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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

20 November 2020, Friday I Vol 1, No.188

Imran Khan’s maiden visit to Afghanistan



Imran Khan’s maiden visit to Afghanistan, Hafiz Saeed's conviction in another terror financing case, and TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi passes away

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
Imran Khan’s maiden visit to Afghanistan
Will do everything possible to reduce violence in Afghanistan, says PM Khan

 

During a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace, PM Imran Khan, alongside Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, stated that the two nations have historical ties and said that Islamabad would do everything in its capacity to reduce violence in Afghanistan and establish long-lasting peace. "The idea of visiting at a time when violence is increasing [in Afghanistan] is to assure you, President Ghani, that the people and the government of Pakistan have only one concern; peace in Afghanistan. The Afghan people have suffered for four decades," Imran Khan said. It is PM Khan’s maiden visit to Afghanistan. 

However, PM Khan noted that despite efforts by Pakistan in the US-Taliban talks and infra-Afghan dialogue, violence in Afghanistan had risen. (“Pakistan will do everything possible to reduce violence in Afghanistan, says PM Imran on maiden Kabul visit,” Dawn, 20 November 2020)

Qureshi appreciates warm welcome

During a delegation-level meeting between Af-Pak officials which discussed regional security, bilateral relations, Afghan peace process and topics of mutual interest, Foreign Minister Qureshi thanked his counterpart for the warm welcome and said that the two countries share a "traditional and historic relationship".

Deepening Af-Pak ties

According to Dawn, a FO issued document mentions “three main strands of activity” for “rapid action”: first, the re-energising of joint intelligence services-led work by December 15, 2020; second, joint proposal for refugees' return by January 1, 2021 and finally, a joint proposal to further regional connectivity by January 1, 2021. (“Pakistan steps up Afghan peace efforts,” The News International, 20 November 2020)

 

Hafiz Saeed convicted in another terror financing case
Saeed's lawyer says he was convicted under FATF pressure

Image Source: The News International

On 19 November, an Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore convicted Jamatud Dawa (JuD) leader Hafiz Saeed in another terrorist financing case. The court sentenced him to five-and-a-half-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1,10,000. However, Saeed is already serving two sentences of five-and-a-half-years, handed down to him in February, this means he will not serve any extra jail time. This conviction comes amid Pakistan’s efforts to avoid punitive blacklisting by FATF. Further, Saeed's lawyer has also stated that he was convicted under FATF pressure. (“Hafiz Saeed convicted in another terror financing case, sentenced to 5 and a half years in prison,” Dawn, 20 November 2020)

The ATC judge also sentenced Malik Zafar Iqbal, a close aide to Hafiz Saeed, along with Jamaat’s spokesperson and Professor Hafiz Makki. The court has convicted these JuD leaders in two different cases registered by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Lahore. (“JuD chief Saeed sentenced to 10-year imprisonment,” The News International, 20 November 2020)

Previously…
Saeed was arrested by CTD in July 2019, while he was travelling from Lahore to Gujranwala. According to the CTD, JuD was financing terrorism from the massive funds collected through non-profit organisations and trusts. Subsequently, these non-profit organisations were banned in April 2019 as the CTD, during detailed investigations, found that they had links with the JuD and its top leadership. Further, the government also banned the JuD, with law enforcement agencies intensified their crackdown on numerous other banned outfits, while arrested more than 100 activists.
 

TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi passes away 
Made last public appearance at a sit-in at Islamabad's Faizabad interchange

Image Source: Dawn

On 19 November, Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi passed away in Lahore. According to the Dawn, the party’s spokesperson said that the TLP chief had been experiencing difficulty in breathing and was running a fever. When his condition deteriorated, he was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Rizvi made his last public appearance at a sit-in staged at Islamabad's Faizabad interchange to protest the publication of blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in France. PM Imran Khan along with other ministers and parties offered condolences on his demise. (“TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi passes away in Lahore,” Dawn, 20 November 2020)

