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Daily Briefs


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05 October 2020, Monday I Vol 1, No.150

The next FATF meeting on Pakistan



A virtual meeting to decide Pakistan's status in the 'grey list'

PR Daily Brief |

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has scheduled a virtual meeting for 21-23 October to decide if Pakistan should be excluded from its 'grey list', based on a review of Islamabad's performance to meet global commitments and standards on the fight against money laundering and terror financing (ML&TF). This plenary was initially scheduled for June; however, Islamabad got an unexpected breather after the global watchdog temporarily postponed all mutual evaluations and follow-up deadlines due to the pandemic. Further, all review processes were paused, thus giving an additional four months to Pakistan to meet the requirements.

Leading up
Earlier this year, the FATF had given Pakistan a four-month grace period to complete its 27-point action plan after Pakistan had delivered on 14 points but failed to reach 13 other targets. Later in July, the government reported to parliament compliance with 14 points of the 27-point action plan and with 10 of the 40 recommendations of the FATF. By September, the joint session of the parliament amended about 15 laws to upgrade its legal system. Further, the government has submitted its report to the FATF and its affiliated review groups and responded to their comments, detailing compliance with the 13 outstanding action points.

The FATF to review to be based on eight key categories
The FATF will examine Pakistan's commitment in eight key categories, which are to see if the country had demonstrated remedial actions and sanctions applied in cases of AML/CFT violations, relating to terrorist financing (TF) risk management and TFS (terror financing sanctions) obligations. Further, it is to examine if competent authorities were cooperating and taking action to identify and taking enforcement action against illegal money or value transfer services (MVTS) and had proven implementation of cross-border currency and bearer negotiable instruments (BNI) controls at all ports of entry, including applying effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions. (Khaleeq Kiani, "FATF to decide about Pakistan status this month", Dawn, 5 October 2020)

Recent legislations by Pakistan 
In September, three FATF-related bills were passed in a joint sitting, namely the Anti-Money Laundering (second amendment) Bill-2020, Anti-Terrorism Act (third amendment) Bill-2020 and Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill-2020 for proper management and administration of Waqf properties. ("FATF-specific bill shelved earlier, passed in different form,The News International, 23 September 2020) (Syed Irfan Raza, "Parliament's joint session adopts three FATF bills amid tumult," Dawn, 17 September 2020) Earlier in August, The Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 were passed after the government accepted the amendments proposed by the PPP's Farooq Naek and Imamuddin Shouqeen. Both the bills were passed with a majority vote as the members of the JUI-F and the JI opposed them during a voice vote. The Senate has also passed the Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Bill 2020, the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020. (Amir Wasim, "Senate passes two more FATF-related bills", Dawn, 19 August 2020)

 
(Image Source: Dawn)

Three out of four in Pakistan sees the country going in the wrong direction, claims a survey

lpsos, the France-based organization, in its survey titled "Consumer Confidence Survey in Pakistan", claimed that four out of five Pakistanis had the fear that the country was heading in the wrong direction since 2019. According to Ipsos, the survey is based on the 1,000 samples (people aged 18-plus years; male and female 50:50 per cent) collected from urban and rural areas of the country in September 2020.

Observations and Inferences

The survey also made the following inference:

First, three in four were dissatisfaction with the way things are going in Pakistan presently. 

Second, the same proportion painted a glum image of the current economic situation in Pakistan. 

Third, unemployment remained a worrying issue and had been amplified by 11 per cent people since 2019. This was followed by increasing poverty and inflation since August 2019. 

Fourth, 75 per cent of the most pressing issues were related to economic despair. 

Fifth, since August 2018, four in five continued to feel less confident regarding their job security. "This proportion was 31 per cent from Aug 2018 to Aug 2019," the survey said. Moreover, one out of 10 feared they would be laid off in the upcoming six months.

Sixth, only one in twenty Pakistanis rated the current local/domestic economy as strong.

Last, the Global Consumer Confidence Index for Pakistan stood at 28.9 in September 2020 against the global average of 41.8 for the congruent period.

Quotable

"Looking ahead six months from now, 4 in 5 Pakistanis foresee the economy getting deteriorated," the survey said. Meanwhile, 50 per cent Pakistanis expect their personal financial situation to get weaker in the upcoming six months.

Corruption and load-shedding among the top five worries 

While, in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa corruption featured among the top five concerns, in Sindh, the only prominent worry was power loadshedding. Notably, across all provinces, high cost of living is the most pressing concern. ("Most Pakistanis fear country headed in wrong direction: survey," Dawn, 5 October 2020)

 
Maulana Fazlur Rahman as the right person to lead the opposition (Image Source: Dawn)

Maulana Fazlur Rahman as the right leader for the PDM
An article in The News International lists out reasons why Maulana Fazlur Rehman was chosen as the leader of the PDM. The author says the JUI-F has strong pockets in Balochistan, Sindh, and KP. Though JUI-F suffered defeats in the 2013 and 2018 elections, the Maulana never gave up, and since the 2018 elections, he is out demonstrating on the streets. The author says the PDM acknowledged his consistency and mobilization of masses. He says the government's overreaction and nervousness have proved that Maulana is the best choice as a leader of the PDM. ("Why did PDM pick Maulana as its head?The News International, 5 October 2020)

In Brief
INTERNAL
On Minority rights
An editorial says Pakistan's general blasé attitude towards forced conversions and its alarming rate of incidence shows "how little attention is paid to the rights of minorities". It cites the complicity of local lawmakers and police as the reason for the forcible conversion of Hindu girls in large numbers. The editorial criticizes Sindh government's succumbing to the pressure from religious parties and the subsequent backtracking on the age limit of conversions. It laments the discriminatory nature of Pakistani society and says the large-scale migration of Hindus to India is a disgrace. The article also emphasized the need for a shift in societal thinking in order to safeguard the rights of minorities. ("Minority rights," The News International, 5 October 2020)

