loader

Photo : The News International/Screengrab/YouTube Hum News Live

16 April 2024, Tuesday| Vol 5, No.73

MQM-P warns of protests against crimes in Karachi



Finance minister says Pakistan does not need “too many policy prescriptions,” needs to “start moving”; PM Sharif calls for shift to renewable energy sources to reduce oil import bill

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
MQM-P warns of protests against crimes in Karachi
On 15 April, Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Ali Khurshidi announced the party’s intention to take action against the deteriorating security situation in Karachi if measures were not taken. He said that party members would raise their voice on the issue in the Sindh Assembly and National Assembly, and “would protest on the streets” if their “concerns are not addressed.” Since 1 January 2024, at least 59 people have been killed while 200 have been injured for resisting robbery in Karachi. The PPP and MQM-P, both allies of the PML-N government in the Centre, have been engaged in a spat over the last couple of weeks, with the MQM-P blaming the PPP-led Sindh government for the worsening law-and-order situation. In March, Sindh Home Minister Hasan Lanjar described crime as a “part of daily life,” and said the situation in Karachi was being “exaggerated.” This statement drew ire from various parties, most prominently the MQM-P which has called for Karachi to be handed over to the army for three months.
 
On 7 April, the MQM-P censured the Sindh government over an increase in street crime in Karachi in recent months. Earlier on 6 April, the Sindh High Court (SHC) Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi directed law enforcement agencies to launch a crackdown on criminals along with their handlers and facilitators in a move to curb street crime in Karachi and enhance the security situation.
 
During a high-level security meeting held last week, data showed that between 2022 and 28 March 2024, more than 250 Karachiites were shot dead while 1,052 others were wounded by street criminals. Also last week, the MQM-P demanded an operation against street criminals while hinting that it would part ways if the PML-N-led coalition government in case of a failure to end the killing of innocent people. While addressing a press conference in Karachi, MQM-P Senator Faisal Subzwari pointed out that under the PPP’s rule over the last 16 years, citizens in Sindh were not safe as no action had been taken against armed gangs and dacoits in Kashmore or against street crime in Sindh. He called on Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi to visit the city and summon the Chief Minister of Sindh, Murad Ali Shah, asking them to form a committee. Subzwari stated: “We requested that a neighbourhood watch system should be implemented. If the Sindh government won’t, then we announce that we will.” Further, he questioned: “Is it possible that police checkpoints are not present at all entry and exit points of the city? Of course, they are [present]. Then is it conceivable that the market for stolen phones in the city runs without the patronage of the police?” Pointing out that mobile phones worth billions were stolen in the city every year, he asserted that these incidents should not be termed as “mere street crimes.” He added that Lanjar would have to fix his “attitude” as his position came with “heavy responsibility.” Subzwari asked the SHC’s chief justice to take note of the lawlessness, “call all institutions and ask what is happening, how it is happening and who is making it happen.” In the meantime, he assured that the MQM-P would hold meetings in every neighbourhood and would implement “whatever solution” possible.
 
While reacting to the press conference, Lanjar said that the PPP was prioritizing eliminating dacoits from the province, while the MQM-P was aiding criminals by making the police force “controversial.” He also emphasized: “The people of Karachi have trusted the PPP. The mayor is also from the PPP. We will never disappoint the people of Karachi.”

Click here for a PR commentary on the subject: Profile: Street Crimes in Karachi
 
(“MQM-P to resort to street agitation if street crime not addressed,” The News International, 15 April 2024; “MQM-P censures Sindh govt over lack of action against street crime in Karachi,” Dawn, 7 April 2024)

In Brief
ECONOMY
Finance minister says Pakistan does not need “too many policy prescriptions,” needs to “start moving”
On 15 April, at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb said that Pakistan does not need too many policy prescriptions, but needs to implement those policies. Aurangzeb is in the US to attend the spring meetings of the World Bank group and hold talks on a new loan package with the IMF. He urged institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF to help countries like Pakistan to combat climate change and achieve financial inclusivity. Despite not being a major emitter, Pakistan is one of the major victims of the effects of climate change; additionally, it needs financial inclusion to enhance the position of women in the national economy. On the IMF loan, Aurangzeb said Pakistan wants a larger and longer package since it requires “two to three years for structural reforms.” While he would like to get a new Extended Fund Facility (EFF) package from the IMF “as soon as” he can, and the IMF is “quite keen and vocal on the need for a new programme,” the discussions are currently “preliminary.” Successful discussions in the current week could result in an IMF mission visiting Islamabad in May to hold further talks on the loan. Pakistan is also waiting for the release of USD 1.1 billion under the current Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) ending this month. On the need to broaden the tax base and reform tax collection, Aurangzeb said that the reforms would increase the revenue and bring transparency. He added that Pakistan needs “timely decisions, timely execution” to build its economy, since “no strategy works without execution.” (Anwar Iqbal, “Don’t need more policy prescriptions, says Finance Minister Aurangzeb,” Dawn, 16 April 2024)

POLITICS
PTI and JUI-F agree to increase “party-level contacts,” find common political ground
On 16 April, The News International reported that following a protest movement launched by a coalition of opposition parties, the PTI found “ideological coordination” with the Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led JUI-F, with both agreeing on “increasing party-level contacts.” PTI central leader Asad Qaiser said that he and Rehman “exchanged views on the current political situation and the process of forming government” during a phone call. Both parties rejected the process in which the PML-N-led incumbent government allegedly stole “public mandate” in the general elections, with Qaiser saying that a public movement against the “fake government” was of extreme importance. He added that both parties have “ideological coordination” regarding the public movement, and proposed that the parties who believe in the supremacy of the law should start a movement from the platform of “Tehreek-e-Tahaffuz-e-Dastoor.” (“PTI, JUI-F find ‘ideological coordination’ regarding anti-govt movement,” The News International, 16 April 2024)
 
Gender gap among registered voters remains unchanged despite rise in number of voters
On 16 April, Dawn cited recent data from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), as per which the gender gap in the number of registered voters remained unchanged. Despite the number of voters crossing the 130 million point, the gender gap remained below ten million. In December 2023, the number of registered voters was 128 million. As per the ECP, the current registered voters comprise of 46.18 per cent (more than 60 million) women and 53.82 per cent (little over 70 million) men, resulting in a gap of 9.95 million. Out of the gap, Punjab contributes a difference of over five million, Sindh contributes 2.24 million, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) contributes 1.96 million, and Balochistan contributes 0.662 million. Punjab has 74.08 million registered voters (39.56m male and 34.53 female), Sindh has 27.33 million registered voters (14.78m male and 12.54m female), KP has 22.17 million voters (12.07m male and 10.11m female), Balochistan has 5.43 million registered voters (three million male and 2.38m female), and Islamabad has over one million registered voters (0.574m male and 0.520m female). In Punjab, the districts of Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Rahim Yar Khan, Kasur, Sheikhupura, and Sialkot contribute to the gender gap of roughly two million. Further, statistics indicate that the number of voters between 18 to 35 years of age has increased to 58.12 million. (Iftikhar A Khan, “Gender gap stays below 10m as number of voters tops 130m,” Dawn, 16 April 2024)
 
SECURITY
Interior minister says “all evidence” points towards Indian involvement in Lahore attack
On 15 April, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi said that there was evidence of Indian involvement in the Lahore gun attack on Amir Sarfraz Tamba, the individual who in 2013 allegedly killed Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in the Kot Lakhpat prison. Earlier on 14 April, two masked men forcefully entered Tamba’s home in Lahore and fired multiple shots, leaving him critically injured. Following the attack, Naqvi was questioned about the incident at the Federal Investigation Agency’s regional office in Lahore. He stated: “India was directly involved in two to four events like this before in assassinations inside Pakistan. The police are still investigating but till now their suspicion is exactly the same as yours.” While asserting that “all evidence is pointing towards” India, it is currently “inappropriate to say more before the investigation is completed but the pattern [of killings] is almost the same.” This attack followed a report published in The Guardian which claimed that the Indian government assassinated individuals in Pakistan to eliminate “terrorists” staying on foreign soil. Pakistan’s Foreign Office added after the report was published that India’s network of extra-judicial killings had become a “global phenomenon.” Also on 14 April, Punjab Inspector General Dr Usman Anwar said it would be “premature or too early” to make any statements on foreign involvement in the Lahore attack. A high-profile investigation is being carried out to determine the motive behind the attack and the potential of a foreign government’s involvement. The Punjab government also decided to refer the case to the Counter-Terrorism Department for investigation. (“All evidence pointing towards Indian involvement in Lahore gun attack: interior minister,” Dawn¸15 April 2024)
 
Dharna commission says army should not be involved in “public matters”
On 16 April, Dawn reported that the Faizabad dharna commission, which had been formed to investigate Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) sit-in in 2017, has given the federal government its report. Within the report, several recommendations including legislation and drafting of rules and SOPs to regulate the working of intelligence agencies, were made. The report highlighted: “Army is a sacred arm of the state, therefore to avoid criticism, the institution may not be involved in public matters. This task may be assigned to [the Intelligence Bureau] and civil administration.” It also recommended not using paramilitary FC and Rangers in urban areas. The three-member commission, headed by retired police officer Syed Akhtar Ali Shah and consisting of former IGP Islamabad Tahir Alam Khan and Additional Interior Secretary Khushal Khan, raised a call for “zero tolerance” towards violent extremism and suggested a review of the government’s policies to address the root cause of the issue. As per the report, the fallout from the Faizabad dharna had more to do with the “lack of courage of conviction of the leader handling the issue and in particular the government of Punjab.” It noted that the government and official institutions had earlier agreed to use negotiations to resolve the matter instead of resorting to force.
 
The federal government said that the Punjab government should deal with the issue within its jurisdiction. However, the Punjab government pointed out that they had accepted 11 of the 12 demands of the protesters, and since the last grievance pertained to the Centre, protests should be allowed in Islamabad. The provincial government also assured the Centre that demonstrators would disperse peacefully after registering their protest. Since no official, including the then prime minister and former Punjab chief minister, accused intelligence agencies of facilitating the protestors, and since no evidence proving the involvement of agencies had been produced, the commission could not connect any organization to the TLP dharna. Further, the report advised having coordination among law enforcement agencies, Pemra, and the interior ministry to survey social media against “injurious material in violation of law.” The commission said omissions in implementing the National Action Plan should be looked into to “strengthen the anti-terror agencies through basic reforms in the criminal justice system.” (Munaweer Azeem, “Dharna commission suggests laws to regulate spy agencies,” Dawn, 16 April 2024)
 
ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT
PM Sharif calls for shift to renewable energy sources to reduce oil import bill
On 15 April, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif instructed authorities concerned with robust renewable energy management, to cut Pakistan’s USD 27 billion oil import bill and take measures to improve the electricity distribution system. He pointed out: “Ultimately, we have to move to renewable energy. The oil import worth billions of dollars can be controlled by using alternative resources like solar, wind and hydel. Make cold calculations and I believe, you will be the winner in the long term.” Using renewable energy sources could eliminate crude oil tanker mafias who were using national money, and could significantly reduce the imports oil bill. Sharif commended the Punjab government for its ongoing drive against power theft, expressing hope that other provinces would have a similar performance. He emphasized that “utmost efforts and investment” are required to strengthen Pakistan’s power transmission system, “otherwise the power production and investments in the sector would go down the drain unless the flaws in the transmission network are removed.” In another meeting, Sharif directed concerned officials to take significant measures, such as shifting imported coal-run plants and improving the power supply system, to reduce the cost of electricity per unit, thereby benefiting ordinary civilians. He maintained that in the “future, only clean, cost-effective and renewable power plants should be set up in the country.” The meeting was made aware of a 600MW solar power project, with regard to which Sharif called for expediting work on foreign investment. He also called for the acceleration of the auction process of dysfunctional and defective power plants of Power Generation Companies (Gencos). The meeting was additionally apprised of the fact that shifting coal-run power plants from imported to local fuel would save foreign exchange and possibly reduce power prices by PKR two per unit. (Syed Irfan Raza, “PM wants robust renewable energy plan to cut oil bills,” Dawn, 16 April 2024)
 
Ministry of Finance announces hike on price of petrol and HSD
On 15 April, the government increased the prices of petrol and high-speed diesel by PKR 4.53 per litre and PKR 8.14 per litre respectively, for the fortnight ending on 30 April. The price of petrol rose from PKR 289.41 per litre to PKR 293.94 per litre; the price of HSD rose from PKR 282.24 per litre to PKR 290.38 per litre. As per the Ministry of Finance’s notification, these price variations were calculated by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority on the basis of price variations in the international market. While private transport such as small vehicles and rickshaws use petrol, most of the heavy transport such as buses and tractors run on HSD, making the price inflationary. As per informed sources, the prices of petrol and HSD had increased in the international market by roughly USD four and USD 4.50 per barrel respectively. The import premium on petrol, however, dropped by almost 21 per cent to USD 10.7 per barrel over the last fortnight, and the rupee strengthened by about PKR 0.40 against a dollar to reach PKR 278.20. However, the HSD price was up internationally and the import premium paid by Pakistan State Oil remained unchanged at PKR 6.50 per barrel. (“Govt hikes petrol price by Rs4.53, diesel by Rs8.14,” Dawn, 15 April 2024)
 
PROVINCES
Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Heavy rains continue to disrupt life, urban flooding emergency declared in 25 districts
On 15 April, continuing rains for a third consecutive day caused the Balochistan government to declare a rain and flood emergency in 25 districts, while 18 more people were killed and several injured in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Most people in KP died as a result of roof collapse incidents. The downpours and floods also led to roads being closed in several districts. In Balochistan, districts in which a rain and urban flood emergency was declared, have been affected by heavy rains and thunderstorms. Staff in public departments have launched rescue operations, and the education department extended the Eid holidays for two more days. Quetta Division Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat said Quetta had received 156mm of rain over the last three days, blaming encroachment on 82 nullahs around the provincial capital for blocking the flow of rainwater coming from roads and human settlements. He added that over 200 employees of the departments concerned would be sacked for negligence in performing their duties during heavy rains. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his condolences for the lives lost and directed the National Disaster Management Authority to coordinate with provincial disaster management authorities and provide relief to affected areas. (Saleem Shahid & Manzoor Ali, “Urban flooding emergency declared in Balochistan,” Dawn, 16 April 2024)
 

Pakistan on Twitter

Pakistan Army, alongside the Balochistan government, has been instrumental in fostering peace, stability, and socio-economic progress in Balochistan. Through awareness campaigns and security efforts, the Army has encouraged the return of those involved in militancy to the mainstream, promoting a peaceful, prosperous life. Initiatives such as desalination plants, educational institutions, and the monumental Gwadar Port and CPEC projects have furthered development. The Army's role in education, infrastructure, and the upcoming Rekodic project promises a brighter, more prosperous future for Balochistan, attracting both local and foreign investment.
-Balochistan Current Affairs
 
Dear Elon Musk, Pakistan’s authorities have banned Twitter / X for about two months now. Freedom of Expression through your platform is at risk. You raised voice after it was banned in Brazil. Requesting you to highlight this illegal ban in Pakistan!
-Jibran Ilyas
 
The current climate of loot and plunder in Pakistan by the security forces, is unsustainable. Even 100 years can not reform this addiction for power, wealth and MORE. https
-Salman Ahmad

Also read...

Riaz Riazuddin, ‘Concessions, debt & reforms
Dawn, 16 April 2024
“Our economic system serves their interest through concessions in the tax system, the provision of cheaper inputs, higher output prices, and preferential access to land, capital, and infrastructure. Economic incentives directed towards these groups are not helping but retarding the productivity of our economy. Research done at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics shows that it is not only growth but also the total productivity factor of our economy that is on the declining path in the long term. This is extremely alarming.”
 
Editorial, ‘Tough talks
Dawn, 16 April 2024
“Pakistan’s desperation to close a new deal with the IMF is reflective of the perilous state of its economy. In its April 2024 Asian Development Outlook report, the ADB describes Pakistan’s economic prospects as uncertain, with high risks on account of the impact of political uncertainty on the sustainability of stabilisation and reform efforts. Noting that potential supply chain disruptions from the escalation of the Middle East war would weigh on the economy, it says: “With Pakistan’s large external financing requirements and weak external buffers, disbursement from multilateral and bilateral partners remains crucial.” It points out that the IMF support for the reform agenda would improve market sentiment and catalyse affordable external financing from other sources, but warns that “these inflows could be hampered by lapses in policy implementation”.”
 
Editorial, ‘Caught unawares
Dawn, 16 April 2024
“Furthermore, there is a dire need for flood-risk management plans that are regularly updated and rigorously implemented. These should include community-based early warning systems and evacuation plans that are well understood by the public. The efficacy of these measures depends significantly on awareness campaigns that educate people about what to do during floods and storms. Moreover, environmental degradation exacerbates the impact of heavy rains. We must not only maintain but expand our forest cover and manage watersheds and riverbanks with sustainable practices to reduce the speed and impact of run-off.”
 
Dr Shuja Ahmed Mahesar, ‘Gender dynamics of higher education leadership
The Express Tribune, 16 April 2024
“Gender myths create women’s unsuitability for leadership roles because of the prevalent belief that women lack ambition to work in higher positions. Thus, hiring talented but less ambitious women is considered risky. Further the absence of certain traits and qualities traditionally associated with men’s physique make women undesirable incumbents for top positions. Moreover, gender gaps in educational curriculums and textbooks contribute to reinforcement of traditional way of thinking about gender roles, develop stereotypes and generate prejudice and unconscious bias among men causing exclusion of women in decision-making process in higher education.”
 
Dr Moonis Ahmar, ‘Will recognition of Palestine make a difference?
The Express Tribune, 16 April 2024
“Will the recognition of Palestine as a state make a difference in changing the ground reality that presently 60% of occupied West Bank is inundated with Jewish settlements? Millions of Jews, against international law and UNSC resolutions, have been settled by Israeli authorities in Gaza leading to demographic transformation of a land which was occupied by the Jewish state in the Arab-Israeli war of June 1967. So much so that Israel annexed the Palestinian majority territory of East Jerusalem where Al-Aqsa mosque is located. Israel also shifted its capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem violating the UNSC resolution and is in no mood to withdraw from the occupied territories.”

 



 

“Policy clashes are the biggest Achilles heel of the government.”
-An opinion in Dawn, ‘Early exits



Photo : The Express Tribune

15 April 2024, Monday| Vol 5, No.72

Heavy rains and lightening across Pakistan lead to 12 more deaths



PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari warned against the “politics of sit-ins” and called for reconciliation, as a multi-party opposition alliance protested against the coalition government

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
Heavy rains and lightening across Pakistan lead to 12 more deaths
On 14 April, continuing heavy rains in parts of the country caused 12 more deaths- six in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), four in Punjab, and two in Balochistan. In the last few days, at least 39 people have been killed as a result of the recent spate of rains and lightning strikes. In Balochistan, officials claimed there were severe damages in the port city of Gwadar and coastal towns such as Kech and Panjgur. This included heavy losses to houses, and infrastructure, and disruptions to transportation networks that cut off access to areas from Quetta. Electric pylons have also been uprooted, affecting the power supply, while gas supply disruptions and low pressure have been reported in multiple areas. Several mud houses and link roads have also sustained damage.

In Punjab, the deaths on 14 April caused the lightning-related death toll in the province to rise to 21, as per a spokesperson of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA). The Director General of PDMA, Irfan Ali Kathia, issued instructions to provide the best medical care to the injured and assured that financial assistance would be given to the families of the deceased. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari offered condolences for the loss of lives, saying the surge in lightning incidents is due to climate change. He highlighted the role of universities and research institutions in addressing this issue, saying that the challenges posed by climate change need substantive action instead of superficial discourse. Zardari also asked provincial governments to use all possible resources to help the victims. (“Dozen more die in heavy rains, lightning,” Dawn, 15 April 2024)

In Focus
Balochistan: Government to undertake comprehensive reassessment of security plan
On 14 April, a day after nine people were shot dead in Noshki, Balochistan’s Chief Minister Sarfraz Bugti chaired a high-level meeting on law and order, in which a decision was made to revise the province’s security plan to prevent similar incidents in the future. The Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack wherein nine people were abducted from a Taftan-bound bus based on their ethnicity and shot dead, and for a similar attack where two people were killed after they attempted to escape the cordon set up by assailants on the Quetta-Noshki highway. Balochistan Inspector General Abdul Khaliq Sheikh, Chief Secretary Balochistan Shakeel Qadir Khan and other senior civil and military officers attended the meeting. A statement from the Chief Minister’s Secretariat said that the attendees strongly criticized the attack, and agreed to comprehensively revise the security plan. As per the statement, Bugti asserted that the “war against terrorism is not only for security forces,” and that the “war against the enemies of peace is state’s war.”

