Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

19 July 2020, Sunday I Vol 1, No.82

Pakistan This Week

Kashmir, Kulbhushan Yadav and Fake Licenses

PR Daily Brief | D. Suba Chandran

Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir
In the News
For Pakistan, especially Imran Khan, the week started and ended with Kashmir. On Monday (13 July 2020), he started with the tweet: "Today, on Yaum-e-Shuhada-e-Kashmir, we salute Kashmiris for their continued struggle against the illegal and barbaric Indian occupation of Jammu & Kashmir. The Shuhada of 13 July 1931 were the forefathers of today's Kashmiri resistance."

On Sunday (19 July 2020), he tweeted again on Kashmir: "Today we commemorate the historic occasion of Youm-i-Ilhaq-e-Pakistan, when Kashmiris passed a resolution for accession to Pakistan. We reaffirm our commitment to the Kashmiri people & stand with them in their struggle for self-determination."

Issues in the background
First, there is a trend to Imran Khan's tweets and obsession towards Kashmir. None of the provinces within Pakistan has assumed as much importance for Imran Khan during this week, as Kashmir has been. During the recent months, especially since August 2019, one could see Imran Khan and his government pursuing an overkill with his Kashmir focus. So much so, Sardar Mengal, while announcing his decision to part with the ruling coalition in June 2020, made a statement in the Parliament, that Kashmir has acquired a larger focus, than Balochistan.

Second, Imran Khan is playing to four audiences – two within and two outside. First, the domestic political audience within. Imran Khan wants to prove that he and the PTI have done more to Kashmir than the previous Prime Ministers and their parties (PML-N and PPP). The other domestic audience is the Deep State, that has been one of the primary factors that brought him to power. The Deep State would be thrilled for numerous factors – explained subsequently.

Two external audiences for Imran Khan are the Kashmiris and the international community. Since the days of Musharraf, there has been a return of normalcy to the Kashmir Valley and also Indo-Pak relationship. A section within Pakistan has been apprehensive that Islamabad would lose its locus-standi in Kashmir if it let the status quo continue. When the BJP government decided to abrogate Article 370 and pursue a muscular policy towards Kashmir, this section wanted to use the situation to bring Pakistan back in. And that is precisely what Pakistan has been doing. And to an extent successfully.

Imran Khan has also been systematic in "internationalising" the Kashmir cause. From the UN to the OIC, and in terms of bringing Kashmir in bilateral issues with other countries as well, Imran Khan aims to bring the international community back to South Asia and wants them to feel, that Kashmir is no more normal, and would become a nuclear flashpoint if rest of the world ignore it.

Kulbushan Jadav and Pakistan's "Goodwill" gestures
In the news
The second significant development was related to the Consular access to India on Kulbushan Jadav, whom Pakistan claimed to have arrested in Balochistan in 2016.

On Friday (17 July 2020), a statement from Pakistan's foreign office mentioned the following: "Pakistan remains committed to fully implementing the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) judgement of 17 July 2019. It is hoped that India will cooperate with the Pakistan court in giving full effect to the said judgement… Two consular officers of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad were provided unimpeded and uninterrupted consular access to Commander Jadhav at 1500 hours."

Issues in the background
Pakistan wants to show the world that it has provided access to India to speak with Kulbushan Jadav and that India has refused to take the offer. The presence of security personnel became the issue for the Indian officials and had to refuse the offer. Perhaps, that is precisely what Pakistan wanted.

Second, projecting the order as a goodwill gesture. Pakistan also wants to tell the world, that it is "committed to fully implementing the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) judgement", which includes consular access. However, Pakistan wants to take credit for doing so as a "goodwill gesture."

Third, the political opposition to the PTI's strategy both within and outside the Parliament. Bilawal Bhutto said: "PTI will not be forgiven' for bringing in an ordinance to 'facilitate Kulbhushan Jadhav."

