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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

25 February 2021, Thursday I Vol 2, No.56

Intelligence agencies working under PM responsible for rigging, says Maryam



Maryam's latest statement on the Daska by-polls controversy, statements and agreements signed by Imran Khan in Sri Lanka, and the DG ISPR's statement on Ehsanullah Ehsan's escape

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

PR Editorial, 25 February 2021
The Election Commission calls for a re-election to the controversial NA-75 by-poll
Today, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has called the recent by-election for the National Assembly seat 75 (Daska) in Sialkot district as null and void. Last week, NA-75 witnessed the by-poll, but the election became controversial, when the Election Commission suspected the results from 20 polling stations, when the Returning Officers disappeared for a substantial period of the voting was completed.
 
The Election Commission has done the right thing. By doing so, it has also fulfilled a constitutional responsibility, by keeping the elections free from any intervention, especially the government. Since the PTI has claimed winning the seat even before the Election Commission had declared the results officially, cancelling the election and calling for a re-election should not only strengthen the ECP as an institution, but also the entire electoral process. This is a welcome development. A strong and independent election commission is an essential cog for the success of democracy.
 
The ECP’s decision should anger the PTI. Ministers had claimed last Saturday that the party had won the elections, that too with a 7000 votes lead. The PTI should accept the ECP decision; initial statements from the PTI that the delay in tracing the returning officers of the elections should not be considered as an attempt to alter the election results, does not stand scrutiny. IA Rahman writes in Dawn today, quoting media report, “the presiding officers were transported to safe places where they could raise the polling rate from 30 per cent to 80pc of the registered voters. The Election Commission got alarmed at what was happening but the local administration made itself inaccessible.” This is unacceptable.
 
For the PDM, especially the PML-N, this should be a moral victory. For the PML-N, the win or loss in one National Assembly seat (from NA-75 in this case) is not likely to alter their strength in the Parliament dramatically. However, politically, this would add to the list of their demands against the PTI. Already, there are slogans referring to Imran as vote thief, and “vote ko izzat do” meaning honour the vote. And that is what precisely the PTI should do now. It should honour the vote, and also honour the decision of the Election Commission to cancel the NA-75 results.

 

In Focus
Intelligence agencies working under PM responsible for rigging, says Maryam
CEC decision on Daska will make legacy or break the test, says opinion

On 24 February, Maryam Nawaz blamed intelligence agencies working on the orders of the Prime Minister for allegedly rigging the by-polls in Daska. She said, “Those responsible for the rigging be they from Intelligence Bureau (IB), police, PTI office-bearers, or even the chief minister or the chief secretary, they must be taken to task.” 

She warned that she would expose the names of those involved in the fraud if the Election Commission of Pakistan failed to take action against them. (Zulqernain Tahir, “Maryam blames ‘agencies under PM’ for rigging,” Dawn, 25 February 2021) Further, she demanded a re-poll in NA-75 Daska. 

Opinion lists out options for CEC in addressing Daska controversy
An opinion in Dawn says the Chief Election Commissioner‘s decision on the Daska allegations on 25 February (today), will be the test of his time. The author highlights that no election commissioner has had a glory of standing up to the system; usually they go with the flow unlike the current Chief who stood his ground in the Supreme Court. Now, the author lists out two options for the CEC which will decide if he will make legacy or break the test. 

The first set of options concern the by-polls: to declare the results as they are, announce a re-poll in the disputed 20 polling stations, declare a re-poll in the 37 odd polling stations as the PML-N initially demanded or lastly, announce fresh elections in the entire constituency. The second option relates to the way he investigates into the matter and who he holds accountable using his powers. (Fahd Hussain, “RED ZONE FILES: Dealing with the Daska debacle,” Dawn, 25 February 2021)

Meanwhile…
Maryam Nawaz has urged the Supreme Court to stay out of the Senate elections controversy. She said any relief to the government would be perceived as the court’s bias. (Iqtidar Gilani, “Maryam demands re-polling in NA-75,” The Nation, 25 Fenruary 2021)

 

Pakistan to extend USD 50 million credit line to Sri Lanka
Offered to hold dialogue with India but got no positive response, says Imran

Image Source: Dawn

On 24 February, Imran Khan announced to offer USD 50 million as a credit line to Sri Lanka to increase cooperation in areas of defence and security. In a joint communique, Pakistan and Sri Lanka called for “stronger partnership in matters related to security, terrorism, organised crime and drug and narcotics trafficking as well as intelligence-sharing.” 

