Update on The Performance of Democratic Institutions | November 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. Military briefs Parliamentary Committee on National Security
  2. Supreme Court Summons PM on APS case
  3. 33 bills rushed through Joint Sitting
  4. Lt General Nadeem Anjum assumed charge as ISI Chief
  5. ECP Reports on Daska By-Election
  6. Permanent CCI Secretariat Notified
  7. No consensus on Appointment of ECP Members
  8. SC terms commercial use of military land ‘embarrassing’
  9. Further Amendments in the NAO
  10. Allegations against former CJP: IHC Issues Notices
  11. JCP recommends 3 lawyers for appointment in the IHC
  12. Audit Irregularities on COVID 19
  13. Speaker National Assembly meets Foreign Dignitaries
  14. Chairman Senate meets Foreign Dignitaries
  15. Interactions of COAS with Foreign Dignitaries
  16. PM-COAS Interactions
  17. Deal signed to reverse Military takeover in Sudan

Military briefs Parliamentary Committee on National Security

On November 8, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and DG ISI General Faiz Hameed briefed the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. In addition to MPs, Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Chief Ministers of Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa also attended the meeting. [1]

Official press release from the National Assembly secretariat stated that “participants were comprehensively briefed about matters pertaining to National Security, Foreign Affairs, internal and external challenges faced by county. They were also briefed about regional and political challenges especially the situation in Indian illegally Occupied Jummu & Kashmir and Afghanistan.[2]

It must be noted that a day earlier, on November 7, the Federal government had notified to remove the Tehreek e Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) from the list of proscribed organisations. A notification issued by the Ministry of Interior stated that this was done so as proposed by the Government of the Punjab.” [3] Earlier, on October 29, chairing a meeting of the National Security Committee Prime Minister had instructed that all measures and actions necessary to enforce the law and protect the interests of the state and public shall be ensured,”[4] thus allowing use of force against the TLP. However, media reported that in the Military briefing to the Parliamentary Committee, military officials conveyed their perspective that the prime objective was to take the TLP off the streets and the Military leadership had advised against using force against the TLP even though Prime Minister had authorised it.[5]

Supreme Court Summons PM on APS case

On November 10, Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan appeared before a Supreme Court bench chaired by Chief Justice, Justice Gulzar Ahmed comprising Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan as he was summoned over government’s delayed action against the persons responsible for the Army Public School (APS) attack in 2014 in which 132 children were martyred by TTP militants.

The bench asked pointed questions from the Prime Minister on what has the Federal government done so far in the case. In various comments, bench members said that billions of rupees are spent on Pakistan’s Intelligence agencies; Pakistan Army is the 6th largest army in the world. Despite these facts, culprits of APS attack have not been punished. Referring to the government’s statement of being in talks with the TTP over a reconciliation process and ceasefire, [6] Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan asked the PM what is he going to negotiate with those who have killed so many innocents instead of taking action against them.

PM asked the bench to issue orders against the involved and his government will take action. .[7]

33 bills rushed through Joint Sitting

Joint sitting of the Parliament

In a joint session of Parliament held on November 17, 33 bills were rushed through to passage as the opposition protested. These included among others the Elections (Second Amendment) Act 2021 dealing with the use of electronic voting machines and facilitation of vote by overseas Pakistanis from their countries of residence. [8]

In an unusual departure from its standard practice, the text of the Elections (Second Amendment) Act, 2021, alongside 32 other laws passed were not immediately placed on the website of the National Assembly. The passed laws were later placed on the website of the National Assembly after those received Presidential assent on December 2, 2021, nearly 15 days after passage by the Parliament.

Lt General Nadeem Anjum assumed charge as ISI Chief

Lt General Nadeem Anjum, DG ISI

On November 20, Lt General Nadeem Anjum assumed charge as new Director General, Inter Service Intelligence (ISI). [9]

Prime Minister had earlier retained the outgoing DG ISI Lt General Faiz Hameed to the post until November 19, 2021. [10] He has since assumed charge as Corps Commander, Peshawar.

