Pakistan’s continued provision of a safe haven to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) will probably continue to be a key irritant in Indo-Pak relations, Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper claimed in his testimony on “World Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community” which he presented Thursday in a hearing of the United States Senate Armed Services Committee.
India recognises the proscribed militant group LeT as a major threat to regional security and has accused its chief Hafiz Saeed of masterminding the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Saeed, who now leads the banned organisation Jamaatud Dawa (JUD), has denied any links to terrorist activities or having any association with LeT.
Read more » DAWN
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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have long enjoyed close relations, but Islamabad’s new-found resolve for fighting the root causes of extremism has seen the Gulf state come in for rare criticism.
The two countries, both with majority Sunni Muslim populations, are bound together by shared Islamic religious ties, financial aid from oil-rich Saudi and Pakistani military assistance to the kingdom.
But a Taliban massacre at a school that killed more than 150 people in December, mostly children, has led the government to crack down on militants and talk of bringing religious seminaries under tighter control.
Now the country’s media and even government ministers have begun to question whether support from Saudi Arabia for seminaries, known as madrassas, is fuelling violent extremism — bringing tension to the relationship for the first time.
Last week, the Saudi embassy issued a statement saying that all its donations to seminaries had government clearance, after a minister accused the Riyadh government of creating instability across the Muslim world.
The Pakistani foreign ministry responded by saying that funding by private individuals through “informal channels” would also be scrutinised closely to try to choke off funding for terror groups. While the statement avoided mentioning Saudi Arabia specifically, it was widely interpreted as a rebuke.
Away from the seminaries, there has also been widespread criticism of the decision to allow Saudi royals to hunt the rare houbara bustard, prized in the Middle East for its supposed aphrodisiac properties, in the southern provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan.
Officials granted permission to hunt the bird, which is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “red list” of threatened species, in defiance of a court order, prompting allegations that the government prized its lucrative ties to Riyadh over its own wildlife.
Donors in Saudi Arabia have long been accused of quietly funding terror groups sympathetic to the kingdom’s hardline version of Sunni Islam.
Leaked diplomatic cables by then-US secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009 said Saudi Arabian donors were “the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”.
The cable cited the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Pakistan’s Sunni Muslim sectarian militants Lashkar-e-Jhangvi as examples of where funds were being channelled.
US President Barack Obama says the US is “not at war with Islam – we are at war with the people who have perverted Islam”.
He was speaking to representatives from 60 nations attending a three-day event on extremism that follows attacks in Denmark and France.
Mr Obama said the world had to confront the ideologies that radicalise people.
He said those heading groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda were not religious leaders but terrorists.
Mr Obama said associating Islamic State or al-Qaeda with Islam would be buying into the propaganda of those groups, challenging critics who have questioned him for not describing recent attacks as the work of “Islamic radicals”.
Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-3152321
Eight people were killed in a blast near Police Lines in Qila Gujar Singh area of Lahore on Tuesday.
The blast hit just metres from an entrance to the Police Lines sending a column of black smoke rising above buildings.
“According to initial reports it was a car bomb but we are still determining the exact nature of the blast,” senior police official Haider Ashraf told AFP.
Several vehicles caught fire after the explosion and streets were littered with glass as the windows of nearby buildings broke.
A breakaway faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaatul Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/839666/blast-heard-in-lahore-near-police-lines-in-qila-gujar-singh-area/
A lot has been happening over the last couple of days on the diplomatic front. The Chinese foreign minister came to Islamabad, heralding a more important visit by China’s president – expected to take place soon.
Then, late on Thursday night, US President Barack Obama phoned PM Nawaz Sharif in what can only be described as an “unscheduled call” where the US president briefed the PM on his visit to India and heard Mr Sharif’s concerns. Finally, Friday morning brought with it news of a Modi-Sharif conversation purported to be about the upcoming cricketing tie between the two nations.
To understand the undertones behind these frantic top-level diplomatic efforts, Dawn spoke to noted author and journalist Ahmed Rashid and asked him about the significance of these events.
Q: The past 48 hours have been quite exciting, diplomatically speaking. What do you think set off this hectic round of cross-border politicking?
A: Undermining all the hectic diplomatic moves and activities is the international community’s concern about the future of Pakistan. China, the US, our neighbours and the west are all deeply concerned about whether Pakistan is genuinely pursuing an effective counterterrorism strategy. There is also enormous concern about governance and the apparent failure of governance systems in the country.
(CNN) The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for a Friday attack on a Shiite Muslim mosque in Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan — a suicide bombing and gunfire assault that a hospital representative said killed 19 people.
The Islamist militant group said the attack was orchestrated by a commander who was behind December’s massacre of 145 people, including 132 children, at a Peshawar school.
Sixty-seven people were injured Friday, said Tauheed Zulfiqar, a representative of the Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar.
The Pakistan Taliban attacked the mosque, spokesman Muhammad Khurasan said in an email to CNN, as revenge for the government’s December 19 execution of a militant who was allied with the group.
