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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

15 September 2020, Tuesday I Vol 1, No.133

The CPEC march continues:



Pakistan and China sign the agreement on Rashakai SEZ in KP

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

On 14 September, Pakistan and China signed a development agreement for the first Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This agreement is part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project (CPEC).

Imran Khan links CPEC with industrialization
While addressing the signing ceremony of 'Development Agreement of Rashakai Special Economic Zone' (RSEZ), Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that it was the government's top priority to provide jobs to the locals through the promotion of industrialization under the CPEC, being the next phase for progress and prosperity.

Further, referring to the strategic position of Pakistan in the wider regional connectivity with the Central Asian countries, he noted that the ML-1 would prove to be vital in the regional connectivity reducing travelling distance between different cities of the country manifold, adding that it would also enhance the cargo activities, ease of doing and cost of doing business. Further, he noted that the travel from Karachi to Lahore would also be reduced to eight hours and from Lahore to Rawalpindi and freight service would also immensely benefit from this.

On CPEC, he stated that they were advancing from communication linkage to industrialization growth through agreements, stating, "our next phase is industrialization. During the 60s, the nationalization drive had greatly impacted the country's economy and exports. However, nationalization halted it and then there was de-industrialization." Further, he said that Chinese industry was relocating to Pakistan mainly because of the cost of labour and the attractive environment with incentivizing them as well as the local industry. (Mumtaz Alvi, "Pak-China agreement on Rashakai SEZ signed," The News International, 15 September 2020)

The Rashakai SEZ to pave way establishing new zones
The Chairman Board of Investment (BOI) Atif Bokhari has stated that the signing of Rashakai SEZ agreement would help enhance the vision of special economic zones' development, which would lead to prosperous and industrial Pakistan. He also stated that substantial progress had been made on the project and the zones which are now ready for business. Further, adding that Pakistan's proximity with China would allow these SEZs to promote economic interdependence for mutual economic advantage. 

The Chairman CPEC Authority retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa also reiterated that the Rashakai SEZ project would speed up the industrialization in Pakistan. ("Rashakai SEZ to speed up industrialization in Pakistan: Asim Bajwa," The News International, 14 September 2020)

The Rashakai SEZ: A short brief
Rashakai SEZ is to be developed under the public-private partnership model by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zone Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC) in collaboration with a state-owned Chinese enterprise, China Road & Bridge Corporation. The agreement is said to provide a road map for the establishment of an SEZ with the federal and provincial governments along with the developer jointly responsible for the development and successful the operations. A project of $128 million, spanning over 1000 acres, was awarded the SEZ status on 6 August 2019 and its concession agreement was signed in April 2019.

Rashakai SEZ is said to holds a unique competitive advantage due to its proximity to the first juncture of CPEC route as well as the significant resource and manufacturing base in the region. It is these factors that cause it to become one of the primary investment destinations for foreign investors, particularly Chinese investors who are looking to find new and cheaper markets to relocate their industrial base. Further, the BOI promoted the establishment of this SEZ with the intention to capitalize on investment inflow under the CPEC, inclusive economic development of KP province, creation of job opportunities, industrial development, and export generation in Pakistan. (Israr Khan, "Pakistan, China to ink Rashakai SEZ agreement today," The News International, 14 September 2020)

 
US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad meets Gen Bajwa in Islamabad . (Image Source: Dawn)

Pakistan claims ownership for Doha Talks

On 14 September, while talking to the US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and his delegation who were visiting Pakistan, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Bajwa credited Prime Minister Imran Khan for Pakistan's role in commencing the intra-Afghan talks. Gen Bajwa said, "Prime Minister Imran Khan has given clear vision regarding peace and connectivity in the region and all elements of national power are united towards making that vision a reality to ensure long-awaited peace, progress and prosperity in the region."

