Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

09 September 2020, Wednesday I Vol 1, No.128

Federal-Provincial divide over Karachi increases

Federal minister says, they "cannot give even a penny to Sindh for the flood victims unless we are told about the exact losses".

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

On 8 September, during a press conference following the cabinet meeting, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said: "We cannot give even a penny to Sindh for the flood victims unless we are told about the exact losses". The federal cabinet has decided to not release funds directly to Sindh's provincial government for the victims of the recent floods and rains of unprecedented magnitude. The Center has instead decided to utilize the funds by itself. This may worsen the ongoing rift between the Centre and Sindh. 

Brief Background
Previously, Prime Minister Imran Khan had visited Karachi to unveil the Rs1.1 trillion aid-package at the Governor House in the presence of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. The package aimed at resolving Karachi's chronic issues, including cleaning of drains and sewage, provision of clean drinking water, and solid waste disposal within the next years. Subsequently, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Sindh "welcome(s) the Rs300 billion funding from the federal government for Karachi's infrastructure development", stated that Sindh's provincial government would contribute Rs800 billion to the Rs1.1tr package. On 6 September, federal Minister for Planning and Special Initiatives Asad Umar (PTI) along with federal IT and Telecom Minister Aminul Haque (MQM-Pakistan) and Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi held a press conference at Governor House without the presence of any PPP representative. Umar called PPP's announcement of the contributions a breach of understanding. He said "Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had in a meeting agreed not to reveal the share of both the governments (federal and provincial)". However, the federal minister claimed that the Center would bear 62pc of the total amount of Rs1,100 billion for Karachi Transformation Plan (KTP), while only the remaining 38pc would be spent by Sindh. ("Federal govt refuses to trust Sindh with relief money," Dawn, 9 September 2020)

Editorials and Opinions
In his Dawn article, Zahid Hussain opines that "the political tussle between the PPP and PTI is obstructing plans to transform Pakistan's economic hub". He opines that while the trillion-rupee package marked the most serious move yet to address the Karachi's chronic, it has also intensified the battle for the country's economic hub. He says it is "more than a conflict between the federal and provincial authorities, this wrangling underscores the battle between the PPP that rules Sindh and the PTI that sees itself as the sole representative of the city and thus wants to take credit for the Karachi transformation package." He further calls the tussle a manifestation of the novel political dynamics that emerged with the 2018 elections. ("Battle for Karachi," Dawn, 9 September 2020)

An Editorial says a plan so large requires that all parties execute the plan without falling into petty fights. It calls the clashing claims by both the Center and Sindh unrealistic. The article highlights Sindh's concerns regarding PTI gaining political mileage in Sindh through the project and the Center trying to gain control of the Sindh capital. It also calls for the speedy resolution of the problem so that the victims do not suffer any longer. ("Controlling Karachi," The News International, 9 September 2020)

Abdul Sattar's opinion article speaks of the availability of the funds for the package, "PML-N leader Khawja Asif says the development budget of the federal government is only Rs700 billion and has wondered how Islamabad would generate this huge amount." The article highlights the need for holding parties like PTI, PPP and MQM accountable for their actions and big money. Sattar says "It is interesting to note that the party blames the MQM and the PTI for the plight of Karachiites but what excuse can it offer for the deplorable conditions of the city's rural areas that have also thrown a blanket support behind the party of Bhutto." ("The Karachi package," The News International, 9 September 2020)

Mosharraf Zaidi calls the KTP "an impressive allocation of financial resources and top-line political will in favour of a transformed Karachi." However, he says that "much like Pakistan's Covid-19 miracle, it may not be achievable without divine intervention". He adds that innovation or experiments in Pakistani governments are rare. Regarding the trillion-rupee package, he identifies competitions that have arisen or would in the near future: first, the PTI-PPP strife; second, the system vs the Mohajir; third, FBR vs trader; fourth, province vs federation; fifth, city vs village; sixth, competence v status quo and last, civil society versus the mafias. ("Competitions that will shape KTP," The News International, 9 September 2020) 

 (Image Source: Pakistan Reader)

The UN condemns the attacks on journalists and activists in Pakistan
On 8 September, the United Nations raised concern over the increasing attacks on journalists and activists in Pakistan, urging the country to protect those facing threats and investigate any violence. Further, the UN rights office while pointing out the case of journalist Shaheena Shaheen, stated that it was also concerned by the several instances of incitement to violence, both online and off, particularly against women and minority journalists and activists, as well as physical attacks.

