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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

19 February 2021, Friday I Vol 2, No.50

ECP rejects 25 nomination papers after scrutiny



The scrutiny of nomination papers by the ECP, Pakistan's call for reduction of violence in Afghanistan and the Chinese ambassador's meeting with the COAS.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

PR Editorial, 19 February 2021
On the Senate elections again
The debate on Senate elections is yet to settle. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court observed that the two main opposition parties - Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are not addressing one of the primary issues that they agreed when they signed the Charter of Democracy. According to him, both the parties have agreed to end corrupt practice in Senate election, but are now deviating from the same. He was discussing the question in a five-member bench, that is looking into the Presidential reference that whether the Senate election be held through “secret ballot” or “open ballot.”
 
The issue has moved from the question of transparency, to a larger question of curbing corrupt practices while conducting elections. Transparency is only a part of the larger issues that need to be addressed if “corrupt practices” need to be focussed. This would need a strong Election Commission at the national and provincial levels; elections cannot be strengthened without building strong institutions.
 
A strong Election Commission would also need strong individuals at the helm, capacity from top to bottom, and autonomy. And more importantly, non-interference from political leadership, and also the Deep State. The questions of autonomy, capacity, and non-interference are big challenges not only to the Election Commission, but to most of the institutions – including those that have judicial functions.
 
And the above needs a political consensus inside the Parliament. The Supreme Court is discussing the issue, because this Parliament lacks that consensus.
 
In Focus
ECP rejects 25 nomination papers after scrutiny
Differences on open ballot system continue

On 18 February, the Election Commission of Pakistan completed the scrutiny of 170 papers filed from across Pakistan for the upcoming Senate elections. Of the 170, the ECP rejected 25,  three others withdrew their candidacy, and one PML-N member’s candidacy became “infructuous” after his death. Therefore, the ECP has 141 nominations with it now. 

PDM has mixed bag of acceptance and rejections 
The ECP accepted the papers of PPP’s Yousuf Gilani, much to the delight of the PDM which is fielding joint candidates for the elections. However, the ECP rejected the nomination papers of sitting Senator Pervaiz Rashid, citing the default in dues of the  Punjab House and Parliament Lodges. The PTI counsel accused Pervaiz of not paying dues worth  Rs 9,500,000 of the Punjab House. 

Pervaiz raises questions on rejection of papers
Pervaiz, who is also the former Information Minister, said the rejection of his papers was an attempt by the government to prevent him from contesting the elections. He claimed to have visited offices but the officers did not accept the payment. He speculated that the officers had perhaps been directed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to do so. However, he emphasised that he had the right to appeal, and said "You can close the doors of the Parliament on me but you cannot silence my voice.” (Amir Wasim, “ECP completes scrutiny of Senate nominations,” Dawn, 19 February 2021) (Numan Wahab, “Nomination papers for Senate: Gilani, Vawda’s papers accepted, Pervaiz Rashid’s rejected,” The News International, 19 February 2021)

Sindh, SC differ on open ballots
On the same day, the Sindh government pushed for conducting the Senate elections through the secret ballot system. The Advocate General Sindh and Advocate General Punjab argued for maintaining secrecy; the latter also highlighted the need for proportional representation. However, a five-member bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan observed that the PPP and the PML-N “ had agreed in the Charter of Democracy (CoD) that the Senate elections should be held through the open ballot but it was not implemented in letter and spirit.” (“Open or secret ballot: PPP, PML-N backed out of pact, says CJP,” The News International, 19 February 2021)

 

Pakistan calls for reducing violence in Afghanistan
FO reiterates necessity of Afghan-led peace process

 Image Source: Dawn

On 18 February, the Foreign Office spokesperson said that Pakistan encouraged all sides in the Afghanistan conflict to take measures “for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire, which is linked to progress in the Intra-Afghan Negotiations.” The statement came in the light of the meeting between the NATO defence ministers. Further, the statement also reflected the meeting between Imran Khan and the head of Afghan Massoud Foundation, Ahmad Wali Massoud. 

There is no military solution to the Afghan conflict, reiterates FO
The FO spokesperson recalled that Pakistan never believed in a military solution to the Afghan conflict. He outlined the importance of an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.” 

