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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

19 September 2020, Saturday I Vol 1, No.137

Kashmir will be the focus of PM Khan’s UN address, says FO



PR Daily Brief |

According to the Foreign Office’s statement on 18 September, Kashmir would be the focal point of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September. The spokesman also informed that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi would virtually participate in the UNGA’s high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and other such engagements. The FO also rejected India’s request for the appointment of a foreign lawyer in the Jadhav case and expressed concerns regarding India’s military buildup.

Quotable

During the weekly media briefing, FO Spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said “Due to restrictions imposed by the local government in New York, there will be no in-person high-level participation from outside. Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the General Assembly on Friday, 25th September”. He said: “... Jammu and Kashmir dispute will certainly be an important component of the Prime Minister’s UNGA address. Let me reiterate that Jammu and Kashmir dispute continues to remain a Foreign Policy priority for Pakistan”.

On India’s military buildup

Reacting to the formal induction of India’s first five of the 36 Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft into the Indian Air Force (IAF) (which are being celebrated as a game changer by the IAF), he accused New Delhi of amassing military capabilities beyond India’s genuine security needs. Mr. Chaudhry said “Pakistan has been consistently highlighting the risk of massive Indian arms buildup as well as their offensive security doctrine and force postures, which are adversely affecting strategic stability in South Asia”. “The world community must dissuade India from its disproportionate arms buildup which could lead to an arms race in South Asia,” he added.

Highlights from PM Khan’s speech at the 74th UNGA in 2019

Imran Khan criticised the revocation of Article 370 by the incumbent Indian government; called it an illegal annexation; and highlighted the sufferings of the Kashmiris. He also criticised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s RSS inspired ideology and anti-Pakistan rhetoric. (“PM Imran minces no words at UN, calls out Modi govt for oppression of Kashmiris,” Dawn, 19 September 2020)

The 75thUNGA session will include a summit on biodiversity; a meeting to promote and commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons; and an event to commemorate the United Nation’s 75thanniversary. The UNGA session’s centerpiece, the general debate, would commence on 22 September. The upcoming 75thsession is unique as for the first time the leaders would not be attending the meetings in person. The recorded video statements by heads of states would be introduced and played “as live” in the UNGA by the respective country’s envoy. (“PM’s UN address on 25th will focus on Kashmir issue,” Dawn, 19 September 2020)

 

Cabinet Committee on Enforced Disappearances seeks reports on disappearances

During the first meeting Cabinet Committee on Enforced Disappearances, convened at the Ministry of Law and Justice on 18 September, the issue of the swelling incidence of disappearances in Pakistan was appraised. The federal cabinet directed high-level committee, chaired by the Federal Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Farogh Naseem, sought detailed reports from intelligence agencies, police and district administrations to counter the problem. The federal minister also urged participants to adhere by the mandate provided by the cabinet to figure out the causes and reasons for the enforced disappearances and submit recommendations to curb the incidence of such occurrences. The Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari was also in attendance. (“Panel on enforced disappearances seeks reports from police, other agencies,” Dawn, 19 September 2020)

Mr Nassem directed Islamabad Capital Territory Director General Syeda Shafaq Hashmi, Inspector General of Police Amir Zulfiqar and the Inter-Services Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau and the interior ministry to provide information regarding the disappearances in the commission’s next meeting, expected to be convened next week. He also raised serious questions to the police officials.

The scathing ICJ verdict

An International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) briefing paper on “Entrenching Impunity, Denying Redress: The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan” lamented that although the COIED has successfully traced the whereabouts of missing persons in various cases, no apparent effort to curb the heinous crime has been observed. The ICJ observed that the COIED failed to address the issue. An ICJ legal and policy director Ian Seiderman said “This commission has failed in holding even a single perpetrator of enforced disappearance responsible in its nine years”. “A commission that does not address impunity, nor facilitate justice for victims and their families, can certainly not be considered effective,” he added.

