Category Archives: Punjab

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.

Continue reading Mosque versus state

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”.

Continue reading Pakistan Is Its Own Worst Enemy

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.

Continue reading Crossing borders: Why every Indian should visit Pakistan

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

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

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/

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
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/british-pensioner-on-pakistans-death-row-shot-and-injured-9754963.html

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
http://www.dawn.com/news/120505/sp-also-punished-for-stopping-general-s-car

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.

Continue reading No room for democracy

Boar becomes casualty of revolution

By USMAN CHEEMA

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
http://nation.com.pk/islamabad/17-Sep-2014/boar-becomes-casualty-of-revolution

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
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bbb645ba-39c3-11e4-93da-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3DR6t4wXJ

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.

Continue reading A leaf from history: Zia rejects PNA’s conditions

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
http://www.dawn.com/news/1131861

Exhausted and frustrated, Pakistani protesters want to go home

The protest site, within walking distance of many embassies and ministries, is in a sorry state, littered with rubbish, with the stench of human waste hanging in the air.

On the edge of the protest site, men line up every day near a burst pipe and take showers one by one. Women complain that they have hardly showered more than a few times in the last month. Some fear an outbreak of mosquito-borne dengue fever among the protesters.

“The disease can rapidly spread,” said Dengue Expert Committee Chairman Javed Akram. “There is no proper sewerage facility in the area. The vulnerability of the sit-in participants has increased because of the unavailability of a waste management system.”

At least three women protesters, all of them domestic workers, said they had been paid to come to the rallies when they were first launched. One of them, with three children under the age of six, said mothers were paid 2,500 rupees ($25) more.

“You got paid more if you have a child,” said Rukhsana Bibi, one of the women. “They wanted more women with children to join the rallies so the pay for that was higher.”

(Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Corutesy: Reuters
http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCAKBN0H70K520140912?pageNumber=3&virtualBrandChannel=0

 

Islamic State claims Pakistan and Afghanistan for its ‘caliphate’

After imposing its brutal rule in swathes of Iraq and Syria, Isil is claiming Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of its ‘caliphate’ in direct challenge to al-Qaeda

By , New Delhi and Ashfaq Yusufzai in Peshawar

The Islamic State is challenging the Taliban and al-Qaeda in its Afghanistan and Pakistan heartlands and claiming both countries as part of its ‘caliphate’.

Islamic Slate leaflets proclaiming the group’s intention to bring its barbaric form of Islam to Pakistan and Afghanistan were posted throughout Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa frontier province, in the last few days, and have also been distributed to nearby Afghan refugee camps.

The leaflets, published in the local Pashto and Darri languages and bearing the Isil ‘Fateh’ (victory) flag, said the ‘caliphate’ it had established in Syria and Iraq extended to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and some Muslim central Asian republics.

Read more » The Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/11075390/Islamic-State-claims-Pakistan-and-Afghanistan-for-its-caliphate.html

‘Overt ouster’ of Sharif may trigger sanctions: US report

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: The anti-government protest in Pakistan has reversed the country’s struggle to establish a sustainable democratic system, says a report prepared for the US Congress.

The report — “Pakistan Political Unrest” — warns that “any overt military ouster” of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “could trigger another round of democracy-related US sanctions on foreign assistance to Pakistan”.

This could put “an indefinite halt to what has been one of the highest-priority American aid programmes since 9/11”.

The report also warns that the unrest could impact Pakistan’s relations with India by increasing the army’s influence in foreign policies.

“The Pakistan Army’s more openly direct control of Pakistan’s foreign and security policies may, over time, shift Pakistan’s approach towards Afghanistan further into a policy framework that seeks to counter Indian influence there,” warns the report prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1130987/overt-ouster-of-sharif-may-trigger-sanctions-us-report

10 questions for Imran Khan

By Farrukh Saleem

Q 1: Sir, you have always maintained that militants are taking innocent Pakistani lives because the militants are being attacked by American drones. But the militants insist that they would “kill everyone and anyone who stands against the imposition” of their version of Islam. In essence, the militants are convinced that they are fighting for ‘Islam’ while you continue to maintain that militant actions are actually reactions to American drones.

Q 2: Sir, if anyone wishes to negotiate with the PML-N, he would naturally have Mian Nawaz Sharif, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan or Senator Pervez Rasheed in mind. You have always favoured negotiating peace with the militants. Please name just four names representing the militants that are in your mind with whom you will negotiate peace.

Q 3: Sir, you have promised that Prime Minister Imran Khan shall wipe off militancy from the face of the country. Can you please name just two militant organisations that you plan to wipe off?

Q 4: Sir, you have been rightly pointing out that more than 40,000 innocent Pakistani lives have been lost in what you say is ‘America’s war’. Can you please identify by name the forces and groups responsible for the loss?

Read more » The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-137850-10-questions-for-Imran-Khan

Gunmen kill senior Pakistani military official from Shi’ite minority

MULTAN Pakistan (Reuters) – Gunmen have killed three people, including a senior military official, at a mosque frequented by minority Shi’ite worshippers in the Pakistani city of Sargodha, police said on Monday.

Sectarian strife has been worsening in Pakistan, where Shi’ite Muslims make up about 20 percent of the 180 million population. Sunni Muslim militants frequently attack Shi’ites they see as infidels who deserve to die.

“Brigadier Fazal Zahoor was shot by masked gunmen while taking part in a religious ritual at the mosque,” said police official Farooq Hasnaat, adding the attack took place late on Sunday. “The gunmen arrived on motorbikes and burst into the mosque. They identified the brigadier and shot and killed him, his brother Fazal Subhani and a third man called Mohammad Ayub.” The mosque is located in a military cantonment. Hasnaat said the brigadier had received threats from the banned organization Sipah-e-Sahaba, which says it want to expel Shi’ites from Pakistan.

Read more » Reuters
http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN0H30C520140908?irpc=932

Operation “Get Nawaz Sharif”

By Najam Sethi

The “conspiracy” to get rid of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been exposed. Although the circumstantial evidence was compelling, no one, not even the government and parliament, had hard-core facts to prove who was doing what and why. That’s why the government’s political and administrative response to the unfolding crisis was confused, weak and vacillating. Then the Heavens parted and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf President Javed Hashmi descended like an angel to “save” the government by making a clean breast of things. The story can now be stitched up safely.

The old guard in the military left behind by General Ashfaq Kayani – a master spy who occupied both high offices in ISI and GHQ by turns and fashioned the military’s strategic policies for over a decade – was unhappy with the proposed foreign policy initiatives of Nawaz Sharif towards India, Afghanistan, USA, and his stance on non-state actor “assets” and the war against the Pakistani Taliban. Mr Sharif’s choice of General Raheel Sharif as COAS, number three in the lineup and totally apolitical to boot, also queried their pitch. The dye was cast when Mr Sharif hauled up ex-army chief General Pervez Musharraf for treason because this move threatened to drag in General Kayani and many other senior military officers who had backed the coup maker. It was also feared that, come October 2014, when several key generals from the “Kayani guard” would face retirement, Mr Sharif would appoint another relatively apolitical general to the powerful DG-ISI post, thereby seizing the “national security” initiative from the military. It may be recalled that the fear was not unjustified: on two previous occasions as prime minister, Mr Sharif had taken exactly such steps when he sacked Lt Gen Asad Durrani in 1991 and appointed Lt Gen Javed Nasir as DG-ISI and when he appointed Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt as DG-ISI in his second stint as prime minister and later tried to make him COAS and triggered a coup by General Musharraf.

Continue reading Operation “Get Nawaz Sharif”

Pakistan #Fail

Islamabad can’t fix its many problems until the government, the opposition, and the military learn to respect the rule of law.

BY HUSAIN HAQQANI

After paralyzing Islamabad for days, the crowds at boisterous protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are starting to thin out. But even if Pakistan’s current political standoff comes to an end, the country’s deeper political crisis won’t.

Read more » FP
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/05/pakistan_fail_military_politics_protests_nawaz_sharif_imran_khan

Siege of Islamabad: what next?

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

THOUSANDS of fanatical followers, led by the cleric-cricketer combination of Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan, hold Islamabad hostage. A year ago such a possibility seemed remote. What of the future? In the years ahead, this pair may become irrelevant.

But with the dangerous precedent they have established, hard-line clerics disaffected with the army’s betrayal, and operations such as Zarb-i-Azb, may give the call to occupy. The marching orders could also come from Caliph Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS or some other radical leader; their literature is already being circulated around. Thereafter, from the hundreds of madressahs in and around the city, charged mobs armed to the teeth will pour out to fulfil their holy duty. Nuclear Pakistan would have the world sitting on edge.

Speculation? Perhaps, but not without cause. Islamabad’s vulnerability now stands twice exposed. The first time was in 2007 when the Lal Masjid clerics went on a rampage, declared rebellion against the state, and imposed their brand of Sharia on Islamabad. It took the lives of a dozen Pakistan Army commandos to defeat them. Hundreds, including children, died. More significantly, it began a new era of suicide attacks on marketplaces, public squares, police stations, and army installations. Since the time, around 30,000 lives have been lost.

People have wisely refused to support the violent destruction of the government.

Back to the present: the Khan-Qadri duo has brought a new level of instability to Pakistan. Hapless citizens, glued to their television sets, watched Pakistan’s heavily fortified capital fall to protesters. Privately hired cranes tossed aside concrete barriers and shipping containers, while razor wire was cut through by professionals. A demoralised police was initially too afraid to follow attack orders.

From the shadows, the Pakistan Army — an institution known all too well to the Baloch and Bengalis — has, with uncharacteristic calm, watched Pakistan’s state institutions taken over by violent thugs. But rather than restore law and order, it chose to confer legitimacy on the insurgents by advocating negotiations. The brief takeover of Pakistan Television by PAT/PTI agitators did not result in any subsequent punitive action; the occupiers left shouting “Pak fauj zindabad”.

What’s the game plan here? Cricketer Khan’s is clear enough: create enough chaos so that the elected government can be forcibly overthrown. Subsequently, it will not be difficult to find a pliant Supreme Court judge who would favour mid-term elections. Then, perhaps with a little reverse rigging, he would be hurled towards what he sees as his rightful destiny — becoming the prime minister of Pakistan. The goals of the mercurial Holy Man from Canada are less clear; keeping the pot vigorously stirred is all that we’ve seen so far.

Continue reading Siege of Islamabad: what next?

Shujaat ask Pakistan army to take over government

It is reported on Dawn news channel that Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has asked Pakistan army to intervene in the political crisis in the country during an interview on Friday September 5, 2014. He also claimed that former Army Chief of  Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was involved in the rigging in 2013 elections.

Pakistan Muslim League (Q) leader and senior politician Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is directly asking Pakistan army to take over the government as current political government is taking the country towards destruction.

PML (Q) leader said that army dictatorship is better than the existing democracy in Pakistan. He said that he does not recognize Nawaz Sharif’s democracy.

Chaudhry Shujaat claimed in the interview that Retd. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was personally involved in the rigging of the general elections in 2013.

PML (Q) politician is siding with Tahirul Qadri in the protest against the government of Nawaz Sharif in a bid to topple the government.

Courtesy: News Pakistan

– See more at: http://www.newspakistan.pk/2014/09/05/shujaat-pakistan-army-government/#sthash.NwmWaftj.dpuf

Army chief holds off generals seeking Pakistan PM’s ouster

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik

ISLAMABAD, Sept 5 (Reuters) – Weeks of mounting anti-government protests in Pakistan had been enough to convince five of the powerful army’s 11 Corps Commanders that it was time for them to step in and force embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign.

According to a minister close to military circles, top generals met in the garrison city of Rawalpindi at the end of August as demonstrations raged in nearby Islamabad. Thousands of protesters had just tried to storm Sharif’s residence.
At the tense, four-hour conclave, Pakistan’s democratic process was once again in peril, with the military pondering another intervention in a country that has seen power change hands more often through coups than elections.
But army chief Raheel Sharif decided the time was not right to overthrow the civilian leadership, and moved to quell any disagreement in his ranks by overruling the hawks and declaring the crisis must be solved through politics, not force.
Soon afterwards, the army issued a brief statement, reaffirming its commitment to democracy, and the threat of a coup, at least for now, had passed.

The minister, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of discussing the inner workings of the military, said at least five generals had been pushing for weeks for the army to take a more “active role” in defusing the crisis.
“The time for the army to be neutral is over,” was how the minister summed up the message from dissenters around the table.
Two military sources confirmed this version of events. They, like the minister, spoke on condition of anonymity.
A senior security source added: “Raheel Sharif is not interested in direct intervention. The tanks aren’t going to come rolling in. This army believes in compromise.”

The army’s media wing confirmed Sunday’s meeting but declined to share details. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Reuters the army was a “monolithic institution”. “What comes out from the army is ultimately one opinion,” he said. “And … they have supported democracy.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-2745005/Army-chief-holds-generals-seeking-Pakistan-PMs-ouster.html#ixzz3CS3QguyO
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The fall of the neutral umpire

While the security establishment had played footsie with domestic, regional and transnational jihadists for decades, it threw the decision to act against them in the PM’s lap

By Dr Mohammad Taqi

The so-called neutral umpire that the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Imran Khan had been looking up to for a decision was neither neutral nor an umpire and now has fallen flat on its face. None other than the veteran politician and the elected president of the PTI, Mr Javed Hashmi, took the wind out of Imran Khan and his umpire’s sails. Mr Hashmi vented his spleen not just about the dictatorial tendencies of Imran Khan but also ripped apart the PTI’s ‘clean politics’ facade. The maverick from Multan flayed to shreds the sordid collusion between certain leaders in the PTI, its fellow travellers and the establishment. What Mr Hashmi, popularly known as the baghi (rebel) for bucking both the civil and military demigods, said has been known since at least this past April. The original plan was to unfold right after Ramzan but was delayed due to the military operation in North Waziristan. However, hearing it from the horse’s mouth vindicates everyone who has suspected that Imran Khan was merely the establishment’s 12th man who had been fielded to do its dirty work.
The whispering campaign against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) started when elected Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif refused to give the former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf a free pass in the treason trial. The PM, appointing Khawaja Muhammad Asif, a man that the security establishment has despised for his clear anti-dictatorship stance, did not go down well with the boots. Attitudes hardened when the PM made peace overtures at his Indian counterpart’s inauguration. The tipping point, however, was PM Sharif’s courtesy visit to the wounded television anchor-journalist Hamid Mir who had implicated an intelligence agency in the attack that he narrowly survived. The battle lines were thus drawn. It was more about the security establishment losing face due to General Musharraf’s trial and ceding domestic political space to the civilian PM in appointments such as that of the defence minister than just about foreign policy. A decision seemed to have been made then that PM Nawaz Sharif had to be reined in. The PML-N’s comfortable parliamentary majority and former President Asif Ali Zardari’s judicious decision to divest the president of his powers to dissolve the National Assembly, made undermining the PM ‘constitutionally’ impossible.

Continue reading The fall of the neutral umpire

Spillover effect: ISIS making inroads into Pakistan, Afghanistan

By Shamim Shahid

PESHAWAR: In a bid to extend its influence in the South Asian region, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, (ISIS), commonly known as Daish, distributed pamphlets in Peshawar and border provinces of Afghanistan as well.

The booklet titled Fatah (victory) is published in Pashto and Dari languages and was distributed in Peshawar as well as in Afghan refugee camps on the outskirts of the city. The logo of the pamphlet has the Kalma, the historical stamp of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Some copies were also mysteriously sent to Afghan journalists working in Peshawar.

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/757186/spillover-effect-isis-making-inroads-into-pakistan-afghanistan/