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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

02 April 2021, Friday I Vol 2, No.92

Govt decides to defer from ECC decision on trade with India



The report on the Broadsheet case, Pakistan's decision to defer from trade with India, and the US State Department's statement on working with Islamabad on climate change.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

PR Editorial, 2 April 2021
To trade with India, or not to?
The second U-turn on the decision not to trade with India means Islamabad is back to where it was in its decision to reopen India-Pakistan trade relations last week.

A few days earlier, a statement from Pakistan's Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) hinted at the PTI government's first U-turn to resume trade with India. It was first decided that the resumption of trade would be in two sectors – textile and sugar. The Prime Minister of Pakistan chairs the ECC, and the decision to resume trade on those two sectors, according to news reports, was signed by Imran Khan.

However, yesterday (Thursday), there was a cabinet meeting led by Imran Khan. It was attended by ministers of foreign affairs, home, human rights and others. According to a news report quoting Fawad Chaudhry, the Minister for Science and Technology: "We (the cabinet) favour trade with New Delhi, but India should first return to the pre August 5 position. Such decisions (trade resumption) will be gauged vis-à-vis the yardstick set in this context by the government." Another report quoted Shah Mohammad Qureshi, the Foreign Minister, stating: "The cabinet postponed the proposal after discussion. An impression was emerging that relations with India had returned to normal and trade had opened up."

So, how to explain the two U-turns? Perhaps the Commerce ministry and the business community in Pakistan is keen to resume trade with India. The textiles industry, in particular, is desperate to import cotton and yarn, to improve its export market. The second U-turn would underline the differences within the ministries and how the cabinet sees trade as a political issue, not economic. Since Imran Khan is the chair of the ECC and who signed the first decision, it also shows where the PM stands in the cabinet vis-à-vis opening a road towards India.

 

In Focus
Govt decides to defer from ECC decision on trade with India
Says India should first return to the pre 5 August position

On 1 April, the federal cabinet decided to defer the Economic Coordination Committee’s (ECC) decision of allowing the import of cotton and cotton yarn from India through land and sea routes. Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said, “We favour trade with New Delhi, but India should first return to the pre-August 5 position. Such decisions (trade resumption) will be gauged vis-à-vis the yardstick set in this context by the government.” Similarly, FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the cabinet had ruled that “normalising relations with India will not be possible” until India overturned the measures it took regarding Kashmir's special status. (“Cabinet turns down ECC decision, says 'no trade with India' until autonomy returned to IOK,” Dawn, 2 April 2021) (“Govt’s U-turn: Federal cabinet defers trade with India,” The News International, 2 April 2021)

Decision angers the textile sector
Following the government’s decision, the Chairman of the Pakistan Apparel Forum expressed the disappointment of the textile export industry. Further, the chairman termed the recommendation of the Commerce Adviser’s to allow the import of cotton yarn from India as realistic and the need of the hour, saying that the government must give serious considerations to it. (“Govt about-turn on Indian cotton imports irks textile sector,” Dawn, 2 April 2021)

 

 
Only NAB cooperated with Broadsheet inquiry commission, says report
Mentions five main names as accused 
Image Source: The Express Tribune

On 1 April, the one-man commission comprising of retired Supreme Court Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, to investigate the Broadsheet scandal released its findings. The report is comprised of 61 pages and about 500 more pages are annexed to the report as documents and statements of witnesses. Following the six-week inquiry in which the commission recorded statements of 26 witnesses, PM Imran Khan ordered the report to be made public. (“Broadsheet Commission says Swiss record in govt possession: ‘Govt may go for probe,” The News International, 2 April 2021)

