Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

11 September 2020, Friday I Vol 1, No.130

Pakistan and the SCO

On the sidelines, Pakistan reiterates its commitment to "One China" and meets with the Russian foreign minister.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

On 10 September, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi spoke at the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers. He recognized the SCO as a vital platform to help synergize regional partners given the increasing union between Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasian Economic Union. Further, expressed support on Pakistan's membership of the SCO Youth Council, stating that for over the past 20 years, the SCO had grown in stature, prestige and influence.

He also requested that all the SCO members work together to address the resurgence of fascist ideologies and violent nationalism, especially in the region. Further, he remarked that members should work collectively to pushing the SCO towards becoming an effective forum for regional development and a new kind of international organization based on the ideals of Shanghai spirit. Further, he reiterated Pakistan support of the SCO's emphasis on the central role of the United Nations in maintaining peace and security.

On the SCO sidelines
Qureshi reiterates Pakistan's commitment to "One China" policy

On the sidelines, Foreign Minister Qureshi while meeting his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi has reiterated that Pakistan remained committed to "One China" policy and stood firmly behind China on core issues of its national interest. This was his second meeting in a matter of three weeks with the Chinese Minister. Further, during the meeting, bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest were also discussed. ("Islamabad favours 'One China' policy, Qureshi tells Chinese FM," Dawn, 11 September 2020)

CPEC complements SCO's vision of regional connectivity
FM Qureshi also stated that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the flagship project of the One Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) supplement the SCO's vision of regional connectivity and economic integration. He added: "We should not view development projects, including BRI and CPEC, through myopic geopolitical angles and should give them our full support." ("CPEC supplements SCO's vision of regional connectivity: FM Qureshi," The Express Tribune, 10 September 2020)

"Russia is an important partner."
While meeting with Russian FM Sergei Lavrov, he stated that Pakistan considers Russia as an important partner, and wanted to forge a long-term and multi-dimensional partnership with it, further, FM Lavrov welcomed Pakistan's participation in the forthcoming Kavkaz military exercise which is scheduled for this month. ("Qureshi meets Putin, Tajik FM in Moscow," The News International, 9 September 2020)

Pakistan and the SCO: A brief note 
FM Qureshi arrived in Moscow on a two-day visit to participate in the SCO-CFM. The CFM is the highest forum of the SCO after the Council of Heads of State (CHS) and the Council of Heads of Government (CHG). The Moscow SCO-CFM was to consider 20 documents for adoption in the SCO Summit. Further, since becoming a member in 2017, Pakistan has been an active member in contributing towards making an SCO's multi-sectoral agenda through participation in various SCO mechanisms. (Kamran Yousaf, "FM embarks on Moscow trip for SCO moot amid regional tensions," The Express Tribune, 11 September 2020)

Chaman crossing (Image Source: Dawn)


Pakistan on developments in Kabul and Doha
On 10 September, Pakistan military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar pledged to defeat 'spoilers' labouring to sabotage the upcoming intra-Afghan dialogue. The General tweeted: "Unfortunate rise in violent incidents on both sides of Pak-Afghan border is meant to derail Afghanistan Peace Pro­cess. Pakistan earnestly believes that both countries deserve peace and progress. Together we will defeat all spoilers". Meanwhile, at a weekly media briefing in the Foreign Office, spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said intra-Afghan talks must deliver "durable peace in Afghanistan" by achieving "an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement". ("Pakistan vows to defeat Afghan talks' spoilers'," Dawn, 11 September 2020)

The immediate context
The General's statement came in the wake of the commencement of the long-awaited intra-Afghan process and the associated release of the final group of six "dangerous" Taliban prisoners by Afghanistan's government. They were later flown to Doha, Qatar where until the end of November they would remain under supervision. Meanwhile, Kabul's negotiating team would fly to Doha on 11 September for the talks with the Taliban. The record spike in violence in Afghanistan, ahead of the talks, has made the international backers of the talks wary. With the Taliban denying involvement on attack on Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh's convoy which killed 10 people, Pakistan has blamed the "spoilers".

Upcoming events
According to Taliban spokesman Dr Mohammad Naeem the negotiations will be held on 12 September. He tweeted, "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan announces its readiness to attend the inaugural meeting of the Inter-Afghan Dialogue in accordance with the agreement reached between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the United States of America". ("Intra-Afghan peace talks set to begin in Doha," Dawn, 11 September 2020)

Media Opines
With the Taliban-Afghan talks around the corner, Pakistan's national media has been exploding with a wide range of articles on the upcoming event. The topics have covered the presence of women negotiators at the talks, governmental and non-governmental "spoilers", statements by heads of states and lauding of Pakistan's role in the peace process. Maleeha Lodhi had earlier identified the pandemic and the clashing interests of Afghan parties as to the reasons for the impasse experienced by the intra-Afghan dialogue. However, she argued that with the return of the US troops from Afghanistan gaining priority due to the upcoming elections, the peace talks were crucial. She further opined that intra-Afghan uncertainties posed a significant threat to Pakistan. ("Troubled Afghan peace process," Dawn, 4 September 2020) 

