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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

18 August 2020, Tuesday, Vol 1, No.109

PTI's two-year report card



PTI's two-year report card. The government congratulates itself, while the Opposition sees it as an "unmitigated disaster".

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
PTI's two-year report card. The government congratulates itself, while the Opposition sees it as an "unmitigated disaster".

As the incumbent government at the Centre marked two years of its reign, it conducted a press briefing to highlight the PTI government’s achievements since 2018. Adviser to the PM on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh highlighted the performance of the finance ministry and pointed out that when PTI came to power, Pakistan was facing a mountain of challenges. He claimed that the government had brought down the current account deficit. Shaikh said that the government of Pakistan, both civil and military leadership, had shrunk their budgets to help face the crisis. (“Cabinet presents two-year performance report,” The News International, 18 August 2020)

Achievements
Shaikh spoke of the cash disbursement to ordinary people through the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme; he said it was the first time in the history of Pakistan that Rs250bn was distributed amongst citizens of Pakistan "in every city and goth". The adviser said that no new tax was imposed in budget 2020-21; disclosed a 6% growth of Pakistan's exports in July; and said that "The FBR collected Rs300bn [the amount] was 23 times more than their internal estimates". He spoke of the cheap loans provided by the government to assist small traders and government’s relief to traders; and pointed out the substantial increase in cement sales and exports despite the novel Covid-19 situation. Shaikh added that Pakistan’s rating by international organisations and economic observers like Moody's, Fitch and Bloomberg had improved due to the incumbent PTI government’s policies. FMShah Mahmood Qureshi, who also spoke at the event, stated the Indian government’s failure to isolate Pakistan internationally on the Kashmir issue also as a success of the PTI. Planning Minister Asad Umarspoke of the 'unprecedented challenges' posed by the pandemic and explained how the Centre strategically dealt with them. (“International observers have acknowledged economic progress during 2 years of PTI govt: Hafeez,” Dawn, 18 August 2020)

Claims of Wide global Recognition
Shaikh hailed the performance of Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) claiming that international publications such as Bloomberg had praised it. Federal Minister of Industries and Production Hammad Azhar also mentioned that Pakistan received global praise for the recent FATF-related legislations. Azhar also spoke of a unique construction package brought about by the PTI that had been creating economic successes already. He also said the PTI government had tackled the problem of Pakistan Steel Mills. Hafeez Sheikh said that Neutral international observers had acknowledged Pakistan’s economic progress despite the pandemic.

Criticisms
The PML-N and PPP criticised the government's performance. PML-N chief and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif termed it an "unmitigated disaster" in his tweet. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also took to Twitter to ambush Imran Khan and his government. "[Two] years in power and Imran Khan has given us the worst economy in our country’s history, foreign policy failures from Kashmir to Saudi, democracy and human rights suffering, unemployment at an all-time, transparency international has said corruPTIon is higher than before," he tweeted. (“'Unmitigated disaster': PML-N, PPP criticise PTI govt's two-year performance,” Dawn, 18 August 2020) Meanwhile, a Dawn editorial calls the government a “hallowed institution”; blames the prime minister for his irregular attending of the Assembly and the “toxic relationship between the treasury and opposition benches” for the state of the government. (“Parliamentary affairs,” Dawn, 18 August 2020)

 

 From Archives (Image Source: Dawn)

Qureshi's Four-pronged strategy to deal with India
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi attended a webinar on “Annexation of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir: Lessons for Regional Security”, organised by Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) where he said that the world is uncertain, less predictable and perhaps more dysfunctional. He explained the government’s four-pronged strategy on dealing with India which entailed confronting, exposing and pushing back against India’s intentions; deterring it through military preparedness, conflict resolution and confidence-building; and not being distracted by India’s actions while continuing with regional integration projects through participation in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and the Economic Cooperation Organisation.

On the other hand, Dr Shireen Mazari, Minister for Human Rights mentioned the areas in which diplomacy was lacking. She was critical about the Foreign Office’s handling of the Kashmir issue which she believes was looked at from political dynamics point of view alone. She contended that India’s actions in Kashmir could make war seem imminent. Dr Mazari proposed the model of “Good Friday Agreement” in 1998 which ended the violence in Northern Ireland, as an approach to solving the dispute over Kashmir. The webinar was also attended by international scholars from China, Nepal, Iran, Turkey and Bangladesh. (Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Four-pronged strategy being pursued to deal with India: FM,” Dawn, 18 August 2020)

 

 (Image Source: The News)