Aside from security forces, “politicians, civil armed forces, bureaucracy, judiciary, [and] media” have to fight with “political responsibility and a common plan of action.” He also insisted that the heirs of the victims must be compensated within seven days. Earlier on 13 April, Bugti asserted that the security checkpoints on national highways would be revived to protect passengers. He stated: “National highways are the most important routes, and we will protect them. We will formulate a security plan again in the province, establishing checkpoints with joint patrolling of the police, Levies, and the FC [Frontier Corps].” Following the funeral prayers of the victims, he said that the government would probe the incident and would not give any room for negotiations. (Abdullah Zehri, “Balochistan govt to revise security plan following killings in Noshki,” Dawn, 14 April 2024)

In Brief
POLITICS
Bilawal Bhutto calls for talks instead of sit-ins to ensure political stability
On 14 April, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari warned against the “politics of sit-ins” and called for reconciliation, as a multi-party opposition alliance protested against the coalition government. Accusing “some people” of trying to form the “PNA 2.0” and playing with the fate of Pakistan, he reminded them of the history of the “nine stars” who campaigned against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and ended up with a decade-long dictatorship. The Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) was a multi-party movement formed against the PPP government in 1977. Bilawal Bhutto highlighted how the Charter of Democracy and Charter of Reconciliation were the only ways of achieving political stability, adding that the former had been implemented up to 90 per cent. Asserting that the PPP would be at the forefront of this process to achieve stability, he said that the party wanted to use legal fraternity and civil society to achieve the reforms, claiming that since the confidence of people in getting justice from the courts had gone down, “judicial reforms” need to be implemented. The PPP is also “ready to work on the federal level” to implement the 10-point agenda announced during the election campaign.  (MB Kalhoro, “Bilawal for talks, warns against ‘sit-in politics’,” Dawn, 15 April 2024)
 
PTI leader expresses confidence that opposition coalition will oust PML-N led government
On 14 April, PTI leader Omar Ayub Khan said the PTI had “already contacted political parties” to shore up the six-party opposition alliance aimed at ousting the PML-N-led government. Labour organizations and other segments of society would also be reached out to. Following a “very successful” opening public meeting, Khan emphasized that the government formed on the basis of ‘Forms-47s’ in three provinces and the Centre would not be in power for much longer since “they are a product of rigged elections.” Thus the alliance of the six opposition parties, the Tehreek-i-Tahaffuz-i-Ayeen Pakistan (TTAP), would successfully oust the incumbent government with the help of people who had voted for PTI in the 8 February elections. Khan also stated that Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi would be released from Adiala Jail soon. (Saleem Shahid, “Opposition alliance’s ranks swelling, claims PTI,” Dawn¸15 April 2024)
 
ECONOMY
Finance minister and team reach Washington to hold talks on new IMF package
On 14 April, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb and his team arrived in Washington, where they will participate in the IMF and World Bank’s spring meetings and begin discussions on a new financial package worth USD six to eight billion. The meetings will be held from 17 to 19 April, with the team participating in bilateral meetings with IMF and World Bank leaders, senior officials from international financial institutions, and finance ministers from countries including China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Turkey. Earlier, IMF’s Director of Communications, Julie Kozack, stated that the Fund was ready to begin talks on a new loan package on the sides of the upcoming meetings. (Anwar Iqbal, “Finance minister reaches Washington for crucial talks with IMF,” Dawn¸15 April 2024)
 
EXTERNAL
FO expresses “deep concern” over escalating tensions in the Middle East following Iran strike
On 14 April, Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) released a statement expressing “deep concern” over the developments in the Middle East following Iran’s drone strikes on Israel. The Iranian strike came following Israel’s attack on the Iranian consular office in Syria, which the FO had earlier described as a “major escalation in an already volatile region.” However, the rising tensions caused by strikes and retaliatory actions “demonstrate the consequences of the breakdown of diplomacy.” In the statement, the FO also sharply criticized the UN Security Council for being “unable to fulfil its responsibilities of maintaining international peace and security.” In light of the heightening tensions and increasing possibility for a larger regional spillover, the FO highlighted the need to “stabilize the situation and restore peace.” It also called on “all parties to exercise utmost restraint and move towards de-escalation.” (“Pakistan’s Deep Concern over the Ongoing Developments in the Middle East,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 14 April 2024)

PROVINCES
Sindh: Police plans “massive” action against criminals amid surge in violent street crimes
On 13 April, Karachi’s police announced they would launch “massive” action against illegal markets and shops involved in selling and purchasing snatched phones and stolen parts of cars and motorcycles. DIG-West Irfan Ali Baloch said the police were “dismantling” drug dens selling narcotics to “drug addict robbers” in exchange for snatched cell phones. The police had decided to act against shopkeepers who were selling stolen phones after changing their International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers, as citizens were being shot during the snatching of mobile phones. In the last 11 days, eight suspected robbers were shot dead and 42 were arrested with bullet wounds. However, Baloch admitted that robbers could change the IMEI of snatched phones as they have access to software developed for this purpose. In 2023, around 100 people were shot dead by robbers in the city, but in 2024, there has been an upsurge in violent street crimes. As per Baloch, the main reason behind this is the “emergence/establishment of organized gangs” With the police investigating every suspect, it emerged that robbers had set up gangs and networks to commit street crimes. Many who had been arrested and sent to prison multiple times come out as “hardened criminals” and tend to re-engage in violent street crimes without hesitating to kill anyone over resistance. Another factor of concern is the easy availability of arms, and Baloch assured that the police were trying to ascertain where the robbers were getting small arms from. (Imtiaz Ali, “Major action planned in Karachi against buyers of snatched cell phones,” Dawn, 14 April 2024)
 
WORLDVIEW
“Deft statesmanship is the need of the hour to prevent a devastating showdown,” says an editorial in Dawn
On 15 April, an editorial in Dawn titled ‘Iran’s counterstrike’ highlighted how the “entire international community” was on “tenterhooks” following Israel’s strike on Iran’s embassy in Damascus, which killed several members of the Sepah-i-Pasdaran. Iran’s retaliation came in the form of a “barrage of drones and missiles” directed at Israel. While Israel has launched multiple strikes on Iran and its allies in Syria for more than a decade, this was the first time Israel hit an official Iranian facility, and was thus seen by Iran as a “declaration of war.” Following the attack and the response, it is “into the unknown.” The first possibility is “diplomacy and de-escalation,” which can bring the region and the world back from the brink; the second is that a “catastrophic conflagration” can lead to “more devastation, bloodshed and global economic misery.” Israel’s allies in the West have used “sanctimonious adjectives to denounce Tehran’s ‘reckless’ counterstrike,” and have assured of their “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security. However, the rest of the international community, such as China, Russia, and Pakistan, had taken a “more measured approach” and highlighted the need for de-escalation. The editorial asserted that Israel’s attack on Iran’s diplomatic facilities is “largely responsible for this dangerous situation,” and indicates that its “recklessness must be reined in.” Iran was described as having taken the “pragmatic route by demonstrating its deterrence capability while stepping back from all-out war.” However, while officials say the matter has been “concluded,” top generals have emphasized that any Israeli response would face another retaliation. The editorial contended that the Western bloc has to prevent Israel from taking provocative steps instead of “mollycoddling” it, as a decisive Israeli response could mean that a full-scale war is “inevitable.” Thus, Israel must end “the slaughter in Gaza” to end the regional confrontation. It should also cease its “roguish acts of targeting sovereign states. (“Iran’s counterstrike,” Dawn, 15 April 2024)
 

Pakistan on Twitter

We are deeply saddened and shocked over the terrible and tragic events at Westfield Bondi Junction in Sydney, Australia on Saturday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have lost their lives. We also pray for early recovery of the injured.
-Ministry of Foreign Affairs-Pakistan
 
President AAliZardari reaffirms his unwavering commitment to propelling Pakistan towards prosperity and development, while addressing a Jalsa on 45th martyrdom anniversary of Quaid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto today at Garhi Khuda Bux.
-PPP
 
Imran Khan will resume his leadership and be amongst us soon, leading Pakistan towards prosperity once again. God willing.
-Sher Afzal Khan Marwat

Also read...

Umair Javed, ‘After neoliberalism
Dawn, 15 April 2024
“These economic shifts will become more apparent as countries across the Global South attempt to catch up using a variety of different interventionist approaches. Selective engagement with the world, rather than an unencumbered embrace, is likely to be the pattern in the years ahead.”
 
Editorial, ‘Opposition alliance
Dawn, 15 April 2024
“With the government coalition handed two-thirds control of both houses of parliament, the opposition is concerned that this legislative power may be abused to alter the makeup of the Constitution — especially in light of past experience when controversial legislation was hastily approved by the then ruling PDM coalition. It is likely that the opposition parties feel they must be in a position to challenge any attempt at legislative overreach by the government and to build up enough public pressure to deter the current set-up from getting too adventurous in law-making.”
 
Muhammad Majid Bashir, ‘Judicial success of the Hague Convention in Pakistan
The Express Tribune, 15 April 2024
“These judgments have opened and discussed all available legal avenues related to international parental child abduction issues that the judiciary will face while deciding child custody cases in near future. The judgments have covered and observed all issues related to child custody mentioned in Guardian and Ward Act and the Hague Convention. The judgments reflect and contain high standard of reciprocity of international comity, compliance and solution-oriented schemes and way forward to resolve international parental child abduction issues in an understandable and non-conflicting modes.”
 
Shahid Javed Burki, ‘The world has changed, so should the countries of Global South
The Express Tribune, 15 April 2024
“With a weakening global economy and one that is under all kinds of stresses, countries in the global South will need to squeeze every bit of growth they can from every part of their economies. To do that, industrial policy is essential even though using that as the approach has been discouraged by development experts. Industrial policy is essential, says Harvard University’s Dani Rodrik. He and other development experts say that even the right kind of industrial policy in place gains are likely to be modest and achieved with a great deal of effort. “The envelope has shrunk,” said Rodrik. “How much growth we can get is definitely less than in the past.”

 



 

“Pakistan has much to learn from the global debate to reimagine governance.”
-An opinion in Dawn, ‘Governance & competent states



Photo : The Express Tribune

13 April 2024, Saturday| Vol 5, No.71

LHC judge holds definition of “child” in Child Marriage Act, 1929, to be “discriminatory”



Balochistan government rejected claims that there were “thousands of missing persons’ cases."

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
LHC judge holds definition of “child” in Child Marriage Act, 1929, to be “discriminatory”
On 13 April, Dawn reported that the Lahore High Court (LHC) declared the definition of “child” in the Child Marriage Act, 1929, as unconstitutional, and directed the Punjab government to revise the provincial version of the legislation to end the age-based distinction between males and females. Justice Shahid Karim observed in a judgement that the definition, “while making a distinction on the basis of age, is not based on intelligible criteria having nexus with the object of the law.”
 
The judgement was passed in response to a public interest petition filed by Azka Wahid, represented by Barristers Hamza Shahid and Daraab Wali, who challenged the definition of “child” contained in the 1929 Act as amended by the Punjab Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 2015, to criminalize child marriage in the province. Section 2 (a) of the 1929 Act says that a “child” is a person who, if a male, is under the age of 18, and if a female, is under the age of 16. The lawyers asked the LHC to declare this section unconstitutional as it offends the equality clause in the Constitution. Karim stated that while scientifically a female attains puberty at a different age, it does not necessarily allow a parent to marry off a female child. He also remarked that the “right question to ask is whether, notwithstanding the appearance of signs of puberty differently in males and females, the government is empowered to prescribe a minimum age for marriage or not?”
 
While the theme of the 1929 Act is to “restrain the solemnisation of child marriage,” its purpose has been muddled by providing different ages for males and females. As per a report by the advocate general, in Pakistan, many children are victims of child marriage, of which 21 per cent of girls are married before the age of 18. The report also cited the Demographic Health Survey of Pakistan (2017-18), which states that though the average age of marriage of girls is increasing, child marriage at the age of 15 has also risen from 1.6 to 1.8 per cent. Thus, Karim noted: “We, as a nation, woefully lag in all major indicators and half of our population cannot be lost to child-bearing at an early age, while its potential remains untapped.” He also asserted that the “definition of child, in its present form, in 1929 Act, is discriminatory.” (Wajih Ahmad Sheikh, “Child Marriage Act 1929: Striking down gender-based definition of ‘child’, LHC seeks revised legislation,” Dawn, 13 April 2024)

In Brief
POLITICS
Opposition coalition TTAP to hold countrywide movement against 8 February elections
On 13 April, PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan announced that a coalition of six opposition parties under the name of Tehreek Tahafuz Ayeen-i-Pakistan (TTAP) would hold a countrywide movement for the rule of law. The coalition is set to hold public meetings on 13 April, and will also try and gain the support of bar associations, university students, and other parties for the campaign against the PML-N-led coalition. Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party’s (PkMAP) Chairman, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, was nominated as president of the alliance following a meeting of the parties, which was presided over by BNP-M Chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal.
 The chairman of the Sunni Ittehad Council, Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen, and the leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami were also present. Khan clarified that the movement was being launched against alleged rigging in the 8 February elections, in an attempt to protect the constitution, restore the rule of law, and reject the ‘government’ established by allegedly tampering with the election result. They also rejected the hike in gas and electricity rates, and Khan added: “All political parties have joined the opposition alliance of their own will in view of the deteriorating situation in all fields.” Achakzai specified that the opposition coalition was not “against the army,” but had “objections to its political role.” JI’s Liaquat Baloch also stated: “I agree with the decision and announcement of the alliance meeting and we will give our stance after the meeting of Jamaat’s Shura.” Khan explained that the protest would begin in Balochistan and then expand across the country. (Saleem Shahid, “Opposition alliance to launch countrywide drive,” Dawn, 13 April 2024)
 
ECONOMY
Government borrowing from domestic banks reaches a high in the first nine months of FY24
On 13 April, Business Recorder reported that as per data from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the federal government’s budgetary borrowing from the scheduled banks increased by 138 per cent to reach a record high of PKR 4.8 trillion during the first nine months of FY24. The rising spending requirements, which forced the government to borrow from scheduled banks, were done to finance the fiscal deficit. In the same period in FY23, borrowing from scheduled banks stood at PKR 2.033 trillion.
 Under the IMF’s Stand-by Arrangement (SBA), the government had to restrict its borrowing from the SBP; instead, it repaid PKR 33.27 billion during the first nine months of FY24 against the borrowing of PKR 828.6 in the corresponding period of FY23. Statistics for the period under review indicated that provincial governments have better financial health, as they cumulatively repaid PKR 315.4 to the SBP. However, the crisis facing the federal government has forced it to borrow more from domestic banks, and it plans to borrow PKR five trillion in the last quarter of FY24 to finance its budget deficit through treasury bills and bonds. (Rizwan Bhatti, “Jul-Mar period: Govt borrowing soars to record high of Rs4.8trn,” Business Recorder, 13 April 2024)
 
SECURITY
Unidentified militants kill 11 people in Balochistan’s Nushki district
On 12 April, as per the Deputy Commissioner of Nushki, Habibullah Musakhel, unidentified militants gunned down 11 persons in Balochistan’s Nushki district. More than a dozen militants blocked the Quetta-Nushki-Taftan N-40 National Highway at a point which was a kilometre away from Nushki and started checking vehicles, before opening fire on a vehicle that did not stop. The bus, which was driven by the brother of JI Balochistan MPA Ghulam Dastgir Badini, overturned and caused two people to die and two to sustain injuries. A motorcyclist was also hit and injured. An officer added that militants stopped a passenger bus from Quetta, and abducted nine persons who had their address listed as Punjab. Later, their bodies were found under a bridge in the vicinity. The men were labourers belonging to Mandi Bahauddin, Wazirabad and Gujranwala. Police have speculated Baloch separatist organizations could be responsible, and have launched a search operation in the area. Balochistan’s Chief Minister, Mir Sarfraz Bugti, condemned the murders and emphasized that the terrorists responsible for the inhuman crime would not be pardoned. (Salman Ashraf, “11 killed as terrorists strike in Nushki,” The News International, 13 April 2024)
  
PROVINCES
Balochistan: Government asserts resolving missing persons’ case is a priority
On 12 April, the Balochistan government rejected claims that there were “thousands of missing persons’ cases,” asserting that the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances was functioning to resolve complaints. It also denied the allegations accusing authorities of stalling probes into the matter. As per the government, the cases with the Commission were not in “thousands,” and several fake cases had been detected as well. A spokesperson mentioned that the government was prioritizing resolving the issue of missing persons, and stated: “If a family thinks that a member is missing, then it can directly contact the commission.” Some individuals named in the list were found involved in terror activities, as per the spokesperson. (“‘Some’ missing persons linked to terror incidents, claims Balochistan govt,” The News International, 12 April 2024)
 
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Protestors block highway following action against Hazara officers over Bisham attack
On 12 April, protestors from Kohistan protesting the federal government’s punitive action against Hazara Division police officers over a failure to prevent a terrorist attack on Chinese nationals in March, blocked the Karakoram Highway. Maulana Khairun Nas told protestors in Lower Kohistan that the “incident has happened in neighbouring Shangla district [but] deputy inspector general of police Hazara and district police officers of Upper and Lower Kohistan have been suspended and facing inquiries.” In Upper Kohistan, residents led by Maulana Wali Jan Tohidee blocked the highway, raising slogans against the federal government for failing to take action against those who had failed to check the attack on the Chinese nationals’ convoy in Bisham. Nas asserted: “We strongly condemn such cowardly attack on Chinese at KKH in Shangla, but at the same time declare the federal government action against Hazara police illogical and discriminatory.” They also criticized Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for allegedly ignoring the family of a Kohistani driver who was killed in the attack, emphasizing that if a “financial package” for his family is not provided, the protest would continue. (Nisar Ahmad Khan, “Protesters decry punishment for Hazara officers over Bisham attack,” Dawn, 13 April 2024)
 

Pakistan on Twitter

Opposition parties announce Movement for Protection of Constitution of Pakistan from Quetta.
-Mubashir Zaidi
 
Economists are predicting that one crore more Pakistanis will go below the poverty line in the next one year. The total number will be ten crore. This govt is going to be the most incompetent govt in the history of Pakistan.
-Anwar Lodhi
 
And Asim Munir thinks that he can shut down social media and all will be well. No one is safe from the Wardi, and no one will invest in Pakistan’s law of the jungle.
-Salman Ahmad

Also read...

Afzal Ali Shigri, ‘An endless wait for rights
Dawn, 13 April 2024
“After GB’s liberation, its simple and trusting locals witnessed Pakistani officials taking charge, raised the flag and presumed integration with Pakistan. Unbeknownst to them, the infamous Karachi Agreement of 1949 had transpired, wherein the Kashmiri leadership, deeming the area a financial burden, handed over its administration to Pakistan without securing any guarantees for the rights of the people, and sealing their fate in a constitutional limbo that continues to this day.”
 
Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, ‘Climate governance revisited
Dawn, 13 April 2024
“The CCA, if established without revisiting its role, will violate the principles of good governance as it combines regulatory and policy functions. The only organic link between the climate division and the ministry is the person of the secretary, who will also serve as secretary of the proposed authority. But he will not formally be part of any federal forum where the provinces are also represented.”
 
Editorial, ‘Security lapses
Dawn, 13 April 2024
“A re-evaluation of how security is conceptualised and implemented here is long overdue. Ensuring the safety of foreign citizens is paramount, not just for diplomatic relations but for our economic future. Our friendly ties can only weather so much. How long before the Chinese decide to reconsider their investments here? Their citizens have come under attack too many times since the multibillion-dollar CPEC project was announced in 2015 — one that has been seen as a game changer for infrastructure, transport and electricity.”
 