Further, rights office spokesman Rupert Colville stated that the rights office has raised its concerns directly with the Government of Pakistan and has urged it to take "immediate, concrete steps to ensure the protection of journalists and human rights defenders who have been subjected to threats." ("UN decries attacks on journalists, activists," Dawn, 9 September 2020)


Pakistan National Assembly (Image Source: The News)

In Brief 
On FATF: Editorial says the government should utilize the upcoming sessions of the National Assembly and Senate to answer all questions voiced by the opposition
An editorial in Dawn while addressing the government's decision to hold fresh sessions of the National Assembly and Senate on 14 September to get the Financial Action Task Force bills passed states that although there is doubt that bills relating to the requirements of FATF are critically important and it is in the interest of Pakistan to legislate them. Adding that the opposition is completely right to questions about the provisions of these bills. Critical of Prime Minister Imran Khan's used of harsh words against the opposition for blocking these two bills, stating that questioning someone's patriotism is condemnable. The editorial concludes by stating that the government should use the upcoming sessions of the National Assembly and Senate not only to table the FATF bills but answer all questions and allay fears voiced by the opposition. ("FATF bills," Dawn, 9 September 2020)

Christian factory worker awarded a sentence death in blasphemy case
On 8 September, a sessions court awarded a death penalty to a Christian factory worker on blasphemy charges. The accused, Asif Pervez Masih has been imprisoned for the past seven years after his supervisor, lodged an FIR against him at the Green Town police in 2013 under Sections 295-B and 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and 25-D of the Telegraph Act. He was accused of sending his supervisor blasphemous text messages. Although denying the charges, the defence counsel argued that the supervisor used to persuade the convict to embrace Islam adding that he had to quit the job due to pressure from his supervisor. Further, the defence counsel announced he would file an appeal against the conviction in the Lahore High Court. ("Christian worker sentenced to death in blasphemy case," Dawn, 9 September 2020)

On 8 September, Sajid Gondal, an official of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) returned home after he went missing from his dairy farm last week. He took to twitter, stating, "I am back and safe, and I am thankful to all friends who were worried for me." ("Sajid Gondal returns home after alleged abduction," The Express Tribune, 9 September 2020) 

According to the Dawn, the "abductors" had set free Mr Gondal at a place between the famous Giga Shopping Mall and Rawat, some 30 kilometres from his Shahzad Town residence. Further investigation into the matter will be carried out after recording Gondal's statement. (Syed Irfan Raza, Malik Asad, "Missing SECP official back home after five days," Dawn, 9 September 2020)

Punjab Assembly raises concerns over British MPs report on Pakistan
On 8 September, the Punjab Assembly voiced strong criticism over a report prepared by a group of British MPs accusing Pakistan of oppressing Qadiyanis under state patronage and asking London to link aid to Pakistan with the compliance of the report's recommendations. The house while passing a unanimous resolution titled "Suffocation of the Faithful," on private members day tabled by opposition members demanding that the government to ask the foreign ministry to immediately work on the withdraw the report. Further, the resolution termed the report as one-sided and also being used as a sinister plan against the religious freedom and sentiments of the entire Muslim world comprising nearly two billion people. (Asim Hussain, "PA concerned at British MPs biased report against Pakistan," The Express Tribune, 9 September 2020)

Legislators and NGOs claims that Balochistan has the highest female mortality rate in the world
On 8 September, legislators, representatives of civil society and women working for NGOs claimed that Balochistan has the highest female mortality rate in the world. This claim was made by Sana Bloch, a Member of the Balochistan Assembly along with Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Chairman of the Standing Committee for Women, General Secretary of the Quetta Press Club and representatives of NGOs working for women and children rights. Further, they claimed that the per capita education ratio of female education was lowest in Balochistan in the entire world, adding that a large number of girls drop out of school due to various reasons. Further, they highlighted the difficulty women face in obtaining ID cards and how this further restricts them. (Saleem Shahid, "'Balochistan has highest female mortality rate in the world'," Dawn, 9 September 2020)

An opinion asks when the nations of the world would wake up to demand an end to the assault on the rule of law
An opinion in the Express Tribune critical of the blatant involvement of American soldiers in war crimes in Afghanistan states that it was predictable of the US to impose penalties on the Prosecutor of the ICC for investigating crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan. Further, while highlighting the situation in Afghanistan where not only has the practice of torture techniques on prisoners been an issue but civilians have also borne the brunt of the senseless conflict in Afghanistan along with the resistance groups, the Afghan army and foreign forces who have left the country devasted. The opinion concluded by stating that there must be an institutionalized mechanism to investigate deliberate crimes of this magnitude committed against helpless prisoners or civilians, adding that this responsibility has been entrusted to the ICC. Thus, when an institution initiates action as per its internationally recognized mandate, a country's un-cooperation defeats the working for such institutions adding that such an action would be clear defiance of the collective will of humanity. (Rustam Shah Mohmand, "Afghanistan war crimes," The Express Tribune, 9 September 2020)



"The misunderstandings and doubts between the PPP in Sindh and the PTI in the centre have crept up once again. They will, quite evidently, have an impact on the success of the massive project, which is planned to bring clean water to the people of Karachi, to reconstruct drains to improve sewerage and to undertake other work, which can help Karachi function like a modern city. There is also concern in Sindh that through the KTP, the centre may be trying to gain control of the Sindh capital, with Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah saying in unambiguous terms that the PPP will not let that happen"

-  Editorial, The News, on the PTI-PPP differences over Karachi's reconstruction


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