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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

02 September, Wednesday I Vol 1, No.122

Court directs Nawaz Sharif to appear before the court



Or face legal proceedings for absconding, says the Islamabad High Court

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

On 1 September, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) directed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “to surrender” and appear before the court by before the court at the next hearing scheduled for 10 September, if not he would have to face legal proceedings for absconding. During the hearing, Justice Farooq stated, “we are not declaring Nawaz an absconder at the moment. But how can the appeal be heard in his absence?” adding that the court was giving him “one more chance to surrender” adding, "We are not taking a final decision as yet.” Further, a division bench of the high court comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Aamer Farooq directed the deputy attorney general to verify the medical condition of Sharif through the Pakistani High Commission in London. (“Tahir Naseer, “IHC tells Nawaz to 'surrender', appear before court on Sept 10,” Dawn, 2 September 2020)

The IHC bench was hearing the appeals of Nawaz, his daughter Maryam and her husband, Safdar, against their convictions in the Avenfield reference. The bench also heard an appeal filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against Sharif's acquittal in the Flagship reference as well as appeals against his conviction in the Al-Azizia reference. (Malik Asad, Atika Rehman, “Nawaz’s sojourn in London may end soon,” Dawn, 2 September 2020)

Arguing against the decision
Appearing before the bench, Khawaja Haris Ahmed, the counsel for Nawaz, argued that the high court had suspended the sentence awarded to the appellant and granted bail for eight weeks with the observation that if it was to be extended the same should be done by the Punjab government under Section 401(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. Further, he argued that Nawaz could not return to the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Further, PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz while talking to media after the hearing stated that her father will get back as soon his treatment was over and doctors gave him a clean bill of health, adding, “his treatment is going on; it got delayed due to the coronavirus. Nobody wants to be away from their home country at such an age.” Further, she stated, “the case against my father should have been dismissed after decision by the court in Judge Arshad Malik case.” (“Maryam Nawaz insists Nawaz Sharif to get back only after full treatment,” The News International, 2 September 2020)

Statement from PM Imran Khan
Earlier last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the use of all legal means to bring Nawaz back from the UK adding that it was the responsibility of the government to bring back all those wanted by the courts. He added that that allowing him to leave the country was a “mistake” and that his government “regretted” this decision. Further, he stated that the government was pressurised into sending Nawaz abroad, saying that the reports presented to the government suggested that the PML-N supremo was severely ill. He also stated that the court had declared that the government would be responsible, should anything happen to Nawaz, adding, "Now we feel embarrassed. Now he [Nawaz] has started doing politics [from] there as well and, when you see him, it seems like there is nothing [wrong] with him.” (“Allowing Nawaz to leave was a 'mistake', says PM Imran,”Dawn, 2 September 2020)

Controversy relating to his departure and stay in the UK
Nawaz who was serving a seven-year jail term following his conviction in the Al-Azizia reference was last year allowed to leave for London on bail for medical reasons after he was diagnosed with an immune system disorder. However, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar stated that Nawaz's four-week bail on medical grounds expired in December 2019 and the government had already approached the UK government for his extradition.

The government has been under pressure especially since May, after a picture of Nawaz having tea at a London cafe along with his family went viral on social media, sparking a debate on the seriousness of his health condition. Later, photos surfaced online, showing him strolling in a street instigation calls from within the ruling PTI to bring him back.

 
A residential area in Karachi (Image Source: Dawn)

Karachi: Civilian and Military leadership come together to address the problems 
Prime Minister Imran Khan is to announce a major package for a solution to Karachi’s problems on 4 September (Friday), as the federal cabinet deliberated on key national matters, including extraordinary spells of rain in the country with a focus on the city. While briefing the media, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting stated that a strategy has been formulated for implementation of the projects, which also includes responsibility adding that without ownership nothing would be possible. He added that the PM was going to Karachi on Friday, the federation was providing resources for the package in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the project would be launched with the Sindh government on-board. Further, the minister stated, “at the moment, prime minister’s concern and attention is on Karachi city. The federal government is doing what it can and will continue doing so, as Karachi has a unique importance, though all cities have their importance, for it is the economic hub of Pakistan.” Further, the minister added that the PM has been monitoring the issue in Karachi closely. (“PM to visit Karachi on Friday, announce package, projects,” The News International, 2 September 2020)