MoUs signed, countries extend sports and cultural diplomacy
Apart from defence and security, Pakistan called for improvement of sports diplomacy; for this, Pakistan will be extending USD 52 million. Further, Pakistan has proposed to build Asian Civilisation and Culture Centre. This will be located at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy. Other MoUs were signed regarding tourism, investment, interaction between universities and colleges. 

Countries set USD one billion trade target
During the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Conference, the two countries spoke about the importance of having a USD one billion trade target and outlined the need to work on the  Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA). (“Pakistan offers $50m credit line to Sri Lanka for defence ties,” Dawn, 25 February 2021)

Imran accuses India of not responding to his offers to hold dialogue
In the same conference, Imran said he had “offered the Indian government a chance to hold peace talks with Pakistan after getting elected, but nothing came out of it.” He maintained that Kashmir was the only sticking point between Pakistan and India and could be addressed only through dialogue. (“Nothing came out of talks offer to India: PM,” The News International, 25 February 2021)

 

DG ISPR says officers involved in Ehsanullah’s escape taken to task
Denies knowing about the TTP spokesman’s location

Image Source: Dawn

On 24 February, the DG ISPR said action has been taken against those involved in the escape of TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan from custody. He also confirmed those who had a hand in his escape were from the army. However, he had no knowledge about Ehsanullah’s whereabouts. Recently, Ehsanullah had come to media attention after he tweeted a threat to Malala Yousufzai. His asked Malala to return to Pakistan and it read, “we have a score to settle with you and your father...This time there will be no mistake.” (Baqir Sajjad Syed, "Action taken against officers over Ehsanullah’s escape: army," Dawn, 25 February 2021)


In Brief
INTERNAL
Two Domki community members killed
On 24 February, two people were killed and two others belonging to the Domki community suffered injuries in an attack in the Bhand area of Suhbatpur district, Nasirabad division. Officials stated that a group of members of the Shar community opened fire on people resulting in casualties. (“Two killed in attack,” Dawn, 25 February 2021)

Parliament is the forum that must decide the method of voting for the Senate elections, says CJP
On 24 February, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed stated that parliament is the forum that should decide the method of voting for the Senate elections, including the degree of secrecy to be allowed. He said, “If the Constitution says there must be secret balloting, then that’s the end of the matter,” adding, “The Supreme Court is not a substitute to parliament.” Further, the CJP said, “We will not take matters, the parliament is authorised to carry out, into our own hands.” (“Senate elections: Parliament to decide on open or secret vote: CJP,” The News International, 25 February 2021)

Pakistan incurs USD 38 billion economic losses due to the FATF’s greylisting
On 24 February, a new research paper published by an independent think-tank stated that the FATF grey-listing spanning from 2008 to 2019 may have resulted in cumulative real GDP losses of approximately USD 38 billion for Pakistan. The losses are worked out based on the reduction in consumption expenditures, exports, and foreign direct investment (FDI). (“Bearing the Cost of Global Politics,” Tabadlab, 25 February 2021)

EXTERNAL
Pakistani authorities close the Pak-Iran border in Panjgur district
On 24 February, an official from the Panjgur administration stated, “We have closed the border with Iran at Zero Point Sakan of Saravan district of Iran after firing and violent incidents on the Iranian side.” The announcement was made after reports stated that violent demonstrations continued in the Saravan area as mobs attacked government offices and ransacked and burnt down several vehicles in its main town. (Saleem Shahid, “Pak-Iran border near Panjgur closed,” Dawn, 25 February 2021)

“We only aim for a long-lasting peace in Afghanistan,” says DG ISPR
On 24 February, Director General (DG) of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar stated that Pakistan has done what it could do to influence the Taliban, stating, “Even Afghan leaders are admitting that Pakistan has done utmost for peace in Afghanistan,” adding, “We only aim for a long-lasting peace in Afghanistan.” Further, he stated “Afghanistan now is not what it was in the ’90s and the state infrastructure cannot be trounced, and Pakistan also has changed…It’s impossible for the Taliban to recapture Kabul and that Pakistan would support them. It isn’t going to happen.” (Muhammad Anis, “Pakistan to continue to support Afghan peace process: DG ISPR,” The News International, 25 February 2021)

