Update on The Performance of Democratic Institutions | August 2021

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This update is meant to identify key developments during the month on Performance of Democratic Institutions in Pakistan with selected high-profile international developments included occasionally.

In this Issue:

  1. PM highlights 3 year performance of PTI Government
  2. PM Undertakes Review of Implementation of National Action Plan
  3. National Security Committee Meeting
  4. PM Proposes 6 names for EC members from Punjab, KP
  5. Restoration of Local Governments
  6. Punjab Assembly passes Provincial Assembly (Privileges) (Amendment) Bill 2021
  7. Asim Bajwa quits CPEC Authority Chairpersonship
  8. Sindh High Court revokes suspension of licenses by PEMRA
  9. Government to set up Media Regulatory Authority
  10. ECP briefed on EVM Prototype
  11. Detailed SC Opinion on Senate Election
  12. SHC Chief Justice declines to be appointed as ad hoc judge of SC
  13. Chief Justice IHC suspends allotment of plots
  14. PBC opposes nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik to SC
  15. The gift of Broadsheet
  16. Parliamentary Committees visit GHQ to be briefed by COAS
  17. National Assembly holds 7 Sittings in August
  18. Senate Committee Meetings
  19. Taliban will keep their promises: COAS
  20. Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan is secure: DG ISPR
  21. Corps Commanders Conference
  22. Chairman Senate meets Foreign Dignitaries
  23. Speaker National Assembly meets Foreign Dignitaries
  24. Interactions of COAS with Foreign Dignitaries
  25. Prime Minister’s Interactions with COAS
  26. Election in Myanmar by August 2023: Coup Leader

PM highlights 3 year performance of PTI Government

PM addressing a ceremony on PTI’s 3 year performance

Prime Minister of Pakistan took oath of office on August 18, 2018. As his government concluded 3 out of 5-year term in August, he unveiled a report highlighting 3-year performance of the government. Addressing a ceremony on August 26, he highlighted achievements such as enactment of 54 laws, Naya Pakistan Housing Programme for affordable accommodation for low-income groups, Ehsaas programme for social security and the Kamyab Jawan Programme for skills development of youth. [1]

The PTI government must be commended for a pro-active conversation on annual performance through documenting and making available self-assessment performance reports. As far the performance, it is up to the political analysts, civil society organizations and opposition political parties to analyse the information provided by PTI government and present their views to the public.

PM Undertakes Review of Implementation of National Action Plan

PM chairing the meeting

Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan convened and chaired a meeting on August 5 to review implementation status of National Action Plan (NAP) and the overall law and order situation in Pakistan. He expressed satisfaction over the achievements under the NAP and decided to update the NAP “to make it more effective and cater to the needs of present times especially meeting the challenges related to espionage, subversion and cyber security.” [2]

According to the PMO, it was decided in the meeting to establish an “Inter-Provincial Border Committee” to address boundary issues using Survey of Pakistan 2021. It is, however, unclear who is included in the committee and what are its ToRs and timeline.

Other than Federal Minister for Interior, Information and Law, the meeting was attended by Chief Minister Punjab, Chief of the Army Staff, DG ISI, DG Military Operations and DG ISPR.

National Security Committee Meeting

PM chairing NSC meeting

A meeting of the National Security Committee was convened on August 16, nearly 17 months after the earlier NSC meeting held on March 13, 2020.

Chaired by Prime Minister, the meeting was reportedly held to discuss developments in Afghanistan and their impact on Pakistan. A press release issued by the PMO underscored that Pakistan remains committed to an inclusive political settlement as the way forward representing all Afghan ethnic groups; that the NSC calls upon all parties in Afghanistan to respect the rule of law, protect fundamental human rights of all Afghans, and ensure that Afghan soil is not used by any terrorist organization/group against any country and that endorsement by the Biden administration of the previous US administration’s decision of troops withdrawal is indeed a logical conclusion to the conflict. [3]

Meetings of the National Security Committee have been few and far between under the tenure of Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan. In three years since August 18, 2018 when he took oath of office, only eight (8) meetings of the NSC have been convened. Six (6) of these meetings were held during his first year in office, and 1 meeting each was convened during his second and third years in office respectively.

PM Proposes 6 names for EC members from Punjab, KP

Copy of Letter of Prime Minister to Leader of the Opposition

In a letter to Leader of the Opposition on August 27, Prime Minister has proposed three names of Ahsan Mahboob, former officer of the Police Service of Pakistan, Raja Amer Khan, Advocate of the Supreme Court, and Dr. Syed Pervaiz Abbas, former officer of the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), for the vacant post of Election Commission member from Punjab. For appointment of EC member from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he has proposed the names of Justice (Retd.) Ikramullah Khan, Mr. Faridullah Khan, former PAS officer, and Mr. Muzammil Khan, Advocate of the Supreme Court. [4]

On July 26, two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan belonging to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa retired. [5] Instead of advance planning, the government did not initiate consultation with the opposition on their replacement until Prime Minister’s letter of August 27.

Clauses 2A and 2B of article 213 of the constitution define the process of appointment of CEC and members of the commission according to which for each vacant post in the EC, Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, is required to forward three names to a Parliamentary Committee for hearing and confirmation of any one person.

