Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada killed in Attock suicide blast

By Abdul Manan / Hafeez Tunio / Agencies

Punjab Home Minister Col (retd) Shuja Khanzada was killed along with dozens of others in a suicide blast at his political office in Shadi Khan near Attock on Sunday.

Adviser to Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, Dr Saeed Elahi, confirmed Khanzada’s death. “Home Minister Shuja Khanzada was killed in the suicide blast.”

Police said the blast appeared to be a large bomb, and it had caused the roof to cave in as Khanzada held meetings with supporters in his hometown of Attock. Khanzada was trapped under the rubble along with dozens of others as the entire structure of his office building collapsed.

“The bodies of nine people have been pulled out from the rubble,” Zahid Saeed, the commissioner of Rawalpindi, told reporters earlier, adding it was a suicide attack.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/939003/blast-rocks-punjab-home-minister-shuja-khanzadas-political-office-in-attock/

Pakistan terrorist leader killed in police shootout

Malik Ishaq, head of al-Qaida-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, dies with 13 others in operation some suspect may have been staged by authorities

By  in Islamabad

Leaders of Pakistan’s most infamous sectarian terrorist group, including its founder Malik Ishaq, were killed in a gun battle with police on Wednesday that many suspect may have been deliberately staged.

Ishaq and 13 other militants from the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) – including two of his sons and a top official – died after gunmen attempted to free them from custody in a pre-dawn operation, police claimed.

The al-Qaida-linked group, which Ishaq co-founded in 1996, is notorious for its attacks against Shias, as well other minority groups including Christians and Ahmedis.

Rai Muhammad Tahir, the head of Punjab’s counter-terrorism department, said Ishaq had offered to take police to an arms dump after he was arrested on Saturday.

“A special team was organised to visit the area with Malik Ishaq, his two sons and colleague Ghulam Rasool to recover explosives from a house situated in Shah Wali area of Muzaffargarh,” Tahir said.

“The moment the special team arrived at the place, some 20 militants attacked and tried to free Malik Ishaq and others. In a direct exchange of heavy fire, Malik Ishaq, his two sons and colleague Ghulam Rasool were killed along with 11 others,” he said.

The haul of weapons recovered from the house included 40kg of explosives, suicide bomb vests and guns, Tahir said.

The account raised immediate suspicions among some observers that the battle may have been an “encounter” – the name Pakistanis give to contrived killings of troublesome terror suspects whom the courts have been unable to convict.

Tahir was unable to explain why police had required so many senior LeJ leaders to attend to the identification of the weapons cache. Asad Munir, a retired officer of the inter-services intelligence directorate (ISI), Pakistan’s top spy agency, said “an encounter cannot be ruled out”.

Read more » The Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/29/pakistan-terrorist-leader-maliq-ishaq-killed-police-shootout

Pakistan – Prayer leader gets 10-year jail for hate speech

BAHAWALPUR: Anti-terrorism court judge Khalid Arshad on Friday awarded 10-year and four months jail term to the prayer leader of a mosque at Qaimpur Town near Hasilpur, about 90km from here, for delivering hate speech. He was also awarded Rs0.7m fine.

The convict, Maulana Abdul Ghani, was arrested by the Qaimpur police after he delivered the speech against a sect about two months back.

Meanwhile, the ATC announced judgements in four other cases pertaining to the distribution of hate literature.

Muhammad Waqas was awarded sentence of 3.5 months with a fine of Rs5,000, Rafiq Ahmed three months jail along Rs5,000 fine, Muhammad Zahid, three months and fifteen days while Talib Husain was given sentence of 3.5 months with Rs5,000 fine.

RAINWATER: Several dried-up open ponds, locally called tobas, in Cholistan were filled up with rainwater after the recent heavy rain.

According to Cholistan Development Authority’s director livestock Asghar Ramay, the rainwater in the ponds would meet the needs of both humans and cattle in the vast desert area.

He said the areas of Bijnot, Maujgarh, Dingarh, Salmsar and others received heavy rains while there was a drizzle in the parts of Derawar and Nawankot.

Mr Ramay expressed hope there would be grass and increase in natural pastures for animals after rain in the desert.

News courtesy: Dawn, July 4th, 2015
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1192238/

Sikh referendum 2020: Demand for Independence of Punjab Echoes in San Francisco

San Francisco (RPRN) 06/08/15 —  Thousands of North American Sikhs converged in downtown San Francisco to commemorate the 31st year of Indian Army’s invasion of Golden Temple in which thousands of Sikh pilgrims were massacred.

A highly visible stage at the San Francisco City Hall carried the larger than life portrait of slain Sikh separatist leader Sant Bhindranwle, while the speakers paid homage to the perennial chief of Damdami Taksal who headed the movement for independent Sikh country, “Khalistan”.

The “Sovereignty Rally” attended by more ten thousand Sikhs, was organized by the management committees of Gurudwaras across California.

Bringing the city of San Francisco to a halt, admirers and followers of Bhindranwale marched through the streets chanting slogans demanding referendum in the Indian occupied State of Punjab. Wearing T-shirts with pictures of slain separatist leader, Sikh youths were carrying placards for “Referendum 2020”.

Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) an international human rights group is advocating for holding of referendum in the year 2020 to create separate Sikh country.

Pointing to the growing popularity of campaign for Sikh Referendum, attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun legal advisor to SFJ stated that Sant Bhindranwale represented the community’s aspirations for independence and was not a terrorist as portrayed by the Indian government.

“History is a witness that in more than 300 years Sikh community was never an aggressor and only laid lives defending its right to peaceful existence”, added attorney Pannun.

What lies at the bottom of the controversy between the disgruntled Sikhs and Indian Government is the Explanation II to Article 25 of the constitution of India which labels Sikhs as Hindus. Offended by the constitutional assault on independent status of Sikhism, Bhindranwale initially lead the movement for abolition of Article 25 which ultimately culminated in demanding cession of Punjab, the historical homeland of Sikhs, from India.

News courtesy: RushPrNews
Read more » http://rushprnews.com/2015/06/08/demand-for-independence-of-punjab-echoes-in-san-francisco

Lahore, Muslims set Christian colony ablaze: new charges of blasphemy

by Jibran Khan

A young drug addict with mental health problems is accused of burning newspapers containing sacred verses. Islamic leaders called for his death; faced with the refusal of the police, hundreds attacked the Christian community. Unknown the fate of the accused.

Read more » Asia News
See more » http://www.asianews.it/index.php?art=34330&l=en

Punjab: Did you hear what the Chinese president said?

BY MUSHTAQ SOOFI

Would the prime minister, the cabinet ministers, the members of the National Assembly, the senators and other power wielders pause for a moment and ponder over what the president of the People’s Republic of China said in the beginning of his address to the joint session of Parliament held this week in Islamabad.

He described Pakistan as a country ‘young and ancient’. In the euphoria created by a huge pile of MOUs (which definitely would have economic bearings on our future) no one would care to understand the implied suggestion this apparently simple statement carried. But anyone who knows how Chinese are subtle in the matters of statecraft, politics and diplomacy will not miss how significant is the unsaid in what he said.

We all know we are a young country. The president reminded us that though a young country we have been a product of a brilliant ancient society spanned over thousands of years. What prompted him to iterate that is obvious? Our attitude towards the past and what it offers! Our past and what it offers constitutes ‘ancient’.

It’s precisely this very ‘historical mess’ that we abhor and are scared of, thus exposing an unbridgeable gulf between our being ‘young’ and ‘ancient’. So far we have tried though not successfully to build everything around the fact of our being young in search of ideology driven utopia that has landed us in a grey zone of historical dis-orientation.

With the emergence of Pakistan in 1947 our ruling elite strengthened the faith-based narrative, exclusive and monolithic, which was and is still being touted as a raison deter of the new state. Such an unnatural and a historical thinking caused an almost complete rupture with our long past especially the shared one spread over at least five thousand years.

In our world of make-belief we thought as if we came into being out of thin air of abstraction forgetting that we are what we have been and what we have been belongs to the irretrievable, the past. One can interpret and re-interpret the past but cannot change it.

It does not in way mean that humans are mere prisoners of history. On the one hand they are product of history and on the other they are capable of making history. However it is to be remembered that though ‘men make their own history they do not make it as they please. They do not make it under the circumstances chosen by themselves but under the circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past’. Our elders made history by creating a new state but they did this under the circumstances created by history itself which made the peaceful co-existence of Hindu and Muslim communities a distant dream cherished by many.

The new state while endeavouring to realize a different and secure future for its citizens suffered from a fatal fallacy. That is that the past can be declared an alien territory having no presence in the collective conscious and subconscious of people and hence one can have absolutely clean break with it.

The past, to the dismay of ideologues, is not something completely solid that can be demolished and buried under the debris of intellectual claptrap. What is most tangible about the past is its ever present intangibility as submerged experience at subterranean level that refuses to fade out from the psychic space.

Pakistani state and the elite with a deep sense of insecurity have been trying to build an exclusive national identity based on the denial of the past that we shared and still share with India.

The irony is that what is conceived as Indian and debunked is the cultural and intellectual manifestation of our ancient culture. What is the Indian civilization san Indus valley?

Can you imagine Indian civilization without Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, Rig-Veda (composed by Rishis at the banks of river Ravi), Gandhara and Taxila? Can you write the history the political science ignoring the Chanakya Kautilya’s Arthshastra, the first book on statecraft and art of politics?

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Pakistan – Punjab Launching First Responder Dolphin Force

Punjab Police is launching a first responder service by name of Dolphin Force (DF). DF will be equipped with modern gear including high speed bikes, mini-buses with field support, body mounter cameras, GPS locators and special radios. Each unit will be strategically stationed at different locations of the city and their movements will be monitored and controlled through satellite systems. This will enable them to reach at any location within a short period of time through help of central command and control center.

The new force will be trained by Turkish experts and the project is expected to cost around 900M.

Read more » PKPolitics
See more » http://pkpolitics.com/2015/04/02/punjab-launching-first-responder-dolphin-force/

Deadly blasts hit Pakistan churches in Lahore

Two bomb blasts have killed at least 10 people near two churches in a Christian neighbourhood of the Pakistani city of Lahore, local officials say.

At least 50 people were reportedly hurt in the explosions at the Catholic church and Christ Church in the city’s Youhanabad area.

Violent protests erupted after the blasts, with large crowds already in the area to attend Sunday mass.

Pakistan’s Christian community has often been targeted by militants.

An offshoot of the Pakistan Taliban, calling itself Jamatul Ahrar, has said it carried out the attack.

Witnesses say suicide bombers were responsible for the explosions but police have not confirmed this.

The bombers are said to have detonated their explosives at the gates of the churches. Local media say the death toll has reached 14.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-31894708

Banned ASWJ ends protest as Islamabad police forms team to probe murders

By SHAKEEL QARAR

ISLAMABAD: The banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) marched from Lal Masjid to the Parliament House on Friday in protest of “target killings and kidnappings” of its representatives.

The proscribed outfit marched today to protest against what it called a recent surge in acts of violence against its representatives. The march was led by ASWJ Islamabad President Ghulam Mustafa Baloch in light of which police cordoned off the street near the headquarters of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) with containers.

Following a dialogue with the Islamabad police, the outfit agreed to end its protest after an assurance was given that the murders of its workers would be probed. The additional deputy commission Islamabad, the SSP and other police officials said that a special investigation team to be led by SP Captain (retd) Ilyas was being formed to investigate the killings.

ASWJ, a reincarnation of the banned Sunni militant group Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), had been banned in Feb 2012.

Despite the ban, the ASWJ continues to operate in the country with religious conferences and demonstrations held in different cities from time to time and no apparent action from the authorities.

Read more: Banned outfit operates with impunity in Chakwal

Last month, lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir led a protest against ASWJ’s activities, bringing attention to the government’s negligence towards following due process of law.

ASWJ representatives have been targeted in three incidents of sectarian violence this year. Two days ago, senior ASWJ leader Dr Mohammad Fayyaz Khan was gunned down in Karachi.

According to data compiled by the South Asian Terrorism Portal, 112 people have been killed and 140 injured in incidents of sectarian violence in Pakistan since the beginning of 2015.

The Sunni Supreme Council had, at the end of February, announced the launch of a protest movement against sectarian killings and terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but the province-wide protest has not picked up impetus outside of KP.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1167784/banned-aswj-ends-protest-as-islamabad-police-forms-team-to-probe-murders

Pakistani farmers struggle to switch to solar powered pumps

By Aamir Saeed

Amid Pakistan’s growing energy crisis, farmers are being encouraged to switch from diesel to solar powered water pumps, but few can afford the initial costs

Arshad Khan recently converted his diesel-operated water pump to solar energy to save money on his monthly diesel bill. He grows wheat, vegetables, peanuts and sugar-cane on his 18 hectare farm in Attock district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

“In April last year I decided to convert my tube well to solar energy after my diesel costs rose to 29,000 rupees (US$287) per month,” he said.

In Pakistan, there are over 1.1 million agriculture tube wells, with only 30% of them operated by electricity.

As the country faces a growing energy crisis, farmers are left with no option but to switch from diesel to solar energy to irrigate their crops. Tube wells consume around 2,000 million litres of diesel every year.

Khan is now encouraging other farmers in the area to install solar panels, pointing out the long-term economic benefits despite the initial expenditure of 1.8 million rupees (US$17,827).

National solar drive?

Pakistan’s government recently approved the use of grid-connected solar energy and rooftop solar installations and cut import taxes on solar equipment in a bid to boost solar power across the country.

In the next few months, Pakistan will add 100MW from the Quaid-e-Azam solar park in Punjab province to the national grid for the first time, with an additional 50MW to be added within a year. The project is part of Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, under which China will invest US$33 billion including in the energy and power sector.

But the country’s solar sector has a long way to go. “At the moment, generation of solar energy in the public sector is zero as all the projects are being done in the private sector,” said Asjad Imtiaz Ali, CEO of the Alternative Energy Development Board, a government organisation.

Chairman of Pakistan Solar Association, Faiz Muhammad Bhutta, recently urged the government to do more to spread solar power: he called for a 20,000-MW solar target by 2026, following the example of India’s National Solar Mission.

Despite plummeting oil prices, Asjad Imtiaz Ali believes Pakistan should continue to develop its renewable energy sector as a way of reducing its reliance on volatile fossil imports for electricity.

Almost half of Pakistan’s total electricity generation comes from expensive thermal energy sources and this means electricity prices have become unaffordable, according to the country’s 2013 National Power Policy.

Solar is the most viable and reliable energy source for agriculture, argues Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman, climate change and renewable energy expert with LEAD Pakistan, an NGO based in Islamabad. He believes farmers across the country should be encouraged to convert their diesel-operated water pumps to solar energy.

“Agriculture tube wells can be operated directly from solar panels as no batteries are required to store the energy for them,” Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman said, adding farmers can recover costs within three to four years by saving on diesel and electricity bills.

Read more » The Third Pole
See more » http://www.thethirdpole.net/pakistani-farmers-struggle-to-switch-to-solar-powered-pumps/

‘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

 

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

Hafiz Saeed urges India to ‘leave Kashmir’

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/

JuD will continue to operate in Pakistan: Spokesperson

By Irfan Haider

As the Foreign Office said Thursday that the bank accounts of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) have been frozen and foreign travel restrictions imposed on the organisation’s leader Hafiz Saeed, JuD in its official response said it would continue its “charity work” across Pakistan regardless.

The official reaction emailed out by JuD accused Pakistan of having banned the organisation under pressure from the US to “please India”.

The JuD spokesperson defended the group, saying the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court had issued verdicts in favour of allowing JuD to operate in the past. Based on these verdicts, JuD vowed to continue on its mission.

Read: Pakistan freezes bank accounts of Jamaatud Dawa

Earlier, JuD members told Dawn.com that the party leadership would approach the Supreme Court to challenge the ban. A JuD member, who requested anonymity, maintained that the group has only been engaged in charitable work for the past several years across the country.

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1158711

 

CONFRONTING THE JIHADISTS COMPREHENSIVELY WILL MAKE PAKISTAN MORE SECURE.

BY HUSAIN HAQQANI

It shook Pakistan and stunned the world. But the carnage on Dec. 16 at the Army Public School, Peshawar, marked only an escalation in the brutality of Pakistani militants, not its beginning.

Over the years, Pakistan’s homegrown terrorists have bombed the places of worship of the Shia, the Sunni, Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus. Since 2009, the Taliban have attacked over a thousand schools, mainly in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. They have targeted ISI offices in several cities, Navy and Air Force bases, garrison mosques, the Karachi Airport, and even the Army’s General Headquarters. If this breadth of attrition has not cured Pakistan of its jihadist addiction, can the deaths of 134 innocent children and the burning alive of their teachers in Peshawar result in a fundamental change of heart?

The jihadist worldview is as stubborn as it is toxic. Soon after Peshawar, Maulana Abdul Aziz of Islamabad’s infamous Lal Masjid refused to condemn the Taliban’s heinous attack, and Hafiz Saeed of Jamat-ud-Dawah (née Lashkar-e-Taiba) went on television to blame New Delhi for the school attack and vowed revenge inside India.

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Punjabi Taliban chief unlikely to be tried in military court

By Amir Mir

ISLAMABAD: Despite the Pakistani ruling elite’s repeated resolve after the Peshawar school massacre not to show any distinction between ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Taliban, the Ameer of the Punjabi Taliban, Commander Asmatullah Moavia, seems to have been granted amnesty after his announcement to abandon militancy, ignoring with impunity his involvement in dozens of bloody terror attacks on Christians and Muslims alike.

The Pakistan government had assured the US Secretary of State John Kerry during his just-concluded visit that Islamabad won’t differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban. Before that, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif had stated individually that there will be no delineation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban and that the war against terror will be continued till the elimination of the last terrorist. However, there are clear indications to suggest that some of the Jihadi assets belonging to the Punjab are still being treated as ‘good’ Taliban and thus given preferential treatment.

In fact, Asmatullah Moavia, the Ameer of the Punjabi Taliban, has been allowed by the Pakistani authorities after a peace deal to return to his hometown in the Vehari district of Punjab. This is despite the fact that he had claimed dozens of ferocious terror attacks, including the September 22, 2013 Peshawar Church bombing, which had killed 80-plus Christians and the May 28, 2010 Fidayeen attacks on two Ahmedi mosques in Lahore which killed 100-plus people.

From the November 2007 suicide bombing of the ISI buses in Rawalpindi (killing 38 people) to the Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad in September 2008 (killing 58 people), the Manawan Police Training Centre attack in Lahore in March 2009 (killing 22 people), the GHQ attack in Rawalpindi in October 2009 (killing 13 people), the Moon Market suicide bombing in Lahore in December 2009 (killing 54 people), the Rawalpindi Parade Lane Mosque attack in December 2009 (killing 36 people), the July 2010 Data Darbar Shrine suicide bombing (killing 51 people), the slaughter of 10 under training policemen from the KP in Lahore on July 2012, the killing of seven security forces personnel in a terrorist attack on an Army Camp in Wazirabad in July 2012, the killing of 10 foreign climbers in Nanga Parbat in June 2013, Moavia has been named as the mastermind of all these terrorist attacks. But he is unlikely to be tried for any of his crimes by the recently set up military courts.

Moavia, who is considered very close to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s Ameer Malik Ishaq, is not an ordinary Jihadi but a ruthless leader who has been singularly responsible for the spread of Jihadi bloodshed in Pakistan in the aftermath of the July 2007 Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad. He actually laid the ideological ground for making the Pakistani security forces and intelligence agencies the number one target for the Punjabi Taliban. He had begun his Jihadi career from the platform of Maulana Masood Azhar-led Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). After discarding the JeM, Moavia first joined the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and then its military wing — Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) — before eventually launching Janood-e-Hafsa (JeH) and finally becoming the Ameer of the Punjabi Taliban. The launching of the Janood was largely prompted by the July 2007 operation conducted against the Lal Masjid clerics in Islamabad.

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Peshawar rally pays tribute to Charlie Hebdo attackers

By Agencies | Dawn.com

PESHAWAR: While last week’s attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo sparked global outrage, dozens of people in Peshawar paid tribute Tuesday to the brothers who carried out the murders.

The small-scale event was led by local cleric Maulana Pir Mohammad Chishti.

Twelve people were shot dead — including a Muslim cop Ahmed Merabet — when two militants had stormed into the Charlie Hebdo offices in reaction to disrespectful cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) published by the magazine.

Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) is well known for courting controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders.

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1156760/

– – – – – – –
More details » The Washington Post
See more » http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistan-cleric-offers-prayers-for-charlie-hebdo-attackers/2015/01/13/49296c66-9b16-11e4-86a3-1b56f64925f6_story.html

Mosque versus state

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

THE mosque in Pakistan is now no longer just a religious institution. Instead it has morphed into a deeply political one that seeks to radically transform culture and society. Actively assisted by the state in this mission in earlier decades, the mosque is a powerful actor over which the state now exercises little authority. Some have been captured by those who fight the government and military. An eviscerated, embattled state finds it easier to drop bombs on the TTP in tribal Waziristan than to rein in its urban supporters, or to dismiss from state payroll those mosque leaders belonging to militant groups.

Very few Pakistanis have dared to criticise the country’s increasingly powerful mosque establishment although they do not spare the Pakistan Army and the country’s political leaders for their many shortcomings. For example, following the Army Public School massacre, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s promise to regulate the madressahs was immediately criticised as undoable. Had he instead suggested that Pakistan’s mosques be brought under state control as in Saudi Arabia, Iran and several Muslim countries, it would have been dismissed as belonging to even beyond the undoable.

The state’s timidity was vividly exposed in its handling of the 2007 bloody insurrection, launched from inside Islamabad’s central mosque, Lal Masjid, barely a mile from the heart of Pakistan’s government. It was a defining point in Pakistan’s history. The story of the Lal Masjid insurrection, its bloody ending, and subsequent rebound is so critical to understanding the limitations of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism that it deserves to be told once again.

Very few Pakistanis have dared to criticise the country’s increasingly powerful mosque establishment.

In early January 2007, the two head clerics of the Lal Masjid demanded the immediate rebuilding of eight illegally constructed mosques knocked down by the civic authorities. Days later, an immediate enforcement of Sharia in Islamabad was demanded. Armed vigilante groups from Jamia Hafsa and nearby madressahs kidnapped ordinary citizens and policemen, threatened shopkeepers, burned CDs and videos, and repeated the demands of tribal militants fighting the Pakistan Army.

At a meeting held in Lal Masjid on April 6, 2007, it was reported that 100 guest religious leaders from across the country pledged to die for the cause of Islam and Sharia. On April 12, in an illegal FM broadcast from the mosque’s own radio station, the clerics issued a threat to the government: “There will be suicide blasts in every nook and cranny of the country. We have weapons, grenades and we are expert in manufacturing bombs. We are not afraid of death….”

The brothers Abdul Aziz and Abdur Rashid Ghazi, who headed the Lal Masjid, had attracted a core of militant organisations around them, including the pioneer of suicide bombings in the region, Jaish-e-Mohammad. Their goal was to change Pakistan’s culture. On April 12, 2007, Rashid Ghazi, a former student of Quaid-i-Azam University, broadcast the following chilling message to our female students:

“The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-i-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses. They will have to hide themselves in hijab otherwise they will be punished according to Islam…. Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it.

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Pakistan: Govt to act against ‘violent banned outfits’ only

By Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD: Of the nearly 72 organisations and outfits that have been declared ‘proscribed’, only a handful are likely to face action in the coming days as part of the government’s impending crackdown on terrorists and militant groups, sources in the interior ministry told Dawn.

The sources say that the government’s focus, at least in the initial stages, would be on organisations which had taken up arms against the state. Such organisations will not be allowed to operate on Pakistani soil anymore and members of such groups who are known to be involved in violent activities will be arrested, an official in the interior ministry told Dawn.

“Following their arrest and interrogation, such individuals will be produced before military courts for trial under a defined procedure,” he said.

The official confirmed that groups which had claimed responsibility for recent terrorist attacks would be proceeded against, but refused to give any details.

He said the provinces had been asked to develop a “multi-faceted process of scrutiny” whereby cases would be sent to military courts, adding that the methodology would be fine-tuned by his ministry.

Benign groups?

It is believed that most banned organisations do not have militant wings and the ministry has no plans to act against such groups. In addition, the ministry’s official said, it was ‘not advisable’ to simultaneously act against all banned outfits.

The provinces had been asked to identify outlawed outfits and keep an eye on key operatives. They will also be looking into groups that have re-emerged under different names after their original incarnation was banned by the government.

The official told Dawn that individuals who faced criminal charges under the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act would be monitored closely. Under the law, he added, such persons were supposed to report to a police station before travelling to any other city, as well as intimating their date of return. He said such people were also required to report to the police station concerned in the city they are travelling to, but admitted that this provision had scarcely been enforced in the past.

Although he did not offer specifics on which organisations were regarded as being an immediate threat, the official said a comprehensive assessment was being carried out to ascertain how many of the 72 were active and how many were operating under changed names.

The National Counter-Terrorism Authority’s National Coordinator Hamid Ali Khan could not be contacted to get his point of view.

The government’s list features organisations such as Al Qaeda, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, and some of its factions, including the Tehreek-i-Taliban Bajaur, Tehreek-i-Taliban Mohmand and Tehreek-i-Taliban Swat. Then there are organisations whose names reflect their inherently militant nature, such as the Balochistan Liberation Army, Balochistan Republican Army, Balochistan United Army, United Baloch Army, Balochistan Bunyad Parast Army, the 313 Brigade and the Abdullah Azzam brigade, among others.

When asked about banned outfits that had taken part in the last general elections, he said a new procedure was being devised for registration of political parties.

At least 40 candidates from the outlawed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, including its chief, Ahmad Ludhianvi, had taken part in the 2013 general elections.

Former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah met Ludhianvi more than once prior to the 2013 elections and justified his meetings by saying that members of the Jamaatud Dawa and Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan were not terrorists.

However, the official avoided commenting on political parties which were said to have links with banned outfits.

In June 2010, Ludhianvi even claimed that at least 25 PPP MNAs had won the 2008 general elections with his party’s support.

Courtesy: Dawn, January 11th, 2015
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1156321/govt-to-act-against-violent-banned-outfits-only

Pakistan must believe that the darkest hour is just before the dawn

In post-Peshawar Pakistan, we have to believe that the darkest hour is just before the dawn

By REEMA ABBASI

Remembering murders and massacres past to demand justice was a sad challenge this week.

On January 4 – a date that should be declared ‘Salmaan Taseer Day’ – a peaceful vigil in central Lahore was held to honour the fourth anniversary of the province’s assassinated governor.

However, the memorial was attacked by Mumtaz Qadri’s supporters, who reportedly belonged to a banned terror outfit.

The scene was as tragic as it was violent. Placards such as “ST hum sharminda hain, tumhara qaatil zinda hai” were set ablaze as baton-wielding villains pounded participants, including campaigners of renown.

Though crazed with hate, their rampage was not without the blessings of the Punjab government and the police.

However, post-Peshawar Pakistan is another country. Hence, where such an incident would previously have sent mourners home, this time the miscreants defeated their own purpose.

Their assault sent the crowd to procure an FIR against the mob. So far, over 40 suspects have been arrested.

The atrocity, along with the ongoing saga of the Lal Masjid cleric, Abdul Aziz, is yet another testament to Punjab being the hotbed of fanaticism. It shows that the malaise has infiltrated the law enforcement apparatus and thrives in state espousal.

Punjab has witnessed the mushrooming of groups such as the Tehreek-e-Tahafuz-e-Khatme-Nabuwat, and the nation is keen to see the outcome of current civil-society-led movements geared to bring militants to book.

At this stage, we can only believe in the adage that the darkest hour is before dawn.

But if Sharif does not seize the moment to channelise public rage towards a new horizon, Pakistan may be doomed to see history repeat itself. 

— The writer is a Karachi-based author and journalist

Courtesy: Daily Maily

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2902723/In-post-Peshawar-Pakistan-believe-darkest-hour-just-dawn.html#ixzz3OSQzF4JU

Department of ‘Homeland’ Controversy: Pakistan and Terrorism

By MUSTAFA HAMEED and

NEW YORK — Pakistani officials recently lashed out at the Showtime series “Homeland” for its portrayal of the Southwest Asian nation as a friend to terrorist groups, among other complaints, but according to former U.S. officials and Pakistan experts, it could be a case of a fictional show hitting just a little too close to home.

Last week the press attache for Pakistan‘s embassy in Washington released a statement saying it was “very unfortunate that the underlying theme of ‘Homeland’ Season 4 is designed to create a negative perception of both the U.S. and Pakistan.”

“The show projects and reinforces stereotypes about the U.S. and Pakistan that do not serve the best interests of our two peoples and countries,” press attache Nadeem Hotiana said in a statement to The New York Post and provided to ABC News. “This is also an affront to the people and institutions in both countries who have invested a lot over the decades in blood and treasure in building this important and mutually beneficial relationship.”

This season the espionage thriller, which wrapped up last Sunday, included a story line in which an agent of the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, appeared to repeatedly assist a local terrorist group, including in a deadly attack on the American Embassy in Islamabad.

“Insinuations that an intelligence agency of Pakistan is complicit in protecting the terrorists at the expense of innocent Pakistani civilians is not only absurd but also an insult to the ultimate sacrifices of the thousands of Pakistani security personnel in the war against terrorism,” Hotiana said.

But in recent years, the “insult” of tying the Pakistani government, intelligence agencies or armed forces to terror groups was hardly “absurd” to top U.S. military and intelligence officials.

In September 2011, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen told a Congressional committee that the real-life ISI was “exporting violence” by aiding the militant group theHaqqani network — which is the same name used by the leader of the terror group in “Homeland” — after an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. More than a dozen people were killed in that day’s assault.

“In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership, but Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence,” Mullen said.

He went further, calling the Haqqanis a “veritable arm” of the ISI.

Read more » ABC News
Learn More » http://abcnews.go.com/International/department-homeland-controversy-pakistan-terrorism/story?id=27963663

Pakistan Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Pakistan has literally become a delusional country ...

Pakistan has literally become a delusional country …

By 

My country Pakistan is still reeling from the shock and disbelief due to the December 16 tragedy in which more than 130 children died. Over the years, Pakistan has suffered a lot due to terrorism as countless people have lost their lives. But what happened on the December 16 was extremely dark and gory even by Pakistani standard.

And yet whatever happened on that fateful day is in many ways a result of our own faults. And in this journey towards mayhem, it is not just the Pakistani state but the general public also has played a prominent part.

Nothing will change until this narrative changes and our mindset which accommodates it changes. Pakistan has to realize that it is its own worst enemy.

What happened on December 16 or has been happening over the years is the direct consequence of using religion as a political tool to achieve some strategic objectives. For many years Pakistani state has used religious militant groups for achieving “strategic” objectives and in the process it has always taken it for granted that one cannot feed crocodiles and expect that they will only attack the “enemy”.

Although Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is different from Afghan Taliban — as the latter is often categorized as “good” Taliban — but the fact is that even if different, both have mutated from the same template. TTP just like Afghan Taliban is a militant organization which seeks motivation from religion and aims to implement a very strict form of religious code.

But state’s practice of supporting such groups is just one part of the story. The fact that public opinion has never been really against such groups is something which is even more troublesome. Over the years, Pakistani public has been in strange form of denial and has always considered militants such as the TTP as merely reacting to U.S. presence in Afghanistan and its policy of carrying drone attacks.

Much more than anything else, it is this mindset which is deeply problematic. Even when it became obvious that TTP was killing and even accepting responsibility, Pakistan’s response was of denial. Some kept on calling it propaganda against Taliban to defame them while others kept on giving apologetic defense to them by calling their inhuman atrocities as “reaction”.

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Pakistan’s overarching threat landscape

armyBy Talat Masood

The military operation in North Waziristan has clearly met with some notable success. Apparently, more than 80 per cent of the area has been cleared and the TTP has become factionalised and is under considerable pressure. Last week, there was also the good news that the security forces killed a top al Qaeda commander, Saudi-born Adnan el Shukrijumah, in an encounter in South Waziristan. Undoubtedly, a lot of credit for turning the tide against the militants at the operational level goes to General Raheel Sharif and to our valiant soldiers who continue to sacrifice their lives to defend and maintain the integrity of the state. But this is only the clearing and to some extent the holding phase of the operation. The major work of rebuilding the devastated areas and rehabilitating the IDPs still remains.

The larger security threat facing Pakistan, however, is multi-dimensional and complex. In contrast, the interest, comprehension and response of our national leaders are intangible. We have four categories of militants — globally oriented, Afghanistan specific, India and Kashmir directed and domestically oriented. These groups work independently but also form alliances to boost their overall capability. In addition, there is an ongoing insurgency in Balochistan. We also cannot be oblivious to the potential emergence of the Islamic State (IS). There are unconfirmed reports that more than 15,000-20,000 volunteers from Pakistan are fighting in Syria and Iraq. Some of these may return and pose a threat, especially in less-governed parts of the country. Karachi remains a perpetual battleground for militant groups of the main political parties and the country frequently suffers at the hands of sectarian militias. This problem is allowed to fester and left to the provincial governments to deal with in a half-hearted manner. On the external front, volatility on the Line of Control and the working boundary has acquired a new life of its own. What I have described is well known, but lost in the din of everyday life and as we are distracted by ego battles of our leaders, we fail to grasp the grave implications of this overarching threat landscape. Our leaders have shielded themselves by living in houses that are fortresses and travel in vehicles with contingents of bodyguards to keep them protected. The most disturbing aspect is that the responsibility of dealing with all these threats has been left to the army. State institutions like the committee on national security and Nacta lie dormant although in a democratic country, security matters are major responsibilities of the civilian government. No wonder Narendra Modi’s government takes the convenient cover that there is hardly any point in talking to the Pakistani civilian government when the military (or the militants) seem to control policy. The Indian point of view is reinforced when Hafiz Saeed, who has a $10 million dollar bounty on his head, brazenly takes out a procession of jihadi elements on the streets of Lahore and makes scathing remarks against India and the US. The government, by giving him a free rein, undermines its case on Kashmir and weakens the political and moral basis of its stand.

On the one hand, the army chief has categorically stated that there are no good or bad militants and the army is operating against all of them without any discrimination. And then the world is presented with this spectacle.

This clearly indicates that we do not treat the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or its other face, the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), in the same category. It seems that it is used to pressure India to show flexibility on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Pakistan has been repeatedly accused of playing a double game and is pursuing a different policy in handling the Kashmiri jihadis and those of the TTP and its affiliates.

Such demonstrations reinforce this impression. Even if Pakistan were to ignore the negative aspects of the international fall-out, it has to seriously consider whether it would be possible to fight radicalism and extremism if it tolerates militant outfits that are spewing hatred and promoting violence as the primary tool of the freedom struggle in J&K. As it is, the spread and influence of militant organisations in southern Punjab is growing rapidly. Many of these groups have global and regional jihadist aspirations. Support for the JuD in Pakistan can even be found among some educated youth and professionals, which could be ominous. The world has changed after the 9/11 and Pakistan cannot remain oblivious to the tectonic shifts in the global security structure. The JuD and other Kashmir-oriented outfits should now focus primarily on the political and humanitarian aspects of the freedom struggle. Major terrorist attacks occurred in four places in J&K on the same day when the JuD was taking out processions in Lahore. For India, it becomes easy to put all the blame on Pakistan and then justify the reticence in engaging in inter-state dialogue.

The PML-N had used its rapport with militant groups in Punjab to broaden its electoral support with obvious long-term deleterious affects. Moreover, our claim that the military is dealing with all militant organisations alike needs to be qualified. It would amount to far less change in policy and would be no different from that pursued for several decades when it comes to India.

It seems that we are unwilling or unaware that the world has changed and is not prepared to tolerate any militant groups irrespective of how just their cause may be. Pakistani elements promoting jihad are out of sync with the rest of the world.

The Indian establishment is myopic and too short-sighted, and fails to see the serious discontent in occupied Kashmir that has to be addressed politically and not through brute force. Of course, a negotiated political settlement with India on J&K will greatly reduce the incentive and support for the militant organisations. But that is unlikely to happen in the near future. The jihadists in Pakistan and the Indian hardliners are pulling the two countries further apart and holding the region hostage.

The writer is a retired lieutenant general of the Pakistan Army and served as chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, December 10th,  2014.
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/804309/pakistans-overarching-threat-landscape/

Pakistan – KP government ‘Modern Transportation Project’ leaves behind Punjab’s Metro Buses

KP government approves modern AC buses project for Peshawar

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has come up with a challenging move like Punjab’s Metro buses project as approved air-conditioned passenger buses for Peshawar.

Chief Minister KP Pervez Khattak said in this regard that initially 150 buses would be run from Chamkani to Hayatbad adding that every month 50 more buses would be added.

The CM said that the air-conditioned bus service will be run through public-private partnership.

He further added that 800 people will be recruited for the project.

Courtesy: The News Tribe
Read more » http://www.thenewstribe.com/2014/12/02/kp-govt-approves-modern-ac-buses-project-for-peshawar/

Crossing borders: Why every Indian should visit Pakistan

Our soils are parted, let’s not part our souls.

By Nikita Singla

I said, “I want to go to Pakistan…” but, I couldn’t finish before the reactions came flying in:

“There are so many new places you can see, then why Pakistan?”

“If a war starts between India and Pakistan, the first thing they will do is seal the borders and you will be left on the other side forever.”

“Believe us, it’s not safe to go there. You won’t even get a US visa after this.”

Born and brought up in a Punjabi family, with an understanding of the Muslim world which was unfriendly, to say the least; these reactions were not all that surprising for me.

But there was still the question of whether a good part of this resentment did not flow from ‘Islamophobia’ or the lens through which the world sees Pakistan i.e. as a haven for the world’s al Qaedas and Talibans.

So I was clear: I wanted to go and find my own answers on the other side of my very own Punjab.

I reached Amritsar a day before, with fingers crossed but still clueless about whether I would even get the visa. Finally, everything fell into place and it ended with a lot of, “We cannot believe you are doing this…” lines.

I was going as a part of a 16-member peace delegation for a conference on South Asia People’s Union, and among the very few members who were visiting Pakistan for their first time. Everybody asked the youngest delegate in the team, “How do you think Pakistan will be?” And, that mounted my excitement even further.

The moment we crossed Wagah and got to the other side, a chill ran down my spine at the sight of the place where a suicide bombing had followed the daily parade, exactly a week before. And I caught myself chanting all the Sanskrit mantras I knew at mind-boggling speed.

A shower of rose petals by our Pakistani friends who had come to receive us at the border, was something I had definitely not expected. The South Asia Partnership (SAP) Pakistan’s team rolled out the red carpet and gave us a very warm welcome.

We directly headed for lunch at one of the members’ place. And in my first few hours there, I was at a complete loss at making out any difference between them and myself. We looked similar, wore similar clothes, ate similar food and spoke the same language; that same Punjabi with the same accent, except for the ‘Haye Rabba’ I burst into and the ‘Haye Allah’ they burst into, while laughing.

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Imran, Qadri and Altaf are friends of establishment and are anti-people: Says Left wing activists of Sindh

Peasants leaders as well as leaders of Communist Party of Pakistan, including its Secretory General Imdad Qazi has said that Imran Khan, Qadri and Altaf Hussain are the partners of establishment and are anti-people elements.

