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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

10 November 2020, Tuesday I Vol 1, No.180

COAS and DG-ISI to brief the Parliament



The military's upcoming parliamentary brief, the IHC's remarks on Kulbhushan Jadhav, Nawab of Junagrah's appeal to Imran Khan, and possible US-Pakistan engagements under the Biden administration

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

PR Editorial, 10 November 2020
A military briefing to the Parliamentarians
Asad Qaiser, the Speaker of the National Assembly, has called for a special meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) of the Parliament for a briefing by the "military officials on the current issues of national security." It is expected that the Chief of Army Staff (Gen Qamar Bajwa) and the Director-General of the ISI (Lt Gen Faiz Hameed) would address the Parliamentarians to give an update on the current security situation.

What is the "security situation" for Pakistan, that warrants a briefing by the Army and ISI Chiefs to the elected members of the Parliament? Second, is it a briefing, or an instruction?

Despite the government leaders, starting from the Prime Minister, ridiculing the Opposition led – Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the PTI is apprehensive of the former. The latter has generated massive crowd during the recent weeks in Gujranwala, Karachi and Quetta. While the PTI expects frictions within the PDM and even engage in propaganda that the latter has started breaking up already, except for a few (including a retired military official), PML-N has not faced any major divide.

For the Establishment, the government-opposition divide is acceptable, if it is within its ambit of influence and does not affect its standing. Clearly, that is not the case now. Statements from Nawaz Sharif are targeting not only Imran Khan and the PTI, but also the Establishment. Imran and his PTI leaders, repeatedly refer to the PDM targeting the "institutions" (meaning the Establishment), thereby bringing the latter into their fight with the Opposition. Whether the PDM really target the Establishment or not, the government wants to make it as a part of its propaganda against the former. If the present trajectory continues, it would be the Establishment that would face more mud on its face.

The other major issue is the impending elections in Gilgit-Baltistan. While the PTI and the Opposition differ on other issues, there seems to be some convergence on the idea of providing provincial status to the region. It could be rhetoric, or Pakistan wants to consider the option seriously, as a response to India altering the situation in J&K. A provincial status for GB would impact its global position on the UNSC resolutions, CPEC interests and also Islamabad relationship with the "AJK". A few weeks earlier, there were reports about a meeting between the Establishment and the Opposition on the same issue. So, the Establishment may want to convey what it wants on GB to the Parliament
 
In Focus
Military officials to brief parliament tomorrow 
Main objective is to develop a national consensus on the status of GB
 
On 9 November, National Assembly Speaker scheduled a crucial meeting of the parliamentary leaders in the National Assembly and the Senate for a briefing by “military officials on the current issues of national security” for 11 November. According to the Dawn, the main objective of the briefing is to build a national consensus on granting “provisional provincial status” Gilgit-Baltistan. The briefing is expected to be conducted by Gen Bajwa and Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed. However, there has been no confirmation from the government or the army’s ISPR. 

Opposition to take a call today 
Meanwhile, PML-N and PPP declared that they had not yet decided about participation in the briefing. PLM-N vice president stated, “We have already announced to boycott any meeting under the National Assembly speaker. The party believes that it should not participate in the briefing. However, the final decision in this regard will be made after consultation with the other parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).” Further, PML-N’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly is to consult with the leaders of other PDM member parties to make a final decision.

Previously, when the Speaker called for a meeting on the coming GB elections, the opposition parties criticized the Speaker stating neither the speaker nor the federal government has a role in the elections for the GB Legislative Assembly. Further, a member from the opposition said the opposition had categorically told the government and the army chief that any move before the elections would be considered a ‘pre-poll rigging.’ (Amir Wasim, “Military officials to brief lawmakers tomorrow,” Dawn, 10 November 2020)

Provincial status to be granted after the elections 
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. Further, while responding to the remarks from the opposition he said, the fact that the opposition was criticising the chiefs of Pakistan Army and ISI proved that he had appointed the right people to the posts. (“Opposition speaking against army, ISI chiefs proves my selection was absolutely right: PM Imran,” Dawn, 2 November 2020)

However, as stated by a key minister, it was on the request of the opposition parties that the government agreed to initiate the process of consultations on the proposal to convert the GB into a province after the elections, as the opposition believed that if such a move was initiated now then the PTI could take political advantage of it in the upcoming elections.

