PILDAT Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | April 2018

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This monitor identifies key developments during the month on Civil Military Relations in Pakistan with selected high-profile international developments.

In this Issue:

  1. Geo TV returns to airwaves riding on #self-censorship
  2. The phenomenon of Pahtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM)
  3. Prime Minister and COAS visit North Waziristan Agency with Defence Minister in tow
  4. Army hands back Security of Dir
  5. Continuing Role of COAS in Foreign Affairs
  6. Army Public relations and development activities
  7. 210th Corps Commanders’ Conference
  8. COAS confirmed death sentences awarded to 10 hard-core terrorists
  9. Prime Minister and COAS attend War games in KSA
  10. DG ISPR condemns firing at SC Judge’s house
  11. Civilians and the Army should work together: Shahbaz Sharif
  12. NSC endorses Govt strategy for regional peace, security
  13. SCO sole provider of 3G/4G services in GB: Court Order
  14. PM-COAS Interactions
  15. Thai General Election under Military regime is a Major political throwback
  16. Egyptian President Sisi wins landslide Victory in Elections

Geo TV returns to airwaves riding on #self-censorship

Pakistan has elected democratic government in place and Constitutional and legal provisions safeguarding freedom of media are not ‘abrogated’ or ‘held in abeyance’ like a few times in the past when elected governments were dismissed. Yet one of the most watched news channel of the country – Geo News – suddenly disappeared off the screens of a large majority of viewers, without them wishing to do so.

The mysterious order to not show Geo on cable television did not come from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), the body with the sole jurisdiction to “regulate electronic media” [1] as it confirmed on April 02, 2018 that it had neither suspended, nor changed the order of Geo TV.[2] It also ordered cable operators to restore Geo to its former position within the next 24 hours. However, after cable operators failed to restore Geo TV, PEMRA directed Provincial Governments to direct Police to help restore Geo TV.[3]

#silent coup – the hashtag doing rounds on social media.

On April 04, 2018, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, while hearing a case on code-of-conduct of media, also noted “Except God, no one on earth can block transmission of Geo channels unlawfully.”

However, Geo remained off-air, and who ordered its disappearance from the airwaves remained a mystery. On April 19, 2018, Reuters reported that Geo TV will now be returning to the airwaves after having negotiated terms and conditions with the Pakistan Army, alleging it was indeed the Army that had ordered Cable Operators to take the channel off air. The Reuters article alleged that Geo was ordered off air by the military establishment, for criticism of the military, the courts and for supporting the ousted elected Premier Nawaz Sharif. The article went on to reveal that the channel was only allowed on air after having “agreed to change its editorial policy, which was circulated amongst the staff.” The article quoted two unnamed sources, and also said that cable operators interviewed by Reuters, as well as executives working in Geo confirmed that the military was behind the disappearance of Geo News.[4] On April 06, 2018, the New York Times also published a similar article blaming the military for taking Geo TV off air.[5]

As Geo now returned to the airwaves, on April 26, 2018, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf also ended its boycott of Geo/Jang Group,[6] and Mr. Imran Khan gave an exclusive interview to Geo’s anchor Mr. Hamid Mir. There appears to be a visible change in the editorial policy of the channel after its restoration.

The price of bringing back Geo on air, has, in effect opened media up to another challenge of self-censorship. Scores of analysts, including Mr. Babar Sattar, Syed Talat Hussain, Mr. Musharraf Zaidi and Mr. Ammar Masood have publicly shared that their weekly articles were refused to be published as the hashtag of #MissingArticles does rounds on social media. Many others practice self-censorship, which has also been pointed out in Freedom of Press Index 2018 by Reporters without Borders.[7]

This entire episode, in the opinion of PILDAT, has very serious implications for the Rule of Law in Pakistan. More than anything else that ails Pakistan the most at present and since long, is the weak, and to some the total absence of Rule of Law. If Geo is involved in activities which necessitates action against it, the law of the land should be invoked and matters should be conducted through the relevant regulator, which in this case is PEMRA, and the complaints – if any – should be finally adjudicated in the Courts of Law, which not only are functioning, but also very active and assertive. Many people had been accusing that there is an ‘invisible government’ or what once the then Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani termed as ‘Government within a Government’ in Pakistan. The Geo episode tends to lend credence to such accusations and carries serious ramifications for the efforts, both by the civil and the military, to bring everyone and all parts of the country under the Rule of Law.