No institution except NAB cooperated
The report claimed that no institution except the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cooperated with it. Further, it stated that Broadsheet's records were missing from “nearly everywhere,” including the Pakistan mission in London.
The report also says, “Even before the commission could become functional upon provision of office space and staff [...] the bureaucracy went into a self-preservation mode and withdrew into its shell like a threatened snail.” Adding, “The level of non-cooperation from the various ministries/divisions/departments would have made Gandhi proud. Every effort was made to conceal, hide and ‘misplace’ the relevant record in a rather obvious effort to cover up the incompetence and corruption of the present incumbents, their predecessors and political benefactors.” Further it says that the government's asset recovery agreement with Broadsheet was “proof of government institutions' not understanding international law.” (“No institution except NAB cooperated with Broadsheet inquiry commission: report,” Dawn, 2 April 2021)

Federal cabinet orders “criminal investigations” against five people
Following the release of the report, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry stated that the federal cabinet has ordered to initiate “criminal investigations” against five people on the recommendations as per the report. Further, he said, “We are thankful to Justice Azmat Saeed who discovered the original record and now the government has the original record of Swiss accounts. And on that basis, the Swiss accounts [case] can be reopened against Zardari sahib again and our legal team is reviewing that.” (“Broadsheet inquiry names five main accused,” The Express Tribune, 2 April 2021)

 

Kerry is not scheduled visit Pakistan on his Climate Change tour
However, the US ‘looks forward to working with Pakistan’ on climate crisis, says State Department

Image Source: Dawn

On 1 April, The US State Department said that Washington looks forward to working with Islamabad on the climate crisis at different levels. This announcement comes as Special Presidential Envoy for climate John Kerry is set to travel to Abu Dhabi, New Delhi, and Dhaka from for consultations for “increasing climate ambition” ahead of two major international events; Leaders’ Summit on Climate and the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP-26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

US envoy is not scheduled to hold talks with Pakistan
John Kerry’s schedule, however, does not include Islamabad, neither does the statement mention Pakistani leaders among those who would be consulted for the same. (“US ‘looks forward to working with Pakistan’ on climate crisis,” Dawn, 2 April 2021)


In Brief
INTERNAL
PML-N to launch protests after Eid, with or without the PDM
On 1 April, a senior PML-N leader said the party would conduct a series of protest rallies against the government after Eid ul Fitr, with or without the PDM. He said the decision was taken according to the instructions of Nawaz Sharif. He added, “Given the situation, it is felt that the government should not be given a free space that it had got owing to the PDM’s infighting.” Regarding this, the senior also said that Nawaz had warned against engaging in a war of words with the PPP citing that the differences between the two parties would encourage the PTI. (Rameez Khan, “PML-N announces protest rallies against govt after Eid,” The Express Tribune, 2 April 2021)

PPP, PML-N kept several bank accounts secret, says scrutiny committee
On 1 April, the scrutiny committee of the Election Commission of Pakistan met to investigate the foreign funding cases against the PPP and the PML-N. The committee, after receiving the details of the parties’ accounts from the State Bank of Pakistan, said that the two had not disclosed several accounts to the ECP. The PML-N had kept 12 accounts secret and the PPP, seven. The two parties have been summoned on 13 April. (Saqib Virk, “‘PML-N, PPP kept details of bank accounts secret from ECP’,” Saqib Virk, The Express Tribune, 2 April 2021)

PROVINCES
Devotees clash with police at Lal Qalandar shrine
On 1 April, clashes between police and devotees erupted at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sindh after the latter were prevented from entering the annual “Urs”, as the Sindh government had ordered the closure of all public places in view of COVID-19. However, a group of people were allegedly allowed to enter and this led to clashes as the police attempted to stop them from proceeding towards the main entrance. Following this, “the mob broke down barriers and set on fire several vehicles, including motorcycles. This followed a free for all and soon a large group tore open the main door of the shrine to make their way inside.” Several people, including policemen, were injured until Sindh Rangers took over control. (“Violence erupts at closure of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine,” The News International, 2 April 2021)