Restoration of Local Governments

Lahore Metropolitan Corporation

On August 2, Lord Mayor of Lahore, Col. (Retd.) Mubashir Javed wrote to the Punjab Government to allow him to resume his responsibilities. [6]

In March 2021, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had ordered restoration of the local governments in Punjab, declaring their dissolution as unconstitutional.[7] However, the Punjab government has continued to drag its feet on the issue. The Lord Mayor had earlier made multiple attempts to resume his responsibilities but his offices were locked by the Metropolitan Corporation, Lahore. [8] In July, he and others had filed a petition in the Lahore High Court on the plea that the local government system in Punjab was not restored despite the court judgement and contempt proceedings should be initiated against the Punjab government.[9]

In Sindh, PTI MPA Mr. Khurram Sher Zaman is joined by party colleagues as they petitioned the Sindh High Court seeking its directives for provincial authorities and the ECP to hold LG elections in Sindh. The PTI MPAs have submitted that the tenure of the elected LG representatives in Sindh had ended in August 2020 and the respondents had failed to hold the LG election after 120 days as provided under the law which is in violation of the law and the spirit of Article 140-A of the Constitution.[10]

It must be noted that on August 23, the Sindh government conveyed to the ECP its inability to hold the local government election because of a pending case in the court on the 2017 census results. Chief Secretary Sindh informed the ECP that it wanted to make changes in Sindh Local Government Act that could take around six months. The ECP maintained that LG election has been due in Sindh after the expiration of the term of local governments on August 30, 2020 and that the ECP had finalised all preparations for holding local government elections in Sindh and a notification for appointment of delimitation officers and formation of local government authorities had also been issued on June 1, 2021. Secretary ECP regretted that Sindh government had not provided to the ECP details of the number of union councils, maps and other data. Secretary ECP further said these prerequisites must be provided so that the process of delimitation in Sindh for local government elections could be started. Chairing the meeting, Chief Election Commissioner, Mr. Sikandar Sultan Raja, reportedly said that Sindh government had earlier taken the position that the local government polls were not possible on the basis of preliminary census results following which delimitation process in the province had temporarily been stopped and now when the final results of census have been published and Sindh Government has reservations over the final census results. CEC emphasized that this viewpoint gives an impression that the Sindh government is not serious about conducting LG polls.[11]

In another related development, the Federal Cabinet has approved amending the Islamabad Local Government Act, 2015 by providing for direct election of the mayor. Reportedly, the amendments approved by the Federal Cabinet on August 17 include increase in the number of union councils from the existing 50 to 100. [12]

Punjab Assembly passes Provincial Assembly (Privileges) (Amendment) Bill 2021

Provincial Assembly of the Punjab

On August 3, Provincial Assembly of the Punjab passed the Provincial Assembly (Privileges) (Amendment) Bill 2021 despite objections raised earlier by the Governor Punjab. Reportedly, Speaker of the Punjab Assembly maintained that Governor’s assent was not required to pass a law provided the bill is passed again by the Assembly after the Governor has returned the bill without giving assent. [13] Article 116 (3) of the Constitution says that if despite the Governor asking the Assembly to reconsider a bill, if the Assembly passes such a law again with or without amendment, the Governor is required to give assent within ten days, or it shall be deemed to have been given.

The bill, which was originally passed by the Assembly on June 29, had empowered the Speaker to form a judicial committee with the ability to penalize journalists or bureaucrats for breach of privilege of the house, committees or members. However, upon protests by journalist bodies, Provincial Assembly of the Punjab had passed an amendment on July 13 omitting journalists from the Provincial Assembly (Privileges) (Amendment) Bill 2021. [14] However, the bill, reportedly on the instruction from the Prime Minister, was returned by the Governor to the Speaker for being in contravention of Article 66 (3) and Article 10-A of the Constitution.[15]

Asim Bajwa quits CPEC Authority Chairpersonship

On August 3, Lt. Gen. (Retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa quit the post of Chairman, CPEC Authority as Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan appointed Mr. Khalid Mansoor as Special Assistant on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). [16]

Sindh High Court revokes suspension of licenses by PEMRA

Sindh High Court

Striking down all of PEMRA’s actions for suspension of licenses, the Sindh High Court has ruled that PEMRA’s powers to suspend broadcast media licences cannot be delegated to PEMRA chair or any official without framing rules. Announcing its judgement reserved earlier on a petition filed by the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), court also declared null and void those minutes of 156th PEMRA meeting that using Section 13 of the Ordinance had delegated powers of Section 30 to the regulator’s chairman for suspension of the licences. [17]

Government to set up Media Regulatory Authority

Federal Minister for Information, Chaudhry Fawad Ahmed, MNA

On August 15, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mr. Fawad Ahmed, said that in order to regulate mainstream as well as social media the Federal Government plans to set-up Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA). [18]

Journalists and media organisations have termed the government’s intent to create PMDA as unacceptable because it aims to undermine the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and right to information as mentioned in Articles 19 and 19-A. Media practitioners maintain that the PMDA plans to demolish existing structures for the purpose of addressing government’s concerns rather than reforming them from the perspectives of media, journalists, citizens, media consumers, digital media and film, civil society, etc. [19]

