Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

06 July 2020, Monday, Vol 1, No.69

The problem with Pakistan Railways

Pakistan Railways, drop-in COVID cases, 335 billion rupees relief from the G-20, problems of building a temple in Islamabad, and analyses on PTI and Karachi stock exchange attacks.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus

The problem with Pakistan Railways

As per reports, in 2019 over 100 minor and major train accidents took place between Multan and Karachi sections of the mainline. These include the derailment of eight wagons of a freight train near Rahim Yar Khan on 1 April, a goods train near Padedan Station on 18 May, Thal Express near Kundian station on 21 May, and Zakria Express on 23 July; 20 June accident of Jinnah Express; splitting into two sections of the moving Pakistan Express on 11 July; a collision between a goods train and Akbar Express on 12 July; and the 30 October Tezgam fire tragedy near Rahim Yar Khan. (“A tough year for Pakistan Railways: 2019 marred by over 100 accidents,” Dawn, 1 January 2020) (“Pakistan train fire: Are accidents at a record high?,”

Train drivers' speak
On 5 July, while talking to the media house Dawn, the Pakistan Railways train drivers welfare association’s central president Shams Pervaiz urged Pakistan Railways (PR) administration to concentrate on track rehabilitation; cautioned the government of more accidents; said the main track was unfit for operation; and warned of protests if Pakistan Railways forced them to run the trains in the hazardous present conditions. He said that all express, passenger and goods trains and the mainline, especially the Multan-Sukkur and Sukkur-Karachi sections, were in a terrible state. Pervaiz also claimed that 33 accidents took place in the span of 6 months between Karachi and Sukkur sections. Meanwhile, Multan division’s drivers' association president Karim Bakhsh demanded the immediate order of rehabilitation of the dilapidated tracks by the PR chairman and CEO. (“Train drivers speak their hearts out, warn of more crashes,” Dawn, 6 July 2020)
 BBC News, 1 November 2019)

Attempts to downplay accidents
Pakistan Railways authorities apparently do not count accidents occurring at unmanned or manned level crossings; an attempt to reduce the peaking official count. The associations say that PR authorities do not pay heed to their grievances and safety concerns. (“Real Railway Problems,” The Nation)

Meanwhile, Railways Chairman Dr Habibur Rehman Gilani said under CPEC’s ML-1 project the Peshawar-Karachi section would be revamped; and PR authorities are considering the closure of the Shalimar and Sir Syed express due to financial reasons. Authorities mention dilapidated rail tracks, outdated rolling stock and human error as reasons for derailments and accidents.

Reforming PR
Railway problems have been reduced to mere issues for political point-scoring as the elite remains largely unaffected. However, revamping and reformation of Pakistan’s railway infrastructure is crucial in reducing road traffic, the country’s carbon footprint and pollution. PR requires revamping in the institutional, infrastructural, legal and environmental fronts. It will increase economic development and sustainability of the country at large. (“Reforming Pakistan Railways,” Global Village Space, 5 December 2019)

In Brief

43 per cent drop in active COVID-19 cases
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has stated that as many as 57pc of the patients have recovered and only 43pc COVID-19 cases are active. As of 5 July, of the 231017 cases, only 101,187 which is 43.8 per cent are active and the remaining 129830 patients have fully recovered since the outbreak of the virus in the country. Further, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) while talking to Dawn stated that although both the federal and provincial governments made efforts to fight the pandemic, it was the smart lockdown policy, proposed by PM Imran Khan that played a major role in narrowing the gap. (Ikram Junaidi, “Active cases of coronavirus drop to 43pc,” Dawn, 6 July 2020)

Resentment within PTI: Analysis by Maleeha Lodhi
The problems and tensions unresolved between PTI and army unelected adviser and special assistants, marks for upcoming trouble for the government. The editor also emphasizes on how the party's struggle has been increasing and is losing its significance, and how governance can be moulded in the new political management and leadership style. (Maleeha Lodhi, “PTI’s summer of discontent”, Dawn, 6 July 2020)

Constructing a temple under the pivot of politics
The construction of the Hindu temple in Islamabad was halted by federal capital. Last month PM Imran Khan had promised a grant of Rs100 million. The construction was opposed by the clerics, political parties such as JUI-F and PML-Q. While the CDA spokesperson said, “the building control laws of the civic authority clearly stated no activity could take place on a plot until the building plan was approved” (“Religious intolerance”, Dawn, 06 July 2020) (“The temple and the state”, The News International, 6 July 2020)

Pakistan to get Rs335b debt relief from G-20
The Financial Division stated that Pakistan has reconciled its debt with over one dozen bilateral creditors out of the 20 countries and that a debt relief agreement will be signed with each of the countries separately before the deadline of 31 December to avail debt relief Rs335 billion. Further, the government is taking all measure to accomplish the task of debt relief within the first quarter till 30 September. This debt relief will help provide the much-needed respite from the pressure of external payments. Further, Pakistan has sought help from the World Bank to develop a standard format for seeking debt relief from bilateral creditors but due to different standard requirements it could not be developed, thus the Economic Affairs Division has now developed its format in consultation with stakeholders and Ministry of Law regarding this task. (Mehtab Haider, “Much-needed breather: Pakistan gets Rs335b debt relief from G-20,” The News International, 6 July 2020)

Karachi attack's “purpose is not just to create instability but also undermine CPEC”: Opinion
An opinion in the Express Tribune titled “PSX attack and Indian role” by Kamran Yousaf comments on the book My Enemy’s Enemy, written by Alvinash Paliwal an India author who lends credence on Islamabad’s stance of India’s involvement in sponsoring terrorism on its soil amid the current PSX attack. Further, the opinion states that the book also reveals that not just Baloch insurgents, the RAW and NDS also work closely with the TTP and its affiliates and highlight the various other insight of the book. The opinion concluded by stating that the various finding of the book leaves no doubt that India is behind the violence in Balochistan and that the reason is not just to create instability but also undermine CPEC. Thus, Pakistan should first develop a robust diplomatic offensive to expose India’s role and second, it should address its fault-lines that provide hostile forces with a chance to exploit the youth. (Kamran Yousaf, “PSX attack and Indian role,” The Express Tribune, 6 July 2020)

Russia's interest in Afghanistan: Analysis by Shahid Javed Burki
An opinion in the Express Tribune looked into how ‘How Pakistan has not been referred in Russian bounties to Taliban issue,' reported by the New York Times article. He also pitched in How Putin can see Afghanistan going in three different ways, “first, Afghanistan could adopt Western-style liberal democracy, second, it could opt for an Islamic system, third, could place the country under authoritarian ruler”. And How Afghanistan is always dominated by large powers the British, the Russian, the American and now Russian again and Chinese in the near future. As the “Greater Middle East” and Central Asia” has become a disagreement between the dominant powers. (Shahid Javed Burki, “Is Russia returning to Afghanistan”, The Express Tribune, 6 July 2020)


"The most obvious aspect of the PTI government, which has attracted frequent comment, is the inherent tension between elected members and an army of unelected advisers and special assistants. This kind of friction afflicted previous ruling parties too. But the PTI government has earned the distinction of appointing a record number of advisers and special assistants — the largest in recent history. This has triggered increasing resentment among its lawmakers. Their lack of access to the top and to development funds also lies behind their disenchantment. Many lawmakers feel they were used by the leadership to secure power and then ignored. These tensions have been left to fester by a leadership that does not seem to regard this as a problem, except when votes are needed for parliamentary motions."

-  Amb Maleeha Lodhi on the tensions within the PTI (Dawn)

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