 

On Jadhav, Kartarpur and Junagarh
Islamabad High Court on Jadhav; complaint on India's position to reopen Kartarpur corridor; and the Nawab of Junagarh's request to Imran Khan

Image Source: Dawn

On 9 November, the Islamabad High Court “assured the Indian High Commission’s lawyer of a fair trial” of Kulbhushan Jadhav. The Court also “suggested a third consular access to implement the ICJ directive for review and reconsideration of conviction.” Further, the bench suggested providing the lawyer necessary documents on court martial proceedings against Jadhav. Previously, he was denied these documents for not having a paper of attorney or from the Indian High Commission.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General accused India of double standards in case of Jadhav compared to other convicted Indians.  He said the “Indian government had recently filed a petition for the release of eight convicts, but in the Jadhav case it expressed fear of compromising sovereign immunity.” (Malik Asad, “IHC suggests third consular access for Jadhav,” Dawn, 10 November 2020)

Indian side yet to reopen Kartarpur corridor
On 9 November, the first anniversary of the Kartarpur Corridor’s inauguration, Pakistan “regretted the Indian government’s unwillingness to reopen it” which disrupted the Indian Sikhs’ pilgrimage. Earlier, India had temporarily closed the corridor on 16 March in the light of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Previously, Pakistan had requested to mutually reopen the corridor from 29 June. Indian officials were also invited for discussing safety protocols for pilgrims. However, according to a Dawn report, the Indian side is yet to reopen the corridor. (Baqir Sajjad Syed, “India preventing pilgrims from visiting Gurdwara Darbar Saheb: FO,” Dawn, 10 November 2020)

Junagarh will remain a part of Pakistan, says Nawab
On 9 November, Nawab of Junagarh Muhammad Jahangir Khanji said a secretariat of Junagarh should be established in Islamabad to build closer ties with Pakistan. He requested Imran Khan to be Junagarh's ambassador at all international platforms and push for its liberation from “Indian occupation.” He remarked Junagarh observes 9 November as a black day because in 1947 India occupied Junagarh on the same date and insisted that “Junagarh was part of Pakistan and it would remain so.” (“PM urged to highlight India’s occupation of Junagarh,” Dawn, 10 November 2020)

 

On US Elections
The US knows that engagement with Pakistan is necessary: Opinion

Image Source: Dawn

An opinion in the Dawn highlighting the new realities of the US-Pakistan relation which are post-US withdrawal Afghanistan, developments within India, India’s provocations vis-à-vis China and its aggressiveness towards Pakistan, and global transitions. In this regard, the opinion says, Joe Biden, knows that this calls for engagement with Pakistan within a framework of cooperation where convergence and divergence of policies are reconciled and the two countries’ core interests safeguarded to support a sustainable long-term relationship. The opinion concludes by stating that although the period defined by aid is over, an enhanced economic partnership is possible depending on Pakistan’s economy, adding that the future of the bilateral relationship lies both in the hands of both countries. (Touqir Hussain, “Post-Trump ties,” Dawn, 10 November 2020)

No one understands Pakistan better than Biden: Opinion
An opinion brings out three points highlighting what Biden’s administration would mean for Pakistan. First, Joe Biden will enter the White House with the strong belief that he knows Pakistan better than any US president. Second, Biden’s primary lens for Pakistan will be a combination of three administration priorities: withdrawal from Afghanistan, containment of China and nuclear stability and security for Pakistan. Third, Pakistan must understand both the irreversibility of US-India relations and the limits of these relations. In conclusion, the opinion says, Pakistan would have a natural advantage in dealing with Biden’s administration, given the country’s strong commitment to multilateralism as well as PM Khan’s demonstrated interest in climate change and anti-corruption. (Mosharraf Zaidi, “Preparing for President Biden,” The News International, 10 November 2020)


