Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

04 June 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.35

Imran receives a briefing at the ISI HQ

Imran Khan at the ISI headquarters with the foreign minister; army chief and the DG-ISI; forecast of a 2.3pc growth; reports on honour killing and COVID developments.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus

Imran receives a briefing at the ISI HQ on complex regional and domestic challenges

In the News
On 3 June, amid escalating India-Pakistan tensions, Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to not compromise on national security during an intelligence briefing on 'complex regional and domestic challenges' at the headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). 

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Planning Minister Asad Umar and ISI Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hamid also took part in the meeting. ("No compromise on security, says Imran," Dawn, 4 June 2020) 

Issues in background
The meeting is taking place in an environment where there has been numerous complaints about India and Pakistan warning India of any misadventures. Consider the following:

First, Imran Khan's threats on false-flag operations. On 18 May, the PM said India was getting ready for a false-flag operation to divert global attention from the Kashmir issue. An absurd logic. Previously, in December 2019 as well, he had spoken of such an operation by India and Pakistan's befitting response. ("India may conduct false flag operation, says Imran," Dawn, 18 May 2020 & "Pakistan will give befitting response if India undertakes false-flag operation: PM Imran," Dawn, 21 December 2020) Imran Khan has time and again accused India for its' expansionist policy', double-lockdown in Kashmir, changes in Kashmir's domicile law and called India a South Asian security threat. ("PM says no effort will be spared for sovereignty, security," The Nation, 4 June 2020)

Second, the frequent featuring of atrocities and military adventurism by India in the Inter-Services Public Relations press releases. On 3 June, ISPR Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar cautioned India to "not play with fire" and warned that any military adventurism would be met with "uncontrollable and unintended consequences". (Press Releases, ISPR) ("DG ISPR warns India of 'uncontrollable' consequences in case of military adventurism," Dawn, 3 June 2020). The Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa's while visiting the LoC, and celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr with soldiers he said that Pakistan Army was observing Eid solemnly in solidarity with Kashmiris facing ensuing atrocities and inhuman lockdown under Indian occupation (particularly post 5 August 2019). ("Army celebrating Eid in solidarity with Kashmiris: COAS," The Nation, 24 May 2020) ("Army observing Eid solemnly in solidarity with Kashmiris under 'illegal, inhuman' lockdown: ISPR," Dawn, 24 May 2020)

Third, the expulsion of two Pakistani high commission officials from India, on 31 May, for espionage. They were accused of gathering data on troop and military cargo movements. ("India expels Pakistan embassy officials for 'espionage'," Al Jazeera, 1 June 2020)

Last, the meeting is also taking place with developments in Afghanistan's fragile peace process amid the US withdrawal. The Ashraf Ghani-Taliban squabble over release of prisoners and the blame-game for the recent attack on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kabul are all ravaging the peace process. Pakistan paints India as a peace spoiler. The growing Indo-US proximity, owing to the ongoing US-China information war, is also peaking concerns for Pakistan.

On COVID, the worst is yet to come

The Analysis by Fahd Hussain talks about challenges faced by Pakistan in the wake of the Covid-19 explosion in the State. ("Red zone files: The next 13 weeks," Dawn, 4 June 2020)

First, to recognize the challenges in handling Covid-19. The ruling PTI's pandemic policy, an amalgam of denial and dynamism, has seen some successes (NCOC's formation) and failures (contradictory information dispensing, wavering public messaging, and confusion regarding the severity of crisis). With the worst yet to come, the Center has already failed to profit from its anti-lockdown policy. 

Second, the internal 'lockdown vs no-lockdown debate'. The inability to craft a comprehensive, coordinated, national policy that is swift enough to adapt to the mutating nature of the crisis. The government is currently focusing on operationalizing the Resource Management System (RMS) and improving Tracking Testing and Quarantine (TTQ), to enable accessibility and commutation for patients to keep the death rates low and justify the no-lockdown policy. 

Third, the 100,000 infection mark that Pakistan will soon cross. Death rates may be low, but the infection rate's dynamic nature has the potential to cause significant collateral damage within the Red Zone. 

Last, 'weak articulation' and 'mixed signalling' indicate a serious underestimation of the threat. Not taking Covid-19 seriously will prove costly for Pakistan. Underplaying the crisis will not help considering the necessity of social distancing amid a society that is currently flocking together unmasked and un-gloved. 