Editorial, ‘An eventful season
Dawn, 13 April 2024
“The current state of affairs appears to be precisely what political observers had long predicted: that the general election would give birth to another fractured parliament which would be amenable to being controlled from behind the scenes. Although initial results made it seem that the voters may have briefly upset that plan, the final outcome has been that which many perceive to be ‘preordained’. The ECP dutifully kept moving the goalposts, seemingly to ensure that the ‘plan’ did not go awry.”
 
Rakhshanda Mehtab, ‘Modi’s election gambit: stirring controversy over Katchatheevu
The Express Tribune, 13 April 2024
“As the election draws near, Modi has begun utilising cunning strategies to boost his popularity. He created a new narrative about Desh Rakhwali. A strange dispute concerning incidents that occurred fifty years ago is becoming a focal point of the Indian election campaign. Modi and BJP have started criticising the main opposition of the day for giving a small, uninhabited island to Sri Lanka in 1974, right before voting, which is scheduled to start in less than two weeks.”
 
Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri, ‘Of the poor, middle-class and the aristocrats
The Express Tribune, 13 April 2024
“Health and education is a luxury for more than 75% of people, and relying on government-funded subsidies is no less than a nightmare and disgracefully subjugating. Pakistan’s per capita income is lowest in South Asia, and its out-of-school kids’ ratio is highest in the world.”

 



 

“Ours is a society in decay, afflicted by a deep rot.”
-An opinion in Dawn, ‘Roots of barbarism

 


Photo : Dawn

12 April 2024, Friday | Vol 5, No.70

IMF chief notes “very important issues” have to be solved amid bid for new loan



UN human rights experts call for protection for minority girls from forced marriages; Tariffs on electricity bills to reduce for April

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
IMF chief notes “very important issues” have to be solved amid bid for new loan
On 11 April, the Managing Director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, said while Pakistan is engaged in discussions with the Fund for a potential follow-up programme to the previous nine-month USD three billion stand-by arrangement (SBA), important issues need to be solved. She noted Pakistan for completing the existing programme and taking measures that brought some improvements to the economy, and appreciated the country’s “commitment to continue on this path.”

However, Georgieva then highlighted that there are “very important issues to be solved in Pakistan: the tax base, how the richer part of society contributes to the economy, the way public spending is being directed and of course, creating … a more transparent environment.” Earlier in March, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb expressed hope for reaching a staff-level agreement (SLA) on the last review of the SBA, by the end of FY24. He added that the IMF seemed to be “very receptive” to a “larger and longer programme” in his recent communications with them. (“Important issues remain to be solved as Pakistan seeks potential follow-up programme: IMF chief,” Dawn, 11 April 2024)

In Focus
UN human rights experts call for protection for minority girls from forced marriages
On 11 April, UN human rights experts in a statement expressed dismay over the lack of protection for women and girls from minority communities in Pakistan. These girls, especially those from Christian and Hindu families, “remain particularly vulnerable to forced religious conversion, abduction, trafficking, child, early and forced marriage, domestic servitude and sexual violence.” The experts included special rapporteurs on forms of slavery, trafficking, and minority issues, who belong to the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council. They asserted that the “exposure of young women and girls belonging to religious minority communities to such heinous human rights violations and the impunity of such crimes can no longer be tolerated or justified.” Further, they highlighted how these marriages were “validated by the courts, often invoking religious law to justify keeping victims with their abductors rather than allowing them to return them to their parents.”

The experts also criticized the fact that “perpetrators often escape accountability, with police dismissing crimes under the guise of ‘love marriages’.” They asserted that early and forced marriages could not be justified using religion or culture, and citing international law, noted that consent remains irrelevant if the victim is a child under the age of 18. As per Article 14 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, “change of religion or belief in all circumstances must be free, without coercion and undue inducements.” The experts also emphasized the need for a “woman’s right to choose a spouse and freely enter into marriage” to be “protected and upheld by law.” They called on Pakistani officials to “enact and rigorously enforce laws to ensure that marriages are contracted only with the free and full consent of the intended spouses,” and raise the minimum marriage age for girls from 16 to 18. (Amin Ahmed, “UN experts alarmed by lack of protection for minority girls from forced marriages, conversions,” Dawn, 12 April 2024)

In Brief
ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT
Tariffs on electricity bills to reduce for April
On 11 April, the Federal Minister for Energy, Sardar Awais Khan Leghari, announced a reduction of PKR 3.82 per unit on electricity bills for April, providing relief to households and businesses facing rising utility costs. The reduction of PKR 2.14 per unit came as the fuel price adjustments for April have been set at PKR 4.92 per unit, down from PKR 7.06 per unit in March. Previously, the adjustment was PKR 4.43 per unit. Leghari said that this reduction highlights the government’s commitment to easing the burden on consumers, and was done due to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s aim to reduce the problems of the people. He also noted that NEPRA consistently reviews and determines fuel price adjustments to maintain transparency and fairness in the bills. Leghari added that this reduction is crucial to avoid increasing Pakistan’s deficit. (“Govt announces reduction in electricity tariffs,” The Express Tribune, 11 April 2024)
 
EXTERNAL
Zardari notes need to exchange information during call with Iran’s Raisi
On 11 April, as per a statement released from President Asif Ali Zardari’s office, Zardari held a phone call with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi, where he highlighted the need to enhance the “exchange of information to overcome the security challenges” facing both countries. Zardari offered his “heartfelt condolences and sympathies with the Iranian leadership and the bereaved families who lost their dear ones in the Israeli attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus.” Further, he expressed concern over the “humanitarian crisis and the genocide being committed by the Israeli forces and called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.” Zardari also assured Raisi that Pakistan would continue working with Iran to enhance bilateral cooperation. (Nadir Guramani, “In phone call with Iran’s Raisi, Zardari stresses exchange of information to overcome security challenges,” Dawn, 12 April 2024)
 
PROVINCES
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: IGP says 88 terrorists have been killed in 2024
On 11 April, the Inspector General of Police of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Akhtar Hayat Khan, said that since 1 January 2024, 88 terrorists were neutralized as part of anti-terror operations, including high-value targets. 41 police personnel were also killed in the same time period. He noted an improvement in the law and order situation in Dera Ismail Khan (DIK) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) while asserting that intelligence-based operations (IBOs) would continue to be carried out to pursue militants. Khan claimed that the “security of foreigners has been improved.” (Shakeel Farman Ali, “'88 terrorists killed in 2024 so far': IG KP on security situation in province,” The News International, 11 April 2024)

Punjab: Police denounce “fake propaganda” after videos go viral on social media
On 10 April, the Punjab police decried “fake propaganda” after multiple videos showing Pakistan Army officers allegedly beating up cops in Bahawalnagar went viral on social media. The police asserted on X that the matter had been “taken out of context and exaggerated.” Earlier on 9 April, videos showering men in army uniforms allegedly beating up police officials in Bahawalnagar, a man sitting on the ground with a bloody nose, and a man and two army personnel forcing policemen to kneel in a queue, were released and went viral. The footage resulted in immediate outrage, with PTI leader Hammad Azhar saying the Punjab police chief should have resigned immediately, and criticizing the provincial government for considering the matter to be “trivial.” PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan said the incident, which reflected a “malady which has penetrated deep into societal fabric,” required a “transparent and comprehensive inquiry with its report to be made public without editing.” However, on 10 April, the police said the episode was showcased in a way to “imply that there has been fighting between the Pakistan Army and Punjab Police.” They added that following the release of the videos, “both institutions launched a joint investigation” wherein officers from both sides “reviewed the facts and peacefully resolved the matter.” The police’s statement asked social media users to “not spread fake propaganda,” but did not give details on what transpired between the men in the video. (“Punjab police decry ‘fake propaganda’ after video of cops being assaulted in Bahawalnagar goes viral,” Dawn, 11 April 2024)
 
Sindh: CM and caretaker home minister exchange blame over deteriorating security situation
On 11 April, Sindh’s Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, and former caretaker Home Minister Brig (retd) Haris Nawaz exchanged blame amid a spike in street crime cases across the province and in Karachi particularly. Shah claimed that the reshuffle within the police department by the caretaker government ahead of the elections “affected the entire policing system.” However, the PPP-led government “is taking strict measures to improve the overall law and order situation, including in Karachi, rural areas, and particularly in the katcha (riverine) area.” Shah stated that the PPP government improved the security situation in Sindh in the past, and the newly established government had been successful in neutralizing dacoits in the katcha area, and arresting bandits and street criminals. He pointed out that in 2008, when the PPP was not ruling in Sindh, Karachi was ranked as the 7th most dangerous city globally by the International Crime Index; however, the PPP “restored law and order after coming into power,” and when it left in 2023, Karachi was ranked 128th on the same index. In response, Nawaz said that the caretaker government had not appointed any superintendent police (SP), deputy superintendent police (DSP) or SHO. While Shah “has his own point of view,” the caretaker government “approved postings of the officers with good reputation.” Nawaz added that during the tenure of the caretaker set-up, the “crime rate was very low.” He suggested enhancing the patrolling of police and Rangers’ contingents as ways to improve Karachi’s situation. (“Reshuffle in Sindh police by caretakers affected entire policing system: CM Shah,” The News International, 11 April 2024)
 

Pakistan on Twitter

In a major blow to trans-border drug smuggling networks, Jalandhar Commissionerate Police arrests 1 associate of Jaipal Bhullar Gang and recovers 3 Kg of Heroin and 2 pistols. Investigations reveal the racket was sourcing Heroin across the border from Pakistan. FIR under NDPS Act registered and Investigations on-going to establish backward & forward linkages. PunjabPoliceInd is committed to destroy the drugs supply-chain and make our state drug-free.
-DGP Punjab Police
 
Senior officials from the Pakistan Army and Punjab Police convened, reconciled their differences, raised slogans together, and resolved the issue stemming from the Bahawalnagar incident.
-Shrafat Ali
 
This jawan of Punjab Police not only resigned from his job but also burned his commando uniform in protest against an attack by Pakistan Army soldiers on a police station in Bahawalnagar. Is it a fake news or those who are denying this incident are spreading fake news?
-Hamid Mir

Also read...

Rafia Zakaria, ‘The American eclipse
Dawn, 10 April 2024
“During the afternoon of April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse bisected the US. Not everyone sees solar and lunar eclipses as purely scientific events that have to do with the physical position of the moon or Earth and the sun’s light. According to myths and legends — and there are many in different religious traditions and cultures — solar eclipses are moments of omens and portents. For weeks leading up to the event, astrologers and psychics predict all kinds of things that could happen in the months following the eclipse. Astrologers say that the total time during which the sun is obscured, in this case three and a half to four minutes, corresponds to that many number of months in terms of the duration of the eclipse’s ‘effects’. As if the eclipse were not enough, a comet called 12/P Pons-Brooks has also appeared in the sky at the same time as the eclipse. This comet, which appears every 71 years, is called the ‘Devil’s comet’ because it has a horned shape. The first spectacular image of the comet, which can be seen with the naked eye in many parts of the US, shows a bluish tail against the darkness of the sky. The last time that this comet was seen was in 1954 and it will not appear again until the end of the century in 2095.”

Neda Mulji, ‘Teacher well-being
Dawn, 10 April 2024
“With overworked and underpaid professionals, the teaching profession has earned itself a bad name. Many schools have to contend with disgruntled employees who have to get by with a second job or rely on a spouse’s earnings. Teachers have to keep themselves motivated riding on the gratification they get from developing potential in their students and enabling their academic success. Things could change if schools were to take responsibility for their teachers’ well-being. If we wish to create a ‘positive’ school culture where the pupils’ health, safety and emotional and social well-being are catered to, it is imperative that teachers learn the tools for self-care. Most teachers complain of a sub-optimal work-life balance but don’t take steps to rectify it. They have their own home lives, children and extended families, as well as pupils that they are responsible for. In this mix, well-being programmes are essential for teachers to remain motivated, sustain a healthy mindset and model the right behaviour in class.”

Aftab Ahmed Khanzada, ‘Waiting is like killing life
The Express Tribune, 10 April 2024
“Canadian author Heidi Priebe says: “If there’s one thing we all need to stop doing, it’s waiting around for someone else to show up and change our lives. Just be the person you’ve been waiting for. Live your life as if you are the love of it. Because that’s the only thing you know for sure- that through every triumph, every failure, every fear and every gain that you will ever experience until the day you die, you are going to be present. You are going to be the person who shows up to accept your rewards. You are going to be the person who holds your own hand when you’re broken. You are going to be the person who gets yourself up off the floor every time you get knocked down and if those things are not love-of-your-life qualities, I don’t know what are.”

 



 

“The miltablishment may have lost in the short-term, but it can rise like a phoenix.”
-An editorial in The Friday Times, ‘Elections 2024: Militablishment Should Accept Defeat



Photo : Dawn

11 April 2024, Thursday| Vol 5, No.69

COAS highlights need to “safeguard the hard-earned peace”



Demand for VPNs surge following social media blackouts; Two per cent rise in pending cases in special courts

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
COAS highlights need to “safeguard the hard-earned peace”
On 10 April, the Chief of Army Staff, General Asim Munir, highlighted a “collective imperative” to safeguard Pakistan’s hard-earned peace during a celebration of Eidul Fitr in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. As per the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), he prayed for the “enduring stability and prosperity of Pakistan,” and “conveyed heartfelt Eidul Fitr greetings to the troops, commending their unwavering dedication and service to the nation.”

Following this, Munir was given a “comprehensive briefing on operational readiness and the prevailing security landscape, with a specific focus on border security measures along the Pak-Afghan border.” He attributed the strides taken in fostering peace and stability to the sacrifices of soldiers which have helped in “facilitating [a] secure environment conducive to socio-economic development, particularly in the newly merged districts and throughout KP.” Munir additionally called on “all stakeholders, especially the local populace, to remain vigilant against adversarial elements seeking to destabilise the region.” (Iftikhar Shirazi, “On Eidul Fitr, COAS Munir underscores ‘collective imperative’ to safeguard country’s hard-earned peace,” Dawn, 10 April 2024)

In Focus
Demand for VPNs surge following social media blackouts
On 10 April, The News International reported that as per Top10VPN, an independent review website which provides information on issues affecting internet freedom globally, Pakistan ranks third in the list of the five longest internet shutdowns in 2024. This prolonged social media blackouts and inaccessibility of X led to the demand for VPN increasing by more than double. The co-founder of Data Darbar, Mutaher Khan, said to The News: “As per data.ai, VPN services and web accelerators were the fastest growing subgenre in 2023, rising by 42 per cent. Pakistan too witnessed a spike in VPN usage during the year amid a host of internet restrictions.”

As per Top10VPN’s live tracker, following the access to X being blocked on 17 February, the VPN demand in Pakistan increased by 131 per cent on 19 February. Khan claimed that the use of VPN is “quite neutral and, in some cases, even needed,” and asserted that the “heavy-handed approach” being taken by the Pakistani government in “policing the internet” will not “work in technology, where innovation will always outspace the regulations.” Digital rights activist Usama Khilji stated VPNs provide security to those who are susceptible to surveillance from hostile state and non-state actors.” The News also cited the Global VPN Adoption Index, in which Pakistan ranks 19 out of 86 countries where VPN usage is high. A minimum of 27,622,389 VPN downloads were made in the country, an increase of over 50 per cent from 2022. (Aimen Siddiqui, “VPN apps in Pakistan see surge in demand,” The News International, 10 April 2024)

In Brief
POLITICS
Imran Khan warns that 1971 Dhaka tragedy may repeat itself
On 9 April, Imran Khan warned that the current developments in Pakistan could result in an economic collapse similar to the 1971 Dhaka tragedy, and advised powers that be that an unstable economy cannot support countries and institutions. This message was conveyed by PTI Central Information Secretary Raoof Hasan after the party’s legal team, including Salman Akram Raja, Intazar Panjutha, Shoaib Shaheen and Naeem Panjutha, met Khan at Adiala Jail. Raja claimed that Khan was worried for Pakistan and its people, and narrated the latter's message saying: “When you don’t give rights to the people, you cannot say the economy will grow. In 1970, army chief Yahya Khan wanted a hung parliament, but when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s party got a clear majority, the army held a fraud by-election in which 80 seats of Awami League were snatched as Yahya Khan wanted to become president.” He added that Khan wanted to remind the Hamoodur Rahman Commission report that Pakistan is “again going to repeat the same blunders which” were made in the past. The London Plan came about in 1979, and in 2024, a “government has been imposed through London Plan.” However, Raja claimed that Khan had consistently hinted at being open to talk to the military establishment. (Ikram Junaidi, “Events may lead to another ‘Dhaka tragedy’, PTI warns,” Dawn, 10 April 2024)
 
JUDICIARY
Two per cent rise in pending cases in special courts
On 10 April, Dawn cited the performance evaluation report of the Administrative Tribunals and Special Courts (ATSC) released by the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP), as per which the ATSC decided 137,316 cases in 2023 and pending litigation rose by two per cent. ASTC courts are established are federal and provincial law, and are supervised by ministries at the federal level and departments at the provincial level. Of the 324 ATSCs functioning across Pakistan, 145 were functioning federally and 179 provincially. 160,697 cases were already pending, 135,824 new cases were instituted in 2023, and the number of pending cases rose from 160,697 to 163,211. In the federal ASTCs, the number of pending cases rose by 5.7 per cent; 78,652 fresh cases were filed and 74,384 were decided. 83 per cent of the cases pertained to fiscal and service matters in the Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue, Banking Courts, and Federal Service Tribunal. In the provincial ASTCs, the number of pending cases was reduced by 11 per cent; 57,172 fresh cases were filed and 62,932 were decided. 82 per cent of the cases were pending in Anti-Corruption and Consumer Courts, Provincial Service Tribunals, and Labour Courts. In the report, the LJCP recommended federal and provincial governments streamline the working of the courts to reduce pendency and offer expeditious justice. (Nasir Iqbal, “Pending cases in special courts, tribunals rise 2pc in 2023,” Dawn, 10 April 2024)
  
PROVINCES
Sindh: PTI and JI issue sharp criticism of PPP-led government over rise in street crimes
On 9 April, a day after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) demanded Karachi be handed over to the army, both the PTI and the JI blamed the PPP government for being unable to curb crimes and control Sindh’s deteriorating security situation, particularly in Karachi. PTI-Sindh President Haleem Adil Sheikh called for the resignation of the Sindh police chief and condemned the rise in incidents of street crimes and murders in Karachi, stating that in the last three months, 59 Karachiites died while resisting robberies. In the month of Ramzan alone, 20 citizens were killed by robbers. Sheikh accused the PPP-led Sindh government of being responsible for “rampant corruption and violation.” He also highlighted the poor security situation in other parts of the province, pointing out that dacoits in Kandhkot and Kashmore abducted more than 400 people. PTI leader Jamal Siddiqui similarly accused the PPP of being uninterested in the welfare of the people of Karachi, alleging that the police had become ineffective due to political interference. JI Chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman reinstated his demand to purge the Sindh police of “black sheep” and induct residents into the force. After visiting families of JI members who were killed during recent robbery bids, he stated that Karachiites were at the mercy of street criminals. Rehman also condemned senior police officials and the home minister for their “total failure in handling crimes and criminals” in Karachi. (“PPP under fire from opposition PTI, Jamaat over surge in street crime, killings in Karachi,” Dawn, 10 April 2024)
 
Sindh: Minister blames “illegal residents” for surge in street crimes
On 10 April, a senior Sindh minister, Sharjeel Inam Memon, claimed “illegal residents” in Karachi are to blame for the major spike in street crimes. He assured that the “Sindh government is making every possible effort to control street crimes.” As per the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, thousands of street crimes that left hundreds dead were registered in Karachi in 2023, and the same pattern continued in the first three months of 2024. Additional Inspector General (AIG) Karachi Imran Yaqoob Minhas shed light on the fact that around 300,000-400,000 professional beggars make their way to Karachi during Ramadan. (“‘Illegal residents behind rampant street crimes in Karachi’,” The News International, 10 April 2024)
 
Balochistan: Bus carrying pilgrims crashes, killing at least 17
On 10 April, the Assistant Superintendent of Police of Balochistan’s Hub district, Ahmed Talha Wali, confirmed that at least 17 people were killed and over 40 injured after a truck carrying pilgrims plunged into a ravine. The bus was headed to the Shah Norrani shrine from Thatta. Edhi Foundation’s Hub in-charge, Manan Baloch, confirmed that the rescue operation concluded on 11 April. As per Deputy Commissioner Munir Ahmed, the truck was overspeeding and the driver lost control while taking a turn. Following the accident, on 11 April, Balochistan’s Chief Minister, Mir Sarfraz Bugti, expressed sorrow over the loss of lives and directed officials to provide proper health facilities to the injured. Sindh’s Chief Minister, Murad Ali Shah, also expressed grief at the number of casualties. Lax safety measures, poor driving training, decrepit transport infrastructure, and overcrowded passenger buses result in a large number of road accidents. According to the World Health Organization, more than 27,000 people were killed on Pakistan’s roads in 2018. (Ismail Sasoli, “17 killed as truck carrying pilgrims plunges into ravine in Balochistan’s Hub,” Dawn, 11 April 2024)
 

Pakistan on Twitter

Repealing the 18th Amendment in Pakistan would disrupt the federal-provincial balance and potentially destabilize the political landscape.
- Shareen Khan

Despite the challenges and controversies, Imran Khan remains a prominent figure in Pakistani politics. His supporters continue to rally behind him, inspired by his vision for a better Pakistan.
-Sufia Bukhari

Some in Pakistan attribute key economic performance indicators to politics. Other factors also play an important role, e.g., oil prices. They continued to fall during 2013-2017 before the trend changed.
-Yousuf Nazar

Also read...

