. PM Imran Khan has been supervising anti-virus measures and all provinces have implemented the National Security Committee’s decisions, he added.
Meanwhile, the previously green zone of KP turned red with the reporting of 15 cases in a day. With five cases from Gilgit-Baltistan, ten from Balochistan, one from Punjab and two from Islamabad, total tally has risen to 183.

As Pakistan grapples to control the outbreak, provincial and central authorities are at disagreement regarding the severity of the outbreak.

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