Pakistan’s continued provision of a safe haven to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) will probably continue to be a key irritant in Indo-Pak relations, Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper claimed in his testimony on “World Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community” which he presented Thursday in a hearing of the United States Senate Armed Services Committee.
India recognises the proscribed militant group LeT as a major threat to regional security and has accused its chief Hafiz Saeed of masterminding the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Saeed, who now leads the banned organisation Jamaatud Dawa (JUD), has denied any links to terrorist activities or having any association with LeT.
Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1166275/pakistans-support-to-let-will-likely-be-an-irritant-us-intelligence-director?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+dawn-news+%28Dawn+News%29&utm_content=FaceBook
In a bid to limit the rivalry between India and Pakistan to sports grounds, a Delhi-based entrepreneur earlier this month launched a new app to improve relations between the two South Asian rivals.
‘India or Pakistan’ is an innovative application, available on Google Play store, that questions the reader, after showing pictures of the two nations. The idea is to make people focus on what unites them by making them guess whether the photographs were taken in India or Pakistan.
In light of recent events, it is a welcoming gesture that is part of the wider movement called ‘India Loves Pakistan’ that was launched in 2013. The Delhi-based social movement aims to ‘add .. human element to the India-Pakistan relationship.’
The initiative operates primarily on Twitter through #DearNeighbour and #IndiaWithPakistan.
Where the former was launched as a generic hashtag to initiate dialogue across the border, the latter was trending post-Peshawar massacre in Pakistan, with thousands of Indians expressing solidarity with Pakistanis after the terrorist attack.
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1166300/
Pakistani mainstream media anchor Mubashir Luqman calls MQM chief Altaf Husaain a “Joker In London” in his tweets
By Nilim Dutta
The December 23 carnage
It was between 17:00 and 17:50 hours when a series of calls came. It was Dec 23, 2014 and I was in Guwahati, Assam that evening where I was born and have grown up.
“Sir, our people have been killed in an attack in at least two villages in Ultapani area. Their homes have been burnt down.”
“Sir, all our people have been killed. All of them.”
I asked, “Calm down. Where has this happened?”
“Sir, in Sonajuli in Pabhoi area. Sir, Phulbari 9 & 10.”
I immediately communicated it to the top echelons of the security establishment whose responsibility it is to respond to such terror attacks. The calls, however, kept pouring in.
“Sir, another attack in Serfanguri. Our people have been killed there too.”
In another hour, it became apparent to me from the steady stream of direct information from the places of occurrence that casualties would exceed 50 and many would be children. India’s national media was still oblivious.
For the next 48 hours, I would have little time to sleep or even eat as not only did I continue to manage a steady stream of ‘critical’ information directly from the ground to help deal with the aftermath, but also responded to numerous calls from terrified villagers across a 300-km stretch of remote border villages, reassuring them or aiding them in any way possible.
One of the worst terror strikes in India in this decade thus took place on Dec 23, 2014 in the North Eastern state of Assam. In a coordinated, near-simultaneous attack on five locations, the farthest of which were at least 300-km apart, terrorists brutally gunned down 81 unarmed civilians belonging to the Adivasi community.
While India’s security establishment was preoccupied with creating an alarm about possible terrorist strikes from the Islamic State, Al Qaeda or even Pakistan’s ‘good terrorists’ the Lashkar-e-Taiba in the past few months, this terror attack embarrassingly didn’t come from any Islamic Jihadi groups. The carnage was perpetrated by India’s own ‘good terrorists’ who had been treated with kid gloves for decades in spite of being responsible for some of the worst terror attacks India has suffered in the last three decades.
The manufactured paranoia of ‘Jihadi’ terror
It was in July 2014 that an important minister of Prime Minister Modi’s cabinet and a very senior bureaucrat in India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) were both honoured guests to ‘launch’ a monthly magazine in New Delhi’s Press Club of India. No national newspaper appears to have carried this as news and it would have even escaped our attention had it not been for the ‘cover feature’ of the first issue of the magazine: “Al Qaeda begins hiring in North East”.
The ‘cover feature’ went on to claim that it was in possession of a highly classified intelligence report that recruiters from Al Qaeda were targeting Muslim youth from Manipur and Assam, two of India’s North Eastern states, to join the global Islamic terror network. It claimed that in the first batch, Al Qaeda had recruited 17 Muslim youth from Manipur to join the global jihadi network and fight in India, Syria and Iraq. In the second batch, the magazine claimed, 10 Muslim youth from Manipur were recruited.
What made the report believable to even an informed reader was that it carried the names of the 17 Manipuri Muslim youth from Lilong in Thoubal district in Manipur who had reportedly joined Al Qaeda.
What naturally aroused my curiosity was how did a nondescript magazine come into possession of such a ‘highly classified intelligence report’? Why did an important member of Modi’s cabinet as well as a very senior bureaucrat in charge of ‘internal security’ in India’s North East happen to launch this magazine?
Events took an even more curious turn when people in Lilong, from where Al Qaeda had reportedly recruited the Muslim youth, broke out in protest and burned copies of the magazine. When threat of appropriate legal action was conveyed to the magazine, the publisher and the editor hastily apologised and conveyed that they may have got the names wrong and that they had only published the names based on an intelligence report. They also categorically clarified that they had no intention of casting aspersions on the people of Lilong, particularly its Muslim community.
Months later, many so called ‘experts’ would cite this dubious report as ‘proof’ of how Al Qaeda has already made inroads into India’s North East, among them the Director of the South Asia Programme of the Washington DC based ‘Middle East Media Research Institute’ or MEMRI in a piece he had written for The New Indian Express.
The fear regarding India’s North East, particularly Manipur or Assam, becoming the hotbed for recruitment by Al Qaeda and sundry jihadi group’s intensified after Al Qaeda released a video early in September 2014 where Ayman Al-Zawahiri announced the formation of ‘Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent’ and mentioned that it “would be good news for Muslims in Myanmar (Burma), Bangladesh and in the Indian states of Assam, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir, where they would be rescued from injustice and oppression.”
With a Hindutva Right government in power at the Centre, this was all that was needed to now ratchet up the fear of ‘jihadi terrorism’ targeting India even though any such threat had not increased radically by any standards of objective professional assessment.
Imagine offering ‘general amnesty’ to the terrorists who carried out the Mumbai suburban train blasts on July 11, 2006. Imagine giving those terrorists an ‘autonomous council’ to rule as reward.
Exactly a month later, on Oct 2, 2014, in a nondescript town called Burdwan in Assam’s neighbouring state of West Bengal, a bomb went off in a house killing the bomb makers. India’s premier terror investigating agency, National Investigation Agency (NIA) soon took over the case and revealed that the suspects, including the deceased, were active members of Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). Some of them were allegedly Bangladeshis living illegally in India.
ISLAMABAD: Maria Golovnina, the Pakistan and Afghanistan bureau chief of Reuters who was based in Islamabad, was found dead at her office in the capital’s F-8 sector, sources in the police told Dawn.
Golovnina had reportedly gone to the toilet, and had not stepped out for a long time when people who were present barged in.
She was reportedly lying on the floor covered in vomit.
he bureau chief was rushed to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) where she was pronounced dead.
Doctors at Pims told Dawn Maria had passed away before she could be brought to the hospital.
The hospital will carry out a post-mortem before handing over the body to Russian authorities.
The cause of Golovnina’s death could not be determined immediately and authorities have launched an investigation to ascertain the facts of the case.
Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1165411
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have long enjoyed close relations, but Islamabad’s new-found resolve for fighting the root causes of extremism has seen the Gulf state come in for rare criticism.
The two countries, both with majority Sunni Muslim populations, are bound together by shared Islamic religious ties, financial aid from oil-rich Saudi and Pakistani military assistance to the kingdom.
But a Taliban massacre at a school that killed more than 150 people in December, mostly children, has led the government to crack down on militants and talk of bringing religious seminaries under tighter control.
Now the country’s media and even government ministers have begun to question whether support from Saudi Arabia for seminaries, known as madrassas, is fuelling violent extremism — bringing tension to the relationship for the first time.
Last week, the Saudi embassy issued a statement saying that all its donations to seminaries had government clearance, after a minister accused the Riyadh government of creating instability across the Muslim world.
The Pakistani foreign ministry responded by saying that funding by private individuals through “informal channels” would also be scrutinised closely to try to choke off funding for terror groups. While the statement avoided mentioning Saudi Arabia specifically, it was widely interpreted as a rebuke.
Away from the seminaries, there has also been widespread criticism of the decision to allow Saudi royals to hunt the rare houbara bustard, prized in the Middle East for its supposed aphrodisiac properties, in the southern provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan.
Officials granted permission to hunt the bird, which is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “red list” of threatened species, in defiance of a court order, prompting allegations that the government prized its lucrative ties to Riyadh over its own wildlife.
Donors in Saudi Arabia have long been accused of quietly funding terror groups sympathetic to the kingdom’s hardline version of Sunni Islam.
Leaked diplomatic cables by then-US secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009 said Saudi Arabian donors were “the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”.
The cable cited the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Pakistan’s Sunni Muslim sectarian militants Lashkar-e-Jhangvi as examples of where funds were being channelled.
Eight people were killed in a blast near Police Lines in Qila Gujar Singh area of Lahore on Tuesday.
The blast hit just metres from an entrance to the Police Lines sending a column of black smoke rising above buildings.
“According to initial reports it was a car bomb but we are still determining the exact nature of the blast,” senior police official Haider Ashraf told AFP.
Several vehicles caught fire after the explosion and streets were littered with glass as the windows of nearby buildings broke.
A breakaway faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaatul Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/839666/blast-heard-in-lahore-near-police-lines-in-qila-gujar-singh-area/
It is unclear whether Chinese President Xi Jinping may accept Pakistan’s invitation to preside over a symbolic national military parade on March 23, with officials in Beijing indicating that the Chinese leader was more likely to visit in April or May.
While a decision has not been taken yet on when Xi will visit Pakistan – the Chinese leader had already in September cancelled a visit on account of security concerns – Pakistan has been pushing for Xi to preside over the March 23 military parade, which will be the first to be held in seven years. In recent weeks, a number of Pakistani media reports suggested the Chinese leader had confirmed his attendance.
An announcement on the visit was expected last week with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visiting Pakistan to firm up the dates. Following his two-day talks, however, Wang only said the visit would take place some time “early” this year.
A lot has been happening over the last couple of days on the diplomatic front. The Chinese foreign minister came to Islamabad, heralding a more important visit by China’s president – expected to take place soon.
Then, late on Thursday night, US President Barack Obama phoned PM Nawaz Sharif in what can only be described as an “unscheduled call” where the US president briefed the PM on his visit to India and heard Mr Sharif’s concerns. Finally, Friday morning brought with it news of a Modi-Sharif conversation purported to be about the upcoming cricketing tie between the two nations.
To understand the undertones behind these frantic top-level diplomatic efforts, Dawn spoke to noted author and journalist Ahmed Rashid and asked him about the significance of these events.
Q: The past 48 hours have been quite exciting, diplomatically speaking. What do you think set off this hectic round of cross-border politicking?
A: Undermining all the hectic diplomatic moves and activities is the international community’s concern about the future of Pakistan. China, the US, our neighbours and the west are all deeply concerned about whether Pakistan is genuinely pursuing an effective counterterrorism strategy. There is also enormous concern about governance and the apparent failure of governance systems in the country.
by Jon Boone in Karachi, Sindh
In interview with the Guardian, former Pakistan president voices his support for Ashraf Ghani and hints that he cultivated the Taliban
Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani military ruler accused of sheltering and supporting the Taliban after 2001, has called for an end to the backing of militant “proxies” in Afghanistan.
In an interview with the Guardian, Musharraf admitted that when he was in power, Pakistan sought to undermine the government of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai because Karzai had “helped India stab Pakistan in the back”. But now the time had come to “totally cooperate” with Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president since September, who Musharraf believes is “the last hope for peace in the region”.
“In President Karzai’s times, yes, indeed, he was damaging Pakistan and therefore we were working against his interest. Obviously we had to protect our own interest,” Musharraf said. “But now President Ashraf Ghani has come and he is trying to restore balance in Afghanistan. We must totally cooperate with him.”
In his first months in office, Ghani has sought to woo Pakistan in a way Musharraf could only have dreamed of in the critical years between the US-led intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, and 2008, when Musharraf was finally forced from power. Ghani has not only suspended a planned weapons deal with India, but also diverted troops to fight against anti-Pakistan militant groups in eastern Afghanistan.
For Musharraf, the most welcome development was Ghani’s decision this month to send six army cadets for training at Pakistan’s officer academy in the town of Abbottabad. Karzai infuriated both Musharraf and Ashfaq Kayani, his successor as army chief, by spurning offers to help train Afghanistan’s embryonic army. Instead, Karzai sent cadets to India, where Musharraf believes they were “indoctrinated” against Pakistan.
Speaking in his luxurious Karachi home, the former army chief repeatedly hinted at what is now widely accepted among diplomats and analysts: that the nominal western ally assisted both Nato forces in Afghanistan and the Taliban they were fighting against in a bid to counter the perceived influence of arch-rival India. “Pakistan had its own proxies, India had its proxies, which is unhealthy. I do admit this, it is most unhealthy. It is not in favour of Afghanistan, or Pakistan or India. It must stop,” he said.
Musharraf said Pakistani spies in the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) cultivated the Taliban after 2001 because Karzai’s government was dominated by non-Pashtuns, the country’s largest ethnic group, and officials who were thought to favour India. “Obviously we were looking for some groups to counter this Indian action against Pakistan,” he said. “That is where the intelligence work comes in. Intelligence being in contact with Taliban groups. Definitely they were in contact, and they should be.”
The army remains deeply suspicious of India, a country that has beaten Pakistan in three conflicts since independence and played a critical role in the secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971. Musharraf insists he is not an “India hater”, but bristles at what he says is western bias towards Pakistan’s giant neighbour. “‘India is the greatest democracy, promoter of human rights and democratic culture’? All bullshit,” he said. “There is no human rights. The religion itself is anti-human rights. In the rural areas, if even the shadow of an untouchable goes on a pandit, that man can be killed.”
Like many soldiers, he is convinced that India, through its Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), backs regional separatists in an effort to break up Pakistan. “The RAW of India, the ISI of Pakistan have always been fighting against each other since our independence. That is how it continued, it continues now also.
“It must stop, but it can only stop when leaderships on both sides show the will to resolve disputes and stop confrontation in favour of compromise and accommodation.”
‘Huge’ reserves of iron ore discovered in Chiniot
CHINIOT: The government on Wednesday said it has discovered major reserves of iron ore as well as copper, silver and gold in Punjab.
The reserves were found in Chiniot city, around 160 kilometres (around 100 miles) northwest of Lahore, by Chinese group the Metallurgical Cooperation of China.
A senior provincial administrative official told AFP that initial estimates indicated 500 million tons of iron ore – a primary ingredient in steelmaking – had been discovered.
He said the Chinese company has expressed interest in setting up a steel mill on the site, adding that the extracted iron had been tested in Swiss and Canadian laboratories, which found 60-65 percent of it to be high grade.
The official added that silver, copper and gold samples would also be sent for testing soon.
Read more » Geo Tv News
See more » http://www.geo.tv/article-174802-Huge-reserves-of-iron-ore-discovered-in-Chiniot
Germany has said a firm “nein” to Greece’s request for $11 billion (£7 billion) of Second World War reparations, calling the new government’s claims “baseless”. The German foreign ministry and Ministry of Finance said there is “no new position” to discuss on the case, which it believes was closed by previous treaties. To the federal government, the question of compensation for Nazi injustice and atrocities is “finally settled”, according to Bildnewspaper. Greece’s Syriza-headed government is demanding compensation for the Axis occupation, when tens of thousands of people were killed or died of starvation, as well as the repayment of a forced loan from Athens in 1942. But Germany’s Vice Chancellor claimed there is no chance of paying Greece the money because a treaty signed 25 years ago had wrapped up all such claims. “The probability is zero,” Sigmar Gabriel said.
Read more » THE INDEPENDEN
Learn more » http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/germany-rejects-greeces-demands-for-11-billion-of-second-world-war-reparations-10035837.html
THEY call it a sequential approach. Let the good crazies run around and do the things they like while the boys go after the bad crazies first. Then, once all the bad crazies have been dispatched, it’ll be time to figure out what to do with the good crazies.
Sounds crazy, right? Think of it as a statist version of leaving for tomorrow what can be done today. Hence all those K-Day protests.
There is another possibility though: when you can’t say no, you say maybe. Essentially, the sequential approach is the polite way of telling the world what it wants to hear while merrily getting on with business as usual.
Too sceptical? Forget the history, forget the circumstantial stuff, set everything aside. And reverse the question. Instead of looking for reasons why things have changed or will change, ask why they should change in the first place. Or, to put it bluntly, why change a winning strategy?
We do know that at least three things have changed: Fata is on fire and 200,000 troops are fire-fighting; militancy across the Durand Line has become bi-directional; and the extremist mosque-madressah-social welfare network has exploded across Pakistan.
Much of that is clearly bad, whatever the strategy. But could that just be an acceptable price to pay for a winning strategy, the inevitable downside to a very big upside?
And, in the case of the extremist mosque-madressah-social welfare network, could that in fact be a necessary tool in a winning strategy, an inflammable substance to be handled with care rather than a toxic one to be buried deep underground?
Between the everything’s-changed and nothing’s-changed schools of thought, there is nestled the hawks’ perspective: at home, stuff has changed; outside, stuff is on track.
Start with India. If there’s one thing India doesn’t have an answer to it’s Pakistan-based, anti-India militancy. Nukes they can design. Missiles they can build. Planes they can buy. Submarines, guns and soldiers too. But they don’t quite know what to do about militancy. Which isn’t surprising. Because there’s not much anyone can do against the jihad complex that Pakistan has built.
US says can’t confirm if Pakistan banned JuD, Haqqani Network
ISLAMABAD – In a recent development, the National Counterterrorism Authority (Nacta) has removed the list of proscribed organisations from its official website, which is being seen as an attempt to add more confusion to the ongoing debate whether Haqqani Network and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) have been banned or not.
Under the National Action Plan (NAP) on Counterterrorism, the government has declared Nacta a focal point to coordinate all efforts to end terrorism in the country.
Some two weeks back at least till January 10, Nacta’s official website had an updated list of proscribed organisations, but now this has been removed on the directions of the high-ups of the Ministry of Interior, sources privy to the development revealed.
Amid some media reports in this regard, the US State Department, in its recent statement, said that it did not have confirmation from Pakistan about banning the Haqqani Network or JuD.
On the Nacta’s website, National Internal Security Policy (NISP) which was announced last year by the incumbent government with great pomp and show has been uploaded that also contains list of proscribed organisations.
There is main link of NISP at the home page of Nacta’s website and a sub-link of the list of proscribed organisations under this main link.
“The Nacta officials have delinked the list of proscribed organisations under the pressure of the bosses of the Ministry of Interior,” official sources confirmed.
The Nacta did this when some sections of the media started reporting that the government had decided to ban JuD, a charity organisation run by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and a militant organisation, Haqqani Network.
The move is significant ahead of President Obama’s visit to India starting from next Sunday as the US had been asking Pakistan to ban both the organisations as these were responsible for terrorist activities in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
According to Nacta’s ‘List of Proscribed Organisations’ that now has been removed from the official website, there are 62 proscribed organisations in the country and 10 are facing financial sanctions due to the ban imposed by UNSC’s Sanctions Committee in 2008 through a UN resolution.
The Supreme Court, the other day, also suggested to the government to make public the list of banned organisations in the interest of public.
Interior Additional Secretary Muhammad Asghar Chaudhry on January 20 told Senate Standing Committee on Interior that JuD and Haqqani Network had not been banned.
Prior to this, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, in its last press conference, had avoided to answer a question about the ban on JuD and Haqqani Network.
The Foreign Office, the other day, added more confusion to the ongoing debate as it gave a vague answer while replying to a question about banning JuD and Haqqani Network.
The Foreign Office, in its reply, focused more on the procedural matters rather than replying to the specific question.
According to the NAP Implementation Progress Report of the Ministry of Interior, a comprehensive analysis/assessment review is underway to identify how many of the proscribed organisations are active, working under other names and/or more importantly how many of them have an armed wing, operating inside or outside the country.
Special correspondent adds from Washington: The United States backs Pakistan’s commitment to taking steps without discrimination against the terrorist groups operating on its soil, but it has no confirmation about the banning of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Haqqani Network, a State Department spokesperson said Friday.
“We recognise that Pakistan is working through the process of implementing measures to thwart violent extremism, including the National Action Plan.
We don’t have any confirmation of specific steps,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington when asked about the reported ban on the two militant outfits.
Psaki noted that Islamabad has made clear in statements that it is in Pakistan’s own interest to take steps against all militant groups and explicitly not to differentiate between such groups.
“We support this commitment and believe it is essential to address terrorism and stop recurrence of the attacks like that on the Peshawar schoolchildren,” she remarked during a conference call.
Read more » The Nation
See more » http://nation.com.pk/editors-picks/24-Jan-2015/nacta-removes-list-of-banned-outfits-from-website
“Every Indian Prime Minister since the attack on the Parliament in Delhi now heading on 15 years ago has looked seriously at a military response when these incidents occur and has stepped back. But I believe that sentiment inside India has changed substantially and I think this Prime Minister is unlikely to step back,” former US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill said.
“If there is a major terrorist attack whose breadcrumbs lead to Pakistan and the Pakistan military and ISI, I think that this Prime Minister is likely to use military force against Pakistan territory. It’s not a certainty,” Blackwill told reporters during a conference call organised by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a top American think-tank.
Read more » The Hindu
Learn more » http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/modi-may-use-military-option-if-terror-attack-traced-to-pakistan/article6864786.ece
KARACHI: A joint investigation report submitted in Sindh High Court by Rangers on Friday during the hearing of Baldia Town incident revealed that it wasn’t an accident but the factory was intentionally set on fire by a gang of miscreants, ARY News reported.
During the hearing, it was informed to court that a gang was involved in the Baldia Town fire incident occurred on September 11, 2012 in which more than 250 factory workers were died.
It was mentioned in the report that Rangers have arrested the chief suspect of the heinous crime, who has already confessed about setting the factory on fire with other gang members. The report has termed the incident a terrorist attack adding that the confession statement of the suspect was ignored in the police investigation.
Sindh High Court bench issued orders to complete the trial of Baldia Town factory fire incident within one year and cautioned that no negligence in this regard will be tolerated.
A report submitted by Worker Welfare Board in the court said that the compensation cheques have been distributed among 662 workers out of total 800 victims of the Baldia factory fire.
The court issued orders for payment of compensation to remaining 138 victims of the incident and submit the compliance report to the court within a week.
News courtesy: ARY News
Read more » http://arynews.tv/en/gang-involved-behind-baldia-factory-fire-reveal-rangers/
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By Muhammad Taqi
The ASWJ leaders’ non-stop hate speeches and incitement to violence provide the breeding milieu and recruitment grounds for bombers like the one who carried out the Shikarpur massacre
The bombing at the Shikarpur, Sindh imambargah (mosque/worship place) may have been carried out by the terrorist group Jundullah but over 60 Shia who perished there were actually slaughtered by collective national apathy. While the Shias were picking up the bits and pieces of what remained of their loved ones after Jundullah’s bomb ripped through the imambargah, the Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan, Mr Nawaz Sharif, was literally joking about his lunch being subpar at the Karachi Stock Exchange ceremony. The PM did not say one word of sympathy for the Shias of Shikarpur at the time. At the same time the self-exiled leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Mr Altaf Hussain, was live on assorted television channels along with his lieutenant Mr Ishratul Ibad, the governor of Sindh, and the business tycoon Mr Malik Riaz. None, including Mr Hussain, who is known for his long-winded speeches, bothered to utter even a single line about the tragedy that shell-shocked Shia were going through right at that moment. The chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Mr Imran Khan, fared better at his press conference, which was also being televised live then and spent about three out of 20 minutes offering commemorative prayers for the fallen Shia and condemning the attack. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that has been ruling Sindh since 2008 took the cake, however, for callous pettiness: it suspended the area’s police Station House Officer (SHO)!
Read more » Daily Times
Learn more » http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/05-Feb-2015/shias-of-shikarpur-slaughtered-by-apathy
LAHORE: Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed urged India to “leave Kashmir” while addressing a rally in Lahore to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day on Tuesday.
“No one could defeat the Muslims… If America had to run away, then India, you will have to leave Kashmir as well,” said Saeed amid chants of ‘al-jihad, al-jihad’.
Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/502947/hafiz-saeed-urges-india-to-leave-kashmir/
KARACHI: Jibran Nasir and members of the civil society weer reportedly arrested after resuming the Shikarpur sit-in outside the CM house in Karachi, pressing the government to take swift action against Ahl-e-Sunnat-wal Jamaat’s (ASWJ) solidarity rally on Kashmir Day.
At the Kashmir Day rally, ASWJ allegedly threatened members of the civil society as well as the Sindh government for unnecessarily terming them a banned organisation.
The civil society’s 31-hour-long protest outside the CM house, from earlier this week, came to an end Tuesday night, after Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Culture Sharmila Farooqi promised that the provincial government will take stern action against “banned” militant organisations, including ASWJ.
No official notification, however, has been taken out by the home department to outlaw ASWJ.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, “The charter of demands we came with initially has failed. But this time, we won’t stop. We will continue our sit-in till justice is served,” Nasir said.
“We’ll do a hunger strike if we have to. Allowing ASWJ, or any other outfit that insights violence, to carry out political activities openly, is a violation of the law,” he added.
Read more » The Express Tribune
Learn more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/833400/civil-society-protesters-led-by-jibran-nasir-arrested-during-sit-in-outside-cm-house/#.VNOCf7JOr_E.facebook
NEW DELHI: China and Russia decided on Monday to back the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) — a resolution supported by India and heavily biased against Pakistan.
At a meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Beijing, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said her counterparts from the two countries understood the need for endorsing the resolution that has been pending at the UN for nearly two decades and seeks to widen the existing definition of terrorism.
The CCIT was proposed by India in 1996 in lieu of Pakistan allegedly backing Kashmiri separatists.
In Tuesday’s meeting, the RIC communiqué vouched to oppose terrorism of all forms and called all countries to join efforts in combating terrorism together with the United Nations.
Speaking at a press conference after the RIC meeting, Swaraj told reporters: “Our discussions on terrorism brought consensus on two issues. Firstly, there can be no ideological, religious, political, racial or any other justification for the acts of terrorism and secondly the need to bring to justice perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these acts of terror.”
Swaraj added that the ministers emphasized the need to step up information gathering and sharing and prevent the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the purposes of recruitment and incitement to commit terrorist acts.
News courtesy » The Express Tribune
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/832183/china-russia-back-india-on-un-terror-resolution-targeting-pakistan/
ISLAMABAD: In a fresh diplomatic row between Pakistan and Bangladesh, a Pakistani High Commission official based in Dhaka was declared persona non grata by the Bangladeshi government and was asked to leave the country.
“Diplomatic official Mazhar Khan was charged by Bangladesh’s foreign ministry of running an illegal Indian currency business in Dhaka beside alleged links with militants,” a diplomatic source told Dawn.com.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasneem Aslam also confirmed the incident and said the official has reached Islamabad.
Read more » DAWN
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The seven queens of Shah Latif’s Shah Jo Risalo – Marui, Sassui, Noori, Sorath, Lilan, Sohni, and Momal – have put on black cloaks and they mourn. The troubles and tribulations are not new for the queens.
After the sack of Delhi, Nadir Shah (Shah of Iran), invaded Sindh and imprisoned the then Sindhi ruler Noor Mohammad Kalhoro in Umarkot fort. Shah Latif captured it in the yearning of Marui for her beloved land when she was locked up in the same Umarkot fort.
If looking to my native land
with longing I expire;
My body carry home, that I
may rest in desert-stand;
My bones if Malir reach, at end,
though dead, I’ll live again.
(Sur Marui, XXVIII, Shah Jo Risalo)
The attack on the central Imambargah in Shikarpur is as ominous in many ways as it is horrendous and tragic.
The Sufi ethos of Sindh has long been cherished as the panacea for burgeoning extremism in Pakistan. Sufism has been projected lately as an effective alternative to rising fundamentalism in Muslim societies not only by the Pakistani liberal intelligentsia but also by some Western think-tanks and NGOs.
But the question is, how effective as an ideology can Sufism be in its role in contemporary societies?
To begin with, Sufism is not a monolithic ideology.
There are several strains within Sufism that are in total opposition to each other, thus culminating into totally opposite worldviews. The most important of them is chasm between Wahdat al-Wajud(unity of existence) and Wahdat al-Shahud (unity of phenomenon).
The former professes that there is only One real being not separated from His creation, and thus God runs through everything. While Wahdat al-Shahud holds that God is separated from His creation.
While the distinction between the two might seem purely polemical, it actually leads to two entirely opposite logical conclusions.
Wahdat al-Wajud sees God running through everything. Thus apparent differences between different religions and school of thoughts vanish at once. In diversity, there lies a unity thus paving way to acceptance of any creed, irrespective of its religious foundations.
Ibn al-Arbi was the first to lay the theoretical foundations of Wahdat al-Wajud and introduce it to the Muslim world.
On the other hand, the Wahdat al-Shahud school of thought was developed and propagated by Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi, who rose to counter the secular excesses of Akbar. He pronounced Ibn al-Arbi as Kafir and went on deconstructing what he deemed as heresies.
Wahdat al-Shahud in its sociopolitical context leads to separation and confrontation. The staunch anti-Hindu and anti-Shia views of Ahmed Sirhindi are just a logical consequence of this school of thought. Ahmed Sirhindi is one of the few Sufis mentioned in Pakistani textbooks.
Historically, Sufis in today’s Pakistan have belonged to four Sufi orders: Qadriah, Chishtiah, Suharwardiah, and Naqshbandiah.
It is also interesting to note that not all of these Sufi orders have been historically anti-establishment.
While Sufis who belonged to the Chishtiah and Qadriah orders always kept a distance from emperors in Delhi and kept voicing for the people, the Suharwardia order has always been close to the power centres. Bahauddin Zikria of the Suharwardiah order enjoyed close relations with the Darbar and after that leaders of this order have always sided with the ruler (either Mughals or British) against the will of the people.
Explore: Old Sufis, new challenges
Sufism in the subcontinent in general and Sindh in particular, emerged and evolved as a formidable opposition to the King and Mullah/Pundit nexus. Not only did it give voice to the voiceless victims of religious fanaticism, but also challenged the established political order.
To quote Marx it was ‘the soul of soulless conditions’.
A case-in-point is Shah Inayat of Jhok Sharif, who led a popular peasant revolt in Sindh and was executed afterwards. Shah Latif wrote a nameless eulogy of Shah Inayat in Shah Jo Risalo.
Pakistan on Monday successfully test-fired a new indigenously developed cruise missile capable of delivering nuclear and conventional warheads up to 350 kilometre, bringing many Indian cities under its range.
The Ra’ad missile enables Pakistan to achieve “strategic standoff capability” on land and at sea, as it uses extremely complex ‘Cruise Technology’ that has been developed by only a few countries in the world, Pakistan army said.
The state of the art Ra’ad cruise missile with stealth capabilities is a low altitude, terrain hugging missile with high maneuverability and can deliver nuclear and conventional warheads with pinpoint accuracy,” army said.
Director General Strategic Plans Division, Lieutenant General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, while congratulating the scientists and engineers on achieving yet another milestone of
historic significance, termed it a major step towards strengthening Pakistan’s full spectrum credible minimum deterrence capability.
“Pakistan’s strategic pursuits are aimed at achieving strategic stability in the region,” it said.
He appreciated the technical prowess, dedication and commitment of scientists who contributed whole heartedly to make this launch a success.
He showed his full confidence over operational preparedness of Strategic Forces including employment and deployment concepts, refinement and training of all ranks in operational and technical domains.
The successful launch has been commended by President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. They also congratulated the scientists and engineers for their outstanding achievement.
Read more » http://www.rediff.com/news/report/defence-news-pakistan-successfully-test-fires-new-stealth-cruise-missile/20150202.htm
Many have called it a game-changer. On December 16, gunmen loyal to the Pakistani Taliban attacked a military school in Peshawar, killing 148 people. Most of the victims were children, and many were killed as they hid under the desks. The violence was so gruesome it seemed to rattle the country like never before. Quickly, the Pakistani government rushed to assure people it had the situation under control. In the aftermath of the attack, the government set up special military tribunals in which to try suspected terrorists, and the penalties are expected to be harsh. Meanwhile, the army reportedly broadened its crackdown in the federally administered tribal areas, in hopes of thwarting terrorism. “There will be no differentiation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said. As Matthew Green wrote in Newsweek, Sharif’s words were “a rare public acknowledgement of Pakistan’s murky record on state sponsorship of extremist proxies.” But more than a month after the massacre in Peshawar, has anything really changed? To explore that question, I chatted with Christine Fair, a professor of South Asian political and military affairs at Georgetown and the author of Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Was the school shooting a turning point for Pakistan?
It absolutely was not. The army has said very clearly that they’re hoping these [tribunals] are going to give Pakistanis confidence that the military has the situation under control, but they don’t have anything under control
Who are the “bad militants” in Pakistan?
For the most part, almost all of the so-called bad militants have their origins in groups that the state has long sponsored, aided, abetted, trained and in some cases even developed from the grassroots, either to fight in India or in Afghanistan. So there would be no Pakistan Taliban if there had not been this flotilla of militant groups that the state developed.
The groups targeting the state follow the Deobandi interpretative tradition of Islam. This is important because this means that they share a significant common organizational infrastructure. For example, they rely on mosques and madrassas that adhere to the Deobandi tradition of Islam. When 9/11 happened and Pakistan was forced to work with the Americans, these Deobandi groups were furious. Many of these groups came to know Al-Qaeda through their association with the Taliban in Afghanistan. [The Afghan Taliban emerged from Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan.] And these Deobandi groups were furious that the Pakistani state was aiding the overthrow, not only of the Taliban government, but the only government in the world that was exercising a Deobandi version of Sharia [Islamic law]. After 9/11…[some] of these Deobandi groups began fracturing and disobeying the [Pakistani] state. That’s when the insurgency began. Over time these Deobandi organizations began calling themselves the Pakistani Taliban.
Who are the “good militants”?
The “good militants” are, of course, the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, which continue to be loyal to the Pakistani state. And elements of the Pakistani Taliban that refuse to kill Pakistanis. All of those groups kill in Afghanistan on behalf of Pakistan’s interests. The other “good militant group” is Deobandi is Jaish-e-Mohammed, which was raised to kill Indians in Kashmir and beyond. Over the past year or so, Pakistan has been trying to resurrect Jaish with the aim of luring away some members of the Pakistani Taliban into Jaish for operations against India. There’s one other group that we haven’t talked about, because they’re not Deobandi, and that’s Lashkar-e-Taiba. That organization belongs to the Ahl-Hadith tradition of Islam. This organization has never conducted an operation in Pakistan. They have exclusively focused on India for the vast majority of its history. In recent years, they have been operating against Americans and our Afghan and other allies in Afghanistan.
Is Pakistan unable to crack down on the “bad militants”? Or do they simply choose otherwise?
The problem is they want to preserve the networks that produce terrorists because those networks are the same networks that also produce the “good militants.” When the “bad militants” come after the state, the Pakistanis do try and kill them. And they try and kill them rather than arrest them because Pakistan’s [civilian] legal system is so decrepit, judges are afraid to convict. But they can’t shut down the system comprehensively because Pakistan still hopes to use “good militants” as tools of foreign and defense policy in the region.
What purpose do these “good militants” serve?
Pakistan is an ideological state, not a security-seeking state. Pakistan was founded as the homeland for South Asia’s Muslims. The Pakistan movement mobilized around the Two Nation Theory, which held that Muslims and Hindus are equal nations even if Muslims are fewer in number than Hindus. The proponents of the Two Nation Theory argued that Muslims cannot live under Hindu domination. Pakistan needs to wrest Kashmir away from India to fulfill the dream of the Two Nation Theory because Kashmir is the only Muslim majority area in India.
Pakistan also hopes to retard India’s ability to impose its will on Pakistan and other countries in the region.The only assets Pakistan has to accomplish these goals are its jihadis, who operate with impunity thanks to Pakistan’s growing nuclear weapons. Also, these groups undertake operations with plausible deniability.
The so-called good militants also have an important role to play in Afghanistan. Pakistan prefers a manageable chaos in Afghanistan rather than an Afghanistan that is friendly to India. Pakistan is trying to bring some of the “bad militants” back into the fold of the “good militants.” Pakistan’s efforts to reorient part of the Pakistani Taliban in this way also explains why the Pakistan military gave a five-months warning before undertaking operations in North Waziristan. They wanted to make sure they could return as many of their assets as possible to the category of good militants. And they were pretty successful. What remained in North Waziristan are committed foes who can be dealt with through violence and death.
ISLAMABAD: The government apparently remains in a state of denial regarding a massive threat posed by the Middle Eastern terrorist group Daesh (Islamic State), which recently announced its set-up for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
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Friday’s massacre in a Shikarpur Imambargah has proved fears long held by many observers that behind the traditional image of Sindh as a placid land of Sufis, a much darker reality is developing.
While Karachi, the provincial capital, has witnessed incredibly bloody violence carried out by militants of various stripes, it is the first time an attack of such devastating proportions has occurred outside the metropolis, in the hinterland of Sindh.
Shikarpur and its surrounding districts are far from islands of peace and tranquillity. They have witnessed a high level of lawlessness as well as religiously-inspired violence, but nothing of this level. For example in February 2013 the custodian of a dargah was attacked in neighbouring Jacobabad district. Yet while the area is said to have a soft corner for religious groups, there is no major history of sectarian discord.
Senior journalist Sohail Sangi says there have been a number of sporadic incidents of religiously-inspired violence in Shikarpur and its environs. “Nato supply trucks were attacked in this region. It is quite a lawless area. Religious groups and parties have considerable presence here. Before the Sept 11 attacks some locals even went to fight for the Afghan Taliban. But there are not that many sectarian issues. Sectarian problems mostly exist in Khairpur and Sukkur.”
Indeed Khairpur, which borders Shikarpur, has developed a reputation for communal tension and is seen as one of the centres in Sindh of the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan/Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat. In fact the late head of the SSP,
Ali Sher Hyderi, who was killed in 2009 in the city, hailed from Khairpur. Elsewhere in the province, extremist outfits are said to be active in the Thar region, while along most of the provincial highways sectarian and religious graffiti is hard to miss.
Security analyst Amir Rana feels Sindh is going through the same motions as Punjab did in the 1990s where the development and proliferation of extremist tendencies are concerned.
“Different [extremist] groups have been making inroads in Sindh. After Ali Sher Hyderi’s assassination there were fears there would be a reaction. However, it didn’t happen then.
Deobandi madressahs are spreading, similar to what happened in the Punjab in the 1980s. With the expansion of madressahs, sectarian tendencies also tend to grow. The sectarian divide is definitely growing in Sindh,” he observes.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson Zohra Yusuf feels the atrocity in Shikarpur puts a question mark over the state’s methods of countering militancy in the aftermath of the Peshawar school attack.
The bombing “goes against the government’s rationale that military courts and the death penalty would be deterrents. There needs to be zero tolerance for sectarian outfits. The government is not clear. The list of banned outfits has not been clearly released.
You need a clear definition of [who] the terrorist and sectarian groups are and what the government is doing against them. The government is in two minds, whether to take action against them or not.”
Asked how the state was dealing with the threat of extremism in Sindh, Mr Rana feels that efforts are piecemeal and that the state is not looking at the bigger militant picture.
“The administration takes a firefighting approach. It doesn’t take any actions [which it thinks] may lead to a law and order situation. Things are handled on a case-by-case basis at the district level. There is no broader perspective.”
Sindh clearly has a problem with extremism, and if it is not examined in a forthright manner, the cancer of sectarian and religious hatred will only grow.
Considering the province’s historically pluralist ethos, there may still be time to turn the tide and root out the merchants of death and divisiveness. If this is not done, Shikarpur may well be the harbinger of worse tragedies to come.
Courtesy: Published in Dawn January 31st, 2015
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KARACHI: Pakistan is located in a region that will bring major changes in the world economy in coming decades primarily due to its demographics.
With over 100 million people below the age of 30 aspiring to change their lives, the rise of Pakistan is just a matter of time, Morgan Stanley Chief Investment Strategist David M Darst said on Tuesday. Darst, however, was speaking in his personal capacity and not representing Morgan Stanley at the lecture.
“Demographics will play a major role in coming decades. Pakistan is among those nine countries in Asia that will add another China in the next 35 years and the impact of this change will be phenomenal on the world economy,” he said while giving a lecture on “The World Economic Environment: Where’s the Global Capital Going”.
It was part of a special series of lectures that was organised by The Aga Khan University here at its auditorium.
With a young population of an average age of 22 years, “I believe the opportunities that the young entrepreneurs from Pakistan have are going to make an exceptional contribution to the economy of the region,” he added.
Darst, who is the author of 11 books and has a PhD in economics from Yale, said it is wrong to believe that Pakistan is lagging behind due to its proximity with Afghanistan, Iran and India. “In fact, I believe Pakistan is in the centre of Asian countries like Iran, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia that will significantly contribute in the world economy in coming decades.”
Speaking about the strong fundamentals of Pakistan’s stocks, he said, with 31% returns in dollar terms Pakistan led the world markets in 2014. “What is important is that the stocks in Pakistan are still very cheap compared to the markets in the industrialised world and they are performing better than many markets in terms of returns,” he added.
“I am surprised to see low number of investors in the bourses of Pakistan. This must change considering the strong fundamentals of Pakistani stocks.”
Darst said women in the world are playing an important role in today’s world economy. The rise of the entrepreneurs from the developing world, especially women entrepreneurs, will also bring significant positive changes in this century.
Listing down the challenges to the global economy, he said though Pakistan and India have benefitted from the current sharp decline in oil prices, sudden fall in oil prices has rejuvenated fears of deflation in many countries.
He said Europe is redefining itself and the sharp changes in Europe can surprise the world at large.
Speaking on the challenges facing Europe in relation to Greece, he said the new elected prime minister of Greece could take decisions that may not go well with the euro and the overall economy of the continent.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2015.
Learn more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/828679/shift-in-focus-rise-of-pakistan-just-a-matter-of-time-says-morgan-stanley/
SHIKARPUR: At least 49 people were killed and 55 others injured in an explosion inside a central imambargah (mosque affiliated with Shia Muslims) in Sindh province’s Shikarpur district on Friday.
Civil Hospital Shikarpur issued a list of 49 victims out of whom 46 bodies had been identified whereas the identity of 3 others was yet to be confirmed.
Reuters reported that Jundullah, a splinter group of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which last year pledged support for the Islamic State group based in Syria and Iraq, claimed responsibility.
“Our target was the Shia mosque … They are our enemies,” said Fahad Marwat, a Jundullah spokesman.
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