Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

15 June 2020, Monday, Vol 1, No.48

The PTI government invites the PTM for a dialogue

The PTI government invites the PTM for a dialogue; government approves Uranium exploration in Kohat and Bannu; COVID updates

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

The PTI government invites the PTM for a dialogue
A welcome development; but, it should not be by the Establishment, of the Establishment and for the Establishment

Pervez Khattak, the defence minister of Pakistan, has offered a dialogue with the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). According to a statement made by him, "We Pakhtoons belong to the same province thus we should collectively work for the development of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa." ("Govt again offers dialogue to estranged PTM," Dawn, 15 June 2020)

Mohsin Dawar, one of the leaders of the PTM leader and a member of the National Assembly, in a tweet, responded positively to the statement from the defence minister: "We welcome Government's dialogue offer. PTM strongly believes that dialogue is the only way out & we are always open to it. But we are also aware of the failures of such efforts in the past. The need is for the Government to be represented by those who have the power to implement agreements."

Given the unrest and continuing violence in the erstwhile FATA regions, especially in Waziristan, a dialogue between the Government and the PTM is imperative. This should have been done earlier, or when Khattak announced such an offer last year. Unfortunately, the Government scuttled the idea, by restricting with a precondition, that the PTM members should have a Pakistan agenda. Such a position gives the impression that the PTM has an anti-Pakistan agenda.

PTM is more of a social and political movement by the young Pashtuns. Certainly, it is not a separatist movement. Second, the PTM is a non-violent movement focussing on the rights of Pashtuns as equal citizens of Pakistan, better social equation between the different nations within, and pursue a serious agenda to mainstream the erstwhile tribal regions under the FATA.

It was the Establishment that saw the rise of the PTM as a threat, as the latter demanded the removal of troops from the erstwhile FATA region, and bring an end to the checkpoints. The Deep State went on an overdrive, by blacking out the movement's meetings and demands in the media, and blacklisting the movement as anti-Pakistani. Independent analysts and editorials underlined the pressure on media from the Deep State not to give coverage on the PTM.

The problem is not with the PTM, but about the PTM by the Deep State.

The PTI government should take charge of the dialogue and make it a political one, and talk to the PTM. If it wants to be a mouthpiece of the Deep State, or let the latter to set the agenda and the outcome, the dialogue would fall apart. Pakistan can always blame India for influencing the PTM!

Second, the PTI should also work on a societal dialogue between the multiple nations – the Pashtun, the Punjabi, the Sindhi, and the Baloch. The first is unhappy with the societal treatment at the hands of the last three.

The PTM is not a problem; it is an expression of a complex predicament that has political and social roots within Pakistan.


In Focus

The government approves Uranium exploration in Kohat and Bannu

The federal government on 14 June approved Uranium exploration in Kohat plateau and Bannu basin at an estimated Rs926.03 million. ("Uranium exploration in Bannu, Kohat approved," Dawn, 15 June 2020) As per Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2020-21, the government has allocated Rs23,297.437 million in PSDP for 18 ongoing and one new scheme of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. The Center allocated Rs200m for the single new project of 'Detailed Exploration of Uranium Resources in Bannu Basin and Kohat Plateau (Phase-IV)' by the PAEC in the FY2020-21 budget. ("Rs23,297.437mn allocated for PAEC in PSDP 2020-21," Business Recorder, 12 June 2020) ("Rs23,297.437 m allocated for PAEC in PSDP 2020-21," Associated Press of Pakistan, 12 June 2020) 

Pakistan is investing substantially in radiation-related equipment and hospitals such as cancer-fighting centers and in the development of nuclear medicines. The new budget allocates Rs23.09 billion for the 18 ongoing purely domestically funded projects. ("Uranium exploration in Bannu, Kohat approved," World News Monitor, 15 June 2020) ("Rs23.2bn earmarked for Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission under PSDP 2020-21," Profit, 12 June 2020) 

These projects include Dera Ghazi Khan uranium exploration (Rs140m allocated; total cost Rs.794.9m), Islamabad's cancer hospital NORI (Rs1.23bn allocated), Karachi Institute of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine (Rs125m allocated), Gujranwala Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy (Rs500m allocated), Bahawalpur Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Oncology (Rs125m allocated), Gilgit Institute of Nuclear Medicine, Oncology and Radiotherapy (Rs280m allocated), Karachi coastal power projects (Rs18bn allocated), research reactor-3 of 10 megawatts (Rs1.5bn allocated), Islamabad's 3D printing facility (Rs97.43m allocated), nuclear fuel enrichment plant (Rs10m allocated), nuclear power fuel testing project (Rs21m allocated), fuel fabrication plant (Rs42m allocated), and seamless tube plant (Rs32m allocated). FY2020-21 budget also allocates Rs100m for study of development of nuclear power plants and Rs140m for mineral resources' survey. ("Federal Budget 2020-21," Government of Pakistan Finance Division Islamabad) ("Federal Budget Publications 2020-21," Government of Pakistan Finance Division) 

The Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) has two development projects – establishing National Radiological Emergency Coordination Centre in Islamabad, Karachi and Mianwali (Rs199.18m allocated); and capacity enhancement of oversight regulator against vulnerabilities to cyber threat (Rs150m allocated). ("PUBLIC SECTOR DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME 2020-21," Government of Pakistan, June 2020)

Meanwhile, the Economic Survey 2019-20 revealed that Pakistan's installed capacity of electricity generation during the first ten months of the FY2019-20 had increased to 35,975MW (a 7.5 percent growth). PAEC is the Pakistan's sole department that uses nuclear technology for energy generation. ("Pakistan's power generation capacity increases to 35,975MW," The News International, 12 June 2020) ("PAEC to enhance nuclear energy share to 8,800 MW by 2030," The Nation, 12 June 2020) The allocations will aid PAEC meet its 2030 target of generating 8,800MW nuclear electricity, set by the Energy Security Plan of 2005.

In Brief

Cases to reach 1.2 million by the end of July
On 14 June, while addressing a press briefing at the National Coordination and Operation Centre (NCOC) the Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives stated that the coronavirus cases across the country may double in the next two week and could reach a staggering 1.2 million cases by the end of July. With the rise of cases in the country, the minister appealed to the masses to adopt all precautionary measures. He further added, "the good news is that it is in our hands to control the spread of disease, and we can do it by following the standard operating procedures (SOPs)." Further, he reiterated that a complete lockdown is not still possible. (Ikram Junaidi, "Virus cases may cross million mark by 31 July: Asad," Dawn, 15 June 2020)

Pakistan's health system and health care providers are proving more resilient in coping with the pandemic
An analysis in the Dawn, titled "Pivoting Pakistan's response to the pandemic" discusses three reasons why the health systems and health care provides are proving to be more resilient in coping with the pandemic. First, Pakistan does not have strict protocols like the West thus, healthcare providers can respond to emergencies and enjoy flexibility when dealing with patients. Second, healthcare workers are used to dealing with a lot of patients, which is not the case in the West. Third, various provincial governments have announced that thousands of doctors will be inducted amid the pandemic, another impossible venture that the West cannot take up. Further, the analysis brings out the importance of natural herd immunity which is more likely to be the solution rather than a lockdown. Thus. antibody tests are important and should be started immediately to track individuals and herd immunity level for Covid-19, particularly in highly-affected areas, high-risk populations, and health workers. (Dr. Beenish Samreen and Syed Fida Marvat, "Pivoting Pakistan's response to the pandemic," Dawn, 15 June 2020)

242 per cent surge of deaths in just one month
Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives stated that the total cumulative deaths due to COVID-19 on 14 May were 770 while deaths as of 14 June are 2632, an increase in deaths last month is at 242 per cent in Pakistan. Further, the minister stated that much is still be learned about the spread and mortality of the coronavirus. Fearing that cases are to increase in the country the administration has decided to take stricter action against any violations of the SOPs that have been put in place. ("Just in a month: Pakistan faced 242pc surge in deaths," The News International, 15 June 2020) 

On the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM)
In recent months nearly 10,000 employees of PSM were laid-off, no explanation was given by the government to the workers nor for the gross loss of the industry. The PSM was installed in the industrialization era mainly to make country import-independent at the time of crisis. In the timeline of the mill, until 2008-09 it had earnings up to 5 billion per annum but since 2009 it started to go down the slump. The article brings out the causal factors of the shutdown of PSM. First, the past three governments have not bothered about its performance. Second, mismanagement of the industry and failure to revive it. Third, the government's plan of privatization at the cost of the mill workers to pay-off the country's debts. The important point to note is that in order to privatize, the consent of the owner should be present. Here the decision to privatize is taken by the federal government, but its ownership lies with the provinces. So, in order to prevent this the provinces like Sindh must resist as there is no legal power to the government to sell provincial land. (Mushtaq Rajpar, "The saga of a mill," The News International, 15 June 2020)

Oil companies blame bureaucracy for petrol shortage
Oil companies and refineries have blamed the bureaucracy for the current petrol shortage in the country, stating that the indecisiveness concerning the import and enhancement of local petrol production has led to this situation. On 14 June, the Oil Companies Advisory Council (OCAC) stated the "disinformation campaign and maligning of refineries and oil marketing companies (OMCs)" was a matter of serious concern. Further, the OCAC stated that there was an urgent need to review and analyze the causes for the present shortage of petrol in the country further claiming that the ministry failed to determine the rise in demand as the Covid-19 lockdowns. ("Bureaucracy blamed for petrol shortage," Dawn, 15 June 2020)

PTM called to the negotiating table once again   
Defence Minister once again invited leaders of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) to come to the negotiating table to discuss matters with the government. Further, stating that the political instability in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would only cause more problems if not addressed. PTM leader and MNA Mohsin Dawar stated in a tweet that the group welcomes the government's offer, further stating that the group strongly believes that dialogue is the only way out but that they are fully aware of the failures of such efforts in the past. (Amir Wasim, "Govt again offers dialogue to estranged PTM," Dawn, 15 June 2020)

Qureshi criticizes the Indian government
The Foreign Minister has said that Pakistan would be of less threat compared to the domestic issues in India in a statement. He said the state of people in their part of Kashmir has been tenuous and prone to attacks due to Indian soldiers. According to him, "the BJP government should "focus on serving the poor, downtrodden and minorities of India better" ("India should focus on domestic issues: Qureshi," The News International, 15 June 2020)

"Based on current pace of cases, the number of confirmed cases (on COVID) can reach 300,000 by the end of current month and will reach one million to 1.2 million by the end of July"

- Asad Umar, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives
Khan on his smart lockdown


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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