ECP briefed on EVM Prototype

A prototype of Electronic voting Machines (EVM) created by the Government

On August 17, Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Senator Shibli Faraz, briefed the Election Commission on the government’s prepared prototype of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and its functions at the ECP headquarters. [20]

According to a press release by the ECP, it has created a technical evaluation committee which will review the prototype and present its report to the ECP. The Chief Election Commissioner reportedly stated that the ECP is in favour of the use of technology in elections in principle, however, it needs to carefully review all ground realities of the use of technology which also require trust of all stakeholders as well as the voters. [21]

After the Federal Cabinet meeting held on August 17, Federal Minister for Information, while briefing the media, said that Prime Minister has invited the opposition to hold talks with the government on electoral reforms, especially the use of EVMs in the next general elections in 2023. [22]

Detailed SC Opinion on Senate Election

Supreme Court of Pakistan

On August 17, through a detailed opinion on the Presidential reference seeking Court’s view on Article 186 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has reiterated that elections to the Senate are held under the Constitution and therefore, must be held on the basis of secret ballot instead of an open ballot. It also states “the elections to the Senate are held under the Constitution and the procedure and machinery provision for conducting of the elections to the Senate is laid down in the Elections Act, 2017. The substantive provision of the elections to the Senate are contained in the Constitution while the Elections Act, 2017, only deals with the procedure and machinery provision for holding of such elections.” [23]

The opinion of the court was also given earlier through a short order on March 1, 2021. [24]

SHC Chief Justice declines to be appointed as ad hoc judge of SC

On August 16, Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court, Mr. Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh, declined to take oath after being appointed as an ad hoc judge of the Supreme Court. He was appointed as ad hoc judge for the period of one year.

In an official letter, Justice Shaikh maintained that the high court registrar had brought to his notice “a notification (No. F. 2(1)/2021-A of 16 August 2021) of President of Pakistan, whereby he has to attend the sitting of Supreme Court for a period of one year as an ad hoc Judge of the Supreme Court but he ‘consistently and repeatedly declined to give his consent to attend the sittings of the Supreme Court as an ad hoc judge so the notification has been issued without lawful authority and is of no legal effect.” [25]

Bar councils have criticised the appointment without the consent of Sindh High Court Chief Justice. Meanwhile, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed administered the oath of office of ad-hoc judget to Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar of the Sindh High Court.[26]

Chief Justice IHC suspends allotment of plots

Islamabad High Court (IHC)

On August 20, Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court, Justice Athar Minallah, suspended allotment of plots to judges in sectors F-14 and F-15 with a clear observation that this award of land was a conflict of interest. The court also issued a notice to the attorney general and sought an explanation from the Ministry of Housing and Works on the policy of distribution of plots amongst few segments of the society. [27]

It was reported that on August 17, the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority (FGEHA), through balloting, had allotted residential plots in Islamabad’s F-14 and F-15 sectors to 4500 applicants prominent amongst whom included Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad and 8 incumbent judges of Supreme Court including Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed, Justice Maqbool Baqir, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Aminud Din Khan, Justice Ijazul Hassan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. Prime Minister’s Special Assistants, Mohammad Shehzad Arbab and Dr. Waqar Masood Khan were also awarded plots. Federal Minister for Housing and Works, Chaudhary Tariq Bashir Cheema, MNA chaired the balloting proceedings. [28]

PBC opposes nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik to SC

Justice Ayesha Malik

On August 13, Pakistan Bar Council opposed the nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik, Judge of Lahore High Court, to the Supreme Court on the basis that it would violate the principle of seniority. Her name was nominated by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan. [29] If elevated to the Supreme Court, Justice Malik would be the first Pakistani woman to serve on Supreme Court.

The Gift of Broadsheet

It appears that NAB’s hiring of Broadsheet is a proverbial gift that keeps on giving. A London High Court on August 2 ordered that the NAB and Pakistan government pay US $1,222,037 and GBP 110 as well as the claimant’s application cost of GBP26,296 to the asset-recovery firm Broadsheet LLC. [30]

The Broadsheet LLC, a company registered in the Isle of Man, was hired by the NAB in the Pervez Musharraf era to track down foreign assets purchased through alleged ill-gotten wealth. At the heart of the infamous Broadsheet saga is the settlement payment of US $ 1.5 million made by the NAB on advice of senior lawyer Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, who acted on behalf of NAB as its consultant, to Broadsheet LLC Gibraltar (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. 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 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. 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. On January 30, the Federal Government notified the Broadsheet Commission comprising Justice (Retd.) Sheikh Azmat Saeed. [31]

Parliamentary Committees visit GHQ to be briefed by COAS

COAS addressing MPs

On August 30, a delegation of members of the Senate and National Assembly’s Kashmir committee and Defence committees visited the GHQ to be briefed by the Chief of the Army Staff. Reportedly, the Army Chief in his address “reassured the parliamentarians about the security of the western border and highlighted the military’s efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan.” MPs were also told that the 2,640 km long border between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been “mostly fenced” by Pakistan to prevent unauthorised cross border movements. [32]

National Assembly holds 7 Sittings in August

The National Assembly held 7 sittings during the month of August on August 2, August 3, August 6, August 9, August 10, August 11 and August 12.

