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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

17 September 2020, Thursday I Vol 1, No.135

The need for a twin strategy in south Balochistan:



Militancy and misgovernance is a dual problem for the province. So is Islamabad and Establishment

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

As a part of a series on Balochistan, a report in Dawn, on the southern district highlights the need for two primary strategies in the southern districts of the province. ("Banking on twin strategies," Dawn, 17 September 2020) Part one of the series was published on 16 September. Titled "Compensating for neglect," the first part looked at the following districts - Gwadar, Kech (Turbat), Panjgur, Awaraan and Lasbela, with the port at Gwadar in the background. About the region, it said: "This region wears the scars of state neglect. Much needs to be done to pull it into the national mainstream — and it needs to be done fast."

The second part looks at Turbat, Panjgur and Awaran districts through the prism of what has been transformed (or not) during the recent years, with militancy and development in the background. The report says: "This remains a troubled area, but officials say the situation has improved significantly in the last few years. Former chief minister Dr Malik acknowledges this."

The report underlines the need for the State to pursue a two-prong strategy – "economic and social development" coupled with political outreach to those presently outside the system."

The deadly duo: Militancy and Mis-Governance in Balochistan
On Awaraan district, the report talks about how, despite militancy, misgovernance has resulted in the under-development. The report highlights the level of corruption, and how the projects remain more on the paper, with nothing to show in the ground. The report says: "One example explains this: A project was approved, one per cent of work was done, and 90pc of payment was made. Project over."

Undoubtedly, misgovernance and militancy are a deadly duo. Not only in Balochistan, but also elsewhere in South Asia.

Will the CPEC change the above?
The second part of the report concludes with the CPEC as an opportunity to develop these districts. It says: "With CPEC rolling out swiftly, highways and motorways being carpeted across the region and the Gwadar port promising greater shipping traffic, an industrial zone and enhanced energy production, there is a real chance that Balochistan could reap the benefits of development. The security situation is getting…The provincial government needs to focus now on upgrading its system of governance so that money allocated equals money spent. If all these various initiatives are implemented as planned, Pakistan may have a real shot at integrating Balochistan ever deeper into the federation by providing the people of the province the opportunities, facilities and rights enjoyed by the citizens in other parts of Pakistan."

Establishment and Islamabad: The other deadly duo for Balochistan
Across South Asia, there is a general perception, that if the security is improved and economic development takes place, the situation is bound to improve. The argument goes – all that needs to be done is better governance by the provincial government. Such an argument misses a crucial point – the federal-provincial relationship (or the lack of it), and the strategy of the federal government to fire through the shoulders of security forces.

In Pakistan's case, there is an added problem. Along with Islamabad trying to fire through the shoulders of the military to govern, the Establishment also fire the province through Islamabad shoulders. That is a deadly duo and the real problem for Balochistan. Along with misgovernance and militancy in the province.

 
There has been a series of actions targeting the media and journalists in Pakistan. (Image Source: compiled by PR)

Enforced Disappearances and Media Freedom:
Dawn's editorial says "Gen Qamar Bajwa would also earn plaudits were he to distance the army from civilian affairs"

The editorial argues that although the right to freedom of speech is subject to "reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of … the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan" according to the Constitution, in reality, the subjects off-limits for the common citizenry constitutes a long list. If a journalist or commoner foregoes these unwritten rules, then it is "at their peril". 

The Vile Backdrop
The editorial comes in the wake of the arrest of Asad Ali Toor, on 14 September, a journalist based in Islamabad, on charges of maligning state institutions through social media. The journalist has been booked under sections 499 (Defamation), 500 (punishment for defamation) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief). The charges against him include sections 11 (hate speech), 37 (unlawful online content) and 20 (offences against the dignity of a person) of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act 2016. The complainant Ehtisham Ahmed is a resident of Rawalpindi. ("Journalist Asad Ali Toor booked for 'maligning state institutions'," Express Tribune, 15 September 2020) Previously, on 11 September, another journalist Absar Alam was booked on similar charges. The complainant, Chaudhry Naveed Ahmed accused Alam of using "extremely vulgar" language against PM Imran Khan and Pakistan Army, which according to him was tantamount to "treason". Earlier, Bilal Farooqi, a senior journalist associated with The Express Tribune, was booked for allegedly "defaming" the Army by posting "objectionable" content on social media. The complainant claimed that Farooqi had posted "highly provocative posts" against the Army. ("FIR registered against journalist Asad Toor for 'negative propaganda' against Army," Dawn, 17 September 2020)

