Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

13 June 2020, Saturday, Vol 1, No.45

Najam Sethi's editorial on the state of democracy in Pakistan

Najam Sethi in the Friday Times on the state of democracy in Pakistan; locust attacks, discussion on Justice Isa; analyses on Pakistan Railways and Pakistan Steel Mills

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

Najam Sethi's editorial on the state of democracy in Pakistan.
Is the military distancing from the government decisions, and looking for an exit strategy?

In his editorial for The Friday Times this week (12 June 2020), titled "For whom the bell tolls," Najam Sethi looks at the state of democracy in Pakistan today, growing differences between the government and the military, and the reasons for the failure of democracy in Pakistan.

He starts with a premise that there is no democracy in Pakistan, and only a "selectocracy", referring to a process in which people are selected to rule. The implication is people for important positions are "selected" by the "Miltablishment" (a phrase he uses to refer to the Military and the Establishment).

On what basis he arrives at the above conclusion, that there is only selectocracy in Pakistan? In his own words, "Not just Pakistanis but the international community too has noted that Pakistan's finance advisor, interior minister, interior secretary, national security advisor, heads of NDMA, NCOC, CPEC, etc., are all Selectocrats. In the latest twist, the Foreign Minister has been excluded from Foreign Policy making: he was conspicuous by his absence when the COAS, DGISI and Special Envoy made a strategic trip to Kabul last week for facilitating talks between the Taliban and Afghan regime aimed at smoothing the American exit from Afghanistan."

The second part of his editorial looks at the differences between the Miltablishment and the PTI government, primarily Imran Khan. According to Najam Sethi, the "Miltablishment has stopped repeating the "same page" mantra because it is sounding embarrassingly hollow." He believes that the Miltablishment is not only "distancing themselves from the disastrous decisions of the government and scratching their heads for honourable exit strategies."

What is Sethi's explanation for the Militablishment distancing itself from the government? He writes: "people are squarely pinning responsibility for the chaos in their lives not just on the government but increasingly on the Miltablishment that has brought it to power."

Sethi suggests that supporting this government involves bigger risks for the military, "irreparably damaging the permanent institutions of the state like NAB, FIA, Judiciary and Bureaucracy, all of which have been railroaded into doing its illegal biddings. Meanwhile, there is no silver lining on the horizon."

The question one has to ponder then is if the military is looking for an exit strategy, what would it look like? Who will it select then, if Pakistan's democracy remains a selectocracy?


Image Source: The News

In Brief

SC questions the Railways over poor performance
On 12 June, the Supreme Court raised a serious question to the Ministry of Railways over poor performance, saying the entire system has gone corrupt. The two-member bench heard petitions related to the transfer of services of the Pakistan Railways employees. Further, the Chief Justice furiously questioned the Railways Secretary, saying that he should leave his post as the ministry is not performing adequately at all. The court has ordered the railways to present a report regarding its operations and employees, within a month. ("CJP lashes out at Pakistan Railways secretary over poor performance," The News International, 13 June 2020)

The government cannot leave the citizens to fend for themselves: Editorial
An editorial in the Dawn titled, "Blaming the people?" says amid the increasing cases of COVID-19 in the country and the health systems becoming overwhelmed, PM Imran Khan's statement "I am disappointed to see that our nation is being very careless" is uncalled for. Given that the SOP message is the correct one, the government cannot simply leave it to citizens to fend for themselves and then hold them responsible for the increasing fatalities. It is the government that is ultimately responsible for the impact of the coronavirus and should not just stop at requesting the people to follow these precautions but also create a sense of urgency among the population and also have an enforcement mechanism in place for those who don't follow the rules. ("Blaming the people?," Dawn, 13 June 2020)

The coming threat 
An editorial in the Dawn titled "More swarms arriving" looks into the threatening situation of the locust on the agriculture sector stating that although the farm sectors have registered positive growth in the previous financial year despite the locust invasion, however, the next fiscal year does not seem positive unless the effective measure is taken to address this issue in the upcoming months. The failure to deal with the threat will have drastic impacts on not only rural livelihoods and add to poverty but could also cause food insecurity. ("More swarms arriving," Dawn, 13 June 2020)

Another attack in North Waziristan, one soldier killed
On 12 June, one soldier was martyred in an exchange of fire with militants who attacked security forces in the Khaisor Katera area near Mirali in North Waziristan. Officials have stated that the militants had destroyed the security post with explosives. Further, addressing the deteriorating security situation in the North Waziristan and South Waziristan districts. ("Soldier martyred in N. Waziristan," Dawn, 13 June 2020)

NFC Award will further deepen the divide: Nusrat Javeed
Nusrat Javeed in his note title "NFC Award is bound to deepen divide further," comments on the state of affair regarding the budgets. He comments that given the challenging time the federal government should have seriously considered disregarding the custom of presenting the next financial year's budget. Specifically looking into the division of money between Federal and the Provincial Governments and the suggested "review" of the NFC Award is a clear indicator of potentially explosive tensions and conflicts that will arise in the political scene. Highlighting that the PPP-led government in Sindh and the federal government do not share the same vision when it came to managing COVID-19 and this "review" of the NFC Award is bound to deepen the divide further. (Nusrat Javeed, "NFC Award is bound to deepen divide further," The Nation, 13 June 2020)

Superior court judges were not above the law
On 12 June, the Supreme Court observed that superior court judges were not above the law and were more accountable than anyone, and as a result should be treated per the law. A 10-member court resumed hearing on a set of petitions that challenging the presidential reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa for allegedly not disclosing his foreign properties in his wealth returns. The court reiterated to the federation's counsel to answer the questions raised by the petitioner judge about statements made to which the Justice Maqbool Baqir clarified that the Supreme Court had never said that the superior court judges were above the law further stating that they should be dealt with per the law. (Sohail Khan, "Justice Faez Isa case: Judges accountable, not above law, says SC," The News International, 13 June 2020)

Revamping the Steel Mills economically prudent
The ECC's decision to revamp the Steel Mills with the view to revive the industrial unit is economically prudent and would contribute tremendously to the process of revival of the economy. Although the issue of privatisation has been going on for a long time, it has become a serious political issue in the bargain. Given that there is opposition in this matter, the government must make sure that the concerns expressed by the opposition are properly addressed with utmost transparency to avoid any political and social backlash. (Malik Muhammad Ashraf, "Revamping Pakistan Steel Mills," The Nation, 13 June 2020)

Pakistan Steel Mills can rightly be called a stillbirth: Analysis
A note by Samson Simon Sharaf titled "A stillborn Pakistan Steel Mills," is critical of the government's that have been in power since 2006 inability resolve to carry out in-depth investigations, ascertain how and why losses occurred, who is responsible for inefficiency and who should be made accountable. Although the issue is complex, the fact on the matter hidden in the desires to keep Pakistan underdeveloped, the political economy of dependence, corporate capitalism, economic hitmen, and now 'The Age of Surveillance Capitalism' that has moved beyond the sovereignty of nation-states. Here talking about Pakistan's corporate mafia which has grown to affect every strand of policymaking. (Samson Simon Sharaf, "A stillborn Pakistan Steel Mills," The Nation, 13 June 2020)



"“You have hired 76,000 people but to run the system of railways only 10,000 employees are enough. Your entire factories and system has stopped working then what are these employees doing?...In the railways, either people lose lives or the national exchequer faces loss in millions"

- Chief Justice of Pakistan to the Railways Secretary on Pakistan Railways
(The News, 12 June 2020)


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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