Rafia Zakaria, ‘The American eclipse
Dawn, 10 April 2024
“During the afternoon of April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse bisected the US. Not everyone sees solar and lunar eclipses as purely scientific events that have to do with the physical position of the moon or Earth and the sun’s light. According to myths and legends — and there are many in different religious traditions and cultures — solar eclipses are moments of omens and portents. For weeks leading up to the event, astrologers and psychics predict all kinds of things that could happen in the months following the eclipse. Astrologers say that the total time during which the sun is obscured, in this case three and a half to four minutes, corresponds to that many number of months in terms of the duration of the eclipse’s ‘effects’. As if the eclipse were not enough, a comet called 12/P Pons-Brooks has also appeared in the sky at the same time as the eclipse. This comet, which appears every 71 years, is called the ‘Devil’s comet’ because it has a horned shape. The first spectacular image of the comet, which can be seen with the naked eye in many parts of the US, shows a bluish tail against the darkness of the sky. The last time that this comet was seen was in 1954 and it will not appear again until the end of the century in 2095.”

Neda Mulji, ‘Teacher well-being
Dawn, 10 April 2024
“With overworked and underpaid professionals, the teaching profession has earned itself a bad name. Many schools have to contend with disgruntled employees who have to get by with a second job or rely on a spouse’s earnings. Teachers have to keep themselves motivated riding on the gratification they get from developing potential in their students and enabling their academic success. Things could change if schools were to take responsibility for their teachers’ well-being. If we wish to create a ‘positive’ school culture where the pupils’ health, safety and emotional and social well-being are catered to, it is imperative that teachers learn the tools for self-care. Most teachers complain of a sub-optimal work-life balance but don’t take steps to rectify it. They have their own home lives, children and extended families, as well as pupils that they are responsible for. In this mix, well-being programmes are essential for teachers to remain motivated, sustain a healthy mindset and model the right behaviour in class.”

Aftab Ahmed Khanzada, ‘Waiting is like killing life
The Express Tribune, 10 April 2024
“Canadian author Heidi Priebe says: “If there’s one thing we all need to stop doing, it’s waiting around for someone else to show up and change our lives. Just be the person you’ve been waiting for. Live your life as if you are the love of it. Because that’s the only thing you know for sure- that through every triumph, every failure, every fear and every gain that you will ever experience until the day you die, you are going to be present. You are going to be the person who shows up to accept your rewards. You are going to be the person who holds your own hand when you’re broken. You are going to be the person who gets yourself up off the floor every time you get knocked down and if those things are not love-of-your-life qualities, I don’t know what are.”

 



 

“A transparent audit of stress factors is needed.”
- An opinion in Dawn, ‘Teacher well-being



Photo : Dawn/PSX

10 April 2024, Wednesday| Vol 5, No.68

KSE-100 passes 70,000 milestone following optimism over Saudi investment



Federal government to declare education emergency; PPP’s Gilani and PML-N’s Nasir elected as chairman and deputy chairman of Senate

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
KSE-100 passes 70,000 milestone following optimism over Saudi investment
On 9 April, shares at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) surged by more than 600 points due to optimism over Saudi Arabian investment. The KSE-100 surged by 1.25 per cent to reach 70,493.02. The Chief Executive of Topline Securities, Mohammed Sohail, noted that the market crossed the 70,000 point milestone after “positive news on Saudi investment and deposits” received a day earlier when Saudi Arabia agreed to fast-track the initial tranche of USD five billion investment in Pakistan. The same was echoed by the Director of research at Next Capital Limited, Shahab Farooq, who stated: “Optimism of investment package from Saudi Arabia, high remittances, and continued foreign buying are fueling positive sentiments in the market.” Further, the Director of research at Chase Securities, Yousuf M Farooq, said that “optimism regarding the economy” has helped the market to rally, as “remittance numbers for March 2024 came in at USD three billion, likely resulting in a current account surplus for the month, which bodes well for currency stability.” (“KSE-100 index hits record high, crosses 70,000 milestone on optimism over Saudi investment,” Dawn, 9 April 2024)

In Focus
Federal government to declare education emergency; Malala Yousafzai calls for increased expenditure on education
On 9 April, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced that the federal government would declare a national education emergency while providing all possible resources to educate children from poor families. He promised to establish Daanish Schools in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, and remote areas of Balochistan and Sindh to provide free education to the children of the poor. Sharif emphasized: “This is not the fault of the poor children if their parents cannot afford to provide top quality education to their children despite working hard...If iron gates of the Aitchison College or Grammar School are obstructing their way (to top quality education), the door of Daanish Schools are open for them.” The school will be built in Kurri, spread over 30 acres of land for PKR five billion. It will provide free education and accommodation to the children of low-income families from the capital city and its suburbs. He noted Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s dream of making education accessible, and described the situation of 26 million children being out of school as “criminal negligence.” Sharif added that the federal government would bear all expenses of constructing the Daanish schools as there can be “no bigger national service or the fulfilment of the responsibility than enrolling these out-of-school children into schools.”

On the same day, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai urged Sharif to increase the expenditure on education up to four per cent of the national GDP, as Pakistan is currently spending less than two per cent. The Malala Foundation had given Pakistan USD 15 million to promote education, and Yousafzai asked the new government to “elevate girls’ education as a priority.” She added: “Our work with the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training has allowed us to reach more than 4,500 high schools, engaging directly with nearly 500,000 girls through our STEAM partnership. We also support civil society and education experts in their efforts to improve teaching practices, digital education, and girls’ leadership development.” (Syed Irfan Raza, “Amid schools’ expansion, govt to declare education emergency,” Dawn, 10 April 2024)

In Brief
POLITICS
President, prime minister express solidarity with Muslims of Kashmir and Palestine on Eid
On 9 April, amid Eidul Fitr celebrations, leaders expressed solidarity with the people of Gaza. President Asif Ali Zardari in his Eid message stated: “On behalf of the Pakistan nation, I want to give the message to the oppressed Muslims of Gaza and Palestine that the whole Pakistani nation express solidarity with you.” He called on the “international community to ensure immediate peace in Gaza and provision of assistance to the Palestinians,” and criticized the “oppression, barbarity and genocide by Israel.” Zardari additionally assured the people of Jammu and Kashmir that they had Pakistan’s unwavering support. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in his message also extended solidarity to Muslims in Palestina and Kashmir, stating: “Let us not forget our Palestinian and Kashmiri brethren during our celebrations. We pray for their relief and for peace and harmony to prevail worldwide.” He noted Eid as a day that brings a “message of unity” and encourages fostering a “peaceful and prosperous society.” Sharif also lamented that the people of Kashmir and Palestine are “facing cruelty and oppression,” and called on people to raise their voices “against this oppression together.” The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) also issued a message on the occasion of Eid, saying it was a time to “honour the martyrs of Pakistan, whose ultimate sacrifice in defence of our country secures our freedom and sovereignty.” (“Gaza takes centre stage as Pakistan marks Eidul Fitr,” Dawn, 10 April 2024)

PPP’s Gilani and PML-N’s Nasir elected as chairman and deputy chairman of Senate
On 9 April, PPP’s Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and PML-N’s Syedal Khan Nasir were elected unopposed as the chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate respectively, as the PTI boycotted the session and elections. Gilani, who ascended to a historic trifecta having held the offices of National Assembly speaker and prime minister earlier, promised he would not compromise on the dignity of the house and its members. The PTI protested the “unconstitutional polls” due to an “incomplete house” since the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had postponed the Senate elections to the extent of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s 11 seats. Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar referred to Article 60 of the Constitution, as per which elections for the posts of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman are mandatory as soon as the seats become vacant. He added that KP’s elections were delayed because the provincial government ignored the Peshawar High Court (PHC) and ECP’s directions for administering the oath to the lawmakers elected on reserved seats. After 41 members took the oath, Gilani described the Senate as being representative of the diversity and the strength of the nation. He also expressed concern over the attempt to sow hatred among Pakistanis through polarization and incitement. Further, Gilani spoke about the “judicial murder” of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. (Rizwan Shehzad, “Historic trifecta as Gilani wins Senate chair,” The Express Tribune, 10 April 2024)
 
SECURITY
Security forces kill two terrorists in intelligence-based operation in KP
On 9 April, as per a press release from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), two terrorists were killed in an intelligence-based operation (IBO) by security forces in the South Waziristan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). They were successfully “neutralized” following an exchange of fire, after which weapons and explosives were recovered from the militants who had been “actively involved in numerous terrorist activities in the area.” The ISPR affirmed that the “security forces of Pakistan are determined to wipe-out the menace of terrorism from the country.” (Iftikhar Shirazi, “2 terrorists killed in intelligence-based operation in KP’s South Waziristan: ISPR,” Dawn, 9 April 2024)
 
WORLDVIEW
Analysis in The Express Tribune calls for different mindset in tune with the contemporary challenges and opportunities
On 10 April, in an editorial in The Express Tribune titled ‘The state of the Muslim world,’ Talat Masood reflected on the state of the Muslim people, leaders, and countries globally, from a socio-economic and political perspective. With regard to promoting education, Muslim leaders have remained “casual.” For instance, despite being the sixth largest country in terms of its population and being strategically located, 23 per cent of Pakistan’s population is illiterate and its economy is “heavily dependent on foreign assistance.” Turkey is the only Muslim country whose universities match international standards. Without any “visible signs” that Muslim leaders are prioritizing education or realizing the urgency of focusing on education, Muslim countries have become “dependent on foreign education that only the privileged can avail.” Further, very few Muslim countries prioritize the education of girls; in Afghanistan, the state policy which denies this basic right to girls reflects how the Taliban fears that “educated women will pose a challenge to their policies of suppressing their freedom and independent thinking.” With regard to oil and gas, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have remained major producers; however, they are “heavily dependent on the West for exploration and exploitation of the natural resources.” Even the refineries in the two countries, along with the UAE, have been set up by Western countries, Japan, or South Korea. While there is progress in training and equipping “local talent to develop a sound technological and managerial capability,” it will take time and “consistent effort to acquire autonomy in exploration and exploitation of oil and gas reserves.” The “collective clout” of Muslim oil-producing countries has been hampered by dissention. Political differences between Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern countries “undermine their political and economic influence.” However, attempts to improve relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia recently have been promising. For Muslim leaders to be set on the right course, there has to be “greater awareness and commitment on the part of leaders toward promoting education.” (Talat Masood, “The state of the Muslim world,” The Express Tribune, 10 April 2024)
 

Pakistan on Twitter

On the joyous occasion of Eid ul-Fitr, I would like to express my felicitations to my fellow countrymen residing both at home and abroad, as well as to the entire Muslim community.As we revel in the festivities of this auspicious event, let us not forget the importance of spreading joy and sharing our blessings with those who are less fortunate.
-Shehbaz Sharif

For the people of Pakistan, Eid is not just a time of celebration but also a time of reflection and gratitude.
-Sufia

During March 2024, workers’ remittances recorded an inflow of $3.0 billion showing an increase of 31.3% on m/m basis and 16.4% on y/y basis.
-Pakistan Economy

Also read...

Farhan Bokhari, ‘A viable Pakistan?
The News International, 10 April 2024
“The promise of turning around Pakistan’s destiny has been boldly made under regime after regime, without much success. It was therefore hardly surprising that this sorry history repeated itself when Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif – the latest in a long lineup of leaders – made that claim upon taking charge.Put another way, promising the so-far-undelivered has been a repeated pattern in Pakistan’s unfortunate journey. Within this history, notably tragic for the country’s mainstream population, Pakistan’s leaders have taken their fellow citizens for granted. For instance, in tandem with the country’s worsening healthcare systems to cite a glaring example, prominent leaders have repeatedly opted for overseas medical care for themselves and their family members. Ironically, their commitment to decisively lift Pakistan’s healthcare facilities has received little more than lip service.”

Zahid Hussain, 'Complicit in genocide'
Dawn, 10 April 2024
"While proclaiming unconditional support for Israel, German leaders have expressed scant concern over the devastating impact of the war on the hapless Palestinian population. When asked about her government’s scant efforts towards ensuring a ceasefire, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said: “It is not the job of politicians to tell the guns to shut up.” Her stance may have softened after her latest tour of the region, describing the situation in Gaza as “hell”, but there is still no call for a ceasefire from Germany."

Editorial, ‘Charity for change
Dawn, 10 April 2024
“Pakistani are large-hearted people who empty their pockets at the slightest hint of another’s need. The Stanford Social Innovative Review reported a few years ago that the country contributed over 1pc of its GDP towards philanthropy. A study by the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy said that approximately $2bn is donated by Pakistanis per year. Today, as Pakistanis celebrate Eid, it is apt to recall that the collective culture of compassion is rooted in the tradition of ‘giving’ in the Muslim faith, and it takes on various forms: zakat a mandatory duty on a Muslim’s assets for other needy Muslims  fitra, qarz-i-hasana, sadqa, infaaq, khairaat, etc. Moreover, religious tradition also mandates discretion in charity with the intention of protecting the identity and dignity of every beneficiary. While most Muslims are particularly generous during the holy month of Ramazan, the irony of crippling price hikes in the same period — a problem the country has to contend with every year  is not lost on anyone. The patterns of giving, however, have altered over the years: people now prefer to help individuals, trusted religious charities, medical institutes and schools instead of state-sponsored donation drives due to the absence of government accountability and a resounding trust deficit. When the state is involved, the donors question where the funds are going.”

 



 

“It is not easy to say Eid Mubarak”
- An opinion in Dawn, ‘No joy in Gaza.’



Photo : PPI

09 April 2024, Tuesday| Vol 5, No.67

Saudi Arabia agrees to expedite USD five billion initial tranche of investment



World Bank approves USD 149.7 million loan for floods and technology; Consumers to pay PKR 4.92 per unit extra for February electricity

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
Saudi Arabia agrees to expedite USD five billion initial tranche of investment
On 7 April, following a meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia agreed to fast-track the initial tranche of USD five billion investment in Pakistan. In return, Pakistan will facilitate the process which seeks to enhance economic cooperation between the two countries. As per a joint communique issued from both countries, during the meeting focused on strengthening bilateral ties, emphasis was placed on the “Kingdom’s supportive role in Pakistan’s economy and the mutual desire to strengthen trade and investment ties.” The statement also added that both parties “affirmed their commitment to expediting the first wave of investment package worth USD five billion, which was discussed previously.” Earlier in 2023, Saudi Arabia promised it would invest USD 25 billion in the next five years under the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC). This USD five billion is expected to be invested in the minerals sector. Aside from economic ties, the “two sides stressed the importance of dialogue between Pakis­tan and India to resolve the outstanding issues bet­ween the two countries, especially the Jam­mu and Kashmir dispute to ensure peace and stability in the region.” Saudi Arabia has been encouraging peace between India and Pakistan and a normalization of relations. Additionally, the leaders called for international efforts to end Israel’s military operations in Gaza and demanded that Israel adhere to international law and allow unhindered humanitarian aid to Gaza. (Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Riyadh to expedite $5bn initial investment in Pakistan,” Dawn, 9 April 2024)

In Focus
World Bank approves USD 149.7 million loan for flood protection and technology enhancement
On 9 April, The Express Tribune reported that the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank approved financing USD 149.7 million for Pakistan’s ‘Digital Economy’ and ‘Flood Prevention’ projects, directed at enhancing economic efficiency, coordination, transparency and prevention of future floods. USD 78 million has been allocated for the ‘Digital Economy Enhancement Project’ which is aimed at improving the financial system through technology and data-based decision-making; USD 71.7 million has been allocated for improving the project of Sindh barrages to make the canal systems more resilient. As per a press release, the Special Investment Facilitation Council is dedicated to finding technology-based financial solutions to attract foreign investment and strengthen itself in the face of environmental pollution and calamities. (“$149.7m WB loan for flood protection, digitisation,” The Express Tribune, 9 April 2024)

In Brief
POLITICS
Senate holds maiden session to elect chairman amid PTI boycott
On 9 April, as the Senate held its first meeting, PPP’s Yousuf Raza Gilani remained poised to assume the role of the Senate chairman unopposed as a result of a power-sharing deal with the PML-N. The PTI decided to sit out of the elections for chairman and deputy chairman, both scheduled for the same day, giving Gilani a clear path to victory. Under the power-sharing agreement between the PML-N and the PPP, the latter was given the offices of the president, chairman of the Senate, deputy speaker of the National Assembly, and governorships in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The PML-N, which received the office of the deputy chairman of the Senate among others, is yet to nominate a candidate, though insiders have suggested that Anusha Rahman may be the party’s candidate. Earlier on 8 April, the PTI decided to boycott the “unconstitutional” Senate elections, arguing that the house is incomplete since the senate polls were postponed to the extent of KP after the newly-elected lawmakers on reserved seats were not allowed to take the oath. A PTI spokesperson claimed that conducting elections for the chairman and deputy chairman without senators from KP was equivalent to a murder of democratic values and traditions. (Rizwan Shehzad, “Senate elects chairman amid PTI boycott,” The Express Tribune, 9 April 2024)
  
ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT
Consumers to pay PKR 4.92 per unit extra for February electricity
On 8 April, the National Electric Power Regulatory Autho­rity (Nepra) notified that consumers would pay PKR 4.92 per unit extra in May for electricity consumed in February, after approving the hike as an additional fuel cost adjustment (FCA). This hike will impact “all the consumer categories except Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCS) and lifeline consumers,” creating a financial impact of roughly PKR 45 billion. Earlier, on behalf of the Discos, the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) asked for an additional FCA of PKR 4.99 per unit of electricity used in February, claiming that while January’s reference fuel cost was PKR 4.43 per unit, the actual fuel cost was PKR 9.42 per unit. With the additional FCAs remaining over 80 per cent higher than pre-determined fuel costs notified at the beginning of FY24, there are questions about the capabilities of the power sector bureaucracy to forecast fuel costs for six to seven months. The increase in the FCA along with a 26 per cent increase in annual base tariff and a 16 per cent hike in quarterly tariff adjustment means consumers will pay excessive bills despite lower consumption and 77 per cent share of the electricity coming from local resources. Nepra additionally expressed concern over the consistent fall in electricity demand. It noted that the 12 per cent reduction in demand till February 2024 would “consequently result in higher quarterly adjustments, leading to further increase in tariff.” It asked the CPPA and the government to “evaluate the possibilities of reducing capacity charges while remaining within the legal framework.” (Khaleeq Kiani, “Rs4.92 per unit extra for electricity used in Feb,” Dawn, 9 April 2024)
 
WORLDVIEW
The strike on the Iranian embassy’s consular section may mark a turning point, argues editorial in Dawn
On 9 April, an editorial in Dawn titled ‘Middle East heat’ noted the “sense of foreboding” prevailing over the Middle East, as the world is waiting for Iran’s response to “Israel’s attack on its diplomatic facilities” last week which led to several Iranian military personnel, including two generals, being killed. While the US and Iran have “so far managed the crisis carefully,” there is still scope for danger as the strike could be seen as a “stark provocation by Israel to draw Iran into a direct conflict, also possibly pulling in the US.” This can be proven by a military aide to Iran’s supreme leader warning that “no Israeli diplomatic facilities remain safe anymore,” and Israel’s defence minister asserting that his country can “deal with Iran.” A strong Iranian reaction could lead to Israel calling its Western allies and “playing the victim card,” while a lack of an Iranian reaction could lead to it being seen as “weak domestically” and unable to “defend its interests abroad,” thus emboldening Israel. Despite the “shadow war between Israel and Iran in Syria” being over a decade old, the strike on the Iranian embassy’s consular section may mark a turning point as the temperature in the region has “reached a boiling point.” The editorial contended that in order to prevent escalation, the US “must communicate to Israel that further provocations, particularly targeting sovereign states, will be unacceptable.” Simultaneously, the UN Security Council should send a “similar message to Israel and its backers.” As a “slow-boil conflict” is underway in many parts of the Middle East, if Israel’s “provocative behaviour” continues, the next big war may be “closer than we think.” (“Middle East heat,” Dawn, 9 April 2024)
 

Pakistan on Twitter

After Eid, the Pakistani American Community is gearing up for multiple activities advocating for the release of Chairman and all political workers and supporters detained for a year.
- Atif Khan

April 9th. 2 years, it feels like a lifetime. Where one feels trapped in a never ending twilight zone. Where an entire belief system was turned upside down. Yet, theres always a silver lining. Allah is the best of planners and one only loses when you give up.
-Jarrar Shah

Exactly two years ago, an elected Prime Minister was ousted through a fake vote of no confidence, where votes were bought with money and positions. That was the darkest day in Pakistan’s history. Since then, neither the poor class nor the economy of Pakistan has seen a good day.
-Ihtisham Ul Haq

Also read...

