Update on Inter-Institutional Relations in Pakistan | January 2021

Share:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

This update is meant to identify key developments during the month on Inter-Institutional Relations in Pakistan with selected high-profile international developments included occasionally. For the purpose of this update, the institutions are meant to be the Legislature, Judiciary and Executive.

In this Issue:

  1. Military does not need to enter political fray: DG ISPR
  2. I am the only politician not nurtured by the GHQ: Prime Minister
  3. PMO Issues PM Year in Review 2020
  4. COAS, DG ISI meet Prime Minister
  5. Defence Ministry accuses former DG ISI, MI to have affiliations with Indian RAW
  6. SC accuses NAB on charging petty offences and leaving mega corruption
  7. Broadsheet Commission
  8. Impounding of PIA Plane
  9. Of PTV Chair and MD
  10. The Afghan Peace Process
  11. COAS visits Bahrain
  12. COAS in Qatar
  13. 238th Corps Commander Conference
  14. Spain’s Chief of Defence Staff resigns after allegations of jumping vaccine queue

Military does not need to enter political fray: DG ISPR

DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar

In a press conference held on January 11, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations said that the Pakistan Army “does not need to enter the political fray, nor should it be dragged into it.” [1] He was responding to a question regarding possible march of opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Rawalpindi.

He said that morale of the military is intact despite the allegations by the opposition but there is certainly a worry. “However, we will stay the course,” he said.

He rejected that there is any substance to opposition’s allegations against the military for meddling in the 2018 general election and said that Pakistan military “conducted the elections with full responsibility and honesty,” and if anyone has any issues should contact the relevant institutions.

DG ISPR also said that military is a subservient institution of the government and the government of the day has effectively responded to and is tackling opposition’s allegations. Pakistan Army has no desire to be part of politics and neither should it be dragged in politics.

Fauj hakoomat ka aik zaili idara hai. Aur jo bhi baat cheet is ziman mein ki gayi, mera khayal hai ke uss mein hakoomat-e-Pakistan ne bohot achay tareeqay se uss ka jawab bhi diya hai aur uss ko tackle bhi kar rahi hai. Fauj kau siyasi muamlaat mein na aanay ki zaroorat hai aur na hi siyasi muamlat mein ghaseetnay ki koshish karni chahiye, said DG ISPR. [2]

I am the only politician not nurtured by the GHQ: Prime Minister

Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan

On January 15, Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan said he is the only politician in Pakistan who has not been nurtured by the GHQ. He said this during an interview to Bol TV. [3]

Prime Minister said that Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the only civilian part of the cabinet of a military dictator after which he formed his party. Nawaz Sharif, on the other hand, has been entirely raised in the nursery by the military but has now become a super democrat.

Mr. Imran Khan also said that while opposition calls him selected, they have not given any proof of electoral rigging. [4]

PMO Issues PM Year in Review 2020

Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan

On January 4, PMO issued Prime Minister’s 2020 Year in Review highlighting Prime Minister’s performance in 10 key areas including COVID response, Welfare, Health, Education, Climate, Development Projects, Economy, Foreign Policy, Kashmir and other notable developments. [5]

Lauding its COVID Response, the official statement listed holding of the first ever National Security Council (NSC) meeting on public health as a key achievement followed by creation of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to serve as a nerve centre, allocating of Rs1.2 trillion Covid relief package and disbursement of Rs180 billion through Ehsaas Emergency Cash. That Pakistan’s response to managing first wave of coronavirus was acknowledged by WHO as one of the best responses was also mentioned in the list.

In counting Premier’s initiatives on Welfare State / Riyasat-e-Madina, the PMO noted Ehsaas Kafaalat programme to benefit 7 million families, Ehsaas Amdan Program, Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships distribution, Ehsaas Nashonuma to fight stunted growth and that Rs. 180 billion have been disbursed during COVID to 15 million families transparently.

The PM Year in Review also noted the government’s performance in health sector such as through Sehat Sahulat Card, allocating Rs. 10 lakh per year health coverage for every family in Punjab by the end of year 2021, entire KP including ex-FATA merged districts by the end of January 2021 and entire AJK & GB.

It also mentioned achievements in Education such as the finalization of Single National Curriculum to be completely rolled out by 2023. In Climate, it claimed of launching the largest forest of Pakistan in Kundian, Mianwali with a target of 250 million trees.