The phenomenon of Pahtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM)

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Manzoor Pishteen, leader of PTM, addressing a rally in Lahore on April 21, 2018

These pages in previous months have covered the COAS directing that Watan cards, earlier issued as ID document for TDPs, are no more required and TDPs, or residents of FATA to be clear, are allowed to use Computerized National Identification Cards (CNICs), legal tender as the right of every Pakistani citizen 18 years and above, will now be taken as their ID document.

In more ways than one, this issue defines the phenomenon of what is now known as Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). That those residents of FATA who were made to leave their homes to support Pakistan’s fight against terrorism. That, when allowed to return, were questioned and allegedly humiliated at several gates put up, admittedly out of necessity, by the military to screen people into the area recently made clear of terrorists. That when they returned to their post-war ravaged areas, were not provided with sufficient funds to establish their lives and livelihoods. Add to this the monumental issue of human suffering understood as ‘enforced disappearances.’ A somewhat vital simplification of the issues, with the added baggage of successive absolute neglect of FATA into the mainstream of the country, meaning, by comparison, to its development (or lack thereof) with major capitals of the country including Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and even Peshawar. Encapsulated, this, more or less, explains the legitimate reasons behind the phenomenon of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement – or PTM, as it is more widely known.

While accepting many of these legitimate demands such as abolition of Watan Cards, and while the PTM Jalsas claim the return of many missing persons to their homes as a result of their protest in Jalsas, the COAS tells us that “engineered protests” would not be allowed to reverse the gains of counterterrorism operations and cautioned the nation against forgetting sacrifices of “real heroes.”[8]

A few days later, Corps Commander Peshawar, Lt. Gen. Nazir Ahmad terms ‘some’ demands of PTM as “genuine” adding that Manzoor, having studied from Army Public School is ‘our [military] son’ and is welcomed to come and discuss his issues with ‘us’ [Pakistan Army].[9]

To analyse it in terms of civil-military relations, one is utterly disappointed by the role (or lack thereof) that civilian elected governments have played in addressing issues faced by FATA. While no less than the Chief of Army Staff is describing the PTM and its cause as an ‘engineered protest’ – and he may be right somewhat in expressing – as is always the case, of the foreign hijacking of a legitimate issue – the elected political government, despite having passed the FATA Reforms in the Federal Cabinet a year ago in 2017, have failed to implement the suggested reforms due to petty political differences of the allied parties.

Prime Minister and COAS visit North Waziristan Agency with Defence Minister in tow

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Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, accompanied by Minister of Defence Khurram Dastgir on a visit to North Waziristan on April 30, 2018

It is indeed a welcome change – not just in optics – though these are crucially-needed optics – that the country’s Defence Minister is part of the Premier and COAS Visit to FATA. It is also a welcome change as the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan is visiting the frontlines in the national security battles facing Pakistan.

Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, MNA, and Chief of the Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, visited Miran Shah and Ghulam Khan areas of North Waziristan Agency on April 30, 2018. Federal Minister of Defence, against the prevalent, though wrong, norms, was rightfully accompanying the Prime Minister.

On arrival at Miranshah, PM laid floral wreath at Shuhada monument and offered Fateha for Shuhada of Pakistan who have rendered supreme sacrifices for restoration of peace and stability.[10]Prime Minister also inaugurated the newly constructed Miranshah Market Complex by Pakistan Army Engineers.

Army hands back Security of Dir

The Pakistan Army, after having restored peace to the valley of Dir, handed the security back to the civilian government.

GOC Malakand Maj. Gen. Ali Aamir Awan was the chief guest on the occasion. The move was made ten years after operation against terrorists began in the valley of Swat. Security is now handed over to the Police and Levies, who have also been given special training by the Pakistan Army to undertake their responsibilities.[11]

Continuing Role of COAS in Foreign Affairs

The COAS has continued to play an important role in the Diplomacy and Foreign Policy realms during the month of April. Following is an overview of activities:

  • South and Central Asia Acting Assistant Secretary of the United States, Ambassador Alice G. Wells, paid a visit to GHQ to discuss Regional security environment and matters of mutual interest. Both agreed that bilateral convergences should be leveraged to gain positive momentum rather than remaining hostage to perceptions.[12]
  • Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa reached Uzbekistan on an official visit. COAS met President of Uzbekistan, Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev. The Uzbek President appreciated Pakistan’s achievements in fight against terrorism and said that the world needs to recognize Pakistan’s contributions for regional and global peace. COAS also met Foreign Minister and Secretary of National Security Council of Uzbekistan. Both sides agreed to enhance bilateral security cooperation and continue efforts, which bring peace and stability in the region.[13]
  • After 45 days of emergency in the Maldives, General Qamar Javed Bajwa became first foreign dignitary to pay “courtesy call” on President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom at his office on April 01, 2017. The General was accompanied by Ambassador of Pakistan, Vice Admiral Waseem Akram, PS to Chief of Army Staff Brigadier Iftikhar Hassan Chaudhry, and Defence Adviser, Colonel Sajjad Ali.[14]

Army Public relations and development activities

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), inaugurated two mega projects in South Waziristan Agency (SWA). Projects included Agriculture Park at Wana and a Market at Makeen. Both these facilities are part of socio-economic uplift program for FATA. Projects have been executed by Pakistan Army Engineers in collaboration with the government.Agriculture Park Wana comprises multiple components including state of the art Pine Nut Processing Plant, 1000 Ton capacity Cold Storage Facility, Ware Houses, Godowns and 128 shops. ‘Makeen Market Complex’ has 728 shops, allied facilities and a Children park.[15]

Speaking to the local tribal elders, COAS said that having lived through very difficult times during terrorism / kinetic operations against terrorists, we now are in the phase of stability and development. He urged them not to allow anyone to jeopardize the peace attained at very heavy cost in blood and national exchequer.[16] COAS said that earliest mainstreaming of FATA to the popular aspirations of the local tribes is essential for its development and enduring stability.[17]COAS acknowledged tribal brethren for their full support to Army and their resolve to maintain and strengthen the gains. Tribal elders thanked Pakistan Army for restoring peace / development works and assured that tribes stand firmly with Pakistan Army for journey towards enduring peace.[18]

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COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa paying a visit to Father of Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud at his residence in Makeen to offer condolences

At Makeen COAS also met Father of Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud, condoled and offered fatiha. COAS said that Army should support all efforts to let him get the justice.[19]

A group of students from US Cornell University met Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa during their visit to Pakistan. Students shared experience of their first ever visit to Pakistan and seeing Pakistan as a beautiful and peaceful country. Students visited Lahore, Hunza valley, Remount Depot Mona and Islamabad during the visit. COAS shared his thoughts about Pakistan and its ongoing journey to enduring peace. COAS said that youth has an important role to play in every field, as they are the future leadership. Referring to vibrant youth of Pakistan, COAS credited successes in war against terror to the bravery and motivation of the junior leadership besides their contributions to national progress on the whole as part of the nation. Students thanked COAS and said that they are taking back home the first-hand reality about peaceful and beautiful Pakistan.[20]

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COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa chairing the 210th Corps Commanders’ Conference at the GHQ on April 11, 2018

210th Corps Commanders’ Conference was held at the GHQ chaired by General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on April 11, 2018. Forum reviewed evolving geo-strategic environment and security situation of the country. Progress of ongoing Operation Radd ul Fasaad and Khushhal Balochistan program were also discussed. Forum acknowledged contributions and sacrifices of all national stakeholders especially the resilient Pakistanis in rejecting terrorism and bringing about security stability in the country. Forum discussed lines of stability operations to carry forward the gains of successful kinetic operations. COAS directed that the stability and development efforts must trickle down dividends of peace to the public while control of cleared areas is being handed over to civil administration with enhanced capacity. Key dividend remains linked to mainstreaming of FATA in line with popular public sentiments.[21]

Forum concluded to continue efforts in support of state institutions, which are taking Pakistan on a positive trajectory of peace, stability and prosperity.[22]

COAS confirmed death sentences awarded to 10 hard-core terrorists

Chief of Army Staff confirmed death sentences awarded to 10 hardcore terrorists, who were involved in heinous offences related to terrorism, including killing of innocent civilians and attacking Pearl Continental Hotel Peshawar as well as Law Enforcement Agencies/Armed Forces of Pakistan. On the whole, they were involved in killing 62 persons including 5 civilians, 11 police officials and 46 Frontier Constabulary/Armed Forces Personnel. The convicts also include terrorists who killed renowned Qawwall, Amjad Farid Sabri. Arms and explosives were also recovered from their possession. Special military courts tried these convicts. Besides, 5 convicts have also been awarded imprisonment.[23]

Prime Minister, Defence Minister and COAS attend War games in KSA

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, accompanied by Minister of Defence, Mr. Khurram Dastgir Khan, MNA, and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajw witnessed a 24-country joint military exercise in Saudi Arabia. The Prime Minister was on a two-day visit, on special invitation by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. He arrived in Saudi Arabia on April 15, 2018.[24] The nature of the ‘attack’ was not very clear as the evidence was two empty bullets found within the premise of the judge’s residence.