Arifa Noor, 'Spinning the ministers
Dawn, 9 April 2024
“The Punjab information minister was on television the evening ‘fee-gate’ blew up. For those unaware of this great Lahori scandal, it erupted when it emerged that a federal minister, Ahad Cheema, had pushed for a fee waiver for his sons, who had moved to Islamabad but were retaining their seats at school, while the principal of their school was resisting this. Having automatically become a ‘scandal’, it was picked up by television channels in the evening as an example of a government using its influence to interfere in an institution’s affairs. And when scandals arise, government officials have no choice but to defend. It was no different for the Punjab information minister, who got into a heated argument with a talk show host who had decided to pick up the cudgels for the school.”

Muhammad Faisal Ali, ‘Polls & the environment
Dawn, 9 April 2024
“Sustainable future needs a sustainable environment. In 2023, recorded temperatures reached unprecedented heights, underscoring the global warming trend. These circumstances are increasingly attracting the world’s attention to environment-friendly practices. Such an approach includes electoral procedures. Numerous countries have embraced electronic voting systems, which began to take shape in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Countries like Brazil, Canada, and Australia were pioneers in adopting EVS on a significant scale. However, it was India that had a profound impact in the global context. In 1999, electronic voting machines were used on a limited scale during the Lok Sabha elections. By 2004, they had become the primary mode of voting nationwide. In fact, India’s adoption of EVMs inspired other nations, especially in the developing world.”

Dr Moonis Ahmar, 'Why is deterrence not working against Israel?'
The Express Tribune, 9 April 2024
"From every standpoint, Israel has been able to ensure its deterrence in the Middle East in terms of its military might and nuclear capability to an extent that no Arab state can match with the technological, economic and military edge of the Jewish state. Israel’s gradual enforcement of deterrence vis-à-vis its Arab neighbours could be gauged from the fact that since 1948, the Jewish state has never been defeated in any of the Arab-Israeli wars, which enabled Israel to occupy Arab territories of Golan Heights, West Bank, Gaza and Sinai. In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza but kept that Palestinian enclave under siege. Violating UN Security Council resolutions Israel annexed Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and established illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Deterrence has, thus, worked for Israel while the Arab states have miserably failed to ensure a balance of terror."
 
Muhammad Hamid Zaman, ‘Posthumous inequity
The Express Tribune, 9 April 2024
“Feeding the hungry has always been a noble act. Across religions, cultures, traditions and societies, those who feed the hungry are admired and respected. Perhaps it is the universality of admiration for those who feed the hungry that the killing of seven aid workers  who worked for World Central Kitchen, an aid agency focusing on feeding the hungry in humanitarian emergencies and famine in Gaza provoked such a global response. There was widespread condemnation, and governments from the US and the UK to Australia and Poland wanted a swift, transparent and thorough investigation. Israeli government issued its apology, and two days later dismissed two senior officers who were supposedly involved in the deadly attack on the aid workers. While tragedy that unfolded in Gaza on April 2, with the killing of seven aid workers, has gotten many around the world upset, there are also important questions being asked. The seven incredible people who died doing the most noble of the deeds were among the many others who have been killed in this war while feeding the hungry and nursing the wounded.”

 




“China being the elephant in the room is not a fact that Modi readily acknowledges.”
-An opinion in Dawn, ‘The professor’s delinquent students.’



Photo : Dawn

08 April 2024, Monday| Vol 5, No.66

Rising Street Crimes in Karachi



World Bank demands broadening tax base; Multiple militant attacks in KP and Balochistan

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
Rising Street Crimes In Karachi:
MQM-P criticizes the PPP government in Sindh On 7 April, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) censured the Sindh government over an increase in street crime in Karachi in recent months. Earlier on 6 April, the Sindh High Court (SHC) Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi directed law enforcement agencies to launch a crackdown on criminals along with their handlers and facilitators in a move to curb street crime in Karachi and enhance the security situation.
 
During a high-level security meeting held last week, data showed that between 2022 and 28 March 2024, more than 250 Karachiites were shot dead while 1,052 others were wounded by street criminals. Also last week, the MQM-P demanded an operation against street criminals while hinting that it would part ways if the PML-N-led coalition government in case of a failure to end the killing of innocent people. While addressing a press conference in Karachi, MQM-P Senator Faisal Subzwari pointed out that under the PPP’s rule over the last 16 years, citizens in Sindh were not safe as no action had been taken against armed gangs and dacoits in Kashmore or against street crime in Sindh. He called on Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi to visit the city and summon the Chief Minister of Sindh, Murad Ali Shah, asking them to form a committee. Subzwari stated: “We requested that a neighbourhood watch system should be implemented. If the Sindh government won’t, then we announce that we will.” Further, he questioned: “Is it possible that police checkpoints are not present at all entry and exit points of the city? Of course, they are [present]. Then is it conceivable that the market for stolen phones in the city runs without the patronage of the police?” Pointing out that mobile phones worth billions were stolen in the city every year, he asserted that these incidents should not be termed as “mere street crimes.” He added that Sindh Home Minister Ziaul Hassan Lanjar would have to fix his “attitude” as his position came with “heavy responsibility.” Subzwari asked the SHC’s chief justice to take note of the lawlessness, “call all institutions and ask what is happening, how it is happening and who is making it happen.” In the meantime, he assured that the MQM-P would hold meetings in every neighbourhood and would implement “whatever solution” possible.
 
While reacting to the press conference, Lanjar said that the PPP was prioritizing eliminating dacoits from the province, while the MQM-P was aiding criminals by making the police force “controversial.” He also emphasized: “The people of Karachi have trusted the PPP. The mayor is also from the PPP. We will never disappoint the people of Karachi.” (“MQM-P censures Sindh govt over lack of action against street crime in Karachi,” Dawn, 7 April 2024)
 
In Focus
World Bank demands broadening tax base  
On 8 April, Dawn reported on the World Bank asking Pakistan to adopt a national fiscal policy by aligning the federal and provincial spending with constitutional mandates, merging federal and provincial revenue agencies into a single general sales tax (GST) collection agency, and taxing agriculture, capital gains, and real estate in the FY25 budget. It also asked the government to “implement the new Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Acts (FDRLA) at the federal and provincial levels, including through development and implementation of a national medium-term fiscal framework through the FY25 budget process.” These measures are expected to be incorporated in the next IMF programme which Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb will discuss with the Fund in the following week.
 
On the GST, the the World Bank asked for tangible progress on GST harmonization across the federation, “including through rollout of the GST portal” and move towards “rate harmonization to facilitate tax compliance and the provision of input tax credits.” The government was also suggested to consolidate “all GST collection responsibilities with a single agency, which could then distribute revenues in accordance with constitutional provisions” to make administration more efficient. Additionally, the World Bank demanded actions to mobilize revenues from underutilized sources, especially those relating to the unfinished agenda of the 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) award of 2010: urban immovable property tax, agricultural income tax, and capital gain taxes. While the NFC recommended the federal and provincial governments to “streamline their tax collection systems to reduce leakages and increase their revenue through efforts to improve taxes and achieve a tax-to-GDP ratio of 15 per cent by terminal year 2014-15,” it was weakly drafted and unable to fulfil its objective.
 
With regard to urban immovable property tax, the World Bank said that the application of harmonized value tables should be updated annually based on variables such as inflation and sales records. For agricultural income tax, the government was asked to make a consistent definition of land area and set common minimum rates on the basis of crop acreage. On capital gains tax, the World Bank instructed the government to unify the treatment of builders and property developers, simplify taxes related to capital gains, and remove differential rates. These broader revenue reforms, directed at expanding the tax base, would require closing existing corporate and sales tax exemptions, and enhancing social protection to compensate poor households for negative impacts. (Khaleeq Kiani, “World Bank wants unified GST collection agency,” Dawn, 8 April 2024)

In Focus
Multiple militant attacks in KP and Balochistan 
On 5 and 6 April, six security personnel and 12 militants were killed in separate incidents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan. In Dera Ismail Khan, following a gun battle during an intelligence-based operation, eight militants were killed. As per the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), security forces conducted the operation due to reports of the presence of militants who had targeted civilians and security forces in Kot Sultan, DIK. The forces recovered weapons and ammunition from the militants. Separately on 6 April, two suspected militants were killed in North Waziristan by security forces. Earlier on 5 April, a DSP and two cops were killed while a constable was injured in Lakki Marwat. The DSP and other police had set up a temporary checkpoint on the Peshawar- Karachi highway to ensure safety before Eidul Fitr; upon their return from the checkpoint, armed men shot at the police van. In a second attack on the same day, Constable Sanamat Khan was killed near his house in Sra Darga. The Lakki Marwat attack was condemned by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Who said that “cowardly terrorist activities” could not deter the KP police. The Chief Minister of KP, Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, also denounced the attacks. Separately, a police officer was killed in Bajaur after a remote-controlled improvised explosive device went off, and in the Mian Lal police post in Tank, a head constable of the CTD was killed by unknown people. Further, in Punjgaur, two suspected militants were killed as part of an intelligence-based operation, while a Levies official was killed in a landmine explosion in Dera Bugti. In response, the Chief Minister of Balochistan, Sarfaraz Bugti, emphasized that “the writ of the state will be upheld in every way by eliminating elements hostile to peace, elements involved in attacks on innocent citizens and security forces do not deserve any concession.” (“Six law enforcers martyred in attacks in KP, Balochistan,” Dawn, 7 April 2024)

In Brief
POLITICS
Committee finds that bus carrying Chinese nationals was not bulletproof
On 8 April, Dawn reported that the committee responsible for investigating the suicide attack in Bisham which killed six people last month found significant lapses in the security detail of the Chinese engineers along with a disregard for the standard operating procedures (SOPs). As per sources, the three-member committee was tasked with finding out if the movement of the Chinese nationals who were killed was in accordance with the SOPs. During the probe, “forensic audits” showed that the “vehicle carrying the Chinese nationals should have been bombproof but the vehicle was not even bulletproof.” This was a matter of shock as the company “that was required to provide bullet- and bombproof vehicles to transport Chinese workers, and duly paid for, failed to meet its contractual obligations.” Dawn referred to sources and said that the committee conveyed to the federal government that pinpointing inefficiencies was difficult due to a lack of unity of command in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) task force. The investigation also revealed that the district police officer in Upper Kohistan, who was supposed to be informed of the convoy movement a week in advance, was informed late and went on to “totally forgot to convey the message about the Chinese nationals’ movement to anyone further.” (Umer Farooq, “‘Bus carrying Chinese was not bombproof’,” Dawn, 8 April 2024)
 
Bilawal Bhutto says eliminating terrorism is a “national duty”
On 7 April, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called on the federal and provincial governments to work together for the “complete elimination of terrorists and destruction of their nurseries.” His statement came following the militant attack in the Lakki Marwat area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the attack on a Chinese convoy in the town of Besham. Bhutto stated: “The nation is proud of the bravery of DSP Gul Muhammad and other martyrs. Those who sacrifice their lives to eradicate terrorists are our national heroes.” (“Centre, provinces should jointly end terrorism: Bilawal,” The Express Tribune, 8 April 2024)
 
ECONOMY
IMF asks government to increase gas tariff for CPPs from 1 July
On 8 April, The News International cited senior officials of the Energy Ministry, who stated that the IMF has asked the government to increase the gas tariff for captive power plants (CPPs) on par with the price of re-gasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) from July 1, 2024-25. The sources explained: “The government has no option but to increase gas prices for captive power plants on par with the RLNG prices. These plants have 30-35 per cent efficiency and most of the CPPs are installed in Sui Southern network.” Though the government had asked the IMF for time till December 2024 to switch up CPPs on national electricity grids, the IMF asserted that this should be done by June 2024 along with an increase in their tariff from 1 July 2024. Sources added that the gas tariff for CPPs is currently at PKR 2,750 per MMBTU. After the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) increases the tariff, the CPPs under the IMF diktat will face the hike, though the government is considering increasing the gas tariff for the power sector as well. Gas companies had pleaded for a substantial increase in gas prices due to the PKR 600 billion shortfall they faced last year. However, since the consumers in the domestic sector are already paying high tariffs, the government does not want to further increase this. (Khalid Mustafa, “Under IMF diktat: Govt set to bring gas tariff for CPPs on a par with RLNG price from July 1,” The News International, 8 April 2024)
 
EXTERNAL
PM Sharif and Saudi Arabian crown prince meet in Makkah
On 7 April, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for an iftar dinner in Makkah, which was also attended by the Prime Minister of Bah­rain and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Mohammad bin Salman and Sharif appreciated the longstanding ties between both countries and reemphasized their commitment towards enhancing bilateral relations. The leaders also held a bilateral meeting after the iftar. (Syed Irfan Raza, “PM Shehbaz meets Saudi crown prince in Makkah,” Dawn, 8 April 2024)
 
Zardari and Erdogan hold talks on bilateral relations
On 7 April, President Asif Ali Zardari and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held a telephone conversation to discuss matters of mutual interest and strengthening bilateral ties. Zardari felicitated Erdogan on the forthcoming Eidul Fitr and extended an invitation to him. (“Zardari, Erdogan discuss matters of mutual interest, bilateral ties,” The News International, 7 April 2024)
 
SECURITY
Bomb blast in Khuzdar kills two people
On 7 April, at least two people were killed and five others injured due to a bomb explosion in the town of Khuzdar. This attack was conducted at Umar Farooq Chowk, a shopping area that was filled with a large crowd of people. Following the explosion, the victims were shifted to the Khuzdar Teaching Hospital. The police stated that the “motorbike IED was detonated with a remote control.” (Abdul Wahid Shahwani, “Two killed, five injured in Khuzdar explosion,” Dawn, 8 April 2024)

Terror is back, says an editorial in The News
On 8 April, an editorial in The News International titled ‘Terror is back’ referred to how a recent uptick in terror attacks, including an attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on 6 April and a suicide bomb blast in KP last week, prove how “terror is back” in Pakistan. In spite of the “calm the country achieved after great sacrifices by both civilians and troops,” in the first three months of 2024, Pakistan saw 245 terror attacks and counter-terror operations, leading to 432 fatalities and 370 injuries, as per the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). While only 20 per cent of the total attacks have been claimed, there has also been the emergence of a new militant group, the Jabhat Ansar al-Mahdi Khorasan. The editorial pointed out the “multifaceted challenges” facing Pakistan as militant armed groups are noew armed with “sophisticated and hi-tech weapons,” while destruction resulting from years of war has “created a generation of frustrated and dejected people who pick up arms to protest against the government’s apathy towards their causes.” Social media is also being used by militant groups to spread “propaganda campaigns” in order to “lure young recruits.” While the government has consistently said it will take “stern action” against extremist elements and has repeatedly warned Afghan officials of the “use of Afghan soil for terror attacks against Pakistan,” the editorial emphasized that the need for the interim set up in Afghanistan to take action against responsible groups. As violence and destruction in KP and Balochistan have “expelled the area’s residents and forced them to find meagre jobs either in urban cities or overseas,” the government should do “whatever it takes” to bring back peace and provide stability to the lives of civilians. Ultimately, as per the editorial, only a “safe Pakistan can transform into an economically strong Pakistan.” (“Terror is back,” The News International, 8 April 2024)
 
SOCIETY
PM Sharif reiterates commitment to making healthcare accessible for all
On 7 April, which was World Health Day, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif emphasized the government’s commitment to the provision of medical facilities to the whole population. He said that this year’s theme of ‘My health, my right,’ properly “encapsulates every citizen’s right to quality health service.” To ensure health for all, Sharif said that the government’s focus would “remain on improving primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare, medical education, preventive healthcare and improved governance.” They would partner and “encourage provincial governments to expand and upgrade health facilities, launch mobile health clinics for enhanced access, re-energize immunization and improve mental health services.” He highlighted the establishment of Medical City, Cancel Care Hospital, and the launching of the Health Card during the PML-N’s 2013-18 tenure. Sharif assured that while remaining committed to universal health coverage and insurance, special focus would be given to providing free healthcare services to low and middle-income families. He also appreciated the services of Pakistan’s “health professionals, paramedical staff, nurses, and other health workers who selflessly work day and night to provide health services to the nation.” (“PM vows medical access for all,” The Express Tribune, 8 April 2024)
 
PROVINCES
Balochistan: Government hospital employees rally against privatization plan
On 6 April, the Grand Health Alliance Balochistan held a rally against a plan to privatize government hospitals in Quetta. Government hospital employees, including paramedics and nurses, marched on main roads in Quetta and called for the removal of Balochistan’s Chief Minister, Mir Sarfraz Bugti, declaring him “incompetent.” Protestors and the alliance leaders said the conditions of the hospital should be improved in order to make healthcare more accessible, instead of privatizing them. They asserted that any attempt to privatize the hospitals would be met with resistance, and thus urged the government to reconsider its decision. (Saleem Shahid, “Paramedics in Quetta protest against govt hospitals’ ‘privatisation’,” Dawn, 7 April 2024)