In the sitting held on August 2, 13 out of 15 agenda items were left over. While the attendance records show that 170 MNAs joined the sitting, when quorum was pointed out, the house was found to be not in order and was adjourned after a sitting of 1 hour and 20 minutes. [33] The government was criticized by the opposition on the issue of FATF to which Mr. Ali Muhammad Khan, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, responded that “We will award sentences to individuals according to our own laws and constitution. Now, foreign dictation will not be allowed on the issue of someone’s prosecution.” [34]

The sitting held on August 03 lasted for 1 hour and 24 minutes. 119 agenda items were left over out of 121. 181 MNAs were reported to have attended the sitting. In calling attention notices, group of PTI MNAs invited attention of Interior Minister regarding increase in the cases of pollen allergy in Islamabad. A group of PML-N MNAs raised the issue of food security and research regarding decrease in per acre production of wheat, cotton, sugarcane and rice in Pakistan. Quorum was pointed out and the house was adjourned.[35]

The sitting held on August 06 lasted for 1 hour and 28 minutes where 183 MNAs were recorded as present. 3 agenda items were left over out of 20. On a point of order, Mr. Kesoo Mal Kheeal Das, MNA, condemned the incident of attack on Hindu Temple in Bhong, Rahim Yar Khan while the National Assembly passed with consensus a resolution condemning the attack. After moving a motion to condone delay in presentation of the report of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice on the Bill to amend the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (V of 2021), the committee report was presented to the house. Similar delay was condoned in presentation of the report of the Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat on the Procurement Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (VII of 2020) before the report was presented. Delay was sought and condoned to the Standing Committee on Federal Education, Professional Training, National Heritage and Culture for presentation of two reports on the Higher Education Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (Ordinance No. IX of 2021) and the Higher Education Commission (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021 (Ordinance No. X of 2021) before these were presented to the house. The National Assembly extended for 120 days the Election (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 (Ord. No. XI of 2021) as well as the Protection of Parents Ordinance, 2021 (Ordinance No. XII of 2021) with effect from September 5, 2021. Two government bills were introduced in the house including the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021. Through another motion, the amended University of Islamabad Bill, 2020 passed by the Senate was referred to the Joint Sitting. Parliamentary Secretary on Finance and Revenue laid before the National Assembly two reports including the Audit Reports of the Auditor General for the Audit Year, 2020- 21 and the Third Quarterly Report of the Board of Directors of State Bank of Pakistan on the State of Pakistan’s Economy for the year 2020-21. [36]

The sitting held on August 09 lasted for 1 hour and 32 minutes where 188 MNAs were recorded to be present by the National Assembly secretariat. 12 agenda items were left over out of 18. On a calling attention notice, Ms. Zile Huma, MNA raised the issue of non-provision of relief to traders with regard to electricity bills and reduction in rent of shops affected due to closure of their business two days in a week during COVID-19. While an ordinance titled the Pakistan Airports Authority Ordinance, 2021 (Ordinance No. XIV of 2021) was laid in the house, two government bills were also introduced in the house namely The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021 with amendments in sections 2, 8, 9 & 43B and the Pakistan Institute of Education Bill, 2021. When the quorum was pointed out, the house was not found to be in order and was adjourned. [37] The Government informed the house that a large number of cities in Pakistan do not have safe drinking water. Cities where more than 50% drinking water is tested to be unsafe include Multan (94%); Karachi (93%); Badin (92%); Sargodha (83%); Hyderabad (80%); Bahawalpur (76%); Muzaffarabad (70%); Sukkur (67%); Faisalabad (59%); Peshawar (58%); Tando Allah Yar (57%); Sheikhupura, Abbottabad and Khuzdar (55%); Loralai (54%); Quetta (53%) and Gujranwala (50%). Water tested in Mirpurkhas, Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah) and Gilgit was found 100 per cent unsafe for drinking. Federal Minister of Science and Technology said that supply of clean drinking water is the responsibility of provincial governments and the federal ministry’s job is only that of periodic testing of water.[38]

The sitting held on August 10 was the longest sitting in the month lasting for 5 hours and 1 minute where 204 MNAs were recorded to be present. 29 agenda items were left over out of 113. Through a motion, the Islamabad Capital Territory Food Safety Bill, 2020, as passed by the National Assembly and not passed by the Senate, was referred to the Joint Sitting for consideration and passage. Six (6) standing committees got the delay in presenting multiple reports to the house condoned. The Standing Committee on Law and Justice presented 5 reports; the Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs presented 1 report; the Standing Committee on Science and Technology presented 3 reports; the Standing Committee on Interior presented 5 reports; the Standing Committee on Federal Education, Professional Training, National Heritage and Culture presented 7 reports and the Standing Committee on Energy (Petroleum Division) presented 1 report. [39]

The sitting held on August 11 lasted for 1 hour and 40 minutes where 205 MNAs were reportedly present. 14 agenda items were left over out of 16 when quorum was pointed out and the house was adjourned due to not being in order. [40]

The sitting held on August 12 lasted for 1 hour and 30 minutes where 226 MNAs were recorded to be present. A motion introduced by Advisor to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Reforms on expression of gratitude to the President of Pakistan for his address to the Joint Session a year ago on August 20, 2020 was adopted by the house. The government also laid the Civil Aviation Ordinance, 2021 (Ordinance No. XIII of 2021) in the Assembly. 12 agenda items were left over out of 17 when the house was prorogued.[41].