Inauguration of Naya Pakistan Housing with 20,000 housing units worth Rs. 100 billion, improving current account balance under Economy, PM’s maiden visit to Kabul and Pakistan’s continued role in Afghan peace process found mention in the Review. The year in review also notes legislation against money laundering, terrorism and sex crimes as key developments in 2020. [6]

COAS, DG ISI meet Prime Minister

COAS and DG ISI at a call-on Prime Minister

On January 11, the PMO reported that Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, called on Prime Minister Imran Khan where Director General ISI, Lt. Gen. Faiz Hamid, was also present.

According to the press release, national security situation, the unfortunate Mach, Balochistan incident, continuous human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and the frequent ceasefire violations over the Line of Control were discussed in the meeting. [7]

Defence Ministry accuses former DG ISI, MI to have affiliations with Indian RAW

Former DG ISI, MI Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Asad Durrani

In its response to the petition of Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Asad Durrani before the Islamabad High Court seeking removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL), the Ministry of Defence accused former DG ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) of being involved in anti-state activities alleging that he is either “affiliated or interacting with hostile elements specially Indian RAW [Research and Analysis Wing] since 2008.” [8]

The Defence Ministry also claimed that Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Durrani had been “interacting with hostile elements” including Indian RAW since 2008 and was likely to be involved in future publications against the interest of Pakistan.[9]

Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Asad Durrani’s name was put on the ECL by the Ministry of Interior upon request by the MI in 2018 after he co-authored a book The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace, alongside former Chief of RAW Mr. Amarjit Singh Dulat after Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (MI) wrote to the interior ministry in this regard in 2018.

SC accuses NAB on charging petty offences and leaving mega corruption

Supreme Court of Pakistan

A 3-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi observed on January 6 that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) punishes people accused of petty offences but leaves those involved in mega corruption scandals.[10]

The bench observed that NAB should amend section 9 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) if it wants to “impose its own will instead of going by the rules.” Reportedly, Justice Umar Ata Bandial also remarked that it was shocking that NAB’s performance was being questioned at different forums, the Senate among them, adding that the bureau should have the courage to face all odds instead of returning favours to those who had extended favours to them. [11]

Broadsheet Commission

Justice (Retd.) Sheikh Azmat Saeed

On January 30, the Federal Government notified the Broadsheet Commission comprising Justice (Retd.) Sheikh Azmat Saeed. The Commission will “identify the incidents and cases relating to assets recovery and legal proceedings pursued by the government of Pakistan since 1990 in foreign jurisdictions.” It is likely to reinvestigate scandals and cases tried in local and international courts such as Surrey Palace against the leadership of one opposition party and Hudaibiya Paper Mills and other cases mentioned by UK-based assets recovery firm Broadsheet LLC against the leadership of the other opposition party. [12]

Earlier, the Federal Government announced setting up of an inquiry committee with the task to investigate in 45 days the “fresh revelations” in a verdict of a British court in the UK-based asset recovery firm Broadsheet LLC case and fix the responsibility on those Pakistanis who, according to the firm, had illegally benefited themselves and laundered money to off-shore banks.[13]

At the heart of the infamous Broadsheet saga is the settlement payment of US $ 1.5 million made by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on advice of senior lawyer Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, who acted on behalf of NAB as its consultant, to Broadsheet LLC Gibraltor (a misnomer) or Broadsheet LLC (Colorado) and Jimmy James. The arbitration court in 2016 did not find this as a simple mistake but declared it a deliberate move to financially defraud the original Broadsheet LLC.[14]

The NAB, in attempting to break away from the two companies it had hired to investigate the Bhutto and Sharif families and many others, paid GBP 1.5 million and then again US $ 1.5 million under the settlement agreements; except that the latter amount was paid to a sham company and that too, to allegedly cheat Broadsheet LLC.

The Broadsheet LLC, a company registered in the Isle of Man, was hired by the National Accountability Bureau in the Pervez Musharraf era, to track down foreign assets purchased through alleged ill-gotten wealth. The Broadsheet LLC had filed a claim with the London High Court to enforce the payment of the outstanding US $ 22 million owed to the firm by the NAB. Later, it applied for permission to enforce the London court’s judgement that the company should be paid US $ 22 million by the Government of Pakistan and had also asked for an interest of US $ 4,758 per day to be applied to the sum. In December 2018, former English court of appeal Judge Sir Anthony Evans QC, as sole arbitrator, issued an order for payment of US $ 22m to Broadsheet by the Government of Pakistan. In July 2020, the Government of Pakistan appealed the arbitration, but was unsuccessful in its bid.