WORLDVIEW
Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza shows no sign of abating, says an analysis by Maleeha Lodhi
On 8 April, an opinion by Maleeha Lodhi in Dawn titled ‘Defiance and devastation’ lamented that despite 33,000 Palestinians being killed and 75,000 being injured by “Israel’s relentless military assaults,” the war shows “no sign of abating” as little humanitarian assistance is reaching Gaza. The latest development was Israel’s air strike on foreign aid workers delivering food in Gaza, which killed six humanitarian workers and led to international criticism. Though Israel claimed it was an “unintended strike,” earlier in the war, it has targeted aid workers. Lodhi also highlighted details about the condition of the largest hospital in Gaza, Al Shifa, where the Israeli army left a “trail of death and destruction with hundreds of dead bodies found in the hospital complex” following a two-week operation. The opinion asserted that Israel has “defied the will of the international community reflected in the call for a ceasefire” by the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 25 March, the first time that the Council demanded an immediate ceasefire. The US’ abstention marked a “tentative policy shift,” and while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as a “clear retreat” from the previous position, the call was just confined to the month of Ramazan. Although UNSC resolutions are binding, and the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated that the “resolution must be implemented,” Israel refused to comply and continued to show “utter disregard for global opinion.” Maleeha contended that the US is “the only country Israel would listen to,” and despite the administration placing little pressure on Israel in the past, there are signs that this is changing as the latest ‘Gallup poll’ found “majority of Americans disapprove of Israel’s military actions in Gaza.” US President Joe Biden for the first time called for an immediate pause in the war, and denounced the “unacceptable” humanitarian suffering in Gaza. Protests against Netanyahu in Israel have also intensified, which demonstrators demanding an end to the war to bring the hostages home. Lodhi concluded by questioning what Muslim countries have done to “mount pressure on Israel to stop it from continuing ethnic cleansing and committing war crimes.” Though countries such as Egypt and Qatar have helped mediate talks, “Muslim countries have fallen way short of the expectations of Muslims across the world.” (Maleeha Lodhi, “Defiance and devastation,” Dawn, 8 April 2024)
 
The War in Gaza may "destabilise the region around Pakistan" through Iranian actions, says an analysis by Shahid Javed Burki
On 8 April, in an opinion in The Express Tribune titled ‘Is the war in Gaza approaching Pakistan?’ Shahed Javed Burki questioned how the Muslim world beyond Palestine would react to the war in Gaza. As the US has urged Israel to limit its operations and Israeli military experts are expecting the Israeli Defence Force to order civilians to leave Rafah gradually, troops will try to kill Hamas fighters. As per a senior US official, a “major ground push into the city could further destabilise the region by forcing Palestinians into Egypt.” Michael Milshtein, the former head of the Palestinian department in Israel’s military intelligence agency, added that “very quickly clashes in Rafah could spill into Egypt, and accidents could happen between the IDF and Egypt.” Burki highlighted how Israel’s creation was supported by the West, and how the US is continuing to support it. Israel’s “unrelenting campaign against Hamas” affected its relations with the Muslim world, as Arab and non-Arab Muslim nations began reacting against the “hardship.” He also referred to the killing of Iranian General Mohammad Reza Zahedi of the Quds Force on 3 April as an instance of how relations between Israel and the Arab world began to suffer. The opinion cited the local elections in Turkey over the weekend on 30-31 March, which indicated that the “conservative elements in the Turkish society were upset with the results of the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.” Burki raised the question of how Iran would react to the loss of an important figure, and stated that “Iranian action or actions may come without warning and destabilise the region around Pakistan” in response to the killing of Zahedi. (Shahid Javed Burki, “Is the war in Gaza approaching Pakistan?” The Express Tribune, 8 April 2024)
 

Pakistan on Twitter

Their only motivation is to save their illegal money because they know that I will withdraw NRO after winning the election. The constitution of Pakistan holds no value to them.
 -Imran Khan

Saudi Prince MBS received Pakistani Prime Minister Mr Sharif & hosted Iftar for  newly elected PAK PM in Makkah.
-Mohdbinal

The only thing that has kept the system somewhat stable in Pakistan, and the junta secure, is the chain of command and discipline of Pakistani Army that has largely remained intact despite unprecedented stress on it in the last two years.
-Waqas

Also read...

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, ‘Senate election controversy
Dawn, 8 April 2024
“Hardly any election in Pakistan has been free of controversy. This includes Senate elections. The recent presidential election was a rare exception. Mahmood Khan Achakzai, the runner-up and joint candidate of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) read: PTI displayed political maturity and a democratic spirit by accepting defeat and congratulating the winner, Asif Ali Zardari of the PPP. Not just that, he went on to acknowledge that it had been a clean election in which, unlike the past, no cash for votes was involved. Less than a month later, it was a different story in the case the election of half the Senate. Unlike in the past, there were no allegations of legislators voting for cash a significant improvement given the background of Pakistan’s Senate polls some serious constitutional and legal controversies arose, which continue to rage even after the winners have been notified.”

Editorial, ‘Water crisis
Dawn, 8 April 2024
“Pakistan is starting its new summer cropping  kharif season with a whopping 30pc water shortage caused by lower-than-normal snowfall last winter. However, water regulator Irsa is hopeful that the monsoon rains will plug the shortage in the latter part of the kharif season. This pattern is not unfamiliar to most of us as it repeats itself every year without exception. Only the quantum of water scarcity varies from year to year, and is sometimes followed by discord among the provinces, particularly between Sindh and Punjab, over the formula used to share these shortages. It is also worrisome for smallholder farmers living at the tail-end of the canals. The water scarcity is predicted to worsen going forward, owing mainly to climate change unleashed by rapid global warming, which has already altered weather patterns significantly, as well as social and economic factors. Pakistan has been facing a severe water crisis that is putting millions of lives at risk. A UN report Global Water Security Assessment last year had placed Pakistan in the critically water-insecure category, indicating that the country is facing a water emergency that requires immediate attention.”

Dr Asifa Marium, ‘BRI and economic prosperity
The Express Tribune, 8 April 2024
“In the prevalent era of globalisation, a country’s political standing is defined in terms of its economic growth. Likewise, regions integrated economically are well-positioned globally. The example of ASEAN is a testament to the fact that the Southeast Asian countries have evolved on world stage as an economic powerhouse. Due to ASEAN’s economic clout and China’s economic muscle, the East Asia as a whole is seen as an attractive destination for world players. China’s economic prowess has made inroads globally. Through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China has reached out to world regions. The vision behind China’s economic outreach is to diversify the trading links and look for new investment destinations. Seeing the economic progress of BRI, so far, 151 countries from world regions have joined the initiative. The vitality of BRI refers to the popularity of economic integration globally. Within the framework of BRI, development projects in recipient countries have led to job creation and improved socio-economic indicators.”

Hassan Hakeem, ‘Missing women
The News International, 8 April 2024
“The 19-member cabinet of the newly elected government, which was formed on the heels of International Women’s Day (March 8), has only one woman (that too not as a federal minister) – Shaza Fatima Khawaja. The limited presence of women in the cabinet reflects a broader issue of gender underrepresentation and the overall commitment to gender equality in the country’s political landscape. While the inclusion of a woman in the cabinet may be seen as a symbolic representation, the fact that she holds a junior ministerial role (while being more qualified than some of the cabinet members) raises questions about the government’s commitment to substantive gender equality. Meaningful representation involves not only the presence of women but also their active participation in decision-making.”

 




“Power distribution companies face many challenges"
-An opinion in Dawn, ‘The Rs400bn quandary



Photo : Dawn

06 April 2024, Saturday| Vol 5, No.65

Sharif announces decision to personally review security SOPs



Foreign Office (FO) claimed that the alleged Indian network of extra-judicial and extra-territorial killings had become a “global phenomenon"

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Brief
POLITICS
Sharif announces decision to personally review security SOPs
On 5 April, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced his decision to regularly review and audit Pakistan’s security standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the wake of increasing terrorist activities. He will personally monitor Pakistan’s security situation and audit SOPs. Further, as per the Prime Minister's Office, Sharif  “also instructed (officials) to chalk out a comprehensive strategy for the regular audit of the security SOPs.” He will “personally review the meetings with respect to the overall security of the country, especially the security of the Chinese citizens.” The interior ministry briefed Sharif about its performance and the overall law and order situation and was directed to enhance collaboration with provinces to improve the provincial anti-terrorism departments. As per Dawn’s source, Sharif will chair meetings on the audit of security SOPs monthly. He was additionally satisfied with the security procedures and called for their vigorous implementation. (Syed Irfan Raza & Baqir Sajjad Syed, “PM takes charge of security amid spike in terrorism,” Dawn, 6 April 2024)
 
Maryam Nawaz blames political instability for lack of investment
On 5 April, during her maiden Punjab apex committee meeting, Punjab’s Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz linked “political instability” to fear among foreign and local investors who are “afraid” of investing in the country. Referring to the 9 May riots, she stated: “A political party resorted to terrorism. What the TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) could not do, a specific political party did by attacking the military installations.” Nawaz also spoke on the various forms of terrorism taking shape. Since terrorism has become “digitalized,” the government needs to “be ahead of them.” Further, “terrorists have the latest weapons and technology.” Nawaz described weapons being smuggled from Afghanistan as a huge challenge and held that the gangs in south Punjab “have more sophisticated weapons” and are technologically ahead of the government. She also spoke on the need to counter right-wing terrorism, under which “social media is one of the major tools” being used to brainwash the youth. Emphasizing the government’s resolve to provide security to the Chinese nationals working in Punjab, Nawaz condemned the Bisham terror attack but pointed out that the “Chinese are resentful when they are asked to follow security protocols” and “don’t want to come under any discipline.” (Zulqernain Tahir, “Political instability keeping investors at bay, says Maryam,” Dawn, 6 April 2024)
 
JUDICIARY
PBC calls for investigation by commission of sitting SC judges into allegations of “meddling”
On 5 April, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), the premier regulatory body of lawyers, called for a judicial commission of sitting Supreme Court (SC) judges to look into complaints over alleged meddling of intelligence agencies in judicial affairs. During the 242nd meeting, the PBC said the commission was necessary for an impartial investigation without external interference. The council’s Vice Chairman, Riazat Ali Sahar, noted the demand for the resignation of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice and condemned the social media campaign against them. In the course of the meeting, the PBC said the trolling was uncalled for as it strengthened the hands of those who wanted divisions in the judiciary, leading to the judiciary being undermined and existing issues remaining unresolved. The issue of the alleged interference by intelligence agencies in judicial affairs in the wave of the 25 March letter by six IHC judges to the Supreme Judicial Council was discussed. A seven-judge SC bench took suo motu notice of the case, and the PBC in its resolution urged the SC to decide the case as expeditiously as possible. Further, the resolution highlighted how judges epitomize the legal system’s foundation, and when judges express concern through a written letter, it should be considered a moment of concern to the independent working of the judicial system of Pakistan. Thus the council asserted that a comprehensive investigation into the allegations was “not only justified but necessary” to safeguard the law. The PBC also expressed fear that the fact that judges raised the issue meant they had been “cornered” by the agencies. (Nasir Iqbal, “Pakistan Bar Council proposes sitting SC judges’ commission on ‘meddling’ issue,” Dawn, 6 April 2024)
 
EXTERNAL
FO describes alleged Indian network of extra-judicial killings as “global phenomenon”
On 5 April, the Foreign Office (FO) claimed that the alleged Indian network of extra-judicial and extra-territorial killings had become a “global phenomenon,” and raised a warning that India’s assassination of Pakistanis on Pakistani soil violated the country’s sovereignty and breached the UN Charter. The statement came following a report by The Guardian which cited intelligence officials from both countries and detailed how the Indian government assassinated individuals in Pakistan. The FO brought to light a press conference by Foreign Secretary Syrus Sajjad Qazi in January, where he alleged that there was “credible evidence” of links between Indian agents and the assassination of two Pakistani nations in Sialkot and Rawalkot. In its statement, the FO asserted: “These cases exposed the increasing sophistication and brazenness of Indian-sponsored terrorist acts inside Pakistan, with striking similarities to the pattern observed in other countries, including Canada and the United States.” The FO also emphasized the need to “bring to justice the perpetrators, facilitators, financiers and sponsors of these extrajudicial and extraterritorial killings, and added that
India must be held accountable internationally for its blatant violation of international law.” (“Extraterritorial killings by India need ‘coordinated response’,” The Express Tribune, 6 April 2024)
 
FM Dar and Blinken hold first phone call and discuss “key bilateral issues”
On 5 April, Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar received his first phone call from his US counterpart Antony Blinken, in which both officials reaffirmed their commitment to working together in various fields, including counter-terrorism in the light of a spike in terror cases in Pakistan. Earlier on 4 April, The Guardian published a report revealing that the Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi “ordered killings” on Pakistan’s soil, while in January 2024, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Syrus Qazi claimed Pakistan had “credible evidence” of a link between Indian agents and the killing of two Pakistani citizens on Pakistani soil. Following the phone call, Dar wrote on X: “Pleased to receive a congratulatory telephone call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Discussed key bilateral issues and reaffirmed commitment to work together to promote cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, investment and counter-terrorism. Looking forward to continued collaboration between the two countries.” They also discussed matters of regional significance, including the situation in Gaza, the Red Sea, and the developments in Afghanistan. (“In first phone call, FM Dar, Blinken reaffirm commitment to promote cooperation against terrorism,” The News International, 5 April 2024)
 
AF-PAK
Investigation finds involvement of TTP in recent terror attacks in Pakistan
On 6 April, Business Recorder reported that Pakistani investigators looking into the recent terror incidents, including the Besham suicide attack, collected evidence pointing towards the involvement of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Claiming that the terrorists involved in these attacks received active support from Afghanistan, officials are set to take the matter up with Kabul shortly. A senior government official pointed out: “Pakistan’s stated policy has thus far been that it would not hold any talks with the TTP and that the Afghan interim government is bound under Doha agreement to take action against all militant organizations, including TTP that have taken refuge in Afghanistan.” Earlier on 4 April, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch clarified that Pakistan has “no plans to hold talks with TTP,” and expects “the Afghan authorities to take action against these terror groups and their leadership for the crimes they are committing and the terrorist attacks for which they are responsible in Pakistan.” This was said following a recent statement by senior Taliban official Muhammad Nabi Omari, in which he advised Pakistan and the TTP to resolve issues through talks. (Ali Hussain & Nuzhat Nazar, “Islamabad will take up matter with Kabul: Evidence shows TTP’s involvement in terror attacks,” Business Recorder, 6 April 2024)
 
PROVINCES
Punjab: Farmers to hold protests if wheat prices are not revised
On 5 April, the President of the Kisan Board Pakistan, Sardar Zafar Hussain, lamented during a press conference that Punjab’s Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz had “failed her first trial on the agriculture front in the province.” This came after Nawaz decided to retain the previous year’s wheat support price, which was met with disappointment by farmers across Punjab and threats of legal action and protests. Hussain pointed out that Nawaz “decided to maintain the last year’s minimum support price of PKR 3,900 per 40kg of wheat, while the Sindh province has enhanced it to PKR 4,600 per 40kg.” Citing a rise in the rates of fertilizers, pesticides, and other inputs, Hussain demanded the government fix the minimum support price at PKR 5,000 per 40kg to maintain farmers’ interest in the all-important crop. Lamenting that the interests of the rural population had been sacrificed at the altar of “feared reaction” by the urbanites in case of an increase in the prices of wheat flour, he warned that farmers might shift to an alternative and more profitable crop, forcing the government to import wheat at higher prices. Hussain added that the failure of the government to revise the wheat support price would lead to the Kisan Board approaching a court of law against the injustice with the farming community, and a protest staged by farmers. (Amjad Mahmood, “Farmers threaten protests over wheat price stagnation,” Dawn, 6 April 2024)

 

Pakistan on Twitter

As I mentioned, we've regressed to a state worse than that of Guatemala, El Salvador, and African banana republics concerning the rule of law and governmental integrity.
-Atif Khan
 
Shahbaz Gill reported that the exposé by Guardian paints a chilling picture of the extent to which Pakistan's intelligence agencies have brazenly meddled in the judiciary, coercing judges into delivering verdicts aligned with their political agenda. The abhorrent tactics described – from the despicable act of kidnapping judges' relatives to the egregious violation of privacy through bedroom surveillance – represent a grotesque assault on the pillars of justice and human decency. It's a harrowing reminder of the lengths authoritarian regimes will go to silence dissent and consolidate power. Such brazen interference not only undermines the credibility of Pakistan’s judiciary but also tarnishes the country’s global reputation.
-PTI Canada Official
 
"The government will not spare any terrorist who disturbs the peace of the country, no matter in which corner of the world they are." Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the report of International media about the covert operation of India against terrorists in Pakistan.
-Baba Banaras

Also read...

Naseer Memon, ‘Constant decline
Dawn, 6 April 2024
“A country that spends 70pc of its reve­n­­­ue on debt-servicing is hardly able to concentrate on human development. However, a critical policy examination unveils that misplaced priorities are the real cause beh­ind this ignominious situation. Entangled in unending border conflicts, the country spends a lot more on border security than its internal human security. Whereas border security has its own imperatives, constant compromise on human security has even graver ramifications.”
 
Editorial, ‘Deadly campaign
Dawn, 6 April 2024
“Our own internal lapses also need to be investigated, as the fact that 20 people were neutralised by foreign operatives on Pakistani soil should send alarm bells ringing within the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies. There are also reports, as mentioned by The Guardian and cited elsewhere earlier, that many of the operations in Pakistan were planned and orchestrated in a friendly Gulf country.”
 
Editorial, ‘Second phase
Dawn, 6 April 2024
“While the Taliban’s call for the respectful treatment of its citizens is justified, it is essential for them to acknowledge that these refugees are, fundamentally, their own citizens. Although many refugees have known only Pakistan as their home, Afghanistan is their country of origin, and they should be welcomed back appropriately. It is vital for the Taliban to remember their responsibility towards them. Kabul should ensure the rights of returning citizens and adopt a governance style that does not repeat past mistakes which led to mass displacement.”
 
Noureen Akhtar, ‘Four horsemen of war and UNRWA blockade in Gaza
The Express Tribune, 6 April 2024
“It comes with no surprise that the Israel government which is already under growing international pressure to stop its inhuman activities and bombardment and stop all kinds of ground offences in Gaza has now barred the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) from making aid deliveries in northern Gaza, hence turning the situation even more miserable for the Palestinians, especially children and women.”
 
Imtiaz Gul, ‘IHC judges’ letter and implications
The Express Tribune, 6 April 2024
“That would perhaps be a watershed — regardless of how it is treated by other institutions — in Pakistan’s history. Hence the nation awaits with anxiety as to how the majority of the Supreme Court judges positions itself on the issue at hand i.e. the culture of impunity as far as fundamental rights and institutional roles are concerned.”

