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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

16 December 2020, Wednesday I Vol 1, No.206

PTI rejects ultimatum for PM’s resignation



The PTI's rejection of the PDM ultimatum, the Taliban delegation arrives in Islamabad, and the SCBA questions exclusion of three dissenting judges from Isa review case.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
PTI rejects ultimatum for PM’s resignation
Terms the demand as “undemocratic, immoral and unconstitutional”

On 15 December, the PTI govt rejected the ultimatum given by the opposition to PM Imran Khan demanding him to step down by 31 January, terming it as “undemocratic, immoral and unconstitutional.” Further, FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi accused the PDM of leaders for prioritising their personal matters over national issues and dared them to submit their resignations to the speakers of the respective assemblies on 31 December instead of handing them over to their own leadership.

Quotable: FM rejects the ultimatum 
Qureshi stated, “I want to convey the PTI’s stance in categorical terms and without wasting time to the PDM leadership that we reject your ultimatum. You say the prime minister should resign by Jan 31. We are categorically saying the prime minister of Pakistan will not step down. You say assemblies should be dissolved. The prime minister has said and I am repeating [his words] that assemblies will not be dissolved. The deadline stands rejected.” (Amir Wasim, “PTI rejects Jan 31 ultimatum for PM’s resignation,” Dawn, 16 December 2020)

Previously…
On 14 December, the PDM drafted and signed ‘Lahore Declaration’ in which they finalised a strategy against the government. They gave a clear deadline to PM Khan to step down by 31 January, warning to hold a long march to Islamabad to oust the PTI government. Further, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the opposition could hold talks only after the dissolution of assemblies. “Dialogue is only possible if assemblies are dissolved and fresh elections called.” (Zulqernain Tahir, “PDM gives PTI govt ultimatum, wants it to step down,” Dawn, 15 December 2020)

Jalsa in Lahore may not be a game-changer but has not been a failure either says Opinion 
An opinion in Dawn critical of the political confrontation in the country says “rationality seems to have been completely lost in the cacophony of political one-upmanship” which has increased in the aftermath of the power show put up by the PDM in Lahore. It states that the recent jalsa may not be a game-changer but has not been a failure either as the face-off continues, with neither side willing step-down. Further, the ongoing political stand-off could drag the security establishment further into the political power game. The opinion adds that a major challenge for the alliance is to sustain the momentum of the campaign and garner enough public pressure to bend the government. However, on the other hand, PM Khan has made ‘accountability’ as his weapon against the opposition, which further has brought the opposition together. It concluded by stating that the continuing political confrontation could lead to the downfall of PM Khan, for by shutting the door on dialogue, he has weakened not only his government but also the entire system. (Zahid Hussain, “Approaching a dead end,” Dawn, 16 December 2020)

 

Taliban delegation arrives in Islamabad for a three-day visit
To meet PM Imran, other govt officials to review Pak-Afghan talks

Image Source: Dawn

On 15 December, head of the Taliban's political office in Qatar, Mullah Baradar Akhund along with an eight-member delegation arrived in Pakistan for a three-day visit. The delegation is said to discuss matters of mutual interest, problems of refugees, relaxation and facilitation of Afghan people to Pakistan, and issues faced by Afghan traders. (“Afghan Taliban delegation arrives in Islamabad on three-day visit,” The Express Tribune, 16 December 2020)

Third visit of Mullah Baradar to Pakistan
This is Mullah Baradar third visit to Pakistan and is the latest since the Taliban and Afghan government took a 20-day break in their talks taking place in Doha. Further, this visit comes after the US special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, visited Islamabad and met COAS General Bajwa on 14 December. On his arrival in Islamabad, Khalilzad in a tweet said, “Tragically, the war continues. The need for a political settlement, reduction in violence, and a ceasefire remain urgent,” adding, “Given how much is at stake, it is imperative that there is no delays in resumption of talks and they must resume on Jan 5 as agreed.” (“Taliban team due in Islamabad today,” Dawn, 16 December 2020)

 

Exclusion of three dissenting judges from Isa review case questioned by SCBA
Says lesser number will give rise to questions of transparency

Image Source: The Express Tribune

On 15 December, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Lateef Afridi stated that with the exclusion of three dissenting judges, the hearing in the Justice Qazi Faez Isa review case by the present six-judge bench would give rise to the perception that dissident judicial voices were being silenced. According to Dawn, a written submission before the Supreme Court, Afridi argued that hearing by judges in lesser number would give rise to the questions of transparency and impartiality, whether well-founded or ill-founded.

