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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

03 September, Thursday I Vol 1, No.123

Shabaz Sharif meets Zardari during his Karachi Visit; On Nawaz Sharif's return



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

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

What happened?
On 2 September, as a part of his Karachi visit, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shahbaz Sharif and other PML-N stalwarts Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Mohammad Zubair and Miftah Ismail visited the Bilawal house to meet with former president Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and senior PPP leaders to discuss Pakistan’s political situation. The leaders of the main opposition parties decided to convene a Rehbar Committee meeting on 3 September to schedule a multiparty conference to derive a roadmap to oust the incumbent Imran Khan-led PTI government through legal and constitutional means. During the meeting, the leaders of both parties agreed to work together “for the supremacy of the Constitution and parliament, for free judiciary and free media; the protection of the democratic process and the protection of the constitutional and democratic rights of the people.”Shahbaz also visited the rain hit areas and the Edhi home. (“Shahbaz reaches out to Zardari in Karachi visit,” Dawn, 3 September 2020)

Karachi: The new political cash cow 
Sharif’s day-long Karachi visit primarily aimed at expressing solidarity with the people of Sindh who were facing the devastating calamity caused by the record-breaking rains and urban flooding. However, Karachi has turned into the hot spot for political mileage as leaders are frequenting the city. Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and the COAS Gen Bajwa had also visited Karachi to express solidarity with the flood victims. As per reports, PM Khan will also be visiting the city soon.

Statements & Press Conferences
Regarding the meeting, PPP’s Twitter handle said important issues were discussed and “reiterated [launching] a democratic struggle against the government”. The Bilawal House issued a statement saying that “top opposition leaders of the country were in consensus that all the constitutional options would be used to get rid of the incumbent ineligible government, as its failures and incompetence have become a torment for the country and the people”. The statements said that PML-N and PPP strongly condemned the political revenge by the incumbent government under the facade of accountability.

PML-N leaders Ahsan Iqbal and Maryam Aurganzeb and PPP leaders Farhatullah Babar and Naveed Qamar jointly held a media briefing later. PMLN and PPP dismissed talks of a potential Presidential system and question the PTI as to why funds approved for Karachi were ceased. (“Shahbaz calls on Zardari, Bilawal in Karachi: PML-N, PPP agree on APC, Ehtesab, anti-govt drive,”The News International, 3 September 2020)

Media opines
Dawn’s Red Zone Files looks at the unholy alliance of the rivals. “Something is cooking in Karachi. Plans are big, promises bigger. Neither are new. So what’s different this time?” asks the article. With respect to the newly crafted action plan for Karachi, it says that expecting PTI, PPP and MQM “to join hands is expecting almost too much”. According to Dawn, the Opposition’s stand will remain unclear and complicated; thus, favoring PTI and Imran Khan. (“RED ZONE FILES: Team of rivals?,” Dawn, 3 September 2020)
 

 
Islamabad High Court has recently asked Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan (Image Source: Dawn)

On Nawaz Sharif's return

The News says Nawaz’s mass appeal is unlikely to diminish which is why the govt should weigh its options carefully 
An editorial in the News International in response to the Islamabad High Court’s decision directing PML-N head Nawaz Sharif to return to the country and face charges against him in the Al Azizia reference case, or else be prepared to be declared an absconder states that what is to follow will is going to be relevant for Pakistan's politics and the future of a party. Further, the popular notion is that Nawaz is not likely to return to the country especially at this time. However, it is uncertain whether his mass appeal would diminish if he decides not to return, which is why the editorial states that the government will have to weigh its options carefully. (“A flight home?,” The News International, 3 September 2020)

Dawn says, Nawaz should return and take command of an incapacitated opposition
An editorial in Dawn states that as the debate of Nawaz’s return enters another complicated phase with unfamiliar medical terms clash with the legal jargon thrown in by the opposing lawyers, the political choice before one of the most significant and popular leaders should be straightforward which is, accept the challenge and return to take command of an opposition that has been stuck in a rut. The editorial says that as far as PLM-N is considered it makes more political sense if Nawaz returns, thus prohibiting the entire ruling set-up comprising Prime Minister Imran Khan, the PTI and government allies who regularly aim at a confused and divided PML-N. Further, the editorial strongly notes that any unwarranted step at this juncture would appear to seek some kind of relief from the system under would depict a sign of weakness to many in the crowd. Thus concluding, “the politically savvy would say this is a time for standing with and ahead of others against what the Pakistani opposition calls witch-hunting.” (“Time to come back,” Dawn, 3 September 2020)

