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Daily Briefs


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17 November 2020, Tuesday I Vol 1, No.185

TLP to call off protest, says government after lengthy negotiations



TLP to call off protest after lengthy negotiations says the government, PTI emerges as single largest party in GB polls and CII to prepare a draft to define forced conversions

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
TLP to call off protest, says government after lengthy negotiations
TLP Chief is expected to formally make the announcement
 
On 16 November, the government succeeded in convincing the TLP to end their sit-in after hours-long negotiations, according to The News. However, the final decision is to be made after a meeting with the TLP leadership. Further, TLP Chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi is expected to formally announce the end of the protest soon after which cellular services in the capital will be restored. (Shakeel Anjum, “Govt claims TLP protest called off,” The News International, 17 November 2020)

These negotiations were held on the instructions of the PM Imran Khan by a team of government officials, led by Minister for Religious Affairs, while the TLP six-member delegation was led by Sahibzada Saad Rizvi, son of Khadim Hussain Rizvi, and eight other leaders. However, the details of the signed agreement by both the parties have not been released. (Tahir Naseer, Kalbe Ali, “Govt succeeds in convincing TLP leaders to end protest after lengthy negotiations,” Dawn, 17 November 2020)

Meanwhile, hundreds of TLP protesters took control of the Faizabad Flyover and Islamabad Expressway to stage a sit-in following a heavy clash with the law enforcing forces who resorted to teargas shelling.

The French Connection: ‘Act of international terrorism’
On 15 November, tensions rose in Liaquat Bagh as police and stick-wielding activists of TLP clashed after which the riot police resorted to teargas shelling against the protesters. The protesters had gathered after TLP chief called on a sit-in to denounce the publication of blasphemous caricatures in Charlie Hebdo magazine and remarks about Islam and terrorism by French President Emmanuel Macron. Further, they called for a boycott of French products along with the expulsion of the French ambassador from Islamabad. During the clashes, dozens of police personnel, and several TLP activists were injured. (Aamir Yasin, Mohammad Asghar, “Rawalpindi tense as TLP activists, police clash,” Dawn, 16 November 2020)

Earlier this month, the staged a big rally in Karachi in which, Rizvi said that France officially patronised publication of blasphemous caricatures by which it had committed an “act of international terrorism.” Further, he urged the federal government to “declare jihad” against France, adding, he believes that an “unannounced war” between Islam and non-Muslims have started. (“TLP holds rally in protest over blasphemous caricatures,” Dawn, 8 November 2020)

From the PR Archives: TLP history repeats itself 
In 2017 the TLP staged a blockade in Islamabad where their singular target was the PML-N. It all started when the government took down the amended Election Bill 2017 through the National Assembly despite strong protests from opposition lawmakers. The government then initiated several rounds of negotiations with the protesters but failed each time. After several rounds, the government gave in to the demands of the protesters after a 20-day-long sit-in. (“From Karachi to Paris: Global fallouts of the rise of Barelvi extremism in Pakistan,” Pakistan Reader, 6 October 2020)

 

GB polls: PTI emerges as single largest party
PTI bags 10 seats, PPP three, PML-N two and MWM one seat

Image Source: Gulf News
In the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) elections, the PTI emerged as the single largest party, securing ten seats. It was followed by the PPP (three seats), the PML-N (two seats) and Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) one seat. Seven seats of the GBLA were won by independent candidates. Analysts and observes expect the independent candidates to play a decisive role in government’s formation. Election for GBLA-03 (Gilgit) will be held on 22 November. The constituency’s election was postponed due to the death of PTI candidate Jaffar Shah, the president for PTI’s GB chapter. (“PTI emerges as single largest party in GB after polls,” Dawn, 17 November 2020)

PDM rejects results
The main opposition parties – PML-N and PPP – rejected the GB election results, while warning of protest rallies. PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal announced a march to the Chief Election Commissioner’s (CEC) office in Islamabad on 17 November, while PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto joined the party sit-in before the deputy commissioner’s office in Gilgit, against the alleged election rigging. “I am not going anywhere till the rights of the people were given to them,” said Bilawal. “The Election Commission supported the illegal acts of the PTI ministers,” he alleged. “We reject the GB elections,” said PML-N’s Ahsan. He accused federal ministers of blatantly violating the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) code of conduct. (“PDM rejects GB elections results: People buried Opposition narrative, says govt,” The News International, 17 November 2020) Meanwhile, the Center says that PDM’s “narrative” has failed.

Election results “delivered little surprise”, says Editorial
It says that despite the hot election campaigns by Maryam and Bilawal, the GB electorate, as per convention, has chosen to vote for the party ruling in Islamabad. It projects that most independent candidates would also collaborate with the PTI to form GB’s government. (“After GB polls,” Dawn, 17 November 2020)

The News calls voting turnout “encouraging”
The Editorial says that the manner in which people, including the elderly and women, came out in large numbers despite the heavy snowfall shows the eagerness to “gain real representation in their potential province”. “This is an encouraging sign,” it adds. The editorial says that the electing of four female candidates for the general seats is promising but “unusual in the more remote parts of Pakistan, and notably in the north”. It adds that it is high time that GB enjoys the same constitutional protections as the rest of the country that is provided through the eighteenth amendment. (“GB elections,” The News International, 17 November 2020)
 

CII to prepare a draft to define forced conversions
Subcommittee formed to look into the proposed draft legislation 

Image Source: Voice of America

On 16 November, the Parliamentary Committee to Protect Minorities from Forced Conversions said that there must be clear definitions of, and differentiation between, forced and voluntary conversions. The committee chairman said that the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has been asked to undertake the task of preparing a draft to define forced conversions. Further, CII director general told the committee that the council’s research wing was “conducting the research on the matter and a holistic approach has been adopted” adding that the study could take some time to complete.

