Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gen Allen meets Kayani to rebuild Pak-US bridge

ISAF Commander General John Allen met Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani on Sunday in yet another attempt to find a way out of the Pak-US frost and his arrival will likely be followed by a crucial meeting of the Defence Committee of Cabinet (DCC) later in the week that might take a decision on reopening supply to NATO forces in Afghanistan. Sources said Gen Allen discussed all thorny issues with his Pakistani counterparts, including the US apology over the Salala checkpost strike and restoration of NATO supplies. Besides General Kayani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh were also present in the meeting, which was attended by the US deputy secretary of state and US Ambassador Cameron Munter. On the other hand, Pakistani Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman is also arriving in Pakistan today (Monday) to brief the country’s civilian and military leaders on her meetings with senior officials in the Obama administration and US senators in recent days. Sherry will also be attending the DCC meeting, which is expected to take place in the next few days. After intense diplomatic efforts and negotiations through informal channels between Islamabad and Washington, considerable progress has been made on NATO supply and other contentious bilateral issues and authorities in both capitals seem optimistic about the imminent breakthrough in Pakistan-US relations. Sherry’s visit to Islamabad is being called extremely important and a diplomatic source went to the extent of saying that she was likely to discuss with Pakistani leadership some version of a “soft apology” that could be tendered by the US over the Salala airstrike, in case of an agreement between the two sides. It was after the Salala strike in November 2011 that Pakistan blocked NATO supplies and Pakistan has been demanding a public US apology over the incident ever since. But the US, which indicated in February of tendering an apology, is no more willing to oblige Pakistan on this count. “The two sides have been looking into some soft version of a US apology and Sherry is likely to discuss the vital issue with the leadership in Islamabad along with the feedback of important meetings that she had in Washington in recent days,” a source said, seeking anonymity. He said that in light of in-house Pakistani consultations, a DCC meeting would be convened to take a decision on NATO supplies, adding that in case it was decided to resume the supplies, the strained ties between Islamabad and Washington could be put back on the track. Another Pakistani official said the DCC meeting would be held soon, but reiterated Pakistan’s stance that any breakthrough on stalled NATO supplies was possible if the US came up with an apology over the airstrikes. He confirmed that both sides had been discussing the issue of apology intensely in the last few days and they had also shared some versions of the draft for the purpose, though he wouldn’t tell whether a consensus had been achieved on the language of any draft that was expected to come from Washington. Drone kills 8 in NWA PESHAWAR: At least eight people were killed and five others were injured in a drone strike on a compound in Dray Nishtar area of North Waziristan’s Shawaal tehsil on Sunday. Officials in Miranshah, headquarter of North Waziristan, said that suspected militants had converted an abandon house into a compound in Dray Nishtar, which was targeted by the US drone with two missiles. As a result, the compound was completely destroyed, killing eight people. The officials said five others had been injured in the strike. The identity of those killed could not be confirmed so far, but the officials suspected they included local and foreign militants.

Arsalan sent me a threatening notice: NAB chief

Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Fasih Bukhari on Saturday said that the letter of Arsalan Iftikhar’s Counsel was threatening and it would be considered as contempt of court. A joint investigating team has formed into Arsalan’s case and it will work according to the law. National Accountability Bureau will not become political weapon, he added. During a press briefing, Fasih Bukhari said that due to mounted corruption, the national treasury is facing Rs6 billion to Rs8 billion loss per day. So far, Rs 235 billion recovered and investigation on a number of other cases underway. Bukhari told the media that a joint investigation team (JIT) including the FIA, NAB and police among others had been formed for investigating the Arsalan Iftikhar case and will be headed by the NAB director general (DG) Financial Crime Investigation Cell, as per the order of the Supreme Court and the Attorney General’s letter. Bukhari said that although the Sharif brothers’ case could yield just Rs3 billion and the Swiss letter case, Rs6 billion but the case of former Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) chairman Tauqeer Sadiq could restore Rs55 billion to the treasury. The chairman also said that the Ashraf was interrogated for 3 hours before he was made the prime minister and his name will likely to put in Exit control list (ECL).

Disease outbreak: Measles ‘claims’ eight lives in Torghar

The Express Tribune
An outbreak of measles has claimed the lives of eight children in four villages of Torghar district in the past week, according to locals. Official sources, however, have denied the casualties but confirm reports of the outbreak. Villagers of Akazai tribe told The Express Tribune over telephone that at least eight children between the ages of 8 and 12 years have died of measles in Toram, Shergarh, Sarzongli and Torband villages during the past one week. They said that last month four children died of measles in other parts of the district; however, no preventive measures were taken by the administration. They maintained that if the district administration had taken timely measures, the disease would not have spread to Akazai areas. He added that dozens of children are suffering from measles as a result. Executive District Officer (EDO) Health Dr Muhammad Idris confirmed that cases of measles have surfaced in four villages of Akazai tribe in Torghar district, but denied that there were any casualties. He said that medical teams headed by doctors have been dispatched to the affected areas along with required vaccines. He said the health office was short of anti-measles vaccines but the required amount of vaccines was arranged from neighbouring districts. The EDO Health said that shortage of resources and manpower was the main hurdle in reaching out to remote areas of the district. “With a staff of 35 members, who are directly attached with nine district health units, how can the department be expected reach to every villager in the district that has a population of 500,000?” he questioned. He said he is in contact with his seniors at the provincial level and assured that the required staff and medicines will be provided to his district very soon.