The Civil Aviation Authority says that the licenses of pilots are genuine
In the news
The Director of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in Pakistan declared in a letter: "…that all CPL/ATPL pilot licences issued by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority are genuine and validly issued. None of the pilot licences are fake, rather the matter has been misconstrued and incorrectly highlighted in the media/social media."

The CAA Director was writing to the concerned department in Oman so that the latter does not close the air space to Pakistan International Airlines. Following an air crash in Karachi and its subsequent investigation, the Civil Aviation Minister of Pakistan in Parliament made a claim that 40 percent of the licenses that the Pakistani pilots have, are fake.

Issues in the background
First, the international pressure on the PIA and the pilots who have acquired licences from Pakistan's authorities. Following the statement from the civil aviation minister, concerned departments from the US to Malaysia, including EU banned/suspended the PIA and pilots with Pakistani licenses. It was not only financial loss but also of the face. Many pilots with licenses from Pakistan fly national carriers and private airlines outside Pakistan.

Second, there is a difference between the CAA and the civil aviation ministry. Perhaps the former is attempting to cover up the case, while the latter has already made an announcement in the Parliament about fake licenses by the pilots in Pakistan.

Third, there is an attempt to shift the blame on the media for blowing up the issue. Editorials and opinion articles in the media have already questioned this attempt.


Also during the week...

Imran Khan launching the construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam on 15 July 2020 (Image Source: Dawn)

In Brief
prepared by
Lakshmi V Menon, Abigail Miriam Fernandez and Sukanya Bali

The Cynthia Ritchie Affair:
According to the Interior Ministry, Cynthia is working on ISPR and KP projects
In the report submitted to Islamabad High Court (IHC) by Ministry of Interior on 17 July, MoI notifies the court that the US blogger Cynthia D. Ritchie is staying in Pakistan on an ‘extended’ visa. The report says Ms. Cynthia “informed in her application that she had been working with Walkabout Films in collaboration with Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR – military’s media affairs wing) and the KP government on various film projects in the country.” Additional Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Khokhar maintained that Ms. Cynthia’s visa extension was till August 31 and that no illegality or anti-state activity, as being alleged, has been committed by her. According to the MoI, Ms. Ritchie has denied all allegations and since the process of further extensions of foreigner visas had been paused due to the Covid-19 situation, blanket extensions were granted to all. (“Cynthia working on ISPR & KP govt projects, court told,” Dawn, 18 July 2020)

The court adjourned further hearing of petition filed by PPP activist Chaudhry Iftikhar Ahmed till next week. Mr. Chaudhry’s petition questioned Cynthia’s extended stay in Pakistan after her business visa expired on 2 March 2020. While referring to ‘derogatory and objectionable’ involvement, activities, social media posts and media statements of Ms. Cynthia, he alleged her involvement in a media campaign against Opposition party’s leaders. Mr. Chaudhry also said the respondent was granted the visa without fulfilling legal formalities. Meanwhile, Cynthia has pointed out that travelling to different regions of Pakistan or interviewing tribal leaders were not considered crimes under Pakistan’s constitution.
Previously, on 13 June, IHC directed the Federal Investigation Agency to probe the allegations of defamation of former PM Benazir Bhutto, against Ms. Cynthia. (“Islamabad court orders FIA to initiate probe against Cynthia Ritchie for tweets on Benazir,” Dawn, 14 June 2020) On 26 June, the IHC demanded an explanation from MoI regarding the terms and conditions and status of Ms. Cynthia’s visa. ("IHC calls for explanation about Cynthia visa status,” Dawn, 27 June 2020) On 3 July, the federal government had informed the IHC that Ms. Cynthia’s visa had expired in February 2020, and that the applied extension was subject to clearance by intelligence agencies. (“Cynthia’s visa expired in February, IHC told,” Dawn, 4 July 2020)

