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Daily Briefs


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12 February 2021, Friday I Vol 2, No.43

Justice Isa should not hear cases involving PM, says the CJP



The CJP's notice to Justice Isa to not hear cases involving the PM, the extension of TLP's deadline to remove the French ambassador, and the Islamabad CJ's letter to bar councils.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

PR Editorial, 12 February 2021
The TLP’s anger against France
The Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) does it again. It brings the government to its knees once again, by calling off its protest. Initially, the TLP has scheduled to recommence its protests on 16 February against three specific demands relating to France. It includes that Pakistan expels the Ambassador of France, boycott all French products and will not appoint an ambassador to France.
 
It all started in November last year with Charlie Hebdo protests, killing of Samuel Paty, social resistance in France, “I’m Paty” gatherings and the statement by the French President Emmanuel Macron. The TLP staged a street protest in November 2020, occupied the main artery and threatened to blockade Islamabad.
 
The PTI government caved in then. It agreed to the above three demands in November 2020 and also agreed to present the same within three months in the Parliament for its approval. The TLP’s latest ultimatum is against the failure of the PTI to pass the same in the Parliament; hence decided to stage another protest on 16 February 2021.
 
The PTI government caved in now as well. The two sides (PTI and the TLP) has signed another agreement now; according to a news report in the Express Tribune, “Negotiations have been going on between the Government of Pakistan and TLP on this problem for a month during which the government has reaffirmed its resolve. Terms of the [previous] agreement will be presented in parliament by April 20, 2021, and decisions will be taken with the approval of the parliament.” From the government side, the agreement was signed by the Minister for Religious Affairs and Minister for Interior.
 
The rise of TLP has many reasons. One of them is the failure of the government to stand up and ensure the writ of the State. This will only strengthen the TLP enabling them to demand more.

 

In Focus
Justice Isa should not hear cases involving PM, says the CJP
SC hears development funds case
 
Image Source: Dawn

 

On 11 February, Chief Justice of Pakistan asked Justice Isa to not hear cases related to PM Imran Khan, in particular, the case relating to the PM’s release of Rs 500 million each to lawmakers for development purposes. 

The CJP observed that Justice Isa had, on a personal capacity, already filed a petition against Imran, regarding a document revealing an alleged transfer of funds to a PTI lawmaker. Therefore, to ensure an unbiased and impartial hearing, “it  would be in the interest of justice” that Justice Isa does not hear cases involving the PM, the CJP’s written order read. 

SC hears case regarding release of Rs 500 million to lawmakers
On the same day, the federal government denied before the Supreme Court any transfer of funds to legislators. On behalf of the Finance Secretary, the Attorney General submitted a report on the alleged release of Rs 500 million to lawmakers. The report said, “The Finance Division has not allocated or handed over money to any legislator or any other person, nor has it intended to do so.” 

Further, the Sindh government and Punjab government also clarified that they had not distributed any funds to the lawmakers. The SC disposed of the case as it observed that all its queries were answered. (Sohail Khan, “Justice Isa can’t hear cases about PM: SC,” The News International, 12 February 2021)

 

TLP extends deadline for government to expel French envoy
PM to present demands before Parliament in April

Image Source: The Express Tribune

On 12 February,  the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) called off its protest demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador to Pakistan. Imran Khan said the TLP extended its deadline for fulfilment of its demands after the government engaged in talks with the party. The TLP had previously presented 16 February as its deadline to remove the French ambassador and boycott French goods. 

Previously…
On 11 February, Imran Khan said he would present the TLP’s demands for further discussion before the parliament before 20 April. This will be the new deadline for fulfilling the TLP’s demands. However, Imran reiterated that he was doing this not for the TLP, but because of the  country’s faith. He said, “We are not doing it for the TLP but because it is part of our faith. This (blasphemy) is a planned conspiracy, which keeps repeating itself in the West and disturbs peace.” 

The renewed agreement was signed by a TLP delegation and the Minister for Religious Affairs and Minister for Interior from the government side.