Standing Committee Meetings

Total committee Meetings held during August were 28 .

No.

Standing Committee

Dates

Key Discussions

Bills Approved

1

Public Accounts Committee

August 5, 2021 [42]

PAC appreciated the role and contribution of NDMA in efficiently handling of COVID-19 pandemic.

 

2

Aviation Division

August 5, 2021[43]

Committee was briefed by the Aviation Division.

 

3

Commerce

August 11, 2021 [44]

Advisor to the Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment and Secretary Ministry of Commerce briefed the Committee on status of Treaties, Agreements, Protocol and Conventions with other countries and International agencies on trade and Commerce. Committee also appointed a Sub-Committee to examine the issues relating to imports of cotton, growth of textile exports, including sales tax on cotton exporters, duties on import of yarn cotton and cotton seed and submit its report to the Committee within 30 days.

 

4

Human Rights

August 12, 2021 [45]

Committee discussed the desecration of temple in Rahim Yar Khan and directed that progress in the case should be shared with the committee. Committee, sought report on Noor Mukadam case and decided to have an in camera meeting after listening to the investigating police officer.

 

5

Inter Provincial Coordination

August 16, 2021[46]

Ministry of IPC briefed the Committee. The Committee unanimously recommended that services of Mr. Arif Hassan, President, Pakistan Olympics Association (POA) may be withdrawn because of poor performance. The Committee also recommended that CMs of all 4 provinces may be requested to provide 2 acres land in every village for the sports purpose

 

6

National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination

August 16, 2021 [47]

The Committee discussed and deferred the Islamabad Healthcare Facilities Management Authority Bill, 2021, the Pakistan Nursing Council (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the Pakistan Allied Health Professionals Council Bill, 2021 and the Islamabad Injured Persons Compulsory Treatment Bill, 2021

The Islamabad Healthcare Regulations (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was adopted by the committee

7

Planning Development and Special Initiative

August 16, 2021 [48]

Ministry of Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, briefed the committee. The committee recommended that Key Performance Indicators for such development projects may also formulated to assess their utility. The committee disposed of General Statistics (Reorganization) (Amendment) Bill, 2019 due to repeated non-attendance by the mover. Committee appointed a sub-committee on the issue of release of funds for the affectees of Suki Kanari Hydro Power Dam Project and to monitor progress of the Earthquake Reconstruction & Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) on the development projects in District Mansehra and New Balakot.

 

8

Climate Change

August 23, 2021 [49]

Committee was briefed by Minister of State for Climate Change on recycling of scrap batteries and progress on recycling plant installation. Committee was also informed that no work has been done on E-waste scrap and no regulations available in this regard. The Committee recommended that EPA must give a presentation and come with the data of the entire country and that Provincial Coordination Committees must be constituted.

The Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2021) was approved with amendments

9

Cabinet Secretariat

August 23, 2021 [50]

Sub-Committee under the convenorship of Mr. Mohsin Dawar was set up to look into the issue of Office Memorandum by the Finance Division giving effect to the revised conditions/criteria for the grant of time scale to Private Secretary BS -17. The Sub-Committee has also been mandated to look into the matter of Employees of Printing Corporation of Pakistan regarding illegal orders imposed by the current Manager, PCP Karachi, against the staff.

Discussing the Private Constitution Amendment Bills, committee directed Establishment Division to pursue convening of meeting of the Cabinet Committee on disposal of legislative cases at the earliest for decision on the said Bills.

The Committee directed FPSC for restructuring and bringing innovation in the existing Civil Services Examination.

The committee review of the Civil Servants Amendment Bill was deferred.

 

10

Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan

August 23, 2021 [51]

Additional Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, briefed the Committee on Pakistan’s policy concerning Kashmir and steps taken by the Government to seek support from the International Community.

The Jammu and Kashmir (administration of Property) (Amendment) Bill, 202 was approved

11

Industries and Productions

August 24, 2021 [52]

Committee expressed concern on the issues faced by the industry due to imposition of high value sales tax and additional custom duty. It also recommended that sales tax on rickshaws should be reduced from 17% to 12.5% and

waiver of ACD on import of CKD of Rickshaws.

The committee unanimously decided that all concerned departments from federal and provincial governments should be invited to identify the domain of provincial authorities regarding design and specifications of the models as per the existing and past Acts/Constitutional framework

 

12

Water Resources

August 24, 2021 [53]

Committee took notice of delay in construction of Naulong Dam.

 

13

Federal Education, professional Training, National Heritage and Culture

August 24 2021 [54]

Standing Committee directed the National Curriculum Council to brief the Committee in detail on implementation of the Single National Curriculum (SNC) in the next meeting.

Committee considered the Pakistan Global Institute Bill, 2021, the NCS-Institute of Sciences Bill, 2021, and which were deferred till next meeting.

