Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

05 September 2020, Saturday I Vol 1, No.125

Kashmir in the UN and Pakistan

Amb Munir Akram says Kashmir issue cannot be removed from the UN discussions

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

On 4 September, Amb Munir Akram, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN stated that Kashmir cannot be removed from the UNSC's agenda. He said, "Indian representatives are either deluding themselves, or deluding their public, by asserting that they will remove Kashmir from the Security Council's agenda". Akram added that UNSC was committed to resolving the Kashmir issue according to the Kashmiris' desire and that "a member state cannot change the agenda unilaterally."

According to Dawn, diplomatic sources at the UN headquarters say that India has been seeking the removal of the Kashmir dispute from the UNSC agenda for long now. However, in vain. They called India's claims "outlandish" and said that the disputed status would change only if "there is a consensus decision" of the council, which is "obviously not true in the case of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute". Another diplomat said "It is a pity that a country which is so eager to join the council is not even aware of the basic rules of procedure governing its functions". ("Kashmir can't be removed from UN agenda: Pakistan," Dawn, 5 September 2020)

The Kashmir Context
Earlier this week, India had asked the UNSC to take the Kashmir dispute off its agenda, in order to prevent Pakistan raising the issue at the UN General Assembly's 75thsession. The UNGA session commences this month in New York. The Indian statement on the Report of the Security Council for 2019 said that Islamabad "keeps pushing for discussions on an outdated agenda item in the council" which for "all matter needs to be removed from the council's agenda permanently". With China's support, Pakistan raised the Kashmir issue in the UN three times since India revoked Article 370 on 5 August 2019. India argues that the 5 August move ends the disputed nature of Kashmir and hence the council must remove the same from its agenda. Every year the UNSC puts the Kashmir dispute on its agenda as "the India-Pakistan Question".

The council still considers it an unresolved dispute and maintains military observers on both sides of the LoC. UNMOGIP remains stationed in Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan's Efforts at the OIC
Pakistan has also been pushing for a Council of Foreign Ministers meeting of the Saudi-led Organisation of Islamic Countries. The frustration among the political elite of Pakistan was evident in the manner in which Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi fired directed an unusually charged statement to the OIC, asking the latter to stop procrastinating the convening of the CFM meeting on the Kashmir issue. It sparked a diplomatic spat between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. ("Qureshi asks OIC to stop dragging feet on Kashmir meeting," Dawn, 6 August 2020)

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (Image Source: Daily Times)

"Honour Killing: Courts say it sees no honour

On 4 September, the Supreme Court observed that the killing of women in the name of honour has never been an honourable practice, stating that such murders should not be categorized as honour killings. A two-judge bench headed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa had taken up the jail appeal of Mohammad Abbas against the 8 September 2015 verdict of the Lahore High Court in the murder case of his wife, Saima Bibi. Further, observed that although the Parliament was concerned with the prevalence of such killings and enacted the legislation to curb this practice by ensuring that offenders do not avail of the benefit of section 302(c) PPC, for which the maximum punishment is twenty-five years imprisonment but which does not prescribe a minimum punishment, still sufficient efforts have not been taken to discourage crimes against women with extremism and violence having penetrated deep into Pakistani society.

Equating 'Ghairat' to 'honour' is incorrect, says Justice Isa
While hearing the jail petition, Justice Isa said, "It will help deter such killings if the term 'Ghairat' is not used to describe them," explaining that it was inaccurate to translate Urdu word 'Ghairat' into English as 'honour', adding that the Urdu word did not have an exact English equivalent. Further, he explained that a more accurate translation of 'Ghairat' would be 'arrogance.'

The Context: Pakistan and 'Honour Killing'
Pakistan has one of the highest per capita honour killings in the world where women have been the predominant victims. The practice of 'Honour Killing' is deeply rooted in the societal perception of women being property and thereby, a source of honour. For many within Pakistan, women and girls are seen to embody family honour, their identity, existence and social respects are derived or measured by their obedience to family demands. This is even more prominent in tribal societies, where anything a woman does can compromise the honour of the family. Thus, honour crimes are committed as a way of policing or disciplining women and girls who are seen to be violating the social code. Further, these killings have been committed on the pretext of 'ghairat' with the perception that the killing will provide some justification for the crime.

The issue has been also been a challenge due to the crossover of tribal practices and customs possess a higher status than the federal law. In many regions, honour killing is not considered as a crime by the jirga (tribal council) but a legitimate action of the man whose family was dishonoured. In this regard, successive governments have failed to govern mainstream legislations and have failed to exercise due diligence in protecting the rights of women. Further, the limited reach of the judiciary in tribal areas has made fighting a legal battle inaccessible for these women, with seeking justice being extremely problematic in Pakistan where many legal loopholes currently exist which allow perpetrators of honour killings to escape any punishment.

A move to make crimes against women a public matter
This observation from the Supreme Court can be seen as a way by which the country is trying to directly address this practice. Crimes against women have mostly remained to be a private matter in Pakistan as well as other parts of South Asia. Judgements and observations such as these will help pave the way to curb this practice which is an extreme expression of patriarchal violence. However, this practice needs to be strongly condemned not just by governments and the judicial system, the solution to this brutal practice begins from where the issue stems, meaning, it is only when communities see these crimes as unethical can transformation and change occur.

