Wednesday, April 22, 2020

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#Pakistan - Lack of transparency in #PTI dealings - #کرپٹ_عمران_جواب_دو

  • Dangerous in the era of coronavirus
In January the PTI government had lashed out at Transparency International for placing Pakistan further down in its corruption perception list. Questions have now been raised by the Supreme Court about lack of transparency in the way the government is using relief funds. The court also raised questions about the use of Zakat fund for providing remuneration to the officials of the department, conducting administrative affairs and undertaking air travels. The government was grilled over inadequate quarantine facilities and ‘inhumane’ conditions prevailing at the Hajj Complex. The provincial governments were also reprimanded over the way they distributed rations.
The PTI government also remains inscrutable on a number of other issues. It has announced guidelines to people in general and shoppers, storekeepers and prayer leaders in particular. A perception is being formed that the announcements are not meant to be implemented but are in fact optics aimed at creating an impression that the government is trying its best to fight the coronavirus. This explains why the government lets the bazaars in major cities be crowded while customers and storekeepers are not penalized for creating huddles, or prayer leaders arrested for violating the instructions are set free. The government avoids alienating any large group of voters even if this harms the country.
The PTI government appears to be convinced that providing jobs, even if these raise the mortality graph, will get it more votes in the next elections than saving lives by implementing strict distancing measures. SAPM Zafar Mirza continues to under-rate the pandemic, maintaining that infections in Pakistan are two-thirds lower than forecast earlier. The explanation given by him is that it was due to the immediate measures taken by the government to control the outbreak under the supervision of Prime Minister Imran Khan. While the explanation is obviously aimed at gaining political mileage, it flies in the face of facts. The first two cases of coronavirus in Pakistan were reported on February 26 and the mismanaged opening of the Taftan border took place on February 28. Mr Khan however did not take any public notice of the issue till March 14, when Pakistan’s tally of coronavirus cases had already arisen to 33.

#CoronaInPakistan - Imran Khan will be responsible if Covid-19 situation worsens

Secretary Information Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians Dr. Nafisa Shah has warned Prime Minister Imran Khan to end the war against Sindh. She said that Imran Khan and his associates are inciting some quarters against Sindh.

Dr. Shah asked what message the Governor Sindh want to give by violating section 144? It is clear that the Prime Minister wants to destroy all good work done by the Sindh government under Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah. The President, the Prime Minister, and all federal ministers are playing a dangerous game. On one hand, Sindh CM is visiting Sindh without protocol and on the other Governor is traveling with entourage and razzmatazz.

Dr. Nafisa Shah said that one member of the Tiger Force was caught in Sukkur involved in looting people with counterfeit forms. She said that Imran Khan, on one hand, says that the peak of the disease is to come in May and on the other says lockdown is not the solution. Imran Khan will be held responsible if more lives are lost due to COVID-19, she concluded.

Are Imran Khan’s Days as Pakistan’s Prime Minister Numbered?

By Daud Khattak

The PTI government’s poor performance has apparently alienated even Pakistan’s kingmakers: the military.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is under criticism from the media for what is being called his government’s failure to make visible progress on the economic and political fronts as well as decisively confront the COVID-19 pandemic.
Khan was once Pakistan’s most popular man and believed to be a messiah, able to steer the country out of myriad problems ranging from economic mismanagement to corruption, terrorism, and a darkened international image. While in the opposition, Khan spoke from a very high moral pedestal; now it seems his idealism raised expectations beyond his capacity.
His government’s performance during the past 20 months has not only disenchanted many of his diehard supporters in the media and his voters, particularly among the middle class and the youth, but also to some extent alienated the decision makers in the military, Pakistan’s most powerful institution, which is always seen as a silent and invisible actor in throning and de-throning leaders and governments in Pakistan.
COVID-19 and Khan Government’s Response
On April 13, while hearing a suo moto case, Pakistan’s Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that “there is no betterment in the federal government’s performance to deal with the outbreak.”
The remarks from Pakistan’s top judge came hard on the heels of a halfhearted response by the government to lock down cities and extend immediate assistance to those in need.
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year. In Pakistan, the first COVID-19 case was confirmed on February 26. Since then, Pakistan’s central government has failed to announce a clear strategy on whether the country is going into a lockdown or staying open. Rather, the response to one of the most important issues in recent decades remained confused.
Last week, the Khan government extended the “lockdown” for another two weeks but allowed congregational prayers at mosques and the opening of certain shops and businesses, along with the construction industry.