In a related development, a UK High Court ordered a debit of US $ 28.7 million from the accounts of the Pakistan High Commission in London over non-payment of penalty by the NAB. Reportedly, the Pakistan High Commission had to make a payment of US $ 28.7 million (Rs. 4.59 billion) on behalf of the NAB to the Broadsheet LLC after losing the long-running litigation. The London High Court’s Financial Division had issued on December 17, 2020 a Final Third Party Order for payment to the NAB’s former client Broadsheet by December 30, 2020. [15]

Impounding of PIA Plane

A PIA plane

On January 15, 2021, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane was impounded in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by a local court as part of a payment dispute between PIA and the party Peregrine Aviation Charlie Limited that had been filed in the UK courts about six months ago. [16]

Later developments showed that the PIA had not paid US $ 2 million as part of an outstanding payment for an aircraft lease agreement in which the Peregrine Aviation Charlie Limited had brought a case against the PIA to pay dues amounting to US $ 9 million. According to the agreement, the lease rental charges between the PIA and the Peregrine were set at US $ 580,000 per month and the maintenance reserves at US $ 315,000 per month. However, the PIA had maintained that maintenance reserves are calculated according to the flying cycle which is logged each time the engine is started and switched off. Because this particular aircraft was grounded during the COVID-19 pandemic for six months between April and September 2020, the PIA argued that maintenance cost should not be invoiced. The Peregrine Aviation Charlie Limited, however, was of the view that the agreement does not cover COVID-19 as a force majeure which limits liability, and that the PIA should pay remaining US $ 2 million regardless of how much the plane is flown. [17]

Of PTV Chair and MD

Mr. Naeem Bukhari

On January 14, 2021, the Islamabad High Court removed Mr. Naeem Bukhari for the same reason the Supreme Court had removed Mr. Ataul Haq Qasmi as PTV Chairman in November 2018. Presiding over the case, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had observed that there needed to be a clear reason for relaxing the upper age limit for 65-year-old Bukhari. It recalled a decision by the Supreme Court in Nov 2018 to set aside the appointment of Ataul Haq Qasmi as PTV chairman.

Earlier, on January 01, 2021, board of the Pakistan Television (PTV) Corporation suspended PTV Managing Director Mr. Aamer Manzoor for 10 days allegedly for “exercising powers beyond prescribed limits.” In a later development, it was reported that the MD PTV had opposed sacking of seven professionals by the board. [18]

A day after IHC barred Mr. Naeem Bukhari from serving as chairman of Pakistan Television, the Federal Cabinet removed him and two other directors of PTV board and it reinstated Mr. Amir Manzoor as MD PTV, who had been suspended by Mr. Bukhari.[19]

The Afghan Peace Process

COAS with Afghan delegation

On January 04, COAS met and interacted with US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Amb Zalmay Khalilzad.[20] According to the ISPR, “During the meeting matters of mutual interest including overall regional security situation with particular reference to ongoing Afghan reconciliation process were discussed.”

Later, Afghan High Peace Council Chairman and leader of the Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami (Afghan Unity Party), Mohammad Karim Khalili, met Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in separate meetings on January 11 to discuss bilateral relations and the Afghan peace process. [21]

The Hizb-e-Wahdat leaders also called on Honourable Speaker, National Assembly.

COAS visits Bahrain

COAS with Crown Prince of Bahrain

From January 6 to 8, Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa paid an official visit to Bahrain where he was honoured with the Bahrain Order (first class) award by the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and Prime Minister of Bahrain Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa for making significant contribution to defence cooperation between Bahrain and Pakistan.[22]

COAS in Qatar

COAS with Emir of Qatar

On January 29, Chief of Army Staff embarked on a two-day visit to Qatar where he called on Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Qatar’s core military leadership, to discuss matters of mutual interest, defence and security cooperation and regional geo-political environment.[23]

238th Corps Commander Conference

238th Corps Commander Conference

The ISPR reported that 238th Corps Commanders’ Conference was held at the GHQ on January 5, chaired by Chief of Army Staff, where “a comprehensive review of regional and domestic security environment with special focus on situation along the borders, internal security and other professional matters of the Army,” were discussed. [24]

Spain’s Chief of Defence Staff resigns after allegations of jumping vaccine queue

General Miguel Ángel Villarroya Vilalta, Spain’s Chief of Defence Staff

On January 22, Spain’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Miguel Angel Villaroya resigned after allegations that he had received the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of priority groups. Spanish Defence Minister Ms. Margarita Robles had asked the chief of defence staff for explanations after media reports that he had received the vaccination. Reportedly, the Chief of Defence Staff is part of a number of Spanish public officials who have sparked public anger because of reports they have jumped the vaccination queue.[25]

Reportedly, the Spanish defence ministry indicated but did not explicitly state that Villaroya had had the vaccination. The general “never intended to take advantage of unjustifiable privileges which damaged the image of the Armed Forces and put in doubt the honour of the general,” it said.

