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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

09 December 2020, Wednesday I Vol 1, No.201

Opposition is considering resignation; Imran Khan says by-polls if they do soIn Focus Opposition is



Opposition is considering resignation; Imran Khan says by-polls if they do so, SC asks Isa’s wife not to involve CJP, and the 62nd Gwadar Day celebrated in Balochistan

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

PR Editorial, 9 December 2020
PM, PDM and the two bluffs
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is clearly getting ready for the second phase of protests. After a series of jalsas in all the four provinces during the last few weeks, the PDM feels confident that it is ready for the next move. Clearly, this confidence stems from two factors: first, the success stories of these jalsas in all the four provinces. The PDM has succeeded to get a massive crowd to these political meetings despite the COVID situation. Second, the growing consensus within the PDM. While there were and there are still differences within the PDM – for example between the two main constituents – the PPP and the PML-N, the last few weeks have also forged a common minimum consensus, on which they can build the platform further. Hence, the plan to resign from the national and provincial assemblies – is to carry forward this momentum. For the PDM, it is now, or never. Moreover, it is willing to risk the COVID warnings on this.

For Prime Minister Imran Khan, his statement that he will go ahead and conduct the by-polls if the opposition members resign from the national and provincial assemblies is a bigger bluff. Whether he would do it or not, would depend on where the Establishment stands on this point. He thinks, he can convert the resignation yorker, into a by-poll full toss and hit the opposition outside the political ground. It is a risky strategy that has foxed many experienced batsmen.

In Focus
Opposition is considering resignation; Imran Khan says by-polls if they do so
PDM rejects PM’s offer for talks

On 8 December, PM Imran Khan said that if the opposition resigns, the government would continue with by-elections on the vacant seats. He said, “I am willing to speak with them on everything except giving them an NRO.” He said, “The opposition wants to instigate chaos in the country, they want the government to use force (against it),” adding, “let them have fun while I am master of holding public meetings and staging sit-ins.” Further, he said that he would emerge victorious as he was more confident than the opposition. These statements were made a day after the PDM met in Islamabad to discuss the issue of resigning from the federal and provincial assemblies. (Hanif Khalid, Mumtaz Alvi “I know victory is mine: PM Imran Khan,” The News International, 9 December 2020) (Fahd Husain, “By-polls on vacant seats if opposition resigns: PM,” Dawn, 9 December 2020)

PDM’s lawmakers to resign from national and provincial assemblies
Soon after PM Khan’s statement the PDM president, Maulana Fazlur Rehman announced that all the national and provincial lawmakers will hand over their resignations individually to the heads of their parties by 31 December. He said that all the decisions were taken “unanimously”, adding, “The Lahore rally will be historic and it will be the final nail [in the coffin] of the government.” However, they failed to bring out an agreed plan for the use of their most lethal weapon of these mass resignations. Further, criticising the PM Khan he said, “He [the prime minister] is inviting us for a dialogue. In fact, he is now seeking an NRO [a term used in place of striking a deal]. We reject his offer. He is not worthy of a dialogue.” (Amir Wasim, “Opposition MPs will submit resignations to party heads by 31st,” Dawn, 9 December 2020)

Worsening pandemic could take the political scenario towards uncharted path says opinion
An opinion the Dawn critical of the political power game brewing the country amid the pandemic says that the insensitivity of the politicians on both sides could not get worse, adding that it looks like people’s lives are not a matter of matter when it comes to political competition. In this regard, the opinion says that the worsening pandemic could change the political scenario leading it into an uncharted path as the ruthless power game continues. Further, it concludes by stating that the issue is not only about the pandemic but also the future of democracy, with the crisis of leadership becoming more evident during the pandemic. (Zahid Hussain, “Politics in times of pandemic,” Dawn, 9 December 2020)

 

SC asks Isa’s wife not to involve CJP in the hearing 
Apologises, says she did not mean any offence