Read more » CNN
See more » http://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/13/world/pakistan-violence/index.html
by Jon Boone in Karachi, Sindh
In interview with the Guardian, former Pakistan president voices his support for Ashraf Ghani and hints that he cultivated the Taliban
Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani military ruler accused of sheltering and supporting the Taliban after 2001, has called for an end to the backing of militant “proxies” in Afghanistan.
In an interview with the Guardian, Musharraf admitted that when he was in power, Pakistan sought to undermine the government of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai because Karzai had “helped India stab Pakistan in the back”. But now the time had come to “totally cooperate” with Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president since September, who Musharraf believes is “the last hope for peace in the region”.
“In President Karzai’s times, yes, indeed, he was damaging Pakistan and therefore we were working against his interest. Obviously we had to protect our own interest,” Musharraf said. “But now President Ashraf Ghani has come and he is trying to restore balance in Afghanistan. We must totally cooperate with him.”
In his first months in office, Ghani has sought to woo Pakistan in a way Musharraf could only have dreamed of in the critical years between the US-led intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, and 2008, when Musharraf was finally forced from power. Ghani has not only suspended a planned weapons deal with India, but also diverted troops to fight against anti-Pakistan militant groups in eastern Afghanistan.
For Musharraf, the most welcome development was Ghani’s decision this month to send six army cadets for training at Pakistan’s officer academy in the town of Abbottabad. Karzai infuriated both Musharraf and Ashfaq Kayani, his successor as army chief, by spurning offers to help train Afghanistan’s embryonic army. Instead, Karzai sent cadets to India, where Musharraf believes they were “indoctrinated” against Pakistan.
Speaking in his luxurious Karachi home, the former army chief repeatedly hinted at what is now widely accepted among diplomats and analysts: that the nominal western ally assisted both Nato forces in Afghanistan and the Taliban they were fighting against in a bid to counter the perceived influence of arch-rival India. “Pakistan had its own proxies, India had its proxies, which is unhealthy. I do admit this, it is most unhealthy. It is not in favour of Afghanistan, or Pakistan or India. It must stop,” he said.
Musharraf said Pakistani spies in the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) cultivated the Taliban after 2001 because Karzai’s government was dominated by non-Pashtuns, the country’s largest ethnic group, and officials who were thought to favour India. “Obviously we were looking for some groups to counter this Indian action against Pakistan,” he said. “That is where the intelligence work comes in. Intelligence being in contact with Taliban groups. Definitely they were in contact, and they should be.”
The army remains deeply suspicious of India, a country that has beaten Pakistan in three conflicts since independence and played a critical role in the secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971. Musharraf insists he is not an “India hater”, but bristles at what he says is western bias towards Pakistan’s giant neighbour. “‘India is the greatest democracy, promoter of human rights and democratic culture’? All bullshit,” he said. “There is no human rights. The religion itself is anti-human rights. In the rural areas, if even the shadow of an untouchable goes on a pandit, that man can be killed.”
Like many soldiers, he is convinced that India, through its Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), backs regional separatists in an effort to break up Pakistan. “The RAW of India, the ISI of Pakistan have always been fighting against each other since our independence. That is how it continued, it continues now also.
“It must stop, but it can only stop when leaderships on both sides show the will to resolve disputes and stop confrontation in favour of compromise and accommodation.”
London: Britain’s Prince Charles has described as “frightening” the growing radicalisation of British Muslim youth who have been joining the Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, partly due to “crazy stuff” available on the internet.
The heir to Britain’s throne said the radicalisation was “one of the greatest worries” that could not be swept “under the carpet” but expressed his hope to build bridges between different faiths in an interview to the BBC broadcast today.
Asked about the radicalisation of young people in the UK, Prince Charles said: “Well, of course, this is one of the greatest worries, I think, and the extent to which this is happening is the alarming part. And particularly in a country like ours, where you know the values we hold dear.
“You think that the people who have come here, (are) born here, go to school here, would imbibe those values and outlooks.
“The frightening part is that people can be so radicalised either through contact with somebody else or through the internet, and the extraordinary amount of crazy stuff which is on the internet,” he said.
Read more » Hindustan Times
See more » http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/islamic-radicalisation-in-uk-frightening-prince-charles/article1-1314896.aspx
US says can’t confirm if Pakistan banned JuD, Haqqani Network
ISLAMABAD – In a recent development, the National Counterterrorism Authority (Nacta) has removed the list of proscribed organisations from its official website, which is being seen as an attempt to add more confusion to the ongoing debate whether Haqqani Network and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) have been banned or not.
Under the National Action Plan (NAP) on Counterterrorism, the government has declared Nacta a focal point to coordinate all efforts to end terrorism in the country.
Some two weeks back at least till January 10, Nacta’s official website had an updated list of proscribed organisations, but now this has been removed on the directions of the high-ups of the Ministry of Interior, sources privy to the development revealed.
Amid some media reports in this regard, the US State Department, in its recent statement, said that it did not have confirmation from Pakistan about banning the Haqqani Network or JuD.
