Two FATF bills passed in the National Assembly
Opposition stands divided.
On 30 July, both houses of parliament passed the two FATF time-bound bills with some amendments meant to pull Pakistan out of the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the United Nations (Security Council) Amendment Bill, 2020, was passed by the National Assembly on 29 July. After which both the bills were then referred to the Senate's Standing Committee on Law and Justice headed by Senator Javed Abbasi. The Senate panel met before a Senate session and cleared the bills with amendments after which the two bills were passed. Hours after which the National Assembly also passed the bills. The opposition-dominated the house in passing of the bills with the majority of votes while the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) was the only opposition party who opposed the proposed laws.
While addressing the NA after the passage of the bills, FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi stated that the Senate had proved that it was a "mature house and has wisdom and ability" to work for national interest by keeping aside political differences.
Passing the FATF Bills: Behind the scenes
As stated in the Dawn, the developments were the result of behind-the-scenes talks between the government and two opposition parties, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPP). On 29, talks between the PML-N and PPP held talks after which they agreed to on the opposition's amendments the main one being the amendment in UNSC bill was about disallowing international entities to intervene directly in Pakistan. Following the talks, a notification for summoning a National Assembly session on 30 July was issued. (Iftikhar A. Khan, "Senate, NA pass time-bound FATF bills," Dawn, 31 July 2020)
Discord in the opposition
After the passage of the bills, JUI-F Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman criticized the PML-N and PPP for helping the government in getting the FATF-related bills passed in parliament "they have never sided with the opposition and gave way to the government to get the bills passed," further stating that the two parties have exposed the "opposition's weakness." He also announced that they would no longer cooperate them in the future. Further, members of the JUI-F accused the two parties of always damaging the opposition's unity. This comes a week after the announcement by opposition leaders about a joint anti-government movement after Eid.
Clearing the air, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman stated that they did not let 'Tabahi Sarkar' pass the FATF bills without amendments. Further, stating, "We made sure that our proposed amendments in the FATF legislation by the 24 members of the notified committee were included. We did not let them bulldoze it without amendments." (Asim Yasin, "PPP not to let 'Tabahi Sarkar' bulldoze FATF bills sans amendment," The News International, 31 July 2020)
PTI's stand: The rhetoric and reality
Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz stated that the government would not be coerced by opposition parties for their support in parliament to pass bills relating to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Adding, "While we are making amendments to relevant laws to meet the FATF requirements, they wanted side by side amendments to the NAB laws only to protect their corruption." ("Govt rules out meeting opposition's terms for support on FATF bills," Dawn, 31 July 2020)
Further, the minister said that it was not possible for the government to give NRO to the opposition because the country would collapse if that was done. Further, PM Imran Khan reiterated that he would not give any NRO-like concession to the opposition by accepting amendments it had proposed to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO-1999). Adding, "We will not be blackmailed by the opposition. We could have called a joint sitting of the parliament for the passage of the FATF-related bills if they had been opposed by the opposition." (Syed Irfan Raza, "No NRO-like concession for opposition, declares Imran," Dawn, 31 July 2020)
Pakistan Army called to assist in managing Karachi floods
On 30 July, Inter-Services Public Relations said, Pakistan Army troops have been called in Karachi to assist the civil administration for managing the urban flooding situation. As the city was facing dual challenges of coronavirus and urban flooding aftermath, the recent rains.
On 29 July, PM Imran Khan directed the military to assist the administration in cleaning Karachi, after a meeting with Sindh Governor Imran Ismail. The Sindh governor said, under the mandate Pakistan Army, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) will work together to give relief to the residents of Karachi. The relief and sanitation work would be carried out in Karachi in three stages. In the first stage, waste collected from the stormwater drains of Karachi would be transported to the landfill sites for its proper disposal. In the second phase, choked drains in the city would be made operational again while in the last stage anti-bacterial the spray would be conducted in the city. ("Urban flooding: Army called in Karachi," The News International, 31 July 2020)
On the SAPMs: Court rules PM has the freedom to appoint officials for assistance
On 30 July, Islamabad High Court (IHC) dismissed a petition challenging the appointment of special assistants to the Prime Minister. The petition was filed by senior lawyer Mohammad Ikram Chaudhry, on the bases of rule 4(6) of the Rules of 1973.
According to the court, there is no restriction regarding the number of special assistants that can be appointed by the prime minister also no restriction of appointing persons having dual nationality. ("IHC dismisses plea against dual national SAPMs," Dawn, 31 July 2020)
On Media Freedom: Dawn editorial says, Media feels more beleaguered under an ostensibly democratic system than during a military dictatorship
On 27 July, Sindh Rangers conducting a raid on the Karachi Press Club. When asked, they declared they were conducting 'full dress rehearsals' in preparation for a threat alert in the 'Red Zone'.
According to the editorial, this latest provocation is another attempt to bring the media to heel. Earlier in 2018, several gunmen in plainclothes had forcibly entered the KPC, harassed the journalists present, and searched the premises. These incidences redound on the government, unwillingness to protect the fundamental right to freedom of expression of the journalists in the country. ("Press club raid," Dawn, 31 July 2020)
"Pakistan must put its women first," says WB Director for Pakistan
According to the analyses, three convictions were put forward to bring in a change in Pakistan as the Human capital outcomes remain low and the periodic economic boom and bust cycles affect the country extensively.