Rizvi was known to be one of the most popular leaders of the Barelvi school of thought often with his harsh tone and choice of strong words. His sudden rise in the country’s politics four years back shook up politics, as a vast majority of Ahle Sunnat population, which was opposed to government policies on blasphemy issue began following him. Further, he considered himself among the protectors of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, particularly the Khatm-i-Nabuwat and Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, because of which he earned the name of “blasphemy activist” in religious circles. (“TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi dies,” The News International, 20 November 2020)


In Brief
INTERNAL
GB polls: Five independent winners join PTI, Bilawal cries foul 
On 19 November, five independent winners in the Gilgit-Baltistan elections joined the PTI. Now, the party has 16 members in the 33-member GB Legislative Assembly and is set to form the government. Meanwhile, Bilawal Bhutto said the PTI was “cheating” the independent candidates by promising each one of them the Chief Minister’s position. He reiterated that the Chief Election Commissioner played a role in rigging the elections. Further, he said the federal government will be “sent packing” by January 2021 because of its failure on every issue, like the Kashmir cause and mismanagement of COVID-19. (Jamil Nagri, “Bilawal hits out at govt as five GB independents join PTI,” Dawn, 20 November 2020)

Tech companies worry about  new internet censorship laws
On 19 November, the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) raised concerns on the “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules 2020” under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016. The law entails a blanket ban on any content critical of the government or public servants. Further, it allows for the banning content which is seen as “obscene,” and monitoring of social media apps. Social media companies are also expected to “provide the designated investigation agency with any information or data.” It could include subscriber information, traffic data, content data etc. (Ramsha Jahangir, “Tech giants threaten to leave Pakistan if social media rules stay,” Dawn, 20 November 2020) An editorial in The News International highlights that when Nawaz Sharif tried to pass this law in 2016, critics worried that it would mark the beginning of a “new era of clampdowns on free speech.” The editorial says the heavy-handedness of the State will lead Pakistanis “down a dangerous path of complete conformity and denial of any kind of dissenting thought.” (“Censoring the internet,” The News International, 20 November 2020)

Statements on electoral reforms sound political than substantive, says editorial 
An editorial in Dawn, critical of the ongoing debate between the government and the Opposition on electoral reforms, says it is disheartening the core of democracy - elections - being debated. It says that the general elections are less than three years away, it is time to stop debating and reach a consensus. However, it highlights that the current polarisation in Pakistan will make it difficult to carry out any reform; all statements by politicians seem more political than substantial. It, therefore, urges the senior members in the Parliament to “engage in some quiet discussion to forge a basic minimum agreement on electoral reforms.” (“Electoral reform,” Dawn, 20 November 2020)

PROVINCES
Planning Minister announces USD 600 billion package for south Balochistan
On 19 November, the federal cabinet “announced a USD 600 billion package for development projects” in nine districts of south Balochistan; USD 540 million will be borne by the federal government and the rest by the provincial government. According to the Minister for Planning and Development, the project will “provide electricity to over 57 per cent of the area’s population” compared to the current 12 per cent right. Other initiatives under the project  include agricultural benefits and free education. The Minister said similar packages will be announced for north Balochistan, interior Sindh and GB. (Kalbe Ali, “Rs600bn package announced for development in south Balochistan,” Dawn, 20 November 2020)

PAKISTAN’S WORLD VIEW
Opinion tells Pakistan to invest beyond strategic relations in Afghanistan
An opinion article in The Express Tribune says under US President-elect Biden, America might focus on the aftermath of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The author says Biden is likely to incorporate “concerns of allies, including those in Kabul,” and engage with experts in the US national security establishment thereby adjusting the US’ drawdown and disengagement policy accordingly. In this context, he says the US also remains concerned about Pakistan’s security situations. Therefore, the author urges Pakistan to look beyond its strategic concerns and engage with Afghanistan on the economic front. He hopes “Pakistan will find a sympathetic ear in the Biden administration if it can articulate feasible trilateral arrangements to help boost long-term stability and economic prosperity.” (Ayed Mohammed Ali, “Biden’s win and future of Afghanistan,” The Express Tribune, 19 November 2020)

 


"The idea of visiting at a time when violence is increasing [in Afghanistan] is to assure you, President Ghani, that the people and the government of Pakistan have only one concern; peace in Afghanistan.”
-PM Imran Khan on his visit to Afghanistan

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