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Daily Briefs


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02 November 2020, Monday I Vol 1, No.173

Gilgit-Baltistan: Imran Khan wants to grant provisional provincial status



Statement from Imran Khan on granting provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan; the Opposition responding to the Interior Minister statement on the Taliban threat to the former; Analysis by Maleeha Lodhi

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
Gilgit-Baltistan: Imran Khan wants to grant provisional provincial status:
Foreign Office retorts MEA's statement of GB "irresponsible and unwarranted"

On 1 November, PM Imran Khan announced that his government has decided to grant provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan, keeping in view the UN Security Council resolutions. Further, PM Khan went on to congratulate the people of GB over the development, however, he said that he could not announce development package due to elections in the area.

On the same lines, Fawad Chaudhry said that GB would become Pakistan's fifth province, adding that 90 per cent of the legislation on the region is being done through consensus. Meanwhile, PPP's Sherry Rehman said, "People of Gilgit-Baltistan should get their rights, it is included in our manifesto," however adding, that they were not approached by anyone to deliberate over the matter. ("GB to become Pakistan's fifth province: Fawad," The News International, 2 November 2020)

Provincial status to be granted after the elections 
GB Governor said that the federal government was making serious efforts to bring this region in mainstream and announced that the provisional provincial status would be granted after the election in GB. (Jamil Nagri, "'Blackmailers' will face justice, vows PM," Dawn, 2 November 2020)

FO categorically rejected the "irresponsible and unwarranted" by MEA
In response to India rejecting this announcement, the FO spokesman categorically rejected a statement of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and termed it "irresponsible and unwarranted," adding, "India has no locus standi whatsoever on the issue — legal, moral or historical." Further, the FO stated that the reforms announced by the government "Administrative, political and economic reforms are a long-standing demand of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, adding, "The envisaged provisional reforms reflect the aspirations of the indigenous populace of Gilgit-Baltistan." Further, the statement read, "Regurgitation of false and fabricated claims by India can neither change facts nor divert attention from India's illegal actions and continuing humanitarian crisis resulting from perpetration of the worst human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K)." ("Indian statement 'irresponsible, unwarranted': Reforms reflect will of GB's indigenous people," The News International, 2 November 2020)

 
Interior Minister warns the Opposition on the threat from the Taliban
ANP  calls the statement "irresponsible"
Image Source: Dawn

 

On 1 November, in a strong reaction to the Minister for Interior retired Brigadier Ijaz Shah's recent remarks in which the Brigadier warned the opposition against attacks by the Taliban, the opposition Awami National Party (ANP) called for his "immediate resignation" and formation of a truth commission, while Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) sought an apology. ("Minister slammed over Taliban attack remarks," Dawn, 2 November 2020)

Minister's statement will cause trouble at the international level, says Khokhar

The spokesman for PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar termed the Brigadier's statement a violation of the National Action Plan against terrorism and demanded an apology to the entire nation and to the families of those who were martyred in the war against terrorism. "These kinds of irresponsible statements by the federal ministers have already caused a difficult situation for Pakistan in Financial Action Task Force (FATF)… Due to this dual policy and actions, the world does not recognise the sacrifices offered by thousands of our army troops and citizens," he said. Such statements "validated" terror-related allegations against Pakistan, he opined.

ANP President calls the statement "irresponsible"

Through Twitter, the ANP stated that it had always opposed the "good and bad Taliban" distinction. Meanwhile, the ANP president Asfandyar Wali Khan termed the interior minister's statement 'irresponsible' and 'foolish'. He said that his statements discounted the various sacrifices that had been rendered for restoration of peace in the country.

Quotable

"Was the ANP fighting the war against terrorists for the protection of the state or against the state? Where was the minister when the fight against terrorism was going on?" ANP chief questioned on Twitter.

