Update on The Performance of Democratic Institutions | July 2022

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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. PCNS approves Pakistan’s talks with the TTP
  2. Live Broadcast of Parliamentary Sessions and Committee Meetings
  3. New Chief Minister of Punjab
  4. New NAB Chairman
  5. GHQ has no legal status to own State land: IHC
  6. ECP postpones second phase of LG Elections in Sindh
  7. Saga of the JCP Meeting
  8. COAS directs Military officials to stay away from Politics
  9. 249th Corps Commanders Conference
  10. Speaker National Assembly meets Foreign Dignitaries
  11. Chairman Senate meets Foreign Dignitaries
  12. Interactions of COAS with Foreign Dignitaries
  13. COAS permitted by the PM to call US Deputy Secretary of State
  14. Prime Minister’s Interactions with COAS

PCNS approves Pakistan’s talks with the TTP

Even though no official press release of the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) was released by the committee or the National Assembly, media reported that the committee gave formal approval to the government for holding talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in a meeting held on July 05. [1]

An earlier statement by the PMO had said that while Pakistan has been engaged in negotiations with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) through facilitation by the Afghanistan government under the ambit of Pakistan’s constitution, any agreement with the TTP will be subject to the approval by the Parliament. [2]

The PMO statement appeared to convey that the process of negotiations was underway already by the military and it was only through the June 22 briefing that political leaders were informed of the status of talks between the military and the TTP.

Dawn reported that it was Mr. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari who had demanded monitoring of the talks by the parliamentary committee. Reportedly, at the PCNS meeting chaired by Speaker National Assembly, military leadership accepted that no extra-constitutional concessions would be given to the TTP in the ongoing dialogue and any deal made with the group would be subject to the parliamentary approval.[3]

Live Broadcast of Parliamentary Sessions and Committee Meetings

On July 7, Prime Minister Mr. Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif wrote to Speaker National Assembly to renew live transmission of the proceedings of the Parliament through the PTV Parliament TV which was launched under the tenure of Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif. In the letter, Prime Minister asked that live telecasting of meetings of Standing Committees, as well as the Public Accounts Committee should also be facilitated. [4]

New Chief Minister of Punjab

President of Pakistan administering oath of CM Punjab to Chaudhry Pervez Elahi

On July 27, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi was administered oath as Chief Minister Punjab by the President of Pakistan.

On July 17, PTI won 15 seats in the Punjab by-elections on 20 seats that got vacated after the disqualification of PTI members who had voted for Mr. Hamza Shehbaz for the post of Punjab CM. [5]

However, in the CM election held in the Punjab Assembly on July 22, Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari had ruled that votes of the PML member would not be counted in light of the letter of PML party head Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and declared Mr. Hamza Shehbaz as CM Punjab. [6]

Terming the verdict of Punjab Deputy Speaker void, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial declared Chaudhry Parvez Elahi as the duly elected CM of Punjab. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar, gave their verdict. The written verdict stated that “We find that the understanding and implementation of the said short judgment as well as the provisions of Article 63A(1)(b) of the Constitution by the Deputy Speaker, Provincial Assembly of Punjab, Lahore (Respondent No.1) was patently incorrect and erroneous and cannot be sustained.” [7]

Following the election the central working committee of the PML on July 28 unanimously removed Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mr. Tariq Bashir Cheema from their party positions. The meeting of the PML committee was held under the chairmanship of Senator Kamil Ali Agha and decided to hold fresh elections for top party positions within 10 days. However, a statement issued by the PML party spokesperson from Islamabad claimed no decision was taken to call the party’s CWC meeting adding Senator Agha is the party’s Punjab Chapter General Secretary and not empowered to take any decision against the Party President and according to the party constitution, no party meeting could be called without the consultation and will of the party President.[8]

New NAB Chairman

Mr. Aftab Sultan, new Chairman NAB

On July 20, Federal government appointed Mr. Aftab Sultan as the new chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). He has earlier served as Director General of the Intelligence Bureau.

According to the law, NAB chair is appointed through consultation between Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. The outgoing chair of NAB, Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal, had relinquished charge on June 2, 2022.

A notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice stated that “The federal government is pleased to appoint Aftab Sultan, a retired BS-22 officer of Police Service of Pakistan, as chairman NAB after consultation between the leader of the House and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, for a non-extendable period of three years with effect from the date he assumes the charge of his office.” [9]

GHQ has no legal status to own State land: IHC

In a detailed order in the Margalla Hills National Park case on July 13, the Islamabad High Court declared that neither the Remount Veterinary and Farms (RVF) directorate of the Army nor the General Headquarters (GHQ) have legal status under the Constitution or the law to own State land. The Judgement stated that the land is allocated by the Federal Government for a particular and declared use of the branches of the Armed Forces and remains the ownership of the Federal or Provincial Government, as the case may be. Nature or character of the land allocated for the use of Armed Forces cannot be changed without the express permission of the Federal Government. If the land is no more used for the purpose for which it had been allocated, then it would revert to the Federal Government or the Provincial government, as the case may be. [10]

A short order in the case had been issued by the IHC on January 11, 2022 in which it had directed the CDA to seal the Monal Restaurant, take control of the Margalla Greens Golf Club built on the encroached land, and had declared the military’s claim to 8,602 acres of Margalla Hills National Park as illegal. However, the Supreme Court on March 8, 2022 had suspended the IHC judgement regarding the sealing and taking over possession of the Monal Restaurant.[11]

ECP postpones second phase of LG Elections in Sindh

In view of the weather conditions and increased security requirements of Muharram, the Election Commission of Pakistan on July 20 postponed the second phase of local government elections which were to be held in 16 districts of Karachi and Hyderabad division. The ECP also postponed the by-election on NA-245 in Karachi till August 2022.

Reportedly, the ECP decision was taken based on a number of factors including the report of Chief Secretary Sindh, Provincial Election Commissioner, data from the Meteorological department and public’s request. [12]

Saga of the JCP Meeting

Building of the Supreme Court of Pakistan

The official statement issued after the July 28 meeting of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) discussing the elevation of judges of high courts to Supreme Court said that the Chief Justice of Pakistan, as the Chairman of the JCP, proposed to defer the meeting in order to place additional information and data about the proposed names of judges. [13]

However, two sitting judges, Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood questioned the correctness of the press release issued by the Supreme Court’s PRO and claimed the JCP meeting had disapproved the nominations of judges proposed by the CJP for elevation to the Supreme Court. This public stance taken by the Judges prompted the CJP to share the audio recording of entire proceedings of the Judicial Commission meeting which were uploaded on the court’s website. The press release accompanying the audio recording stated that the audio recording from time slot 1:29:45 to 1:38:08 contain the statement by Attorney General for Pakistan that the matters under discussion should be deferred to frame appropriate rules. “He did not assess or reject the merits of any of the high court judges proposed for appointment to the apex court. As a result, five members of the JCP supported the deferment of the meeting as reported in the press note of Thursday.”[14]

While the release of the audio tape has not quite ended the controversy, it has brought to the fore once again the long-standing demand on consensus-based criteria for elevation of judges. While seniority has earlier been used as a key criteria for elevation, elevations have also been made using what is termed as a merit-based criteria by the JCP. Reform proposals have, therefore, been made that demand an objective standard to review a judge’s qualification by the JCP and a wider criteria for nomination away from the currently-held sole prerogative of the chief justice.

COAS directs Military officials to stay away from Politics

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff

A media story by Journalist Mr. Ansar Abbasi on July 04 claimed that after the allegations made by former Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan, the Chief of Army Staff has issued “fresh directions to all his commanders and key officers, including those associated with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to stay away from politics and avoid interacting with politicians.” [15]

It is claimed that similar instructions were also issued months back and in February, DG ISI Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum had made it clear to all officials of the ISI that no interference in politics and political matters would be tolerated.

249th Corps Commanders Conference

The 249th Corps Commanders Conference held on July 25, at the GHQ discussed Pakistan Army’s “operational and training matters” in addition to reviewing the security environment. Reportedly, the Corps Commanders Conference, was convened after four months during which larger formation commanders’ conferences were convened. [16]

Speaker National Assembly meets Foreign Dignitaries

Raja Pervez Ashraf, Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan

Following interactions were held by Honourable Speaker National Assembly with foreign dignitaries during the month of July 2022:

  1. Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. Mehmet Pacaci at the Democracy and National Unity Day on July 15 in Islamabad. [17]
  2. Chair of Pakistan-Türkiye Parliamentary Friendship Group in the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye and Deputy Governor of Istanbul in Istanbul, Turkey on July 21-22. [18]
  3. EU Ambassador to Pakistan, Dr. Riina KionkaRaja, at National Meet on SDGs on July 27 in Islamabad.[19]

Chairman Senate meets Foreign Dignitaries

Senator Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, Chairman Senate of Pakistan

Honourable Chairman Senate of Pakistan, Senator Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, held following interactions with foreign dignitaries during July 2022:

  1. Italian Ambassador H.E Andreas Ferrarese on July 05, at the Parliament House, Islamabad. [20]
  2. President of the Transitional Legislative Assembly, Aboubacar Toguyeni, on July 11 in Burkina Faso. [21]
  3. Ambassador of Algeria, H.E Brahim Romani, on July 20 at the Parliament House, Islamabad. [22]
  4. Ambassador of TURKIYE Mr. Mehmet Pacaci, on July 22 at the Parliament House, Islamabad. [23]

