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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

12 August 2020, Wednesday, Vol 1, No.104

Government and opposition agree on six FATF bills



FATF bills passed by the National Assembly, violence in front of the NAB office between the PML-N and police, and the Corps Commanders Conference

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
Government and opposition agree on six FATF bills

New Consensus
On 11 August, the government and the opposition succeeded in reaching a consensus on six out of eight FATF-related laws, thus opening the way for their smooth passage from the National Assembly which is to take place today. Senior Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Syed Naveed Qamar stated, “Yes, we have reached an understanding as the government has accepted almost all our amendments.” Further, he added that the government had agreed to defer the remaining two bills namely the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2020 for which discussions would be held later on. (“Govt, opposition reach consensus on six FATF-related bills,” Dawn, 12 August 2020)

Bills on the agenda
The National Assembly Secretariat issued a 16-point agenda for the sitting on and it contains the six agreed bills. The bills on which the two sides have reached an understanding are the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Control of Narcotics Substances (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill 2020 and the Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Bill 2020.

Leading up
This breakthrough decision was achieved after a meeting between the government and the opposition representatives at a meeting which was held at the official residence of Speaker on 11 July, a day after the government decided to defer the presentation of five bills to meet the conditions of the FATF and engage the opposition parties through the speaker with whose efforts the government had previously managed to get three such bills approved through parliament. (Amir Wasim, “Govt defers presentation of FATF-related bills in NA,” Dawn, 11 August 2020) Opposition members from both the PPP and PML-N had declared their disapproval by terming the bills ‘draconian’, beyond FATF requirements, with leader stating that they will not only oppose the FATF-related bills in the committees but also the parliament. Further, after the relentless protest by the JUI-F members in the National Assembly the government also invited the party for the talks.

 

Maryam Nawaz pointing out to the damaged part of her car (Image Source: Dawn)

Maryam Nawaz’s car damaged in front of the NAB Office: PML-N wants to file FIR against PM, NAB chairman

What happened?
On 11 August, with the arrival of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s vice president Maryam Nawaz in relation to a land acquisition investigation, PML-N workers and heavy police contingents confronted each other causing violence outside the office of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that injured many workers and some officials. The police hurled back stones and fired tear gas at the activists and arrested over two dozen men. Each side held the other responsible for triggering the violence. Later, Ms Maryam posted a video of the broken windshield of her bulletproof car and accused the PTI government of attempting to “harm” her; the Chung police charged 300 PML-N activists, including Ms Maryam and 187 nominated people for inciting violence, damaging NAB’s building and attacking NAB personnel and law enforcers. When NAB asked Maryam to return, she insisted that they record her statement in this new “false” case and accused them of unnecessarily harming her party workers. (“Police, PML-N workers clash outside Lahore NAB office,” Dawn, 12 August 2020) (“Acts Of Vandalism,” The Nation, 12 August 2020)

Meanwhile, according to PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb, the party would have to move the Lahore High Court (LHC) to register a FIR as Chung police were not complying. Presently, PML-N has filed an application against NAB chairman Javed Iqbal, PM Imran Khan, PM’s adviser Shahzad Akbar and the Punjab provincial government for attempting to kill Ms Nawaz.

Reactions, from PML-N Hooliganism to NAB’s terrorism
According to Punjab Law Minister Basharat Raja, the PML-N derived this hooliganism plan to secure relief. Maryam Nawaz called it “NAB’s terrorism”. Speaking at Model Town, she claimed to have experienced “state terrorism” and torture for the first time. PPP Senator Sherry Rehman also took to Twitter to express her horror. “Shocking and condemnable behaviour by Punjab police at Maryam Nawaz’s vehicles at the NAB premises. What messages (are) being given out? That even the security of political opponents of this regime is under threat?”, she wrote. Meanwhile, over-enthusiastic PTI ‘spokespersons’ became hyperactive in the media. Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz criticised PML-N for staging a ‘drama’. SAPM on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill also lashed out at Maryam. (“Batons, stones, shells, chaos as Maryam arrives for a NAB date,” The News International, 12 August 2020) Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman said such an attitude could not be tolerated in politics. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, PPP’s chairperson, condemned the police for torturing political workers. He tweeted, “Condemn the unnecessary use of force, teargas and stone-pelting on Maryam Nawaz and her party workers by police in Lahore today”. (“Opposition leaders condemn ‘attack’ on Maryam Nawaz in Lahore,” The Nation, 12 August 2020)