ECP Reports on Daska By-Election

On November 8, the ECP formally released two inquiry reports on the February 2021 byelection in NA-75 with incriminating details on how senior officials of the police and the district administration were “already in knowledge of what was going on and they allowed to let the things happen as per planning,” and how election officials and government functionaries acted as puppets in the hands of influencers in the constituency. Report highlights that AC House, Daska, was also turned into a hub of plenary sessions of Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, then adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister, where she presided over different meetings. Report further says that unauthorised police officers and personnel either from district police or Special Branch were found involved in violating the SOPs of the code of conduct and security plan by entering the premises of the polling stations, talking with the polling personnel in person or through mobile, manhandling them, carrying them in private cars to some suspicious place, keeping them at that place for hours instead of taking them straight to the RO’s office, etc. [11]

Permanent CCI Secretariat Notified

On November 3, Federal Government finally notified setting up of a permanent secretariat for the Council of Common Interests (CCI). Article 154 (3) of the constitution, changed through the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, states that the CCI shall have a permanent secretariat and shall meet at least once in ninety days.

The Cabinet Division Notification stated that “in pursuance of Article 154(3) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the federal government has been pleased to establish a permanent Secretariat of the CCI with immediate effect, which shall have the status of a division.” Cabinet Division also announced approval of amendments to the Rules of Business 1973 to cover the status, reporting channel and procedure for the functioning of the secretariat. The Secretary CCI will be required to report directly to PM “in the latter’s capacity as the chairman CCI, and shall also function as Principal Accounting Officer of the Secretariat.” [12]

No consensus on Appointment of ECP Members

During the month of November, government and the opposition MPs have failed to reach a consensus on the appointment members of two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The Parliamentary Committee on Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), chaired by Dr. Shireen Mazari, MNA did not announce any results after the November 29 meeting due to failure to achieve consensus. [13]

It must be noted that two members of the EC retired on July 26, 2021, 4 months ago, and instead of initiating advanced planning ahead of their retirement, the process was started late and no consensus has been achieved to complete the required strength of a constitutional body of the ECP. Since July, the ECP has to make do with only three members including the chief election commissioner (CEC) which is the minimum number required to keep the commission functional.

SC terms commercial use of military land ‘embarrassing’

Taking up a case relating to the illegal use of cantonment board lands in Karachi, a three-member bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Chief Justice of Pakistan, and comprising Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmad and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, observed in a hearing on November 30 that lands acquired by the military for strategic purposes required had to be surrendered back to the state the moment the lands were used for commercial gains other than the defence purposes.

The bench termed the current commercial use of military lands as “embarrassing,” for both the Judiciary and the military and observed that managing cinema halls, wedding halls or huge shopping malls, petrol pumps or housing societies on military lands was not legal as those lands were not meant for commercial activities. The CJP directed Attorney General to provide a comprehensive report highlighting which cantonment land have been used for commercial purposes. The Attorney General maintained that a joint committee of the three services had been set up to identify such violations, and assured the court that a fresh report would soon be presented before the court. [14]

Further Amendments in the NAO

On November 1, the National Accountability (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021 was promulgated, which, among other changes, gives the authority of removal of NAB chair to President instead of the Supreme Judicial Council. The ordinance was laid in the National Assembly on November 8, 2021. [15]

Allegations against former CJP: IHC Issues Notices

In a ‘leaked’ affidavit that became the source of an investigative piece published in the News International, Rana Shamim, former Chief Judge of Gilgit Baltistan has alleged to be a witness to Former CJP Saqib Nisar’s direction to a High Court Judge not to release Mr. Nawaz Sharif and Ms. Maryam Nawaz Sharif on bail before the 2018 General Election. The affidavit was reportedly given under oath before the Oath Commissioner in the UK on November 10, 2021.

While Former CJP Mr. Saqib Nisar categorically denied that he had ever directed any judge in connection with any judicial order whether it pertained to Mr. Nawaz Sharif, Mr. Shehbaz Sharif, Ms. Maryam Nawaz or anyone else, Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court, Justice Athar Minallah took notice of the newspaper report and issued show-cause notices to Mr. Ansar Abbasi, Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, Mr. Amir Ghouri as well as Rana Shamim under the Contempt of Court Ordinance. [16]

