Ten Bangladesh militants are condemned to death
A court in Bangladesh has sentenced 10 Islamist militants to death for assisting a suicide bombing in 2005 which killed eight people near a courthouse in the town of Gazipur. Police at the time described it as the country’s first suicide bombing.
The condemned men, all members of the banned JMB militant group, showed no remorse after a judge sentenced them in a crowded Dhaka courtroom.
How a virulent Pakistani terrorist group is trying to annihilate an ethnic rival–and why we should be worried
Abdul Amir (as we’ll call him), a chemistry teacher in Quetta, Pakistan, was taking an afternoon nap on Feb. 16 when his house began to shake and the earth let out an almighty roar. His mother and sisters started screaming and ran out of the house, but by the time they gathered in the street, the noise had already stopped. He climbed to the roof to get a better view of what happened and saw a thick cloud of bright white smoke, a mile south, suspended above the market place where his students would be buying snacks after their weekend English classes. He rushed back down to the ground, started his motorcycle and took off toward ground zero, knowing all the while that this was foolish – during a bombing five weeks before, the people who came to help were killed by a second explosion.
Still he raced through the streets, swerving around people running away from the bomb, finally arriving at a scene even worse even than he’d feared. The blast had been so powerful that the market hadn’t been destroyed so much as it had been deleted, as had the people shopping there and those in buildings nearby. Everything within 100 meters was simply flattened, and all that remained were the metal skeletons of a few flaming vehicles and the chemical smell of synthetic materials burning. Abdul would find more than fifty of his students were injured. One of his favorite students would die from her wounds six days later.
WASHINGTON – (Reuters) – U.S. citizens should avoid travel to Pakistan, the State Department said on Thursday, in a fresh warning that follows numerous protests, demonstrations and rallies in Pakistan that U.S. officials said are likely to continue.
Officials upgraded their ongoing caution about the travel risks in Pakistan, explicitly advising Americans to put off any non-essential travel to the country. They also “strongly urged” those who are already there to avoid protests and large gatherings.
The State Department said the presence of al Qaeda, Taliban elements, and “indigenous militant sectarian groups poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan.”
By DECLAN WALSH and ERIC SCHMITT
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani officials reacted cautiously on Friday to news that the United States had designated the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network as a terrorist group, allaying fears that the move could drive a fresh wedge between the two uneasy allies.
The designation order, signed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Brunei before heading to Russia for a conference, ended two years of debate inside the Obama administration about the merits of formally ostracizing a powerful element of the Afghan insurgency that American officials say has uncomfortably close ties to Pakistan.
Within hours of the designation, American officials in Washington were seeking to play down worries that it could stymie peace talks with the Taliban or lead to the designation of Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism.
In the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, the designation received a studiously muted reception.
Pakistan’s 65-year history of missed opportunities seized by other rapidly developing nations like Korea, Turkey, etc, tainted by military coups, political infighting and a form of crony capitalism that has stifled its economy were enough of the destablisers, and when it seemed like it could not go any worse, the cat dragged in the leviathan of religious and ethnic terrorism. The barbaric acts of cruelty against Christians, Ahmedis and in particular Shiites this country has witnessed over the past few years, all in the name of religion and God, can bring the likes of Ivan the Terrible and Attila the Hun to tears.
Literati and commentators blame the former military dictator General Ziaul Haq for making it a state policy to fund and arm Wahabi groups in the 1980s. It is an established fact that the general used these organisations primarily against the Shiites at the behest of the state financier, Saudi Arabia. Shiites had natural sympathies with Iran because of religious and emotional proximity and there was no doubt that Saudi Arabia was supporting Wahabi groups through General Zia to kill Iran’s support in Pakistan, and hence Pakistan became a battleground for the war between two states striving for regional hegemony. In retrospect, this war did not actually start in the 1980s as per the famous Indian writer, M J Akbar. He states the animosity between the Sunni majority and the Shia minority in the subcontinent dates back to the Mughal era where the Mughal Emperor Humayun became a converted Shiite when he returned from Iran along with Shia preachers, which resulted in a mass conversion of Hindus to Shiite Islam. In later years, Aurangzeb persecuted Shiites, who by that time had grown in numbers. In short, this animosity has always been embedded in the very fabric of the subcontinent for hundreds of years, but always remained confined to discussions and dialogues among the religious clergy, popularly known as ‘manazara’, and were never militant.
Buddhists Behaving Badly – What Zealotry is Doing to Sri Lanka
By: William McGowan
In Sri Lanka last September, a Sinhalese mob led by some 100 Buddhist monks demolished a Muslim shrine in the ancient city of Anuradhapura. As the crowd waved Buddhist colors, gold and red, a monk set a green Muslim flag on fire. The monks claimed that the shrine was on land that had been given to the Sinhalese 2,000 years ago — an allusion to their proprietary right over the entire island nation, as inscribed in ancient religious texts.
The Anuradhapura attack was not the only recent incident of Buddhists behaving badly in Sri Lanka. In April, monks led nearly 2,000 Sinhalese Buddhists in a march against a mosque in Dambulla, a holy city where Sinhalese kings are believed to have taken refuge from southern Indian invaders in a vast network of caves almost two millennia ago. The highly charged — but largely symbolic — attack marked a “historic day,” a monk who led the assault told the crowd, “a victory for those who love the [Sinhala] race, have Sinhala blood, and are Buddhists.”
Such chauvinism is at odds with Western preconceptions of Buddhism — a religion that emphasizes nonviolence and nonattachment — but is in keeping with Sri Lanka’s religious history. Militant Buddhism there has its roots in an ancient narrative called the Mahavamsa (Great Chronicle), which was composed by monks in the sixth century. According to the Mahavamsa, the Buddha foresaw the demise of Buddhism in India but saw a bright future for it in Sri Lanka. “In Lanka, O Lord of Gods, shall my religion be established and flourish,” he said. The Sinhalese take this as a sign that they are the Buddha’s chosen people, commanded to “preserve and protect” Buddhism in its most pristine form. According to myth, a young Sinhalese prince in the second century BC armed himself with a spear tipped with a relic of the Buddha and led a column of 500 monks to vanquish Tamil invaders. In addition to defending his kingdom from mortal peril, the prince’s victory legitimized religious violence as a means for national survival.
A Mafia in FATA: Haqqanis and Drones
By Myra MacDonald
It took author Gretchen Peters two years working with a team of researchers to compile a detailed report on the Haqqani network. Published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, it is a comprehensive study of the Haqqani’s business interests in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Gulf, defining them as much as a criminal mafia as an Afghan militant group. It took me an hour to read it through. Yet when I tweeted a link to the report with the suggestion those with strong views on drones should read it – the Haqqanis’ base in North Waziristan in Pakistan’s tribal areas has been the primary target of U.S. drone strikes – the answers came within minutes. “I assume u probably never met a minor or a woman who lost the head of the family in drone attack as ‘colateral dmg,” said the first response.
The bodies of nine Taliban fighters, who slipped over the border and attacked a Nato convoy in Afghanistan, have been returned to Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area for burial. They were part of a 50-member group of fighters loyal to militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur.
Many vehicles were torched in the attack on the convoy in Afghanistan’s Khost province two weeeks ago. But the fighters were killed in a Nato air raid that followed the attack. Residents in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, told the BBC that the dead fighters were between 15 and 25 years old and were from the area.
Pot calls Kettle Black – Pakistan lodged a protest with NATO and Afghan forces, accusing them of failing to act against militant safe havens in Afghanistan after a cross-border attack killed 13 Pakistani troops
Pakistan military protests with NATO and Afghan forces over cross-border attack
By Jibran Ahmad
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistan lodged a protest with NATO and Afghan forces on Monday, accusing them of failing to act against militant safe havens in Afghanistan after a cross-border attack killed 13 Pakistani troops, a military official said.
The move is likely to intensify tensions between troubled allies Islamabad and Washington, currently involved in difficult talks to repair ties.
More than 100 militants based in Afghanistan’s Kunar province entered Pakistan and attacked a military patrol on Sunday, the military official said. Fourteen militants and six soldiers were killed in the skirmish.
Seven Pakistani soldiers were beheaded by militants after the clash and four were still missing, the official said.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the Afghan deputy head of mission in Islamabad was summoned and presented with a “strong protest”.
The Malakand faction of the Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility, and threatened more attacks.
“Our fight will continue until the establishment of sharia law in Pakistan … We will fight whoever tries to stand in our way,” Sirajuddin Ahmad, the faction’s spokesman, told Reuters.
Ahmad claimed the group had killed 17 Pakistani soldiers.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said it was aware of the report, but had no information.
Fazlullah Wahidi, governor of Kumar province, said militants were based in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. “We don’t have any information about militants crossing the border from Afghanistan to attack troops in Pakistan,” he told Reuters.
The Malakand, or Swat, Taliban are led by Maulvi Fazlullah, who was the Pakistan Taliban leader in the Swat Valley, about 100 miles northwest of Islamabad, before a 2009 army offensive forced him to flee.
Also known as FM Mullah for his fiery radio broadcasts, he regrouped in Afghanistan and established strongholds, according to the Pakistan military.
Fazlullah re-emerged as a threat last year, when his fighters conducted cross-border raids that killed around 100 Pakistani security forces, angering Pakistan, which faces threats from multiple militant groups.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Four Pakistani men charged with terrorism-related offenses for allegedly helping failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad were acquitted in a Rawalpindi court Saturday, their lawyer said.
The men, Faisal Abbasi, Muhammad Shahid Husain, Muhammad Shoaib Mughal and Humbal Akhtar, had been accused of arranging meetings between Shahzad and top Pakistani Taliban leaders, and sending him money to help prepare the attack. Their lawyer, Malik Imran Safdar, said an antiterrorism court in Rawalpindi found that prosecutors failed to prove their case and released the men.
Two other men initially arrested along with the four others were released previously.
Shahzad, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty to attempting to detonate a sport utility vehicle filled with propane tanks and fertilizer in Times Square on May 1, 2010. The botched bombing marked the first time the Pakistani Taliban had tried to engineer an attack outside its strongholds in the tribal regions of western Pakistan along the Afghan border.
The son of a retired vice air marshal in the Pakistani air force, Shahzad was a financial analyst living in a Connecticut suburb when he became radicalized and went to Pakistan’s tribal areas for terrorist training. At one of his court hearings in New York, he told a judge that he viewed himself as a “Muslim soldier.”
When the Pakistanis were arrested after the failed bombing, Islamabad police described them as relatively young, middle-class men who had been close friends with Shahzad for several years. At the time, police said they facilitated Shahzad’s training at Taliban boot camps in the tribal areas and arranged for him to meet with Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mahsud. They also were accused of sending Shahzad $13,000 when he began to run short of money in the U.S. while readying the bombing attack.
Islamabad police claimed that the men had close links to Mahsud and leaders of the Pakistani Taliban, a homegrown militant group with strong ties to the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Courtesy: Los Angeles Times
Book Review: Mohajir Militancy in Pakistan
By Kausar S.K.
This is a captivating book, but not an easy read for residents of Karachi, who live in close proximity with the MQM and cannot escape the culture of violence fostered by the party. Whether they love or hate the MQM, the reality of the party’s ethos cannot be denied. And no matter which way you look at it, no matter how much MQM apologists may justify militant ways, a killer is a killer.
Furthermore, when the party holds a city hostage by bloodshed and destruction under the guise of fighting for human rights, it is a downright insult to people’s intelligence.
The antipathy felt for the MQM’s terror tactics by organisations and people desirous of social change through non-violent democratic processes is matched by their abhorrence for all perpetrators of violence, whether they inflict it in the name of religion, or in the name of nationalism. Nonetheless, fear and aversion aside, there are many who would like to understand how so many young men get sucked into a system that so flagrantly defies the law, that disregards basic human tenets and which has, apparently, no value for life.
A fine anthropological study by Nichola Khan, a lecturer at Brighton University, is now available that can perhaps answer these questions. We learn through Khan’s book, that the killers are not psychopaths – they have made choices, and then proceed to follow instructions handed down to them. The men engaged in such activities talk of their experiences clinically, describe their acts of violence in graphic detail, and discuss what motivated them to adopt their chosen paths. The stories of their very personal pathways to violence are eye-openers, and often very sad. They are not mechanical beasts, and often their disillusionment with their party leadership can be sensed. Yet, they continue on their course. That such people can be amidst us – for they have not been apprehended, tried or punished for their crimes, is eerie – is a cold hard reality in Pakistan today.
Nichola Khan’s book, Mohajir Militancy in Pakistan: Violence and Transformation in the Karachi Conflict provides a vivid glimpse into the lives of four MQM killers, and one of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). There is also a brief account of a woman, a widow, and the induction of her two sons into the MQM’s militant cadres. The book neither comments on, nor judges the various characters, and only describes what they did and how they came to do so. The author analyses some of the actions by invoking several researchers of similar violence in other countries – Northern Ireland, Spain and India, to name a few. The purpose is not to compare acts and forms of violence, but to examine how various researchers explain the many possible causes underlying violence. This is a scholarly enterprise and the 20 pages of reference material is ample proof of the sincere effort made by the writer to lay bare a very complex phenomenon. In doing so, the many determinants of violence come to light. Exploring the life of some MQM militants, the writer states:
“….. whilst diverse social contexts shaped the process of acquiring adult autonomy for militants, reproducing dominant-gender hierarchies of dominance, militancy also represented a particularistic disinvestment of parental values and societal conventions. But why, in a situation of large-scale political mobilisation, did only some men become notorious killers? How do the highly disciplined male-dominated cultural aspects of political violence bear on the gendered dynamic of boys’ relations in the family, particularly with fathers?”
She then reflects:
“From Anna Freud to Erikson, theorists of adolescence have stressed the establishment of emotional autonomy and independence from parents as a central feature, whilst also acknowledging the influence of earlier intra-psychic dynamics in the formation of adult identities, and the role of history and society in determining the duration and modalities of social adolescence.”
In her profiles of the MQM militants – young men of modest backgrounds, inspired by the party’s message to address the unfairness experienced/observed by the Mohajirs – one can perhaps understand to some degree, where the rage stems from. But would this explain or justify the wide-scale murders committed by the party cadres, the mayhem engendered and the petty crime indulged in, with poor Mohajirs – the people who the MQM claim to champion the cause of – often being the victims?
Thus, while those readers of Nichola Khan’s book who live in Karachi and have been exposed to the many bouts of violence unleashed by the MQM on their city, may begin to get a glimmer of understanding of the genesis of the party and the complexion of its cadres, it is unlikely to dislodge their contempt for the violence perpetrated by the party.
The underlying causes of the making of a killer are not easy to establish, especially among those who are the direct or indirect victims of violence. A purely intellectual reaction is perhaps possible only when the violence has abated, and even if not forgotten, receded in memory. Pakistanis may find it easier to understand the ruthless killings in other conflict-ridden countries, but to clinically understand and discuss the killings within Pakistan would be a monumental task.
All that notwithstanding, Nichola Khan’s exposé of the thoughts and feelings of some killers in their own words is eye-opening.
Says one killer: “By 1997, life was unbearable. Many loyalists died. There was immense government pressure to eliminate us. Many top-class boys were martyred. I left for South Africa on fake papers. My friends remained, but I built a good business there. Why stay and be killed?”
Says another young MQM man: “Nobody murders for nothing. Circumstances forced us… After my brothers and brother-in-laws were killed in 1996, I fled to Bangkok. On my return in 1998, the police remanded me for 14 days. They registered 33 false murders against me. Those I had committed, they weren’t aware of ! I received bail and fled to Bangkok. I’m keen to forget that life.”
There are also narratives of how a pregnant woman was decapitated in her house and how workers sleeping on Karachi footpaths were gunned down. Orders were given, received, and acted upon, but the book does not describe the source of these orders. There is also an account of a ‘friendship’ between two rival militants – one from the MQM and the other from the Jamat-e-Islami. This relationship reveals a human dimension that is retained through the madness, despite the gross inhumanity engendered by the men’s actions. What sense/meaning can be derived from this reality? The reader is left to draw his/her own conclusions.
This book is a ‘must read’ for all those keen to understand the MQM. But it would perhaps be most beneficial for MQM supporters and workers, not least because the book lays bare the suffering that violence inflicts on the militants themselves and their families.
Courtesy: News Line Magazine
ON the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death last week, Pakistan was the only Muslim country in which hundreds of demonstrators gathered to show solidarity with the dead terrorist figurehead.
Yet rather than asking tough questions about how Bin Laden had managed to live unmolested in Pakistan for years, the Pakistani Supreme Court instead chose to punish the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, by charging him with contempt for failing to carry out the court’s own partisan agenda - in this case, pressuring the Swiss government to reopen a decades-old corruption investigation of President Asif Ali Zardari. (Never mind that Swiss officials say they are unlikely to revisit the charges.)
In handing down the decision, one justice chose to paraphrase the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran. He held forth in a long appeal to religious-nationalist sentiment that began with the line, “Pity the nation that achieves nationhood in the name of a religion but pays little heed to truth, righteousness and accountability, which are the essence of every religion.”
That a Supreme Court justice would cite poetry instead of law while sentencing an elected leader on questionable charges reflects Pakistan’s deep state of denial about its true national priorities at a time when the country is threatened by religious extremism and terrorism.
Today, Pakistan is polarized between those who envision a modern, pluralist country and those who condone violence against minorities and terrorism in the name of Islam. Many are caught in the middle; they support the pluralist vision but dislike the politicians espousing it.
Meanwhile, an elephant in the room remains. We still don’t know who enabled Bin Laden to live freely in Pakistan. Documents found on computers in his compound offer no direct evidence of support from Pakistan’s government, army or intelligence services. But even if Bin Laden relied on a private support network, our courts should be focused on identifying, arresting and prosecuting the individuals who helped him. Unfortunately, their priorities seem to lie elsewhere.
In Pakistan, most of the debate about Bin Laden has centered on how and why America violated Pakistan’s sovereignty by unilaterally carrying out an operation to kill him. There has been little discussion about whether the presence of the world’s most-wanted terrorist in a garrison town filled with army officers was itself a threat to the sovereignty and security of Pakistan.
Pakistanis are right to see themselves as victims of terrorism and to be offended by American unilateralism in dealing with it. Last year alone, 4,447 people were killed in 476 major terrorist attacks. Over the last decade, thousands of soldiers and law enforcement officers have died fighting terrorists – both homegrown, and those inspired by Al Qaeda’s nihilist ideology.
But if anything, the reaction should be to gear up and fight jihadist ideology and those who perpetrate terrorist acts in its name; they remain the gravest threat to Pakistan’s stability. Instead, our national discourse has been hijacked by those seeking to deflect attention from militant Islamic extremism.
The national mind-set that condones this sort of extremism was cultivated and encouraged under the military dictatorships of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq from 1977 to 1988 and Gen. Pervez Musharraf from 1999 to 2008. A whole generation of Pakistanis has grown up with textbooks that conflate Pakistani nationalism with Islamist exclusivism.
Anti-Western sentiment and a sense of collective victimhood were cultivated as a substitute for serious debate on social or economic policy. Militant groups were given free rein, originally with American support, to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and later became an instrument of Pakistani regional influence there and in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
Pakistan’s return to democracy, after the elections of 2008, offered hope. But the elected government has since been hobbled by domestic political infighting and judicial activism on every issue except extremism and terrorism.
Before Mr. Musharraf was ousted, a populist lawyers’ movement successfully challenged his firing of Supreme Court justices. The lawyers’ willingness to confront Mr. Musharraf in his last days raised hopes of a new era. But over the last four years, the Court has spent most of its energy trying to dislodge the government by insisting on reopening cases of alleged corruption from the 1990s. During the same period, no significant terrorist leader has been convicted, and many have been set free by judges who overtly sympathize with their ideology.
This has happened because the lawyers’ movement split into two factions after Mr. Musharraf’s fall: those emphasizing the rule of law and those seeking to use the judiciary as a rival to elected leaders.
Asma Jahangir, who helped lead the lawyers’ movement, has become a critic of the courts, accusing them of overstepping their constitutional mandate and falling under the influence of the security establishment. And Aitzaz Ahsan, who represented the Supreme Court’s chief justice during the lawyers’ showdown with Mr. Musharraf, is now Prime Minister Gilani’s lawyer in the contempt-of-court case – a clear indication of the political realignment that has taken place.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s raucous media, whose hard-won freedom is crucial for the success of democracy, has done little to help generate support for eliminating extremism and fighting terrorism. The Supreme Court, conservative opposition parties and the news media insist that confronting alleged incompetence and corruption in the current government is more important than turning Pakistan away from Islamist radicalism.
By Saud Mehsud, BANNU, Pakistan
(Reuters) – An Islamist militant commander who helped plan an assault on a Pakistani jail on Sunday which freed nearly 400 prisoners said his group had inside information.
Pakistan’s Taliban movement, which is close to al Qaeda, said it was behind the brazen assault by militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 assault rifles.
A police official said most of those who escaped from the jail in the northwestern town of Bannu were militants, including one on death row for trying to assassinate former president Pervez Musharraf.
“We had maps of the area and we had complete maps and plans of the jail as well,” the commander, a senior member of the Taliban, told Reuters.
“All I have to say is we have people who support us in Bannu. It was with their support that this operation was successful.” ….
Read more » Reuters
U.S.-Pakistan Relationship Hits New Low
By: Walter Russell Mead’s Blog
The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is fraught in the best of times, but we may be approaching a new low. Pakistani politicians of all stripes have united in denouncing the $10 million dollar U.S. bounty on Hafiz Saeed, the man behind the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, who is currently living openly in Pakistan. Pakistan’s refusal to cooperate in turning over Saeed is the latest sign that the already chilly U.S.-Pakistan relationship is beginning to freeze over.
As we Pakistanis heap more ridicule on the American action to place a bounty on Hafiz Saeed’s head, derisively pointing out to the world how he is living openly in known residences; attending rallies in the open; addressing announced press conferences, and how he is thumbing his nose at his adversaries, we lose sight of the fact that (most of) the world is not on the same page as us.
No matter what defence we trot out: there is no evidence that he is a terrorist, the Lahore High Court having given him a clean chit; he heads a charity, the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), and not a militant group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT); that he has even asked the United Nations to strike the JuD off the terrorist organisations list, and so and so forth, we lose complete sight of the fact that the United States is a power that can exert its influence anywhere in the world.
Asian Human Rights Commission claim girl was lured on shopping trip by friend before she was kidnapped.
Abductors drove her 120 miles before raping her, then forced her to sign marriage papers
Victim managed to escape eight months later, but police refuse to prosecute rapists because they are tied to militant Islam group
By Wil Longbottom
A 12-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped and repeatedly raped for eight months in Pakistan by a man who then falsified marriage documents with her, it was claimed today.
The girl was lured on a shopping trip in Lahore by a friend, before she was driven 120 miles to Tandianwalla and raped by the friend’s uncle in January this year.
Two days later, she was forced to sign papers consenting to marriage with the man and beaten for refusing to convert from Christianity to Islam.
She was then held against her will for eight months, before managing to escape and contact her family.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has said the rapists have not been arrested because of their affiliation with a militant Muslim organisation – the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.
It claims the police have refused to order a medical check-up on the girl, and have warned her parents that it would be better for them to hand over the girl to her ‘legal’ husband or a criminal case would be filed against them.
An investigation into the kidnapping found the girl’s father reported her disappearance in January and made complaints against her abductors, but police took no action for eight months.
Last month, the girl – who has not been named for legal reasons – called her family from Tandianwalla and told them she had been abducted, but had escaped and was hiding at a bus stop.
The girl’s parents travelled to the town and rescued her, before taking her to a local magistrate to give a statement.
The rapists then contacted the police through their religious group and produced a marriage certificate that claimed to show one of them was married to the 12-year-old.
As a result of their complaint, the Christian family has gone into hiding as members of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba are searching for them.
Al Qaeda and its apologists
By Raza Rumi
The new al Qaeda chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri in his new video statement has urged the people of Pakistan to overthrow the “corrupt” government in Islamabad. Interestingly, he has also asked the people to rise against the Pakistan Army, which has been fighting a battle against some extremist groups in the north west of the country. Al Qaeda has been making such desperate calls for a decade now. But the worrying part is that the message — or its operative part — has gained currency in many middle class Pakistanis. Despite the crackdown, Hizbut Tahreer (HuT) continues to operate like several other militant groups. The extent of its advocacy for overthrowing the generals and the politicians is such that a HuT affiliated senior army official is on trial these days.
But these trials and military interventions are pointless when Islamabad, virtually a security zone, displays HuT posters and stickers almost everywhere. Why are the activists not tracked down and why do the government and the all-powerful intelligence agencies allow proliferation of such propaganda? A partial explanation is that elements of the state are also steeped in this a similar mindset. It is an established fact that the composition of the officers’ corps in the army and civilian bureaucracy is overwhelmingly middle class.
In his latest statement, again al-Zawahiri has mentioned the 70-year-old American aid worker Dr Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped in August 2011 from Lahore. The message from al Qaeda is that Weinstein will not be released until their demands are met. Among others, a key demand is the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist sentenced by the US courts and currently languishing in an American prison. Ms Aafia’s story is still incomplete and there are competing claims over her role in perpetrating ‘terrorism’ as well as her innocence. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
The ignored Baloch
By: Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad
As always, too little too late
Rehman Malik has announced the withdrawal of cases against the Baloch militant leaders driven to the mountains or forced into exile by what they call the brutality of the security forces. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani wants to convene an All Parties Conference on Balochistan.
Had these cases been withdrawn four years back and a genuine reconciliation process initiated, this could have led to talks and arrested the situation from reaching a point of no return.
There was enough goodwill in Balochistan for the PPP-led government when it took over in 2008. There were also hopes that parliament would act forcefully and the courts would exert their authority to end the atrocities initiated by the Musharraf regime.
The PPP government simply failed to pursue the peace process meaningfully. Instead, it willingly agreed to follow the policy being pursued under Musharraf. This meant continuing the military-cum-FC operations in Balochistan that displaced thousands of people, allowing forced disappearances and the torture, killing and dumping of the disfigured corpses on roadside.
In June 2008, Senator Sanauallah Baloch who had returned from exile after the restoration of democracy resigned from the House after a speech that moved the entire Senate. Soon after Baloch leaders rejected the move by the government for an All Parties Conference. They instead demanded direct talks on issues highlighted by leaders like Akhtar Mengal that included end to operations in the province, tracing persons forcibly taken away and the ownership of Balochistabn’s resources by the Balochis.
Month after month, there were peaceful protests all over Balochistan to press for their demands. There were calls by nationalist parties for shutter down closures, hunger strikes, and hoisting of black flags. Baloch representatives in parliament underlined the dangers if no measures were taken to improve the situation. Year after year, the government continued to look the other way.
Raisani complained of being powerless and accused FC of running a parallel government that was harming the process of reconciliation. Gilani, however, failed to take any notice as the federal government had decided to follow the policy formulated under Musharraf. It was willing, as before, to bribe the tribal leaders in the provincial assembly and offer crumbs to the population. It was not willing to concede what Baloch considered their rights.
Editor’s note: In the following rare op-ed, in fact first by any Pakistani columnist on the Kurram massacre (17 Feb 2012), Dr. Mohammad Taqi highlights that the catastrophe in Kurram Bazaar of Parachinar did not end just with the bombing by a Haqqani Taliban footsoldier. The paramilitary forces (FC) deployed there then attempted to crush the protestors agitating against the militant-military connivance with live ammunition, killing at least 6 more Shias. Dr. Taqi’s column is also a polite reminder to human rights organizations, politicians and journalists (columnists, anchors etc) who remain disturbingly silent on the ongoing target killing of Shia Muslims in Pakistan.
Read more » LUBP
GIVEN the scale of radicalisation across Pakistan, it is clear that methods other than military strategy must be brought into play to quell it. The Pakistan Army set up de-radicalisation centres to provide interventions to those deemed ‘radicals’ – mainly persons detained in conflict zones. But, as editorialised by this newspaper last month, there are a number of points of concern, including the fact that the public has no idea about the details of the programmes. What do they entail, what process is followed or expertise offered – and how are ‘radicals’ delineated from ordinary citizens? For example, has it been conclusively proved that those in de-radicalisation centres were involved in militant or extremist activities? Now, it has come to light that the programmes have not been working. On Thursday, an official of the Pakistan Army’s judge advocate general branch told the Peshawar High Court that despite having been through the de-radicalisation process, several militants from Swat had rejoined militant groups.
Radicalisation is an ideological state of mind, and not something empirical of which a person can reliably be said to have been cleansed. No doubt there are people who were absorbed by militant outfits involuntarily and would welcome rehabilitation. But militancy in Pakistan is linked to a peculiar set of ideologies that have a lasting hold on the minds of its subscribers. For militants who have vowed to fight the very nature of the state and federation, a de-radicalisation programme may be the softer option whilst in detention.
For Pakistan to control radicalisation, it must counter the growing extremism evident in society as a whole. This is emerging as a greater threat to the country than terrorism, as was pointed out at the launch of a related report in Islamabad on Thursday. Extremism cannot be eliminated by the gun; the task requires methods of long-term persuasion and extensive societal change. Concurrently, the state must face up to the fact that it has for decades followed a duplicitous policy towards militancy. Cosmetic measures, such as banning certain outfits but allowing them to operate under other names, were bound to prove insufficient. The ideological underpinnings of militancy in Pakistan, which were endorsed by elements within the state during the ’80s and after, have never been honestly or fully rejected. That mindset has not just become more entrenched, it is fast gaining new subscribers. If Pakistan is to be saved, this mindset must change. That requires formulating a definitive state policy on the factors that pro- vide militancy with its moorings.
Gen. Ziauddin Khawaja, an ex–security chief for Pakistan, accuses former president Pervez Musharraf of knowing where bin Laden was hiding and saying nothing.
By Bruce Riedel
Ever since the Navy SEALs found Osama bin Laden hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan, less than a mile from the country’s national military academy, the question haunting American relations with Pakistan has been: who knew he was there? How did the most-wanted man in human history find a hideout in one of Pakistan’s most exclusive military cantonment cities and live there for five years without the Pakistani spy service finding him? Or did it know all along?
Now there is an explosive new charge. The former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) says former president Pervez Musharraf knew bin Laden was in Abbottabad. Gen. Ziauddin Khawaja, also known as Ziauddin Butt, was head of the ISI from 1997 to 1999. A four-star general, he fought in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India. He was the first head of the Army’s Strategic Plans Division, which controls the country’s nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made him director-general of the ISI in 1997 and promoted him to chief of Army staff on Oct. 12, 1999, when he fired Musharraf from the job. Musharraf refused to go and launched a coup that overthrew Sharif. Ziauddin spent the next two years in solitary confinement, was discharged from the Army, and had his property confiscated and his retirement benefits curtailed. So he has a motive to speak harshly about Musharraf.
Bearing that in mind, here is what the former spy chief claims. Ziauddin says that the safe house in Abbottabad was made to order for bin Laden by another Pakistani intelligence officer, Brig. Gen. Ijaz Shah, who was the ISI bureau head in Lahore when Musharraf staged his coup. Musharraf later made him head of the intelligence bureau, the ISI’s rival in Pakistan’s spy-versus-spy wars. Ziauddin says Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad, ensuring his safety and keeping him hidden from the outside. And Ziauddin says Musharraf knew all about it.
Ijaz Shah is a colorful character. He has been closely linked to Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British-born Kashmiri terrorist who was imprisoned in India in 1994 for kidnapping three British citizens and an American. Saeed was freed when Pakistani terrorists hijacked an Indian airliner to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December 2000, a plot masterminded by bin Laden and assisted by the ISI and the Afghan Taliban. Saeed was part of the plot two years later to kidnap Daniel Pearl and turned himself in to Brigadier Shah. Musharraf nominated Shah to be ambassador to Australia, but Canberra said no thanks. So he got the intelligence-bureau job.
Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto accused Shah of being behind the attempt to murder her when she returned from exile in late 2007. She was, of course, killed in another attempt later that year. Shah fled to Australia for a time while the situation cooled off.
Ziauddin says Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad and Musharraf knew all about it.
Without a doubt, Ziauddin has an ax to grind. But he is also well tied in to the Pakistani intelligence world. When he was DG/ISI, he set up a special commando team to find and capture bin Laden with U.S. help. Elite commandos from the Special Services Group, Pakistan’s SEALs, were put on the hunt. Musharraf disbanded the group after he took power. Ziauddin’s successor at the ISI, Gen. Mahmud Ahmad, refused American requests to go after bin Laden right up to 9/11. Then Musharraf had to fire him because, even after 9/11, he did not want to do anything to bring bin Laden to justice.
We don’t know who was helping hide bin Laden, but we need to track them down. If Mush, as many call him in Pakistan, knew, he should be questioned by the authorities the next time he sets foot in America. The explosive story about him, which was first reported in the must-read Militant Leadership Monitor, is more than an academic issue. If we can find who hid bin Laden, we will probably know who is hiding his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the rest of the al Qaeda gang.
Courtesy: The Daily Beast
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-017-2012 – 6 February 2012 – The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a couple from Pakistani held Kashmir has threatened with being shot on sight by Jihadi militant groups whenever they are seen at any place in Pakistan. The militants from the Jihadi groups (Islamic holy warriors) have been following the couple from their hide out and given ammunition to the residents of the nearby houses to disclose the whereabouts of the couple. The death threat to the couple was announced in a local illegal court known as a Jirga, which was held in the presence of and with the knowledge and cooperation of the police. Jirgas have been declared illegal by the courts. The couple has also written letters to the highest police officer of the district about the death threats but no action has been taken because of the involvement of Jihadi groups who work under the state intelligence agencies to conduct subversive activities inside the Indian held Kashmir.
The lives of the couple are in danger and at any moment they might be abducted and killed.
CASE NARRATIVE: Miss Tahira Hayat (27), daughter of Hayat Khan Mughal married Mr. Saeed Hussain Shah (29), son of Tufail Hussain Shah, a resident of Tehseel Rawalakot, Pakistani Kashmir, on January 26 in a civil court, which has infuriated Tahira’s family members who are from the Jihadi militant groups working for Jihad (holy war) in Indian Held Kashmir.
NEW YORK: Pakistan’s fledgling democratic government, under increasing pressure from the military, appeased extremist groups, ignored army abuses and failed to hold those responsible for serious abuses accountable in 2011, New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch has said. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
More details » BBC
Pakistan Taliban’s deputy Mohammad admits peace talks
The Pakistan Taliban is in peace talks with the country’s government, the group’s deputy commander has said.
Maulvi Faqir Mohammad said the focus was on the Bajaur tribal area bordering Afghanistan, and that if successful, talks could be extended to other areas.
He said 145 Taliban prisoners had been freed as a goodwill gesture and the authorities wanted a ceasefire.
It is the first time a top Taliban commander has confirmed negotiations. There has been no government comment.
“Our talks are going in the right direction,” Reuters news agency quotes Mr Mohammad as saying.
The BBC’s Orla Guerin in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, says that in the past such negotiations have backfired allowing the militants time to re-group.
There are also doubts about whether or not any possible peace treaty would be observed by all of the factions in the Pakistan Taliban, which is an increasingly fractured alliance, she says.
In October, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said talks would only be held if the group disarmed. ….
Read more » BBC
By Abubakar Siddique
As Afghanistan recovers from a deadly and unprecedented attack on a Shi’ite shrine in Kabul, the finger of blame is pointing directly at a Sunni extremist group with a long history of carrying out such attacks in neighboring Pakistan.
At least 55 people were killed and more than 160 wounded in the December 6 suicide attack, which occurred as Shi’ite worshippers were assembled outside the shrine to commemorate Ashura, a Shi’ite religious holiday. A separate attack near an Ashura procession in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif killed at least four people.
Shortly after the midday attack in Kabul, a man claiming to be a spokesman for Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami contacted RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal to claim responsibility on behalf of the Pakistan-based militant group.
It was impossible to independently verify the claim made by the man, who identified himself as Qari Abubakar Mansoor.
The man first contacted a Radio Mashaal correspondent in Pakistan who covers the western Kurram tribal district, where the group is believed to be headquartered. A man going by the name of Qari Abubakar had previously contacted Radio Mashaal to provide information regarding the Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami. Following RFE/RL’s report tying the group to the attack in Afghanistan, various media reported receiving similar claims from the same spokesman.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who cut short a European trip and returned to the Afghan capital to deal with the crisis, appeared to accept that the attack was carried out by Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami. While visiting survivors of the attack in the hospital, he was quoted as telling reporters that “we are investigating this issue and we are going to talk to the Pakistani government about it.”
Ties To Al-Qaeda, Taliban
Farzana Sheikh, a Pakistan specialist at the Chatham House think tank in London, says the group evolved from the Anjuman-e Sipahe Shaba Pakistan, an extremist political party intent on transforming Pakistan into a Sunni state. One of its splinter groups, Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) was considered the most deadly sectarian militia in the South Asian state in the 1990s.
Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami is now considered a splinter group of the LeJ, which was banned in Pakistan in 2002 because of its role in the killing of thousands of Shi’a.
“Its roots really lie in southern Punjab [Province], in the district of Jhang, from where they have clearly spread to other parts of Pakistan,” Sheikh says, “but particularly the [southwestern province of] Balochistan, where they have been responsible, and indeed claimed responsibility, for a series of murderous attacks against Shi’a Hazaras.”
Sheikh says that the group once enjoyed close links to Pakistani intelligence agencies. This, she notes, enabled LeJ to maintain bases in Taliban-controlled Afghan regions because of Islamabad’s relationship with the Taliban regime. However, the LeJ’s Shi’a-killing campaign made it a prime security threat for Pakistan, according to observers.
Read more » Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (rferl)
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – Case: AHRC-UAC-242-2011
PAKISTAN: A Christian labourer arrested on blasphemy charges in an attempt to convert his girlfriend to Islam; Religious minority groups; blasphemy law; illegal arrest; arbitrary detention; fabricated charge
7 December 2011: The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a young Christian labourer was arrested on the charges of burning papers of Quran, a Muslim holy book for making tea at home. He surrendered to the court arrest when he was informed that his nephew had been taken into custody by the police in exchange of his arrest. A Muslim mob is protesting and has surrounded the houses of Christians after an announcement was made from the loudspeakers of different mosques. One hospital also came under attack due to presence of some Christians who were admitted there. It is alleged the Muslim neighbours of the victim were forcing his girl friend to convert to Islam otherwise she would be arrested on fornication charges and intentional rape and she would face death by stoning.
The Christian population of Haroonabad Dherh is in danger by the attack of extremists. Around 800 Christians are living in the area and there are more than half a dozen churches in the community and there are chances that they will be attacked at any moment.
Karzai blames Lashkar-e-Jhangvi for Kabul blast
KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai Wednesday blamed the the sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) for a bomb at a Kabul shrine which killed 55 people, demanding justice from Pakistan, his spokesman said.
The comments are likely to antagonise further already tense relations with Islamabad, which boycotted Monday’s Bonn conference on the future of Afghanistan following NATO air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
“The president said he blamed the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,” said Aimal Faizi following reports of a purported claim from the faction, blamed for scores of similar attacks on Shia Muslims in Pakistan.
“The president said that he will demand Pakistan take executive measures in this regard since this group is based in Pakistan so that justice can be done,” Faizi added.
Karzai’s comments came as he visited victims of the Kabul blast in hospital. He returned to Kabul earlier Wednesday after cutting short a trip to Europe to deal with the fallout of the unprecedented attack on Afghan Shias.
Afghan victims buried as fingers point to Pakistan
An Afghan official had earlier claimed that the bomber who attacked the shrine in Kabul was a Pakistani, affiliated with the sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
- Norwegian mass killer ruled insane, likely to avoid jail
By Gwladys Fouche and Victoria Klesty, Reuters
(Additional reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by David Stamp)
OSLO (Reuters) – Court-appointed psychiatrists have concluded that Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik is criminally insane, prosecutors said on Tuesday, meaning he is likely to be sent to a psychiatric institution indefinitely rather than to jail.
Breivik killed 77 people in July by bombing central Oslo and then gunning down dozens of mostly teenagers at a summer camp of the ruling Labour Party’s youth wing, in Norway’s worst attacks since World War Two.
Prosecutors said Breivik, a self-declared anti-immigration militant, believed he had staged what he called “the executions” out of his love for his people.
“The conclusion … is that he is insane,” prosecutor Svein Holden told a news conference on Breivik’s psychiatric evaluation. “He lives in his own delusional universe and his thoughts and acts are governed by this universe.”
If the court accepts the psychiatrists’ conclusions, Breivik
would be held in a psychiatric institution rather than in a prison. Norwegian courts can challenge psychiatric evaluations or order new tests but rarely reject them. ….
Read more » YahooNews
“In January 1948—about four months after the creation of Pakistan—the federal government of Pakistan sponsored pogroms by refugees against Hindu Sindhis in Karachi, then the shared capital of Sindh and Pakistan. The pogroms resulted in the massacre of over 1200 Sindhis. When the Sindh government attempted to restore public order and return looted property, Pakistan removed the duly elected Sindh government from office. Today, exiled Hindu Sindhis are denied the Right of Return.”
“Of the approximately 30 million Sindhis living in Sindh today, approximately 3 million are Hindus and suffer particularly under Pakistan’s oppressive laws and dis-criminatory practices. Pakistan imposes the death penalty for blasphemy or apostasy.”
“With the connivance of the Pakistani authori-ties, tens of thousands of Sindhis, including a disproportionately large number of Hindu and Christian Sindhis, are held in virtual slavery as bonded laborers.”
“The last census systematically undercounted the number of Sindhis. The census forms in Sindhi were simply printed in insufficient quantities so data could not be collected in many remote villages. In addition, Hindu Sindhis were intimidated by Pakistani authorities who ac-companied the census takers in Sindh.”
“The Pakistani government has designated homes and businesses of Hindu Sindhis in this area as ‘Enemy Evacuee Property’ and seized the legal deeds to their properties.”
“Religious Studies has been made a compulsory subject for Muslims in all government and private schools. The officially mandated textbooks preach a fundamentalist and militant ideology, contravening the indigenous universalist Sufi beliefs of the Sindhis.”
“Pakistan controls all public and private advertising in newspapers through a government body called the Pakistan Information Board. In 2003, the government ordered a cut in Sindhi newspapers’ advertisement ‘quota’ by an additional 50%. Although Sindhi speakers account for about 20% of Pakistan’s population, Sindhi newspapers now receive less than 1% of the total advertising revenue.”
“In 1999, the largest circulation Sindhi monthly magazine Subhu Theendo (‘A New Day will Dawn’) was banned for spreading disaffection against the ‘ideology of Pakistan.’ The magazine focused on sustainable development and environmental protection.”
“A majority of the officials and government employees appointed in Sindh do not speak the Sindhi language. Pakistan refuses to allow the use of Sindhi in University entrance examinations or in job interviews for government employees in Sindh, and severely limits radio and television broadcasts in the language.”
“Pakistan has built several mega-dams and barrages up-stream that have impeded the flow of the Indus (Sindhu) River and its tributaries to Sindh. As a consequence, the floodplains that fed Sindh’s forests are gone, resulting in massive deforestation: less than 20% of the original 600,000 acres of forest land is now being regenerated. “
“Water no longer flows to the sea; as a consequence, the mangrove forests have experienced a 90% decline—from 2400 square kilometers to 200 square kilometers. With-out protection from the mangrove forests, seawater has encroached—inundating 1.2 million acres of agricultural land and uprooting residents of 159 villages. The once plentiful seafood catch has been drastically reduced. The net result is that throughout Sindh, poverty levels, malnutrition and disease now match those in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
“The Sindhi national poet, Shaikh Ayaz (d. 1999) was charged with treason—a crime punishable by death—for advocating peace with India.”
Courtesy » Sonething fishy’s going on
- By Joby Warrick and Karin Brulliard
ISLAMABAD — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Pakistan on Thursday to eradicate terrorist safe havens within its borders, saying there would be a “very big price” for inaction against militant groups staging attacks in Afghanistan.
Clinton’s tough words for Pakistani leaders came as an unusually large delegation of U.S. officials, led by Clinton, converged on the capital to urge Pakistani officials to take on the Haqqani network, a Pakistan-based Afghan militant group blamed for assassinations of Afghan leaders and an attack last month on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
“We will be delivering a very clear message to the government of Pakistan and to the people of Pakistan,” Clinton told reporters during an earlier stopover in Afghanistan for meetings with President Hamid Karzai. “There should be no support, and no safe havens, for terrorists anywhere who kill innocent women and children.” U.S. officials have accused Pakistan ….
Read more » The Washington Post
Senior Haqqani Militant (Afghan citizen/ cousin of Siraj Haqqani) killed in drone strike in Miranshah
Suspected US Drone Strike Kills Senior Haqqani Militant
Pakistani intelligence officials say a U.S. drone strike in northwest Pakistan has killed a senior member of the militant Haqqani network.
Thursday’s attack in North Waziristan reportedly killed Jalil Haqqani, a logistics coordinator for the al-Qaida-linked group. At least three other militants were also killed when an unmanned aircraft fired missiles at a compound in the Dande Darpa Khel village near the region’s main town, Miran Shah.
Officials say Jalil was very close to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the militant network, which is reportedly based in North Waziristan.
Hours later, Pakistani officials say a second drone strike on Thursday killed six militants in the South Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border.
The attacks occurred as the U.S. special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Marc Grossman, held talks with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad.
Grossman told reporters that he and Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar talked about the future and how to continue the ongoing dialogue between Pakistan and the United States. He said they agreed to continue to find “issues that we share with Pakistan – and there are many – and act jointly on them.” …
Read more » Voice of America