What does it mean?
As PML-N claims, is the NAB-Niazi nexus scared of facing Maryam Nawaz? Are PML-N supporters and diehard loyalists of Nawaz Sharif willing to take to the streets to support and protect PML-N? Whatever it is, PTI’s story and accusations did not hold ground as Maryam had promptly uploaded images and videos of the state of her vehicle’s windshield due to attacks by the police. Noteworthily, during the house discussions following the event, none of the PTI leaders dared to insist that Maryam should have gone to the NAB without a crowd. FM Shah Mehmud Qureshi guardedly expressed that the police may have overreacted and sought time from PML-N to collect details on the matter. Interestingly, the PEMRA-regulated 24/7 national channels underplayed the happenings of 11 August. To consider intra-PML-N aspects, the members seem to prefer Shahbaz Sharif’s more ‘pragmatic’ approach to Maryam’s ‘hawkish’ stance. Maryam’s backseat approach after Nawaz’s departure seemed to tell PML-N MNAs that the father-daughter duo approved of 
Shahbaz Sharif’s political strategy. But NAB’s summoning of Maryam and her arrival with a large pool of her supporters is sure to confuse the PML-N at large. (“‘Deliberately created a scene’,” The Nation, 12 August 2020)

NAB had summoned the PML-N vice president to record her statement for the investigation of the illegal land acquisition of 3,500 kanals in Raiwind by Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Shamim Akhtar and herself.

 

Gen Bajwa presided the Corps Commanders Conference on 11 August 2020 that focussed on Af-Pak and Internal Security (Image Source: Dawn)

Geo-strategic and national security issues discussed at the 234th Corps Commanders’ Conference
On 11 August, a statement released by the ISPR stated that the 234th Corps Commanders’ Conference presided by General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) discussed geo-strategic and national security issues with the forum reviewing the situation at LOC, Pak-Afghan border and internal security environment. Further, the COAS also expressed satisfaction on operational preparedness in aid of civil administration to contain COVID-19 pandemic and the locust threat. (“Corps Commanders Conference: Geo-strategic, national security issues discussed,” The Nation, 11 August 2020)

Further, the statement added, “Forum appreciated the progress of Afghan Reconci­liation Process and hoped for early commencement of intra-Afghan dialogue.” (Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Commanders call for early start of intra-Afghan dialogue,” Dawn, 12 August 2020)

A day earlier, on Monday, Gen Bajwa visited the ISI HQ. According to the ISPR statement, "COAS was given a detailed update on the internal and external security situation of the country. COAS appreciated the measures to optimize the performance of ISI, ensuring that country responds effectively to threats across the spectrum. Earlier on arrival, COAS was received by Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid, Director General ISl" (ISPR Press Release)

In Brief
INTERNAL
Minister says that Covid-19 situation in Pakistan is better than neighbours
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said that the Covid-19 situation in Pakistan was much better than that of countries in the region, but also cautioned that laxity in precautions could put Pakistan in a similar position. While addressing the press conference, Mr Umar said that the positivity rate was around three per cent and differed from Iran’s 9.4 per cent and India’s 9.8 per cent for the same. The minister said that the pandemic was not just a health issue but also an economic one where the country’s exports saw a decrease of over 40 per cent and the remittances fell to around 40 per cent equal to employment. Mr Umar quoted “So far we have traced 1.1 million people through the TTQ system and tested over a million. More than 100,000 patients from among the country’s positive cases were identified through TTQ. These people benefitted from early treatment and took precautions which prevented the virus from spreading.” He also mentioned that the country is heading towards micro smart lockdowns meaning that only certain houses would be placed under lockdown instead of entire areas. (Ikram Junaidi, “Pakistan’s Covid-19 situation better than that of neighbours: minister,” Dawn, 12 August 2020)