In another related development on November 21, a website named Fact Focus released audio clip of Former CJP Nisar’s conversation with an unidentified man. According to the Fact Focus website, audio clip has been examined by leading forensics experts (Garret Discovery) which certifies the integrity of the audio file and stated that it is not fabricated or edited. Garret Discovery verified this claim on November 23 and stated that they could release the forensic details of the tape provided their client, Fact Focus approaches them.[17]

In the audio tape, CJP Nisar can be heard saying that “Let me be a little blunt about it. Unfortunately, here it is the institutions that dictate judgements. In this case, we will have to punish Mian sahib (Mr. Nawaz Sharif). [I] have been told ‘we have to bring Khan Sahab (Imran Khan) [into power].” Mr. Nisar goes on to add, “Punishment will have to be given.” The unidentified man, in relevance with Ms. Maryam Nawaz responds, that Ms. Maryam “doesn’t merit a sentence,” Mr. Nisar responds “You are absolutely correct.” Mr. Nisar further adds that “I talked to my friends that something should be done about this but they did not agree. The independence of the judiciary will not remain. So, let it be.” [18]

JCP recommends 3 lawyers for appointment in the IHC

Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) has recommended names of Ms. Saman Raffat Imtiaz, Mr. Arbab Mohammad Tahir and Barrister Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan for appointment as judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The names were unanimously approved in the JCP meeting headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed. Under Article 175-A of the Constitution, these names have been shared with the Parliamentary Committee for Appointment of Judges for approval.[19]

Audit Irregularities on COVID 19

A Finance Ministry report on expenditures incurred on Covid-19 by federal government on November 29 has highlighted irregularities of up to Rs. 5. 24 billion in purchases of sugar, ghee and wheat flour by Utility Stores Corporation (USC). Under the Prime Minister’s Relief Package in 2020, Rs. 10 billion was released to the USC in March 2020 to provide food items at subsidised rates to the poor; Rs. 21 Billion between December 2019 and March 2020 for procurement of five essential items through 3,989 outlets of retail utility stores. The report also highlights procurement of unfit ghee and edible oil worth Rs. 1.40 billion. [20]

Speaker National Assembly meets Foreign Dignitaries

Mr. Asad Qaiser, Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan
  1. On November 4, European Union delegation called on Speaker National Assembly, Mr. Asad Qaiser.[21]
  2. On November 12, Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Mr. Amir Khan Muttaqi, along with a high-level delegation including Acting Ministers for Industry & Commerce and Finance and Deputy Minister of Aviation, met with Speaker, National Assembly.[22]
  3. On November 19, Ambassador of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, called on the Speaker, National Assembly.[23]
  4. On November 22, United States Congressmen Mr. Gregory Meeks and Mr. Ami Bera called on Speaker, National Assembly.[24]
  5. On November 29, Speaker National Assembly, Mr. Asad Qaiser met with Mr. Mustafa Sentop, Speaker, Grand National Assembly of Turkey, in Madrid, Spain at 143rd Assembly of Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU).[25]
  6. On November 30, Speaker National Assembly, Mr. Asad Qaiser met with Mr. Ms. Sahiba Gafarova, Speaker, Milli Majlis of Republic of Azerbaijan in Madrid, Spain at 143rd Assembly of Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU).[26]

Chairman Senate meets Foreign Dignitaries

Senator Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, Chairman Senate of Pakistan
  1. On November 19, Speaker of the Council of Representatives of Bahrain, Ms. Fawzia Abdullah Yusuf Zainal, along with seven-member parliamentary delegation, called on Senator Muhammad Sadiq Sanjarani, Chairman Senate at the Parliament House, Islamabad.[27]

Interactions of COAS with Foreign Dignitaries

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff
  1. On November 5, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. Nong Rong and incoming Chinese Defence Attaché, Major General Yang Yang, called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa. [28]
  2. On November 8, Deputy Foreign Minister of Canada, Ms. Marta Morgan, called on the COAS [29]
  3. On November 10, British High Commissioner, Christian Turner, called on Chief of Army Staff at the GHQ.[30]
  4. On November 10, Mrs. Androulla Kaminara, Ambassador of the European Union (EU) called on Chief of Army Staff at the GHQ.[31]
  5. On November 12, Mr. Zamir Kabulov, Special Representative of President of the Russian Federation on Afghanistan called on Chief of Army Staff at the GHQ [32]
  6. On November 12, Mr Thomas West, United States (US) Special Representative for Afghanistan, called on COAS at the GHQ.[33]
  7. On November 19, Speaker of the Council of Representatives of Kingdom of Bahrain, Ms. Fawzia Bint Abdullah Zainal, called on COAS at GHQ.[34]
  8. On November 22, United States Congressmen Mr. Gregory Meeks and Chairman of Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia and Non-Proliferation Congressman, Mr. Ami Bera, called on COAS at GHQ.[35]
  9. On November 24, Nigel Casey, Director to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran for Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) and UK’s Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) called on COAS at GHQ.[36]
  10. On November 24, Major General Abdullah Bin Hassan Al Sulaiti, Commander Qatar Emiri Naval Force, called on COAS at GHQ.[37]
  11. On November 26, Lieutenant General Luciano Portolano, Secretary-General of Defence and National Armaments Director of Italy, called on COAS at GHQ.[38]
  12. On November 30, Major General Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Al Khalifa, Chief of Staff Bahrain National Guard (BNG), called on COAS at the GHQ[39]

PM-COAS Interactions

PM chairing the AICC meeting

Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa only met once during the month during the first meeting of the Afghanistan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC).

According to the PMO, the meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Advisor on Finance Mr. Shaukat Fayaz Tarin, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, National Security Adviser Dr. Moeed Yousaf and senior civil and military officers. [40] The meeting was not joined by Federal Minister of Defence.

Deal signed to reverse Military takeover in Sudan

On November 21, General, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok of Sudan signed a breakthrough deal to reverse military takeover.

General Al Burhan appeared at the presidential palace in Khartoum for a televised ceremony with Mr. Hamdok, who was freed from weeks of house arrest, signed a 14-point deal which officially restores the transition to civilian rule that had been affected by the October 25 coup by General Al Burhan. [41]


References

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  2. “Parliamentary Committee on National Security Briefed on Issues Of National Security, Foregin Affairs, Internal and External Threats,” National Assembly online, November 08, 2021, accessed November 25, 2021, https://na.gov.pk/en/pressrelease.php?content=103.

  3. Kashif Abbasi, “Ban on TLP revoked at Punjab government request,” Dawn online, November 8, 2021, accessed November 11, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1656690.

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  8. Nadir Guramani and Fahad Chaudhry, “Govt powers through 33 crucial bills in joint session; allows voting rights for overseas Pakistanis, use of EVMs,” Dawn online, November 17, 2021, accessed December 1, 2021, https://www.dawn.com/news/1658607.

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  11. Amir Wasim, “ECP releases another damning report on Daska by-poll,” Dawn online, November 9, 2021, accessed December 7, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1656883/ecp-releases-another-damning-report-on-daska-by-poll.

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  14. Nasir Iqbal, “SC terms commercial use of military land shameful,” Dawn online, December 1, 2021, accessed December 7, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1661212/sc-terms-commercial-use-of-military-land-shameful.

  15. Nasir Iqbal, “Govt strips Supreme Judicial Council of powers to remove NAB chief,” Dawn online, November 2, 2021, accessed November 8, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1655377/govt-strips-supreme-judicial-council-of-powers-to-remove-nab-chief.

  16. Ansar Abbasi, “Ex-CJ GB claims in signed affidavit: ‘Saqib Nisar directed not to release Nawaz, Maryam before 2018 elections’,” The News International online, November 15, 2021, accessed December 8, 2021. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/908735-ex-cjgb-claims-in-signed-affidavit-slug-saqib-nisar-directed-not-to-release-nawaz-maryam-before-2018-elections-headline.

  17. Anwar Iqbal, “Forensic firm urges permission to share tape scandal’s result,” Dawn online, November 23, 2021, accessed December 8, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1659706/forensic-firm-urges-permission-to-share-tape-scandals-result.

  18. Urooj Imran, “Former CJP Saqib Nisar says leaked audio clip about Nawaz, Maryam’s trial ‘fabricated’,” Dawn online, November 22, 2021, accessed December 8, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1659570/former-cjp-saqib-nisar-says-leaked-audio-clip-about-nawaz-maryams-trial-fabricated.

