Update on The Performance of Democratic Institutions | March 2022

Share:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  


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.

  1. Foreign conspiracy behind vote of no-confidence: PM
  2. Apex Committee reviews Status of NAP implementation
  3. 248th Corps Commander Conference
  4. NCOC Closed Down
  5. Senate Parliamentary Year Report 2021-2022
  6. Speaker National Assembly meets Foreign Dignitaries
  7. Chairman Senate meets Foreign Dignitaries
  8. Interactions of COAS with Foreign Dignitaries
  9. Prime Minister’s Interactions with COAS

Foreign conspiracy behind vote of no-confidence: PM

Prime Minister addressing the nation

Facing a no-confidence motion submitted by the joint opposition in the National Assembly on March 8, Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan publicly claimed on March 27 that opposition’s move to oust him has been orchestrated through an international conspiracy and that he has credible evidence of that in the shape of a letter. [1]

The letter claimed by the PM to be the evidence of foreign conspiracy against his elected government was presented by the National Security Advisor before the National Security Committee (NSC) on March 31.

According to the PMO, the NSA briefed the Committee on the ‘formal communication of a senior official of a foreign country to Pakistan’s Ambassador in the said country in a formal meeting, which was duly conveyed by the Ambassador to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.’ The PMO also reported that the NSC expressed ‘grave concern’ at the communication and termed the language used by the foreign official as ‘undiplomatic.’ Without sharing details of the country whose official was quoted in the letter, the PMO stated that the NSC considered the content of the communiqué to amount to ‘blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan by the country in question.’ The NSC decided to issue a ‘strong demarche to the country in question both in Islamabad and in the country’s capital through proper channel in keeping with diplomatic norms.’ The NSC also endorsed Federal Cabinet’s decision to brief the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. [2]

Even though neither the PM nor the NSC officially disclosed that the alleged communiqué originated from United States of America, in his address to the nation on March 31, Prime Minister apparently inadvertently said that “on March 8, or probably before that on March 7, we received a message from the US … no, not the US, what I mean to say is from some other foreign country.” [3] The US State Department, however, denied the allegation by Prime Minister and said that “There is no truth to these allegations.” [4]

Apex Committee reviews Status of NAP implementation

Prime Minister chairing meeting of APEX committee on NAP

On March 7, Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the Apex Committee on National Action Plan where a detailed briefing on the implementation status of NAP was given by Secretary Interior. The Apex Committee believed that the role of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) must be strengthened to coordinate measures essential for countering terrorism and capacity building of Counter Terrorism Departments. It also asked Provinces to allocate more resources for conducting effective investigations by adopting scientific techniques and setting up modern forensic labs. Federal Ministers of Information; Interior and Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives were part of the meeting alongside National Security Advisor, Chief of Army Staff, Chief Ministers of Punjab, Sindh, KP, Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan. [5]

248th Corps Commander Conference

At the 248th Corps Commanders Conference held on March 15, the incident of missile firing by India was reviewed with concern. According to the ISPR, “it was emphasized that despite Indian acknowledgment of the mistake, relevant international forums must take a serious view of the incident and subject the safety and security protocols of Indian strategic assets to deliberate oversight.” [6]

NCOC Closed Down

On March 31, the Federal Government officially announced closing down of the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) as the key body overseeing national response to COVID management since March 2020. According to government figures, out of the population of 220 million, COVID had infected more than 1.5 million Pakistanis and took the lives of 30,355 people since March 2020 and the NCOC played a huge role in combating the pandemic. [7] Even though some forms of early smart lockdowns were placed around the country, the federal government remained committed to its protection of livelihoods approach that helped Pakistan fare very well on the global normalcy indices. On March 16, the government had announced lifting of all covid-related restrictions in the country except the vaccination-related restrictions.[8]

While the NCOC is credited with Pakistan’s success in tackling the pandemic, it also offers a case study in setting up of yet another hybrid system to fight the pandemic which Pakistan’s existing system of health and democratic governance could not manage on its own. The military-led NCOC was set-up 2 years ago as the ISPR press release on April 01, 2020 announced that a National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was established to work as a “nucleus for one-window operation to synergise and articulate national effort against COVID-19, optimize informed decision making and ensure implementation of decisions of National Security Committee and National Coordination Committee (NCC).” Chief of Army Staff chaired the first meeting of the NCOC and Commander Army Air Defence Command, Lt. Gen. Hamood Uz Zaman Khan, was designated as a Chief Coordinator NCOC. Reportedly, the decision to set up the NCOC was taken at a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC), a body created after a meeting of the National Security Committee on March 13, 2020 to deal with COVID-19. The NCOC was the second structure that had been created to manage COVID-19 at the federal level after the National Coordination Committee for COVID-19 (NCC) under the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health did not receive enough traction and initial meetings of the NCC were not attended by many key people including Chief Ministers who delegated their chief secretaries to attend the meetings.

