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Daily Briefs


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22 August 2020, Saturday I Vol 1, No.113

Pakistan and China pledge to safeguard common interests



Qureshi meets China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi; Xi Jinping proposes a "China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future"

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

On 21 August, during the second round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue in Hainan, Pakistan and China issued a joint statement saying they would act “collectively” by adopting “measures to safeguard their common interests and promote peace, prosperity and development in the region”. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi represented their respective sides at Hainan in which regional situation, international developments, bilateral ties and the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic were discussed. The joint communiqué opined that China-Pak cooperation would be beneficial for regional and international peace and stability. The statement said, “Both sides underlined that a peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous South Asia is in common interest of all parties. Parties need to settle disputes and issues in the region through dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect”. Additionally, Beijing reaffirmed support for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. (“Pakistan, China vow to protect common interests,” Dawn, 22 August 2020)

Xi Jinping propose "China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future"
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping conveyed his country’s readiness to work with Islamabad to promote regional cooperation and further “China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future” and to jointly promote cooperation among regional countries. In a letter addressed to Pakistan’s President Dr Arif Alvi, President Xi said both the countries were working towards maintaining the “momentum of peace and development in the region”. Xi reiterated the significance of CPEC, as a landmark project of BRI to further the “China-Pakistan All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership” and for the building of a closer “China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future”. The Premier added that solidarity, mutual support and cooperation were the only way to defeat Covid-19. (“Xi moots idea of community of shared future with Pakistan,” Dawn, 22 August 2020)

Another $1 billion for Pakistan
According to The News, Beijing has allowed Pakistan to utilise $1 billion that China had deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan for financing budgetary support. This comes in the wake of Saudi Arabia freezing the loan facility to Pakistan. With China’s help Pakistan is said to minimize “at least Rs165 to Rs169 billion requirements” to balance its budget deficit. The News quoted an official saying that “China has come forward to bridge this gap. Beijing provided additional facility by allowing utilisation of $1 billion equivalent in rupee term for financing the budgetary requirements”. Note, China is SBP’s top depositor for bettering Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves. Presently, Pakistan’s total foreign exchange reserves are recorded at $19.6 billion as of 13 August 2020 ($12.6 billion held by SPB and $7.01 by commercial banks). This is despite having made repayments of over $151 million on external loan obligations. (“China allows Pakistan to use its $1b SBP deposit for budgetary support,” The News International, 22 August 2020)

(Image Source: Dawn)

ON CPEC, an analysis calls for a consensus
According to the analysis, the post-COVID-19 economic recovery in Pakistan looks forward to CPEC investment. As, these Chinese investments account for the creation of over 70000 jobs, a revived supply chain, Chinese scholarship, and a grant for around $250 million for Gwadar International airport. It also highlights that Pakistan must “develop and sharpen its foreign policy prism”. As Pakistan has assured, CPEC as its core interest with Kashmir and nuclear program.

The consensus with second JCM on CPEC plays a vital role in Pakistan's future foreign policy and provides more strategic clarity in its external engagement. The analysis also suggested, “It is time that a new ‘CPEC-plus’ bi-partisan national consensus emerges in Pakistan that includes economic development, counterterrorism, and foreign policy”. (“Time for CPEC consensus”, The News International, 22 August 2020)
 

 (Image Source: The News)

In Brief
INTERNAL
Another journalist missing
On 22 August, Abid Saqi, Vice-Chairman, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), urged the government and other states institutions to ensure immediate recovery and release of Mudassar Mehmood Narru, for his safe return back to his home. Narru a known Journalist and human rights activist has been missing since 2018 after he was abducted from Kaghan where he had gone on vacation with his wife and six-month-old son. Further, the vice-chairman stated that this is a matter of great disappointment, for since the beginning this case has been given proper attention with initially the police refused to register the FIR of his abduction and later despite the filing of a petition with the Commission for the Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances in 2018, the matter remains under investigation without any concrete result. (“PBC demands recovery of abducted journalist,” The News International, 22 August 2020)

More restrictions on terrorists
The federal government has listed 88 leaders and members of various terrorist groups, in accordance with the new list issued by the UNSC. The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf government had issued two notifications on 18 August, announcing sanctions against main leaders from terrorist groups like Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Taliban, Daesh, Haqqani Network and many more. The notification mentions the seizure of all movable and immovable properties of these groups and individuals. It includes freezing bank accounts, travelling abroad, purchasing arms etc. The Foreign Office had said that it is the UNSC Taliban Sanctions Committee that deals with sanctions on Taliban. The committee has not announced any changes in the sanctions list so far. (“Pakistan imposes more restrictions on terrorists,” The News International, 22 August 2020)

Samsung plans to set up smartphone assembly in Pakistan
Minister for Industries and Productions after meeting with the Samsung Pakistan managing director and the chief executive officer has stated that the company is actively considering setting up an assembly plant in the country. Further, the minister said that the company appreciated the government’s policies that have been put on place. In June, the cabinet had approved the Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy to promote indigenisation through local and foreign direct investment as well as joint ventures. This policy is aimed at reducing mobile prices in the country through localisation and increase exports by offering tax breaks and incentives. (“Samsung to set up smartphone assembly in Pakistan,” Dawn, 22 August 2020)

ON AFGHANISTAN
If the Intra-Afghan dialogue fails the country might turn into living hell 
According to the analysis, intra-Afghan dialogue can be processed under three considerations. First, by persuading stakeholders to come on a political platform, to engage with each other and discuss the multifarious issues. Second, by assuring all participants that they will be treated on a par with other stakeholders and their grievances will be addressed. Third, to convince all with the decision and implement it faithfully.

This dialogue put forward four key issues, first, what kind of system of governance should be put in place in Afghanistan? Second, should it be a highly centralized government or should be a well-woven mosaic of decentralization of power crafted? Third, what should be the quantum of autonomy granted to the subunits? And lastly, should it be a unitary system of government or a federal system? The analysis also highlights, that “these talks must succeed, because if they failed, 'poverty, violence, social upheaval, and political instability' will quickly turn the country into a living hell. (“Intra-Afghan dialogue”, The Express Tribune, 22 August 2020)

PAKISTAN’S WORLD VIEW
Divergences in the Arab world’s Israel policy
An opinion written by Irfan Husain in the Dawn has been critical about the Arab world’s approach to Israel and the Palestinian issue. Although there have been demonstrations condemning Israel’s actions over the years, the response was tepid. The author states that the youth in the Middle East have started losing interest over the Palestinian cause and have shown greater for their own education and employment. Another factor for this loss of interest among few Arab states has been Iran’s use of proxies across the region and its determination to develop nuclear weapons. He adds that the recent recognition of Israel by UAE has been driven by the evolving American policy towards the Middle East.

Mr Husain acknowledged that Saudi Arabia has maintained a distance from recognising Israel but it stands time-tested as the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is likely to reverse this decision once taking full control over the kingdom. The author raises concern over Israeli settlements that have expanded over the years. He puts forth a question on what does recognition really imply as countries like Turkey have had an embassy in Israel for decades, despite Erdogan’s remarks on the UAE initiative. (Irfan Husain, “The Celestial Dance,” Dawn, 22 August 2020)
 

 


"The Chinese side reiterated that Pakistan and China are iron brothers and Pakistan remains China’s staunchest partner in the region and that China firmly supports Pakistan in safeguarding its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence, independently choosing a development path based on its national conditions, striving for a better external security environment and playing a more constructive role in international and regional affairs"

-  China-Pakistan Joint Statement, following Foreign Minister Qureshi's China trip

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