SC moved to declare the appointment of SAPM as illegal
On 11 August, the Supreme Court was requested to declare the appointment of eight special assistants and one adviser to the prime minister as illegal and unconstitutional on the ground of holding dual nationality and ordered the withdrawal of notifications appointing them to the post. Further, the appeal made before the SC argued that the Cabinet Division had recently issued details of assets and dual nationalities of 20 advisers and SAPMs, adding that the notification showed that of the 19 non-elected cabinet members, four SAPMs held dual nationality. This petition was made after the appeal filed by Advocate Malik Munsif Awan through his counsel Mohammad Ikram Chaudhry, who had challenged the appointments in the Islamabad high court was rejected on 30 July. (Nasir Iqbal, “SC moved to declare appointment of PM’s aides illegal,” Dawn, 12 August 2020)

PROVINCES
Suicide attack in South Waziristan injures brigadier and three soldiers
On 11 August, a brigadier and three soldiers were wounded in a suicide attack in the Ladha area of South Waziristan tribal district. Officers have stated that the attack took place when the officer of 24 Mechanised Brigade was going from Makeen to Wana, when a suicide bomber blew himself up close to his vehicle near Badar bridge, leaving the brigadier and three soldiers wounded. Further, members of security forces moved quickly to the scene and started a search operation. (Dilawar Wazir, “Brigadier, three soldiers injured in suicide attack,” Dawn, 12 August 2020)

ECONOMY
Fiscal deficit stands at 8.1 per cent of the GDP 
Data released by the Ministry of Finance has out the country’s total budget deficit at Rs3.376 trillion in the fiscal year ending 30 June 2020 which is 8.1 per cent of GDP. This deficit is lower than last year’s 8.9 per cent which was the highest in four decades. The ministry, as well as the IMF, had earlier projected deficit at around 9.1 per cent and 9.2 per cent respectively, however, the almost one per cent lower than anticipated figure is said to be mainly because of underutilisation of Prime Minister’s Economic Relief and Support Package. (Khaleeq Kiani, “FY20 sees fiscal deficit at 8.1pc,” Dawn, 12 August 2020)

EXTERNAL
Saudi-Pak relations are unique
An opinion written by Adeela Naureen and Umar Waqar on relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. They had highlighted on the importance of Pakistan’s position in the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) guided by the spirit of Islamic fraternity and brotherhood, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the “fountainhead” of the OIC’s existence. The authors mentioned about the historical background of the bilateral relationship since 1947 where the two countries forged healthy links for joint development. They state that the constitutions of both countries are based on the Quran and Sunnah. Throughout history, issues concerning Kashmir had remained a cornerstone in their relationship. They have also mentioned about the importance of the royal family as custodians of two holy mosques in Pakistan. Lyallpur was renamed as Faisalabad to honour King Faisal. The economic relations also saw Saudi Arabia is the largest supplier of oil to Pakistan. The authors stated the importance of the two million-strong Pakistani diaspora in the Kingdom who contribute vital remittances back to their home country. In the last six years, Saudi Arabia has contributed to higher education and madrasa reforms, defence and other projects. (Adeela Naureen and Umar Waqar, “Saudi-Pak relations are unique,” The Nation, 12 August 2020)

Nothing unusual about Saudi loan return: Shibli
Information Minister Shibli Faraz said that Pakistan has valued its relationship with Saudi Arabia. While addressing the media in Islamabad following the federal cabinet, he dispelled the speculations that Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia has deteriorated and stated that the loans are meant to be returned and there is nothing unusual about it. Shibli said that the cabinet was informed that the policy of encouraging exports and discouraging unnecessary imports had paid dividends. He mentioned about the prudent economic policies of the Government because of which the State Bank of Pakistan foreign exchange reserves had increased from $8.5 billion to $12.5 billion. While stating that the economic wheel had begun to move, Mr Shibli noted that there had been an increase in sales of cement, the consumption of petrol went up to eight per cent and diesel by 15 per cent. (Mumtaz Alvi, “Nothing unusual about Saudi loan return: Shibli,” The News International, 12 August 2020)

