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America, China and ‘Absolutely Not’



“Absolutely not” are the two words that have remained talk of the town in terms of relations between Pakistan and the United States in the past few days.

Imran Yaqub Khan Profile Imran Yaqub Khan

How will the relations between the two countries go after the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan? These two words are much significant in the backdrop of Pak-US relations.

What the US is thinking after quitting Afghanistan? What will be its priorities in the region? An important statement of US President Joe Biden carries much significance in this perspective. When he was asked by a reporter regarding the US policy towards Afghanistan last Saturday, the US president said “Ask me something else and positive”. This means now the US regime isn’t only winding up its 20-year military expeditions in Afghanistan, but is also not even ready to discuss Afghanistan. But side by side the instability and violence is being feared in Afghanistan.

The Taliban are increasing their influence in various districts after the ‘silent’ departure of US forces. Where does Pakistan stand in this fast-changing environment? What our political and military leadership is thinking about it? Prime Minister Imran Khan gave a detailed visit to Gwadar- the port city of Balochistan- on Monday last and the most important thing during his trip was his speech in which he (Imran Khan) highlighted three points in a clear tone.

“India is the biggest loser in Afghanistan. The Indian regime wants to enhance its influence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US forces so that an important country in the region could become its ally to create further difficulties for Pakistan. However the premier seemed optimistic that India isn’t getting “desired’ results while being staying in India. He further said in his speech that the Biden administration is perplexed over current situation in Afghanistan. If President Biden’s statement has to be kept in mind the situation is the same as depicted by the premier. The way the US emptied the biggest airbase of Bigram overnight is an indication that, “we are leaving and you deal the situation on your own”.

Third important point in the PM’s speech was a hint to resume negotiations with the disgruntled elements in Balochistan and declare Gwadar a focal point of Pakistan in future. The talks with miscreants mean to bring peace to Balochistan. The ‘absolute’ peace means more economic activities, and opportunities for businesses and jobs. Eventually Balochistan will start competing with other provinces. The Gwadar’s importance carries much weight in this context. Gwadar’s development and peace in Balochistan are equally important for both Pakistan and China.

Where Prime Minister Imran Khan said “absolutely not” to the US there he has taken principled stand during his interviews and statements that Pakistan will side with China. According to him, the US and the western countries could not create rife in the Sino-Pak bond even by pressuring through certain means. In this scenario, Gwadar is once again in news and any progress on CPEC simply means China wants to promote trade activities in the region and ultimately China’s influence would grow further. China is ready to play its important role in Afghanistan after the US departure. With the advancement of the Taliban a question arises if they (Taliban) are capable of bridging the gap of balance of power in Afghanistan? Another question comes to minds what role China can play in Afghanistan especially when the Chinese government follows the policy of non-interference.

China is ready to cooperate with the Taliban in case violence grows in the war-torn country and disturb Afghan border with China. China is already in contact with the Taliban in this regard. The international media is keeping an eye on what China is thinking about it and what is its next move? Recent news published in the Financial Times quoted an Indian official as having said China after extending cooperation to the Taliban wants to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure in Afghanistan. As Pakistan is the most important ally in the region, China will use Pakistan for funding to the Taliban in this regard.

Another diplomat claimed in the same story that China would extend help to the Taliban on Pakistan’s request. China in return would require that Taliban discontinue their relations with the militants group- China calls it Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement- present along the Chinese border with Afghanistan. According to the United Nations’ Security Council the group has 3,500 fighters and some of them are present in Afghanistan close to China’s border. The UN and the US enlisted the movement in the list of terrorist organizations in 2002, but last year the US had removed it from the said list.

China blames the movement for committing anti-state activities in Sinkiang province and has already stressed upon the Central Asian Republics (CARs) like Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan to act against the militant group. In May this year the Chinese Foreign Minister had made it clear to the foreign ministers of CARs to act against three-pronged powers of extremists, terrorists and separatists.

The major objective behind this action is to protect the Silk Route (that China says is their belt and Road initiative). The project envisioned by Chinese president Xi Jinping aims to build infrastructure in countries and creating Chinese influence over there.

According to analysts, by ensuring stability in Afghanistan China wishes to protect Belt and Road Initiative projects in Pakistan and CARs and aims to open corridors of investments in Afghanistan. China has always adopted cautious approach towards sending its army outside, but it can become the part of peace-keeping missions in Afghanistan if resolutions of the United Nations are implemented.

Instability in Afghanistan and rise of extremism are disturbing factors for China as for as situation in Sinkiang is concerned. Keeping in view its economic interests, it will be difficult for China to keep itself aloof of the political and security situation in the region. The US is leaving Afghanistan with mere promises of continuing with air assistance. Here another question arises if stable Afghanistan is crucial for China, is isn’t the same for the US?  


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Two arrested in Avastin injection scam: Minister  

Dr. Javed Akram emphasizes that there will be no leniency shown towards any suspects involved in the case.

Published by Hussnain Bhutta



Lahore: Interim Punjab Health Minister Dr. Javed Akram disclosed on Wednesday that two individuals were apprehended in connection with the Avastin injection scandal.

Dr. Javed Akram emphasized that there would be no leniency shown towards any suspects involved in the case.

The Avastin injection issue came to light when numerous diabetic patients in Lahore, Kasur, and Jhang districts were administered these injections to treat retinal damage, but instead, they developed severe infections. This alarming situation initially emerged with reported cases of adverse reactions to the drug in Kasur district.

The medical professionals revealed that the affected patients suffered from endophthalmitis, a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the inner eye coatings, leading to vision loss.

The authorities reported that approximately 68 patients in the province experienced significant vision impairment since the scam came to light. In response, the Punjab government placed an indefinite ban on the use of the eye drug across the province and also launched a data collection portal to gather information on affected patients and provide them with necessary treatment.

A comprehensive investigation was currently underway to determine the key factors contributing to vision loss among patients who received the injection in Punjab.

During a media briefing on Wednesday, the provincial health minister informed journalists about the arrest of two suspects linked to the injection scam. He assured the public that the incident was being thoroughly investigated from all angles, with a commitment to bringing all those involved in the scam to justice.

Dr. Akram asserted that the Punjab government was not under any external pressure during this investigation. He further revealed that surgeries were performed on 15 out of the 68 affected patients, and authorities were dedicated to restoring the vision of these individuals. Besides it, all outlets selling the adulterated eye drug were sealed.

In a previous development, the Board of Commissioners of the Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC) instructed senior management to conduct special inspections of hospitals where cases of eye infections resulted from the administration of Avastin injections to patients.

These directives were issued during an emergency meeting of the PHC Board of Commissioners chaired by retired Justice Muhammad Bilal Khan. A representative of the PHC also provided an update on the meeting convened by both interim provincial health ministers, Prof. Javed Akram and Dr. Jamal Nasir.







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ECP releases preliminary delimitation lists

The publication of preliminary constituencies is set to span 30 days, commencing from September 27 and concluding on October 26.

Published by Hussnain Bhutta



Islamabad:  The preliminary delimitation lists were released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday, marking a significant step in the electoral process.

In a statement released by the ECP, it was disclosed that the preliminary delimitation report, in conjunction with Form 5 lists and initial delimitation maps, has been made accessible on the commission's official website.

The publication of preliminary constituencies is set to span 30 days, commencing from September 27 and concluding on October 26.

During this period, voters of the respective constituencies are invited to submit objections or representations regarding the preliminary constituencies.

Originally, the ECP had outlined an initial delimitation schedule on August 17, with plans to finalize the initial delimitation process on October 7 and subsequently release preliminary delimitation proposals and accompanying reports on October 9. However, on September 1, the ECP announced a 14-day compression of the delimitation timeline, with the aim of concluding the process by November 30 instead of the initially planned December 14 date.

This development paves the way for the Election Commission to make a decision on the scheduling of elections, tentatively set for the last week of January. The specific election date has yet to be officially announced.

The report also detailed the methodology employed by the ECP in delimiting national and provincial assembly seats. It explained that the population of each province or area was divided by the total number of general seats, resulting in the average population per National Assembly seat.

A similar process was applied to provincial assembly seats, with fractions exceeding 0.5 being considered as one seat, and fractions below 0.5 disregarded.

Furthermore, the report acknowledged the unique situation in Balochistan, where multiple districts were amalgamated to form a single seat. This approach was also utilized in other provinces as needed, with district shares determined by dividing the district's population by the quota per seat for the National or Provincial Assembly, as applicable.

According to the report's findings, Punjab has the highest number of seats in the National Assembly, followed by Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Islamabad. Punjab, with a population of 127.6 million, was allocated 141 National Assembly seats, each constituency based on a quota of 905,595. The Punjab Assembly was assigned 297 seats, with a quota of 429,929 per seat.

In Sindh, 61 National Assembly seats were designated for a population of 55.6 million, with a quota of 913,052 per seat. The Sindh Assembly had 130 seats, each with a quota of 428,432.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with a population of 40.8 million, was granted 45 National Assembly seats, each with a quota of 907,913. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly was allotted 115 seats, with a quota of 355,270.

Balochistan, with a population of 14.8 million, was allocated 16 National Assembly seats, and each constituency was divided based on a quota of 930,900. The provincial assembly of Balochistan comprised 51 seats, with each seat divided based on a quota of 292,047.

Meanwhile, Islamabad, the federal capital, with a population of 2.3 million, was allocated 3 seats, and each seat's quota was determined to be 787,954.

Last week, the ECP announced that the general elections in Pakistan would be held in the last week of January 2024. The electoral body also indicated that the final list of constituencies would be published on November 30, following the consideration of objections and suggestions related to the delimitation.

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New Delimitations: Number game for PM election changed

With the Election Commission's issuance of the updated constituency delimitations, the threshold for electing a new Prime Minister has been adjusted to require 169 votes.

Published by Hussnain Bhutta



Islamabad: In the wake of the recently implemented constituency delimitations, there have been significant alterations in the criteria for selecting the Prime Minister in Pakistan.

With the Election Commission's issuance of the updated constituency delimitations, the threshold for electing a new Prime Minister has been adjusted to require 169 votes. This is a notable shift from the previous requirement of 172 votes under the former constituency boundaries.

The total number of seats in the National Assembly has seen an increase to 266, including 60 seats reserved for women. Consequently, the total count of seats in the National Assembly has now reached 326.

It's worth highlighting that the Election Commission has released an exhaustive preliminary list detailing the new constituency delimitations, providing comprehensive information regarding constituencies for both the national and provincial assemblies. These changes in electoral boundaries are expected to influence the dynamics of the upcoming political landscape.

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