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Daily Briefs


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19 June 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.52

PTI tries to get the BNP back into coalition,



PTI tries to get the BNP back into coalition; Sindh's budget and Reopening of the Taftan border

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus

PTI tries to get the BNP back into the coalition

BNP-M leaves the ruling coalition
On 17 June, Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal announced the party’s decision to withdraw from the ruling coalition with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). Soon, the Centre commenced efforts to win back the ally. (“BNP-M quits coalition over non-implementation of accord,” Pakistan Today, 19 June 2020) (“BNP-M chief announces withdrawal from PTI coalition govt,” Dawn, 19 June 2020)

Prime Minister attempts to win back BNP-M. 
PM Imran Khan convened a meeting and formed a negotiation committee to improve working relations with allies. National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Planning Minister Asad Umar, Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, and Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood were in attendance. The PM asked Pervez Khattak (head of the committee) to re-establish formal contact with BNP-M, mediate and address the concerns, and alleviate their reservations for re-joining the coalition. PM Khan also said that reasons for non-compliance with the demands be communicated with BNP-M. On 18 June, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani met with Mr. Mengal to deliver a message from the Khattak led committee. The Premier was informed that doors of negotiation with the ally remained open. (“Govt starts efforts to win back BNP-M’s support,” Dawn, 19 June 2020) (“PM tasks Khattak with wooing back BNP-M,” The Express Tribune, 19 June 2020) (“PTI tries to win over BNP-M yet again,” The Express Tribune, 19 June 2020)

Media reactions
Dawn has cited and agreed to Jamaat-i-Islami emir Senator Sirajul Haq’s statement that the Center has alienated its allying Baloch leaders instead of bringing them to the negotiation table. The News International asked if BNP-M’s move will set a pattern and lead to a disintegration of the ruling coalition or arm-twisting of PTI by allying parties such as the unhappy PML-Q and MQM. PM’s Khan sudden Karachi visit to meet with the MQM leadership to ensure their absolute commitment reflects this concern. (“PTI govt alienating its Baloch allies, says Siraj,” Dawn, 19 June 2020) (“BNP Exit,” The News International, 19 June 2020)

Background
The BNP-M and PTI signed a six-point MoU in August 2018 to form a ruling coalition. The points of agreement comprised of Afghan refugees’ immediate repatriation, missing persons’ recovery, application of the National Action Plan, construction of dams in Balochistan to resolve water shortage, and a six per cent Baloch quota in the Central government. Ever since BNP-M has demanded the accord’s implementation but in vain. In June 2019, Mr. Mengal threatened to leave the coalition for the first time if the demands remained unfulfilled. (“BNP-M threatens to leave coalition govt,” Geo TV, 6 December 2019) (“BNP-M threatens to leave coalition government,” Daily Business World, 6 December 2019)

Image Source: Dawn
 
In Brief
 
INTERNAL
The Court on Dr Imran Farooq's murder
The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) of Islamabad sentenced three suspects to be jailed for life in the murder case of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Dr. Imran Farooq. The court observed from the confessions of the suspects and convincing evidence that Imran Farooq had known the top leadership of MQM was about to kill him. According to the verdict, “The sole purpose of committing the murder was to remove political obstacle upon the orders of party supremo, Altaf Hussain who has absconded.” It said that the suspects being citizens of Pakistan will be liable for exemplary punishment for the murder of an innocent person. (Malik Asad, “Court rules ‘absconding’ Altaf ordered Imran Farooq’s murder,” Dawn, 19 June 2020)

Military Court sentences 12 years imprisonment to Uzair Baloch for espionage
A military court has sentenced the Lyari gangster Uzair Baloch 12 years in prison after convicting him of espionage for foreign countries. Baloch was taken into custody by the army in 2017 after his arrest on the ground of espionage and leaking of sensitive information to foreign intelligence agencies. Further, after the verdict, he was handed over to the central prison who will try him for 59 cases pertaining to murder, kidnapping, extortion against him pending before different anti-terrorism and sessions courts. (Zubair Ashraf, “Military court hands down 12 years prison term to Uzair Baloch for espionage,” The News International, 19 June 2020)