Khalilzad in Islamabad: The immediate context
Mr Khalilzad's latest Pakistan visit comes in the wake of a day the long-delayed dialogue between the contending Afghan factions in Doha. The commencement of the talks was with a high-profile ceremony that was attended by the Afghan government, Taliban delegations, chairman of Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and senior diplomats from various countries. According to Dawn, during the ceremony, many European countries praised Islamabad for facilitating the peace process. So far, as per Taliban's political office spokesman Dr Mohammad Naeem, the Doha talks have focused on the principles and schedule for the upcoming meetings and are yet to begin discussions on contentious issues. Obtaining a ceasefire would likely be the biggest challenge to the dialogue.

Quotable
At the ceremony, Secretary Pompeo thanked Qatar for its support and said US "will never forget the solidarity of our many allies and partners who have stood with us in the long struggle to end this war". According to the Inter-Services Public Relations, Mr Khalilzad "greatly appreciated" Pakistan's role in the Afghan peace process and said, "it could not have succeeded without Pakistan's sincere and unconditional support".

Islamabad claims to have facilitated the February agreement
The incumbent government of Pakistan claims to have facilitated the US-Taliban agreement concluded in February, got the intra-Afghan warring factions to observe a ceasefire on Eid and aided in circumventing the impasse over the release of prisoners which had been delaying the intra-Afghan dialogue; crucial for Afghan peace. ("Pakistan's efforts made Afghan talks possible, says Bajwa," Dawn, 15 September 2020)

Pakistani media on the Doha talks
An editorial in Dawn says: "Afghanistan is at a historic moment that can herald the long-awaited peace" and calls it "an opportunity for the United States to bring to an end its longest running war that has led to the death of thousands of people and the near destruction of Afghanistan." It credits Pakistan of playing a "very positive and constructive role" in the facilitation of the Afghan talks and states that it has garnered much appreciation from powers such as the US and the UK. It cautions that even a single incident of violence could derail the negotiations. The editorial opines that the return of peace to the war-ravaged state of Afghanistan would be beneficial to Pakistan. ("Afghan peace talks," Dawn, 15 September 2020)

Meanwhile, various articles speak of how violence has been continuing despite the peace talks in Doha.

 
Imran Khan calls for tough punishments for rapists (Image Source: The News)

In Brief 
INTERNAL
Imran Khan wants to chemically castrate the rapists 
On 14 September, Prime Minister Imran Khan in an interview stated, "They (rapists) should be given exemplary punishments. In my opinion, they should be hanged at the chowk (piazza)," adding that this punishment should be reserved for rapists and those who abuse children. 

Further, he stated that he was shocked to find out from the police that sexual assaults in the country were rising drastically. He also said that sexual crimes must be fought by the entire society, and not just police, stating, "World history tells when you increase fahashi (vulgarity) in the society, two things happen: sex crimes increase and the family system breaks down." The PM was making these statement in response to the motorway rape which has gone on to cause an outpouring of anger across the country and brought focus on sexual violence against women. ("Rapists should be publicly hanged or chemically castrated: PM Imran," Dawn, 15 September 2020)

Injustice is at its worst if the perpetrator happens to be powerful, socially or financially says Pakistan's Attorney General
On 14 September, Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan critically stated that the country's criminal justice system favour of the perpetrators of a crime rather than the victims. The AG further remarked, "This injustice is at its worst if the perpetrator happens to be powerful, socially or financially." Further, the AG noted that female victims, whether a child or a mother, are particularly targeted and become victims of honour killing. The AG went on to highlight the delay in justice being delivered because often when in criminal matters lack of proper investigation and inadequate prosecution allows the perpetrators of crime to have the upper hand. Further, defective investigation and prosecution, lack of impartiality and arbitrariness help perpetrators pass themselves off as victims of a flawed accountability process. While makes these observations the AG stated, "It's time for serious collective introspection." (Nasir Iqbal, "Criminal justice system favours criminals over victims: AG," Dawn, 15 September 2020)