In his opinion article, Zahid Hussain stated that the face-to-face dialogue between the Kabul officials and the Taliban representatives would be the most crucial part of the two-decades-long faltering Afghan peace process. He said that political transition would not be easy. Hussain argued that for most Afghans, even a power-sharing agreement with the Taliban was disconcerting. He emphasized that although the Taliban political leadership appears to be more moderate and flexible while speaking of a pluralistic and inclusive political system, "mere words are not enough" and called for a "political solution to the festering Afghan conflict". ("Intra-Afghan peace talks," Dawn, 12 August 2020)

Gen Bajwa wants to enhance "combat readiness levels in the wake of evolving strategic and regional milieu" (Image Source: Dawn)

In Brief 

Islamabad High Court says that Nawaz Sharif will have to surrender before further proceedings
On 10 September, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) agreed with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) demands that Nawaz's bail should be cancelled and his arrest should be allowed. Further, the two-judge bench questioned the petition: "In the last hearing, the matter was only related to the term of the bail (granted to Nawaz). Now, he has been declared a proclaimed offender by a court," adding "Can we hear Nawaz Sharif's petition after him being declared a proclaimed offender." Further, the bench stated, "We are not saying that we are rejecting the petition or not listening to anyone. (But) tell us if your new petition can be heard or not?" The hearing has been adjourned till 15 September. ("Nawaz Sharif will have to surrender before further proceedings: IHC," The News International, 11 September 2020) 

Further, the court has given Nawaz's counsel a week to justify pleading the case of an absconder in the light of jurisprudence. (Malik Asad, "Nawaz lawyer gets week to justify arguing case of absconder," Dawn, 11 September 2020)

An editorial in the News International critical of where the accountability question stands regarding the case states that given the development it looks like the political opposition remains the main target. Further, the editorial also highlights the operational capabilities of PML-N without Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz. The editorial concludes by bringing out the importance of fair and transparent accountability stating that it hopes that this process is undertaken with no aspect of victimization and that all accountability attempts are transparent and free of any kind of vendetta. ("Accountability for Nawaz," The News International, 11 September 2020)

A scathing review of the ICJ report
An editorial on 11 September has highlighted the critical review of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on the functioning of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (COIED). In a paper titled "Entrenching Impunity, Denying Redness", the document has noted that the COIED has focused solely on determining the whereabouts of the missing, in which it has been successful to some extent. Around 4,642 cases out of 6,752 have been "disposed". But the commission has neglected its mandate to fix responsibility on individuals or organizations responsible". As a result, the ICJ has recommended not to extend the mandate given to COIED beyond 14 September.
The editorial has highlighted the criticism of ICJ on the definition of 'enforced disappearances' in the commission's regulations which they believe is inconsistent to the international definition. The ICJ continues to highlight the commission's lack of structural independence which weakens the purpose. The editorial points at the chairman of the commission retired Justice Javed Iqbal who has been controversial on a number of instances which included denouncing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for its violation of fundamental rights and pursuit of political vendetta. ("ICJ's scathing review," Dawn, 11 September 2020) 

An Opinion analyses the impact of Climate Change for Pakistan. Says consequences are manifold
The article by Saleem Safi opines that despite Karachi being the commercial hub and financial capital of Pakistan and a vibrant city that contributes significantly to the country's prosperity, Karachi has obtained nothing in return. Furthermore, it has become the victim of man-made disasters due to "myopic policies, dangerous political designs, ethnic tussles, administrative incompetence and negligence". Safi says that the city that has been the centre of the recent Center-Province blame-game has become the hub of hatred and terror; and has been divided into sectarian and ethnic lines. The article looks at how Karachi has been plundered and looted by various parties. He says that climate change is the mother of all problems of the 21stcentury and that Pakistan will have multiple consequences: first, continuous drought or sudden heavy rainfall; second, crop destruction and changing pattern of annual weather; third, the melting of glaciers in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral; fourth, Pakistan being in the most dangerous zone would be exposed to severe climate change impacts. ("Climate change and Pakistan," The News International, 11 September 2020) 

Another editorial says that "problems emanating from population explosion will have social, political impacts for both the developing and developed," which includes Pakistan. The Ecological Threat Register of the Institute for Economics and Peace assesses food insecurity; water shortage; population growth; and natural disasters, including floods, droughts, cyclones, rising sea level and rising temperature as issues that would challenge South Asian countries due to the climate changes. ("Impacts of climate change," The Express Tribune, 11 September 2020)