Trump’s actions on Iran has pushed the country closer to China
In 2013 Presidential elections in Iran, Hassan Rouhani announced that he would negotiate with the United States as the “headman of the village”. However, seven years later, the bilateral relations between the two countries have deteriorated significantly and Rouhani is left with negotiating a 25-year accord with China. Being a moderate face in Iran, Rouhani won the election in 2013 promising de-escalation of tensions with the US and the West which was a sharp contrast to his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad widely seen as someone who moved closer to Russia and China. The shift has led to a rivalry between Western-minded reformists and Pro-China hardliners. Even the policy of Mohammad Khatami, the predecessor of Ahmedinejad was to move closer to the European Union. But currently, Rouhani’s hard-line opponents criticized him for ignoring the East. This sentiment has found its roots in two factors – the authoritarian governance in Russia and China as well as the extensive trade relations between groups in Iran and China. These were the forces Rouhani had to manage while negotiating with former US President Barack Obama. In Trump’s tenure, Rouhani has been forced to follow the stance of the hard liners due to the crippling sanctions imposed on Iran. Although the draft of 25-year agreement was approved by the Iranian cabinet on 21 June, there has been a growing public concern over a possible military component of the detail. (“Trump has pushed Iran into China’s arms,” The News International, 12 August 2020)

ON INDIA
Pakistan seeks US assistance in reducing tensions with India
On 11 August, Pakistan had sought assistance from the United States to play a role in de-escalating tensions with India. A call was made during virtual consultations between Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Ambassador David Hale. Mr Mahmood had said that it was imperative to take steps to prevent escalation of tensions and to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir. He had also said, “India’s continuing military siege in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and its aggressive posturing against Pakistan pose a threat to peace and security.” The Foreign Office released a statement that the foreign secretary had reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process and hoped that the Afghan parties would seize the opportunity towards an inclusive and comprehensive political solution through intra-Afghan negotiations. Mr Mahmood had reiterated Pakistan’s desire to “forge a strong and mutually beneficial economic cooperation” with the United States. (“Pakistan urges US to help de-escalate tensions with India,” Dawn, 12 August 2020)

Kashmir’s case
An opinion was put forth by Zia Ullah Ranjah on India’s decision to withdraw the special status conferred to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Through the presidential order, all the privileges like the state constitution, flag, laws – have been eradicated. The author highlights the UNSC Resolution of 1948 to acknowledge the area as a contested territory and the permanent status would be determined by a referendum. He added that the UNSC resolutions of 1951 and 1957 reprimanded India’s unilateral attempts to modify the special status of the state. Also, the UN announced the territory under the control of both India and Pakistan as the ceasefire line following the Shimla Agreement of 1972. Ranjah states Clause 1(ii) of the Agreement which declares that neither sides shall unilaterally alter the situation. Clause 6 underlined that both the states should discuss modalities for conclusive resolution of the state via peaceful ways. With this background, Ranjah mentions that Pakistan can pursue Kashmir’s case before UNSC, UNHRC, ICJ and ICC. He stated that Pakistan should lay stress on the UNSC to play its role to enforce its resolutions regarding the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people, while also emphasizing human rights in the area. (Zia Ullah Ranjah, “The Kashmir’s case,” The News International, 12 August 2020)

 


"If you (NAB) do not have courage to face me…you should have thought about it before. Now you called me, and instead of listening to me in the new ‘false’ case, you started pelting stones on innocent party workers and firing tear gas at them...My bullet-proof car’s windscreen is smashed. Policemen are throwing stones at my car. My security kept shielding me without any protection and defence. I salute each one of them"

-  Maryam Nawaz on the clashes in front of the NAB office  (Dawn)

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