National Assembly holds discussions over important bills and ordinances
The National Assembly has extended the International Court of Justice (Review and Re-consideration) Ordinance meant to facilitate Kulbhushan Jadhav's file for an appeal against his conviction in a high court. The ordinance was set to expire on 17 September. It has also adopted motions seeking to refer two Financial Action Task-related bills, namely Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Waqf Properties Bill, to the joint sitting of the Parliament for consideration and passage. The Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 without sending it to the relevant standing committee after the rules were suspended. The National Assembly also debated over the recent gang-rape incident on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway and the controversial remarks on the rape victim by the Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO). (Iftikhar A Khan, "NA extends Jadhav-related ordinance for four months," Dawn, 15 September 2020)  

Educational institutions to reopen after six months
Pakistan is all set to reopen its educational institutes across the country from today. They are going to reopen in phases while ensuring compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to avoid the spread of coronavirus as per the decision of the inter-provincial education ministers' conference (IPEMC). On 14 September, Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted "Tomorrow we will welcome millions of children back to school. It is our priority and collective responsibility to ensure that every child can go to school safely to learn. We have worked to ensure that school operations are aligned with public health safety rules on COVID19." (Kashif Abbasi and Ikram Junaidi, "Educational institutions reopen today after six months," Dawn, 15 September 2020)

ON CPEC
CPEC to bring peace, prosperity to Balochistan: minister
Asad Umar, Federal Minister for Planning and Development, has said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will change the fate of not only Pakistan but also the entire region of Balochistan. He attended the media conference with Minister for Defence Production Zubaida Jalal where he gave his statement. 

The Prime Minister had hinted at a special package for southern Balochistan which officials estimated it to be around Rs 150 billion which would also cover Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Mr Umar mentioned that the previous governments did not contribute to the development which is currently being done by the PTI government. (Saleem Shahid, "CPEC to bring peace, prosperity to Balochistan: minister," Dawn, 15 September 2020)

ECONOMY
Increasing remittances
According to the data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on 14 September, the overseas workers' remittances in the first two months of the current fiscal year, FY2020-21 was recorded at $4.863 billion compared to $3.712bn in the congruent period of the previous fiscal year (a 31 per cent increase). PM Imran Khan tweeted "Overseas Pakistanis sent $2.95bn in remittances in August 2020 — 24.4pc higher than August last year — in addition to the record $2.768bn in July 2020. For the first two months of this fiscal year, our remittances are up 31pc over the same period last year. Alhamdulillah". However, a decline of 24 per cent to $2.095bn has been recorded in the month-on-month inflows in August compared to July ("Remittances up 31pc in July-August," Dawn, 15 September 2020)

EXTERNAL
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to strengthen ties
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia agreed to increase the frequency of bilateral visits for strengthening the strategic relationship on 14 September 2020. The resolve was expressed during a telephonic conversation between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his counterpart, Adel al-Jubeir. The Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri tweeted "Underscoring close Pak-Saudi fraternal ties, FM reaffirmed commitment to further enhance this strategic relationship. Two Ministers reviewed bilateral cooperation and agreed to intensify bilateral exchanges." ("Pakistan, S. Arabia to cement strategic ties," Dawn, 15 September 2020)

Pakistan requests India to share information about the deaths of Pakistani Hindus in Jodhpur
Pakistan summoned Indian Charge d'affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to register Islamabad's concerns over the incident in Jodhpur in which 11 Pakistani Hindus, including children, were found dead in Lodta Haridasot, Rajasthan on 9 August. It reiterated that in the interest of justice to the bereaved family and also to ensure the safety and security of other Pakistani nationals in India, it was important for the Government of India to cooperate on the details to be shared. Pakistan urged India to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the matter and to provide access to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to visit the family. (Shafqat Ali, "Islamabad urges Delhi to share information about mysterious deaths of Pakistani Hindus," The Nation, 15 September 2020)

 


"Our strategic location and CPEC will pave the way for industrialisation...Our next phase is industrialisation. During the 60s, the nationalisation drive had affected the country’s economy and exports. The Chinese industry wanted to relocate and Pakistan offers a very attractive environment with complete incentivisation"

-  Imran Khan on CPEC.

 

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