In Brief
INTERNAL
ANP accepts jirga’s apology on Interior Minister’s remarks
On 9 November, the Awami National Party (ANP) withdrew their decision to march to Islamabad after a jirga of federal ministers apologised over the Interior Minister’s remarks. The Minister said he was thankful to the ANP for accepting the jirga’s apology and reiterated that his words were taken out of context. Earlier, the ANP had decided to march to the capital over the Minister’s alleged remarks that ANP workers were killed by Taliban because of their opposition to the outfit. (“ANP withdraws decision to march on Islamabad after apology from govt jirga,” Dawn, 10 November 2020)

PDM is not just divided but confused too says an editorial 
An editorial in the Express Tribune states that the PDM is not just divided but confused too. It states that the challenge for the PDM is two-fold: to agree on a common political narrative and to stay intact. Although the PPP and PLM-N share allegations with other PDM members of the PM being a puppet, the former is not on board with the latter’s “revolutionary” narrative which not only targets the establishment but also pinpoints personalities. Trying to mend this gap is Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who tilt towards the PML-N’s stance, however, here again, a difference of opinion exists within the Maulana’s own party over Nawaz’s no holds barred rhetoric. In the regard, the editorial says that the PDM is not only divided but confused, with the crack getting more visible. (“Cracks in PDM,” The Express Tribune, 10 November 2020)

EXTERNAL
COAS meets Chinese envoy
On 9 November, COAS General Bajwa met the new Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong at the General Headquarters. According to the ISPR Director General, the two discussed matters of mutual interest and regional security issues. Further, Nong Rong appreciated Pakistan’s role in conflict prevention in the region. (“COAS, Chinese envoy discuss regional security,” Dawn, 10 November 2020)

Iranian delegation to arrive in Islamabad today
On 10 November (today), the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will arrive in Islamabad for a two-day visit to review bilateral relations and discuss regional issues. The Iranian delegation also includes Iran’s special envoy for Afghanistan Mohammad Ibrahim Taheriyan. This would be Taheriyan’s first visit to Islamabad as Iranian envoy to Afghanistan. (“Iranian foreign minister arrives today on two-day visit,” Dawn, 10 November 2020)

Opinion piece highlights possible impacts of China’s dual-circulation strategy on Pakistan
An opinion article in The Express Tribune says China’s dual-circulation strategy for the economy is apt given the global trade scenario during the pandemic. Under this strategy, China will promote domestic economic growth and focus on the international economic cycle as an add-on. The author says that by refusing to fight on the “global trade battleground set by the US,” China is “carving out a new arena for itself,” and this will have an impact on Pakistan. For example, CPEC will have less focus on new loans for infrastructure and more on other areas. The author says the Chinese Ambassador reiterated this by mentioning cooperation in “industrial development, agriculture, science and technology, information, and livelihood” but not infrastructure. He says, in the upcoming Joint Cooperation Committee meeting on CPEC, Pakistan should understand the dual-circulation strategy and focus on cooperating on the above-mentioned areas. Otherwise, the “JCC will remain a progress-tracking routine exercise with little coming out of it.” (Hasaan Khawar, “CPEC and China’s dual circulation approach,” The Express Tribune, 9 November 2020)

ON GILGIT-BALTISTAN
Opinion articles urges government to address GB issue through constitutional amendments
An opinion article in The Express Tribune says Gilgit-Baltistan residents have divided opinion over the provisional provincial status for G-B. He says this trust deficit is a result of political deprivation entrenched in the region over the years. He highlights that the demands of GB have been met by ad hoc based presidential orders; the latest being the 2018 Gilgit-Baltistan Order. The author says though the 2018 order proved to be consequential and empowered GB to an extent, the federal government should start addressing “GB’s constitutional enigma” through  parliament or constitutional amendments, to end “decades-old disenfranchisement of the people of GB.” (Mehdi Hassan Khan, “Towards a constitutional provincial status for G-B,” The Express Tribune, 9 November 2020)

 
 


"PDM is not just divided but confused too. Thus the real challenge for the opposition alliance comes from within.”
-Editorial on the PDM, The Express Tribune

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