Interactions of COAS with Foreign Dignitaries

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff

Following interactions of General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff, with foreign dignitaries were reported during July 2022:

  1. General Musa Avsever, Commander of Turkish Land Forces, on July 05. [24]
  2. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. Nong Rong, on July 28. [25]
  3. Ambassador of Republic of Poland to Pakistan, Mr. Maciej Pisarski, on July 27. [26]
  4. Telephonic conversation with Commander US CENTCOM, General Michael Erik Kurilla, on July 29. [27]

COAS permitted by the PM to call US Deputy Secretary of State

COAS General Bajwa

According to media reports, Chief of Army Staff reached out to the US administration to facilitate early disbursement of the IMF loan tranche with the explicit permission of Prime Minister Mr. Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif. [28]

It was reported by Nikkei Asia.com on July 29 that the Chief of Army Staff had called US Deputy Secretary of State, Ms. Wendy Sherman during the week of July 25. [29] This was criticised by the former Prime Minister, Mr. Imran Khan who said that it was not the job of the Army Chief to deal with economic matters.[30]

After the breaking of the news, Pakistan’s Foreign Office confirmed the COAS call to US Deputy Secretary of State though it stated that it did not have idea and the knowledge about the content of discussion. The US State Department also said that US officials talk to Pakistani officials regularly on a range of issues.[31]

Prime Minister’s Interactions with COAS

Three interactions have been reportedly held between Prime Minister Mr. Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, and Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, during the month of July 2022. Federal Minister of Defence was not part of any of these interactions.

  1. On July 01, Prime Minister met with the COAS at the Prime Minister Office, Islamabad. [32]
  2. On July 05, Prime Minister and COAS were part of the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. [33]
  3. On July 29, COAS called on the Prime Minister at the Prime Minister Office, Islamabad.[34]

References

  1. “Parliamentary committee on national security allows govt to hold talks with TTP,” Geo News online, July 05, 2022, accessed July 28, 2022. https://www.geo.tv/latest/426132-parliamentary-committee-on-national-security-allows-govt-for-hold-talks-with-ttp.

  2. “سیاسی وعسکری قیادت کا قومی سلامتی پر اہم اجلاس,” PMO online, June 22, 2022, accessed July 4, 2022. https://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=4233.

  3. Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Parliamentary body to keep eye on talks with TTP,” Dawn online, July 06, 2022, accessed August 3, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1698468.

  4. Shehbaz Sharif, @CMShehbaz Twitter, July 07, 2022, 7:07 pm, accessed August 03, 2022. https://twitter.com/CMShehbaz/status/1545046883726307328.

  5. Mansoor Malik, “PTI stuns PML-N with thumping win,” Dawn online, July 18, 2022, accessed July 27, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1700283.

  6. Mohammad Omer Hayat, “Elahi suffers shock defeat as Hamza retains Punjab CM position after deputy speaker’s contentious ruling,” Dawn online, July 22, 2022, accessed August 3, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1700857.

  7. Supreme Court of Pakistan online, July 26, 2022, accessed July 28, 2022. https://www.supremecourt.gov.pk/downloads_judgements/const.p._%2022_2022_26072022.pdf.

  8. Mansoor Malik, “PML-Q strips Chaudhry Shujaat, Tariq Bashir Cheema of party roles,” Dawn online, July 29, 2022, accessed July 29, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1702104.

  9. Haseeb Bhatti, “Ex-IB chief Aftab Sultan appointed NAB chairman,” Dawn online, July 21, 2022, accessed July 28, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1700855.

  10. Nasir Iqbal, “GHQ has no legal status to own state land: IHC,” Dawn online, July 14, 2022, accessed July 26, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1699520.

  11. Islamabad High Court online, January 11, 2022, accessed July 28, 2022. https://mis.ihc.gov.pk/frmRdJgmnt?cseNo=Writ%20Petition-4245-2014%20%7C%20Citation%20Awaited&cseTle=Prof.%20Zahid%20Baig%20Mirza%20VS%20CDA,%20etc&jgs=Honourable%20Chief%20Justice%20Mr.%20Justice%20Athar%20Minallah&jgmnt=/attachments/judgements/43136/1/WP-4245-2014637933036873167435.pdf.

  12. Iftikhar A. Khan, “ECP postpones polls in Sindh till August,” Dawn online, July 21, 2022, accessed July 27, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1700786/ecp-postpones-polls-in-sindh-till-august.