Possibility Covid-19 spike in winter, wear masks: PM 
On 4 October, Imran Khan urged the public to wear masks to avoid a spike in coronavirus cases during winter. According to the latest data, Covid-19 cases had risen to 9,425 by Oct 4 from just over 6000 cases last month. Experts believe that people's casual attitude and violation of SOPs might push the country to a situation similar to that in the West and India. ("PM fears virus wave in winter, advises use of mask," Dawn, 5 October 2020) 

Opposition reacts to PM's "traitor" labelling
A day after a sedition case was registered against PML-N's retired Captain Mohammad Safdar, PML-N and PPP have said the government's tactics of labelling its opponents' traitors will not work. Bilawal Bhutto-Zar­dari's spokesman said that in a democracy, being labelled a rebel is a medal and welcomed the rise of "anti-establishment voices from Punjab for the first time." Earlier last week, the PM and Special Assistant to the PM had alleged that Sharif was playing a dangerous game by maligning the Army at the behest of India. Sharif said that these allegations meant nothing to him. PML-N's Rana Sanaullah also asked the Director-General of the ISPR to clarify if the Railways minister and the SAPM had become official spokespersons for the Army. ("Opposition takes exception to 'traitor' charge," Dawn, 5 October 2020)

Baloch leaders criticize PDM's decision to hold maiden rally in Quetta
On 4 October, BAP's Manzoor Ahmed Kakar said the people of Balochistan reject the parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement as they had done nothing for the development of the country, particularly Balochistan, when in power. He said the PDM's decision to hold its maiden rally at Quetta was an attempt to disturb the law and order of the city. He also said that the Oppostion were helping India to sabotage Balochistan's development, the CPEC and the success of its western route. ("PDM assailed for choosing Quetta for its maiden rally," Dawn, 5 October 2020)

Two terrorists killed in N. Waziristan
On 3 October, two terrorists were killed, and one was arrested during an intelligence-based operation near Mirali in North Waziristan tribal district. The two were identified as Bilal alias Abu Nasir and Ihsanullah alias Pir. ("Two 'terrorists' killed in Mirali operation," Dawn, 5 October 2020)

7,984 Pakistani migrants arrested and deported from Iran
As many as 7,984 Pakistani migrants aiming to reach European countries have been deported after being arrested in different parts of Iran in August and September this year. According to sources, Deportation of illegal Pakistani migrants, mostly from Punjab, "Azad Jammu and Kashmir," Sindh, KP and Balochistan, continued via Taftan-Mir Javeh border in October as well. Human trafficking through this route via Chagai, Washuk, Kharan, Panjgur is at its peak. ("Illegal migration via Taftan border on the rise," Dawn, 5 October 2020)

Troubling patterns in censorship
An editorial in Dawn criticizes Pemra's order on Thursday banning satellite news channels from airing speeches, interviews and public addresses by proclaimed offenders or absconders. The order came in light of the channel airing Sharif's speech. On Friday, Pemra directed TV channels to stop broadcasting news about the motorway gang rape. The reason for this directive was the police narrative that media reporting hindered the arrest of the prime accused and the judge said such coverage would diminish evidence and may "disgrace" the victim. The editorial calls this a troubling pattern and said continuing coverage will keep up the pressure on law enforcement to do its job and ensure that both perpetrators are prosecuted. ("More censorship," Dawn, 5 October 2020)

Addressing Gwadar's power shortage key to boost the CPEC economy
An opinion column in The Nation says that Gwadar's power shortage has to be addressed in order to complement the economic benefits and job opportunities the CPEC would bring in. The city faces a power shortage and it is expected that by 2030, the actual power demand will reach 778 MW against the current power supply of 142.5 MW of which 104 MW is imported from Iran. The author says the current situation discourages industrialists who want to establish themselves in Gwadar. He urges authorities to prioritize this issue and take necessary action. ("Powering Gwadar for the future," The Nation, 5 October 2020)

ON AFGHANISTAN
"If there is no settlement among all Afghan groups, there is fear that Pakistan may yet again be in the crosshairs," says Analysis
Kamran Yousaf opines that Pakistan's leverage over the Taliban and insurgents, which was evident from the US-Taliban February 29 deal which would not have materialized without Pakistan's active support, is the reason for Dr Abdullah seeking Islamabad's help to convince Taliban for a ceasefire. Kamran also credits Islamabad as being a facilitator in sorting out intra-Afghan talks. However, he emphasizes the need for a contingency plan to avoid being the scapegoat instead the Afghan peace efforts go south. ("Does Pakistan have a plan B for Afghanistan?," The Express Tribune, 5 October 2020)

PAKISTAN'S WORLD VIEW
Realignments in the Middle East will impact South Asia, says an opinion
The article, by Dr Naazir Mahmood, opines that the developments in the Middle East (the Abraham accords) will have an impact on South Asia as well. In the context of the expected bilateral cooperations from commerce and culture to education and health, the article opines that the chief cooperation will be with respect to military matters primarily to develop technology that the increasingly assertive Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran lack. Naazir concludes that the drifting of the Gulf states towards Israel would force "non-Arab countries to realign their foreign policy". ("Realignments in the Middle East", The News International, 5 October 2020)

 


"What is happening today has familiar echoes of the past — a government unwilling to engage with the opposition, an expedient alliance forged by a desperate opposition pledging to upend the government against a backdrop of economic gloom and governance deficits, a controversial accountability process and a deeply polarised nation.”

-  An analysis by Maleeha Lodhi, Dawn, 5 October 2020

 

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Record COVID-19 spike in a single day;