  19. Malik Asad, “CP recommends 3 lawyers as IHC judges,” Dawn online, November 24, 2021, accessed December 7, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1659922/jcp-recommends-3-lawyers-as-ihc-judges.

  20. Kalbe Ali, “Audit finds massive irregularities in Covid spending,” Dawn online, November 30, 2021, accessed December 7, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1661000/audit-finds-massive-irregularities-in-covid-spending.

  21. “Pakistan appreciates European Union stance on Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir: NA Speaker,” National Assembly of Pakistan online, November 4, 2021, accessed December 3, 2021. http://na.gov.pk/en/pressrelease.php?content=101#4616.

  22. “The Hon. Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, Mr. Asad Qaiser held a luncheon today in honor of visiting Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Amir Khan Muttaqi – November 12, 2021,” National Assembly of Pakistan online, accessed December 3, 2021. http://na.gov.pk/en/pressrelease.php?content=101#4624.

  23. “NA SPEAKER WELCOMES FORTHCOMING VISIT OF THE CHAIRMAN OF SAUDI SHOORA TO PAKISTAN IN THIRD WEEK OF DECEMBER,” National Assembly of Pakistan online, November 19, 2021, accessed December 3, 2021. http://na.gov.pk/en/pressrelease.php?content=101.

  24. “BORDER ECONOMIC ZONES ALONG THE AFGHAN BORDER TO LESSEN AFGHAN DEPENDENCY ON FOREIGN ASSISTANCE: NA SPEAKERNA SPEAKER MEETS US CONGRESSMEN MR. GREGORY MEEKS AND MR. AMI BERA,” National Assembly of Pakistan online, November 22, 2021, accessed December 3, 2021. http://na.gov.pk/en/pressrelease.php?content=101#4634.

  25. Asad [email protected], Twitter, November 29, 2021, 8:56 pm, accessed December 7, 2021, https://twitter.com/AsadQaiserPTI/status/1465348913498669058.

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  28. “COAS, Mr.Qamar Javed Bajwa at GHQ,” The News International online, November 06, 2021, accessed December 7, 2021. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/906457-chinese-envoy-defence-attache-meet-coas.

  29. “Pakistan wants long-term ties with Canada: Gen Bajwa,” Dawn online, November 09, 2021, accessed December 7, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1656885/pakistan-wants-long-term-ties-with-canada-gen-bajwa.

  30. “UK HC, EU envoy meet COAS,” The News International online, November 11, 2021, accessed December 7, 2021. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/907794-uk-hc-eu-envoy-meet-coas.

  31. “UK HC, EU envoy meet COAS,” The News International online, November 11, 2021, accessed December 7, 2021. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/907794-uk-hc-eu-envoy-meet-coas.

  32. “Mr Zamir Kabulov, Special Representative of President of the Russian Federation on Afghanistan, called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) at GHQ today,” ISPR online, November 12, 2021, accessed December 3, 2021. https://ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=6314.

  33. “Mr Thomas West, United States (US) Special Representative for Afghanistan, called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) at GHQ, today,” ISPR online, November 12, 2021, accessed December 3, 2021. https://ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=6313.

  34. “COAS, Bahrain’s speaker discuss ties, Afghan security,” Dawn online, November 20, 2021, accessed December 7, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1659120/coas-bahrains-speaker-discuss-ties-afghan-security.

  35. Syed Irfan Raza, “PM Imran calls for expanding Pak-US cooperation to stabilise Afghanistan,” Dawn online, November 23, 2021, accessed December 7, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1659721/pm-imran-calls-for-expanding-pak-us-cooperation-to-stabilise-afghanistan.

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  39. Major General Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Al Khalifa, Chief of Staff Bahrain National Guard (BNG) called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) at GHQ, today,” ISPR online, November 30, 2021, accessed December 3, 2021. https://ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=6323.

  40. “Prime Minister Imran Khan Approves Humanitarian Assistance Package For Afghanistan,” PMO online, November 22, 2021, accessed December 01, 2021, https://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=3837.

  41. “Deal signed for reinstatement of ousted Sudanese PM,” Dawn online, November 22, 2021, accessed December 7, 2021. https://www.dawn.com/news/1659477/deal-signed-for-reinstatement-of-ousted-sudanese-pm.