Plan to revamp the Pakistan Steel Mills may lead to a disaster: SC 
On 16 July, the Supreme Court critical of the federal government’s initiative to revamp the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and warned that this plan might lead to a disaster. Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed stated: “whatever the PSM management is planning will only create hurdles since it will burden the courts more as 5,000 cases will come to the courts and the management eventually has to reinstate majority of them (the employees).” Further adding that PSM management has not come up with a proper plan nor do they have an idea on what they are doing. The court has asked for a comprehensive report on the revival of the steel mill and has postponed the further proceedings for a month. (Nasir Iqbal, “Steel Mills revamp plan may lead to disaster, warns SC,” Dawn, 17 July 2020)

PM Imran Khan vows to build the "biggest dam in Pakistan's history"
On 15 July, PM Imran Khan launched the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam while addressing a public gathering in Chilas, the district headquarters of Diamer, after visiting the dam site along with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and federal ministers. He also announced plans to build more dams in the country to generate low-cost hydel power. (Jamil Nagri, "Construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam launched," Dawn, 16 July 2020) Further, he stated that this site is a naturally well-suited for building the dam because it has natural rocks, adding "The decision to build this dam was taken 50 years ago. There can be no better site for constructing a dam, it is a natural dam. Forty, 50 years ago this was decided, and work on the project has begun today. This is one of the biggest reasons why we haven't progressed."

After the attack in Waziristan, there is another attack, this time in Balochistan. Three soldiers killed in Panjgur
On 14 July, three soldiers were killed, and eight others were left injured in a terrorist attack on security forces in Panjgur district of Balochistan. According to a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations, the terrorists opened fire on a patrolling party of security personnel.  (Behram Baloch, "Three soldiers martyred in Panjgur attack," Dawn, 15 July 2020). The attack in Balochistan comes two days after an attack in the Miramshah area of North Waziristan tribal district. On 12 July, four soldiers were killed. 

Remittance ascends to $23.1 billion
On 13 July, the State Bank of Pakistan stated that the receipt of workers remittance reached an all-time high in June 2020 with a staggering 51 per cent to a record high of $2.47 billion compared to $1.64 billion in June 2019. The Bank further said “Inflow of workers’ remittances registered an increase of 7.8 per cent in the March-June 2020” further adding that the total remittances were even higher than the cumulative export earnings of $21.39 billion in FY20. This inflow of remittance is said to have increased due to the suspension of international commercial flights due to Covid-19 which prompted expatriates to send foreign exchange through proper banking channels instead of the illegal Hawala/Hundi channels. (Siddiqui “All-time high: Remittances soar to $23.1b in FY20d,” The Express Tribune, 14 July 2020)

Afghanistan resume trade with India through Wagah border
On 13 July, Pakistan Foreign Office had said, “Afghan export to India through Wagah border would resume from 15 July”. The trade between the two nations will be conducted under strict Covid-19 protocol as it was restricted in March when Pakistan closed all borders crossing neighbours. According to the 2010 bilateral agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan allowed Afghan trade with India through the Wagah border. (“Afghan exports to India via Wagah resume tomorrow”, Dawn, 14 July 2020)

NA to discuss privatisation policy and anti-terror financing bills
The National Assembly (NA) will debate on the privatisation policy of the government and taking up two crucial bills seeking amendments to the anti-terrorism act as the lower house resumes its session after a two-day recess. The 22-point agenda of issues by the NA Secretariat, the Minister for Interior will move the two bills seeking amendments to sections 2, 6, 9A and 110 in the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 and insertion of a new section 11000 in it before the house for passage. These two bills were introduced by the government to meet certain requirements of the FATF and in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions No. 1267 and 1373. (Amir Wasim, “NA takes up anti-terror financing bills today,” Dawn, 13 July 2020)


"Today we commemorate the historic occasion of Youm-i-Ilhaq-e-Pakistan, when Kashmiris passed a resolution for accession to Pakistan. We reaffirm our commitment to the Kashmiri people &  stand with them in their struggle for self-determination"

-  Imran Khan on 19 July (Dawn)


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