Image Source: Dawn

On 8 December, the Supreme Court asked Sarina Isa not to involve the CJP in the controversy over the constitution of the bench to hear her husband review petition against the SC full court judgement in a case about the presidential reference against him. The bench said, “What you are doing has never happened in this court and now you have started dragging the chief justice [in the controversy],” adding, “Don’t step over your limits.” These statements were made after Mrs Isa asked questioned the impartiality of the chief justice of Pakistan for not constituting a 10-member full court for hearing the instant review petitions. (Nasir Iqbal, “SC judge asks Isa’s wife not to involve CJP in controversy,” Dawn, 9 December 2020)
 
Sarina Isa raised objections over the formation of the bench
Mrs Isa as well as counsel for the review petitions appeared before the court and argued on the constitution of the bench. She raised objections over the formation of the bench and questioned as to how a six-member bench of the apex court can review the decision made by a seven-member bench in the presidential reference. Further, while citing Rule 26-A of the SC, she said contended that only a seven-member bench that delivered the verdict could hear review petitions and questioned as to why the rules of the Supreme Court are not being followed. Further, Justice Umer Ata Bandial observed that at present, the bench is not hearing the review petitions but is taking up the matter of the constitution of the bench. (Sohail Khan, “Remark about CJP: Don’t overstep your limits, SC tells Sarina Isa,” The News International, 9 December 2020)

Mrs Isa apologies says she meant no disrespect 
Mrs Isa apologized to the court saying that she did not mean to offend any judge. Further, she requested the court to constitute a 10-member full bench for hearing the instant review petitions.

 

62nd Gwadar day celebrated in Balochistan
Navy committed to the development of the coastal region

Image Source: The News International

On 8 December, the Pakistan Navy along with the people celebrated the 62nd Gwadar Day. The day is celebrated to mark the merger of Gwadar with Pakistan. Apart from the various activities, the Vice-Admiral Zahid Ilyas was invited as the chief guest where he highlighted the navy’s commitment for the development of the coastal region and their efforts to ensure Maritime Security of Gwadar Port and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Further, notable civil dignitaries, military officials and local notables also witnessed the activities. (Behram Baloch, “62nd Gwadar Day celebrated,” Dawn, 9 December 2020)


In Brief
INTERNAL
Irsa announces new software to plan efficient Indus water sharing
On 8th December, the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) announced that it acquired the Water Accord Apportionment Tool (WAA-Tool) software to maintain an efficient mechanism “for seasonal planning and water sharing among the provinces.” The Comm­on­wealth Scientific and Ind­ustrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) developed the WAA-Tool after the Ministry of Water Resources, Irsa, Wat­er and Power Development Authority (Wapda), provincial irrigation departments (PIDs) and the Australian government jointly requested them. Irsa says that the software can help the Wapda and PIDs to carry out efficient seasonal planning as it “captures undocumented procedures in a repeatable process,” thereby instilling transparency and consistency in seasonal water allocation. (Khaleeq Kiani, “Irsa gets software for equitable water sharing,” Dawn, 9 December 2020)

PIC says information on assets, income of armed forces official is public information
On 7 December, the Pakistan Information Commission issued guidelines to the defence ministry emphasising that details regarding the income, tax, assets, post-retirement perks of armed forces’ officers are public information. The guidelines were issued in a response to 34 appeals filed by activists from the Women’s Action Forum (WAF); the defence ministry refused to provide the information. Following this, the WAF wrote to the PIC which directed the defence ministry to answer the WAF queries within 10 working days, as per the Right of Access to Information Rules, 2019. The PIC warned that any failure to do so would attract a non-compliance penalty on the concerned public information officer. (Kalbe Ali, “Ministry asked to provide data on income, assets of senior military officers,” Dawn, 9 December 2020)

Opinion highlights history of political alliances in Pakistan
An opinion in The Express Tribune, in the backdrop of the PDM’s growing popularity, says that PDM-like alliances are not first in the history of Pakistan. He outlines the various alliances in Pakistan - Combined Opposition Parties in 1964, Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) in 1977, Movement for Restoration for Democracy etc. He says that these movements “have acted as a propelling force against the dictators,” thereby resulting in abdication of power and upholding democracy. However, in 1977, the PNA was seen as “detrimental to the democratic ethos and resulted in the wrapping up of the constitutional rule of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” which later led to his execution. The author, therefore, concludes that political alliances “are justified as long as the democratic process is not derailed.” He urges the government to “reach out to the opposition” in order to avoid any grave consequences. (Syed Akhtar Ali Shah, “Politics of alliances and PDM,” The Express Tribune, 8 December 2020)

