Daily Briefs

Photo : Supreme Court of Pakistan

21 July 2020, Tuesday, Vol 1, No.84

Supreme Court regrets on NAB being misused for political engineering

The debate in the Supreme Court on whether the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is being used for political engineering, the opposition to the Special Assistants to the PM on their dual nationality, and the continuing debate on the missing Baloch

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
Special Assistants to the Prime Minister (SAPMs) under trial by media, opposition and the judiciary
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has decided to hear the two similar petitions challenging the appointment of special assistants to the prime minister (SAPMs) in the second week of August. This decision came after the government came under scathing criticism in the Senate over allowing key positions to filled by those possessing dual nationality. The opposition alleged Pakistan’s ‘national interests had been compromised by doing so’. (Mumtaz Alvi, “Govt faces Opp wrath over giving key posts to dual nationals,” The News International, 21 July 2020)

Opposition’s petition 
Barrister Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha, the counsel for petitioner Iradat Sharif Khan, another MNA of the PML-N, stated that the cabinet was being run by not only unelected people but also by those who held dual nationality and were not the sole citizen of Pakistan. In his petition, Sharif challenged the appointment as chairman and other advisers to the prime minister as members of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP). Further, he challenged the 25 April notification. Further, Barrister Ranjha, stated that the rule put in place demands that the cabinet constitutes the prime minister and ministers who are the elected members of parliament, arguing that Pakistan could only be governed by elected representatives and a person who was not a member of parliament could neither become a part of the cabinet nor its committees. (Malik Asad, “IHC to hear pleas against SAPMs’ appointment,” Dawn, 21 July 2020)

PTI’s stand on the issue
Unlike ministers, advisers are not considered part of the federal government. The petition said that these advisers do not take oath nor are they responsible to parliament in term of Article 91(6) of the Constitution and other provisions, thus are not subject to any kind of scrutiny. Further, FM hah Mehmood Qureshi stated “you also need experts in various fields who can assist the government” adding “as far as dual citizenship is concerned, we have to see what the law and the Constitution say in this regard. Legally, a person with dual citizenship cannot become a member of the National Assembly or the Senate, but there is no such restriction on any other position.” Further, adding that the PTI had only introduced a new tradition of disclosing the names of the dual citizen government functionaries and details of their assets. (“Qureshi defends dual national advisers, SAPMs,” The Express Tribune, 21 July 2020)

Editorial lauds PM’s decision
An editorial in the Dawn commended PM Imran Khan decision to ordering all advisers and special assistants to the prime minister to declare their assets and nationalities. The editorial states that this will help ensure transparency which his government promised. Further, it states that although this announcement by the PM has triggered a debate, it would bring much-needed clarity to the prevailing ambiguity in the issue of dual nationals working in important government positions. Further, the editorial states that since the issues have been brought to light, the PM should review the states of these advisers in the light of his own previously held position against dual nationals in key positions adding that the PM should find their replacements and utilise their services in any capacity outside the cabinet. (“Dual nationality,” Dawn, 21 July 2020)

The larger story of Dual Citizenship: Opinions
The nationality issue is not new in Pakistan. An opinion in the Dawn, states that the issue is that the country is constantly ruled by those whose loyalties are suspect, despite the various efforts through legal means that prevent people who possess dual citizenship from reaching the corridors of power. Further adding that the abstract issue of patriotism and loyalties have been reduced to a legal one, regardless of it not resolving anything. (Arifa Noor, “Bleeding green,” Dawn, 21 July 2020) However, on the other hand, others believe that by allowing dual nationals to become legislators would result in a conflict of interest which such legislators may face while considering a matter which concerns the other country. Further, adding that it is not possible to demarcate these areas especially in a country where nationalist feelings often run very high. (Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, “The case of dual nationals,” Dawn, 19 August 2019)

In Brief
SC regrets NAB being flagrantly used for political engineering
On 20 July the supreme court of Pakistan described the National Accountability Bureau deals with the Paragon society corruption case and disregarded the parameters of the law. As it is observed that NAB has been reluctant in proceeding against the political divide. The court has said, 'one-sided' accountability is aimed at teaching lessons to the opponents. Justice Maqbool Baqar wrote 87 pages of detailed judgment, "The present case is a classic example of the trampling of fundamental rights, unlawful deprivation of freedom, and liberty and the complete disregard for human dignity as guaranteed by the Constitution”. ("SC spots bias in NAB handling of political case”, Dawn, 21 July 2020). The verdict also highlighted that the NAB is causing irretrievable harm to the nation and said, " It is in the context of such highhandedness and brazen disregard for human dignity that the Bureau has attracted ignominy and notoriety beyond our frontiers too”. ("Bureau doing one-sided accountability: NAB busy chasing political opponents", The News International, 21 July 2020)

