Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

01 August 2020, Saturday, Vol 1, No.95

Pakistan and Afghanistan exchange fire and allegations at the Chaman border

The exchange of fire between Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Chaman border, FATF discussions within, and Pakistan's analysis of Modi's approach towards Kashmir and Rafale as a liability for India.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
Pakistan and Afghanistan exchange fire and allegations at the Chaman border

Tension continued to rise at the Pak-Afghan border in Chaman for the second consecutive day after clashes broke out between Pakistan’s border forces and people trying to cross into Afghanistan left 15 people dead after which the Pakistan Army took control of the border crossing. (“Chaman border remains volatile,” The News International, 1 August 2020)

Clashes at the border  
On 30 July, four people were killed and about 19 were injured after clashes between protesters and security forces at the Friendship Gate border crossing in Chaman, while a heavy exchange of fire also took place between the security forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan. (“Four killed, 19 injured in Chaman border clashes,” The News International, 31 July 2020) The border which remained closed for the pedestrian movement was reopened on 29 July to allow people from both sides to travel on the occasions of Eid. With a large number of people had gathered on both sides of the crossing, Frontier Corps (FC) personnel is said to have asked them to move away from the gate, however, the people refused to which the officials stated that the gate would not be opened until shifting of the protesters from the site. When the gate was not opened by the border officials, the protesters became violent and attacked the offices of FC and other government agencies located at the Friendship Gate and set the FC and Nadra offices on fire, while the FC personnel fired bullets in the air to disperse the mob as more people joined the protest from both sides of the border. (Saleem Shahid, “Three killed as mob, security forces clash at Chaman border,” Dawn, 31 July 2020)

Responses from Pakistan
The Foreign Office stated that the Pakistani troops had responded to firing by the Afghan forces. Stating, “Pakistani Force did not open fire first and responded in self-defence only,” rejecting the Afghan allegation of firing at the civilian population. Further, the FO stated accused Afghan forces of firing on civilians gathered at the international border on the side of Pakistan. Further, FO Spokesperson said that the Afghan forces had "deliberately targeted" people gathered to cross the border. However, the FO also made some conciliatory remarks stating, “Pakistan reiterates its sincere readiness to further enhance fraternal relations with Afghanistan in the interest of peace and stability in the region. We hope our constructive efforts will be reciprocated.” (Naveed Siddiqui, Reuters, “Pakistan says troops responded to Afghan fire at Chaman border 'only in self-defence',” Dawn, 31 July 2020)

Responses from Afghanistan 
Afghan officials accused Pakistan of firing shells and gunfire across the border into a crowd of civilians. Further, the Afghan Defence Ministry, Chief of General Staff of the Afghan Armed Forces ordered “befitting response” to Pakistani troops, ordering the provision of small and heavy weapons to the Afghan forces deployed along the border. Meanwhile, the Afghan National Security Council has stated that the matter would be followed through by relevant channels and that the “required action” will be taken. (Kalbe Ali, Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Islamabad, Kabul trade charges over Chaman clash,” Dawn, 1 August 2020)

In Brief
Silencing of a journalist must end: Analysis
According to the analysis by Tariq Khosa, the recent case of kidnapping should provide lawmakers with an opportunity to rein in the agencies considering them above law. Stating, “the ‘silence of the lambs’ must be broken if this nation is to qualify as a democracy where the rule of law is supreme.” It also focused on the chief justice of the Islamabad High Court verdict over kidnapping, “No one is above the law and every citizen, including the state, is subservient to the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution” and comment by a police officer, that the perpetrators used police-like vehicles and wore police uniforms to create the perception that it was another act of police high-handedness, given the general reputation of the police for resorting to illegal detentions and torture which was indeed a misleading act. (“Let us rise,” Dawn, 1 August 2020)

“Powers” constrain MQM-P, PSP activities: News Report
After four years since the removal of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain, political parties MQM and PSP confide that interference of the establishment in affairs of the parties make it difficult for them to do politics. Hussain was banned following his Aug 22, 2016, incendiary speech. Senior leaders of both the parties are facing court cases and the conclusion of cases is nowhere in sight. Neither, the PSP nor the MQM-P was allowed to collect zakat and fitra in Ramzan and this year too they have not been allowed to collect hides on Eidul Azha. Leaders of the parties are frequently called to confidential meetings by the “powers” to pass on instruction. The “establishment” has tried to convince the political parties of the advantages of having a union with PTI for the “benefit of Karachi”. (“MQM-P, PSP on a tight leash,” Dawn, 01 August 2020)

PML-N and PPP on three bills on Terrorism Act and FATF
According to the analysis, the opposition parties have once again raised disagreement in three bills on the Terrorism Act and the FATF. The opposition leaders said most provision would have allowed a person to be picked up for up to six months without any arrest, also extension in the tenure of the chairperson of NAB. While the bills now await the final president’s signature. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said the opposition had all along sought to blackmail the government by refusing to sign the bills pertaining to the FATF until changes were made in the NAB bill. (“Opposition unity,” The News International, 1 August 2020)