Additionally, a subcommittee has been formed to look into the proposed draft legislation against forced conversions so that a comprehensive law to cover all aspects of forced conversions could be framed. Further, the committee has sought feedback from the Ministry of Human Rights on the issue of forced conversion as well. (Kalbe Ali, “CII to define forced conversions, panel told,” Dawn, 17 November 2020)


In Brief
INTERNAL
PDM defies PM’s ban on rallies amid surging COVID-19 cases
On 16 November, Imran Khan said his party had cancelled all rallies this week and urged all political parties to follow suit as the number of COVID-19 cases “quadrupled in the last 14 days.” He also announced a ban on public gatherings of more than 300 people. However, despite Imran’s announcement, the PDM said it would conduct its rally in Peshawar on 22 November The PDM’s media coordinator said “We will not allow the rulers to hide behind the coronavirus pandemic. (“Public gatherings, rallies banned,” The News International, 17 November 2020 and “PDM says will go ahead with Peshawar rally despite NCOC's coronavirus restrictions,” The News International, 17 November 2020)

ECONOMY
PM says Pakistan’s economy recovering fastest in the region
On 16 November, Imran Khan said Pakistan’s economy was recovering faster than other economies in South Asia in the wake of the pandemic. He emphasised that his government aimed to improve macroeconomic conditions and "ensure its trickledown effects." Further, the Minister for Economic Affairs said for the first time in 15 years, the current account balance in Q1 FY21 stood at  a surplus of USD 792 million against a deficit of USD 1.492 billion in Q1 FY20. He said the balance of trade narrowed from USD 5.791 billion for the Q1 FY21 as against Q1 FY20’s USD 6.146 billion, registering six per cent improvement. (“Economy recovering at fast pace: PM,” Dawn, 17 November 2020)

EXTERNAL
Bilateral trade with Pakistan increased to $1.46 billion in 2019: Thailand
On 16 November, the Consul Gene­ral of Thailand in Karachi met the senior vice president of the Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI). The Consul General said Thailand’s trade with Pakistan increased to USD 1.46 billion in 2019 and emphasised on strengthening bilateral economic ties. He said Pakistan ranked “6th in Thailand’s global investment, while it is number 2 in South Asia.” Bilateral trade increased from USD 1 billion in 2016 to USD 1.7 billion in 2018. Meanwhile, QCCI senior vice president said COVID-19 had affected trade relations and requested Thai authorities to accept Pakistani traders’ COVID-19 reports. Further, he requested the Consul General to “extend multiple visa validation up to six years.” (Saleem Shahid, “Thai envoy stresses need to boost trade with Pakistan,” Dawn, 17 November 2020)

Turkey and Pakistan to negotiate a preferential trade agreement
On 16 November, the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (ICCI) press release said that the Turkish delegation expressed interest to establish industrial units in Pakistan to meet the demands of the construction industry. During a briefing by ICCI President, Turkey’s ADO Group President said Turkey observed a huge potential for investment in Pakistan. Further, he said both the countries will negotiate a preferential trading agreement aimed at increasing investments in “transport, telecommunications, manufacturing, tourism and other industries.” (“Turkish firms to set up industrial units in Pakistan,” Dawn, 17 November 2020)

PAKISTAN’S WORLD VIEW 
Opinion highlights India’s problems with CPEC and the way forward for Pakistan
An opinion in The Express Tribune says the real reason behind India’s “discomfort” with the CPEC could be consolidation of long-term Chinese interests in Pakistan. Further, he says CPEC would cut through GB thereby increasing Islamabad’s role in the region and threatening the Indian claims on GB. Next, he says the regional hostility could have been addressed through the BRI but India “under the baggage of bitter Sino-Indian history and blinded by animosity with Pakistan, decided to stay away from BRI.” The author says, in order to respond to India, Pakistan must address the CPEC Authority’s state of limbo. Further, he says the Pakistan side of the CPEC story, backed by figures and facts, should counter anti-CPEC narratives “floated by Indian propaganda machine.” Lastly, he says Pakistan must realise the inseparability of Balochistan from CPEC and urges to address the problems in the region. (Hasaan Kawar, “CPEC: India’s new nightmare,” The Express Tribune, 16 November 2020)

ON INDIA
Pakistan reiterates position against India in UNSC
On 16 November, Pakistan briefed the five permanent UNSC members about the dossier “containing proof of Indian intelligence agencies’ patronage of terrorism in Pakistan.” Later in the day, Pakistan continued opposing the addition of new permanent members to the UNSC and said: “India does not qualify for a seat on the 15-member body.” Pakistan's Permanent Representative Ambassador said “one country [India] has waged 20 wars since independence and fomented terrorism and instability across the region, especially in Pakistan.” He further spoke on the Kashmir issue and said India “threatens aggression against Pakistan and resorts to daily artillery and small arms fire targeting innocent civilians on our side of the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.” He reiterated that India “has no qualification for a UNSC membership.” (“India doesn't qualify for UNSC membership, Pakistan says in General Assembly debate,” Dawn, 17 November 2020)

 


"The newly-empowered assembly must recognise the struggle waged by the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in the face of often violent opposition from the centre.”
-Editorial on GB polls, The News International

 

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