Further, he said that the chief justice had no discretion to constitute a lesser bench regarding the number of judges of the review bench was concerned because judgement/order of the majority was the judgement/order of the court. He added that by not allowing at least three dissenting judges to be a part of the review bench is denying the petitioner judge the right of having a chance of the decision being recalled or overturned in the review. (“SCBA questions exclusion of three dissenting judges from Isa review case,” Dawn, 16 December 2020)


In Brief
INTERNAL
PBS data shows growth in large scale manufacturing sector 
On 15 December, data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed that large-scale manufacturing (LSM) had grown 6.66 per cent in October because of increased production of higher automobile and cement. The LSM, which accounts for 10.7 per cent of the national output, had been showing signs of recovery since July and experienced growth at 3.95 per cent month-on-month. (Mubarak Zeb Khan, “Large-scale manufacturing expands 6.66pc,” Dawn, 16 December 2020)

EXTERNAL 
Pakistan’s polio immunisation teams discuss enhancement of cooperation with Afghanistan 
On 15 December, the polio eradication teams of Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to enhance cooperation in their polio immunisation programme. Analysts say that coordinating vaccination schedules between the two countries is important as there are intertwined communities and mass movement of people across borders. However, cross-border immunisation programmes were suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (“Pakistan, Afghanistan will enhance cooperation to stop polio transmission,” Dawn, 16 December)

Government approves permit to Qatari Emir for hunting houbara bustard
According to sources, the deputy chief of protocol (P&I) at the foreign ministry approved permits to the Emir of Qatar and 14 other family members to hunt the houbara bustard during the 2020-21 hunting season. The houbara bustard is an internationally protected species. The sources said the permits were approved within five days. They were critical of the fact that official matters are moved at snail’s pace and the Emir’s “request” was approved instantly. (Bhagwandas, “Special permits issued to Qatari royal for houbara hunting,” Dawn, 16 December 2020)

Saudi Arabian and Sri Lankan envoys discuss bilateral cooperation with COAS
On 15 December, the ISPR said that the Amba­ssa­dor of Saudi Arabia and the COAS General Bajwa discussed matters of mutual interest, regional security situation and bilateral def­e­nce relations. Later in the day, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka also discussed regional security and bilateral cooperation with the COAS. (“Saudi, Lankan envoys call on army chief,” Dawn, 16 December 2020)

Will continue existing projects despite US sanctions, Turkey defence industry chief tells Pakistan 

On 15 December, the head of Turkey’s Defence Industries Presidency (SSB) said that the US sanctions on Turkey will not affect its existing projects. This includes its T70 helicopter deal with Pakistan. However, he also said the Pakistan Atak helicopter and Hurjet aircraft projects are likely to be affected. (“Turkey says US sanctions will not impact helicopter deal with Pakistan,” The Express Tribune, 16 December 2020)

140 children abducted from south Punjab from March to August, reveal report
On 12 December, Deputy Director of the Social Welfare Department said 140 children were abducted during March - August from different underdeveloped districts in south Punjab. Speaking at a seminar on human rights violations, he emphasised on the need to protect rights of all persons, “particularly eunuchs and women who are out of their homes to earn bread and butter for their dependents.” Further, the department also released a report revealing that 18 children were molested after being kidnapped. (“18 out of 190 abducted children abused in S Punjab: report,” The Express Tribune, 16 December 2020)

ON INDIA
Bulldozing bills, a common feature of Modi government, says editorial
An editorial in Dawn criticises the Indian government’s response to the farmers’ protests. The editorial accuses the Modi government of bulldozing bills in parliament. It compares the farmers bills to Article 370 and says the Modi government used “similar ambush tactics to dismantle the special status of India-held Kashmir.” It is critical of the fact that the Indian government has used two responses - cordially meeting farmers’ leaders or “describing them as anti-nationals.” The editorial quotes a farmer’s response to the allegation that the Congress instigated the protests - “If the Congress had the means to mobilise hundreds of thousands of farmers, their women and children included, the party would have won the general election.” (“Farmers’ struggle,” Dawn, 16 December 2020)

 


"No dialogue can be productive without discussion on contentious issues...Politics is the art of the possible provided the prime minister understands that and take steps to defuse the situation.”
- An opinion in Dawn on 'Approaching a dead end'

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