TLP demands guarantee
Though the TLP has agreed to extend its deadline, it has demanded additional guarantees. The party maintained the same ministers, who were unable to meet the party’s demands, have signed the renewed agreement. Therefore, “the TLP wanted the prime minister himself to be part of the agreement and commit himself to the cause.” (“TLP calls off protest over French envoy removal,” The Express Tribune, 12 December 2021) (Ahmad Fraz Khan, “TLP demands to be placed before parliament: PM,” Dawn, 12 December 2021)

 

Ensure the rule of law, Islamabad High Court CJ tells bar councils
Constitutional court could have been reduced to battleground, says Justice Minallah

Image Source: Dawn

On 11 February, the Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court urged the Pakistan Bar Council and the Islamabad Bar Council to “discharge their responsibilities to ensure the rule of law.” Chief Justice Athar Minallah, who was trapped in his chambers for nearly three hours during the lawyers’ violence, wrote a letter to the chairman of the PBC and the IBC respectively. The letter read, “It was unthinkable that enrolled advocates dressed in uniform would storm the Islamabad High Court, violently vandalise its property and attempt to intimidate and threaten the Chief Justice and other Hon’ble Judges by keeping them detained for hours.” 

His letter outlined details of 8 February - nearly 150 lawyers, including some contesting in the IHC Bar Association elections, led by an IBC member marched towards the IHC. He said he prevented “an imminent operation” by LEAs against the lawyers; otherwise, “it could have reduced a constitutional court to a battleground and undermine the prestige and sanctity” of an institution where justice is dispensed to all and sundry.” (Malik Asad, “IHC chief justice asks PBC, IBC to ensure rule of law,” Dawn, 12 February 2021)


In Brief
INTERNAL
Army tests another surface-to-surface cruise missile
On 11 February, the Pakistan Army test-fired a short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of hitting land and sea targets with “high precision” up to 450 kilometres away. According to Dawn, the ISPR stated that the Babur cruise missile IA was launched from a “state of the art Multi Tube Missile Launch Vehicle.” This launch is Pakistan’s third missile test over the past three weeks. Previously, the army conducted a successful test of the surface-to-surface ballistic missile Shaheen-III, ‘training launch’ of nuclear-capable ballistic mis­sile Ghaznavi and the launch of an indigenously developed extended-range guided Multi-Launch Rocket System (MLRS). (Naveed Siddiqui, "Pakistan Army conducts successful test launch of surface-to-surface Babur cruise missile," Dawn, 12 February 2021)

ON THE SENATE ELECTIONS
Senate elections set for 3 March
On 11 February, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced polling for 48 seats of the Senate would take place on 3 March. Further, the ECP said that returning officers would start receiving nomination papers from aspiring candidates from 12 February and the candidates could submit the papers by 14 February. The ECP’s announcement comes amid the unresolved issue of open ballots for the polling. (Amir Wasim, “Senate poll to be held on March 3: ECP,” Dawn, 12 February 2020)

SC asks govt if it will be able to comply with legal obligation in the Senate reference
On 11 February, the Supreme Court asked if the government would be bound to comply with its opinion on the presidential reference on the Senate elections. The court made this inquiring while hearing the reference by which the government has sought the court’s opinion on whether open ballot for the elections in the Senate would help acknowledge respect for the choice and desire of the citizen voters. (“SC weighs legal obligation on govt in Senate reference,” The Express Tribune, 12 February 2020)

SC questions govt’s move for presidential reference
On 11 February, Justice Yahya Afridi questioned why the government had moved the presidential reference before the Supreme Court to seek its opinion on a matter which was already clear from its previous verdict. Justice Afridi while highlighting the previous verdicts said, “Are you setting a rule or a precedence that when there is a dispute between judgements of two different benches you would require a clarification through a reference.” However, Attorney General for Pakistan argued, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was a party in the case before the Supreme Court bench in 2018 but did not apprise it of the earlier three-judge SC bench’s order. (Nasir Iqbal, “Earlier SC verdict answered question asked under reference: judge,” Dawn, 12 February 2020)

