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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

20 May 2020, Wednesday, Vol 1, No.20

Editorials and Analyses are critical about the Supreme Court's verdict



Internal debate on the latest Supreme Court verdict on easing the lockdown; a clarification by a former engineer about the nature of Diamer-Bhasha dam; COVID situation; and a report on re-emerging militancy in Swat after ten years

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
By Lakshmi V Menon & Abigail Miriam Fernandez

Editorials and Analyses are critical about the Supreme Court's verdict 
An editorial in Dawn ("SC order," Dawn, May 20 2020)  cautions two things - the failure of a non-partisan approach, and second about judicial activism. First, critical of the federal government's failure to set aside their political differences amid the pandemic, the editorial states that it was necessary that the federation priorities its agenda of having a unified plan to fight the virus, however, the has only been discord and bickering in the federation which has caused the seriousness of the virus to be diluted.

Second, the popular verdict of the Supreme Court has been seen as yet another instance of judicial overreach into executive matters. The editorial argues that the federal and provincial authorities cannot exempt themselves from created this situation where the Supreme Court may have believed an intervention on its part was required. The editorial, concludes with a serious word of caution stating that this is no time to downplay the risk of the pandemic, radical actions of the federal and provincial authorities and verdicts highlighting Excessive judicial activism would not help the current situation. 

An opinion in the same newspaper, ("State of anarchy," Dawn, May 20 2020)questions the wisdom of the court's decision. The court seems to be contradicting its initial stance on the virus. In March it ordered the rearrangement of a national policy to deal with the coronavirus infection. The court instructions had resulted in the formation of the National Command and Operations Centre and the National Coordination Committee (NCC) led by the prime minister with other provincial chief ministers. This forum worked in coordinating efforts and containing the spread of the infection. But the latest verdict of the court has struck down many decisions taken by the NCC. Given the reality of the situation in Pakistan, the court seems oblivious to the increasing number of causes in the country. Further, the court's opinion of whether the coronavirus is a pandemic in Pakistan concerns for now it not only has the executive body failed to prioritize the threat and seriousness of the coronavirus but the judiciary has also followed suit. 

Also read...
Editorial, “Staying alive,” The News International, 20 May 2020
Hassan Niazi, “The 18th Amendment and the Supreme Court,” The Express Tribune, 20 May 2020
Editorial, "SC judgement," The Express Tribune, 20 May 2020

A former engineer makes four clarifications on Diamer Bhasha dam
Engineer Karamat Ullah Chaudhry, former president and managing director of NESPAK (a Pakistani firm on dams), clarified certain misperceptions and controversies regarding the Diamer Basha dam. ("About the Dam," The News International, May 20 2020)

First, the perception that the dam has not been reviewed. The dam has been through three phases since 1980s – from 1984 pre-feasibility phase to 2008 detailed design. From Canada's MONENCO proposed Earth Core Rockfill Dam (ECRD; not CFRD like recent claims) to the review of the Feasibility Study Report by Diamer Basha Consultants (DBC) to the NESPAK joint venture, the dam has been thoroughly studied. MONENCO proposed a 200 high-zoned earth/rockfill dams with a live storage capacity of 5.7 MAF and power generation of 3360 MW. Later, following the detailed feasibility study, a 282m high Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) Dam with a live storage capacity of 7.3 MAF and power generation of 4500 MW was proposed. DBC proposed a 272m high RCC dam with power generation of 4500 MW and live storage capacity of 6.4 MAF.

Second, he explains that contrary to popular belief, as per the Detailed Feasibility stage, the CFRD and RCC costs were comparable. Different international experts have concluded that RCC is the best type of dam for the Indus river.

Third, the claim that the RCC dam would fail in an earthquake. This claim lacks technical foundation as the dam has undergone seismic hazard studies and is designed to withstand Maximum Credible Earthquakes. Fourth, he clarifies that the Diamer-Basha Dam's work was not awarded to NESPAK but to a local and foreign joint venture including firms such as POYRY, DOLSAR, Harza/ Stantec, NESPAK, Mott McDonald Intl and China Water Resources Beifang; after scrutiny at various levels.

Chaudhry agrees that material transportation concerns raised in the media are indeed a challenge and argues that construction of Diamer-Basha dam cannot wait for the settling of the Kalabagh controversy. 

In Swat, after a decade, militants are reorganizing, says a news report
The Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa police chief said that militants trained in Afghanistan are reorganizing their troops in Swat after a decade of peace in the region. Since Operation Rah-e-Rast launched by the security forces in the valley in 2009, the Afghan militants fled to the neighbouring countries. This ended insurgency in the scenic valley for a long period. The four terrorists arrested for involving in the recent target killing in Swat revealed that they are trained in Afghanistan. ("A decade later, militancy rearing its head in Swat," The Express Tribune, May 20 2020)

Image Source: The News

 

In Brief
By A Padmashree & P Harini Sha

COVID-19
"Unrestrained mobs" violates the SOPs, as the shops reopen
After weeks of lockdown, shops and markets reopened for business observed a flood of unrestrained mobs violating SOPs in Lahore for the past two days. More than 40 percent of the crowd in markets do not wear masks and maintain social distancing which violates the government SOPs to contain the spread of coronavirus. However, the shopping malls implement strict SOPs with the staffs and hurdles restricting the entry of elderly and children and providing hand sanitizer facilities at the entrances. ("Mad rush in markets as businesses reopen," The News International, May 20 2020)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) sanctions $300 million emergency loan to Pakistan
The ADB has provided loan assistance to Pakistan adhering to the vulnerability of the society towards the pandemic to help in stocking the needed medical supplies for healthcare workers and mainly to aid women through Ehsaas Emergency Cash Assistance Package. The ADB Vice president stated that "The Covid-19 pandemic is having a significant detrimental impact economic prospects of the people and this project would build Pakistan's capacity to cope with the pandemic and other health emergencies." ("ADB okays $300m loan to boost Pakistan's Covid-19 response," Dawn, May 20 2020)

PROVINCES 
The Balochistan Government extends the lockdown till June 2
The Home and Tribal Affairs Department announced yesterday to extend the lockdown till June 2. It foresees the necessity to keep control of the area under Section 144 to prevent the disease from turning into a disaster. The intercity, inter-province travel, and religion will stay banned apart from Eid prayers followed under SOP's given by the government. ("Lockdown in Balochistan extended till June 2," Dawn, May 20 2020) 

INTERNAL
Reference filed against officials of foreign affairs ministry for 'illegally selling' embassy building in Jakarta
The NAB has ordered to verify the complaint lodged against Religious Affairs Minister for selling embassy building in Jakarta against the law. It has condemned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for violating the rules and exploiting the national asset. The board has also instructed to investigate other officials who might be involved. ("NAB open probe against religious affairs minister," Dawn, May 20 2020)

EXTERNAL
Pakistan, China, Russia, and Iran hold a virtual conference on Afghanistan
Pakistan, China, Russia, and Iran jointly supported the UN initiative on the universal ceasefire and urged Afghanistan to declare the comprehensive ceasefire throughout the war-torn country. In their virtual conference arranged by the four to discuss the lingering unrest in Afghanistan voiced concerns over terrorism and the need to control the activities of international terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda, ISIL, ETIM, and TTP threatening the region and trafficking narcotics in the country. They also welcomed the power-sharing agreement by the leaders hoping it would accelerate intra-Afghan negotiations in Afghanistan. ("Pakistan, China, Russia, and Iran join hands for Afghan truce," The Express Tribune, May 20 2020)

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