COAS visits the rain wrecked city 
On 1 September, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa reached Karachi for a two-day-long visit. On his arrival, the COAS was flown over the city for aerial reconnaissance of the ground impact of urban flooding in Karachi. He then visited the Karachi Corps Headquarters where he was briefed about the worst urban flooding in the recent history of Karachi and army’s support to civil administration across Sindh, particularly in Karachi. Further, the COAS stated, “no city in Pakistan can cope with a natural calamity of this scale” adding, “Our issue is not non-availability of resources, but setting the priorities right.” Further, he stated that plans being made by the federal and provincial governments will have the army’s all-out support as it will have future repercussions on the economic security of the country, adding, “It's a national disaster and everyone is in it together.” (“COAS in Karachi: ‘No city can cope with such calamity,” The News International, 2 September 2020)

PSP unveils six-point plan to resolve the socio-economic and administrative issues in Karachi 
Pak Sarzameen Party Chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal has proposed a six-point plan to resolve the persistent socioeconomic and administrative issues of Karachi. (PSP unveils six-point plan to resolve Karachi’s socio-economic and administrative issues,” The News International, 2 September 2020)

First, the census is carried out transparently, the population of Karachi will turn out to be around 30 million. Thus, the number of seats in the national and provincial assemblies of Karachi should be increased.Second, the transfer of these powers and resources to the lowest level. Third, PFC award should be launched on the same formula as the NFC so that the funds could reach the districts, towns and UCs of the province. Fourth, the chief minister of Sindh’s decision of merging the Master Plan Department with the Sindh Building Control Authority in 2013 should be annulled. Fifth, the division of Karachi into seven districts should be abolished and the previous status of one district and 18 towns should be rehabilitated. Sixth, there should be one head of municipal services of the city. All 18 municipal services of cantonment board, DHA, KPT, Port Qasim, MDA, Site Limited, Railways, Civil Aviation and others should be de-notified following the Supreme Court orders.

So, how can Karachi be fixed?
An opinion in the News International critical of the notion of Karachi’s ‘uniqueness’ lays down three major points that will enable the governance of a city like Karachi. First, the idea of taking Karachi away from Sindh must be eliminated. Any ideas for Karachi that will trigger Sindhi anxiety or provoke the PPP into aggression or denial need should be rejected. The talk of new provinces or the idea of ‘separating’ Karachi from Sindh are all non-starters is not a solution as this problematise the idea of Sindh, and more widely Sindhi identity. Second, Pakistani city needs two structural guarantors, the first would be a federal law and the second would be provincial laws. Third, Pakistani cities must have public servants that are from their communities. Further, in the context of finance, cities require the establishment of federal funding mechanisms for key city functions. The opinion concludes by stating that if the solutions remain restricted to the cleaning of nullahs and the raising of ethnic dog-whistling and political victimhood, Karachi is only the first of many cities that will hamper and retard the growth of Pakistan. (Mosharraf Zaidi, “How to fix Karachi,” The News International, 2 September 2020)

 
 (Image Source: Dawn)

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, mending ties now?
On 1 September, Saudi envoy Nawaf bin Saeed Ahmed Al-Malki said that Riyadh was looking to deepen ties with Pakistan. The Foreign Office’s statement following the meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Nawaf bin Saeed Ahmed Al-Malki read “Highlighting the excellent relationship between the leadership of the two countries, the ambassador underlined that the kingdom would continue to work with Pakistan for further strengthening of bilateral relations”. Al-Malki reminded of the expanding Pak-Saudi cooperation across various areas. According to the FO, Mr Qureshi criticised Houthis’ attacks on Saudi Arabia, “underlined deep-rooted historic and fraternal ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia”, “highlighted the kingdom’s traditional leadership role in Muslim Ummah” and extended good wishes to the health of the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. “Views were also exchanged on important bilateral, regional and international developments,” the statement added. As per Dawn, various “behind-the-scenes diplomacy also took place for preventing what was being seen as a gulf in the positions of the two countries from widening.” (“Saudi envoy says kingdom wants better ties with Pakistan,” Dawn, 2 September 2020)

The “Special Context”
The meeting was the first interaction between Al-Malki and Mr Qureshi since the latter’s criticism of the Saudi-led OIC regarding its inaction on the Kashmir issue and the procrastination of the Pakistan-requested Council of Foreign Ministers meeting by the 57-member bloc of Muslim countries. There has been a visible change in Pakistan’s tone on OIC since the COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa’s Riyadh-visit; a trip ISPR said was for discussing military cooperation.
 