SC asked to reject ordinance seeking Senate poll through open ballot
On 11 February, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) filed a petition in which it urged the Supreme Court to strike down the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, which seeks to hold the Senate elections on March 3 through open ballot by amending the Elections Act, 2017. Further, the petition asked for a declaration from the SC that a contingent legislation that hinges upon the determination of its constitutionality was impermissible and unconstitutional. Further, the petition argued that the ordinance was ultra vires of the Constitution as the president exercised his power under Article 89 of the Constitution without the prerequisites being satisfied. (Nasir Iqbal, “SC urged to strike down ordinance seeking Senate poll through open ballot,” Dawn, 12 February 2020)

ON GOVT EMPLOYEES’ PROTEST
Federal government agrees to a 25 per cent rise in govt employees’ salaries
On 11 February, the government employees and a special committee constituted by Prime Minister Imran Khan reached an agreement to raise the salaries. According to the agreement, a 25 per cent increase in salaries of federal government employees from grades 1 to 19 was approved on an ad-hoc basis. Following the agreement, the government employees called off their protest. The government employees from grades 20 to 22 were assured of an increase in salaries in the next budget. Further, all those who have been arrested during the protesters would be released and cases registered against them would be taken back. (“25pc raise in govt employees’ salaries,” The News International, 12 February 2020)

Fact that the govt let the protests drag and reach the point of violence is concerning, says editorial
An editorial in The Express Tribune critical of the situation over the protests stated that although it was expected that the government would agree to most of the protesters’ demands, the fact that the government let the protests drag and reach the point of violence is concerning. Another worrying factor was how the interior minister was trying to depict the protesters as being backed by the opposition. The editorial concludes by stating that although it was optimistic to know that government employees will be getting some economic relief, there are millions of private employees who are facing the same situation. (“Govt employees’ protest,” The Express Tribune, 12 February 2020)

 
Also read...                                                                                                              

Fahd Hussain writes in Dawn on the possibilities of the US-Taliban agreement breaking up and its fallouts on Pakistan. He writes about the ability of Pakistan to get the Taliban back to the table, and its effect on resetting US-Pakistan ties. Sakib Sehrani writes about the challenges facing Pakistan’s power sector and refers to the circular debt in the power sector, macro-economic governance, private sector investment etc.
 
Amir Hussain writes on Pakistan’s Climate Change challenges and the need for professional expertise and institutional strength to deal with emerging threats. Syed Mohamad Ali argues climate change could be one of the issues of US-Pakistan cooperation.

 

"Pakistan’s energy sector woes have cost dearly and have undermined economic stability… Given its linkages with the rest of the economy and large negative externalities, in conjunction with its magnitude and trend, fixing the energy sector can rightly be termed as one of Pakistan’s foremost macroeconomic challenges."
-An opinion in Dawn
on 'Power sector challenges'

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04 June 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.35

Imran receives a briefing at the ISI HQ

03 June 2020, Wednesday, Vol 1, No.34

Covid cases spike and Lahore becomes the epicentre

01 June 2020, Monday, Vol 1, No.32

Drivers of Karachi Violence

30 May 2020, Saturday, No 1, No.30

Gwadar port ready for the Afghan goods

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

Pakistan remembers 28 May Nuclear Tests

24 May 2020, Sunday, Vol 1, No.24

Pakistan This Week

22 May 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.22

The missing girls of Pakistan

21 May 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.21

Locusts threaten Pakistan's food security

17 May 2020, Sunday, Vol 1, No 17

Pakistan This Week

15 May 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.15

Disregard for SOPs peaks Covid-19 cases

14 May 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No 14

Violence in Afghanistan and the Media in Pakistan

12 May 2020, Tuesday, Vol 1, No 12

Smart Lockdown, SOPs vs Social Realities

9 May 2020, Saturday, Vol 1, No 9

Record COVID-19 spike in a single day;