The Committee appointed a Sub-Committee under the convenorship of Mr. Sadaqat Ali Khan Abbasi to discuss the challenges faced by universities under Higher Education Commission (HEC).

The Pakistan Institute of Education Bill, 2021 and the Dyslexia Special Measures Bill, 2021 were approved by the committee

14

Railways

August 24, 2021 [55]

The committee expressed reservation on poor implementation of previous recommendations regarding negotiation with the illegal encroachers and vacation of commercial railways land from the land grabbers.

Committee discussed the report of Sub-Committee and approved its recommendations and raised objection as to why the Minister for Railways did not attend a single meeting of the standing committee so far.

The derailment of Sir Syed Express was discussed and the committee recommended that compensation to the injured and the legal heirs of dead passengers should be made at the earliest

The committee also discussed the present status of ML-I project which is pending for long.

Ministry of Railways briefed the committee that Chinese loan have been approved but there is no ground progress.

 

15

Parliamentary Committee on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

August 25, 2021 [56] 

Committee was briefed by the Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs, Secretary, Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Secretary, Board of Investment, Member (IR), FBR and other concerned regarding the status of CPEC Authority and the role of the newly formed Pak-China Relations Steering Committee, Chashma Right Bank Canal (CRBC), D.I. Khan and issues of Power Generation Companies with FBR regarding CPEC projects.

 

16

Parliamentary Committee on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

August 25, 2021 [57]

The Committee was briefed by Additional Secretary, Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Secretary, Board of Investment, Secretary, Power Division, Secretary, Petroleum Division, Secretary, Ministry of Railways, Chairman, FBR, Managing Directors, SNGPL, SSGC and NTDC, CEO, FIEDMC, CEO, SEZDMC, CEO, KPEZDMC, CEO, PESCO, CEO, KPBOIT regarding Security measures for projects under CPEC framework, Mainline-1 (ML-1) project with special focus on ET component and updated progress on special economic zones.

 

17

Railways

August 25, 2021 [58]

Committee visited the workshop division of Pakistan Railway at Moghalpura, Lahore and were briefed by Divisional Superintendent (DS) Division. The Committee recommended that Railway Headquarters, should look into the issues raised by Divisional Superintendent (DS), workshop Division.

 

18

Interior

August 25, 2021 [59]

The committee recommended that The Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Section 377C) may not be passed by the National Assembly.

Review of the Prohibition of Kite Flying Bill, 2021 was deferred.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The Islamabad Capital Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and The Rent Restriction (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Section 11) were approved

19

Foreign Affairs

August 25, 2021 [60]

The committee appreciated the establishment of a Special Cell in Ministry of Interior to evacuate foreigners from Afghanistan, visit of Foreign Minister to neighbouring countries to build consensus on Afghanistan, and announcement by Afghan Taliban that they would not allow to use their soil against any country and to allow women to continue their routine life.

 

20

Rules of Procedures and Privileges

August 26, 2021 [61]

   

21

Parliamentary Committee on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

August 26, 2021 [62]

Committee was briefed by Secretary, Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Secretary, Aviation Division, Secretary, Maritime Affairs, Chairman, WAPDA, Secretary, Planning and Development, KP, Chairman, Gwadar Port Authority and Director General, Gwadar Development Authority regarding Chashma Right Bank Canal (CRBC), and compliance report on the recommendations of the Committee drafted in its previous meeting.

 

22

Information and Broadcasting

August 26, 2021[63]

Committee directed the Federal Secretary, Ministry of Interior to have a meeting with D.G (FIA), Inspector General of Police (ICT), Chairman (NADRA) and authorities of PFSA and submit report to the Committee on attacks on Mr. Absar Alam and Mr. Asad Toor. The Committee also directed Ministry of Interior to collect all the details of FIRs and complaints lodged against journalists and media persons from all the provinces and ICT and provide in the next meeting of the Committee.

Committee deferred review of The Motion Picture (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Pakistan Associated Press of Pakistan Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulator Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and Calling Attention Notice No. 29.

 

23

Law and Justice

August 26, 2021[64]

Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Advisor to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity briefed the committee on various initiatives for Institutional Reforms.

 

24

Science and Technology

August 26, 2021[65]

The Committee deferred review of The University of Engineering and Emerging Technology Bill, 2020, The National Metrology Institute of Pakistan Bill, 2021, The National University of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The Committee directed the MoST to arrange a briefing on EVM with representatives of all political parties to build consensus.

 

25

Parliamentary Affairs

August 26, 2021[66]

Committee deferred The Members of Parliament (Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (Ord. No. IV of 2021), The Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019” (Section-104), The Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Biometric Electoral Voting Bill, 2020, The Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

It was decided that the ECP will be asked to brief the Committee over the ambiguity and discrepancies in the voters lists and on the review of the process of voters verification on annual basis.

 

26

Energy

August 27, 2021[67]

Committee considered the Petroleum (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and sought clarification on certain proposed amendments from the Ministry of Petroleum Division.

 

27

Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development

August 30, 2021[68]

Committee expressed concern on Overseas Pakistanis detained in jails of different countries against minor cases and could not pursue their cases due to financial constraints. Committee directed that Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & HRD may take up their cases at appropriate forum.