Such half measures gave a majority of Pakistanis, who were already in a state of disbelief about the virus and were reluctant to accept the pandemic as a real and genuine threat, an excuse to flout the ban. Even those who had adopted the precautionary measures are in a state of confusion as to whether to observe a lockdown or not.
A Sugar Scandal
As the coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on human life in Pakistan and the rest of the world, the finding of an investigative report was leaked to the media. The report alleged the involvement of Khan’s key associates and cabinet members in creating an artificial sugar shortage crisis in the country last year, and in the process earning themselves huge sums of money.
For decades, Imran Khan built his reputation as an anti-graft campaigner who used to accuse his opponents of looting the country’s wealth and sending the money abroad. The sugar scandal has already struck a blow to Khan’s reputation at a time when his government is on the backfoot for its sluggish response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Although the COVID-19 emergency diverted attention from politics for a while, rumors are that Khan’s key backers in the military establishment are also fed up with his style of government and his performance.
Does That Mean a Change Is in the Offing?
When Pakistani opposition parliamentarians repeatedly used the term “selected prime minister” soon after Khan’s swearing in, they knew very well who they were pointing to as the “selectors.” Obviously, they were referring to the country’s powerful military and its intelligence agencies.
Much has been written as to how Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf or Justice Movement party was propped up by placing key leaders of the two major opposition parties – the Pakistan Muslim League of former premier Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party of the late Benazir Bhutto, which is now co-chaired by her son Bilawal and her widower Asif Ali Zardari – behind bars before and during the July 2018 parliamentary elections.
One simple reason for Khan’s elevation to the top was to block the two major parties from entering into power. The opposition leadership had learned a hard lesson about the need for resolving their differences and the problems faced by the country in light of the constitution.
Another possible reason was Khan’s charisma and his “Mr. Clean” image. Altogether the purpose was to help overcome corruption, boost the economy by bringing in international investment, and help improve Pakistan’s international image, which had been bitterly affected by its pro-Taliban leanings in the post-9/11 war against terrorism.

The emergence of democratic norms and a culture of political tolerance in Pakistani politics from 2008 to 2018 proved a warning signal for the undemocratic forces. It was during this period that the country’s parliament approved the 18th amendment, which, apart from shifting powers from the center to the federating units, also curtailed the authority of the president to dissolve the assemblies. The bill also reversed many changes introduced by military rulers to weaken the democratic process.
Apparently, democracy was strengthened in Pakistan and two elected governments – albeit not the originally elected prime ministers — successively completed their five-year terms without interruption from 2008 to 2018 for the first time in the history of Pakistan.
But Imran Khan’s election once again pushed Pakistan back into the era of the 1990s by opening the floodgates of mudslinging and inviting military intervention.
Both the military and Khan, in the first year of his government, used to proudly repeat the mantra of being on the “same page” which means there is no trouble between the two. However, 20 months on the “same page” mantra has almost disappeared from national press coverage.
What Next?
It is generally believed that the powerful circles are disenchanted with Khan’s performance but seem to be in a fix as how to undo what has been done for several reasons.
In the first place, the opposition parties are not willing to support any unconstitutional step that may show the door to the prime minister or oust his government. There are two reasons for the opposition’s unwillingness.
First, the political maturity attained over the past two decades is stopping the leadership of the two major opposition parties – People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz – from backing an unconstitutional step, even if the victim is a staunch opponent like Imran Khan.
Second, the top leadership of the two major opposition parties – Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari – don’t have pleasant memories of dealing with the military during their time as prime minister and president respectively. They must be reluctant to allow their parties to save face for the establishment in doing away with their handpicked man.
Half of Imran Khan’s failures are credited to the military, mainly because of the widespread perception that it was the military that paved his way to electoral victory.
Khan’s popularity among youth may also be a serious concern. While his popularity graph is apparently on the decline, his army of blind followers would not silently absorb his premature removal from power.
The military has already lost a considerable amount of support and sympathy in its main recruiting land of Punjab by sidelining Nawaz Sharif, an ethnic Punjabi and the most popular leader in his native Punjab province. This is no time to pick a dispute with another popular man and his support base.