DG ISPR condemns firing at SC Judge’s house

Condemning the attack at the house of Supreme Court judge, Justice Ijazul Ahsan in Model Town, Lahore, Director General ISPR, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said that “all stakeholders should ensure a secure environment for effective functioning of state institutions and continue efforts to consolidate improving peace and stability.”[25]

Civilians and the Army should work together: Shahbaz Sharif

PML (N) President and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed his support for Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. While talking to journalists at the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI), he said that his knowledge related to “Bajwa Doctrine” is only limited to the news reports on it. About his meeting with the Chief of Army Staff he said that he found him professional and straightforward and we must respect and honor his efforts. He further said that the sacrifices made by the Armed forces to ensure the country’s defense and to eliminate terrorism and fanaticism should be appreciated.[26]

NSC endorses Govt strategy for regional peace, security

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the 20th meeting of the National Security Committee on April 04, 2018. The meeting was attended by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, MNA, Minister for Interior, Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, MNA, Mr. Miftah Ismail, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue & Economic Affairs, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, Director General ISI Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar, National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Nasser Khan Janjua and senior civil and military officials[27]. Defence Minister Mr. Khurram Dastgir was not part of the meeting as per Prime Minister Office.

The NSC condemned atrocities by Indian Security Forced in Indian Occupied Kashmir, and lauded the resilience of the Kashmiri people. Other matters related to broader regional situation were also discussed.[28]

SCO sole provider of 3G/4G services in GB: Court Order

On a petition by Special Communication Organization – which is the military’s telecommunication wing granted monopoly in Azad Jammu and Kashmir Area and Northern Areas, up until the 2005 earthquake, after which other telecos were allowed to operate in the area – a Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Court (GBCC) allowed the SCO to operate 3G and 4G services, and stayed Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s decision to allow private telcos to launch their service in the region.[29]

PM-COAS Interactions

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa interacted thrice in April 2018.

  1. The Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee on April 04, 2018, where the COAS was also present.
  2. The Prime Minister was accompanied by the COAS on a visit to Saudi Arabia, where the two witnessed war games.
  3. The Prime Minister and COAS paid a visit to North Waziristan on April 30, 2018.

International Developments

Thai General Election under Military regime is a Major political throwback

Thailand’s Army General has talked about a return to democracy since he seized power in May 2014. He has repeatedly delayed elections, although now he proclaims that an election will be held in February 2019. Political parties are gradually being released from the manacles that have prevented them from meeting and being active since the coup, and new parties being proclaimed. But few observers are convinced by the promise of elections in February next year.[30]

These delays are one element of a set of processes devised by Junta to prevent election to government of any party associated with exiled former Prime minister thaksin Shinwatra. For this Junta and its supporters, reform means neutering Shinwatra clan’s Pheu thai Party. The Junta determination to crush Pheu Thai and the related red shirt movement draws les

sons from military’s failure to defeat its opponents following the 2006 coup.[31]

Egyptian President Sisi wins landslide victory in Elections

Announced on April 02, 2018, Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became President of Egypt for a second term, securing 97% votes in an election with only 41% voter turnout. The result was widely expected because Sisi’s singular rival, Mousa Mostafa Mousa was considered a stooge candidate. Many other candidates opted out of the race, after allegedly being squeezed by Sisi’s government.[32]

