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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

11 February 2021, Thursday I Vol 2, No.42

Government approves 25 per cent increase in employees’ salary



The protest by federal government employees, the PTI's selection of candidates for the Senate elections, and the IHC summons of 17 lawyers.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
Government approves 25 per cent increase in employees’ salary 
Opposition leaders criticise handling of protesting employees

Image Source: Dawn
 

On 11 February (today), the Defence Minister said the government had approved a 25 per cent increase in salaries of grade 1 to 19 of federal government employees. He said the approval was done on an ad hoc basis; "it would be added to the pay scales in the budget" in the upcoming session in June. (Munawer Azeem, "Govt approves 25pc increase in salaries of protesting employees," Dawn, 11 February 2021) On the same day, the Interior Minister called for the release of all government employees who were arrested during their protests on 10 February. The government delegation had engaged in talks with the employees' representatives after protests turned violent on 10 February. (“After police, protesters clash in Islamabad's Red Zone, govt ready to give salary increase,” The News International, 11 February 2021)

Islamabad comes to a standstill
On 10 February, Islamabad witnessed a long day of clashes between federal government employees, protesting for hike in salaries, and the police. The police fired tear gas and held a baton charge at protesting employees who were heading towards the Parliament house. Further, the police blocked the Srinagar highway, leading to a massive traffic jam. Prior to this, employees of the Federal Directorate of Education are also believed to have blocked the highway. Apart from violent clashes, government employees - including those working in the  Secretariat, Cabinet Division and Kohsar Complex - refused to attend work thereby leading to  the closure of government offices. (“Islamabad turns into ‘war zone’ as govt employees clash with police,” The Nation, 22 February 2021)

The demand for salary hike
The protesters are demanding a 40 per cent salary hike to keep in line with the current inflation in the country. Previously, the government had announced a 24 per cent increase in salaries for grades 1 to 16 employees. The Interior Minister said the employees are now demanding the increase in salaries to be extended till grade 22. This, he said, was “impossible for the government as the country was facing a financial crunch.” (Munawer Azeem, “Police, govt employees clash in Islamabad as pay raise protest turns unruly,” Dawn, 11 February 2021)

Opposition leaders react to violence
On the same day, Maryam Nawaz took to Twitter to say the protesting employees “are not enemies but poor Pakistanis who are asking for their rights.” Similarly, Bilawal Bhutto said the “PTI regime had resorted to highhandedness against the employees instead of listening to their genuine grievances.” (“'For God's sake, stop this merciless torture': Maryam Nawaz backs govt employees protest,” The News International, 11 February 2021)

 

PTI to not invite applications for Senate elections
ECP to announce elections today

Image Source: Dawn

On 11 February, Dawn reported that the PTI was not inviting applications for the upcoming Senate elections. Instead, candidates will be chosen on the recommendations of a parliamentary board headed by PM Imran Khan. Members of the board will recommend names from their respective provinces. 

Decision triggers resentment within party
According to Dawn’s sources, PTI members in Punjab and Islamabad have expressed resentment over this step. The members believe, the PTI leadership will “award tickets” to some who are perceived to be “outsiders”. 

On 10 February,  PTI office-bearers and activists from Islamabad said they will not accept an “imported candidate” on the Senate seats reserved from the capital city. Additional regional secretary general of the PTI said party workers from Islamabad will not “tolerate any candidate from other provinces to get the party ticket from the capital.” (Amir Wasim, “PTI to finalise Senate candidates without inviting applications,” Dawn, 11 February 2021)

Meanwhile…
The Election Commission of Pakistan will announce the Senate elections schedule on 11 February (today). Sources in Dawn said 3 March will be the probable date. However, the ECP has not confirmed the electoral process amid the controversy on the voting procedure.  (Iftikhar A Khan, “ECP to give Senate polls schedule today amid voting controversy,” Dawn, 11 February 2021)

 

IHC summons 17 lawyers for involvement in violence 
Chief Justice calls on bar councils to hold lawyers accountable

Image Source: Dawn

On 10 February, the Islamabad High Court summoned 17 lawyers on charges of contempt of court. The lawyers have been accused of being a “part of a mob/crowd” of advocates which stormed the IHC chambers with intents to intimidate judges and bring disrespect and disrepute to the court. The lawyers are expected to submit an explanation within seven days and appear in person on 18 February. (Malik Asad, “IHC summons 17 lawyers in contempt of court case,” Dawn, 11 February 2021)