First, Pakistan must put its women first. By closing its the gender gap in economic participation, improving access to reproductive health services, providing the opportunity to skill up, transforming social norms, progressive legislation and its implementation and safety from gender-based violence.
Second, fiscal space by enabling people to spend more internally. Also, by making distribution companies more efficient, by giving subsidies to the poor, and bringing greater transparency in transactions and contracts.
Third, the issue of inertia in decision-making. Combined planning, budget, and expenditure under one roof with streamlined procedures, to have a coherent approach to recurrent and development budgets. ("Time for impact," Dawn, 31 July 2020)
A decline in COVID-19 cases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa witnessing improvement in COVID-19 cases as there is a considerable decline in fatalities. According to KP Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra, the first step they took was increasing the number of testing facilities a KP amid a sharp rise in Covid-19 patients in May 2020, soon after Eidul Fitr. The second hit was in the last week of Ramazan.
According to a data shared by KP Health Department, the daily average positive cases has risen from 641 in the week of June, by 190 in July first week. So far 33,724 patients have been infected in the province, out of which 27,724 (82 per cent) have recovered. Human losses, as of 29 July Peshawar alone has lost 569 people and recorded 12731 positive cases, second is Swat district where 101 people lost their lives. ("Coronavirus pandemic: situation improving in KP," The News International, 31 July 2020)
Growth of over 15 per cent in FBR collection
On 30 July, Data released by Federal Board of Revenue shows collection in July grew by over 15 per cent from last year to Rs300 billion, up Rs57bn or 23.4pc from the target set for the month. As per the FBR, 'kept a lower level in revenue collection for the first quarter stating hide the inefficiency and pass it on to the impact of Covid-19'. ("FBR collection jumps by 23.4pc in July," Dawn, 31 July 2020)
State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has doubts over the Pakistan achieving 2.1 per cent economic growth
On 30 July, State of Pakistan's Economy released Third Quarterly Report 2019-20 stating, Covid-19 as the main reason behind low economic growth in FY20, making FY21 challenging for the government. As per the document, "Achieving the target of 2.1pc growth in real GDP during FY21 will require a parallel improvement in underlying demand". Also, Pakistan's real GDP is provisionally estimated to record negative growth of 0.4pc for FY20. ("Growth target 'challenging', deficit to be 9pc of GDP inFY20: SBP," Dawn, 31 July 2020)
Clash on Friendship gate at Chaman between Afghanistan and Pakistan
On 31 July, three people were killed and 20 injured in a clash at Chaman between Pakistani and Afghan security forces. Balochistan Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove said, "Some miscreants in the protest provoked the crowd. The incident is being investigated. The government will take decisions in the interest of the people and the country. If there is tension across the border, we will respond to it. We will investigate the incident from different angles, and action would be taken against those responsible for the violence." ("Three killed as mob, security forces clash at Chaman border," Dawn, 31 July 2020)
British Airways once again operational in Pakistan
On 30 July, British Airways company announced to start direct flights, three times a week to and from London's Heathrow Airport. British High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner CMG has termed the resumption of the British Airways' flight operation to Pakistan an important moment for links between the UK and Pakistan. ("British Airways to start flight operation for Pakistan," Dawn, 31 July 2020)
Islamabad High Court (IHC) fixes the hearing for Kulbhushan Jadhav on 03 August
A petition filed by the Pakistan government for seeking permission, appointing counsel for Kulbhushan Jadhav would be addressed by the IHC division, Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb on 03 August. ("Court takes up govt plea for appointment of Jadhav lawyer on 03 August," Dawn, 31 July 2020)
Analysis: India shift from Secular democratic to Hindutva rhetoric in the region
According to an analysis, India has been isolating itself in the south Asian region from secular to Hindutva rhetoric country. First, India relation with Iran. India, under the US influence started its oil purchase from GCC countries and stopped its investment in Chabahar. It has increased its military ties with Israel which is leading to an increasing gap between Iran and India. Second, Indian distress in Afghanistan with the upcoming dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan government has further reduced India's influence in the country. Third, India shifts from the purchase of air defence systems from Russia. First, the border dispute between India and Nepal in Kalapani. Second, the issue of NRC and inadequate aid for Rohingya refugees between India and Bangladesh. India's close nexus with the US and coercive diplomatic posture with its neighbours is souring its relationships in the South-Asia. ("Is India isolating itself regionally?," The News International, 31 July 2020)
Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson on New Delhi's newly acquired Rafale jets and on Afghanistan ceasefire
On 30 July, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said, "We have seen reports of the recent acquisition of Rafale jets by Indian Air Force. According to some former senior Indian officials and several international publications, these Rafale jets have dual-capable systems that can be modified as nuclear weapon delivery platforms". She also highlighted during her weekly briefing, India expanding and modernizing its nuclear arsenal both in terms of type and number of delivery systems and which may affect the strategic stability in South Asia.
Also, during the brief, she welcomed the announcement of a ceasefire in Afghanistan and stated it as a positive development. She said, the "Release of prisoners is one such commitment and we hope to see a forward movement in this aspect so that the next step which is the intra-Afghan dialogue can take place". ("West abetting India arms build-up, Pakistan deplores," Dawn, 31 July 2020)