The statement in question

Previously, the interior minister had stated that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, reacting to the ANP's policies on terrorism, had killed many of the party's leaders, including the son of Mian Iftikhar and Bashir Bilour

 
Maleeha Lodhi says the current political strife could be detrimental to Pakistan
Identifies five features and three potential scenarios
Image Source: Dawn

 

In light of the fast-changing political landscape of the country, Maleeha Lodhi identifies five features of "fraught political landscape" that are posing hurdles for Pakistan in the domestic and international arenas. 

First, the lack of any easing in the war of words between the government and opposition. Its persistence of which is intoxicating the overall environment. "In the battle of pressers each side is making incendiary accusations against its opponents. Parliamentary proceedings offer the unedifying spectacle of harsh invective being exchanged with both sides calling the other traitors," she says. Second, the government's rhetoric and actions has cemented the opposition's unity; the latter now represents a "wide national spectrum". Third, the growing polarisation is eliminating the middle ground in Pakistan's politics. As a result, cooperation on issues of national importance and common interest is suffering. Fourth, despite the establishment's stated desire to keep away, it is being sucked into the nasty political game. She says that the "opposition's strategy is to raise the costs of what it believes is the establishment's partisan role while the government," thus making the establishment central in the related media debate and political tussle. Fifth, the escalating political scenario – the Centre-Opposition war – which is diverting attention from challenges to the national economy. 

The three scenarios

Maleeha says the persistence of the current scenario can drive Pakistan into an unchartered territory with no winners. First, a no-change scenario where confrontation persists, leading to a "prolonged uptick in political tensions, disruption of parliamentary business", and escalation in the verbal-spate. Second, where the incumbent government implements restrictive measures to contain the opposition and further curbs media's freedom. Third, where all conflicting parties decide to step back for the betterment of Pakistan. She opines that the first two scenarios could be detrimental to Pakistan.

Quotable

"How long can the government that lacks an overall parliamentary majority and control of a key province insist it will have no truck with any opposition party and rule unilaterally? How long can the opposition sustain its protest movement? How long can both sides ignore people's problems without risking a loss of public support? How long can the establishment pretend it can stay out of a political confrontation that keeps drawing it in one way or another?" Maleeha asks. ("Dangerous deadlock," Dawn, 2 November 2020)

 

In Brief
INTERNAL
Pakistan must reaffirm its commitment to the safety of journalists says The News 
An editorial in the News International critical of the plight of journalist says that the country which is often described as a dangerous place for journalists and most of those killed or threatened are reporters who struggle to make ends meet and work in the most dangerous parts of the country. In light of the UN's International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, marked on 2 November, the editorial looks into the motives for these crimes vary from action by state agencies, criminal gangs, mafias or from conflict and war, adding that to curb such crimes, those responsible must be penalised under the law. Further, the editorial states that until governments start respecting the role the media plays in such trying circumstances, journalists around the world will continue to pay the ultimate price for doing their jobs.

One-third of the journalists facing legal cases filed mainly by the Pakistani state are at risk of being charged under the Anti-Terrorism Law: Freedom Network 
According to the editorial, a report by Pakistani media rights watchdog the Freedom Network shows that one-third of the journalists facing legal cases filed mainly by the Pakistani state are at risk of being charged under the Anti-Terrorism Law. Further, the report states that print media practitioners are twice as likely to be the target of legal action that television media practitioners.

A society where journalists continue to be silenced with impunity is a society that is afraid of asking critical questions
The editorial concluded by stating that a society where journalists continue to be silenced with impunity is a society which is scared of asking critical questions. In this regard, the country must reiterate its commitment to the safety of journalists not just by solving the unsolved murders of journalists but also the unresolved and continuing series of mysterious abductions of journalists, the constant use of state institutions to target journalists, and the crippling censorship. ("Journalists in danger," The News International, 2 November 2020)

Pakistan ranked at the 9th position among countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free: CPJ
On 28 October, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in its report title 'Getting Away with Murder' ranked Pakistan in the 9th position among countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free, according to the Global Impunity Index. The report pointed out to Pakistan and other countries where "corruption, weak institutions, and lack of political will to pursue robust investigations into the killings of journalists are all factors behind impunity in Pakistan, Mexico and the Philippines." Further, it said, in the last 10 years, as many as 15 journalists have been murdered in Pakistan and none of the cases, killers have been brought to justice. (Elana Beiser, "Getting Away with Murder," Committee to Protect Journalists, 28 October 2020)