He also said the international community has appreciated Pakistan for its engagement with all the sides and international stakeholders to see to a peace process in Afghanistan. (Kamran Yousuf, “Pakistan seeks end to Afghan violence as NATO intends to stay on,” The Express Tribune, 19 February 2021)

 

Chinese ambassador meets with the COAS
Successful completion of CPEC will bring more prosperity says COAS

Image Source: The News International

On 18 February, Nong Rong, the Chinese envoy met with COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, at the GHQ. The two sides discussed matters of mutual interest, including regional security issues. Further, the COAS thanked the ambassador for China’s assistance in the provision of the COVID-19 vaccine to Pakistan and appreciated their support at multiple international forums as well as defence and security domains. The ambassador also acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan's contributions to regional peace and stability. (“Chinese envoy meets COAS,” The News International, 19 February 2021)

Stressed on the completion of CPEC 
Gen Bajwa said that the successful completion of CPEC would bring more benefits and prosperity to the people of both countries. (“Successful completion of CPEC will bring more prosperity, says COAS,” The Nation 19 February 2021)


In Brief
INTERNAL
Ex-TTP member threatens second attempt on Malala’s life 
On 17 February, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant Ehsanullah Ehsan allegedly threatened a second attempt on Malala Yousafzai’s life, tweeting that next time, “there would be no mistake.” Following the threat, Malala in a tweet asked both the military and PM Imran Khan to explain how her alleged shooter had escaped from government custody. (“Ex-Taliban spokesman threatens second attempt on Malala’s life,” Dawn, 19 February 2021)

Five members of the Frontier Corps killed in Balochistan 
On 18 February, five members of the Frontier Corps were killed and two others injured in two attacks in different areas of Balochistan. One incident took place in the western bypass area in Quetta where an FC soldier was killed when a remote-controlled bomb fixed to a motorcycle parked at the roadside exploded. In the second incident, four soldiers of Frontier Corps were killed in an attack by armed men on their check-post in the Kahan area of Kohlu district. (Saleem Shahid, “Five FC soldiers martyred in two attacks in Balochistan,” Dawn, 19 February 2021)

EXTERNAL
Pakistan will continue to support intra-Afghan talks says, PM Khan
On 18 February, PM Imran Khan met with Ahmad Wali Massoud, the head of Massoud Foundation, Afghanistan. At the meeting, he said that Islamabad and Kabul were bound by a fraternal relationship, rooted deep in shared history and commonalities of faith, culture and traditions. He added, “Pakistan’s assistance for Afghanistan’s development efforts and human resource capacity-building will continue apace.” Following the visit, the PMO issued a statement saying that this visit is in continuation of Pakistan’s policy to reach out to Afghan leaders to further strengthen bilateral ties and enhance mutual convergence on the Afghan peace process. (“Pakistan will continue to support intra-Afghan talks,” The News International, 19 February 2021)

PAKISTAN’S WORLD VIEW
Opinion highlights role of West in fuelling the power struggle in the Middle East
An opinion in The Daily Times says that the West used the Arab Spring to weaken the “strategically and politically stable autocracies” and pave the way for Israel to emerge as the superpower of the region. The author says the West weakened the Arab countries like Libya, Syria, Sudan making Israel so powerful that the Gulf countries had no choice but to establish a rapprochement with Israel to counter the Iranian influence. However, today, the world is witnessing an alarming power struggle between Iran and Israel. The author warns the Gulf countries cannot sustain a long-drawn war between the two powers. The only option left then, he says, is a “short, swift and effective” strike on Iran with Israel’s help. Therefore, he concludes, if the US steps in it could help restrain “Israel and its Gulf allies from any military confrontation with Iran by moderating their fears about Iran going nuclear and their intense opposition to the revival of JCPOA.” (M Alam Bohri, “Is the Middle East bracing for further turmoil?,” The Daily Times, 19 February 2021)

ON INDIA
FO rejects India’s concerns about Sikh Yatris 
On 18 February, the Foreign Office rejected the concerns raised by India over the Sikh Yatris visiting Pakistan for pilgrimage, stating that they were fully facilitated during the trips. The FO spokesman said, “Pakistan provides maximum facilitation to the Sikh Yatris from all over the world, including India, for visiting their religious sites in Pakistan.” Previously, India has disallowed around 600 Sikhs intending to visit Pakistan keeping in mind the “capacity of health infrastructure in Pakistan.” Further, the Ministry of Home Affairs expressing concerns about the “safety” of the group because of what it said “considerable threat.” (“Indian concerns about Sikh Yatris rejected,” Dawn, 19 February 2021)

 
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An editorial in the Nation talks about the forthcoming visit by Imran Khan to Sri Lanka and expects it to be a charm offensive, and refers to the India factor as well. Zafar Aziz Choudhry writes on the challenges facing young lawyers, with the recent violence in the background.
 
An editorial in the News argues that Pakistan needs to make its case convincing and plausible at the FATF forum. Senator Rehman Malik writes on the FATF discrimination and India’s terrorist financing, and says India has established 87 training camps; 66 training camps on Afghan soil while 21 of these exist in India. India is violating international law by financing and strengthening Daesh, TTP, and other terrorist organisations.

 

"Pakistan can only move towards development and advancement when its functionaries are efficient in their dealings, skilled in their fields, honest in their character, sincere in their opinions, serious in their job performance and above all patriotic in their worldview."
-An opinion in Dawn on 'State functionaries'

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