There is a "tacit acceptance of child labour", says Dawn in its editorial

On 31 May, Zahra Shah an eight-year-old girl was tortured to death by her employers for accidentally releasing "expensive pet parrots" from their cage in Rawalpindi. The police report stated that Zahra had sustained injuries to her face, hands, rib cage, legs, and the wounds on her thighs suggest that she might have been sexually assaulted. Zahra was employed four months ago to take care of the suspect one-year-old child in return for an education. The incident has restarted the discussion on the exploitation of minors, and child labour laws in Pakistan. (Tahir Naseer, "8-year-old girl 'beaten, killed' by employers in Rawalpindi over setting free their parrots: FIR," Dawn, 3 May 2020)

The editorial in Dawn titled "Zahra's murder" stated that there is a tacit acceptance of child labour revealing there is granted silence of child labour when it is not in a 'hazardous' capacity even though the situation in Pakistan seems otherwise. Children have for long been victims of domestic violence and being the weakest, they are the most vulnerable, and often fall prey due to their parents. Further, the editorial states that Zahra's murder only the most recent case which exemplifies the existence of modern-day slavery. The editorial strongly states that its high time that the government strengthens its child protection laws so that minors can be rescued from such situations. ("Zahra's murder," Dawn, 4 May 2020)

Critical of this incident, an editorial in the News International titled "Justice for Zohra" states that such incidents display the ugliest side of the society in which rational looking people prove themselves to be highly uncivilised. It also proves that the State has failed to eradicate poverty which forces poor people to send their children to work rather than to school. Further, it indicates that the legislative framework to prevent child labour remains inadequate. ("Justice for Zohra," The News International, 4 May 2020)


Image Source: Dawn

In Brief


Three arguments on honour killing
The opinion article in Dawn exposed to light on three major arguments that are widely taken up by the activists while dealing with "honour killing" in Pakistan. First, it identifies the term "honour" for such crimes as stigmatizing culture which lends impunity under Qisas and Diyat. Second, it denies the "honour" crimes as a crime of passion instead it should be treated as normative or domestic violence. Third, the crimes are often excused under material factors like property disputes but in reality, they are predominantly designed to regulate socio-sexual behaviour. ("Ending stigma," Dawn, 4 June 2020)

The Civil aviation authority (CAA) releases a non-compliance report on the plane crash
The CAA has claimed in the report that it was the ignorance of the pilot to attend to the Air traffic controller warnings on the speed and altitude of the aircraft has resulted in the crash. Another issue it stated was the communication switch between the Approach tower and the Karachi tower. If the switch was done at the right time, Karachi tower could have spotted the landing gears ahead of the first landing to give directions to the pilot. Dawn questions on why the transfer wasn't made from the approach tower to Karachi tower (Mohammad Asghar, "Crashed plane's pilot didn't follow ATC instructions: CAA," Dawn, 4 June 2020)

Anti-graft watchdog again summons PML-N leader 
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will re-summon the PML-N president on ninth June against money Laundering and acquiring assets case. After a failed attempt to arrest, the petitioner has been granted pre-arrest interim bail till 17 June and ordered to give bail bonds of Rs 500,000 by the High court. (Wajih Ahmad Sheikh, "Court stops NAB from arresting Shahbaz till 17th," Dawn, 4 June 2020)

The Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) reports an increase in cyber-harassment complaints
The organization stated that there has been a rise in cyber-harassment cases in the lockdown. It has identified three causal reasons which are surveillance, unauthorized use of personal data, and manipulation of such information. The cases are majorly victimizing women in Pakistan and had released a list of policy enforcements on the approach of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and dealing with technology tacitly in cyber harassment cases. ("Cyber harassment complaints surged during lockdown: report,Dawn, 4 June 2020)

Pakistan targets 2.3 per cent growth in the next fiscal year
Pakistan targets the national economy to rebound with a 2.3 per cent in the next fiscal year despite a 0.4 per cent of economic contraction this year. The annual plan coordination committee will approve the macroeconomic targets for the next year, which is expected to have 600 billion for the public sector development program. The agriculture sector, which missed the 3.5 per cent target this year is targeted to grow by 2.9 per cent in the next year against 2.7 per cent growth this year. ("With industry stagnant, govt aims for 2.3 per cent growth next year," Dawn, 4 June 2020)

Cement sales dropped consecutively for the third month
Domestic cement sales declined for the third consecutive month by 38 percent from 3.6 million tonnes to 2.27 million in comparison with the same month of last year. The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) said that the negative growth in the cement industry is due to the COVID-19 and delay by the government in implementing public projects. Also, they added that the Eid holidays along with the pandemic have significantly slowed down the construction activity and declined the cement despatches. ("Cement sales plummet as construction grinds to a halt," Dawn, 4 June 2020)

Don't play with fire warns DG ISI
The Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations warned Indian military in a television interview, "Let us not play with fire. We will respond to any aggression with full might." This is to notify India that there would be consequences for any military misadventure in the region and it would be uncontrollable. He pointed out the false flag operation plans of India as a diversion to the embracement faced by India in its border with Nepal and China. ("PM briefed on national security at ISI HQ: Don't play with fire, DG ISI warns India," The News International, 4 June 2020)


"The Indian military leadership planning a false flag operation or misadventure at LoC only to downplay embarrassment which they have faced at their border with China and Nepal"

- Director General, ISIS


In Focus and In Brief sections are prepared by Lakshmi V Menon, Abigail Miriam Fernandez, A Padmashree and P Harini Sha.

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