Now that the NCOC has been closed down, it is important for political leadership, parties and government institutions to analyse why Pakistan required a hybrid structure for the management of coronavirus pandemic. What were the weaknesses in the civil administration sectors that rendered them ill-prepared for a crisis of such proportions? Were there issues or weaknesses in the political decision-making? What weaknesses have been identified within key ministries in terms of capacity, resources and planning? In brief, it is important that right questions are asked and right lessons are learnt from the hybrid model of NCOC or it would simply leave behind worrying trends for a democratic country that has suffered four (4) military coup d’état since its creation and a complex inter-institutional relationship despite clear constitutional demarcation on executive authority of the federation.

Senate Parliamentary Year Report 2021-2022

In continuing a glorious tradition of transparency and openness, the Senate of Pakistan released another report on the conclusion of its parliamentary year 2021-2022 on March 12. In a proactive manner, the annual report makes public key data such as attendance of Senators during the year, legislation, questions and other legislative details. In another positive development of the year, the Senate report also provided talk time of top 5 Senators in the Senate during the year, a practice that PILDAT started during the year while providing session-wise analysis of Senate and National Assembly sessions. The complete Senate Parliamentary Year 2021-2022 Report is available at the Senate website. [9]

The Senate only met for 56 working days and 161 working hours during the year with average attendance of 72 Senators per sitting. PTI’s Senator Dr. Shahzad Waseem, Leader of the House, who attended each one of 56 sittings of the Senate has the highest talk time of 8 hours and 10 minutes followed by JIP’s Senator Mushtaq Ahmed who spoke for 6 hours and 33 minutes during the year. The report also shares key data such as only 25.90 per cent or 409 questions out of 1,579 questions received from Senators were answered during the year by the government. The Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, chaired by Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood, met for 122 hours and held 32 meetings in the year. [10]

Speaker National Assembly meets Foreign Dignitaries

Mr. Asad Qaiser, Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan

Speaker National Assembly, Mr. Asad Qaiser met with following foreign dignitaries during March:

  1. On March 8, Acting Chairperson of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Mr. Ian Liddel Granger and Secretary General, CPA, Mr. Stephen Twigg[11]
  2. On March 22, Mr. Furqat Sidiq, Deputy Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan [12]
  3. On March 22, Foreign Minister of Bosnia & Herzegovina Ms. Bisera Turkovic [13]

Chairman Senate meets Foreign Dignitaries

Senator Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, Chairman Senate of Pakistan

Senator Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, Chairman Senate of Pakistan met and interacted with following foreign dignitaries during March:

  1. Mr. Aybek Arif Usmanov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Pakistan on March 08[14]
  2. On March 11, Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. Wada Mitsuhiro [15]
  3. On March 23, Foreign Minister of Iraq, Mr. Fuad Hussein, Foreign Minister of Republic of Kazakhstan Mr. Mukhtar Beskenuly Tileuberdi and Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan, Mr. Ruslan Kazakbaev. [16]

Interactions of COAS with Foreign Dignitaries

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff

Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, met with following foreign dignitaries during the month:

  1. Commander Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, Brigadier General Pilot Hamid Vahedi on March 01 [17]
  2. Her Excellency, Ms. Pang Chunxue, Chinese Charge d’ Affairs to Pakistan, on March 09 [18]
  3. General Shaikh Mohamed Bin Isa Bin Salman AI-Khalifa, Commander of the National Guard of the Kingdom of Bahrain, on March 16 [19]
  4. Major General (Retd.) Bashir Salihi Magashi, Minister of Defence of Nigeria, on March 16.[20]
  5. His Excellency Mr. Wang Yi, State Counselor and Foreign Minister of the Peoples Republic of China, on March 23.[21]
  6. Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, on March 23. [22]
  7. Azerbaijan’s Defence Minister, Col Gen Zakir Hasanov, on March 23.[23]
  8. Republic of Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Ruslan Kazakbaev, on March 23 [24]

Prime Minister’s Interactions with COAS

Following were the reported interactions between Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan, and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa during the month:

  1. On March 07, PM and COAS met during the meeting of the Apex Committee on National Action Plan [25]
  2. On March 10, PM and COAS met at Kamra Air Base, PAF [26]
  3. On March 18, PM and COAS met at the PM Residence, Bani Gala.[27]
  4. On March 23, PM and COAS met at Defence Day Parade, Islamabad.[28]
  5. On March 30, PM and COAS met twice at the PM Office [29]

References

  1. Syed Irfan Raza, “PM unveils ‘foreign plot’ against his govt,”Dawn online, March 28, 2022, accessed April 11, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1682150/pm-unveils-foreign-plot-against-his-govt.

  2. Prime Minister’s Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO), Twitter, March 31, 2022, 7:12 pm, accessed April 11, 2022. https://twitter.com/PakPMO/status/1509534141892554758.

  3. ‘Neither you nor your handlers will be forgiven,’ PM Imran warns ‘sell-outs’ ahead of no-trust vote,” Dawn online, March 31, 2022, accessed April 11, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1682728/neither-you-nor-your-handlers-will-be-forgiven-pm-imran-warns-sell-outs-ahead-of-no-trust-vote.

  4. Anwar Iqbal, “Between the lines of State Dept denial,” Dawn online, April 01, 2022, accessed April 11, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1682826/between-the-lines-of-state-dept-denial.