On the Nacta’s website, National Internal Security Policy (NISP) which was announced last year by the incumbent government with great pomp and show has been uploaded that also contains list of proscribed organisations.
There is main link of NISP at the home page of Nacta’s website and a sub-link of the list of proscribed organisations under this main link.
“The Nacta officials have delinked the list of proscribed organisations under the pressure of the bosses of the Ministry of Interior,” official sources confirmed.
The Nacta did this when some sections of the media started reporting that the government had decided to ban JuD, a charity organisation run by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and a militant organisation, Haqqani Network.
The move is significant ahead of President Obama’s visit to India starting from next Sunday as the US had been asking Pakistan to ban both the organisations as these were responsible for terrorist activities in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
According to Nacta’s ‘List of Proscribed Organisations’ that now has been removed from the official website, there are 62 proscribed organisations in the country and 10 are facing financial sanctions due to the ban imposed by UNSC’s Sanctions Committee in 2008 through a UN resolution.
The Supreme Court, the other day, also suggested to the government to make public the list of banned organisations in the interest of public.
Interior Additional Secretary Muhammad Asghar Chaudhry on January 20 told Senate Standing Committee on Interior that JuD and Haqqani Network had not been banned.
Prior to this, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, in its last press conference, had avoided to answer a question about the ban on JuD and Haqqani Network.
The Foreign Office, the other day, added more confusion to the ongoing debate as it gave a vague answer while replying to a question about banning JuD and Haqqani Network.
The Foreign Office, in its reply, focused more on the procedural matters rather than replying to the specific question.
According to the NAP Implementation Progress Report of the Ministry of Interior, a comprehensive analysis/assessment review is underway to identify how many of the proscribed organisations are active, working under other names and/or more importantly how many of them have an armed wing, operating inside or outside the country.
Special correspondent adds from Washington: The United States backs Pakistan’s commitment to taking steps without discrimination against the terrorist groups operating on its soil, but it has no confirmation about the banning of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Haqqani Network, a State Department spokesperson said Friday.
“We recognise that Pakistan is working through the process of implementing measures to thwart violent extremism, including the National Action Plan.
We don’t have any confirmation of specific steps,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington when asked about the reported ban on the two militant outfits.
Psaki noted that Islamabad has made clear in statements that it is in Pakistan’s own interest to take steps against all militant groups and explicitly not to differentiate between such groups.
“We support this commitment and believe it is essential to address terrorism and stop recurrence of the attacks like that on the Peshawar schoolchildren,” she remarked during a conference call.
Read more » The Nation
See more » http://nation.com.pk/editors-picks/24-Jan-2015/nacta-removes-list-of-banned-outfits-from-website
“Every Indian Prime Minister since the attack on the Parliament in Delhi now heading on 15 years ago has looked seriously at a military response when these incidents occur and has stepped back. But I believe that sentiment inside India has changed substantially and I think this Prime Minister is unlikely to step back,” former US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill said.
“If there is a major terrorist attack whose breadcrumbs lead to Pakistan and the Pakistan military and ISI, I think that this Prime Minister is likely to use military force against Pakistan territory. It’s not a certainty,” Blackwill told reporters during a conference call organised by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a top American think-tank.
Read more » The Hindu
Learn more » http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/modi-may-use-military-option-if-terror-attack-traced-to-pakistan/article6864786.ece
By Muhammad Taqi
The ASWJ leaders’ non-stop hate speeches and incitement to violence provide the breeding milieu and recruitment grounds for bombers like the one who carried out the Shikarpur massacre
The bombing at the Shikarpur, Sindh imambargah (mosque/worship place) may have been carried out by the terrorist group Jundullah but over 60 Shia who perished there were actually slaughtered by collective national apathy. While the Shias were picking up the bits and pieces of what remained of their loved ones after Jundullah’s bomb ripped through the imambargah, the Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan, Mr Nawaz Sharif, was literally joking about his lunch being subpar at the Karachi Stock Exchange ceremony. The PM did not say one word of sympathy for the Shias of Shikarpur at the time. At the same time the self-exiled leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Mr Altaf Hussain, was live on assorted television channels along with his lieutenant Mr Ishratul Ibad, the governor of Sindh, and the business tycoon Mr Malik Riaz. None, including Mr Hussain, who is known for his long-winded speeches, bothered to utter even a single line about the tragedy that shell-shocked Shia were going through right at that moment. The chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Mr Imran Khan, fared better at his press conference, which was also being televised live then and spent about three out of 20 minutes offering commemorative prayers for the fallen Shia and condemning the attack. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that has been ruling Sindh since 2008 took the cake, however, for callous pettiness: it suspended the area’s police Station House Officer (SHO)!
Read more » Daily Times
Learn more » http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/05-Feb-2015/shias-of-shikarpur-slaughtered-by-apathy
LAHORE: Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed urged India to “leave Kashmir” while addressing a rally in Lahore to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day on Tuesday.