Violence by lawyers, a disgrace to legal fraternity, says IHC CJ
On the same day, IHC Chief Justice said the violence by lawyers on 8 February was a disgrace to the whole legal fraternity. He said, “a group of some 100 lawyers had earned a bad name for the legal fraternity while 95 percent professional lawyers had to face embarrassment due to a five percent’s wrongdoings.” Further, he said bar councils must hold the lawyers involved in the incident accountable for vandalising a sacred institution. (“IHC building attack: Five percent lawyers brought disgrace to whole fraternity: IHC CJ,” The News International, 11 February 2021)


In Brief
INTERNAL
SC ruled against death penalty for inmates with mental ailment 
On 10 February, the Supreme Court in a ruling announced, “We hold that if a condemned prisoner, due to mental illness, is found to be unable to comprehend the rationale and reason behind his/her punishment, then carrying out the death sentence will not meet the ends of justice.” However, the court explained that not every mental illness shall automatically qualify for an exemption from carrying out the death sentence, adding that exemption will be applicable only in a case where a medical board certifies after a thorough examination and evaluation of the prisoner. Further, the court ordered the replacement of terms like ‘unsoundness of mind’ and ‘lunatic’ with ‘mental illness’ or ‘mental disorder’ in PPC, CrPC and Prison Rules. (“No death penalty for inmates with mental ailment: SC,” Dawn, 11 February 2021) 

PROVINCE
Law and order situation has improved in Balochistan, says governor 
On 10 February, Balochistan Governor stated the law-and-order situation in the province is much better than in the past due to the sacrifices rendered by security agencies. While highlighting the difficulties in reaching out to the people, the governor said that the current government was making all efforts to provide basic amenities across the province. Further, he stated that CPEC is a game-changer for the entire region and investors could take financial benefit by investing in mineral and other sectors in Balochistan. (“Law & order situation has improved, says governor,” Dawn, 11 February 2021) 

ECONOMY
TERF records the highest increase of Rs 51 billion in one week
On 11 February, Dawn reported that the Temporary Economic Refinance Facility (TERF) has recorded the highest increase of Rs 51 billion during one week, which ended on 28 January. The total amount has reached over Rs 374 billion. The State Bank of Pakistan said the TERF, which was introduced to counter the negative impact of Covid-19 had shown significant growth over the last 10 months. (Shahid Iqbal, “Record Rs51bn financing in a week under Temporary Economic Refinance Facility,” Dawn, 11 February 2021)

EXTERNAL
Pakistan hosts multinational military drill
Pakistan is set to host a week-long multination naval exercise starting from February 11-16 in the Arabian Sea. Naval forces from 45 countries, including the US, China, Russia and Turkey are participating in Aman-2021. The Pakistan Navy stated the exercise is aimed at “fostering international cooperation to fight piracy, terrorism, and other crimes,” which pose a threat to maritime security and stability. (“In diplomatic triumph, Pakistan hosts multinational military drill,” Dawn, 11 February 2021) 

ON GILGIT-BALTISTAN
Canada promises to help GB tourism
On 10 February, Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan that the Government of Canada would continue to promote responsible tourism and mitigate climate change effects in Gilgit-Baltistan, which offers opportunities in winter tourism. The High Commissioner made this statement during a visit to the Glof-II office in Gilgit. (“Canada to help promote tourism in GB: envoy,” Dawn, 11 February 2021) 

 
Also read...                                                                               

I A Rehman, in Dawn, writes that in Pakistan, democracy has been smothered by a string of political quacks, arguing that democracy has failed to take root because society repudiates the concept of equality of citizens and unless this roadblock is dismantled the people’s dreams of a democratic order will remain unrealised.

Sana Farrukh, in The News International, says that the February 10, 2021 verdict, ‘A verdict for the vulnerable’ is an auspicious day not only for criminal justice and mental health professionals, but also for the citizens of Pakistan, who can anticipate a future where there is greater protection for those with psychosocial disability.

 

"Mental health in Pakistan is in dire straits. Around one-third of the country’s population suffers from some sort of psychosocial disability. And yet, it is widely misunderstood, stigmatised, and ignored. Nowhere is the plight of the mentally ill more starkly evident than in our jails...The judgement will help prisoners who deserve a chance at life."
-An  opinion in Dawn
on 'A New Chapter'

 

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