Imran Khan refuses to accept the resignation by Lt Gen (retd) Asim Bajwa (Image Source: Dawn)

In Brief 

PM Imran Khan declines SAPM Bajwa's resignation
On 4 September, Prime Minister Imran Khan declined to accept the resignation of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa after allegations regarding his family's offshore assets and properties were made public. Further, a press release by the Prime Minister Office stated, "the prime minister said he was satisfied with explanation and evidences presented by Lt Gen Bajwa and thus he asked Mr Bajwa to continue his service as SAPM." Bajwa's resignation came after journalist Ahmed Noorani went public on Bajwa's offshore assets and properties on a website. Subsequently, he came up with a detailed clarification of the news report which accused him of using his offices for establishing his family's offshore assets and companies in the United States and the United Arab Emirates and that he had not mentioned these in his asset's declaration in Pakistan. (Syed Irfan Raza, "PM refuses to accept aide's resignation," Dawn, 5 September 2020)

Bilawal hope PM will lend support to both Karachi and the entire province
On 4 September, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari hoped that Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to Karachi will come with massive financial support for disaster-hit Sindh. While addressing a press conference at the Chief Minister House, Bilawal came up with a list of demands as well as criticism ahead of PM Khan's visit to Karachi, stating that he expected the premier would come up with rehabilitation, reconstruction and relief plan not for Karachi alone but the entire province. However, criticizing the government, the PPP leader termed Khan-led administration a "puppet government" which was allegedly weakening the federation by not releasing funds to the provincial government. (Syed Irfan Raza, "Bilawal hopes PM will offer huge financial support for rain-hit Sindh," Dawn, 5 September 2020)

PM decides to make South Punjab secretariat operational in a move to bring prosperity 
On 4 September, Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to formally make south Punjab secretariat operational on 15 October, stating, "Separate allocation for south Punjab would usher in a new era of progress and prosperity". Further, according to the Prime Minister Office, PM Khan emphasized that the government was focusing bringing about improvement to the life of the common man and directed the administration of south Punjab to work to fulfil this vision. Further, he directed the authorities to complete the process of devolution of power phase-wise to ensure the smooth running of administrative procedures. This decision was announced at a meeting which was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, the chief secretary, additional chief secretary and the additional inspector general of south Punjab joined the meeting online. ("South Punjab secretariat becomes operational on 15 October," Dawn, 5 September 2020)

Blast outside Quetta mosque injures four
On 4 September, four people were injured in a bomb blast outside a mosque in the Sariab Road area. The attack is said to be carried out by unknown attackers who planted the bomb in a motorcycle and parked it in front of the mosque. It was detonated by remote control. The blast occurred at around 1 pm when people gathered at the mosque for Friday prayers and was detonated when the prayer leader was delivering the Juma sermon. Further, the attack appears to be aimed at target the security personnel patrolling the area, however, the police have launched an investigation into the incident. ("Four injured in blast outside Quetta mosque," Dawn, 5 September 2020)

Global Innovation Index (GII): Pakistan's business innovation ranking drops
In 2020, Pakistan's "ability, capacity and success in business innovation" declined and Pakistan's ranking on the Global Innovation Index (GII) declined by three ranks. It dropped to 107 from 104 in 2019. According to GII's report, due to worsening economic indicators, Pakistan's ranking in terms of market sophistication fell from 102 in 2019 to 116 in 2020 and the nation's ability to attract foreign and other investment also deteriorated during the year. ("Pakistan's business innovation ranking declines," Dawn, 5 September 2020)

An Opinion argues SAPMs and Advisers as de-facto ministers would no longer be possible
An analysis in Dawn by Ahmed Bilal Mehboob says the Islamabad High Court's recent nine-page judgement, regarding the alleged illegal exercise of executive powers by an adviser to the Prime Minister, while clarifying various legal questions, cleared ambiguities but raised novel questions regarding the functions and role of the unelected SAPMs and advisers. The judgement clarifies that an adviser does not form a part of the federal cabinet. The author concludes that "the practice of assigning ministries and divisions to advisers and special assistants as de facto ministers or ministers of state will no more be possible or at least easy. ("Advisers, SAPMs and cabinet," Dawn, 5 September 2020)

PIA will not appeal EU flight ban
As the deadline to appeal the European Union six-month flight ban on Pakistan International Airlines' (PIA) lucrative flights to European locations, expired on 31 August, PIA officials told Reuters that PIA would not appeal and would instead review its turnaround strategy. The ban was a blow to the ailing airlines mired in controversy recently. PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan told Reuters, "We've decided that filing an appeal at this stage will be counter-productive". The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had banned PIA in June over safety concerns after Pakistan grounded dozens of its pilots alleging dubious qualifications. ("'PIA not to appeal EU flight ban, will review turnaround strategy'," The News International, 5 September 2020)

An analysis predicts the Indian economy will worsen
Khalid Bhatti's article says that Indian economy has shrunk by 23.9 per cent from April-June 2020, calling it the biggest decline in growth rate of one of the world's largest economies and the "sharpest contraction in nearly 40 years". The article opines that recovery would take longer, cites declining incomes as reason for decline in consumption and demand, states that the ongoing pandemic situation would worsen the economy and the recovery and says that Modi government has failed on both fronts – pandemic and the economy. ("Deepening crisis in India," The News International, 5 September 2020)

Another analysis considers Modi government's policies "disastrous"
The article calls the incumbent Modi government's policies ranging from the anti-Muslim rhetoric, to the crackdown on the press, "the belligerent attitude to the economy", failed employment generation policies, Citizenship Amendment Act, demonetization and pandemic-related policies a complete failure. It accuses the government of attempting to tear-apart the secular social fabric of India. ("Modi's disastrous policies," The News International, 5 September 2020)



"We have an excellent relationship [with the army’s top brass]. I honestly think it is the most harmonious relationship. We have complete coordination, we work together, the military completely stands by all the democratic government’s policies whether it is with India, whether it is for peaceful solution in Afghanistan...everywhere the military stands by us"

-  Imran Khan on Civil-Military relations.


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