In Brief
INTERNAL
Ex-ETPB asks Dr AQ Khan to withdraw blackmail charges
On 1 September, while addressing a press conference, the former Chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Siddique Al-Farooq has asked the nuclear scientist, Dr AQ Khan, to withdraw blackmailing charges against him within three days in media or face court. The latter had accused Farooq of receiving Rs20 million after blackmailing him. Farooq said that in 2015 then PM Nawaz Sharif and then Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif had directed him to facilitate the nuclear scientist as per law. He claimed that an agreement was signed between Dr. Khan and himself for the lease of a 15 kanal and 3 marla plot in Zaman Park, Lahore. As per Farooq’s statement, Rs20m (the lease amount) was deposited by writer and columnist Jabbar Mirza in the then ETPB Farooq’s account, following which Dr A Q Khan hospital was established in the building of Ahbab Hospital, a property illegally built on ETPB’s land. (“Dr Qadeer asked to withdraw charges against ex-ETPB chief,” Dawn, 2 September 2020)

PTA bans five dating apps
On 1 September, as a part of the ongoing online clampdown on “immoral” content, the Pakistan Telecommunication Autho¬rity (PTA) blocked access to five more applications - Tinder, Tagged, Skout, Grindr and SayHi. Through an official statement the PTA confirmed the blocking of the applications. It said, “Keeping in view the negative effects of immoral/indecent content streaming through the above applications, PTA issued notices to the management of above-mentioned platforms”. The stated purpose was to “remove” dating services and regulate online content in accordance with Pakistani laws. (“Govt bans five more apps to curb ‘immoral content’,” Dawn, 2 September 2020)

ANP and PPP pledge to work together
According to Dawn, during a telephonic conversation on 1 September, President of the Awami Nat­ional Party’s (ANP) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chap­ter and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zar­dari expressed concerns over “the federal government’s act of abandoning the people of Sindh” during devastating calamities caused by natural disasters and vowed to strive to maintain unity among the opposition. They discussed Pakistan’s prevailing political situation and the role of progressive parties. (“PPP, ANP vow to work together,” Dawn, 2 September 2020)

IPP agreement fails
Following the signing of their MoUs with the government’s negotiation committee for tariff reduction, significant differences have risen between the independent power producers (IPPs). Due to “mutual mistrust” two blocs of IPPs have clashed with each other and Khalid Mansour, the head of IPP Advisory Committee (IPPAC) has resigned. The MOU had agreed to reduce the returns to be given to the IPP sponsors and reduce the returns’ dollar indexation. The agreement was hailed as a signature achievement by the government. (“Agreement with IPPs in choppy waters,” Dawn, 2 September 2020)

EXTERNAL
Pages and Accounts ‘operated from Pakistan’ removed by Facebook
As per Facebook’s announcement on 1 September, the company has removed 453 Facebook accounts, 103 Pages, 78 groups and 107 Instagram accounts being operated from Pakistan. Facebook stated “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” as the reason. The company removes online content for ‘coordinated behaviour’ when there are deceitful misleading domestic, non-governmental campaigns that rely on fake accounts. Individuals behind this network of pages and accounts – some claiming to be from/based in India – posted and managed Indian military fanpages and groups, the statement said.(“Facebook removes network of accounts, pages ‘operated from Pakistan’,” Dawn, 2 September 2020)

Editorial says Af-Pak Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity could enhance bilateral ties
A Dawn Editorial says Pak-Afghan ties have been less that cordial in recent times, despite a shared border and “historical, cultural and demographic ties”. It maps out the ups and downs in the bilateral relationship from the pro-Soviet period (looking at contrasting ideological blocs) to the current times of the Afghan peace deal. It hails the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity, which commenced in 2018, as an opportunity to mend bilateral ties in a “mutually beneficial manner”. On 31 August, bilateral meetings were convened in Kabul where Pakistan’s foreign secretary led the country’s delegation and reiterated that intra-Afghan peace must be achieved through “perseverance and unflinching commitment”. The framework includes a plethora of areas – political, diplomatic, military, economic and so on. The article states that such high-level delegations could bring down mutual mistrust and grudge, while molding a constructive relationship. The article further identifies the presence of the Islamic State as a mutual threat. (“Pak-Afghan dialogue,” Dawn, 2 September 2020)

 


"Admittedly, the appellant is not on bail and is also not present in the court but has made an application for exemption from appearance due to medical reasons. It is not out of place to observe that the appellant did not inform this court when he proceeded abroad or his name of 2019 was removed from the Exit Control List (ECL)"

-  IHC on Nawaz Sharif

 

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