Gwadar port agreement to be shared in an online meeting only
The Senate panel had earlier asked for disclosure of the Gwadar Port agreement and the federal secretary had replied that the contract specified confidentiality rules and cannot be shared in public. The secretary has agreed to disclose it during an in-camera meeting, where the copies of the document shall be shared only for an hour and will be recollected. According to Senator Naek, it has resulted in anger and irritation in the Senate, but the purpose for inspection was to check whether the exemptions given can be permitted for 40 years. (Mubarak Zeb Khan, “Gwadar port contract is ‘confidential’, federal secretary informs Senate panel,” Dawn, 19 June 2020)

CPEC
Phase-II of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) assures transparency
The government has assured transparency and lesser reliability on loans for the phase-II of CPEC. This project was launched for improving infrastructure and linking roads from Gwadar Port to Kashgar. Phase-II is set to focus on the development of Special Economic Zones, the agriculture sector, and socio-economic development. According to the CPEC Chairman,” Lt Gen Asim Bajwa has said that the Phase-II of CPEC would be started after “full preparation and in an institutional manner” while ensuring “full transparency”. (“Govt vows greater transparency in second phase of CPEC,” Dawn, 19 June 2020)

ECONOMY
Home remittances declined by 4.3 per cent during March-May 2020
The Secretary of Finance stated “Remittances to Pakistan declined by 4.3 per cent (year-on-year) during March-May 2020 compared with the World Bank’s forecast of 23 per cent decline for 2020,” further stating that the country has suffered lower than estimated losses to its home remittances after Covid-19 due to timely actions and facilitation to senders, recipients and processing banks. Further, he stated that initial assessments showed that there would be a sharp decline in remittances from April 2020 as a result of the pandemic, however, with the government taking measures to address the issue this was avoided. (“Home remittances suffered lower than expected losses,” Dawn, 19 June 2020)

The Large-Scale Manufacturing (LSM) shows negative growth
The Large-Scale Manufacturing has jumped down to 41.89 per cent as all the sectors diverge down. According to the data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the textile industry tops of all industries with a fall of 64.20 per cent. It is followed by iron and steel, petroleum products, food, and non-metallic mineral products. The leading cause of this damage was not due to the pandemic but this is further worsened with a high-interest rate charged up to 13.25 per cent by the State Bank. It is predicted that these high costs might head to a reduction in private sector borrowing thereby decelerating the economic activity in the country. (Fayaz Hussain, “Manufacturing plunges 41pc in April,” Dawn, 19 June 2020)

Asian Development Bank (ADB) projects economic growth
The ADB stated that Pakistan will only contract by 0.4 per cent and in the next fiscal year the growth is expected to be two per cent as soon as the Covid-19 situation is sealed. If the country restarts its efforts to correct the macroeconomic imbalances and introduce structural reforms to the economy, growth will be possible as per the outlook. (“Pakistan likely to hold economic growth: ADB,” Dawn, 19 June 2020)

SINDH BUDGET
Sindh’s budget indicates the seriousness of Chief Minister administration in fighting Covid-19: Editorial
An editorial in the Dawn titled “Sindh budget” is all praise for the new Rs1241 billion budget that the Sindh government sets aside substantial amounts to tackle the impact of COVID-19 and its economic implications. Commending the efforts of the Sindh Chief Minister, the editorial states that Sindh has made a sensible choice given the threats from not only the virus but the locust plague. Further, the health and education sector both received an increase in allocations. However, the sustainability of the provincial budget will depend on the federal government’s ability to collect its targeted taxes and transfer the province’s projected share to it. Like other provinces, Sindh also heavily depends on federal transfers. (“Sindh budget,” Dawn, 19 June 2020)