In Brief
INTERNAL
Violence against women in KP: A Report identifies existing gaps in the legislative framework for ending
A report launched by Women Parliamentary Caucus Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (WPC-KP) and UN Women Pakistan on “Gap analysis of legislation related to ending violence against women EVAW” looks into providing an in-depth analysis of the normative, implementation and monitoring gaps in the legislative framework of the province and to identify and document gaps in the existing provincial legal framework and implementation process. The report has been designed and commissioned by UN Women Pakistan in partnership with Women Parliamentary Caucus KP with the financial support of UK Aid. The main aim of this analysis has been to contextualize EVAW laws within the framework of the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) and Pakistan’s other international commitments. (“Report identifies legislative gaps in ending violence against women in KP,” Dawn, 18 August 2020)

Senate passes one of the five FATF related-bills amid protests
On 17 August, the Senate managed to pass only one of the five FATF-related bills amid protest by religious and nationalist parties whose not only called out the ruling PTI for “doing legislation in haste under international pressure”, but also criticised the country’s two major opposition parties for cooperating with the government in the passage of the crucial legislations. Due to strong protest from Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) the Senate Chairman deferred the passage of the two other FATF-related bills till 18 August after allowing the chairmen of the committees on the interior and narcotics control to present reports on the bills through a supplementary agenda on a private member’s day. (Amir Wasim, “Senate adopts one of five FATF-related bills,” Dawn, 18 August 2020)

Parliamentary bodies to visit the concerned province to make a plan of action for the missing person
On 17 August, the Parliamentary committee decided, to visit all the provinces concerned for the recovery of the missing persons. 450 missing persons were released but no responsibility was fixed on anyone. Farhatullah Babar, former PPP senator pointed out, 153 persons were reviewed in detail in the committee but no one had ever been held responsible. (“Parliamentary body to make plan of action for missing person’ recovery”, Dawn, 18 August 2020)  

Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a record $2,768 million remittances in July
Prime Minister Imran Khan had said on 17 August that Pakistan’s remittances from overseas Pakistanis had reached $2,768 million in July which was a record in one month in the country’s history. He said that this was 12.2 per cent increase over June 2020 and 36.5 per cent increase recorded on a year-on-year basis. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had given the statistics for the same. (“Boon for economy: Record $2,768 remittances pour in July, says PM Imran Khan,” The News International, 18 August 2020)

Constitutionally impossible to divide Sindh: Murad
Chief Minister of Sindh province Syed Murad Ali Shah had said that the people talking about the bifurcation of Sindh are enemies of Pakistan and added that it is constitutionally impossible. He stated that each province has been given constitutional status, privileges and role but the demands of the few were extra-constitutional for vested interests. Likewise, he mentioned that it was an attempt to divert the issue of Kashmir. In a meeting held on 15 August with Federal Minister Asad Umar, Mr Shah discussed the issues of cleanliness of storm-water drains and to complete the projects which have been pending. He showed a 1954 newspaper clipping in which a vehicle had submerged in rainwater on a street in Karachi indicating that this has been an old problem. Mr Shah then spoke about a series of infrastructure development projects that his government undertook in the city. He criticized the federal government for the increase in the prices of sugar and flour. (Tahir Siddiqui, “Division of Sindh constitutionally impossible, declares Murad,” Dawn, 18 August 2020)  

COVID-19
Drug Regulatory Authority gives go-ahead for a clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccine
On 17 August, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) approved holding clinical trial of Covid-19 vaccine in the country. Drap Clinical Studies Committee secretary Shafqat Hussain Danish, in a document noted that the committee recommended that the trial be held in Indus Hospital, Karachi. The test is to be carried out by the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences, Karachi, in collaboration with a Chinese company which is already conducting trials in China. Around 200 volunteers from Karachi, representing various ethnic groups are said to have registered. The trial will be completed in 56 days during which three injections of the inactivated virus will be administered to the volunteers. Meanwhile, a statement issued by the National Institute of Health (NIH) noted that this would be the first-ever phase-III clinical trial for any vaccine in Pakistan. (Ikram Junaidi, “Drap approves clinical trial of Covid-19 vaccine,” Dawn, 18 August 2020)

EXTERNAL
Qatar and Sri Lanka envoys conversation with Pakistan foreign Minister
On 17 August, new Qatar’s envoy Sheikh Saoud bin Abdul Rehman Al-Thani expressed the country’s desire to expand bilateral ties with Pakistan, undertaking educational projects beside enhancing investments. According to Mr Quershi, foreign Minister both countries “discussed ways and means of enhancing the existing economic cooperation, investment in food security and other sectors”. Quershi conversation with Ad­­miral Mohan Wijewickrama, a new Sri Lanka envoy, reaffirmed the importance of strong bilateral ties. They also discussed further deepening and broadening cooperation in all areas of mutual interest and emphasized on achieving the annual target of $1 billion. (“New Qatari envoy urges expansion in ties”, Dawn, 18 August 2020)

 


"General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) met His Royal Highness Prince Khalid bin Salaman bin Abdulaziz Deputy Minister of Defence KSA. Matters of mutual interest including bilateral defence, security cooperation and regional security were discussed"

-  ISPR Statement

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