Senator Hussain says FATF is a new weapon to pressurize countries
Senator Mushahid Hussain while addressing a webinar organized by the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies said “The FATF is a new weapon to pressurize countries to comply and recently the UAE has been warned on the matters of financing, but the fact is that we should clean our house ourselves.” He stressed on issues faced by Pakistan today were the fallout of previous build-up relation to Afghan jihad. At the same time, he also mentioned, the world was changing and the decline of the West was evident, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis. (“FATF gave Pakistan chance to put its house in order: Mushahid” Dawn, 1 August 2020)

FATF bills on Anti-Terrorism and United Nations amendment bill 2020  
According to the analysis, Pakistan appears to be much better placed for its next assessment by the FATF. On 30 July, both houses of parliament passed two FATF bills, the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2020, and the United Nations (Security Council) Amendment Bill 2020. As of February, the global watchdog had informed Pakistan that it had accomplished only 14 items of the 27-point action plan it had committed. As coming off the grey list would enhance Pakistan’s economic position. (“Beyond FATF,” Dawn, 01 August 2020)

An opinion says that Modi’s Kashmir blunder has brought South Asia to the precipice of a disaster
An opinion in the News International titled Modi’s Kashmir blunder critical of the Indian PM states that fifth August will be remembered as a day in history when the BJP government led by RSS-trained and Hindutva-inspired Narendra Modi to robbed from the people of Kashmir their special status and identity by abrogating Article 370 and all other associated legal provisions such as Article 35-A. While trying to analysis the events one year later, the author notes that Modi’s Kashmir blunder not only for Kashmir but for India as well as Indo-Pakistan bilateral relations, adding that his action brought the international spotlight back on the region. Further, the opinion notes ‘In what appears to be an action inspired by ideological considerations, Modi and his junta of hardcore ideologues repudiated the peace overtures and embarked on a potentially dangerous course that will redefine the political and strategic landscape of South Asia.’ The author concluded by stating that in the absence of any chance for dialogue, Kashmir has emerged as a South Asia’s most dangerous nuclear flashpoint. Further, adding that given the reality of India-Pakistan relations Modi’s Kashmir blunder has brought South Asia to the precipice of a disaster. (Amanat Ali Chaudhry, “Modi’s Kashmir blunder,” The News International, 1 August 2020)

First-year anniversary of Article 370
On 31 July, the government unveiled an aggressive action plan to observe the first anniversary of Article 370 on August 5 last by holding worldwide rallies, solidarity marches, renaming of an inter-provincial highway, introducing special postal stamps with hard-hitting depictions and holding a parliamentary session. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said as the whole Kashmiri leadership was under detention, Pakistan would forcefully raise their voice globally until Kashmiris got their right to self-determination. He also said, the government had decided to rename the Kashmir Highway, which connected the Federal Capital with Kashmir and other provinces, after Srinagar. (“Pakistan’s destination is Srinagar,” The News International, 1 August 2020)

Ordinance on Kulbhushan Yadav verdict
On 31 July, Pakistan’s Law Minister Farogh Naseem told the National Assembly that the ordinance was necessary to grant consular access to Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadav. Stating that the ordinance had not been promulgated then India would have invoked Article 94 of the UN Charter that gives the Security Council the power to give effect to an ICJ judgment and has saved Pakistan from serious repercussions. The analysis examines Article 94, paragraph 2 of the UN Charter, “If any party to a case fails to perform the obligations incumbent upon it under a judgment rendered by the Court, the other party may have recourse to the Security Council, which may if it deems necessary, make recommendations or decide upon measures to be taken to give effect to the judgment”, says that the Security Council “may” exercise its powers “if it deems necessary”- as subject to Security Council’s discretion. Also, highlight, it is very unlikely that the Security Council would adopt a resolution merely on the pretext that an individual, who was involved in criminal espionage and terrorism activities were denied consular access. (“The curious case of ICJ review ordinance,” The News International, 1 August 2020)

Rafale jets will become more of a liability than an asset for India
A report in the News International states that recent addition of the French-made Rafale planes acquired by India is out of place since the added machinery will only become more of a liability than an asset. Adding that the Rafale is not going to provide any superiority to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in South Asian and adjacent skies in the presence of Chinese J-20 stealth multirole fighter and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) supersonic fitted with a variety of beyond visual missiles. Further, the note points out that although the Rafale manufacturers have made mighty claims about the security system of the plane, its history does not say the same due to air accidents that have taken place. Further, quoting Indian defence analyst Rahul Bedi who has warned the leadership in India about the handicaps attached with the newly acquired planes from France which are going to only further add to the overall logistics and maintenance costs to a force which is already financially overstrained. (Muhammad Saleh Zaafir, “Rafale liability or asset for IAF,” The News International, 1 August 2020)


"On 30 July 2020, at the Friendship Gate Chaman, Afghan forces opened unprovoked fire on innocent civilians gathered towards Pakistan’s side of the international border...It must be noted that the borders with Afghanistan were opened for pedestrian movement and trade, upon the request of the Afghan authorities. Pakistan is undertaking concerted efforts to ensure regulated movement of trade between the two countries, which are being challenged by elements opposed to such regulation. Moreover, due to Eid ul Azha, pedestrians’ move was also allowed. People gathered for this purpose were deliberately targeted by Afghan forces for incomprehensible reasons"

-  Official Statement from the Ministry of foreign Affairs (MOFA portal)

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