Lahore: Mubarak Centre project relaunched

buildingBy Jawwad Rizvi

THE commercial landmark that was earlier scrapped at its foundation stage is back on track as both the Punjab government and Abu Dhabi Group have managed to launch it again though with some modifications in its main plan.

The Mubarak Centre, a complex under construction in Lahore, was scrapped by the current government of Punjab in 2009. Initially, the project included towers having residential apartments and offices, conference halls and a shopping mall and it would have the tallest building in Pakistan.

An audit and accounts committee, consisting of representatives of both the Punjab government and Abu Dhabi Group, was established to make the feasibility report and finalise it before the next Board of Directors meeting scheduled to be held in January 2012.

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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
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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
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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
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Punjab: Did you hear what the Chinese president said?


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


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
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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
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‘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
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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
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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
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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
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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


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

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Department of ‘Homeland’ Controversy: Pakistan and Terrorism


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
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Pakistan Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Pakistan has literally become a delusional country ...

Pakistan has literally become a delusional country …


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 – 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
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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

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


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

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

Altaf poses 14 questions to army chief over MQM workers’ arrest



He asked why the Rangers did not act against anti-government protesters in Islamabad who were involved in attacks on government buildings in the capital.

Raising questions concerning the recent arrests of MQM workers carried out by Rangers in Karachi, Altaf asked if the MQM, like some political parties, would be similarly allowed to protest in the high-security Red Zone of Islamabad for a period of 40 days?

Read more » DAWN

British pensioner on Pakistan’s death row on blasphemy charge shot by policeman

A British pensioner who was sentenced to death after being convicted of blasphemy, has been shot and injured by a policeman inside the Pakistani jail where the 70-year-old was on death row. A Christian pastor was reportedly killed in the same incident. Muhammad Asghar, who is from Edinburgh and whose family says he has a history of mental illness, was shot in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on Thursday morning by a member of a specialist police unit allegedly using a concealed weapon. Pastor Zafar Bhatti was killed in the same incident, Reuters reported.

Mr Asghar was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to death in January this year after a disgruntled tenant presented letters he had written saying he was a prophet. During his trial, his family tried to present evidence that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

A lawyer for Mr Asghar, who asked not to be identified, said they had been told the pensioner had been shot in the back at 8.30am by a police constable attached to a specialist unit.

More » The Independent

SP also ‘punished’ for stopping general’s car

SP also ‘punished’ for stopping general’s car

LAHORE, Oct 16: Model Town division SP Syed Ahmed Mobin Zaidi was transferred and directed to report to the central police office (CPO) in the wake of an incident on Tuesday night when a police team stopped the car of a major-general’s family at a picket near Ghalib Market, Gulberg.

Model Town division ASP Muhammad Ali Nikokar has already been asked to report to the CPO. Besides, Ghalib Market SHO Shahid Chaddar has been suspended and Constable Nazir booked under Section 506.

The police had stopped the car on Tuesday night to remove its tinted glass, which was banned by the Punjab government for security reasons following the murder of MNA Maulana Azam Tariq.

The driver, who was reportedly in army uniform, introduced the family on board. But constable Nazir Ahmad refused to let them go because “no body was exempted from the ban”.

This led to an argument between the two which attracted other policemen present there who intervened in the matter and allowed the family to go with the tinted glass still intact.

Before leaving, the general’s driver reportedly threatened the policemen with dire consequences. His threat meterialized within minutes as the senior army command got into action and asked the police hierarchy to take strict action against the constable, Ghalib Market SHO and Model Town division SP and ASP.

The police command not only booked constable Nazir Ahmed but also allowed the army to take him to the corps headquarters handcuffed for “further interrogation”. He managed his release on Wednesday after getting bail from a local court.

Sources said SP Syed Ahmed Mobin Zaidi did try to use his connections in the army but failed to stop his transfer due to “enormous pressure” on the police hierarchy.

According to an army official, the action has been taken to “condemn the police conduct at pickets”. Soon after the incident, vehicles of the army and the judiciary were exempted from the ban.

Courtesy: DAWN

No room for democracy

By Ayesha Siddiqa

The video of two parliamentarians being forcibly offloaded a PIA flight from Karachi to Islamabad has gone viral. The incident is generally being viewed as an indicator of how a peculiar behaviour, which was associated with old style patronage politics, will get challenged. The national carrier may find it increasingly difficult to treat its passengers differently — trap over two hundred souls in an aircraft while allowing VIPs to sit in a comfortable lounge as the aircraft recovers for two hours from its technical problems. Surely we can all clap at the event as a forward movement, this also indicates militant attitudes creeping into our political and social lives. Here I am not taking a position for or against but only suggesting what has changed.

This is not even an isolated incident. Those enjoying video evidence must also see the manner in which the police have been taking a thrashing from the ‘Naya Pakistan’ protestors. While we can all sympathise with Imran Khan’s right to change the political tone, it would be worthwhile for him to envision how he would, if he did become the prime minister of this country, put the genie back into the bottle. Much that he likes to compare himself with Jinnah, Imran would not be able to ensure that the same police, which get battered and bruised during the rule of his opponents, will get respected when he becomes the man in charge. No one seems willing to tell the story of the tired policemen who have been doing their duty for the last 30 days with little to boost their ego.

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Boar becomes casualty of revolution


Islamabad – A wild boar faced the wrath of supporters of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri on Tuesday morning when they captured the animal near the Parliament House, brutally thrashed it with sticks, tied it with cables and wrote “go Nawaz go” on its body in a distasteful form of political protest.
Islamabad is no stranger to wild boars, often seem roaming the roads near the hills late in the nights – and sometimes the cause of accidents. But the sight of a boar during daytime is rare. Boars are considered impure according to Islamic injunctions.
Around 11:00am on Tuesday, the wild boar emerged on the Constitution Avenue and immediately set off an enraged fury amongst the followers of the cleric. It was caught within seconds and then dragged through the street as a jubilant crowd shouted and jeered the hunted animal.
A slogan against the prime minister was inscribed on the thick hairy skin before the boar was subjected to a slow, painful death, sticks raining down on it in quick succession. By doing so, Qadri’s workers not only exhibited a disturbing form of violence against a defenceless animal. The boar did not survive the torture, and died surrounded by a crowd of protestors celebrating its agony.
Qadri, just like Imran Khan, is threatening the government that his workers can get out of his control and attack the government buildings and law enforcing officials. He has also threatened that his workers will collect all the looted money from them. He has never directly said that his workers might kill the prime minister and others among his cabinet but his language exhibits extreme hatred for the elected government. Some fear that the cleric’s followers might do something unexpected and unlawful as frustration with their lengthy and yet un-concluded protest sets in.

Courtesy: The Nation

Imran Khan’s Threat to Pakistan Democracy

Cricketing hero’s anti-Sharif campaign is overstepping the mark

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Imran Khan was a true cricketing hero for Pakistan. He was an exceptional all-rounder, a graceful batsmen and a formidable fast bowler. But as a politician – seemingly hell-bent on becoming prime minister at whatever cost to his country – he makes a far less edifying spectacle.

Read more » Financial Times

A leaf from history: Zia rejects PNA’s conditions

By Shaikh Aziz

The news of Z.A. Bhutto’s conviction shocked the PPP workers and supporters who hadn’t thought that Gen Zia would stoop so low. Though some violent protests took place in parts of Lahore and Sindh, the general law and order situation was not seriously affected as the government had taken measures to prevent the breaking out of any violence. For some reason the upper leadership of the party remained out of the scene, leaving the PPP workers directionless.

The military courts became over-active in handing down punishments of jail time and lashing. It was clear that the government wanted to send a message to the top PPP leadership that they could also be arrested in order to keep the administration working smoothly.

Two days after the judgment, on March 20, 1978, retired Gen Tikka Khan was arrested under martial law regulation No 33 for his involvement in political activities. Benazir Bhutto who was under house-arrest at her Karachi residence moved the Sindh government to arrange her meeting with her father at Lahore jail. The meeting was arranged for March 25.

The military regime cracks down on protests in the wake of Bhutto’s conviction

The PPP lawyers worked round the clock to prepare an appeal to be filed in the Supreme Court. Some PPP leaders were of the opinion that there was no need to file an appeal against the verdict; instead they wanted to approach the military government through friendly circles to settle the matter amicably. However, saner elements in the party prevailed and finally an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court on March 25.

As the foreign minister in Ayub Khan’s government and later as the prime minister, Bhutto had developed friendships with a number of world leaders, especially in the Third World and the Arab countries. Now facing a death sentence he hoped they could prevail upon Gen Zia to spare his life. While messages from world leaders were coming in calling for a pardon for Bhutto, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi’s envoy, Abdul Ali Ubaidi, called on Gen Zia and conveyed to him a message from his president. Zia told him that at this stage the matter was pending with the highest court and he did not want to interfere in it.

While meeting foreign leaders Gen Zia always made sure that the meeting took place without any aide. It was, therefore, impossible to make out what the contents of the talks were and what transpired, leaving the people guessing.

Relieved of a major task of handling Bhutto which was now being done by the courts, Gen Zia focused his attention on strengthening his position politically. However he camouflaged his attempts in such a manner that he could not be blamed for being too ambitious. In this regard he was equally helped by some political leaders. He also began studying the lives and working styles of eminent dictators, like Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Marshal Tito and Mussolini, who stayed in power for many years without being challenged by the people. He apparently wanted to learn how these dictators managed to retain power for so long. He also used to engage some of his associates in debates on what style of governanvce would work in Pakistan.

While messages from world leaders were coming in calling for a pardon for Bhutto, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi’s envoy, Abdul Ali Ubaidi, called on Gen Zia and conveyed to him a message from his president. Zia told him that at this stage the matter was pending with the highest court and he did not want to interfere in it.

During this time it appeared that the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) was heading towards a break-up; Asghar Khan and Maulana Noorani had already parted ways. After the overthrow of Bhutto’s government, the PNA had decided to keep away from any interim arrangement offered by the military government. They remembered the performance of the Advisory Council Gen Zia had formed on Jan 14 to run the affairs of the government. Though the task of the council was to help in handling state affairs, Gen Zia himself supervised everything which negated the purpose of the council.

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Imran, Qadri in venomous outburst against police

By Irfan Haider

ISLAMABAD: On the second day of a purported crackdown against protesters of both the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), both Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri decried the role of police and told them to “get your act together or face the consequences”.

Dr Tahirul Qadri, in an impassioned outburst, challenged the police to come after him. “Let them come to arrest me and we will see what happens. My protest will be the death of their regime, it’s just a matter of days,” he declared from atop his container on Constitution Avenue.

Know more: Only criminals being targeted, not political parties: Nisar

In his own outburst, Mr Khan called out the Islamabad police chief, saying, “I will not spare you Tahir Alam, when I become prime minister of Pakistan.”

Read more » DAWN