The Context
On 1 September, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) directed Nawaz “to surrender” and appear before the court by before 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 making 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)
To the court’s decision, Khawaja Haris Ahmed, the counsel for Nawaz, argued that Nawaz could not return to the country due to the coronavirus pandemic and with PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz stating that her father will get back as soon his treatment was over and only after the doctors give him a clean bill of health. (“Maryam Nawaz insists Nawaz Sharif to get back only after full treatment,” The News International, 2 September 2020)

 
 (Image Source: Dawn)

In Brief 
INTERNAL
Rains in KP claim 23 lives 
On 2 September, the torrential rains experienced by various parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa left many injured and claimed the lives of 23 people. As per Dawn, most casualties were reported from the Hazara division’s upper parts, where over 19 people lost their lives. Malakand division’s Buner district saw four others die.(“Devastating Khyber Pakhtunkhwa rains claim 23 lives,” Dawn, 3 September 2020)

COAS says that the Army will do its best to help the Centre and Sindh to address Karachi’s problems
On 1 September, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa, has stated that the Army will do its utmost to help and assist the federal and provincial governments to address the issues of Karachi. The COAS gave this assurance while he was addressing a cross-section of the trade and commerce leaders. Further, the COAS stated that a committee comprising federal and provincial governments has been established will focus on addressing the issues of the city. Further, he stated that the Pakistan Army was doing its bidding to address the civic problems, adding that army serves and supports the political government and they would do their utmost to help both the provincial and federal governments. (“Army to help Centre, Sindh to address Karachi’s problems,” The News International, 3 September 2020)

PM Imran Khan says that the Opposition and India are in sync on FATF
On 2 September, Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that the opposition and India were on the same page on the issue of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) stressing that both the opposition and India was making every effort to put Pakistan in the FATF blacklist. While addressing a meeting of the government and party spokespersons, he said, “in a democracy, the opposition has an important role to play for the country. The opposition is prioritising personal interest over national interest.” Further, in reference to Nawaz Sharif, he stated that the government would not compromise on the manifesto of accountability. (“Opposition and India in sync on FATF: PM Imran Khan,” The News International, 3 September 2020)

FM and SPD Chief discuss nuclear diplomacy
On 2 September, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Director General of the Strategic Plans Division Lt Gen Nadeem Zaki Manj discussed nuclear diplomacy. Qureshi is also the deputy chairman of the Employment Control Committee of the National Command Authority that provides civilian oversight over development, production, research and use of nuclear and space technologies and related applications. This is the second publicly disclosed meeting between Gen Manj and top civilian leadership in the last 10 days. Previously, he met with PM Khan on 22 August to brief the head on the Strategic Plans Division (SPD).(“SPD chief discusses nuclear diplomacy with FM,” Dawn, 3 September 2020)

Interior Minister asks US blogger Cynthia to leave Pakistan in 15 days
On 2 September, the interior ministry declined the application to extend the visa of Cynthia Dawn Ritchie, a US blogger who has been residing in Pakistan for over a decade, asking her to leave the country within 15 days. Ms Ritchie’s last visa, issued in March 2019, expired on 2 March 2020, the rejection of her application comes a day after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) expressed its dissatisfaction over the interior ministry’s recent order related to the validity of her visa and gave the government a final opportunity to render proper assistance. After the announcement by the Interior Ministry, Ms Richie via a tweet stated, “The MoI -under pressure best known to them- has for the first time, in my over 10+ years in Pakistan, rejected my Visa application. No reason has been given. We have a right to file an appeal & will do so. A higher forum must entertain my application & upon merits grant visa.” (Iftikhar A. Khan, “US blogger Cynthia told to leave Pakistan in 15 days,” Dawn, 2 September 2020)

EXTERNAL
China to allow the arrival of flights from eights countries including Pakistan
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) released a statement saying “Starting September 3, international passenger flights to Beijing, which previously had their entry points diverted, will gradually resume”. Nature of the passengers’ nationality hasn’t been specified. However, passengers would have to undergo centralised quarantine on arrival for 14 days and take two Covid-19 tests. This resuming of direct international flights is after a freeze of over five months.(“China allows flights into Beijing from Pakistan, seven other countries,” Dawn, 3 September2020)

 


"The meeting of [opposition’s] Rehbar Committee is being convened tomorrow [Thursday] as time has come to finalise and announce the date of an all-party conference"

-  PPP leader Naveed Qamar on Shabaz-Zardari meeting in Karachi.

 

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