“No one could defeat the Muslims… If America had to run away, then India, you will have to leave Kashmir as well,” said Saeed amid chants of ‘al-jihad, al-jihad’.
Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/502947/hafiz-saeed-urges-india-to-leave-kashmir/
KARACHI: Jibran Nasir and members of the civil society weer reportedly arrested after resuming the Shikarpur sit-in outside the CM house in Karachi, pressing the government to take swift action against Ahl-e-Sunnat-wal Jamaat’s (ASWJ) solidarity rally on Kashmir Day.
At the Kashmir Day rally, ASWJ allegedly threatened members of the civil society as well as the Sindh government for unnecessarily terming them a banned organisation.
The civil society’s 31-hour-long protest outside the CM house, from earlier this week, came to an end Tuesday night, after Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Culture Sharmila Farooqi promised that the provincial government will take stern action against “banned” militant organisations, including ASWJ.
No official notification, however, has been taken out by the home department to outlaw ASWJ.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, “The charter of demands we came with initially has failed. But this time, we won’t stop. We will continue our sit-in till justice is served,” Nasir said.
“We’ll do a hunger strike if we have to. Allowing ASWJ, or any other outfit that insights violence, to carry out political activities openly, is a violation of the law,” he added.
Read more » The Express Tribune
Learn more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/833400/civil-society-protesters-led-by-jibran-nasir-arrested-during-sit-in-outside-cm-house/#.VNOCf7JOr_E.facebook
NEW DELHI: China and Russia decided on Monday to back the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) — a resolution supported by India and heavily biased against Pakistan.
At a meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Beijing, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said her counterparts from the two countries understood the need for endorsing the resolution that has been pending at the UN for nearly two decades and seeks to widen the existing definition of terrorism.
The CCIT was proposed by India in 1996 in lieu of Pakistan allegedly backing Kashmiri separatists.
In Tuesday’s meeting, the RIC communiqué vouched to oppose terrorism of all forms and called all countries to join efforts in combating terrorism together with the United Nations.
Speaking at a press conference after the RIC meeting, Swaraj told reporters: “Our discussions on terrorism brought consensus on two issues. Firstly, there can be no ideological, religious, political, racial or any other justification for the acts of terrorism and secondly the need to bring to justice perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these acts of terror.”
Swaraj added that the ministers emphasized the need to step up information gathering and sharing and prevent the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the purposes of recruitment and incitement to commit terrorist acts.
News courtesy » The Express Tribune
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/832183/china-russia-back-india-on-un-terror-resolution-targeting-pakistan/
Many have called it a game-changer. On December 16, gunmen loyal to the Pakistani Taliban attacked a military school in Peshawar, killing 148 people. Most of the victims were children, and many were killed as they hid under the desks. The violence was so gruesome it seemed to rattle the country like never before. Quickly, the Pakistani government rushed to assure people it had the situation under control. In the aftermath of the attack, the government set up special military tribunals in which to try suspected terrorists, and the penalties are expected to be harsh. Meanwhile, the army reportedly broadened its crackdown in the federally administered tribal areas, in hopes of thwarting terrorism. “There will be no differentiation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said. As Matthew Green wrote in Newsweek, Sharif’s words were “a rare public acknowledgement of Pakistan’s murky record on state sponsorship of extremist proxies.” But more than a month after the massacre in Peshawar, has anything really changed? To explore that question, I chatted with Christine Fair, a professor of South Asian political and military affairs at Georgetown and the author of Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Was the school shooting a turning point for Pakistan?
It absolutely was not. The army has said very clearly that they’re hoping these [tribunals] are going to give Pakistanis confidence that the military has the situation under control, but they don’t have anything under control
Who are the “bad militants” in Pakistan?
For the most part, almost all of the so-called bad militants have their origins in groups that the state has long sponsored, aided, abetted, trained and in some cases even developed from the grassroots, either to fight in India or in Afghanistan. So there would be no Pakistan Taliban if there had not been this flotilla of militant groups that the state developed.
The groups targeting the state follow the Deobandi interpretative tradition of Islam. This is important because this means that they share a significant common organizational infrastructure. For example, they rely on mosques and madrassas that adhere to the Deobandi tradition of Islam. When 9/11 happened and Pakistan was forced to work with the Americans, these Deobandi groups were furious. Many of these groups came to know Al-Qaeda through their association with the Taliban in Afghanistan. [The Afghan Taliban emerged from Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan.] And these Deobandi groups were furious that the Pakistani state was aiding the overthrow, not only of the Taliban government, but the only government in the world that was exercising a Deobandi version of Sharia [Islamic law]. After 9/11…[some] of these Deobandi groups began fracturing and disobeying the [Pakistani] state. That’s when the insurgency began. Over time these Deobandi organizations began calling themselves the Pakistani Taliban.
Who are the “good militants”?