  5. “Strong condemnation of Peshawar attack: Apex Committee,” PMO online, March 7, 2022, accessed April 11, 2022. https://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=4045.

  6. Official DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR), Twitter, March 15, 2022, 6:26 pm, accessed April 11, 2022. https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1503731944709783557.

  7. Ikram Junaidi, “Curtain falls on NCOC as nation looks beyond Covid,” Dawn online, April 1, 2022, accessed April 11, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1682861/curtain-falls-on-ncoc-as-nation-looks-beyond-covid.

  8. Ikram Junaidi, “Govt declares ‘normalisation’ as Covid-19 settles after two years,” Dawn online, March 17, 2022, accessed April 11, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1680394/govt-declares-normalisation-as-covid-19-settles-after-two-years.

  9. “Senate of Pakistan Parliamentary Year Report (12th March 2021 – 11th March 2022),” Senate of Pakistan online, March 12, 2022, accessed April 11, 2022. https://senate.gov.pk/en/news_content.php?id=4249.

  10. Iftikhar A. Khan, “Most queries raised in Senate not answered,” Dawn online, March 13, 2022, accessed April 06, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1679723/most-queries-raised-in-senate-not-answered.

  11. Speaker-National Assembly of Pakistan @NASpeakerPK Twitter, March 08, 2022, 6:59 pm, accessed April 07, 2022. https://twitter.com/NAofPakistan/status/1501195937544290314.

  12. “Foreign Ministers of Uzbekistan & Bosnia Call on Speaker National Assembly – March 22, 2022,”, accessed April 07, 2022. https://na.gov.pk/en/pressrelease.php?content=101#4792.

  13. “Foreign Ministers of Uzbekistan & Bosnia Call on Speaker National Assembly – March 22, 2022,”, accessed April 07, 2022. https://na.gov.pk/en/pressrelease.php?content=101#4792.

  14. “Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani exchanging views with Mr. Aybek Arif Usmanov Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Pakistan at Parliament House Islamabad on March 08, 2022.,” Senate of Pakistan online, March 08, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://senate.gov.pk/en/news_content.php?id=4243.

  15. “Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani on Friday has termed relations with Japan as unique and historic and called for further deepening ties through frequent exchanges at social, political and economic levels,” Senate of Pakistan online, March 11, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://senate.gov.pk/en/news_content.php?id=4248.

  16. “Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani and Foreign Ministers of Iraq Mr. Fuad Hussein discussing ways and means to enhance Bilateral Cooperation between Iraq and Pakistan at Parliament House on Wednesday on 23rd March 2022,” Senate of Pakistan online, March 23, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://senate.gov.pk/en/news_content.php?id=4264.

  17. “Pakistan wants peaceful, close ties with neighbours: COAS,” ISPR online, March 02, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://tribune.com.pk/story/2346045/pakistan-wants-peaceful-close-ties-with-neighbours-coas.

  18. “Her Excellency Ms Pang Chunxue, Chinese Charge d’ Affairs to Pakistan called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) at GHQ,” ISPR online, March 09, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=6373.

  19. “General Shaikh Mohamed Bin Isa Bin Salman AI-Khalifa, Commander of the National Guard of the Kingdom of Bahrain called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) at GHQ,” ISPR online, March 16, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=6376

  20. “Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (Retired), Minister of Defence Nigeria called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) at GHQ,” ISPR online, March 16, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=6375.

  21. “His Excellency Mr Wang Yi, State Counselor and Foreign Minister of the People Republic of China called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), today.,” ISPR online, March 23, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=6378.

  22. Iftikhar A. Khan, “PM Imran underlines CPEC’s significance for economic growth,” Dawn online, March 23, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1681363/pm-imran-underlines-cpecs-significance-for-economic-growth.

  23. Iftikhar A. Khan, “PM Imran underlines CPEC’s significance for economic growth,” Dawn online, March 23, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1681363/pm-imran-underlines-cpecs-significance-for-economic-growth.

  24. Iftikhar A. Khan, “PM Imran underlines CPEC’s significance for economic growth,” Dawn online, March 23, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1681363/pm-imran-underlines-cpecs-significance-for-economic-growth.

  25. Iftikhar A. Khan, “PM Imran urges swift prosecution to prevent attacks like Peshawar,” Dawn online, March 08, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1678853/pm-imran-urges-swift-prosecution-to-prevent-attacks-like-peshawar.

  26. “Better than F-16: China-made fighter jets J-10C inducted into PAF,” Dawn online, March 11, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/940497-better-than-us-made-f-16-fighter-plane-j-10c-indicted-into-paf.

  27. “COAS meets PM Khan at Bani Gala,” Global Village Space online, March 19, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://www.globalvillagespace.com/coas-meets-pm-khan-at-bani-gala/.

  28. “Institutions heartily backing democracy, says President Alvi,” Dawn online, March 23, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1681527/institutions-heartily-backing-democracy-says-president-alvi.

  29. Syed Irfan Raza, “PM plans to lift the lid on ‘secret letter’ in NA,” Dawn online, March 31, 2022, accessed April 07, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1682636/pm-plans-to-lift-the-lid-on-secret-letter-in-na.