ECONOMY
Inflation rate rises to 9.1 per cent
On 1 April, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) said the inflation rate in Pakistan stood at 9.1 per cent. The PBS said that electricity rates witnessed a 31.5 per cent increase over the year and double-digit price hikes were recorded for wheat, sugar, wheat flour, and the like. However, according to the PBS, inflation in rural areas was higher than that in urban areas. For example, food inflation increased to 11.5 per cent from 10.3 per cent in urban areas, whereas in rural areas, the figure increased to 11.1 per cent from 9.1 per cent, within a month. (Shahbaz Rana, “Inflation clocks in at 9.1%,” The Express Tribune, 2 April 2021)

EXTERNAL
Pakistan, China expected to sign bilateral framework agreement, say sources
On 2 April, Dawn reported that Pakistan is expected to sign a bilateral framework agreement with China on industrial cooperation under the CPEC project. Dawn quoted sources who said that the sale of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) to Chinese state-run firms was discussed during a meeting with a government-to-government (G2G) meeting with a Chinese delegation, presided over by finance minister Hammad Azhar. Hammad said that for Pakistan, CPEC was of utmost importance. However, the Chinese delegation was informed that the “G2G arrangement on PSM was not possible under the country’s privatisation law and the entity was now on top of the divestment list and at an advance stage.” (Khaleeq Kiani, "Pakistan, China mull bilateral framework under CPEC," Dawn, 2 April 2021)

FO asks US to focus on situation in “IIOJK” instead of politicising human rights situation in Pakistan
On 1 April, the Foreign Office, in a response to the US State Department’s report on human rights, asked the US to refrain from politicising the issue of human rights. The FO statement read, “Instead, the international community must continue to closely monitor the situation in Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) and urge India to respect its international obligation.” It reiterated that Pakistan was committed to protection of human rights and reminded the US that Pakistan has initiated a “series of legislative, administrative and policy measures as well as institutional reforms”  focussing on vulnerable groups. (Mariana Babar, “FO asks US to refrain from politicising HR issue,” The News International, 2 April 2021)

Local pharmaceutical company strikes deal with Chinese firm to produce COVID-19 vaccine in Pakistan
On 1 April, Searle Company Limited, a local pharma company, said it had signed a deal with “China’s Livzon Mapharm Inc. for manufacturing novel coronavirus vaccine (V-01) in Pakistan.” The company’s letter to the Pakistan Stock Exchange says that Lizvon’s “Recombinant Novel Covid-19 Vaccine (V-01)” had completed two phases of trials and phase III would include “multiple countries and enroll more than 20,000 subjects.” (Imran Ayub, “Searle, Chinese firm strike deal to make Covid vaccine in Pakistan,” Dawn, 2 April 2021)

ON CLIMATE CHANGE
USD 120 million approved by World Bank for Green Stimulus Initiative
On 1 April, the World Bank Country Director announced the approval of USD 120 million for the Green Stimulus Initiative, which he said can be “utilised by Pakistan to boost green jobs for workers who have been laid off due to Covid-19.” He told the SAPM on Climate Change that the World Bank was impressed with Imran Khan’s Clean Green Pakistan, 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Programme and the like. These projects, he opined, would increase “Pakistan’s resilience against adverse impact of climate change on health, education, water, energy, agriculture and food security.” (“World Bank approves $120m for green initiative,” The Express Tribune, 2 April 2021)

 
Also read...                                                                                                         
An opinion in Dawn says that the country’s history of over 70 years has shown that one of Pakistan’s predicaments is weak institutions. It argues that Pakistan’s development rests on the strength of its institutions.

An editorial in Dawn critical of the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 methods acknowledges that "there is extensive evidence supporting the view that women in Pakistan get a far smaller share of the pie than their male counterparts." However, it argues the "contribution of women in the informal sector goes undocumented; were Pakistan to maintain more accurate data, the country would not rank far below nations where women are perceptibly more disadvantaged."
 