Committee expressed concern over the delay in finalizing the corruption cases of their officials and Community Welfare Attaches (CWA) in Departmental Account Committees

The Committee also expressed concern over the discriminatory attitude of Australian Universities towards Pakistani Students and directed that Minister of Foreign Affairs may be requested to take up the issue with Australian Foreign Minister to find out its solution.

 

28

Information Technology and Telecommunication

August 31, 2021[69]

Committee directed PTA and NADRA to bring a plan of action to stop the illegally issued Mobile SIMs.

Committee also decided to call FIA to discuss issues related to cybercrimes.

Committee deferred discussion on the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organization) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill.

 

Senate Committee Meetings

While no session of the Senate was held in August, 24, meetings were held by the Senate committees.

No.

Standing Committee

Dates

Key Discussion

Bills Approved

1

Information and Broadcasting

August 2, 2021 [70]

Compliance report on the recommendations made by the committee on PTV were considered. Committee directed the Ministry of Information to take on board the committee while making policies on advertisement and film. The Ministry informed the committee that the advertising and film policies are approved by the cabinet on which chairman committee directed the ministry to provide the draft copies of the mentioned policies.

 

2

Industries and production

August 2, 2021 [71]

Committee discussed comparison of car prices and specifications in the region and impact of government incentive on the Automobile Industry and on the end users. It was also briefed on the functions, projects and future schemes of SMEDA.

 

3

Rules of Procedures and Privileges

August 4, 2021 [72]

Committee considered proposed amendment in Rule 9 and insertion of the Fourth Schedule in the Rules of Procedure and conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012 introduced by Senator Mian Raza Rabbani.

 

4

Law and Justice

August 4, 2021 [73]

The committee recommended that the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Bill must not be restricted to foreign nationals but to be extended to Pakistani citizens also. Committee recommended revisions in the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Bill 2021 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

 

5

Power

August 5, 2021 [74]

Committee reviewed implementation status of its recommendations. It was briefed that aims and objectives of establishment of Genco Holding Company Limited (GHCL) were to enhance capital formation for Power Sector development out of the budget of Government of Pakistan.

Discussing the Lakhra Power Plant, committee enquired about the recommendations made by the sub-Committee and directed the ministry to submit its implementation report.

 

6

Parliamentary Affairs

August 6, 2021 [75]

Committee was briefed by the Secretary, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Secretary ECP on the Election (Amendment) Bill 2021, and the Elections( Second Amendment ) Bill 2021, as passed by the National Assembly. Secretary ECP also briefed the committee on the amendment in section 103, Act XXXIII of 2017, and electronic voting machines (EVMs) to cast votes in the general election.

 

7

States and Frontier Regions

August 09, 2021 [76]

The Committee discussed issues in merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and anticipated refugee influx from Afghanistan.

 

8

Climate Change

August 9, 2021 [77]

Committee reviewed the Global Change Impact Studies Centre (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

It also received a briefing on the proposed amendment in the Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC) Act 2013. The committee said that the absence of Parliamentary Representation in the Board of Governors poses a question over the running of the board.

 

9

Devolution

August 10, 2021[78]

Committee reviewed the issue of delay in the establishment of an independent Secretariat of the Council of Common Interest from the Cabinet Division, and also discussed on the 18th Amendment constitutional scheme and its implementation so far.

 

10

Cabinet Secretariat

August 10, 2021 [79] 

Committee was briefed by Secretary FPSC on the working and performance of FPSC.

 

11

Federal Education Professional Training, National Heritage and Culture

August 10, 2021[80]

 

The committee approved the following bills: The Al-Karam International Bill, 2021; The Ibadat International University Islamabad, Bill 2021; The Hyderabad Institute of Technical and Management Sciences Bill 2021; The National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (Amendment) Bill 2021;The Pakistan Academy of Letters (Amendment) Bill 2021 and The National College of Arts Institute Bill 2021.

12

Inter Provincial Coordination

August 11, 2021[81]

A sub committee was formed to review and provide observations on pending decisions before the Council of Common Interests (CCI) will submit its report in 20 working days. Committee IPC Ministry to share draft National Sports Policy for its input in an in-camera meeting.

Committee also decided to create another sub-committee to invite all three (3) Federal Sports Organizations to understand their working and functions.

 

13

Rules of Procedures and Privileges

August 11, 2021 [82]

Committee discussed amendment in Rule 9 and insertion of the Fourth Schedule in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012.

 

14

Maritime Affairs

August 13, 2021 [83]

The committee reviewed The Port Qasim Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021. It was informed that out of total 72 sections, only 21 sections are amended for operational efficiency of the official business.

 

15

Poverty Alleviation

August 13, 2021 [84]

Committee was briefed on the status of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), and allocated budget to Social Safety Division under the EHSAS programme.

 

16

Defence

August 16, 2021 [85] 

Committee discussed evolving situation in Afghanistan.

 

17

Law and Justice

August 16, 2021[86]

Committee discussed the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Bill 2021.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was approved by the committee through majority vote

18

Maritime Affairs

August 23, 2021 [87]

The Port Qasim Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and The Gwadar Port Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021 were reviewed.