In March 2011, the COIED headed by Justice Javed Iqbal, was constituted to trace the whereabouts of missing persons and to pin down accountability on organisations or individuals for the disappearances. (“ICJ assails performance of probe body on enforced disappearances,”Dawn, 19 September 2020)

 

Pakistani scientist joins the governing body of Europe’s leading public university

Mishal Khan, a Pakistani scientist has been elected to the governing body of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) which has been at the forefront of research on COVID-19 in recent months. The governing body known as the council is largely responsible for operational and strategic management at a time when other public health institutions are playing a vital role in the pandemic. The announcement of Mishal Khan’s appointment was made by the chair of LSHTM Council, Don Roberts known for his position as the chairman of the London Stock Exchange Group. (“Pakistani joins governing body of Europe’s varsity,” Dawn, 19 September 2020) 

Previously…

The new addition comes in a month after Pakistan-born astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala was named the new dean of a top American institute the MIT School of Science, one of the five schools of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mavalvala is renowned for her work in gravitational-wave detection as a leading member of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).  MIT President L. Rafael Reif stated that Mavalvala is a deft, collaborative problem-solver who is a generous colleague and an incomparable mentor. The astrophysicist finished her PhD from MIT in 1997 and also received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Award in 2016. “Pakistan-born astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala named dean of MIT School of Science,” Dawn, 18 August 2020) 

 

In-Brief

INTERNAL

Opposition’s Agenda in the All Parties Conference

An opinion column in the Dawn chalks out two possible agendas for the opposition for Sunday’s multiparty conference (MPC). 1) Target to remove the government before its term expires in 2023 or 2) let the government complete its term but make life difficult for it.

To remove the government before 2023, the author suggests five ways. This includes a no confidence vote, change in the PTI’s leadership, a nationwide opposition dharna, opposition’s resignation from the National Assembly, and forging a consensus between Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman. However, the above options could jeopardisethe opposition; it may result in political chaos and even violence with unpredictable consequences.

To make life difficult for the government, the opposition can become more vocal in the Parliament and the media; these actions have so far not worked in favour of the opposition. The opposition could hit the streets provided there’s definite outcome and objective and it can sustain these efforts till 2023. Would the opposition risk to peak so early? Perhaps not and the opposition may surprise everyone on Sunday with something different altogether. (“What does the opposition want?Dawn, 19 September 2020)

Nawaz Sharif to participate in virtual multiparty conference

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif will attend a virtual multiparty conference led by the opposition scheduled to be held on 20 September. This would be his first meeting in more than a year ever since he flew to London for medical treatment. Senator Musadik Malik confirmed Mr Sharif’s participation on a show hosted by Samaa TV and added that Maryam Nawaz would be present in the meeting as well. The conference would be held to formulate a strategy to counter Imran Khan’s government over bad governance, sugar and wheat scandals and inflation. (Aamir Yasin and Atika Rehman, “Nawaz to virtually participate in multiparty conference,” Dawn, 19 September 2020) 

Sarena Isa refuses to accept tax liability, criticizes FBR chairman

Sarena Isa, the wife of Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa refused to accept a tax liability of Rs 35 million declared by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). She alleged that a “team of Imran Khan” which included Zulfiqar Ahmed from the FSB fabricated a false case against her and therefore intended to file an appeal against the order. Mrs Isa claimed that Mr Ahmed’s temporary appointment is fixed for the duration of her case.  (Malik Asad, “Justice Isa’s wife refuses to accept Rs 35m tax liability,” Dawn, 19 September 2020)

Justice Isa is expected to take over as the Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court in 2023. In 2019, the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Amanullah Kunrani accused the government of tarnishing Justice Isa’s reputation after his verdicts on two cases where he held a section of law enforcing agencies for patronage and failure. The cases were related to a violent sit-in by a religious group in Islamabad in 2018 and the killing of lawyers in a suicide attack in Quetta in 2016. (Islamuddin Sajid, “Pakistan top court dismisses reference against judge,” Anadolu Agency, 20 June 2020)

Controversy in the joint session of the Parliament

The opposition was unable to block ‘controversial’ legislation despite having a majority in the joint session of the Parliament on 16 September. This enabled the government to pass eight bills including three related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It was estimated that 53 members, mostly from the opposition, did not participate in the joint session of the Parliament which prompted the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples (PPP) in deciding to take action against the members. (“53 MPs were absent from Parliament’s joint session,” Dawn, 19 September 2020)

The opposition, however, had reiterated that they were never against the FATF-related legislation except on bills which were involving violation of basic human rights and freedom. PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal and PPP leader Sherry Rehman said that the worst kind of rigging was committed in vote count during the joint session of the Parliament. They believe that the FATF was a reason for the government to victimise the opposition leaders by calling them traitors. The (Muhammad Anis, “Joint sitting: Opposition accuses govt of rigging in vote count,” The News International, 19 September 2020)

Pakistan Bar Association organises All Parties Conference

An editorial in The News International, focuses on the All Parties Conference organised by the Pakistan Bar Association on Wednesday. The conference - attended by mainstream opposition leaders, lawyers, journalists and others - raised questions about lack of accountability, loss of civil rights freedom and crackdown on press freedom.

Though these concerns were backed by Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto, the editorial questions whether these concerns could be addressed given there is lack of unity among political parties; there are rumours that Shahbaz Sharif is dissatisfied with his own party and may be planning strategies of his own.

The lawyers and Pakistan Bar Association have, however, have given a framework and a set of recommendations which can help the country move towards democracy. (“Calling all parties,”The News International, 19 September 2020)

PAKISTAN’S WORLD VIEW

Pakistan and regional trade

An editorial in the Dawn, explains why Pakistan has poor trade relations with South Asian countries except Sri Lanka as Pakistan has decided to establish markets along borders with Afghanistan and Iran to boost trade. It highlights that Pakistan’s exports to and imports from neighbouring countries fell between 2011 and 2018.

Trade relations with India have been hindered due to the Kashmir dispute. Due to this, Pakistan has limited access to markets beyond India. On the west, though Afghanistan remains an important trade partner, internal security issues and a trust gap between the two states restrict trade. This also blocks Pakistan’s access to other Central Asian markets and seals the fate of a trade corridor connecting South Asia with the Central Asian Republics. Pakistan can access these markets through China but that route that remains closed five months owing to the harsh weather

Intra-regional trade is important for in economic development and GDP growth. Regional trade constitutes 65 percent of the EU’s international trade.  This figure is 35 percent and 25 percent in East Asia and Southeast Asia respectively while it is a mere 5 percent in South Asia. Pakistan alone cannot resolve the intra-regional trade issue; all stakeholders should work towards regional cooperation for faster economic growth and peace in the region. (“Regional Trade,” Dawn, 19 September 2020)

Arab Cultural Narcissism

An opinion column in theDawn cautions Pakistan about the cultural narcissism that has prevailed in the Arab world. The author outlines that Arab nations, which have understood that the oil economy will eventually fall, are pumping money into science and education. Though a respectable science journal praises Arab countries’ progress - going by the number of research papers published from universities - there is no other evidence to support the narrative of the Arab world being a scientific powerhouse.

The author says that Arab culture is self-absorbed and self-congratulatory; it is narcissistic. The culture fails to be innovative and lives in the glorious past of Islamic achievements.

There are some signs of hope today in the Arab world; many are moving up the learning curve. There is wider media access and more personal freedoms, particularly for women. With these arguments, the author shifts focus to Pakistan.

Referring to Pakistanis’ new-found obsession with the Ertugrul drama series, the author says the country is building its own narcissistic illusions based on its Turkic-Islamic past. Further, under the PTI’s Single National Curriculum, there is increased religious content and rote-learning and an absence of world history, philosophy, epistemology, or comparative religions. (“Arab Cultural Narcissism.”Dawn, 19 September 2020)

India and Afghanistan

An opinion column in The Nation, claims that India is derailing the peace process in Afghanistan. The authors say that India, which has invested around $3bn into Afghanistan in the last 15 years, was “fuelling the war machine.”

The authors believe that “India armed the Afghan forces as well as terrorist entities like IS and TTP with a view to target Taliban freedom fighters.” According to the article, India’s objectives in the region were to befriend anti-Pakistan outfits and penetrate the area east of River Indus including Balochistan to support proxy war against Pakistan.

The column further says that as the Taliban regime fell, India and the RAW’s facade came down as Afghanistan later became the centre of the power game led by the US and approximately 40 intelligence agencies pursuing individual agendas. To support this claim, the authors point out to Indian Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat insisting on talking to the Taliban during the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi.

The authors conclude by urging Afghanistan to “realise that the RAW and Indian government has blood of many of the Taliban martyrs on their hands.” (“How India targets Afghanistan,”The Nation, 19 September 2020)

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