  13. Nasir Iqbal, “AGP backs judges’ view amid Judicial Commission of Pakistan storm,” Dawn online, July 31, 2022, accessed August 02, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1702442/agp-backs-judges-view-amid-judicial-commission-of-pakistan-storm.

  14. Nasir Iqbal, “Audio released to settle facts of ‘contested’ JCP meeting,” Dawn online, July 30, 2022, accessed August 3, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1702281/audio-released-to-settle-facts-of-contested-jcp-meeting.

  15. Ansar Abbasi, “Stay away from politics, army chief directs military officials,” The News online, July 04, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.geo.tv/latest/425972-stay-away-from-politics-army-chief-directs-military-officials.

  16. Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Army vows to hunt down terrorists, ensure security,” Dawn online, July 26, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1701621/army-vows-to-hunt-down-terrorists-ensure-security.

  17. Speaker-National Assembly of Pakistan @NASpeakerPK Twitter, July 15, 2022, 1: 39 pm, accessed August 03, 2022. https://twitter.com/NAofPakistan/status/1547863509437784067.

  18. Speaker-National Assembly of Pakistan @NASpeakerPK Twitter, July 21, 2022, 2: 10 am, accessed August 03, 2022. https://twitter.com/NAofPakistan/status/1549864300994592771.

  19. “National and Provincial Parliamentarians Commit to National Framework 2030 SDG Plan – July 27, 2022,” July 27, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://na.gov.pk/en/pressrelease.php?content=101.

  20. “Italian Ambassador H.E Andreas Ferrarese called on Chairman Senate, Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani at Parliament House on Tuesday,” Senate of Pakistan online, July 05, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://senate.gov.pk/en/news_content.php?id=4384.

  21. “Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani exchanging views with Aboubacar Toguyeni, President of the Transitional Legislative Assembly in Burkina Faso on July 11,2022,” Senate of Pakistan online, July 11, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://senate.gov.pk/en/news_content.php?id=4389.

  22. “Chairman Senate, Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani Exchanging Views with Algerian Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. Brahim Romani at Parliament House Islamabad on July 20, 2022,” Senate of Pakistan online, July 20, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://senate.gov.pk/en/news_content.php?id=4395.

  23. “Chairman Senate, Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani exchanging views with Ambassador of TURKIYE Mr. Mehmet Pacaci at Parliament House Islamabad on July22, 2022,” Senate of Pakistan online, June 22, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://senate.gov.pk/en/news_content.php?id=4399.

  24. “Turkish Land Forces Commander calls on General Bajwa, CJCSC,” The News International online, July 06, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/971766-turkish-land-forces-commander-calls-on-general-bajwa-cjcsc.

  25. “Chinese envoy meets COAS Bajwa to discuss defence collaboration,” The News International online, July 29, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/977987-chinese-envoy-meets-coas-bajwa-to-discuss-defence-collaboration.

  26. “Pakistan values its relations with Poland: COAS,” Pakistan Today online, July 28, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/07/28/pakistan-values-its-relations-with-poland-coas/.

  27. “General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and General Michael Erik Kurilla, Commander United States (US) CENTCOM had a telephonic conversation.,” ISPR online, July 29, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=6414.

  28. Ansar Abbasi, “PM Shahbaz Sharif gave permission to COAS to speak to US administration on IMF,” The News International online, August 01, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/978655-pm-gave-permission-to-coas-to-speak-to-us-administration-on-imf.

  29. Wajahat S Khan, “Pakistan army chief appeals to U.S. in rush to avoid debt default,” NIKKEI ASIA online, July 29, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Pakistan-army-chief-appeals-to-U.S.-in-rush-to-avoid-debt-default.

  30. “Imran Khan questions General Qamar Javed Bajwa seeking US help for IMF loan,” The News International online, July 30, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/978199-imran-questions-coas-seeking-us-help-for-imf-loan.

  31. Mariana Baabar & Mehtab Haider & Muhammad Anis & Wajid Ali Syed, “General Qamar Javed Bajwa seeks US help for speedy IMF bailout,” The News International online, July 30, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/978027-gen-bajwa-seeks-us-help-for-speedy-imf-bailout.

  32. Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai, “PM Shehbaz, General Qamar Javed Bajwa discuss national security situation,” The News International online, July 02, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/970755-pm-coas-discuss-national-security-situation.

  33. Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Parliamentary body to keep eye on talks with TTP,” Dawn online, July 06, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1698468/parliamentary-body-to-keep-eye-on-talks-with-ttp.

  34. “Gen Bajwa meets PM Shahbaz,” The News International online, July 30, 2022, accessed August 03, 2022. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/978207-gen-bajwa-meets-pm-shehbaz.