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Daily Briefs


Photo : The Express Tribune

24 June 2020, Wednesday, Vol 1, No.57

Reviewing Pakistan's Space Programme



Reviewing Pakistan's Space Programme, Infighting within the PTI and developments within Balochistan

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Brief

INTERNAL
Pakistan Space Programme looks at critical reforms with an increased budget
Pakistan has decided to limit the services of foreign satellite providers and raise up to $700 million for its National Space Programme on 23 June. The Cabinet approved policy guidelines which, when implemented, will help raise $600- $700 million dollars for the National Space Programme through the following decade. 

The current satellite capacity usage in Pakistan is approximated to be 2,200 MHz, of which, 21 per cent is known to be Pakistani Satellite. The government is looking to reduce its reliance on foreign and domestic funding, and is looking towards revenue-generating satellites. An inter-ministerial committee has recommended to maximize the use of the assets of SUPARCO Pakistan International for satellite services and adopt these policy measures in the interest of the nation and its economy. (Khalid Mustafa, “Govt to raise $700m for National Space Programme,” The News International, 24 June 2020)

Rifts within the PTI’s surface
During the cabinet meeting on 23 June, Prime Minister Imran Khan had to intervene to stop the hurling of allegations between PTI ministers. The spate commenced with a cabinet minister criticising federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry for mentioning PTI’s internal rifts due to the appointing of non-elected cabinet members, during his interview to Voice of America. Senior leaders including PM Khan opined that party’s internal matters must not be discussed on open forums. (“Ministers see red after Fawad spills the beans about rifts,” Dawn, 24 June 2020)

The Federal government faces serious complaints from its ministers
The current government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the National Assembly was questioned for under budgeting from its lawmaker’s agriculture and various other projects in the federal budget such as shortage of petrol. The Punjab Government was called out for not maintaining the Law and order in the southern province mainly for not allocating budget, surging unemployment and no reform has taken place to improve the backward areas. The grant for demand and budget discussion along with the finance bill is set to be confirmed by Sunday. (Amir Wasim, “PTI lawmakers in NA blast own govts at Centre, Punjab,” Dawn, 24 June 2020)

The attack on academic freedom would lead to a deafening silence: Editorial
An editorial in the News International titled “Creeping Silence” is critical of the increasing threat on academic freedom in Pakistan with lecturers, professors, researchers, students, and even writers feeling threatened in private as well as public-sector universities. The editorial cites the names of Pervez Hoodbhoy, Alamgir Wazir, Ammar Ali Jan, Junaid Hafeez, Mashal Khan, Mohammad Hanif, Sajid Soomro and Zaigham Abbas all who have faced some kind of resistance when they have tried to voice their opinion or when they have encouraged young people to think critically. The editorial concludes by stating the attack of academic freedom comes amid the increasingly controlled media and the challenge of fake news, warning that this situation will only result in a deafening silence that will consume everyone. (“Creeping silence,” The News International, 24 June 2020)

BALOCHISTAN
Reporters protest against the torture of Chaman journalists, boycott Balochistan Assembly session
On 23 June, reporters protested against the arrest and torture of two Chaman-based journalists at the hands of security personnel and local administration. They raised anti-Chaman administration banners, placards and slogans, and left Balochistan Assembly’s press gallery as soon as the session began. Balochistan Union of Journalists president Ayub Tareen and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists president Shahzada Zulfiqar led the protests. MPA Asghar Khan Achakzai and Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs Mir Zia Langove assured the protestors that the guilty would be held accountable and be reprimanded. Mr Langove added that CM Jam Kamal Khan Alyani had already directed an inquiry into the matter. (“Reporters boycott Balochistan Assembly session in protest against torture of two Chaman journalists,” Dawn, 24 June 2020)

Despite the cut in projects Awami Party continue to support PTI
The President of the Awami Party has supported the decision of not withdrawing from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) coalition government for four reasons. Firstly, the Minister of Planning and development has affirmed to release the tender of Balochistan projects in September followed by regular reviewal of developments projects at federal and provincial levels. Secondly, the President has said that a plan has already been drafted to fix the budget deficit gap between expenditure and income. Thirdly, the fund allocation of Rs18 billion by the current government is promising for Balochistan to complete the projects that were under construction from 1997 to 2017. Finally, reforms to increase investment to the board of investment and Trade have been very progressive. (Saleem Shahid, “No decision taken to quit PTI coalition, says Jam Kamal,” Dawn, 24 June 2020)

GILGIT BALTISTAN
Legislative Assembly completes the five-year term
The Gilgit-Baltistan department of Law and prosecution announced that GB assembly upon completing its tenure on 23 June, stands dissolved. A notification stated as per the consultation of the chairman of the Gilgit-Baltistan council, Mir Afzal will be appointed as a caretaker Chief Minister of the GB. The tentative schedule of elections is expected to be released soon by the Election Commission of Pakistan. (Jamil Nagri, “Mir Afzal appointed GB’s caretaker chief minister,” Dawn, 24 June 2020)

ECONOMY
Centre aims for 4-4.5pc growth over the next three years
During the next three years, the finance ministry is targeting a national economic rebound with 4 to 4.5 per cent growth and a growth rate of 3 per cent of GDP for total revenues; with the hope that the IMF programme will continue. As a part of the Medium-Term Budgetary Framework (in compliance with the 2005 Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act), the fiscal deficit is expected to be reduced to 4.8 per cent of GDP and current expenditure to 22 per cent of GDP. Current expenditure for FY2019-20 has crossed the target of 20.2 per cent of GDP and reached 20.9 per cent. In the upcoming three years, it will be reduced to 18 per cent of GDP. (“Govt aiming for 4-4.5pc growth over next three years,” Dawn, 24 June 2020)

ON INDIA
India asks Pakistan to cut its diplomatic presence in India by half
On 23 June, after accusing Pakistan High Commission staff of espionage, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs conveyed to Haider Shah, the Pakistani chargé d’affaires in Delhi, India’s decision to halve Pakistan’s diplomatic presence in the country; a clear sign of escalating bilateral tensions. India’s diplomatic footprint in Islamabad would also be halved, in view of the reciprocity principle in diplomacy. The ministry has given Pakistan seven days to implement the decision. Pakistan’s FO rejected the espionage allegations and “the insinuations of intimidation of Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad”. (“India initiates diplomatic spat with Pakistan,” Dawn, 24 June 2020)

 


"Pakistan has 860 active pilots, which includes PIA, Serene Air, Air Blue. The inquiry which was initiated in February 2019 showed that 262 pilots did not give the exam themselves and asked someone else to give it on their behalf...Pilots are also appointed on political basis, unfortunately,."

- Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan (The News)

 

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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Record COVID-19 spike in a single day;