PTI to hold counter-PDM rally on 7 November
On 1 November, a PTI Member of National Assembly said Imran Khan would address a public meeting on 7 November in Hafizabad as a response to the PDM rallies. President of the Punjab PTI said Imran would lay the foundation stone of the University of Hafizabad and announce the construction of a 400-bed hospital in the area before the public meeting. He said the meeting was not a response to the PDM but they were holding it because they felt the need to "go to the public in current circumstances." According to some analysts, Hafizabad was chosen because it is close to Gujranwala where the PDM held its maiden public meeting and PTI wants to understand the public pulse. (Waseem Ashraf Butt, "PTI plans public meetings to 'counter PDM campaign'," Dawn, 2 November 2020)

Maryam Nawaz criticises ISPR DG, defends Ayaz Sadiq
On 1 November, Maryam Nawaz said it "does not suit the armed forces and other institutions to appear as if they are standing behind a specific party." She said that though Imran Khan and his government dragged the institutions into politics for their own gains, State institutions are for everyone. She said any discrimination would lead to a widening divide between the masses and institutions. Referring to the ISPR DG's recent remarks, she said he should be careful and professional as he is the spokesperson of the institution. Further, she criticised army officials for "alleged kidnapping of the Sindh IGP" and also pushed for holding Asim Bajwa accountable. (Amjad Mahmood, "Divide growing between masses and institutions, says Maryam," Dawn, 2 November 2020)

Maryam said Ayaz Sadiq's recent statement was not aimed at the armed forces but "by conducting a press conference, it was being portrayed as if it was." Sadiq later released a clarification after Indian media's "misreporting and misquoting." Maryam criticised the ISPR DG for not issuing a press release over Fawad Chaudhry's controversial remarks on Pulwama. ("Maryam Nawaz defends Ayaz Sadiq's controversial Indian pilot remarks," The Express Tribune, 1 November 2020)

PAKISTAN'S WORLD VIEW
Trump setting the stage for Constitutional crisis, says editorial
An editorial in Dawn says traces the "disastrous and divisive" Trump presidency as the world gears up for 3 November. The editorial says the Trump administration has "ignited fires on multiple fronts and have been on the wrong side of far too many rights issues." It lists out: discrimination against immigrants, racial discriminations, mismanagement of the pandemic, escalation of tensions with China, withdrawal from the Iran deal and Paris Agreement, and unsuccessful attempt to reinvent Middle East politics. The editorial says by being distrustful of the election process - by claiming electoral fraud - Trump is "setting the stage for a potential constitutional crisis that America has never witnessed before." ("America's choice," Dawn, 2 November 2020)

Afghanistan far from realising Doha deal, says opinion piece
An opinion article in The Express Tribune says despite tall claims in the US-Taliban Doha deal signed in February 2020, the only objective of both sides was the withdrawal of US troops. The author says the future of Afghanistan will affect Pakistan. He proposes a hypothetical situation - Afghanistan's Pakhtun population's success in imposing its beliefs on other ethnic groups - and asks how Pakistan would deal with this. He asks how Afghanistan; a Sunni extremist country would deal with a Shia country like Iran and how Pakistan will handle their conflict. He also raises concerns about the "emergence of leaders in several parts of the troubled country [Afghanistan] who are enforcing on the local population their version of Islamic rule." Further, he says the continuing attacks by Taliban also have to be addressed post the Doha deal. He says Afghanistan is far from going in the direction of the Doha deal. (Shahid Javed Burki, "Afghanistan after Doha deal," The Express Tribune, 1 November 2020)

 


"Today, I pray for the safety of those following the N-League’s narrative and wish for them to get divine’s guidance.”

 Interior Minister Brigadier (retd) Ijaz Shah

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