News Courtesy: Rights and Movements + Sindhi Daily Awami Awaz, 16 Nov. 2014

Read more » http://rightsupdate.blogspot.in/2014/11/qadri-imran-and-altaf-are-friends-of.html

UAE blacklists 5 Pakistani groups among 83 as ‘militant organisations

By AFP

ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates on Saturday issued a list of 83 militant groups which it classified as “militant organisations,” including five from Pakistan.

The list, approved by the Gulf state’s cabinet and published on the official WAM news agency, is similar to an announcement made by Saudi Arabia in March.

It blacklists several arms of al Qaeda, Islamic State (IS), as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and Yemen’s Huthi militia. From Pakistan, it has blacklisted the Pakistani Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba Pakistan, the East Turkestan movement in Pakistan, Muhammad’s Army in Pakistan and Muhammad’s Army in Pakistan and India.

ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates on Saturday issued a list of 83 militant groups which it classified as “militant organisations,” including five from Pakistan. The list, approved by the Gulf state’s cabinet and published on the official WAM news agency, is similar to an announcement made by Saudi Arabia in March. It blacklists several arms of al Qaeda, Islamic State (IS), as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and Yemen’s Huthi militia. From Pakistan, it has blacklisted the Pakistani Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba Pakistan, the East Turkestan movement in Pakistan, Muhammad’s Army in Pakistan and Muhammad’s Army in Pakistan and India.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/791818/uae-blacklists-6-pakistani-groups-among-80-as-militant-organisations/

Christian man, pregnant wife beaten, burnt to death over ‘Quran desecration’

BY ASHER JOHN

An enraged Muslim mob beat a Christian couple to death and burnt their bodies in the brick kiln where they worked on Tuesday for allegedly desecrating pages of the Holy Quran.

The incident took place in Chak 59 village near Kot Radha Kishan, some 60 kilometres southwest of Lahore, and is the latest example of mob violence against non-Muslims accused of blasphemy.

Sources privy to the details of the incident told Pakistan Today that Shahzad Masih and his wife Shama worked in a brick kiln owned by a man named Yousaf Gujjar since the last 3-4 years.

“The couple were originally from Clarkabad, a Christian village a few kilometeres away from Raiwind but they had been working at Yousaf Gujjar’s brick kiln for the last 3-4 years and were living in a quarter in the premises,” a relative of the deceased couple toldPakistan Today on the condition of anonymity.

He said that on Sunday, Shama, wife of the deceased Shahzad Masih, was cleaning her quarters when she found some amulets belonging to her late father-in-law who used to ‘practice’ black magic.

“Shama burnt the amulets and threw them on a garbage heap. Irfan, a Muslim co-worker at the kiln, noticed some half burnt pieces of paper from the amulets and raised clamour, claiming that these were pages from the holy Quran, Soon the word spread and at 7am on Tuesday, a Muslim mob of about 3,000-4,000 people attacked the couple’s quarters at the brick kiln and tortured the couple to death. They later threw their bodies into the kiln and completely burnt them,” he said, adding that he and some other Christian families who worked at the kiln fled the kiln immediately after the incident.

He said the couple, aged between 30 and 35 years had three children while Shama was expecting a fourth child.

Read more » Pakistan Today

Pakistan bomb kills 50 at Wagah border with India

More than 50 people have been killed and at least 100 injured in a suicide bombing close to Pakistan’s only border crossing with India.

The blast hit near the checkpoint at the Wagah border crossing, near Lahore.

The Pakistani Taliban told the BBC that it had carried out the attack, although another militant group, Jundullah, also said it was responsible.

At least 15 people were badly injured, and officials said three members of the Pakistani border force had died.

Scattered bodies

The Wagah crossing is a high-profile target, with large crowds gathering every day to watch an elaborate flag-lowering ceremony as the border closes.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-29871077

Political Islam: An evolutionary history

By Nadeem F. Paracha

The term ‘Political Islam’ is an academic concoction. It works as an analytical umbrella under which political analysts club together various political tendencies that claim to be using Muslim scriptures and historical traditions to achieve modern political goals.

The term most probably emerged in the 1940s in Europe, to define anti-colonial movements that described themselves as Islamic in orientation. It is a 20th century construct and its first prominent expression is believed to be Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, formed in 1927.

Even though as a political tendency, Political Islam covers a wide range of movements involving various Muslim sects, sub-sects, nationalities, leftist as well as rightist rhetoric and narratives; it is the commonalities in these varied movements that make analysts study them as a single ideological entity.

There is a rightist and a leftist side of Political Islam.

Till about the late 1960s, movements associated with rightest aspects of Political Islam were largely intellectual pursuits with limited political influence.

12th century Islamic thinker, Imam Ghazali, who advocated an end to ‘ijtihad’ (independent reasoning) with the view that Islamic thought had reached completion.

They were seen with suspicion, even by those movements and groups that adopted the main aspects of Political Islam and fused them with varied leftist ideologies.

Thus one can also suggest that during the Cold War era (1949-90), the central theological and political tussle in most Muslim countries was not exactly between ‘Islamists’ and secularists, or between religious political groups and communists; the main conflict was between the rightest expressions of Political Islam and its leftist versions.

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Punjab Assembly approves resolution to make Guru Nanak’s birthday a public holiday

By Abdul Manan

LAHORE: Sardar Ramesh Singh, the first Sikh member of the Punjab Assembly, tabled a resolution requesting that the birthday of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, be made a public holiday.

Ramesh Singh is a member of Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N) and the resolution was approved in the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday.

The passing of the resolution comes just a few days after members of the Sikh community stormed through the gates of Parliament House to protest …

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/714317/punjab-assembly-approves-resolution-to-make-guru-nanaks-birthday-a-public-holiday/