ON PAKISTAN OCCUPIED KASHMIR
Pakistan to be made stronger to resolve Kashmir issue, says PoK President 
On 24 February, PoK President Sardar Masood Ahmed Khan urged the youth to utilise their energies for the development of the country as a strengthened Pakistan could play a leading role in resolving the Kashmir issue. Further, he said that the main purpose for the creation of Pakistan was to get an independent state for the Muslims based on the two-nation theory, however, Pakistan remains incomplete without Kashmir. He said that the international community must be pushed to address the issue, adding that Pakistan must develop a political ecosystem. (“AJK president for making Pakistan stronger to resolve Kashmir issue,” The News International, 25 February 2021)

India exploited the pandemic to change Kashmir’s demography, says Mazari
On 24 February, Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari while highlighting the alleged Indian atrocities in Kashmir stated the following at virtual meeting of the 46th session of UN Human Rights Council. She said that Kashmir was witnessing “a full-blown human rights crisis,” adding, “India consolidated its illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019 before the world.” Further, she said that India exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to accelerate the pace of its alleged colonization project in Kashmir. 

She added, “India is usurping Kashmiri people’s inalienable right to self-determination in wilful breach of the UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions, and international law…This Final Solution , as the fascist BJP-RSS regime calls it, can be a major precursor to the genocide of Kashmiri people,” adding, “eight million Kashmiris have been caged up in one of the world’s largest concentration camps. Using draconian laws, Indian forces have intensified systematic use of summary executions, torture and rape as a weapon.”

Further, critical of right groups and their silence she said, “Some of the leading Human Rights advocates continue to prioritize political, strategic and commercial interests over human rights values and principles.” (“Covid-19 pandemic: India exploited virus to change IIOJ&K’s demography: Mazari,” The News International, 25 February 2021)

 
Also read...                                                                                   

IA Rahaman’s column in Dawn looks at the latest controversy over the NA-75 bypoll, and asks: Was Daska a rehearsal for a new way to manage elections?
 
Aitzaz Ahzan revisits the horror that Mukhtaran Mai faced in the tribal jirga, and also later in the courts. He also refers to the latest judicial development relating to the case, with the judgement by Justice Ayesha Malik, on a crucial issue relating to the virginity of the victim. Ahsan writes about the judgement (in January 2021) and says: “It brings about bold and necessary changes that will make a real and positive difference by vanquishing archaic practices.” He links the late judge of the US Supreme Court, Justice Ginsberg (RBG), with Justice Ayesha Malik for attacking “the most pervasive” though fictional “stereotype in our law – that men are independent and women are men’s dependents”.

 

"Democracy has been in contention over the past fortnight or so. The honours so far have been claimed by both the disorganised democratic camp and the organised, well-oiled establishment...The fact is that the path to a democratic dispensation lies in promoting a democratic culture of equality for citizens. But Pakistan’s rulers are taking pride in increasing inequalities on the basis of belief, gender differentials and social class. No wonder democracy has become a contentious issue."
-An opinion in Dawn
by I.A. Rehman 'Democracy in contention'

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Kashmir obsession in Pakistan

31 July 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.94

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Religiosity in Pakistan: From Creeping to now Galloping

29 July 2020, Wednesday, Vol 1, No.92

Opposition parties attempt to come together

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Pakistan This Week

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Pakistan This Week

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The licences are not fake but only dubious

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Pakistan This Week

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FATF action plan to be completed at the earliest: Shaikh

08 July 2020, Wednesday, Vol 1, No.71

Return of Lal Masjid Maulana

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Female Literacy in the Pashtun tribal regions

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The problem with Pakistan Railways

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The Curious case of "Minus One" Formula in Pakistan

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BLA claims the attack on Stock Exchange in Karachi

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Pakistan This Week

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PTM accepts the dialogue offer, but wants CBMs

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Reviewing Pakistan's Space Programme

23 June 2020, Tuesday, Vol 1, No.56

Imran Khan says he was against the idea of lockdown

21 June 2020, Sunday, Vol 1, No.54

Pakistan This Week

20 June 2020, Saturday, Vol 1, No.53

Budgets presented in KP, and in Gilgit-Baltistan

19 June 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.52

PTI tries to get the BNP back into coalition,

18 June 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.51

Baloch partner of the PTI government leaves the coalition

15 June 2020, Monday, Vol 1, No.48

The PTI government invites the PTM for a dialogue

14 June 2020, Sunday, Vol 1, No.47

Pakistan This Week

13 June 2020, Saturday, Vol 1, No.46, Special Brief

Pakistan Budget 2020-21: The First Cut

12 June 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.44, Special Brief

Pakistan’s Economic Survey 2019-20

07 June 2020, Sunday I Vol 1, No.38

Pakistan This Week

05 June 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.36

Highest COVID Spike

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;