 

19

Narcotics Control

August 23, 2021 [88]

Committee reviewed and deferred the Control of Narcotics Substances (Second Amendment) Act 2020.

 

20

Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs

August 24, 2021 [89]

Committee discussed the issue of charges on transactions of funds by banks and was also briefed by the SBP and the SECP on the Financial reporting issue of HASCOL.

 

21

Commerce

August 25, 2021 [90]

Committee discussed the situation in Afghanistan on trade between the two countries as it was informed that 97 per cent of Afghan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreements (APTTA) has been formalized.

 

22

Delegated Legislation

August 25, 2021 [91]

Committee scrutinized delegated legislation pertaining to regulation of alternative medicines in Pakistan. It sought explanation from DRAP officials regarding regulation of homeopathic, Tib and Ayurvedic practice and education in Pakistan.

 

23

Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development

August 26, 2021 [92]

Committee reviewed the Emigration (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and deferred it for the next meeting.

 

24

Narcotics Control

August 31, 2021 [93]

 

The Control of Narcotics Substances (Second Amendment) Bill 2020 was approved by the committee.

Taliban will keep their promises: COAS hopes

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa

Addressing the Flag Presentation Parade at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul on August 20, Chief of the Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, expressed the hope that Afghan Taliban will fulfil their promises made with global community about women and human rights and will not allow the Afghan land to be used against any other country. He also said that Pakistan has repeatedly asked the global community to play its part in an unbiased and inclusive Afghan process as well as economic sustenance of Afghanistan. He added that Pakistan would continue to play its role for peace and stability in Afghanistan, “direly needed” for the entire region and especially for Afghans.[94]

Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan is secure: DG ISPR

DG ISPR

Addressing a press conference on August 27, Major General Babar Iftikhar, Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations claimed that Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan is absolutely normal and movement on both sides is being regulated. He also claimed that whatever investments and influence India had made in Afghanistan was all done with the sole objective of hurting Pakistan.[95]

Corps Commanders Conference

COAS chairing Corps Commanders Conference

On August 11, chairing the Corps Commanders Conference, General Bajwa reportedly said that “we have made every possible effort to facilitate Afghan Peace Process leading towards a negotiated settlement with utmost sincerity & will continue to do so.” In this context, he also said that “misperceptions & scapegoating must be avoided to counter designs of spoilers.” According to DG ISPR, the Corps Commanders Conference “underscored the need for adopting a whole of nation approach” in view of the multifarious security challenges faced by Pakistan in various domains in the evolving milieu. [96]

Chairman Senate meets Foreign Dignitaries

Senator Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, Chairman Senate of Pakistan
  1. On August 02, a delegation headed by President of the Arab Parliament, Mr. Adel AbdulRahman al-asoomi, called on Chairman Senate at the Parliament House, Islamabad.[97]
  2. On August 4, Chairman Senate met with Chairman Iran-Pakistan Parliamentary friendship group, Mr. Ahmad Amir-Abadi Farahani in Tehran and Deputy Governor Mashhad in Mashhad[98]
  3. On August 4, Chairman Senate held a meeting with Speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly Mr. Muhammad Bagher Ghalibaf in Tehran.[99]
  4. On August 5, Chairman Senate met with newly elected President of Iran, Dr. Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran.[100]
  5. On August 26, Ambassador of Qatar, Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman bin Faisal Al-Thani, called on Chairman Senate of Pakistan.[101]

Speaker National Assembly meets Foreign Dignitaries

Mr. Asad Qaiser, Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan
  1. On August 07, President of National Assembly of Niger, Mr. Seyni Oumarou, met with Speaker National Assembly at the Parliament House.[102]
  2. On August 26, Syrian chargé d’affaires in Pakistan Dr. Mazan Ubaid called on Speaker National Assembly at Parliament House.[103]

Interactions of COAS with Foreign Dignitaries

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff
  1. On August 10, General (Retd.) Hulusi Akar, Minister of National Defence of the Republic of Turkey called on Chief of Army Staff at the GHQ.[104]
  2. On August 10, H.E. Mr. Nong Rong, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, called on Chief of Army Staff at the GHQ.[105]
  3. On August 19, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin held a telephonic conversation with Chief of Army Staff.[106]
  4. On August 16, a high level military delegation led by General Fayyadh Bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, Chief of General Staff, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia called on Chief of Army Staff.[107]
  5. On August 17, an 8 member delegation of Afghan political leaders met with Chief of Army Staff.[108]

Prime Minister’s Interactions with COAS

During August 2021, there were media reports of three meetings between Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

  1. On August 05, COAS was part of a meeting chaired by Prime Minister to review progress of National Action Plan [109]
  2. On August 06, PM visited the Peshawar Corps where COAS, Governor and Chief Minister KP also accompanied PM.[110]
  3. On August 16, PM chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee where COAS was in attendance. Defence Minister was also part of the meeting. [111]

Election in Myanmar by August 2023: Coup Leader

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing

Six months after the imposition of military coup, the head of Myanmar military and coup leader announced on August 1 that emergency will be lifted in the country and election would be held by August 2023. He was addressing the nation in a televised address. He also said that the military government is willing to work with any special envoy from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). [112]

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