The Editorial Opines
The Dawn editorial says that this heightened sensitivity extends a "blanket immunity" to certain persons. It says that citing the need for "national security" for the arrests such as that of Alam, Farooqi and Toor is a "specious use of the term". It opines that attempts in the National Assembly to make anyone who "intentionally ridicules, brings into disrepute or defames the armed forces of Pakistan or a member thereof" liable for "imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with a fine up to Rs500,000 or both" are unreasonable and dangerous for the federation. It states that while Pakistan shows no lack of admiration for the Pakistan Army and its soldiers who sacrifice themselves for the sake of the country's national territorial integrity, the Army must stay away from governance and policymaking and remain within its constitutional bounds. The editorial adds that "Gen Qamar Bajwa would also earn plaudits were he to distance the army from civilian affairs" like Gen Jehangir Karamat. It concludes by calling for the Army's tolerance towards constructive criticism.

Meanwhile…
The Senate Human Rights Committee Chairman Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar made a statement saying that the panel had taken notice of the FIR against Alam. Adding that the panel had demanded an explanation from the district police officer, he asked: "Parliament will keep on raising its voice but would the superior judiciary also take note?"

Significant recent developments
In August, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) held a sit-in to highlight the issue of enforced disappearances, particularly that of Shia persons. The protest ended after the federal minister for ports and shipping Ali Haider Zaidi gave assurances. ("Sit-in against 'enforced disappearances' of Shia persons ends on minister's assurances," Dawn, 17 August 2020) On 1 September, during a webinar organized by the HRCP to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, activists called for legislation to stop and tackle the issue. ("Activists call for legislation to stem enforced disappearances," Dawn, 1 September 2020) On 7 September, the Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Athar Minallah, expressing serious concern regarding the rising number of enforced disappearances in Islamabad, directed that PM Khan be briefed in order to devise a policy for the protection of the citizens' fundamental rights. ("IHC wants PM briefed on enforced disappearances," Dawn, 8 September 2020)

Previously, the illegal and unjustified detention of the editor in chief of the Geo TV/Jang Group of Newspapers Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman by the National Accountability Bureau had called for international attention and criticism. The recent Human Rights Watch report painted a glum image of the state of freedom of media, freedom of expression and related attacks on the civil society. Meanwhile, the World Press Freedom Index ranked Islamabad as the most dangerous region for journalists

On the need for free media and against enforced disappearances
An analysis written by IA Rehman in Dawn has been critical of Pakistan's response to criticisms. He cites the example of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) asking Islamabad not to extend the tenure of its Commission of Inquiry into Enforced Disappearances (COIED) as it failed to fulfil the objectives. This has been followed by a statement by Human Rights Watch (HRW) titled "Pakistan's Hypocrisy on Press Freedom: Editor's Jailing Shows Reality of Media Crackdown." The author further explains that despite the persistent demand by civil organizations, the COIED's report has not been released. He mentions that declaring enforced disappearances as a crime should be emphasized. (IA Rehman, "Listen to the critics," Dawn, 17 September 2020) 

 
Three new FATF bills were passed by the Parliament (Image Source: The News)

In Brief 
INTERNAL

Pakistan Parliament's joint session: Three FATF bills adopted amid confusion
On 16 September 2020, the government passed eight bills in the Parliament which included three Financial Action Task Force (FATF) bills and two others to bring in Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC). The joint session of Parliament was summoned by President Dr Arif Alvi to get the FATF-related bills passed. The opposition objected to the move done by Dr Babar Awan to present the bill as only a Member of National Assembly alone can do so. There was a ruckus over the proceedings where even a senator from Jamaat-i-Islami, Mushtaq Ghani accused the National Assembly Speaker of "passing legislations illegally." The three FATF-related bills passed include: Anti-Money Laundering (second amendment) Bill 2020, Anti-Terrorism Act (third amendment) Bill and Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill 2020. (Syed Irfan Raza, "Parliament's joint session adopts three FATF bills amid tumult," Dawn, 17 September 2020)

ON NAWAZ SHARIF
IHC directs govt to execute Nawaz Sharif's warrants through Pak HC in UK
The Islamabad High Court directed the government to comply with the issuance of non-bailable arrest warrant for former PM Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia case. The Court ruled the government to execute Sharif's warrants through the Pakistan High Commission in the United Kingdom. 

The Court noted that since Sharif's lawyers failed to satisfy the bench, an appeal regarding the exemption of the former prime minister from the hearings was rejected. Earlier, the IHC had ordered Nawaz Sharif to surrender and appear on 10 September in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference. The Court had earlier rejected Sharif's plea seeking exemption from Court hearings and directed to initiate proceedings and declare Sharif a proclaimed offender. Sharif, stating medical reasons had earlier requested the Court and the IHC to nullify its ruling and allow him to become a part of the court proceedings through his representative. ("IHC directs govt to execute Nawaz Sharif's warrants through Pak HC in UK," The News International, 17 September 2020)

Editorial on Nawaz Sharif's return 
An editorial in the Dawn throws light on the crossroads that former PM Nawaz Sharif is at. The editorial says that Sharif has the choice of continuing to take refuge in London for medical reasons or to adhere to the issuance of a non-bailable warrant for his arrest by the IHC on Tuesday.

However, the mysterious medical grounds that Sharif resorts to paves way for wide speculation and has a debilitating effect on the personality that was in the making after he was brought down from power. Though PML-N leaders would voice out their support for their leader's right to avail the best medical treatment abroad, others would wonder why Sharif has not been in hospital undergoing treatment. The two choices finally narrow down to - he can continue with his narrative that he is being targeted as part of a selective accountability drive or he can pass on leadership to someone he believes to be capable. ("Comeback Formula," Dawn, 17 September 2020)

Al-Azizia case: Islamabad High Court temporarily disposes of Nawaz Sharif's appeal against the order
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) dismissed a petition of Nawaz Sharif seeking hearing of his approval on merit with respect to Al-Azizia case. The petition stated, "decision regarding the disposal of the appeal of the appellant on merit under Section 423 CrPC (criminal procedure code) shall be taken after the procedure for procuring the attendance of the appellant is completed." However, the dismissal is temporary as the IHC will start hearing appeals against the conviction of the former Prime Minister. Mr Sharif's counsel Khwaja Haris Ahmed had cited a number of judgements including the trial of General Pervez Musharraf where the judiciary granted him the right of an audience even after being declared as a proclaimed offender. Further hearing has been adjourned till 22 September. ("IHC disposes of Nawaz's appeal against order in Al-Azizia case, for now," Dawn, 17 September 2020)

ON AFGHANISTAN
A new terminal opened for trade with Afghanistan
Pakistan has opened yet another trade terminal for trade with Afghanistan at the border in Badini in Balochistan's Qila Saifullah district. Inaugurating the terminal, the Chief Minister Alyani, said that the terminal would boost economic activities which would generate employment opportunities for the local people. This development comes in after the business community had been demanding for a new terminal as the Chaman gateway was overburdened. (Saleem Shahid, "Another terminal for trade with Afghanistan opened," Dawn, 17 September 2020)

Are the Afghans, destined to lose? 
An opinion in the Express Tribune by Imran Jan argues the case and presents a grim picture on the lives of the ordinary Afghan population due to the policies of external powers in the country. The author talks about the outcome of a US withdrawal from the country which could unleash another wave of bloodshed. (Imran Jan, "Afghans – destined to lose," The Express Tribune, 17 September 2020) 

PAKISTAN'S WORLD VIEW
Palestine and Peace 
An editorial in the News International criticizes individual Arab nations being pressured into signing agreements with Washington to address the Palestinian question. It highlights the problem that just signing accords worked out by Washington, in cooperation with Israel, does not put an end to the suffering of Palestinians. It brings out the irony of such agreements, through an example - the same day that Bahrain signed an accord with the White House recognizing Israel, Israel fired 10 missiles into Palestine. 

It suggests forming an international panel, urging the UN and other nations to work together to ensure peace in the Middle East. ("Palestine and Peace"The News International, 17 September 2020)

China's national security strategy
An article by Inam ul Haque in The Express Tribune highlights China's national security strategy. He talks about China's NSS which fuses with aspects like population security, cultural, economic, political, science and technology security and many more. The author explains the various stages of the transformation in NSS. The first stage was the "One-side-Learning" strategy in the 1950s and 1960s followed by "the Double-Anti" strategy during the 1960s, "the Three-Worlds Strategy" of the early 1970s, "One-Line-One Large-Area" in the late 1970s and 80s and "Go Out Policy" since the 1990s. Mr Haque states that China's NSS today constitutes continued economic/military construction, international cooperation to oppose hegemony, improving ties with the West and others. (Inam ul Haque, "The construct of China's national security strategy,The Express Tribune, 17 September 2020)

"Pakistan needs to be closer to Russia", argues an analysis
An article written by FS Aijazuddin in the Dawn highlights the necessity for Pakistan to be closer to Russia. He gives a chronological picture of the relation between the two countries since 1947 when Pakistan had just gained independence while Russia was Soviet Union ruled by Stalin till the end of the Cold War which took place due to the disintegration of the communist nation. The author talks about the hostility that began with Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan snubbing Stalin's invitation to Moscow in 1949 and subsequently joining SEATO in 1954. The hostility was seen even when Pakistan fought major wars with India. Mr Aijazuddin mentions that Russia's rise under Vladimir Putin over 20 years was under-advertised and states that Pakistan has forged closer ties with Moscow ever since the latter took a conciliatory step by supporting its admission into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). (FS Aijazuddin, "The fourth R," Dawn, 17 September 2020) 

 


"Although it [IHC’s decision] is against us, we respect it, as we respect all decisions of courts. Respecting the decision of the courts is a founding principle of our party"

-  Khawaja Asif, a senior leader of the PML-N on the Court's decision on Nawaz Sharif to issue a non-bailable warrant

 

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23 June 2020, Tuesday, Vol 1, No.56

Imran Khan says he was against the idea of lockdown

21 June 2020, Sunday, Vol 1, No.54

Pakistan This Week

20 June 2020, Saturday, Vol 1, No.53

Budgets presented in KP, and in Gilgit-Baltistan

19 June 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.52

PTI tries to get the BNP back into coalition,

18 June 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.51

Baloch partner of the PTI government leaves the coalition

15 June 2020, Monday, Vol 1, No.48

The PTI government invites the PTM for a dialogue

14 June 2020, Sunday, Vol 1, No.47

Pakistan This Week

13 June 2020, Saturday, Vol 1, No.46, Special Brief

Pakistan Budget 2020-21: The First Cut

12 June 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.44, Special Brief

Pakistan’s Economic Survey 2019-20

07 June 2020, Sunday I Vol 1, No.38

Pakistan This Week

05 June 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.36

Highest COVID Spike

04 June 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.35

Imran receives a briefing at the ISI HQ

03 June 2020, Wednesday, Vol 1, No.34

Covid cases spike and Lahore becomes the epicentre

01 June 2020, Monday, Vol 1, No.32

Drivers of Karachi Violence

30 May 2020, Saturday, No 1, No.30

Gwadar port ready for the Afghan goods

29 May 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.29

Pakistan remembers 28 May Nuclear Tests

24 May 2020, Sunday, Vol 1, No.24

Pakistan This Week

22 May 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.22

The missing girls of Pakistan

21 May 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.21

Locusts threaten Pakistan's food security

17 May 2020, Sunday, Vol 1, No 17

Pakistan This Week

15 May 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.15

Disregard for SOPs peaks Covid-19 cases

14 May 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No 14

Violence in Afghanistan and the Media in Pakistan

12 May 2020, Tuesday, Vol 1, No 12

Smart Lockdown, SOPs vs Social Realities

9 May 2020, Saturday, Vol 1, No 9

Record COVID-19 spike in a single day;