Pakistan reiterates plan to increase renewable energy to 30 per cent by 2030
On 8 December, Dawn reported that Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram said developing countries are likely to fail in fulfilling their environmental commitments if they are not helped to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. He was speaking at the virtual meet of the Group of Friends on Climate Change which focuses on renewable energy. He emphasised on the necessity of transferring and deploying technology in developing countries. Further, he said Pakistan would ensure that the 30 per cent of the vehicles in the country would be electric. He reiterated Pakistan’s plan which was unveiled in August; to increase “the share of renewable energy to 30 per cent by 2030” from the current 4 per cent. (Anwar Iqbal, “Pakistan will have 30pc electric vehicles by 2030,” Dawn, 8 December 2020)

EXTERNAL
KP officials discuss bilateral trade with Afghan delegation
On 8 December, the Special Assistant to the Chief Minister for Industry and Commerce, in a meeting with an Afghan delegation, said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is framing steps to promote bilateral trade. The Afghan Consul General outlined that Pakistan could invest in the health sector and pharmaceutical industry of Afghanistan. Further, he said that by increasing scanning facilities at the Torkham border, bilateral trade and investments would flourish. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment (KPBOIT) CEO said it suggested the federal government to “allow flights operation from Peshawar to Kabul for patients and other emergencies, increase the number of scanning machines at Torkham border.” (“Special Assistant, Afghan envoy discuss steps to boost trade,” The News International, 9 December 2020)

PAKISTAN’S WORLD VIEW
Opinion urges the Middle East to break away from external powers
An opinion in Dawn, critical of the external influence in the Middle East, particularly from the US, says a stable and prosperous the Middle East will be possible only if the region breaks free of the outside powers. Further, the author highlights that the region should not fall prey to potential regional hegemons - “from Turkey and Israel to Iran, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies.” The author also points out a possible divide within the House of Saud; this was visible in the IISS Manama Dialogue when Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal criticised Israel while earlier, Crown Prince MBS had secretly hosted Netanyahu in Neom. Next, the author cites recent developments in the Middle East - normalisation of ties with Israel, the assassination of Fakhrizadeh allegedly by Israelis - and says that Israel can play a significant role in transforming the region despite it being a colonial-settler state. He says Turki’s comment and the two-state solution is anachronistic. He outlines two choices for Israel: consolidate “the existing proto-apartheid state that is now being enabled by some of the most reprehensible regimes in the region,” or it could transform into “a binational democracy that could potentially serve as a Middle Eastern exemplar.” (Mahir Ali, “Shifting sands,” Dawn, 9 December 2020)

Pakistan will never stop galvanising the Kashmir and Palestinian cause, says opinion
An opinion in The Daily Times highlights the recent shift in relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, particularly after Saudi Arabia had “covert and overt” interactions with Israel. The author says that despite the Saudi Arabian statement that it would not hold a deal with Israel without peace for Palestinians, there is a sense of unease in Pakistan. Further, the author says Pakistan is also worried about Saudi Arabia’s growing relations with India. The author also highlights that similarly Pakistan building its ties with Turkey, Iran and Malaysia could be an irritant for Saudi Arabia. However, the author urges Saudi Arabia to understand that “the Kashmir and the Palestinian issues are the bloodlines of Pakistan’s foreign policy,” and it can never downplay on galvanizing on these causes on international forums. (Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi, “Israeli-Saudi-Indian engagement: impact on Pak- Saudi ties?-1,” The Daily Times, 9 December 2020)

 
 


"The political history of Pakistan suggests that political alliances are justified as long as the democratic process is not derailed. The political forces must learn from the history by setting rules of the political game and affording space to each other for the cause of democracy.”
-An opinion in The Express Tribune,
on '
Politics of alliances and PDM'

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29 May 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.29

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Record COVID-19 spike in a single day;