"Pakistan is slowly catching on with regard to better understanding and addressing the issue of rape but, will merely strengthening the legal and administrative side of things be enough? Apart from putting an end to impunity, empowering rape survivors and creating a safe space, the government must also direct these soon-to-be established “crisis” cells to address cultural stigmas through education and awareness.."
-An editorial in The Express Tribune on 'Anti-rape crisis cells'

 

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Oppositions demands new head for Broadsheet inquiry committee

22 January 2021, Friday I Vol 2, No.22

ECP rejects open hearing of cases

21 January 2021, Thursday I Vol 2, No.21

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20 January 2021, Wednesday I Vol 2, No.20

PDM holds protests outside the ECP

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PM promises to visit mourning Hazaras in Quetta

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Supreme Court directs ETPB to rebuild Hindu Shrine in KP

05 January 2021, Tuesday I Vol 2, No.05

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19 September 2020, Saturday I Vol 1, No.137

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18 September 2020, Friday I Vol 1, No.136

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17 September 2020, Thursday I Vol 1, No.135

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16 September 2020, Wednesday I Vol 1, No.134

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15 September 2020, Tuesday I Vol 1, No.133

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11 September 2020, Friday I Vol 1, No.130

Pakistan and the SCO

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Accountability Court declares Nawaz Sharif as an absconder

09 September 2020, Wednesday I Vol 1, No.128

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05 September 2020, Saturday I Vol 1, No.125

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Court directs Nawaz Sharif to appear before the court

01 September, Tuesday I Vol 1, No.121

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27 August 2020, Thursday I Vol 1, No.117

An article speculates the Opposition’s options and strategies

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24 August 2020, Monday I Vol 1, No.114

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20 August 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.111

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19 August 2020, Wednesday, Vol 1, No.110

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18 August 2020, Tuesday, Vol 1, No.109

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Pakistan's Palestine Dilemma

14 August 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.106

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13 August 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.105

COAS Gen Bajwa to visit Saudi Arabia soon

12 August 2020, Wednesday, Vol 1, No.104

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10 August 2020, Monday, Vol 1, No.102

The FATF divides within Pakistan

09 August 2020, Sunday, Vol 1, No.101

Pakistan This Week

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07 August 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.99

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06 August 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.98

Pakistan's continuing Kashmir frenzy

05 August 2020, Wednesday, Vol 1, No.97

Pakistan's new Map of J&K

04 August 2020, Tuesday, Vol 1, No.96

Kashmir obsession in Pakistan

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

Two FATF bills passed in the National Assembly

30 July 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.93

Religiosity in Pakistan: From Creeping to now Galloping

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

Opposition parties attempt to come together

28 July 2020, Tuesday, Vol 1, No.91

Pakistan's internal debate on Kulbhushan Jadav

26 July 2020, Sunday I Vol 1, No.89

Pakistan This Week

23 July 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.86

On the abduction of a Journalist in Islamabad

19 July 2020, Sunday I Vol 1, No.82

Pakistan This Week

17 July 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.80

The licences are not fake but only dubious

16 July 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.79

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15 July 2020, Wednesday, Vol 1, No.78

On Af-Pak Transit Trade

12 July 2020, Sunday, Vol 1, No. 75

Pakistan This Week

11 July 2020, Saturday, Vol 1, No.74

FATF action plan to be completed at the earliest: Shaikh

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

Return of Lal Masjid Maulana

07 July 2020, Tuesday , Vol 1, No.70

Female Literacy in the Pashtun tribal regions

06 July 2020, Monday, Vol 1, No.69

The problem with Pakistan Railways

02 July 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.65

The Curious case of "Minus One" Formula in Pakistan

30 June 2020, Tuesday, Vol 1, No.63

BLA claims the attack on Stock Exchange in Karachi

28 June 2020, Sunday, Vol 1, No.61

Pakistan This Week

27 June 2020, Saturday, Vol 1, No.60

PTM accepts the dialogue offer, but wants CBMs

24 June 2020, Wednesday, Vol 1, No.57

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;