Besides losing favor with the military and his government’s not-so-praiseworthy performance on the economic and good governance fronts, Khan is also facing a challenge from inside his own party. Groups with loyalties to subleaders may rock the boat while seeing their interests at stake. Pakistan will have to hold its breath until the forensic investigation report, expected to be released on April 25. Whose and how many heads roll will be a crucial issue.
In the meantime, while the COVID-19 situation has further exposed the weaknesses in the government performance and thus further widened the gap in the former “same page” narrative, it also, apparently, has averted the possibility of any political change for the next several months.

Pakistan’s Covid-19 gambit

Using the pandemic, Pakistan is boosting its terror infrastructure. Be prepared.

Pakistan is using the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) to secure its terror infrastructure. First, there were reports that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — which in February, gave Pakistan only four months to deliver on an action plan to curb terror financing — is expected to put off a review of steps taken so far by Pakistan till much later in the year because of the pandemic. On April 20, another report emerged of Pakistan removing almost 3,800 names from a terrorism watchlist for Punjab province. Of these, more than 1,800 names were removed since early March, while the international community was focused on the Covid-19 pandemic. Counterterrorism experts also noted that Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) cited no explanation for the removal of names, which is the standard practice during such delistings.
Pakistan’s counterterrorism practices are notoriously opaque. For years, NACTA’s website only maintained a list for proscribed organisations, with officials asserting that the maintenance of lists of proscribed individuals was the responsibility of provincial authorities. It is not just the listing of terrorists; there is no information in the public domain regarding the trial of the seven men arrested for alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. There is also no information on the whereabouts of one of these men, Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, following his release on bail five years ago.
Pakistan is clearly making the most of reduced pressure from the world community to crack down on terrorism at a time when most countries are focused on defeating the pandemic and addressing its impact on their economies. This is shameful. The let-up of pressure on terrorists comes at a time when Pakistani forces have intensified shelling along the frontiers in Kashmir. India will find it hard to take up these issues with other countries as bilateral and multilateral meetings have ground to a halt. The only option now is for India to keep its powder dry to deal with mischief by Pakistan-based terrorists, and to firm up its plans to increase the cost for Pakistan using terrorism as a State policy.

مساجد کھولنے کے خطرناک نتائج نکل سکتے ہیں، پاکستانی ڈاکٹرز

پاکستان میں سینیئر ڈاکٹروں نے حکومت سے اپیل کی ہے کہ وہ کورونا کی وبا کے دوران باجماعت نماز پڑھنے کی اجازت دینے کے اپنے فیصلے پر نظر ثانی کرے۔
حکومت کو لکھے گئے ایک خط میں طبی ماہرین نے خبردار کیا کہ رمضان میں مساجد میں لوگوں کا رش بڑھتا ہے اور تراویح کے اجتماعات دیر تک جاری رہتے ہیں، ایسے میں ملک میں وائرس پھیلنے اور صورتحال بگڑنے کا خدشہ ہے۔ ڈاکٹروں کا کہنا ہے کہ مساجد میں پچاس سال سے زائد عمر کے لوگ زیادہ جاتے ہیں، جس سے ان کی جان کو زیادہ خطرہ ہو سکتا ہے۔

یہ خط پاکستان اسلامک میڈیکل ایسوسی ایشن کی جانب سے حکومت کو ارسال کیا گیا ہے۔ خط پر آغا خان یونیورسٹی کراچی  کے سینیئر ڈاکٹر فیصل محمود اور فلاحی ادارے انڈس ہسپتال کے سربراہ ڈاکٹر عبدالباری خان سمیت تیرہ سرکردہ ڈاکٹروں کے دستخط ہیں۔ پاکستان میں وفاقی حکومت کا موقف ہے کہ لوگوں کو زبردستی مساجد میں جانے سے نہیں روکا جا سکتا۔
منگل کو کورونا وائرس سے متعلق میڈیا بریفنگ میں وزیراعظم عمران خان نے مساجد کھولنے کے حکومتی فیصلے کا دفاع کرتے ہوئے کہا،''پاکستانی ایک آزاد قوم ہے۔ ماہ رمضان میں عبادات پر خصوصی توجہ دی جاتی ہے، ہماری قوم مساجد میں جانا چاہتی ہے تو کیا ہم ان لوگوں کو زبردستی کہیں کہ آپ مساجد میں نہ جائیں اور کیا پولیس مساجد میں جانے والوں کو جیلوں میں ڈالے گی؟‘‘
پاکستان میں پچھلے ہفتے دیوبندی، بریلوی اور اہلحدیث علماء کے ایک با اثر گروپ نے دھمکی دی تھی کہ وہ حکومتی لاک ڈاؤن کے تحت مساجد کو مزید بند نہیں رکھ سکتے، جس کے بعد کئی علاقوں میں باجماعت نماز کے لیے مساجد کے دروازے کھول دیے گئے تھے۔
صدر پاکستان ڈاکٹر عارف علوی  نے ہفتے کو علماء کے ساتھ مشاورت کے بعد اعلان کیا کہ رمضان کے دوران تراویح اور اجتماعی عبادت کے لیے مساجد کھولی جا رہی ہیں۔ اس موقع پر حکومت نے علماء کی اتفاق رائے سے ایک بیس نکاتی حفاظتی ہدایت نامہ جاری کیا اور لوگوں پر زور دیا کہ اس کی پاسداری وہ خود کریں۔
واضح رہے کہ سعودی عرب سمیت کئی مسلم ممالک نے کورونا وبا کے مدنظر باجماعت نماز اور تراویح پر پابندی کا اعلان کر رکھا ہے۔
منگل کو وزیراعظم عمران خان نے کہا کہ گو کہ حکومت پاکستان کی طرف سے مشروط طور پر مساجد کھولنے کا فیصلہ کیا گیا ہے لیکن لوگوں کو چاہیے کہ رمضان کے دوران گھر پر رہ کر عبادت کریں۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ اگر رمضان کے دوران مساجد میں حفاظتی ہدایات کا خیال نہ رکھا گیا اور بیماری پھیلی تو پھر مساجد کو بند کرنا پڑے گا۔
لیکن ڈاکٹروں کا کہنا ہے کہ رمضان کے اجتماعات کے دوران حکومت کے لیے سماجی دوری اور حفاظتی ہدایات پر عملدرآمد ممکن نہیں ہوگا، جس سے مریضوں کی تعداد میں زبردست اضافے کا خدشہ ہے۔
حکومت کے نام اپنے خط میں طبی ماہرین نے کہا کہ پاکستان کے شہریوں میں تعلیم کی کمی کے باعث ویسے بھی نظم و ضبط کا فقدان ہے اور پچھلے چند ہفتوں کے دوران کراچی میں باجماعت نماز جمعہ کرانے والوں اور پولیس کے درمیان پر تشدد واقعات پیش آچکے ہیں۔ ڈاکٹروں نے خدشہ ظاہر کیا کہ رمضان کے دوران بدانتظامی سے شہریوں اور قانون نافذ کرنے والوں کے درمیان محاذ آرائی کے واقعات پیش آ سکتے ہیں۔