The “good militants” are, of course, the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, which continue to be loyal to the Pakistani state. And elements of the Pakistani Taliban that refuse to kill Pakistanis. All of those groups kill in Afghanistan on behalf of Pakistan’s interests. The other “good militant group” is Deobandi is Jaish-e-Mohammed, which was raised to kill Indians in Kashmir and beyond. Over the past year or so, Pakistan has been trying to resurrect Jaish with the aim of luring away some members of the Pakistani Taliban into Jaish for operations against India. There’s one other group that we haven’t talked about, because they’re not Deobandi, and that’s Lashkar-e-Taiba. That organization belongs to the Ahl-Hadith tradition of Islam. This organization has never conducted an operation in Pakistan. They have exclusively focused on India for the vast majority of its history. In recent years, they have been operating against Americans and our Afghan and other allies in Afghanistan.
Is Pakistan unable to crack down on the “bad militants”? Or do they simply choose otherwise?
The problem is they want to preserve the networks that produce terrorists because those networks are the same networks that also produce the “good militants.” When the “bad militants” come after the state, the Pakistanis do try and kill them. And they try and kill them rather than arrest them because Pakistan’s [civilian] legal system is so decrepit, judges are afraid to convict. But they can’t shut down the system comprehensively because Pakistan still hopes to use “good militants” as tools of foreign and defense policy in the region.
What purpose do these “good militants” serve?
Pakistan is an ideological state, not a security-seeking state. Pakistan was founded as the homeland for South Asia’s Muslims. The Pakistan movement mobilized around the Two Nation Theory, which held that Muslims and Hindus are equal nations even if Muslims are fewer in number than Hindus. The proponents of the Two Nation Theory argued that Muslims cannot live under Hindu domination. Pakistan needs to wrest Kashmir away from India to fulfill the dream of the Two Nation Theory because Kashmir is the only Muslim majority area in India.
Pakistan also hopes to retard India’s ability to impose its will on Pakistan and other countries in the region.The only assets Pakistan has to accomplish these goals are its jihadis, who operate with impunity thanks to Pakistan’s growing nuclear weapons. Also, these groups undertake operations with plausible deniability.
The so-called good militants also have an important role to play in Afghanistan. Pakistan prefers a manageable chaos in Afghanistan rather than an Afghanistan that is friendly to India. Pakistan is trying to bring some of the “bad militants” back into the fold of the “good militants.” Pakistan’s efforts to reorient part of the Pakistani Taliban in this way also explains why the Pakistan military gave a five-months warning before undertaking operations in North Waziristan. They wanted to make sure they could return as many of their assets as possible to the category of good militants. And they were pretty successful. What remained in North Waziristan are committed foes who can be dealt with through violence and death.
ISLAMABAD: The government apparently remains in a state of denial regarding a massive threat posed by the Middle Eastern terrorist group Daesh (Islamic State), which recently announced its set-up for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1160813/
Friday’s massacre in a Shikarpur Imambargah has proved fears long held by many observers that behind the traditional image of Sindh as a placid land of Sufis, a much darker reality is developing.
While Karachi, the provincial capital, has witnessed incredibly bloody violence carried out by militants of various stripes, it is the first time an attack of such devastating proportions has occurred outside the metropolis, in the hinterland of Sindh.
Shikarpur and its surrounding districts are far from islands of peace and tranquillity. They have witnessed a high level of lawlessness as well as religiously-inspired violence, but nothing of this level. For example in February 2013 the custodian of a dargah was attacked in neighbouring Jacobabad district. Yet while the area is said to have a soft corner for religious groups, there is no major history of sectarian discord.
Senior journalist Sohail Sangi says there have been a number of sporadic incidents of religiously-inspired violence in Shikarpur and its environs. “Nato supply trucks were attacked in this region. It is quite a lawless area. Religious groups and parties have considerable presence here. Before the Sept 11 attacks some locals even went to fight for the Afghan Taliban. But there are not that many sectarian issues. Sectarian problems mostly exist in Khairpur and Sukkur.”
Indeed Khairpur, which borders Shikarpur, has developed a reputation for communal tension and is seen as one of the centres in Sindh of the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan/Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat. In fact the late head of the SSP,
Ali Sher Hyderi, who was killed in 2009 in the city, hailed from Khairpur. Elsewhere in the province, extremist outfits are said to be active in the Thar region, while along most of the provincial highways sectarian and religious graffiti is hard to miss.
Security analyst Amir Rana feels Sindh is going through the same motions as Punjab did in the 1990s where the development and proliferation of extremist tendencies are concerned.
“Different [extremist] groups have been making inroads in Sindh. After Ali Sher Hyderi’s assassination there were fears there would be a reaction. However, it didn’t happen then.
Deobandi madressahs are spreading, similar to what happened in the Punjab in the 1980s. With the expansion of madressahs, sectarian tendencies also tend to grow. The sectarian divide is definitely growing in Sindh,” he observes.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson Zohra Yusuf feels the atrocity in Shikarpur puts a question mark over the state’s methods of countering militancy in the aftermath of the Peshawar school attack.
The bombing “goes against the government’s rationale that military courts and the death penalty would be deterrents. There needs to be zero tolerance for sectarian outfits. The government is not clear. The list of banned outfits has not been clearly released.
You need a clear definition of [who] the terrorist and sectarian groups are and what the government is doing against them. The government is in two minds, whether to take action against them or not.”
Asked how the state was dealing with the threat of extremism in Sindh, Mr Rana feels that efforts are piecemeal and that the state is not looking at the bigger militant picture.
“The administration takes a firefighting approach. It doesn’t take any actions [which it thinks] may lead to a law and order situation. Things are handled on a case-by-case basis at the district level. There is no broader perspective.”
Sindh clearly has a problem with extremism, and if it is not examined in a forthright manner, the cancer of sectarian and religious hatred will only grow.
Considering the province’s historically pluralist ethos, there may still be time to turn the tide and root out the merchants of death and divisiveness. If this is not done, Shikarpur may well be the harbinger of worse tragedies to come.
Courtesy: Published in Dawn January 31st, 2015
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1160614/
SHIKARPUR: At least 49 people were killed and 55 others injured in an explosion inside a central imambargah (mosque affiliated with Shia Muslims) in Sindh province’s Shikarpur district on Friday.
Civil Hospital Shikarpur issued a list of 49 victims out of whom 46 bodies had been identified whereas the identity of 3 others was yet to be confirmed.
Reuters reported that Jundullah, a splinter group of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which last year pledged support for the Islamic State group based in Syria and Iraq, claimed responsibility.
“Our target was the Shia mosque … They are our enemies,” said Fahad Marwat, a Jundullah spokesman.
Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1160444
By Special Correspondent 5 November 1999 The News International, Pakistan
MURIDKE: Al-Dawatwal Irshad on Thursday vowed to launch “Jihad” to turn Pakistan into a pure Islamic state.
“We reject democracy … the notion of people’s sovereignty is anti-Islamic,” Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, one of the group’s leaders, said while addressing a gathering at Markaz Al-Dawatwal Irshad. “Only Allah is sovereign,” he declared.
Saeed said it was God who had ordered the establishment of the law of Islam everywhere in the world and it was binding on the Muslims to support the Islamic freedom fighters fighting for truth all over the world. “We support all such Islamic movements in the world,” he said.
Read more » Jammu Kashmir
Learn more » http://www.jammu-kashmir.com/archives/archives1999/kashmir19991105a.html
By Irfan Haider
As the Foreign Office said Thursday that the bank accounts of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) have been frozen and foreign travel restrictions imposed on the organisation’s leader Hafiz Saeed, JuD in its official response said it would continue its “charity work” across Pakistan regardless.
The official reaction emailed out by JuD accused Pakistan of having banned the organisation under pressure from the US to “please India”.
The JuD spokesperson defended the group, saying the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court had issued verdicts in favour of allowing JuD to operate in the past. Based on these verdicts, JuD vowed to continue on its mission.
Earlier, JuD members told Dawn.com that the party leadership would approach the Supreme Court to challenge the ban. A JuD member, who requested anonymity, maintained that the group has only been engaged in charitable work for the past several years across the country.
The Pakistan-Haqqani ties date back to the mid-1970s, long before any Soviets, the US, mujahideen, Taliban or al Qaeda popped onto the scene, and are unlikely to be severed so abruptly
“Een keh mi-beenam ba baidaareest ya Rabb, ya ba khwab?/ Khaishtan raa dar chuneen nai’mat pas az chundeen azaab!”//
Pakistan’s national security paradigm has changed, or so they say. Perhaps my Afghan readers, who would be the major beneficiaries of such a tectonic shift, may be able to appreciate the above quoted Persian verse, in which the classic poet Anvari says: “O my Lord, am I seeing this all while I am awake or is it a dream? Such bounties for this poor soul after such prolonged misery!” After the decades of the death and destruction it unleashed, the Jalaluddin Haqqani terrorist network, run currently by his son Sirajuddin Haqqani, has reportedly been banned by Pakistan. Additionally, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed’s Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which effectively is the political front for the proscribed terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), has ostensibly been banned too. Amen to that! There, however, is a slight problem before one goes to town on the news: it is not official and might actually not become official for several weeks or, perhaps, ever.
News courtesy: BBC urdu
Learn more » http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/regional/2015/01/150121_karzai_interview_afpak_zs
It shook Pakistan and stunned the world. But the carnage on Dec. 16 at the Army Public School, Peshawar, marked only an escalation in the brutality of Pakistani militants, not its beginning.
Over the years, Pakistan’s homegrown terrorists have bombed the places of worship of the Shia, the Sunni, Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus. Since 2009, the Taliban have attacked over a thousand schools, mainly in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. They have targeted ISI offices in several cities, Navy and Air Force bases, garrison mosques, the Karachi Airport, and even the Army’s General Headquarters. If this breadth of attrition has not cured Pakistan of its jihadist addiction, can the deaths of 134 innocent children and the burning alive of their teachers in Peshawar result in a fundamental change of heart?