References

  1. PEMRA Ordinance 2002, amended in 2007.
  2. “PEMRA orders restoration of all Geo TV channels within 24 hours,” GEO.TV, April 02, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018, at https://www.geo.tv/latest/189192-pemra-orders-restoration-of-all-geo-tv-channels-within-24-hours
  3. “Cable operators defy 24-hour notice: Pemra seeks provinces’ police help to restore all Geo channels,” THE NEWS, April 04, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018, at https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/300269-cable-operators-defy-24-hour-notice-pemra-seeks-provinces-police-help-to-restore-all-geo-channels
  4. “Exclusive: Pakistan TV channel returning to air after negotiations with military – sources,” REUTERS, April 19, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018 at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-media-exclusive/exclusive-pakistan-tv-channel-returning-to-air-after-negotiations-with-military-sources-idUSKBN1HP2WV
  5. “Top Pakistani News Channel Is Forced Off Air, and Eyes Are on the Military,” THE NEW YORK TIMES, April 06, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018 at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/06/world/asia/pakistan-geo-military-censorship.html
  6. “PTI announces to end Jang-Geo boycott,” DAILY PAKISTAN, April 26, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018 at https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/pakistan/pti-announces-to-end-jang-geo-boycott/
  7. Country Report: Pakistan, Press Freedom Ranking 2017, REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS, as accessed on April 18, 2018, at https://rsf.org/en/pakistan
  8. ‘Engineered protests’ won’t be allowed, says army chief, Dawn, April 13, 2018: https://www.dawn.com/news/1401345
  9. Pakistan Army ready to negotiate with Manzoor Pashteen; Corps. Commander calls him “our son”- Global Vollage Space, April 25, 2018: https://www.globalvillagespace.com/pakistan-army-ready-to-negotiate-with-manzoor-pashteen-corps-commander-calls-him-our-son/
  10. Prime Minister Pakistan Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Miran Shah and Ghulam Khan areas of North Wazirstan Agency, ISPR Press release, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4710 (accessed April 30, 2018)
  11. “Ten years on, army hands over security to civil govt in Dir,” DAWN, April 11, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018 at https://www.dawn.com/news/1400881/ten-years-on-army-hands-over-security-to-civil-govt-in-dir
  12. G.Wells called on General Qamar javed bajwa ,ISPR Press release,https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press release-detail.php?id=4669 ( accessed April 02, 2018).
  13. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa reached Uzbekistan on official visit.ISPR Press release, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4709 (accessed April 29, 2018).
  14. “Gen Bajwa for strong ties with Maldives”, THE NATION, April 02, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018
  15. General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) inaugurated two mega projects in South Waziristan Agency (SWA), ISPR Press release, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4675 (accessed May 5, 2018).
  16. Ibid
  17. Ibid
  18. General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) inaugurated two mega projects in South Waziristan Agency (SWA), ISPR Press release, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4675 (accessed May 5, 2018).
  19. Ibid
  20. A group of students from US Cornell University met Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa during their visit to Pakistan, ISPR Press release, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4692 (accessed April 07, 2018)
  21. 210th Corps Commanders’ Conference was held at GHQ today chaired by General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), ISPR Press release, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4686 (accessed April 11, 2018).
  22. ibid
  23. Today Chief of Army Staff confirmed death sentences awarded to 10 hardcore terrorists, who were involved in heinous offences related to terrorism, ISPR Press release, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4668 (accessed April 02, 2018).
  24. “Abbasi, Bajwa in S. Arabia to witness joint drills closing,” DAWN, April 16, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018 at https://www.dawn.com/news/1401900/abbasi-bajwa-in-s-arabia-to-witness-joint-drills-closing
  25. “Firing at SC judge’s residence: Safe environment must for state institutions, says ISPR,” THE NEWS, April 16, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018 at https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/304907-firing-at-sc-judge-s-residence-safe-environment-must-for-state-institutions-says-ispr
  26. “Shahbaz showers praise on ‘straightforward’ COAS,” DAWN, April 05, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018 at https://www.dawn.com/news/1399676/shahbaz-showers-praise-on-straightforward-coas
  27. Prime Minister’s Office Press Release, Official Website, April 04, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018, at http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2254
  28. Prime Minister’s Office Press Release, Official Website, April 04, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018, at http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2254
  29. “Army’s telecom wing allowed 3G, 4G services trial run in GB,” DAWN, April 26, 2018, as accessed on May 08, 2018 at https://www.dawn.com/news/1403965/armys-telecom-wing-allowed-3g-4g-services-trial-run-in-gb
  30. Thai Junta’s election façade a political throwback, East Asia Forum, http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2018/04/22/thai-juntas-election-facade-a-political-throwback/ (accessed April 30, 2018).
  31. ibid.
  32. Egyptian President Sisi wins second term with 97% of vote, CNN, April 02, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/02/middleeast/egypt-elections-president-sisi-wins-intl/index.html


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