References

  1. Syed, B.S (2021)Army rejects allegation of meddling in political affairs. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1601016/army-rejects-allegation-of-meddling-in-political-affairs (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  2. YouTube (2021) DG ISPR Press Conference – 11th Jan 2021. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ze5a-nb2z7A (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  3. The News (2021) I’m the only politician who wasn’t nurtured at GHQ: PM Imran Khan. Available at: https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/774994-i-m-the-only-politician-who-wasn-t-nurtured-at-ghq-pm (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  4. YouTube (2021) PM Imran Khan Latest Interview on BOL Complete Episode 15th January 2021. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tpyt1aVNy-A (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  5. PMO (2021) PM Year in Review 2020. Available at: https://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=3112 (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  6. PMO (2021) PM Year in Review 2020. Available at: https://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=3112 (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  7. PMO (2021) Chief of Army Staff calls on the Prime Minister. Available at: https://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=3127 (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  8. Asad, M. (2021) Ministry links ex-ISI chief to RAW. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1604041/ministry-links-ex-isi-chief-to-raw (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  9. Naseer, T. (2021) Ex-ISI chief Asad Durrani has been interacting with India’s RAW since 2008: defence ministry. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1603943 (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  10. Dawn.com (2021) NAB always leaves principal accused untouched, says SC. Available at: dawn.com/news/1600110/nab-always-leaves-principal-accused-untouched-says-sc (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  11. Dawn.com (2021) NAB always leaves principal accused untouched, says SC. Available at: dawn.com/news/1600110/nab-always-leaves-principal-accused-untouched-says-sc (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  12. Asad, M (2021) Broadsheet probe commission notified amid legal concerns. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1604626/broadsheet-probe-commission-notified-amid-legal-concerns (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  13. Dawn.com (2021) Govt forms legal panel to look into UK court findings. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1602464/govt-forms-legal-panel-to-look-into-uk-court-findings (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  14. Nasir Iqbal, “UK judge rebukes NAB in Broadsheet ruling,” January 19, 2021. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1602301/uk-judge-rebukes-nab-in-broadsheet-ruling (Accessed 25 January 2021).
  15. Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui and Murtaza Ali Shah, “A messy affair: Pakistan pays Rs4.59 bn to British firm for lost case,” January 01, 2021. Available at: https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/767465-a-messy-affair-pakistan-pays-rs4-59-bn-to-british-firm-for-lost-case (Accessed 25 January 2021).
  16. Dawn.com, “PIA passenger plane ‘impounded’ in Malaysia as part of legal dispute,” January 15, 2021. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1601655/pia-passenger-plane-impounded-in-malaysia-as-part-of-legal-dispute (Accessed 25 January 2021).
  17. Atika Rehman, “PIA to cough up $2m for plane lease,” January 24, 2021. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1603272 (Accessed 25 January 2021).
  18. Malik Asad, PTV MD’s suspension garners controversy. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1600803 (Accessed 25 January 2021).
  19. Tahir Naseer, “IHC restrains Naeem Bokhari from working as PTV chairman,” January 14, 2021. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1601447/ihc-restrains-naeem-bokhari-from-working-as-ptv-chairman (Accessed 25 January 2021).
  20. Syed, B. S. (2021) Pakistan, US reaffirm pledge to work for Afghan peace. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1599756/pakistan-us-reaffirm-pledge-to-work-for-afghan-peace (Accessed 13 February 2021).
  21. Siddiqui, N. (2021) Senior Afghan politician meets PM Imran, army chief to discuss Afghan peace process. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1601126/senior-afghan-politician-meets-pm-imran-army-chief-to-discuss-afghan-peace-process (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  22. Dawn.com (2021) Army chief honoured with Bahrain Order award. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1600517/army-chief-honoured-with-bahrain-order-award (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  23. Dawn.com (2021) Bajwa holds security talks with Qatar leadership. Available at: https://www.dawn.com/news/1604423/bajwa-holds-security-talks-with-qatar-leadership (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  24. ISPR (2021) 238th Corps Commanders’ Conference was held at General Headquarters today chaired by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Available at: https://ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=6001 (Accessed February 11, 2021).
  25. Reuters.com (2021) Top Spanish general resigns over allegations of vaccination queue-jumping. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-spain/top-spanish-general-resigns-over-allegations-of-vaccination-queue-jumping-idUSL8N2JX52Z (Accessed February 11, 2021).

Share: