Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

11 May 2020, Monday, Vol 1, No 11

Khalilzad meets Gen Bajwa: What is Pakistan’s Afghan Endgame?

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

Khalilzad meets Gen Bajwa: What is Pakistan’s Afghan Endgame?
On 8 May, Zalmay Khalilzad met Gen Bajwa in Islamabad, as a part of the US initiative to pursue the deal it has made with the Taliban in Doha earlier. What the US wants in Afghanistan, is clear; Trump wants to leave as early as possible, perhaps before the next Presidential elections and wants to leave chimaera of peace in Afghanistan between Taliban and the elected government. What does Pakistan want? More importantly, what does the Deep State in Pakistan wants in Afghanistan?

The fact that Khalilzad met Gen Bajwa shows who is in charge of Pakistan’s Afghan policy. Elected governments have abdicated their Afghan policy to the Deep State; or, the latter has usurped it from the former. And, perhaps, that is what the Deep State wants first; to be the deciding authority of Pakistan’s Afghan policy, than the Parliament. It would be a different discourse, why the Deep State is keen to take the lead.

In the context, what else does the Deep State wants in Afghanistan? It would want the US to leave as early as possible so that there are no foreign actors, who would cushion what it would want, and how it works with and work through the Taliban. Though Khalilzad has met the military leadership in Pakistan repeatedly over the US exit, there were numerous times, when the US and Pakistan forces were at each other. Successive US military leadership in Afghanistan have made this point.

An American exit in Afghanistan means, the ground is open for its play. An independent Kabul would be an anathema for Pakistan. With the spread of the Pashtun movement through the PTM not only in KP but also in rest of Pakistan, the Deep State sees it as a conspiracy from its western border. Perhaps, it suspects that there is a New Delhi-Kabul collusion, and the PTM is an expression. An independent and elected government in Kabul also means more space for India in Afghanistan; another anathema for Pakistan.

Finally, the Deep State would prefer a Taliban rule from Kabul, than a secular and liberal Afghanistan. This is a part of how the Deep State looks at even Pakistan internally. The Deep State fears that a liberal, secular and democratic Afghanistan would undermine its interests across both sides of the Durand.

In Focus
"How an aggressively Hindu India poses a problem for Islamabad": Analysis by Shahid Javed Burki
The analysis by one of the most respected columnists – Shahid Javid Burki, though does not highlight on how it poses a problem for Islamabad (perhaps the title was a misnomer), it presents three-pointers on how Pakistan looks at Modi and BJP’s policies. First, Modi is pursuing a policy of exclusivism, as he sees the country as a Hindu India, where the other faiths should play a secondary role. Second, his Kashmir policy has provided a larger space to the Indian military in J&K. Third, Modi is attempting to impose Hindutva in Kashmir, which would be repealed.

A learned scholar like him makes the same cardinal mistake that others in Pakistan have made – that the Kashmir uprising in the 1980s was based on Islamic nationalism. What he also misses is the growing divide between the three regions – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, where there is a religious wave, pulling the State into different directions. (The Express Tribune, 11 May 2020, https://tribune.com.pk/story/2218509/6-aggressively-hindu-india-poses-problem-islamabad/)

Life of a journalist in perpetual peril, says the Express Tribune in its editorial
Referring to a recent attack on a journalist who is working with the Dawn, the editorial looks at the more significant problem facing the journalists in Pakistan. It says, “journalists who dared to broach subjects deemed off-limits have been subjected to harassment campaigns. It goes on to describe how journalists continue to be at risk in the field, especially in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where reporters are caught in the crossfire between the security forces and militants.” (The Express Tribune, 11 May 2020, https://tribune.com.pk/story/2218483/6-in-perpetual-peril/)

The threat comes from both the State and non-State actors. Recent indexes and reports on media freedom in Pakistan have placed Pakistan at a lower place. For example, the World Press Freedom Index by the Reporters Without Borders considers Pakistan at 145, out of the 180 countries. Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka are placed better from the region, except Bangladesh, which is behind Pakistan.

In Brief
By A Padmashree & P Harini Sha

The total number of infected patients in Pakistan surge
In the global coronavirus position, Pakistan ranks 19 with a total of 30,346 patients. It has performed test for 13,341 in the last 24 hours, out of it 1,991 have tested positive. While in the region the most affected provinces are Sindh with 11,480 cases and Punjab with 11,093 cases. As of May 10, the fatality rate of the country stands at 2.16 with 21 new cases. (The News International)

'Smart' lockdown to contain Coronavirus
Pakistan further relaxes lockdown amid spiking Coronavirus where the country has recorder 200 deaths and more than 10,000 COVID positive cases in a week. The Centre is confident in using technology to identify COVID 19 hotspots ensuring 'smart' lockdown to control local transmission and suggested patients to stay in their houses if confirmed. Sindh lifts lockdown with a fear of surging coronavirus cases and announced three days shutdown in a week. (Dawn)  

"Pakistan's health system and health care providers are proving more resilient": Opinion
The health care providers are comparatively better in dealing the patients from the rest of the world due to many reasons. First, the flexibility given to the doctors to handle the patients with their experience. Second, adaptability to deal with the mass number of patients and emergency cases due to practice. Finally, the ability to recruit new resources in a short period. (Dawn)

Pakistan's health is chronically underfunded  
Dawn's editorial comments on WHO's briefing on COVID 19 conditions where it urges the countries to invest in health care systems rather than scramble for solutions when the next pandemic arrives. It says Pakistan's health infrastructure is chronically underfunded and the outbreak of Coronavirus is an alarm to the country's leadership to prioritize its health budgets over defense expenditure. It points out, "the pandemic should be accompanied by the realization that health must be treated not as a privilege, but as a right". (Dawn)  

"The government has left it to the people to ensure their own safety while the government looks for the other way": Opinion
An opinion in The News International highlights the economic condition of the population, where between three crores to seven crore people will go below the poverty line and about 18 million people will lose their jobs as a result of the economic impact due to the pandemic. Pakistan is facing a challenging situation to decide between health and economic conditions. The federal government has left it to the people to ensure their own safety while the government looks for the other way of containing the spread of the virus. It critically analysis the crisis by stating that Pakistan is far behind the flattening of the curve and in end, we achieve nothing than a worse hit due to pandemic. (The News International)

Masks export providing a lifeline to the textile industry
The market demand of the textile industry that dropped down in the pandemic has taken a U-turn to produce textile masks. Experts have decided to produce the masks from woven material to attract the global consumer. The demand for masks has been predicted to surge even after the relaxation of lockdown. (Dawn, https://www.dawn.com/news/1556258/textile-sector-masking-its-way-forward)

"Only faith-based spending can take the risk of saving the economy": Opinion
The faith-based charity aids have helped the economy during the pandemic by saving the poor from hunger. The opinion on The News International insists that by institutionalizing these funds of charities would support and supplement the funds from the IMF for projects removing hunger and poverty. It comments that the pandemic has taught lessons that the mere growth of the economy does not make people prosper rather growing with shared prosperity. (The News International, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/656947-how-to-save-the-economy) 

National Assembly to meet today on sessions to discuss COVID-19
The National Assembly is set to meet today, (May 11) under strict adherence to health guidelines to discuss the prevailing situation on coronavirus spread in the country. The physical session of the National Assembly was scheduled under the agreement of debating only on COVID-19 situation and suspend its entire routine agenda. The admission to the visitor's gallery is closed and only journalists are allowed in the Press Lounge. (Dawn, https://www.dawn.com/news/1556225/ritual-na-session-on-covid-19-impact-gets-under-way-today ) 

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