Tag Archives: Bagh

Why they killed Arif Shahid

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

On the evening of May 13, an assassin stepped out of a car that had just driven to the doorstep of Sardar Arif Shahid’s residence in Rawalpindi.

He waited for the 62-year-old Kashmiri leader to arrive. After pumping four bullets into him, the killer calmly got back into the car and was whisked away.

A major Kashmiri nationalist leader, chairman of the All Parties National Alliance (APNA) and president of the Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Conference (JKNLC), had just been silenced. Mysteriously, a press that thrives on crime reporting was mum the next day. The murder still remains unreported.

My first meeting with Arif Shahid was just a few days after the October 8, 2005 earthquake. It had nothing to do with the politics of Kashmir. A team of teachers and students from Quaid-e-Azam University, using money raised by the Eqbal Ahmad Foundation, were engaged in a relief operation that was to last many months.

There were already 90,000 dead, and thousands of houses had been reduced to rubble. Winter was around the corner and countless more people would die unless they could be protected from the snow and bitter cold nights to come.

For our team, Arif Shahid was a gift from heaven because of his close familiarity with the villages around the earthquake devastated towns of Rawalakot, Bagh and Muzzafarabad. The number of shelterless families in dire need was staggering.

But how could strangers like us separate the needy from the scores of hucksters swarming around? We had enough wherewithal to construct 2,000 corrugated tin-roof shelters — a drop in the bucket, perhaps, but still significant if apportioned properly.

With perspicacity and determination, Arif Shahid set about the task of separating the needy from the greedy and patiently walked us around the worst-hit areas.

Gruff only in appearance, he was warm, caring and friendly. We noted with some amusement that, although Islamabad was just a few tens of miles away, he would invariably introduce us to groups of survivors as honourable guests from Pakistan!

Who killed him? As in the case of Saleem Shahzad, fingers will inevitably be pointed but there will be no closure. At the same time, the mystery is not impossible to fathom.

Family members, and others close to Arif Shahid, say that he had long been under observation and books that he had authored were seized.

As one who had successfully brought together fractious groups from both sides of Kashmir, he was considered especially effective as a mediator. In 2009, he had therefore been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) and his passport had been confiscated. It was later returned after he won a court battle.

Speakers at a small protest meeting that I attended in Rawalpindi a few days after the murder said that he had received threats that, for now, he had decided to ignore.

Significantly, this appears to be the first instance where a major Kashmiri nationalist leader was actually eliminated. Arousing suspicion is that there has been no condemnation of the murder by Pakistani political and military leaders, nor a demand that an investigation be launched. Instead, Amer Shahid, Arif Shahid’s son, has been threatened with dire consequences if he attempts to place the blame on any agency. He has been instructed to attribute the murder to a family feud.

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A death trap in Rawalpindi – D Asghar

BB was her father’s daughter in every sense and respect, who staunchly believed that the people are able to decide their own destiny. No matter who they are, what social sphere they belong to, they have a voice and a choice

My birthplace, Rawalpindi, has a strange notoriety: it has been extremely unlucky for the prime ministers of Pakistan. Liaquat Ali Khan became a victim of Syed Akbar’s bullet back in 1951, in what was then known as Company Bagh. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was murdered in 1979, at Rawalpindi Central Jail. I use the term ‘murdered’, although he was supposedly sentenced to death by the Lahore High Court, and the Supreme Court had upheld that verdict, for obvious reasons. It is commonly termed as a ‘judicial murder’. His daughter, twice elected prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto became a victim of an assassin’s bullet four years back in December 2007. What a strange coincidence that she died at the same Company Bagh, now known as Liaquat Bagh. Boy what a death trap that Company Bagh is. …

Read more » Daily Times

Karachi is the broken heart of Sindh!

By Khalid Hashmani

As relationship between Pakistan and the USA moves downwards, Washington DC is once again seeing a flurry of seminars, discussions and briefings organized by various Think-tank and academic institutions. One such event was focused on astonishing expansion of Karachi. The event was inspired by a recent book called “Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi” written by Steve Inskeep of NPR’s Morning Edition. Using this book as a backdrop, Global Economy and Development and Metropolitan Policy at Brookings Institution organized a discussion on November 29 with Steve Inskeep. Other panelists included Stephen Cohen, Alan Berube, and Shuja Nawaz. Johannes Linn moderated the discussion. One highlight of the discussion was a rebuttal by a Sindhi-American that “Karachi is the heart of Sindh and Sindhis will never allow separation of Karachi from Sindh” when panelist Shuja Nawaz stated that a proposal to make Karachi as a separate province along with creating other provinces. (Full audio and details at http://www.brookings.edu/events/2011/1129_instant_city.aspx).

» YouTube

Karachi could lead growth of Pakistan

Steve Inskeep, a reporter for more than twenty years has been a frequent visitor to Karachi and other parts of South Asia. His interest in Karachi intensified after he attended the trial of killers of journalist Daniel Pearl in the city. In 1947, Karachi’s population was only 400,000 lived in Karachi; most of who proudly identified themselves as Sindhis. The UN population figures show Karachi’s population to be around 13.1 million. The population growth has been astonishingly high with migrants coming from other provinces and neighboring countries. Every imaginable problem of instant urbanization can be seen in Karachi. Steve gave an example of person who migrated from Swat some years ago. Originally, he came to Karachi for better education but ended up opening an import-export wholesale business. The rampant corruption touches every aspect of life. A place where already rich politicians, political parties, military and civilian officials, and gangsters become super rich by using their influence to take over large pieces of land including parks, schools, playgrounds, or any land or condemned building and then sell the land in small parcels at huge profits. A city that has become as ungovernable as the central government and sees constant interference from Pakistan’s military and other semi-organized groups. Unlike other mega cities in India like Mumbai where economic growth is impressive, Karachi remains stagnated under the weight of unhealthy competitive interests, ethnic rivalries, and religious differences. In concluding his presentation, Steve said if there is a way that Pakistan could get back to the path of economic growth, Karachi will lead the way that growth. In an answer to a question, Steve talked about Karachi could follow the footsteps of Hong Kong and become a big commercial center in South Asia if Pakistan gets its act together and manages its relationship with India more cooperatively.

In some ways Karachi-Sindh is like Los Angles and New York

Continue reading Karachi is the broken heart of Sindh!

The cost of Pakistan’s double game

By Daud Khattak

Excerpt:

…. Yet even after militants were allowed to settle in the tribal areas with little resistance from the Pakistani state, the tribesmen were (and are still) told that it was because of U.S. drone strikes that these “holy warriors” fled to their areas. Hence, each missile against foreign militants or their Pakistani counterparts increased the potential number of militants flowing in and fueled rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan, serving the short-term political interests of pro-Taliban elements in the country’s security establishment, while allowing the army to play on anti-American sentiment domestically while still occasionally offering militants to the United States, either for arrest or targeting by drones, as a sign of good faith and in order to maintain a steady flow of military aid.

Recent history provides ample room for suspicion that the relationship between militants and the Pakistani military or intelligence agencies continues. Some key points should lead informed observers, for instance, to suspect some knowledge of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s presence in the highly-secured cantonment town of Abbottabad among Pakistani intelligence officials. For instance, the structure of the house is very different from the rest of the buildings in the area, and that plus the barbed wires atop its 18 to 20 feet high boundary walls would have likely drawn some suspicion to the compound’s residents.

The compound is located less than a kilometer from Pakistan’s Kakul Military Academy. Security officials, who keep a strict watch on anyone entering and living in a cantonment zone, somehow managed to miss the compound, which sticks out from the others around it. The Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani even visited the Kakul Academy less than 10 days before the May 2 raid, something that was undoubtedly preceded by security officials combing the nearby areas for any suspicious people or activities, as is the standard practice for such visits. Additionally, locals told the writer that three gas connections were provided to the house within a few days after its construction, which otherwise takes weeks if not months. But again, no alarm was raised.

Additionally, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Sipah-e-Sihaba Pakistan (SSP) continue to operate openly despite being nominally banned. Indeed, locals I have spoken with in Kurram agency blame Pakistani intelligence for bringing the Sunnis against the Shi’a there, simply to show the world that Pakistan is heading towards de-stabilization and only U.S. and international support can save the society from becoming radical (not to mention the benefit accrued by the Haqqani network, who now have space to operate if their North Waziristan sanctuary is compromised). And a brief look at some of the militants operating in Pakistan currently raises questions about how they have been able to implant themselves and continue operating.

For instance, is it believable that Khyber agency-based militant and former bus driver Mangal Bagh, a warlord with no more than 500 volunteers, can operate just 15 kilometers away from Pakistan’s 11 Corps headquarters in the town of Bara, kidnapping people from Peshawar and other parts of the country, attacking powerful tribal elders, ministers, and journalists from Khyber agency, attacking NATO supply convoys, and carrying out public attacks and executions? Maulana Fazlullah, a leading warlord in the Swat Valley, a man who was once a chair-lift operator on the Swat River, became the most powerful commander in the area in a span of two years, with little government opposition. When the military conducted an operation in Swat upon the request of the secular Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) government in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, Fazlullah somehow managed to break a cordon of 20,000 soldiers backed by helicopters and jets to escape. And in Bajaur, Taliban commander Faqir Muhammad’s forces were “cleared” in 2008, but though hundreds of thousands of locals were displaced, their houses destroyed, their crops burnt and their cattle killed, Faqir Muhammad continues to leave peacefully in the agency.

And those who rose up to confront the Taliban received little protection from the government. When the ANP, after coming into power in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, raised its voice against the Taliban, party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan was attacked by a suicide bomber inside his house in his hometown of Charsadda. Since then, the party leadership has lived in Islamabad. The party’s spokesman and Information Minister Mian Iftikhar’s son was killed by armed men close to his house last July. Mian Iftikhar and another outspoken minister of the KP government, Bashir Bilour, escaped several attempts on their lives; Asfandyar Wali Khan’s sister Dr. Gulalay, who is not involved with party politics, was attacked in Peshawar, and ANP lawmaker Alam Zeb Khan was killed in a bomb attack in the same city, before finally the party leadership and members were forced to stop their vocal opposition to the militants.

To read complete article: Foreign Policy

via Wichaar

Benazir Bhutto Assassination : Faisla Aap ka

“Faisla Aap Ka” is an outdoor program and audience based show hosted by Asma Shirazi live from Liaqat Bagh Rawalpindi where Benazir Bhutto was murdered on 27 Dec 2007. The concerning guests and public wants to see the masterminds of assassination of Benazir Bhutto behind the bars. The public opinion is that the elected democratic government don’t have any authority or power to do something and it is unable to disclose the faces which were behind the assassination because it is lacking the power to take any action against real culprits, if the elected government of the PPP go to take any action against the powerful masterminds, the establishment will overthrow the fragile elected democratic government. … people are hoping for justice in Pakistan but they don’t know when will the dream come true …

Courtesy: SAMAA TV ( Faisala Aap Ka with Asma Shirazi, 26 December 2010)

via – ZemTVYou Tube Link

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BBC urdu report on suspicious activities of government functionaries before the assassination of Benazir Bhhutto, CLICK HERE TO READ THE BBC REPORT

Kalabagh dam : they want to control the water of Sindh for Punjab

Hypocrisy

By: M. Khan Sial, Karachi

Some of our friends belonging to Punjab are bent upon proving that havoc brought out by recent surplus flood water in the country, could have been averted if the controversial Kalabagh dam in Punjab existed and release of fresh water in sea to check sea intrusion is wastage. This is technically wrong contention as nowhere in the world surplus flood water are deposited in normal dams like Kalabagh due to their technicalities. Further, if any effort is made to control sudden spate of flood water, it did not succeed as spate of high flood water washed out the whole dam. Further superb floods come after 22 years in Pakistan. If we presume the water of flood is absorbed in proposed Kalabagh dam, should we wait for 22 years to fill the dam after spending billions of rupees on its construction and maintenance?

Further, the experts in various seminars have expressed their views that site of controversial Kalabagh dam is in earthquake zone and also underground range of salt mines existed there. Since some people want to control the water of Sindh for Punjab, they are trying to spread misinformation. Sometimes, they call it release of water in sea as wastage despite in the 74 deltas of the world, fresh water is released to push sea water back. It is very unfortunate pro-Kalabagh dam lobby belonging to Punjab, are claiming they are only well-wishers of rest three provinces and also of the country whereas people of three provinces are not well wishers of their own provinces or country.

What hypocrisy! Such people are unable to tell why they remained mum on untimely demise of Indus delta? Why “Water Accord – 1991” after its signing on it and passing 19 years, was not implemented in letter and spirit? Internationally recognised IUCN has recommended release of 35MAF water downstream Kotri but mighty Punjab is not allowing this resulting in mass migration in the area and ruination of eco-system, increase of poverty and dangerous sea intrusion.

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