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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

12 January 2021, Tuesday I Vol 2, No.12

PDM struggle to continue until rulers stop oppressing poor: Fazlur



The latest PDM statement, Pakistan's first instant payment system and the dip in COVID-19 cases.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
PDM struggle to continue until rulers stop oppressing poor: Fazlur
Army rejects claims of having "backdoor contacts" with government

On 11 January, PDM Chief Fazlur Rehman reiterated that the opposition’s struggle against the government is a jihad which would continue until “rulers stopped oppressing the poor.” Addressing a rally in Bathkela, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Maulana said that the opposition parties were putting up a fight against “those who had snatched the mandate of people.” He emphasised that the opposition parties were left with no choice but to form the PDM to restore real democracy in the country. According to him, Pakistan was placed under an undeclared martial law and demanded the army to clarify “whether it is neutral or a party in favour of Imran Khan.”

Bilawal comes down heavily on Imran 
At the rally, Bilawal Bhutto said the PTI had failed to implement the promises it made during the election campaigns. He accused the federal government of “trying to NFC Award from provinces and deny constitutional rights to the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.” 

Further, Bilawal referred to the recent Mach massacre of the Shia Hazaras and Imran’s response to it. He alleged that by calling the Hazara protesters blackmailers, Imran had proved that “blood of the people is cheaper in Naya Pakistan than their life.” Next, he accused the government of carrying a one-sided accountability process. 

Earlier during the rally, Fazlur had also termed the NAB process partial. He said the NAB only filed cases against the opposition leaders and turned a blind eye to the corruption of ruling party members. (Gohar Ali Khan, “PDM drive against govt termed ‘jihad’,” Dawn, 12 January 2021) (“Undeclared martial law in place: Fazlur Rehman,” The News International, 12 January 2021)

Army responds to PDM rally
In response to the PDM’s stand against the Army and a possible move to march to Rawalpindi, the DG ISPR Major General Iftikhar, on the same day, said he does not reason with the PDM’s logic to march to Rawalpindi. He rejected the PDM claims against the establishment saying that the “army saw no substance in opposition’s allegations.” He also appealed to the leaders to exclude the army from political rhetorics. (Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Army rejects allegation of meddling in political affairs,” Dawn, 12 January 2021)

Further, the DG ISPR also claimed that the military was apolitical and subordinate to the government and refuted claims that there was any backdoor contact between the two bodies. He therefore reiterated that the PDM does not have to march to Rawalpindi; if it does then the army will serve them “chai and pani.” (Muhammed Anis, “Absolutely no backdoor contact with PDM: ISPR,” The News International, 12 January 2021)

 

Pakistan launches first instant payment system
Cash economy an obstacle for people, says Imran

Image Source: The News International

On 11 January, PM Imran Khan launched Raast - Pakistan’s first digital payment platform which is part of his Digital Pakistan vision and is an initiative of the State Bank of Pakistan. He sees Raast as a way to include the poor and informal sections of society into the formal economy; it has been developed in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Karandaaz, Pakistan.

During the launch, Imran said Raast is testifies as a milestone in the SBP’s larger goal to digitise Pakistan. 

Raast will monitor the economy
As a digital instant payment platform, Raast will be able to document and monitor the economy and thereby help in increasing tax revenue, said the PM. He was critical of the fact that of the 220 million-strong population, only two million paid taxes. Within this, 3000 taxpayers paid 70 per cent of the tax.  (Syed Irfan Raza, “PM unveils first digital payment system,” Dawn, 12 January 2021)

Imran hints moving away from cash economy
Imran conveyed that the cash economy is an obstacle for the 220 million people of Pakistan. This is because during tax collection, Pakistan lost out on the informal sector. This, according to him, kept Pakistan from building infrastructure - hospitals, schools and the like. He said, with Raast, Pakistan can focus on poverty alleviation. (“No money for development: PM Imran Khan,” The News International, 12 January 2021)

 

Second drop in Covid-19 active cases
Active cases cut by 15,000 in one and a half months

Image Source: Dawn

On 11 January, an official the National Institute of Health stated “It is the second time that the number of cases has started dropping. Earlier, after surfacing of Covid-19 in the last week of February 2020, cases started increasing and the number of active cases surpassed well ahead of 50,000. In July active cases started dropping and only 5,831 active cases were left on Sept 13, 2020.”

In November 2020, the total number of cases had exceeded the figure of 50,000, however, as of 22 January, the number of active cases in the country was 35,246. Further, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), 294 ventilators were occupied across the country. (Ikram Junaidi, “
Number of active Covid-19 cases coming down,” Dawn, 12 January 2020)


In Brief
INTERNAL
NEPRA sets up committee investigate power blackout
The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has decided to set up a high-powered committee of its top professionals to investigate the reasons and facts that led to the blackout in the country. The committee will comprise renowned protection engineers from the private sector. Further, the committee has would submit its recommendation to avoid such incidents. (“NEPRA to investigate power blackout,” The Express Tribune, 12 January 2020)

Govt plans to set up 48 nutrition centres under the Ehsaas programme 
On 11 January, the government under its Ehsaas programme plans to establish 48 nutrition centres to overcome common health problems like stunting, underweight and overweight in children under five years of age, especially in under-developed and poor areas of Pakistan. Initially, the government plans to set these centres will be set up in 13 districts. Under the three-year programme, conditional cash transfers will be delivered to vulnerable pregnant women, mothers and children under five and provide them specialised nutritious food, immunisations and health-awareness sessions. (Bakhtawar Mian, “48 nutrition centres to be set up under Ehsaas programme,” Dawn, 12 January 2020)

‘PML-N not in favour of in-house change’ says Iqbal
On 11 January, the PML-N announced that it was not in the favour of an in-house change as proposed by another party of the PDM. PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said, “An in-house change can be a proposal by any other opposition party, but we are not in its favour as it is not a viable option. To do that, we will have to resort to horse trading, which we are against. In the Senate chairman election, we saw how 64 votes (of the opposition) were reduced to 52… this game will have to be played again for an in-house change.” This comes after the PLM-N announced that it would take part in the Senate polls and any option to resign from National and provincial assemblies would be weighed after that. (“‘PML-N not in favour of in-house change’,” Dawn, 12 January 2020)

Civil and Military leadership vow to bring Mach incident perpetrators to justice
On 11 January, PM Imran Khan and COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa expressed the determination to bring the perpetrators of the Mach incident to justice. Further, at a meeting between the PM and Director General ISI Lt. Gen. Faiz Hamid the national security situation was also discussed. (“PM Imran Khan, General Qamar Javed Bajwa pledge to bring Mach incident perpetrators to justice,” The News International, 12 January 2020)

ECONOMY
Budget deficit ascends to Rs992 billion
On 12 January, The Express Tribune reported that the federal budget deficit soared to nearly Rs1 trillion in the first five months of the current fiscal year, which was largely in line with the annual budget target due to a continued crunch on defence and development spending and keeping some expenditures off the books. Further, the federal budget deficit widened to Rs992 billion which is 2.2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) during the July-November period of the current fiscal year, which was five per cent higher than the same period of last fiscal year. (Shahbaz Rana, “Budget deficit soars to Rs992b,” The Express Tribune, 12 January 2020)

 

 

"If the state wants to be serious about eliminating sectarianism, it needs to stop pretending like sectarian groups are reborn just because they change their name...Neither can the state allow a new breed of hate to take root."
- An opinion in The Express Tribune
on 'The art of blackmail'

 

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