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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

19 November 2020, Thursday I Vol 1, No.187

PDM may present its reforms as legislation in Parliament



PDM to present its reforms in Parliament and FAFEN observers report three irregularities during GB polls

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
PDM may present its reforms as legislation in Parliament
‘Charter of Pakistan’ to be signed on 13 Dec, says PML-N
On 18 November, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) voiced its decision to consider an option to present its own reforms as a legislation in the parliament. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz secretary general Ahsan Iqbal said “Since we have decided to completely boycott all the activities under the present illegitimate government, there is no question of talking to it on any matter, including the election reforms”. PDM had previously rejected PM Imran Khan’s offer for talks regarding the electoral reforms. Ahsan added that the ‘Charter of Pakistan’ would be signed on 13 December. (“PDM likely to propose electoral reforms before parliament,” Dawn, 19 November 2020) 

Sherry Rahman calls for accountability in rigging of GB elections
Pakistan Peoples Party’s Senator Sherry Rehman, rejecting the PM Khan’s offer, said the incumbent government “should first accept responsibility for rigging elections in Gilgit-Baltistan and then talk about reforms… This sudden interest in electoral reforms seems extremely dubious when all these years they have done nothing about it”. “This just reflects the federal government’s non-serious attitude. When it came to Kashmir or Gilgit-Baltistan, the PM did not take the opposition into confidence, but now he wants to talk to the opposition to get these reforms passed,” she added.

PDM jalsas will close doors for “political solution to the present morass”, says Dawn
As the opposition says their only option is to “raise the temperature”, the article details the identified phases of PDM’s schedule: “Round 1 entailed jalsas in Gujranwala, Karachi and Quetta. Then there was the nearly three weeks long break for the GB election campaign. Round 2 includes jalsas in Peshawar, Multan and Lahore (and a later one in Larkana on the death anniversary of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto). Round 3 is the long march to Islamabad (and whatever transpires after that).” Opining that PML-N leaders who do not agree with Nawaz Sharif’s statement are also forced to smile and nod, as the PML-N card is still the strongest in Punjab and they do not want to sacrifice their careers, the article predicts the upcoming four weeks to be critical for PDM and PTI. (“RED ZONE FILES: Here comes Round 2,” Dawn, 19 November 2020)
 
Meanwhile…
Observing contradictions in government policies to curb the worsening coronavirus situation in Pakistan, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah pinned down the responsibility of stopping public gatherings on the government. (“IHC order for govt: Stop large public rallies,” The News International,19 November 2020)

 

GB polls: FAFEN observers report three illegalities
Political parties must stop ‘political engineering’ and start accepting defeat, says article 

Image Source: The News International

On 18 November, the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) released its preliminary report on the recently Gilgit Baltistan Elections 2020, saying “an average of around three illegalities or irregularities per polling station,” however overall, the voting and counting processes were followed as required by the law. According to the Dawn, the preliminary report the irregularities observed were, breach of the secrecy of the vote, stamping of ballots by others on behalf of voters, and voters registered at the polling stations turned away for various reasons despite having their National Identity Cards (NICs). Further, it pointed out that such issues could have been avoided with more diligent enforcement by Election Commission of Gilgit Baltistan (ECGB). (“Fafen observers report illegalities at polling stations during GB polls,” Dawn, 19 November 2020)

Impressed with the ECGB success
The report also pointed out instances of overcrowding due to the allocation of more than the legally prescribed number of voters per polling booth which led to disorder at some polling stations. Further, it added that although the voting and counting processes were mostly transparent, FAFEN observers reported the presence of polling agents of major political parties and independent candidates in most polling stations. However, instances of polling agents were seated at a place from where they could not observe the voting process clearly. Furthermore, the report stated that it was impressed with the ECGB success in stopping political parties from campaigning and canvassing for votes on election day. (“FAFEN points out irregularities in otherwise 'orderly' Gilgit Baltistan elections 2020,” The News International, 19 November 2020)

Political parties must stop ‘political engineering’ says an article 
An article in the News International while highlighting the Post-GB election scenario says that the people deserve full credit, however, it is now in the hands of the elected representatives and the party that will form the government to fulfil the promises they made during the election campaign. The article says that one lesson that all parties could learn from this election is that even ‘electables’ could also loose. Further, the author says that political parties need to undertake serious work to ‘reform the system,’ as well as adopt measures to stop ‘political engineering’ and start accepting defeat if not, democracy will remain a myth in Pakistan. (Mazhar Abbas, “Post-GB election scenario,” The News International, 19 November 2020)
 

In Brief
INTERNAL
Punjab records highest number of daily deaths in country, imposes smart lockdowns
On 18 November, Pakistan recorded 37 COVID-19 deaths and registered 2,208 new cases. The National Command and Operation Centre said that of the 37, 34 died while undergoing treatment in hospitals. Meanwhile, as Punjab accounted for the highest number of daily deaths (17) on the day, the government announced smart lockdowns in Bahawalpur, Bhakkar, Multan, Rawalpindi, Sargodha and Lahore. (Amir Malik, “Corona claims 37 more lives in Pakistan,” The News International, 19 November 2020)

Dawn highlights the problem in the lower judiciary
An editorial in Dawn, citing a letter by Judge Sajida Chaudhry to Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed on discrimination against women professionals in the judiciary, highlights incidents of “hooliganism” by “black coats.” The editorial says lawyers go to any extent - aggression in courtrooms, vandalism, attacking organisations -  to “settle scores” or express displeasure, against a judge, his verdict, or civil society workers. It highlights that if bar associations and senior judiciary leave such actions unaddressed, it would dishearten women willing to join the judiciary where the male-female ratio is already in favour of men. It concludes by asking what factor emboldened lawyers to “go off the rails at the drop of a hat.” (“A law unto themselves,” Dawn, 19 November 2020)

ECONOMY
Economy still fragile, implement reforms without hurting growth prospects, says editorial
An editorial in Dawn outlines the possible course that the upcoming visit of IMF mission to Pakistan should entail. For the last eight months, a USD 6 billion deal with the IMF has remained suspended; it was suspended when the government urged the Fund “to not pressure it for raising power tariffs till June for full-cost recovery from consumers” as per the deal signed in July 2019. It says that though Pakistan has managed to save the economy from failing, through fiscal and monetary measures and assistance from IMF and other lenders, the economy is still fragile. The editorial therefore urges Pakistan and IMF “to find a middle way to advance reforms without hurting the revival of growth prospects.” (“IMF programme,” Dawn, 19 November 2020)

EXTERNAL
Russia, Pakistan amend Karachi-Kasur pipeline deal 
On 18 November, Pakistan and Russia amended the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) regarding the 1,122-km high pressure RLNG pipeline from Karachi to Kasur (Punjab). According to The News, now Russia will have 26 per cent equity and Pakistan 74 per cent equity in the project. Previously, Russia was supposed to completely finance the project. Further, a Joint Venture Company (JVC) with representatives from both countries will be set up. (Khalid Mustafa, “Karachi-Kasur gas pipeline project: Pakistan, Russia sign amended gas pipeline accord,” The News International, 19 November 2020)

 


"This sudden interest in electoral reforms seems extremely dubious when all these years they
have done nothing about it.”
-PPP Senator Sherry Rehman on election reforms

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