The jihadist worldview is as stubborn as it is toxic. Soon after Peshawar, Maulana Abdul Aziz of Islamabad’s infamous Lal Masjid refused to condemn the Taliban’s heinous attack, and Hafiz Saeed of Jamat-ud-Dawah (née Lashkar-e-Taiba) went on television to blame New Delhi for the school attack and vowed revenge inside India.
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination (IPC) Riaz Hussain Pirzada has accused the Saudi government of creating instability across the Muslim world, including Pakistan, through distribution of money for promoting its ideology.
Addressing a two-day ‘Ideas Conclave’ organised by the “Jinnah Institute” think tank in Islamabad, the federal minister said ‘the time has come to stop the influx of Saudi money into Pakistan’.
He also blasted his own government for approving military courts in the presence of an ‘independent and vibrant judiciary’ and said that military courts reflect ‘weak and coward leadership’.
“Such cowardly leadership has no right to stay in power,” Pirzada added.
In her opening remarks, Chairperson of Jinnah Institute Sherry Rehman said that the two-day conference would deliberate upon new ideas needed for a progressive and better Pakistan.
Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1158244
DHAKA: Bangladeshi police arrested four suspected members of Islamic State in the capital, Dhaka, on Monday, including a regional coordinator for the militant group who told police they had been trained in Pakistan.
Reports of the growing influence of Islamic State, which controls territory in Syria and Iraq, have raised alarm bells across South Asia, though it remains unclear whether militants organising under the Islamic State name in the region are acting on their own or as part of a centralised initiative coming out of the Middle East.
The suspected coordinator, whom police identified as Mohammad Sakhawatul Kabir, told police that he and the other three men had received training in Pakistan, Alam said.
Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1158044/
By Amir Mir
ISLAMABAD: Despite the Pakistani ruling elite’s repeated resolve after the Peshawar school massacre not to show any distinction between ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Taliban, the Ameer of the Punjabi Taliban, Commander Asmatullah Moavia, seems to have been granted amnesty after his announcement to abandon militancy, ignoring with impunity his involvement in dozens of bloody terror attacks on Christians and Muslims alike.
The Pakistan government had assured the US Secretary of State John Kerry during his just-concluded visit that Islamabad won’t differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban. Before that, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif had stated individually that there will be no delineation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban and that the war against terror will be continued till the elimination of the last terrorist. However, there are clear indications to suggest that some of the Jihadi assets belonging to the Punjab are still being treated as ‘good’ Taliban and thus given preferential treatment.
In fact, Asmatullah Moavia, the Ameer of the Punjabi Taliban, has been allowed by the Pakistani authorities after a peace deal to return to his hometown in the Vehari district of Punjab. This is despite the fact that he had claimed dozens of ferocious terror attacks, including the September 22, 2013 Peshawar Church bombing, which had killed 80-plus Christians and the May 28, 2010 Fidayeen attacks on two Ahmedi mosques in Lahore which killed 100-plus people.
From the November 2007 suicide bombing of the ISI buses in Rawalpindi (killing 38 people) to the Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad in September 2008 (killing 58 people), the Manawan Police Training Centre attack in Lahore in March 2009 (killing 22 people), the GHQ attack in Rawalpindi in October 2009 (killing 13 people), the Moon Market suicide bombing in Lahore in December 2009 (killing 54 people), the Rawalpindi Parade Lane Mosque attack in December 2009 (killing 36 people), the July 2010 Data Darbar Shrine suicide bombing (killing 51 people), the slaughter of 10 under training policemen from the KP in Lahore on July 2012, the killing of seven security forces personnel in a terrorist attack on an Army Camp in Wazirabad in July 2012, the killing of 10 foreign climbers in Nanga Parbat in June 2013, Moavia has been named as the mastermind of all these terrorist attacks. But he is unlikely to be tried for any of his crimes by the recently set up military courts.
Moavia, who is considered very close to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s Ameer Malik Ishaq, is not an ordinary Jihadi but a ruthless leader who has been singularly responsible for the spread of Jihadi bloodshed in Pakistan in the aftermath of the July 2007 Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad. He actually laid the ideological ground for making the Pakistani security forces and intelligence agencies the number one target for the Punjabi Taliban. He had begun his Jihadi career from the platform of Maulana Masood Azhar-led Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). After discarding the JeM, Moavia first joined the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and then its military wing — Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) — before eventually launching Janood-e-Hafsa (JeH) and finally becoming the Ameer of the Punjabi Taliban. The launching of the Janood was largely prompted by the July 2007 operation conducted against the Lal Masjid clerics in Islamabad.
Anonymous Pakistani officials have told news agencies that the government will ban the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network “within weeks.” But a listing of the Haqqani Network as a terrorist entity is unlikely to change decades of support that the jihadist group has received from the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment.
Pakistani officials first told The Express Tribune that the Haqqani Network Jamaat-ud-Dawa (the political front of the Lashkar-e-Taiba) and 10 other jihadist groups would be banned in “coming days.”
“It’s our first step towards execution of the National Action Plan,” against terrorism, a senior intelligence official told the news agency. “The nation will see more positive steps towards dismantling militant groups. Both civilian and military leadership decided to ban the Haqqani Network and Jamaat-ud-Dawa.”
Pakistani government officials told Reuters that the ban on the Haqqani Network would be announced “within weeks.” A member of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet said the decision to proscribe the Haqqani Network was made after the Movement of the Taliban assaulted a school in Peshawar and brutally executed 134 children.
The unnamed cabinet minister also told Reuters that “the military and the government are on the same page on how to tackle militancy. There is no more ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Taliban.”
The “bad” Taliban are identified as jihadist groups such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which seeks to overthrow the Pakistani state. The “good” Taliban are groups such as the Haqqani Network, who wage jihad in Afghanistan but do not overtly seek to wage war against the Pakistani state. However the so-called good Taliban do support groups such as Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and al Qaeda.
Ban unlikely to change institutional support of the Haqqani Network
While the banning of the Haqqani Network is a welcome move, if it is not backed by significant action, such as the arrest of the jihadist group’s top leadership, the dismantling of its network, the destruction of its infrastructure, and the end of support by the military and Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, the move is likely to amount to little more than symbolism.
If history is any indication, Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment is unlikely to truly end its support of the Haqqani Network. The Haqqanis have been one of the premier instruments of influence inside Afghanistan; the group has served as part of Pakistan’s policy of “strategic depth” against a potential war with India and US influence in Afghanistan. While Pakistani officials have claimed the country has discarded its policy of “strategic depth,” there is little evidence to support this. In fact, the Pakistani establishment still allows the Afghan Taliban (of which the Haqqani Network is a part) to operate freely within Afghanistan. And there is no indication at all that the Pakistani government will ban the Afghan Taliban, let alone dismantle the group’s extensive network inside of Pakistan.
QUETTA: Chief of Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), Sardar Akhtar Mengal has said extremism was being promoted in Baloch society to weaken Baloch nationalists.
“Extremists are penetrating in a tolerant Baloch society,” Mengal told DawnNews in an exclusive interview on Thursday. He said new shadowy extremist organisations were surfacing in the province to undermine the Baloch political and democratic movement.
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1157223/extremism-being-promoted-in-balochistan-to-weaken-nationalists-mengal
On the first day of his three-day official trip, the army chief visited 10 Downing Street and met British Prime Minister David Cameron. He also held talks with British Secretary of Defence Michael Fallen and other senior officials.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj-Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, who is travelling with the army chief, confirmed that Gen Raheel called for action against proscribed organisations and anti-Pakistan elements operating from outside the country. The army chief also called for measures to choke the financing of these groups, the chief military spokesman said.
A senior security official, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Express Tribune that the army chief specifically took up the issue of HuT, which has a strong presence in the UK.
Over the past few years, HuT, which is banned in Pakistan, has infiltrated the military significantly. In 2012, at least four military officers, including a brigadier, were convicted for having links with the banned Hizbut Tahrir. Pakistan believes that despite being a proscribed organisation, the group is getting funding from other countries including the UK.
This was the first time that any top Pakistani official took up the issue with British authorities calling for tough action against HuT, which seeks a pan-Islamic state or caliphate. The organisation is also proscribed in many countries apart from Pakistan.
The official also disclosed that Gen Raheel asked British authorities to take action against the Baloch separatist leaders who were operating from London and working against Pakistan’s interest. Hyrbyair Marri, the head of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), is currently residing in the UK and often issues statements about the unrest in Baluchistan.
The BLA is one of several separatist groups involved in a deadly insurgency in Balochistan since 2004. The BLA has claimed responsibility for a number of gun and bomb attacks on security forces, government installations and innocent civilians, especially those settled in Balochistan from other provinces.
The official pointed out that fighting terrorism was not the responsibility of Pakistan alone but also of other countries. He said Pakistan had already shown its willingness to take action against all terrorist groups without any discrimination.
According to the ISPR, the army chief during his meeting with British authorities also discussed the current regional security situation, including Afghanistan.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2015.
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/822083/army-chief-in-london-uk-urged-to-act-against-hut-baloch-separatists/
PESHAWAR: While last week’s attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo sparked global outrage, dozens of people in Peshawar paid tribute Tuesday to the brothers who carried out the murders.
The small-scale event was led by local cleric Maulana Pir Mohammad Chishti.
Twelve people were shot dead — including a Muslim cop Ahmed Merabet — when two militants had stormed into the Charlie Hebdo offices in reaction to disrespectful cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) published by the magazine.
Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) is well known for courting controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders.
Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1156760/
– – – – – – –
More details » The Washington Post
See more » http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistan-cleric-offers-prayers-for-charlie-hebdo-attackers/2015/01/13/49296c66-9b16-11e4-86a3-1b56f64925f6_story.html
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.
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
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