 




“Instead of expanding its revenue base, the centre is impoverishing the provinces.”
-An opinion in Dawn, ‘It’s not the NFC award
 



Photo : The News International

05 April 2024, Friday| Vol 5, No.64

Naeem becomes the new party chief of JI



Under the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif pledged to transfer relevant departments and ministries to “strengthen the provinces”.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Brief
POLITICS
Naeem becomes the new party chief of JI
On 04 April, according to the intra-party election results, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) elects Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman as the new leader of the party. According to the JI Central Information Secretary Qaisar Sharif, about 45, 000 party members cast their votes in the intra-party polls. He said: “Naeem received over 80 per cent of the votes and became the sixth emir of the party.” He added that he would be the party’s leader until 2029. Sharif further said that JI had conducted polls regularly and that the JI party belongs to every member and worker and is certainly not affiliated with any individual or a family. The current party leader Emir Sirajul Haq is completing his second term on 8 April, added Sharif. Upon his victory as the party’s chief, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, former president Arif Alvi along with other political leaders congratulated Naeem. (“Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman becomes new JI emir,” The News International, 04 April 2024)

PM vows to transfer ministries and departments under the 18th Constitutional Amendment
On 04 April, as per the idea put forth by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, under the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif pledged to transfer relevant departments and ministries to “strengthen the provinces”.The 18th Constitutional Amendment was passed on 08 April 2010 respectively. The announcement came as he was chairing a sectoral meeting regarding the Ministry of Finance where he also issued directives to revive the economy. He said that the expenditures will be reduce ‘financial losses.’ According to The News International, in December 2023, in his election campaign PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto rendered the “idea of abolishing 17 federal ministries to save taxpayers' PKR 300 billion if his party elected into power.” (“PM pledges to strengthen provinces by devolving relevant ministries,” The News International, 04 April 2024)

ON AFGHANISTAN
Kabul requests not to take ‘unilateral decision’ on Afghan migrants
On 04 April, after the reports regarding Pakistan’s new eviction campaign, the Taliban authorities requested Pakistan “not to make a unilateral decision on repatriating Afghan migrants” adding that they should not be “harassed”.  Refuting the claims on the expulsion of foreigners illegally residing in Pakistan, Islamabad denied and stated that it was not Afghan-specific.  Dawn stated: “There are no reports that the government is planning to expand what it calls ‘Illegal Foreigners’ Repatriation Plan’ to Pakistan-issued Afghan Citizen Card (ACC) holders after Eidul Fitr and subsequently to UNHCR-issued Proof of Registration (PoR) card holders.” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch asserted that measures are under debate. Baloch further said that there will be “relaxation of visa requirement” for truck drivers crossing the borders. Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Rashed said: “The issue of refugees is bilateral and decisions regarding them should be made through an understanding between both countries.” (Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Don’t unilaterally decide migrants’ fate, Kabul urges,” Dawn, 05 April 2024)

EXTERNAL
Japan grants USD 4.43 for healthcare facilities in Sindh
On 04 April, the Japanese government announced an additional grant of approximately USD 4.43 million for a project pertaining to “extending maternal and child healthcare facilities in Sindh province. As per the press release from the Japanese embassy, “Project for the Extension of Maternal and Child Healthcare Facility in Sindh was initially announced in August 2021 at an original cost of about USD 22.76 million. The statement said: “The maternal and child health center is expected to have departments for obstetrics and pediatrics, including a labour room, an obstetrics ward, a neonatal intensive care unit, a maternal and fetal intensive care unit, a laboratory, and outpatient consultation rooms. Additionally, around 120 pieces of medical equipment, including newborn incubators and ultrasonic diagnostic devices, will be installed. The project is scheduled to be completed by April 2025.” Dawn reported that grant agreements of the project were also signed and exchanged between the Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Pakistan Naoaki Miyata and Economic Affairs Joint Secretary Saeed Ashraf Siddiqui. According to the statement: “The decision to provide the additional grant is in response to a request made by the Pakistani government due to a shortfall in the project cost, caused by exchange rate fluctuations and market price escalation.” (Amin Ahmed, “Japan provides additional $4.43m for extension of Sindh’s maternal, child healthcare facilities,” Dawn, 05 April 2024)

 

Pakistan on Twitter

“On this day, the 5th of April 2024, let us acknowledge the passage of two hundred and forty-four days of isolation and grievance borne by the legend of Pakistan."
- sherafzalmarwat

“It is our shared responsibility to respect the rights and privileges of women in the light of PTI principles. Nawaz Sharif's or anyone else's child, every person has importance in society, but it is also necessary to condemn the abuse of government energies.”
-Muhmmad Azhar

“Encouraging signs for Pakistan's economy: Projections showing steady improvement. Latest inflation numbers from PBS indicate a significant slowdown, hitting a 22-month low. Progress may signal an end to the vicious cycle, pointing towards a positive trajectory."
- Nuzhat Sadiq

Also read...

Khalid Waleed, ‘Understanding electricity demand
Dawn, 05 April 2024
“The aphorism ‘supply creates its own demand’, often attributed to economist Jean-Baptiste Say, encapsulates a fundamental principle of classical economics. This notion, known as Say’s Law, faced criticism during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when supply exceeded demand, leading to economic downturns. Similarly, Pakistan’s electri­city sector is experiencing a power sector depress­ion due to overexpansion and underutilisation of ca­p­acity, primarily fuelled by imported fossil fuels, thanks to poor planning and demand estimation.The demand for electricity is, by nature, a derived demand, meaning it is contingent upon the demand for the services that electricity powers. Thus, a country’s economic policy plays a pivotal role in shaping the demand for electricity. Ideally, such policies should position electricity as a catalyst for the nation’s production functions, complementing other essential inputs like land, labour, capital, and organisation to boost overall output.”

Editorial, ‘Failed experiment
Dawn, 05 April 2024
 “AS Pakistan calibrates its response to the ongoing wave of terrorism, a strange but familiar suggestion has come from across the western border. Speaking recently at an iftar in Khost, Mohammad Nabi Omari, Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister, called for talks between the banned TTP and the government of Pakistan. While the regime in Kabul is long believed to have favoured this option, few top Afghan Taliban leaders have said so publicly. While advising both Islamabad and the ‘brothers’ in the TTP, Mr Omari observed that Al Qaeda was not active in his country. He also felt that the war between the TTP and Pakistan was unwinnable, and that the ‘brothers’ could continue their campaign for “100 years” and not see any results. The Foreign Office, meanwhile, has rejected the prospect of negotiations with the TTP.”

Zubeida Mustafa, ‘ASER’s verdict’
Dawn, 05 April 2024
 “More than 180 years later, we learn that Sindh has been ‘sinned’ against once more. How else would you describe the failure of those who control the destiny of this province to empower its children by educating them? This is no exaggeration. A look at the Annual Status of Education Report [ASER] 2023 is enough to inform the reader about the miserable state of education in the province. Aser is an independent citizens-led group that has been testing children in Pakistan every year since 2008-09 and its results are credible. In 2023, over 1,53,000 children were tested in 274 districts. The findings are shocking.”
 

 





“Corruption is the real malaise that pervades the education sector.”
-An opinion in Dawn, ‘ASER’s verdict



Photo : Arab News

04 April 2024, Thursday| Vol 5, No.63

‘US plans to expand the security partnership with Pakistan,’ says Matthew Miller



Defence counsel in the cipher case notified the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was subjected to legal proceedings for not testifying against the PTI leader and former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Brief
‘US plans to expand the security partnership with Pakistan,’ says Matthew Miller
On 03 April, the US State Department said that the country would expand its “security partnership” with Pakistan. Spokesperson Matthew Miller said that Washington is also willing to work with Pakistan on the “shared targets of international peace and regional security.” When asked about US’s support in combating Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups, Miller said: “We have spoken to that a number of times from this podium. It has been a priority for us and will continue to be so.” Refuting the claims on US’s interest in India’s opposition leader arrest and not Pakistan, he said: “I would not agree with that characterisation. We have made clear on a number of occasions that we want to see everyone in Pakistan treated consistent with the rule of law, treated with respect for human rights as is our position with any country in the world.” Regarding the UN aid reaching UN aid militants in Afghanistan, Miller requested its partners to ensure that the aid reaches the needy. (Anwar Iqbal, “US pledges to expand security partnership with Pakistan,” Dawn, 03 April 2024)

POLITICS
Former FM Qureshi was implicated to a case for not testifying against Imran Khan, says Defence counsel Safdar
On 03 April, the defence counsel in the cipher case notified the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was subjected to legal proceedings for not testifying against the PTI leader and former Prime Minister Imran Khan. The attorney of the two PTI leaders, Barrister Salman Safdar informed the division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb that Qureshi was “under tremendous pressure to testify against Khan.” He further said that as a result of Qureshi’s refusal to testify against Imran, he was hinged in a case. Safdar asserted that the former principal secretary to Imran Khan, Azam Khan had used ‘the offer’ and ‘got off scot-free’. He further mentioned that the complainant former interior secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar did not nominate Khan and Qureshi in his complaint. He added that these cases were registered under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). However, Chief Justice Farooq stated that the successive governments, which also includes the PTI government had “never tried to repeal the law, therefore, this argument did not carry weight.” (“Qureshi paying the price for siding with Imran: lawyer Salman Safdar,” Dawn, 04 April 2024)

President meets COAS, discusses to resolve baseless allegations with an iron hand
On 03 April, in a meeting with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Asim Munir, President Asif Zardari said: “Baseless and unsubstantiated allegations levelled by a specific political party and its few individuals” against the army for their political interests.” According to the official statement, the COAS highlighted the ongoing operations of the army against terrorism. The statement said: “The COAS also intimated about the contributions of the army towards development initiatives, particularly in the regions of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.” Zardari lauded the role of armed forces and affirmed that their contributions had been beneficial in “safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state.” According to the statement: “The president emphasised Pakistan’s steadfast commitment against terrorism and reaffirmed the nation’s resolve to respond with full force through all elements of national power.” According to Dawn, the meeting ended with a “determination to uphold the values of peace, security and progress in Pakistan.” (Nadir Guramani, “In meeting with COAS, president notes with concern ‘baseless’ claims against army by ‘certain political party,” Dawn, 03 April 2024)
 
EXTERNAL
Netherlands to enhance bilateral relations with the transfer of technology
On 03 April, according to a statement issued by the Finance Ministry, Ambassador Henny de Vries of the Netherlands called Minister for Finance and Revenue Muhammad Aurangzeb to discuss enhancing bilateral relations and exploring new opportunities in the areas of mutual interest. The discussion also emphasized Pakistan’s structural reforms for boosting economic growth and fiscal sustainability. The minister, on the other hand, stressed that Pakistan was interested in “technology transfer and leveraging the expertise of the Netherlands in agriculture, dairy, and farm production that would lead to increased production and exports, contributing significantly to Pakistan’s economy.” Meanwhile, de Vries reiterated further enhancing ties with Pakistan and cooperation across various sector. She also told about the projects run by the Netherlands in Pakistan which includes “fishing production, ensuring labor safety and environmental standards in textile industries, and projects on water management in agriculture.” (“Pakistan discusses technology transfer with Netherlands,” The Express Tribune, 04 April 2024)

ON AFGHANISTAN
Afghan minister Omari requests TTP and Pakistan to negotiate for peace
On 03 April, a senior Afghan Taliban leader urged the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamabad to negotiate for peace as the international community blames Afghanistan for TTP operations. Deputy interior minister of the interim Taliban government in Afghanistan Muhammad Nabi Omari said: “We ask the government of Pakistan and advise the brothers (TTP) who are fighting with them to come together and talk.” According to Dawn, the Afghan Taliban had facilitated talks between both sides, however, the parties were not able to reach an agreement. Afghanistan has denied the allegations of TTP’s operation from its soil and has urged Pakistan to address the internal security issues. Omari asserted that TTP could not win this war. He said: “And to our brothers (the TTP), whatever, they may call it – jihad or war, we don’t meddle in their affairs if they are fighting against the system (state), even if you fight the system for hundred years … you cannot win.” (“Afghan minister asks TTP, Islamabad to negotiate,” Dawn, 03 April 2024)

JUDICIARY
CJP Isa receives ‘threat letters’, confirms DIG
On 03 April, following the Islamabad High Court (IHC) jurists, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operations informed that threat letters containing suspicious powder were sent to the Supreme Court (SC) judges including Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa. The letters sent to CJP Isa, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, and Justice Aminuddin Khan have been handed over to the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD). DIG asserted that the envelopes had a powdery substance and they have been sent to lab to examie, additionally, DIG enquired post master for his ignorance. The letters were sent by a woman namely “Resham” without mentioning her address. (“Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai, “CJP Isa, SC judges also received ‘threat letters’, DIG Operations tells IHC chief justice,” The News International, 03 April 2024)
 
 

 

Pakistan on Twitter

“Candidates from PTI and JI contesting Feb 8 elections challenge results of seven Karachi constituencies before election tribunals, alleging fraud and seeking victory overturn."
- Fourth pillar post

“It is our shared responsibility to respect the rights and privileges of women in the light of PTI principles. Nawaz Sharif's or anyone else's child, every person has importance in society, but it is also necessary to condemn the abuse of government energies.”
-Muhmmad Azhar

“Encouraging signs for Pakistan's economy: Projections showing steady improvement. Latest inflation numbers from PBS indicate a significant slowdown, hitting a 22-month low. Progress may signal an end to the vicious cycle, pointing towards a positive trajectory."
- Nuzhat Sadiq

Also read...

Faisal Siddiqi, ‘Sword versus pen
Dawn, 03 April 2024
“The letter dated March 25, 2024, written by six judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the intimidation and interference of state agencies in their judicial work will perhaps go down as one of the greatest judicial acts in world judicial history. It signifies extraordinary judicial courage, a deep sense of constitutional duty, a heightened sense of moral clarity, and equally important, an understanding of relevance and immediacy, which requires action to be taken now, not tomorrow. But this letter of resistance also signifies something more fundamental. Firstly, this is the latest, most prominent example of its kind in the continuing conflict in Pakistan between de jure (constitutional) power of the pen/ judiciary and the de facto (actual) power of the sword/ establishment. Secondly, in historical terms, it denotes the age-old problem of power: the taming of the sword or raw power by the pen or ethics. In other words, is the pen mightier than the sword?”

Editorial, ‘Senate elections
Dawn, 03 April 2024
 “The Senate returned to almost its full strength yesterday after an unusually sedate election. Unfortunately, polling for KP’s seats could not be held due to an ongoing stand-off between the provincial government and the ECP over reserved seats. Meanwhile, there were few reports of the feverish wheeling-dealing and horse-trading that have, in the past, marred the conduct of Senate polls, which are held every three years to elect half of the total strength of the Upper House. All of the candidates for Balochistan’s seats were declared winners unopposed, while in Punjab, the PTI, PML-N, and PPP reportedly reached an understanding that allowed its seven general seats to be filled without contest. Punjab’s five remaining seats two for women, two for technocrats, and one for minorities  were all grabbed by the PML-N, thanks to its majority in the provincial assembly. In Sindh, the PPP secured all seats but two, which went to the MQM-P and Faisal Vawda, respectively.”


Rafia Zakari, ‘Diminished spending power’
Dawn, 03 April 2024
“IT happens twice a month. Every 15 days the government decides whether or not to tighten the noose around the necks of Pakistan’s masses. Last Sunday, the masses got unlucky as the government decided to jack up petrol prices by Rs9.66 ahead of the Eid holidays. It is a tricky measure for the government — one that it says is based on price fluctuations in the global market — as it knows that this is an unpopular move. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund, which has long wanted the removal of subsidies on gas and electricity, among other items, in order to move towards market-based prices, has been dissatisfied with Pakistan’s efforts in this direction.”

 




“The tone of anxiety underlying this letter reflects the deep unease of living a judicial life of constitutional hypocrisy and pretence.”
-An opinion in Dawn, ‘Sword versus pen



Photo : Dawn

PM directs to formulate a strategy for a “two fold increase” in exports



ECP halted the senate elections in K-P referring to the administration of oaths for the reserved seats

PR Daily Brief |

In Brief
POLITICS
PM directs to formulate a strategy for a “two fold increase” in exports
On 02 April, while chairing a meeting on the export sector, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif formulated strategies focusing on the “two-fold increase” in exports in the next five years. He requested the Ministry of Trade to put forth the strategy consulting entrepreneurs and stakeholders. Besides the issues of ‘made in Pakistan’ brand exports, the PM ordered to extend facilitation to the exporters in the e-commerce sector who were exporting the products to the international community. He asserted that the government is taking swift initiatives to maximise the utilisation of the export sector. He further said that “the promotion of IT, domestic use items, textile and other exceptional sectors, the relevant stakeholders should be taken on board.” The meeting resulted in proposals and recommendations for the export sector. PM highlighted the submission of recommendations over the endorsement of industries that were exporting products that are part of “global value chains.” (“PM seeks two-fold increase in exports in five years,” The Express Tribune, 04 April 2024)

ECP halts senate polls amid the delay in oath taking process
On 02 April, referring to the administration of oaths for the reserved seats, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) halted the senate elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). The KP Election Commissioner Shamshad Khan, upon his arrival to the assembly, asked the list of sworn-in MPAs from the assembly staff. Subsequently, the opposition members complained with the ECP regarding the postponement of senate elections in KP. According to Dawn, KP’s senate elections seem to be uncertain while other provinces conducted their senate elections. Although the election staff were prepared for the polls, KP senate elections failed to commence on the stipulated time. Meanwhile, the ECP citing its earlier stance in March, and upheld decision of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) announced the postponement of the elections. ECP stated that PHC had upheld its ruling and that no arrangements were made for the oath. The ECP said: “The commission is of the considered view that the standards of honesty, justness, and fairness of election cannot be fulfilled due to non-administration of oath to elected members.” (“K-P polls on hold amid oath-taking delay,” The Express Tribune, 04 April 2024)

“ECP has illegally denied awarding share to the PTI-SIC alliance of reserved seats,” says KP CM Gandapur
On 02 April, amid the dispute over the oath taking of opposition MPAs on reserved seats, KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur asserted that the provincial government is not letting the MPA elects to take oath as the reserved seats belonged to PTI. According to Dawn, from the 25 lawmakers, 21 reserved seats for women and four for minorities awaited to take the oaths by Speaker Babar Saleem Swati. Speaking to the media, Gandapur said: “The ECP has illegally denied awarding share to the PTI-SIC [alliance] of reserved seats and allocated our share to the opposition parties.” He added that political parties will not revoke their commitments. He said: “The ECP is constantly violating the Constitution; first it deprived the PTI of its symbol ‘bat’ in elections and then handed over its reserved seats to the opposition in the KP Assembly.” He questioned ECP regarding the share of PTI seats to the opposition parties in the assembly. Previously, the opposition leader Dr Ibadu­llah said: “It is very strange that provincial government does not follow any law, constitution and institutions rather it follows the directives of an Imran Khan.” (Mohammad Ashfaq and Manzoor Ali, “Ali Amin Gandapur vows to snatch back reserved seats,” Dawn, 03 April 2024)
 
PTI leader Imran Khan’s attorney requests to discard Azam Khan’s testimony as it was uncertain
On 02 April, as the testimony was seemingly procured uncertainly, the counsel for PTI leader and former Prime Minister requested the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to get rid of the testimony of the former principal secretary to PM Azam Khan in the cipher case. Barrister Salman Safdar made the aforementioned argument before the bench which resumed hearing on the pleas filed by Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi against their conviction in the cipher case. Safdar said that the principal secretary testified against Imran Khan before an investigation officer and magistrate instead of recording his confession. Recording the statement a month later, the IHC bench said that Azam Khan went missing on 15 June 2023 and came back on 20 July 2023. In response, Safdar argued that the testimony was recorded under “dubious circumstances.” And thus, “the court should not give any credence to his testimony.” said Safdar. (Malik Asad, “Imran’s lawyer asks court to disregard Azam’s testimony,” Dawn, 03 April 2024)

ON AFGHANISTAN
NHS coordinator Malik Mukhtar stresses the necessity for a result-oriented dialogue with Afghanistan
On 02 April, in a meeting with Michael Galway and Hamid Jafri of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to discuss Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate polio, Coordinator to the Prime Minister on National Health Services (NHS)  Malik Mukhtar Ahmed recommended “result-oriented dialogue with Afghanistan to combat the polio4.virus.” According to a statement, the Gates Foundation emphasized its engagement with the Pakistan government in polio eradication. Mukhtar said: “2024 was a pivotal year in the journey for making Pakistan polio-free by 2026.” He also highlighted the challenges faced by the people through frequent movements across the borders, stressing the necessity for a “result-oriented dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan to effectively combat the poliovirus.” (Ikram Junaidi, “Dialogue with Afghanistan on polio eradication stressed,” Dawn, 03 April 2024)

ECONOMY
PM seeks to promote FDI in the country
On 02 April, while heading a high level meeting to review progress on foreign investment, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said: “promoting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country to transform challenges into opportunities was a top priority of the government.”  The meeting reviewed the detailed progress of the MoUs with the Gulf countries under the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).  He further said that facilities would be given to the investors and that special cells in the federal ministries would also be formed to endorse “innovation and research in the investment sector.” (“Promoting FDI top priority of govt: PM,” The Express Tribune, 04 April 2024)

SECURITY
Policemen injure in an attack
On 02 April, six policemen were injured in an attack by unknown miscreants in the Township area of Bannu. An official said: “The law enforcers were going to Domel area to assist the police in actions against anti-social elements.” In response to the attack, police officials came and launched a search operation. Separately, in Bannu, two people were killed and four were injured in an accident between a van and a car. (“Six policemen injured in Bannu attack,” Dawn, 03 April 2024)

 

Pakistan on Twitter

“Candidates from PTI and JI contesting Feb 8 elections challenge results of seven Karachi constituencies before election tribunals, alleging fraud and seeking victory overturn."
- Fourth pillar post

“It is our shared responsibility to respect the rights and privileges of women in the light of PTI principles. Nawaz Sharif's or anyone else's child, every person has importance in society, but it is also necessary to condemn the abuse of government energies.”
-Muhmmad Azhar

“Encouraging signs for Pakistan's economy: Projections showing steady improvement. Latest inflation numbers from PBS indicate a significant slowdown, hitting a 22-month low. Progress may signal an end to the vicious cycle, pointing towards a positive trajectory."
- Nuzhat Sadiq

Also read...

Mahir Ali,’Beyond Bhutto
Dawn, 03 April 2024
 “It wasn’t entirely a surprise, but it was undoubtedly a shock. Many Pakistanis had harboured the hope of a last-minute rep­rieve of some sort. Almost every country with which Pakistan had diplomatic relations had appealed for clemency. (A notable exception was Suharto’s Indonesian reg­ime.) I have long suspected that at least two countries, had they so wished, could have exerted enough pressure to save Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s life: Saudi Arabia and the US. Both of them chose not to do so. The executioner, Gen Ziaul Haq, dismissed the global appeals as an initiative on behalf of the international union of politicians. Benazir Bhutto’s Daughter of the East notes that even the Supreme Court that had upheld the Lahore High Court’s death sentence by a 4-3 margin unanimously recommended that the sentence be commuted. But Zia ignored that inconvenient opinion.”


 
 






“While the establishment’s interference is obvious, the judiciary’s credibility has also been hit.”
-An opinion in Dawn, ‘The judges have spoken



Photo : Dawn

02 April 2024, Tuesday| Vol 5, No.61

PTI intends to form a grand opposition alliance



Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had postponed the senate elections in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly following the petition submitted by the opposition members

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Brief
POLITICS
PTI intends to form a grand opposition alliance
On 02 April, Dawn reported that The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is set to hold a meeting of opposition parties to form a ‘grand opposition alliance’ in order to launch a countrywide protest against the newly elected government. PTI leader Asad Qaiser will chair the meeting of the opposition parties. However, it is unclear of the participation of opposition parties. According to a PTI source, Qaiser has urged all the parties to join the opposition alliance, including Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). On the other hand, according to Dawn, PTI leader Omar Ayub Khan will likely be the declared leader of the opposition of the National Assembly (NA). On 01 April, National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said: “Under rule 39 (2) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly 2007, the count of the members voting for the opposition leader will be held.” As per Rule 39, the speaker shall appoint a member as the leader of the opposition. (Syed Irfan Raza, “PTI leader launches bid to form ‘grand opposition alliance,” Dawn, 02 April 2024)

ECP postpones senate elections in KP following opposition member's plea
On 02 April, The News International reported that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had postponed the senate elections in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly following the petition submitted by the opposition members amid their stand-off with the provincial government on the oath taking of MPAs for the reserved seats. Meanwhile, as the country’s ruling alliance sees a majority in the upper house of parliament, polling at NA and Punjab and Sindh assemblies are underway on the remaining vacant seats. Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) member Ahmad Karim Kundi, in the petition asserted that 25 of his party's members are yet to be sworn in and thus requested that the polls should be postponed. Upon the request, “KP Speaker Babar Saleem Swati filed a review petition with the court on the eve of the polling.” A senior official at the ECP said: “All arrangements are in place to hold the electoral process. Regarding the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Election Commission will closely watch the related developments today prior to deciding the future course of action.” The official said that the ECP’s stance in delaying the polls is to fill the Senate’s vacant seats in KP. He further said that this is the first time that the ECP faced such scenario. (Daniyal Aziz and Nausheen Yusuf, “ECP postpones Senate elections in KP,” The News International, 02 April 2024)

PML-N leader Nawaz co-chairs public meetings alongside his daughter CM Maryam Nawaz
On 01 April, despite criticism, the PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif held meetings along with his daughter CM Maryam Nawaz. To review the issues faced by Punjab’s agriculture sector, Sharif co-chaired the meeting. Nawaz had kept a low profile since the recently concluded elections, however, presiding over public meetings along with his daughter has sparked criticism as he did not hold any official position except being the member of the National Assembly. While addressing the meeting, Nawaz asserted that “lack of availability of quality seeds even after decades is a matter of grave concern”. In order to protect 37 million acres feet (MAF) of water from being wasted, Nawaz urged to take “effective steps”. He highlighted the need to use advanced irrigation methods to save water. In the meeting, to save 1.7 MAF of water about 7,300 water courses across Punjab was highlighted. The rate of farm mechanization from 35 to 60 per cent was also discussed. It further discussed about granting PKR 150 billion loan to farmers for Rabi and Kharif crops. Nawaz issued directive to formulate the eligibility criteria for the farmers to avail the loans. Furthermore, Punjab CM approved research fund of PKR 500 million in the Agricultural Research Institute in Faisalabad. (Zulqernain Tahir, “Despite flak, Nawaz chairs another government meeting,” Dawn, 02 April 2024)
 
INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES INTERVENTION IN THE JUDICIARY
PR UPDATE #0
4
PTI demands a general debate on the issue of the letter by IHC judges regarding the intervention of intelligence agencies
On 01 April, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) members protested in the National Assembly (NA) demanding a debate on the issue of the six judges of Islamabad High Court (IHC) letter regarding the interference of intelligence agencies in the judicial matters as the treasury benches and speaker subjected it as “sub judice matter.” PTI members carried placards seeking bail for their leader Imran Khan. PTI leader Omar Ayub Khan asserted that the opposition members had submitted an adjournment motion to the “NA Secretariat on the judges’ issue and asked him to allow a general debate on this matter, declaring that the agenda that had been issued by the secretariat “does not reflect the reality”. Khan further said that the letter had revealed the “role of agencies” and their interference in the case against the former PM Imran Khan. Federal Minister for Information Attaullah Tarar said that the Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa had taken a “suo motu notice” and has scheduled a hearing as the matter had become “sub judice” and could not be debated in the assembly. (Amir Wasim, “Chaos in NA as opposition stopped from debating letter,” Dawn, 02 April 2024)

ECONOMY
Government to avail USD 500 million from ADB
On 01 April, the government approved the acquisition of a USD 500 million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) which aims to foster an “enabling environment to attract private investment.” Although this move helps in addressing fiscal requirements, nevertheless, it drives Pakistan into a debt trap. According to the Planning Ministry, the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) highlighted the “concept proposal” for the USD 500 million loan under the “Promoting Sustainable Public-Private Partnership Programme.” The Express Tribune reported that the loan will be taken for budget support, in return Pakistan has revised its existing policies, formulated new policies and will establish two funds. ADB is expected to present this for the approval of the initial USD 250 million tranche if the conditions are met. According to the decision, Pakistan is anticipated to receive loans in two installments with an interest rate from 2 per cent to 6.5 per cent. The duration of the majority of loans is seven years. The Express Tribune stated: “ADB will finance the loan using its regular Ordinary Capital Resources (OCR) and Concessional Ordinary Capital Resources (COL).” (Shahbaz Rana, “Govt okays expensive $500m ADB loan,” The Express Tribune, 02 April 2024)
 
JUDICIARY
IHC rules out PTI leader Imran Khan and his wife Bushra's sentences in the Toshakhana case
On 01 April, suspending their sentences in the Toshakhana case, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) granted relief to the PTI leader and former PM Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi. IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq asserted that the appeal against the conviction would be fixed post the Eid holidays. About the Toshakhana case, the accountability court’s judge Muhammad Bashir sentenced Khan and Bushra to 14 years in prison. The judge further disqualified Imran Khan and handed PKR 1.57 billion to both of them. During the hearing, IHC CJ Farooq asserted that the “cipher case would be completed in a few days. Also, we cannot fix the Toshakhana case for hearing the very next day after holding a hearing on it today.” (Awaid Yousafzai, “IHC suspends Imran Khan, Bushra Bibi’s sentences in Toshakhana case,” The News International, 02 April 2024)

SECURITY
Terrorism would continue until Kabul shut down camps of TTP, says Defence Minister Asif
On 01 April, speaking to journalists in the Parliament House the Defence Minister Khawaja Asif asserted that Afghanistan was the source of resurfacing of terrorism in Pakistan. He cautioned that this would continue until Afghanistan formally halts the training camps of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The minister said that the Pak-Afghan border should be the same as the other international borders around the world. He said: “People come to Pakistan from Afghanistan on visas and do business here. He added that this international status of the border was “not being respected by Afghanistan.” Addressing a question regarding the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the minister said: “We have the means to provide relief to the people but tax cases worth PKR 2,700 billion were pending in courts. Thousands of billions is being stolen in taxes, electricity, gas, if these things are corrected, the people will get relief.” (Khalid Mahmood, “Terrorism to end if Kabul shuts TTP havens: Asif,” The Express Tribune, 02 April 2024)
 

 

Pakistan on Twitter

“The recent attacks on Chinese infrastructure in Pakistan have once shed light on the challenge of the Baloch insurgency that the country faces. But the insurgency began decades ago. What fuels BLA's attacks on Pakistani forces and Chinese-invested projects”
- Zirnoor Baloch

“We often hear ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ but in Pakistan ‘justice’ is cancelled. ”
-Imaan Zainab

“No matter how hard they try to remove him from the political arena, the fact is that he IS the entire political arena of Pakistan now!”
- PTI

Also read...

Arifa Noor, ‘The IHC six
Dawn, 02 April 2024
“Letters are the new black in Pakistani politics. If the week before it was about the letters related to Aitchison College, more recently, pen was put to paper in the Islamabad High Court. Off went the letter from the black-robed men to other black-robed men but on the way, it also appeared in many a social media inbox. It’s hard to keep secrets, especially the written kind, in Pakistan. And especially not when it concerns judges. Who would know this better than the Supreme Court residents? The letter was a charge-sheet, no doubt, with its detailed account of intimidatory tactics, from kidnapping and violence to secret recordings. The shadowy figures who carry out such acts were evident to all who read the letter.”

Dr Niaz Murtaza, ‘Pro-poor reform
Dawn, 02 April 2024
“New set-up must quickly undertake substantial reforms to save our moribund economy and ensure durable economic stability, productive growth, equity and sustainability. The IMF, think tanks, business groups, etc. mainly propose technical reforms, such as deregulation and privatisation, to loosen the hold of an elite-run state on markets, assuming — against global evidence that unbridled markets can ensure progress. However, the elites that run our state run markets too. Thus, many state ills actually stem from market ills — twin deficits exist partially as businesses seek endless subsidies and engage in tax evasion and can’t compete globally. The outcome is that one can’t reform the state without reforming markets as market elites will soon recapture it.Reforms in which the bulk of the populace barely figures will produce an elite-run market that fails on all four aims mentioned above. With the Soviet state-monopolist model proved infeasible, the way forward is a welfare-cum developmental state that mainly serves the interests of the poor and also ensures that markets provide fair avenues to them. Such reforms must target the state and market, make masses their focus and use their political mobilisation as the key force to unleash reform.”

Editorial, ‘Letter inquiry
Dawn, 02 April 2024
“There has been a twist in the tale. After the Supreme Court last week deferred to the federal cabinet, asking it to deal with a disturbing letter six Islamabad High Court justices had addressed to the chief justice, observers had worried that a government-sponsored inquiry into intelligence operatives’ alleged interference in judicial affairs would prove to be a non-starter. Even as voices from within the legal community were still criticising the Supreme Court for neglecting its responsibility and ceding full control over the inquiry to the government, a respected former judge, retired chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, was duly appointed to head the inquiry commission tasked with looking into the judges’ letter. By Monday, however  following an open statement from more than 300 lawyers, amidst whispers that the six IHC justices may be considering directly petitioning the Supreme Court, and a polite ‘no, thank you’ from Mr Jillani  the scheme seemed to have fallen apart.”

 






“Poor progress on SDGs is bad news for the marginalised..”
-An opinion in Dawn, ‘Autism and SDGs



Photo : The Express Tribune

01 April 2024, Monday| Vol 5, No.60

IRSA to meet amid Wapda’s failure to complete its projects



Federal Law and Justice Minister Senator Azam Nazir Tarar is set to give a policy statement in the National Assembly regarding the formation of commission to probe the allegations made by six judges of Islamabad High Court (IHC) against state institu

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Brief
POLITICS
IRSA to meet amid Wapda’s failure to complete its projects
On 01 April, The News International reported that the Advisory Committee of Indus River System Authority (IRSA) has scheduled a meeting on 02 April. The meeting might record turbulence as the “Wapda has failed to complete its tunnel projects at Tarbela Dam and its opposition to release the water to Sindh from low-level outlets and work out water availability for Kharif season with expected water shortfall of just below 30 per cent.” According to the officials, the IRSA’s technical committee has worked below 30 per cent water shortfall for the Kharif season. Despite the low percent, the early spanning (01 April to 10 June 2024) will be more than 30 per cent. Tarbela Dam at Indus is the main source to the irrigational needs of the four federating units of Sindh, Punjab, KP, and Balochistan. Wapda anticipates IRSA to release water from the Tarbela Dam beyond the storage level of 1,420 feet mark. However, given the current situation, the sowing of two main Kharif crops including cotton and rice, in Sindh would be at risk. Wapda’s instructions to IRSA came along the sidelines of the requirement of water for the construction of the tunnel project (T3). According to The News International, “The work by Wapda on T-3 and T-4 was to be completed by October-November 2023 but is still ongoing. However, on T-5, the construction work is to be completed in 33 months. With the completion of projects such as T-3, T-4, and T-5, Tarbela Dam would have the capacity to generate hydro generation of 6,298 MWs.” (Khalid Mustafa, “IRSA to discuss water issue in its stormy session tomorrow,” The News International, 01 April 2024)


INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES’ INTERVENTION IN THE JUDICIARY
PR UPDATE # 03

Azam Nazir is set to give a policy statement in NA
On 01 April, according to The News International, Federal Law and Justice Minister Senator Azam Nazir Tarar is set to give a policy statement in the National Assembly regarding the formation of commission to probe the allegations made by six judges of Islamabad High Court (IHC) against state institutions. The opposition, constituting Independent members of the House submitted an adjournment motion to the National Assembly Secretariat to discuss the matter. The News International reported that Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq will not abide the motion as the “court matters could not be taken up in the National Assembly and the law and justice minister then had taken the House in confidence on the subject.” (Muhammad Saleh Zaafir, “Inquiry commission: Azam Tarar to give policy statement in NA today,” The News International, 01 April 2024)

Lawyers urge to initiate suo motu proceedings and not ‘powerless commission’
On 01 April, Dawn reported that a group of lawyers and civil society members has urged the Supreme Court (SC) to initiate “suo motu” proceedings to investigate the allegations put forth by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges against intelligence officials. The lawyers had rejected the ‘powerless’ one-man commission initiated by the federal cabinet to probe these allegations. According to Dawn, the SC was requested to take “cognisance of the matter in its jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution as this issue eminently relates to the public interest and to the enforcement of fundamental rights”. The joint letter signed by 300 lawyers and civil society members stated that the apex court should form a bench to hear the proceedings and it should be broadcast live for the public. The letter read: “When judges, the last guardians standing between state excesses and the fundamental rights of citizens, are systematically coerced and intimidated, the entire system of justice becomes a sham and loses its credibility. Lawyers seeking justice for litigants before the courts do so with the expectation that they will be heard by neutral, impartial and unbiased arbiters seeking to dispense justice.” The letter further urged the Pakistan Bar Cou­ncil and all bar associations to conduct a convention of lawyers on an “urgent basis” for collective action for the independence of the judiciary. (Kashif Abbasi, “Lawyers say yes to ‘suo motu’, no to powerless commission,” Dawn, 01 April 2024)

SECURITY
Armed men kill two security personnel in Gwadar
On 31 March, according to the officials, two security personnel were killed and four were injured in an attack at a bomb disposal squad of Pakistan Army near the Ankara Dam. Dawn reported that the incident took place when the armed men opened fire against the bomb disposal team of Pakistan, who was clearing landmines in the Ankara Dam area of Gwadar district. Gwadar SSP Mohsin Zohaib said: “The firing incident took place some 25km from the port city [Gwadar], which claimed two lives and injured four others.” In response, the security forces have deployed personnel to identify the attackers in the area. (Behram Baloch, “Two troops martyred in Gwadar gun attack,” Dawn, 01 April 2024)

ECONOMY
IMF requests petroleum division not end cross subsidy
On 01 April, The News International reported that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had asked the authorities of the Petroleum division “not to end cross subsidy in one go but go for it in a phased manner till the protected gas consumers are safeguarded under the BISP (Benazir Income Scheme Programme) mechanism.” The IMF, however, requested that the government to halt the subsidy to gas consumers from 01 July 2024, because of the Re-Liquefied National Gas (RLNG) diversion to domestic consumers. According to The News International, the government has extended an amount of PKR 40 billion in the last fiscal year of 2022-2023 as the subsidy of the current financial year 2023-24 on the account of RLNG diversion is PKR 29 billion. The government is set to halt the subsidy to domestic consumers for the next financial year 2024-2025 as the RLNG diversion would be recovered from the consumers through the Weighted Average Cost Of Gas (WACOG) mode. (Khalid Mustafa, “No budgeted subsidy for gas consumers in next financial year, IMF tells govt,” The News International, 01 April 2024)
 

Pakistan on Twitter

“The recent attacks on Chinese infrastructure in Pakistan have once shed light on the challenge of the Baloch insurgency that the country faces. But the insurgency began decades ago. What fuels BLA's attacks on Pakistani forces and Chinese-invested projects”
- Zirnoor Baloch

“We often hear ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ but in Pakistan ‘justice’ is cancelled. ”
-Imaan Zainab

“No matter how hard they try to remove him from the political arena, the fact is that he IS the entire political arena of Pakistan now!”
- PTI

Also read...

Maleeha Lodhi, ‘Coercive diplomacy
Dawn, 01 April 2024
“Pakistan and Afganistan relations have been on a downward trajectory. They plunged to a new low earlier this month when Pakistan carried out air strikes on hideouts of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan inside Afghanistan. This was in retaliation to a series of cross-border terrorist attacks in Pakistan from Afghan soil, including a deadly one in North Waziristan that claimed the lives of several security personnel. The attack prompted ISPR to directly hold Kabul responsible, saying, “The Afghan interim government is not only arming terrorists but also providing a safe haven for terrorist organisations involved in incidents of terrorism in Pakistan”. In fact, since the Taliban returned to power in 2021, Islamabad repeatedly cautioned Kabul that its failure to act against TTP would force Pakistan’s hand. But these warnings were in vain.”

Muhammad Amir Rana, ‘Targeting Chinese nationals
Dawn, 01 April 2024
“The Shangla terrorist attack on the Chinese engineers’ vehicle is having consequences. Chinese companies have suspended work on at least three critical hydropower projects: the Dasu dam, the Diamer-Basha dam, and the Tarbela 5th Extension. The attack has caused significant alarm. Apart from disrupting these vital infrastructure projects, it has shaken the confidence of Chinese nationals working in Pakistan. Reports indicate some are considering leaving the country due to safety concerns. The Pakistani government has repeatedly pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice. However, the recent incident has eroded trust. Chinese social media reflects growing anxiety, with calls for stricter security measures to protect Chinese lives. Whenever a major terrorist incident occurs in the country, the media, security experts, and even state institutions start to make sweeping generalisations about the event, the culprits, their motives, and the terrorist groups that could have been involved in such incidents.”

Javid Husain, ‘Pakistan’s grand strategy
The News International, 01 April 2024
“Pakistan’s institutions and policymakers, with some rare exceptions here and there, are prone to think and act tactically when dealing with major national issues instead of deliberating and planning in strategic terms. Ideally, tactical decisions must be made within the framework of a well-thought-out strategy in the interest of safeguarding long-term national interests. Such an approach enables the nation to maintain a sense of direction in its day-to-day policy decisions. It also avoids the danger of lack of consistency in tactical or short-term decisions taken in the heat of the moment in the face of new and unforeseen challenges. There is a huge body of literature available on strategy in the military field. As elaborated by Liddell Hart, a well-known military thinker of the 20th century, in his classic book ‘Strategy’, the true aim of strategy “is not so much to seek battle as to seek a strategic situation so advantageous that if it does not of itself produce the decision, its continuation by a battle is sure to achieve it.”
 

 





“It is necessary to look at a significant public intervention as the response of a system weighed under a lopsided power structure.”
-An opinion in Dawn, ‘Fighting monopolisation


Click below links for month wise archive

2023 - Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May
2022 - Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec
2021 - Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec
2020 - May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec