Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

11 August 2020, Tuesday, Vol 1, No.103

Pakistan hosts the UNGA President-elect and expects him to mediate on Kashmir

Pakistan's hosting of UNGA President-elect, Imran Khan's telephone call, this time the President of the Maldives, and the continuing internal differences over the FATF bills.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
Pakistan hosts the UNGA President-elect and expects him to mediate on Kashmir

Volkan Bozkir, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Imran Khan discusssions also include Kashmir
On 10 August, Volkan Bozkir, the first Turkish citizen to become United Nations General Assembly’s President-elect, spoke at Pakistan Foreign Office alongside Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

According to Dawn, he emphasized the importance and need of a peaceful political resolution of the “Jammu and Kashmir dispute” to ensure regional security and peace. Following the meeting with the FM Qureshi and Prime Minister Imran Khan, the President-elect said “Resolving dispute over Jammu and Kashmir is the key to sustainable peace in South Asia. Regional security should be maintained through regional and diplomatic solutions.” He also announced the appointment of a Pakistani diplomat as his deputy cabinet chief. According to the PMO, during the meeting between PM Khan and the PGA, the former spoke of the “the dire human rights and humanitarian situation” and systemic rights violations in Kashmir since the revocation of Article 370; stressed need for UN to play “its rightful role”; and asked UN to prioritise Islamophobia, climate change, debt relief issues for developing countries and combating the illicit flow of money. (“Top UN official urges Kashmir dispute resolution,” Dawn, 11 August 2020)

The ‘Impartial’ Mediation Offer
Bozkir offered to mediate, within his mandate, if requested by the disputing parties – India and Pakistan. “Difficult challenges can be resolved peacefully and satisfactorily through meaningful mutual engagement,” he said. Underscoring the restraint, he had to maintain by the rule of impartiality he had to observe, the UNGA head said that understanding Pakistan’s position on Kashmir was one of the intentions behind the Pakistan visit. Strikingly though, he said he wouldn’t forget the fact that he is a “Turkish citizen and brother of Pakistan in that respect”. Qureshi said he “minced no words” while briefing Bozkir about the sentiment of Pakistan with regards to the Kashmir issue; expressed his desire to have a Kashmir debate in the “pulse of the world” UNGA; and vowed to collect other nations to prove the need for a UNGA discussion on J&K to the PGA. (“Ready to discuss if requested: UN President: Imran again asks for UN role on Kashmir,” The News International,11 August 2020)

The OIC Context
The PGA’s visit comes less than a week after FM Qureshi’s unusually sharp statement warning the Saudi-led Organization of Islamic Countries to convene the Pakistan-requested Foreign Ministers’ meeting on Jammu and Kashmir soon and not drag its feet on the matter. The FM also reminded Saudi Arabia of how Pakistan skipped the Kuala-Lumpur summit led by Turkey and Malaysia (considered an alternative to the Saudi-led OIC) on Saudi’s request. Qureshi said he fully understood the implications of his statement and that he was “taking a position despite our (Pakistan’s) good ties with Saudi Arabia”. The nationality of the PGA and his Turkey-Pakistan brethren remark may not go down well with Saudi Arabia

The UNGA head is in Pakistan for a two-day visit. It is his third overseas trip since being elected in June 2020. The UNGA head is in Pakistan for a two-day visit. It is his third overseas trip since being elected in June 2020.

Discussions on FATF Bills remain heated in the National Assembly (Image Source: The News)

Heated political attacks over FATF bills within Pakistan

Bills passed thus far
Amid the growing divide, the government managed to pass three Financial Action Task Force (FATF) related bills namely the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2020, United Nations (Security Council) Amendment Bill 2020 and Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matters) Bill 2020. However, nine proposed laws are still to be addressed as the time is running out with the country already having used the five-month grace period because of COVID-19. (Khaleeq Kiani, “Legal jigsaw and FATF,” Dawn, 10 August 2020) Further, the National Assembly on 10 August were to take up five more FATF related bill which was the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amend­ment) Bill 2020 however, the government deferred the presentation of these bills and decided to hold talks with the opposition parties. (Amir Wasim, “Govt defers presentation of FATF-related bills in NA,” Dawn, 11 August 2020)

Resistance from the opposition emerges again
The opposition has strongly criticised the government by stating that it vows to resist the move, terming the bills ‘draconian’, beyond FATF requirements. The leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have stated that they will not only oppose the FATF-related bills in the committees but also in the parliament. PLM-N members have claimed that the clauses are being pushed through the bill were not the conditions of the FATF and further, these bills should not be passed in haste but should be pursued in consultation with the business community. On the other hand, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader who have unwaveringly opposed the bills stated that said the legislation would provide legal cover from handing over Kulbhushan Jadhav to India, Shakeel Afridi to the US and blasphemy accused to foreign countries, adding that the legislation mortgaged Pakistan’s freedom and sovereignty and handed over the economy to the IMF. (Amir Wasim, “Fireworks in NA likely over more FATF-related bills,” Dawn, 10 August 2020) (“JI leader rejects legislation under FATF pressure, announces protest campaign,” The News International, 10 August 2020)

PPP’s vice president Sherry Rehman stated, “We will oppose the bills both for process and lack of scrutiny of the contents,” declaring, “This is not the way to bulldoze the bills at the last minute.”

PML-N vice president Khurram Dastagir Khan stated that through the “draconian laws”, the government is “strangulating businessmen as every transaction would become a minefield,” adding that “The government is now trying to over-compensate FATF due to its incompetence and delay in the legislative process,” further calling these legislations “unconstitutional”.

FATF Action Plan
Pakistan is required to submit a performance report by August 2020 after the country was given a five-month grace period by the FATF to submit the report on to complete its 27-point action plan against money laundering and terror financing committed when it noted that Pakistan had delivered on 14 points and missed 13 other targets. Since then the government has tried to fast-track the agenda to no be put on the list of monitored jurisdiction, commonly known as the watchdog’s blacklist. (“FATF grants unexpected relief to Pakistan amid pandemic,” Dawn, 8 April 2020)

Imran Khan calls the President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (Image Source: Express Tribune)

PM Imran Khan stresses on stronger ties with the Maldives

On 11 August, PM Imran Khan in a telephonic conversation with the President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih underlined the need for stronger ties between the two countries. A statement released by the Prime Minister Office (PMO) noted, “The prime minister reaffirmed Pakis­tan’s desire to work with the Maldives to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, bilaterally and in the region.” Further, Solih in a tweeted stated, “Had a very engaging phone conversation with Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan this afternoon in which we updated each other on COVID 19 measures in our respective countries and also, how we could further enhance the already warm and fraternal relations between Maldives and Pakistan.” (“PM underlines need for stronger ties with Maldives,” Dawn, 11 August 2020)

Rekindled talks
This conversation between the two heads of state came after the Maldives had foiled Pakistan plan for constituting an informal group of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation envoys at the United Nations on Islamophobia.

This is the second such made call by PM Imran Khan, who last month held his first telephonic conversation with PM Hasina Wajed where he expressed his desire for “closer and fraternal” relations with Bangladesh. This telephonic conversation had come after months of efforts to normalise ties between the two countries after years of strife. During the call, he emphasised on the importance of establishing closer ties with Bangladesh and also highlighted the significance of regular bilateral contacts and people-to-people exchanges, further reiterating his commitment to SAARC and the importance of both countries working for enhanced regional cooperation for sustainable peace and prosperity. (Baqir Sajjad Syed, “In rare call to Hasina, Imran urges closer ties with Bangladesh,” Dawn, 23 July 2020)

In Brief
Chaman blast kills five and injures 22

On 10 August, at least five people were killed and 22 others including two soldiers of the Anti-narcotics Force (ANF) were injured in the border town of Chaman in Balochistan province. A stated by security official the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) which was planted on a motorcycle parked near a market in the busy Mall Road of the town. The IED was triggered using a remote control. Upon receiving the information on the blast, the police, Levies force and Frontier Corps were deployed as they launched a rescue operation after cordoning off the area. Official sources have stated that there was a threat alert following a border incident in Chaman on 30 July in which six people were killed in clashes between the security forces and the angry mob. PM Imran Khan and other political elites like Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani and others condemned the blast. (Saleem Shahid, “Five killed in Chaman motorbike bomb blast,” Dawn, 11 August 2020)

“Go home if you do not have authority; why are you sitting as a mayor?” Chief Justice to Karachi Mayor
On 10 August, the Supreme Court of Pakistan censured the authorities responsible for gross mismanagement in Karachi. The bench reproached Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and asked him to leave his post by 28 August. After listening to the case of billboards, CJP had asked Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shalwani, to submit a report on the matter and directed the officials to remove all the billboards and signboards from the city. (“Where is writ of Sindh, asks CJP”, The Nation, 11 August 2020)

Saudi Ambassador calls on COAS General Bajwa
Ambassador of Saudi Arabia Nawaf Saeed Al-Malkiy called on Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa at GHQ, Rawalpindi on 10 August. Issues of mutual interest, regional security situation and bilateral defence relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were discussed during the meeting. The COAS had also visited the Headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) where he was briefed about the country’s internal and external security situation. (Muhammad Anis, “Saudi Envoy calls on COAS,” The News International, 11 August 2020)

The Emirates to expand its operations in Pakistan
The Emirates is all set to increase the passenger service to and from Pakistan on 10 August and has offered enhanced connectivity to over 70 destinations via Dubai. The flight frequency would be ramped up to and from Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and Sialkot and resume passenger service to Peshawar. The airline will now operate 53 weekly flights to Pakistan which will increase to 60 starting from 16 August. Karachi is set to become even busier with 28 weekly flights followed by Islamabad and Lahore with ten weekly flights, seven weekly flights to Sialkot and five to Peshawar. However, given the Covid-19 pandemic, the airlines reminded its passengers of the criteria to be met to board the flight. Covid-19 PCR tests were mandatory for all inbound and transit passengers arriving in Dubai. (Mohammad Asghar, “Emirates to expand its service in Pakistan,” Dawn, 11 August 2020)

Annual Permanent Indus Commission ‘virtual’ meeting declined by Pakistan 
On 11 August, Pakistan rejected India’s proposal for holding the virtual meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission. Soon after India's disagreement on the proposed meeting at Atari, due to Covid-19. The Permanent Indus Commission aims to establish and maintain a co-operative arrangement between the two countries and to promote co-operation in the development of the waters of the rivers. According to Article VIII (5), the annual meetings held between Pakistan Commissioner and Indian Commissioner, alternately in Pakistan and India before 1st June. (“Pakistan rejects India proposal for Indus Commission virtual meeting”, The Nation, 11 August 2020)

The impact of CPEC on federalism and inter-provincial harmony in Pakistan
The analysis is the review of Boni and Adeney’s 2020 paper for the ‘Asian Survey’ and highlights how CPEC is having an impact on federalism and inter-provincial harmony in Pakistan. CPEC is playing a “centripetal force” role in the federal structure, but the huge external investments are not addressing any inter-provincial disparities. The projects such as early harvest project, transport and infrastructure project, and energy project in the country is brought in light. 

As in the first phase, of early harvest project, the majority of projects of Sindh 41 per cent and Punjab 21 per cent were completed, as compared to the projects of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. While in the transport and infrastructure projects in Punjab and Sindh have been completed whereas Balochistan and 60 per cent of projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are still estimated to be completed after 2022. In the energy sector, 91 per cent of Sindh project to complete by 2021, as compared to the least progress of projects in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and GB (“Federalism and CPEC”, The News International, 11 August 2020)

On Afghanistan, an editorial says, "The ball is now in the Afghan Taliban’s court"

On 10 August, Afghanistan Loya Jirga recommended freeing 400 Taliban prisoners. The issue was dissolved after a three-day Loya Jirga, with 3200 influential and politicians, who spoke in favour of ‘extending an olive branch to the Taliban by freeing their remaining fighters’. Following to Jirga, President Ashraf Ghani also signed a decree to release these prisoners. Dr Abdullah Abdullah, one of the heads of the Loya Jirga, declared “We are on the verge of peace talks,”. As now one of the major demands has been met. The analysis highlighted, “The Taliban and The Afghan government must now take full advantage of the situation to start a meaningful dialogue, as this window of opportunity, may not last long”. (“Loya Jirga’s advice”, Dawn, 11 August 2020)

Another editorial in The News International, the release of the prisoners suits the US purpose, at the given time. It says, “it is unfortunate that the people of Afghanistan have become hostage to Washington’s demands”. (“On the way to peace”, The News International, 11 August 2020) Also, on 09 August, Afghan security forces arrested 11 Islamic State members, who were aiming to attack the Loya Jirga.


"Difficult challenges can be resolved peacefully and satisfactorily through meaningful mutual engagement. If any assistance as PGA is requested by the parties, I would be ready to provide a contribution within my mandate"

-  Volkan Bozkir, President-elect of the United Nations General Assembly V (Dawn)


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