EXTERNAL
Reopening of the Taftan border
On 19 June, the federal government reopened the country’s with Iran at Taftan to resume trade activities. The border will now remain open seven days a week. This decision by comes after the intervention of the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Agricultural Products had warned that any delay in opening the border with Iran will not be tolerated. This decision will help facilitate the export of mangoes from Pakistan to Iran which was set to resume. Further, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment, stated that Iran will provide all possible facilitation for mango exports to Iran and Central Asia. Meanwhile, PIA announced a one-third reduction in air cargo tariff to facilitate the export of mangoes. The border was closed on 17 March after the coronavirus outbreak in Iran. (“Pakistan opens border with Iran to resume trade,” Dawn, 19 June 2020)

ON INDIA
FO presses strong protest against the ceasefire violations by India
On 18 June, Foreign Office stated that the Director-General (South Asia and Saarc) summoned the Charge’d Affaires of India and registered strong protest over the ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control (LoC) on 17 June which resulted in the martyrdom of four innocent civilians and serious injuries to one. Further, the director added that by raising tensions along the LoC and the Working Boundary, India could not divert attention from the worsening human rights situation PoK and that the government of India should realise that its unilateral its actions are only damaging peace and security in the region. Further adding that India must act responsibly in the interest of regional peace and stability. (APP, “Ceasefire violations: FO lodges strong protest with Indian diplomat,” Dawn, 19 June 2020)

FO on Indian election to the non-permanent seat of the UNSC raises fundamental questions
The Foreign Office Spokesperson stated the election of India as a non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council raises fundamental given that the country has been a consistent violator of the Security Council’s resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir and thus must be held accountable rather than facilitated. Further, the spokesperson said, “India must be asked to abide by the resolution of the UN Security Council.” Reiterating the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, concerning the human rights violations the spokesperson stated that Pakistan would continue working with the rest of the members of the Security Council in advancing the objectives of international peace and security in South Asia. (Shafqat Ali, “India’s election to UNSC raises fundamental questions: Pakistan,” The Friday Times, 19 June 2020)

ON INDIA-CHINA BORDER TENSIONS
China is testing India: News and Analysis
A news and Analysis report in the Friday Times titled “India’s China Problem” by Ejaz Haider looks into the recent clash between China and India statin that this will continue to make the news, especially in Indian media. While looking into the issue, he states that the Galwan Valley clash is not the first such incident, bring out the recent scuffles along the LAC. Further, he brings reasons against the argument that the Indian troops were no prepared, he says that given that report of the 6 June talks between an Indian lieutenant general and a PLA major-general had indicated that the Chinese side had refused to discuss PLA deployments in Galwan, the report also showed that the unit that came under attack was tasked to dismantle the PLA outpost at Patrol Point 14. Thus, it would be naïve to think that the Indian unit was not prepared. Further, the use of welding rods and clubs with studded nails by the PLA has created a sense of confusion as to why patrols were carrying weapons.

Haider then looks at the issue from a tactical and theatre positioning as well as from a strategic-political level, stating that the former is a minor part of China’s bigger strategy but it is very significant. China is testing India and so far, it has found India wanting. He concluded by highlight the issue of gamesmanship and psychology. India’s next move will determine the outcome of the situation. If India decided not the escalate the issue, it is forced to treat the issue as a border-management rather than a military-operational problem, where the Chinese already have a clear advantage, for the Chinese are not going to let go of what they possess. Thus, India either has to accept China’s superior strategic orientation or try to change the reality on the ground, the latter being a dangerous move. (Ejaz Haide, “India’s China Problem,” The Friday Times, 19 June 2020)

Also read:
China-India clash," Dawn, 18 June 2020
Jawed Naqvi, "India, China agree to restore tranquillity on border," Dawn, 18 June 2020
Anadolu Agency, "Pakistan throws weight behind China on border tensions with India," The Express Tribune, 18 June 2020
"China-India standoff," The News International, 18 June 2020

 

 
 


"The sole purpose of committing the murder was to remove political obstacle upon the orders of party supremo, Altaf Hussain who has absconded."

- Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), Islamabad, On the killing of Imran Farooq (Dawn)

 
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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