The question of Missing Baloch returns
According to the editorial, it is estimated that around 5,000 people are on the list of Balochistan disappearances. It further brings focus on the perennial protest after Dr Deen Mohammad went missing on 28 June 2009. The recent attack on the Pakistan stock exchange many Baloch gathered to mark the 'four thousandth day of their protest'. The editor advises, to follow a fair, transparent formula to engage first who are ready to talk and then to the angrier sections. ("Baloch approach", Dawn, 21 July 2020)

Vandalising the Buddha shows the extent to which intolerance and ignorance have permeated our society: Editorial
An editorial in the Dawn is critical of the recent video in which a group of men were shown vandalising the centuries-old statue of the Buddha in Mardan stating that this act shows the extent to which intolerance and ignorance have permeated our society. Further, the editorial states that this incident not only is a painful reminder of how respect for minority religious beliefs is shrinking but it also shows an ugly side of Pakistan to the world. Further, the editorial concluded by stating that the mindset which allows such acts to take place stem intolerance and bigotry, adding that the culprits must be punished, and the administration must reflect on its failure to educate the public about the religious and historical significance of these relics. (“Vandalising the Buddha,” Dawn, 21 July 2020)

National Assembly cancels the meeting as only two member shows up
On 20 July the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, and Economic Affairs had met to discuss FATF, official legislative business, and the circular debt. The session was cancelled as out of 21 members, only two members Faheem Khan of PTI and Ali Pervaiz of PMLN showed up. ("NA committee cancels crucial meeting on FATF, circular debt", Dawn, 21 July 2020)

PML-N and PPP leaders meet to form an anti-government alliance
On 20 July, Leaders of PPP and PML-N met at Bilawal house to lay down a strategy to form an anti-government alliance to oust the incumbent PTI government. The PML-N league comprised of Ahsan Iqbal, Sadar Ayaz Sadiq and Khwaja Saad Rafiq while PPP was represented by Raja Parvez Ashraf, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Ch Manzoor and Hassan Manzoor. They agreed on hosting a multi-party conference immediately after Eidul Azha and formed a Joint Opposition Coordination Committee to build an anti-government coalition with other political parties. The dawn reported that PML -N Shabaz Sharif may not be able to attend the party conference due to health issues. Both the parties were critical of the proposed amendments to the National Accountability law, called the black law, that will empower the anti-corruption watchdog to increase the detention of an accused from 90 to 180 days. Parities claim that the proposed law would be used misused to target rivals or dissidents. PPP and PML-N leaders also blamed the government for the economic crises that Pakistan is going through. (Amjad Mahmood, “PPP, PML-N agree on MPC to frame strategy against govt,” Dawn, 21 July 2020)

68 more Pakistan pilots with dubious licenses 
On 20 July, the Aviation division suspected 68 more pilots with dubious licenses. With 262 dubious license holders, 28 pilots have been cancelled while 161 pilots have been suspended. A report on the measures taken for the air travellers will be presented today before the supreme court. The decision for the remaining 73 pilots is expected in the next two days. A spokesman for the Aviation Division said that 'all the Pakistani pilots flying on international or domestic routes had been cleared and well experienced'. ("Another 68 pilots suspended over dubious licences”, Dawn, 21 July 2020) 

India and the two-front war: Opinion
An opinion in the Dawn titled “India’s two fronts” by Muhammad Ali Siddiqi asks questions regarding the two-front wars that Indian army chiefs have been and are preparing for, question their seriousness or if this two-front war is merely a bogey to attract sympathy from the right quarters. However, the opinion states that although India plans this two-front war, the current army chief and his predecessor deny this position when they declare that the focus of their war preparations is basically for Pakistan and that on the Chinese front the Indian army will adopt a policy of deterrence. Further, the opinion states that the truth of the matter is that India will never commit suicide by taking on China for America’s benefit, adding that the two-front theory was designed to get as much economic, diplomatic and military support from America. The opinion concludes by states that India will concede a mile to China but it will not give an inch to Pakistan, adding that the two-front hoax is meant to squeeze the milk cow which is America. (Muhammad Ali Siddiqi, “India’s two fronts,” Dawn, 21 July 2020)


"The present case is a classic example of trampling of fundamental rights, unlawful deprivation of freedom, and liberty and the complete disregard for human dignity as guaranteed by the Constitution...The (National Accountability) Bureau seems reluctant in proceeding against people on one side of the political divide even in respect of financial scams of massive proportion while those on the other side are being arrested and incarcerated for months and years without providing any sufficient cause even when the law mandates investigations to be concluded expeditiously and trial to be concluded within 30 days."

-  Justice Maqbool Baqar on the Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd case, criticising the role of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) (Dawn)

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