Prime Minister rejects criticism of dual nationals holding public office
Imran Khan expressed his displeasure over criticism of dual nationals holding public office on 10 September. He stated that there is a need to tap into the "resource pool" of Pakistani experts and professionals living abroad. The statement was made while launching the Roshan Pakistan Digital Account, a facility that would provide banking solutions to millions of non-resident Pakistanis. The Prime Minister recalled the opportunity created for overseas Pakistani experts when he established Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital. These developments came in after the government received criticism for the reason that the status and assets of dual nationality of all non-elected cabinet ministers and advisors were made public. (Syed Irfan Raza, "PM rejects criticism of dual nationals holding public office," Dawn, 11 September 2020)  

On FDI: Pakistan remains a challenging environment for foreign investors says an Editorial
An editorial in the Express Tribune critically states that although the government has been opened to foreign investment, Pakistan remains a challenging environment for foreign investors. The editorial claims that while the pandemic has negatively impacted government target for FDI, historically, the country has always been a poor performer when attracting foreign investment. The main reasons for this are the unpredictable security situation, difficult business climate, lengthy dispute resolution processes, poor enforcement as regards intellectual property rights, inconsistent taxation policies, and lack of harmonization of rules across the provinces as compared to regional competitors. The editorial concludes by stating although the country's economic outlook does look uncertain what the country should do is to work on fundamentals for making the overall domestic environment attractive for foreign investors. ("Attracting FDI," The News International, 10 September 2020)

Uzbekistan's Deputy Prime Minister calls on PM Imran Khan and General Bajwa
Prime Minister Imran had expressed hope that the intra-Afghan negotiations would commence at the earliest and conclude in a negotiated political settlement during a meeting with Uzbekistan's Deputy Prime Minister Sardor Umurzaqov. The meeting covered matters of mutual interest like the Covid-19 pandemic, regional connectivity, regional peace and security. Mr Khan had stated that there is no military solution for peace in Afghanistan and highlighted Pakistan's contribution to the Afghan peace process. He added that Pakistan and Uzbekistan share a cordial relationship and recalled his last meeting with President Mirziyoyev. He highlighted the potential for enhanced trade cooperation as a result of planned railway projects. Mr Umurzaqov expressed Uzbekistan's desire to strengthen economic relations. He then called General Qamar Javed Bajwa and complimented on the Pakistan Army's contributions for peace and stability in the region. ("Uzbek deputy PM calls on PM Imran Khan, General Qamar Javed Bajwa," The News International, 11 September 2020)

On India
Pakistan's Kashmir policy has become "a rhetorical, symbolic, and misadventure prone imperative says a former Pakistan High Commissioner
An opinion written by Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, former ambassador to the US, India and China says: "Pakistan's foreign policy, largely conceived, articulated and advocated by world-class diplomats, fell short because of the country's abysmal domestic and externally governed governance.

Once progressive national transformation was ruled out by the national power and political structures, the force of Pakistan's legal, political, diplomatic and moral arguments on behalf of the Kashmiri right of self-determination diminished, and no longer constrained the economic, political and strategic inclinations of the big powers in support of India – with the exception of China." (Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, "The Kashmir Challenge," The News International, 11 September 2020)

India's response still awaited in Jadhav case, says minister
Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem said that Pakistan is waiting for an Indian response in appointing a legal representative in a review and reconsideration petition before the Islamabad High Court against the conviction by a military court of Kulbhushan Jadhav. Dr Naseem said: "Pakistan is neither a banana republic nor a rogue state and wants to comply (with) all international laws as well as the 17 July, 2019 verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)." On 3 August, the IHC provided an opportunity for India to appoint a legal counsel to defend Jadhav. Dr Naseem explained that though the judgement of the ICJ was not binding, it has avoidable consequences where India could press contempt charges against Pakistan or exert influence to take the issue to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) seeking sanctions against Pakistan. (Nasir Iqbal, "Indian response still awaited in Jadhav case, says minister," Dawn, 11 September 2020) 

Pakistan will not accept any unreasonable demand by India on Jadhav case: Foreign Office
Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry speaking at a weekly news briefing said that Kashmir was the key issue between India and Pakistan. He added, "India can get the Jammu and Kashmir dispute off the United Nations Security Council agenda by letting Kashmiris exercise their inalienable right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices." Mr Chaudhry said that the international community must play a role in forcing India to comply with obligations under international law, the UN Charter and the UNSC resolutions. He further criticized the comments made by India's Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat against Pakistan stating that the ideology of the Indian government has forced its institutions to obsess with Pakistan. Mr Chaudhry responded to a question on Kulbhushan Jadhav's case by saying that Pakistan will never accept any unreasonable demand by India on Jadhav case and asked its neighbour to cooperate with Pakistani courts. He reiterated that Pakistan was committed to the implementation of the IHC judgement. (Shafqat Ali, "Pakistan will never accept any 'unreasonable demand' by India on Jadhav case: FO," The Nation, 11 September 2020)   


"Unfortunate rise in violent incidents on both sides of Pak-Afghan border is meant to derail Afghanistan Peace Pro­cess. Pakistan earnestly belie­ves that both countries deserve peace and progress. Together we will defeat all spoilers"

-  Tweet by the military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar on Afghanistan


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