Pakistan needs to decide that it cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds

An editorial in a Pakistan newspaper has called on the Pakistan Government to stop its clandestine state patronage of the Afghan Taliban. The Express Tribune editorial said: "Pakistani state needs to decide that it cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds". It criticized Islamabad's current policy of allowing some jihadis safe havens so that they may be used as proxies in 'foreign policy ventures'. It claimed that such policies had never worked in the past, and were unlikely to work in future. With the failure of the negotiations in Qatar, the editorial said: "Now might be a good time to rethink our policy towards Afghanistan. The Taliban are clearly not interested in sharing power and will wage a civil war to attain absolute power". In such a scenario, we should not have that blood on our hands," it added.

Pakistani scholarships for 600 Afghan students

Pakistan is offering 600 scholarships for Afghan students to enable them to study different disciplines at prominent institutions. Pakistan has been offering fully funded scholarships since 2009, the Daily Times reported. Under the scholarship, all expenses of the students, including tuition fee, boarding and lodging, and travelling to and from Afghanistan, will be borne by Islamabad. About 1,500 Afghan students are already benefiting from this scheme. The Pakistan government offers scholarships to Afghan students in the fields of medicine, engineering, IT, business administration, agriculture, economics, natural sciences and teaching. Over 30,000 Afghans have graduated from Pakistani institutions.

Nawaz's $418m corruption as Prime Minister

PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif made financial gains of $418 million during his twice stints as Prime Minister of the country, according to a book entitled Capitalism’s Achilles Heel by Raymond W Baker. The book is a dossier on the corruption of most dominated political families in the history including Nawaz Sharif and how they accumulated their properties, factories and enormous wealth. According to the book, at least $160 million were pocketed by Nawaz Sharif during his first stint as the Prime Minister in the 1990, from a contract to build a highway from Lahore, his home town, to Islamabad, the nation’s capital. At least $140 million in unsecured loans from Pakistan’s state banks. More than $60 million generated from government rebates on sugar exported by mills controlled by Mr. Sharif and his business associates. At least $58 million skimmed from prices paid for imported wheat from the United States and Canada. In the wheat deal, Mr. Sharif’s government paid prices far above market value to a private company owned by a close associate of his in Washington, the records show. Falsely in?ated invoices for the wheat generated tens of millions of dollars in cash. The book review went on to state that “The extent and magnitude of this corruption is so staggering that it has put the very integrity of the country at stake.” Under Sharif, unpaid bank loans and massive tax evasion remained the favorite ways to get rich. Upon his loss of power the usurping government published a list of 322 of the largest loan defaulters, representing almost $3 billion out of $4 billion owed to banks. Sharif and his family were tagged for $60 million. Like Bhutto, offshore companies have been linked to Sharif, three in the British Virgin Islands by the names of Nescoll, Nielson, and Shamrock and another in the Channel Islands known as Chandron Jersey Pvt. Ltd. Some of these entities allegedly were used to facilitate purchase of four rather grand flats on Park Lane in London, at various times occupied by Sharif family members. In 1999 Musharraf had Sharif probed, tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison, but then in 2000 exiled him to Saudi Arabia. Twenty-two containers of carpets and furniture followed, and, of course, his foreign accounts remained mostly intact. Ensconced in a glittering palace in Jeddah, he is described as looking “corpulent” amidst “opulent” surroundings.

LAHORE: Patients protest against doctors, Punjab Govt

pakistan observer
Patients and their relatives in the provincial capital hospitals on Saturday protested against the striking doctors and the Punjab government.
The patients continued to suffer due to the ongoing strike at outpatient departments (OPDs) of government hospitals by the Young Doctors Association (YDA). The patients said that the government had failed to tackle the issue as the doctors were still on strike. The patients and their relatives were perturbed as operations and indoor and outdoor services remained suspended for the fifth day across Punjab, with the government taking no alternate steps. Protests were held in front of medical superintendent offices in several public hospitals. The protestors raised slogans against the doctors. They said that the doctors, who are considered ‘Massiah’ for the poor people, had left the patients untreated for their personal interests.

Could Pakistan beer take edge off relations with India?

Murree Brewery, which has managed to survive in a nation in which almost all citizens are forbidden to drink, may get a boost now that Pakistan allows beer exports to non-Muslim countries.
Pakistan — In a country where mullahs ceaselessly denounce Western vices and laws prevent restaurants from offering anything stronger than mocktails or Red Bull, the Murree Brewery somehow perseveres, churning out pallets of lager with an efficiency that would make Milwaukee proud. A relic of British colonialism, the 152-year-old brewery has survived a 1977 government decree banning tippling by Pakistani Muslims, turning instead to a small but ever-present clientele of non-Muslim foreigners and Christian Pakistanis on the hunt for alcohol-enhanced answers to Pakistan's 100-plus-degree summers. A recent Pakistani government decision to allow beer exports to non-Muslim countries raises an intriguing prospect: Could Murree beer help relations with nuclear archrival India, a neighbor whose populace has a well-known craving for a cold one? "Business has to prevail, it has to be the bridge, I would say," Isphanyar Bhandara, chief executive of Murree Brewery, said during an interview at his office, where shelves of Murree offerings as varied as beer and 12-year-old single malt whiskey greet visitors. Government authorities, he continued, "have realized that keeping a lid on alcohol, allowing it in Pakistan but not allowing it to be exported, doesn't make sense. It doesn't make economic sense." Approval for alcohol exports, a government move aimed at generating more tax revenue, coincides with a recent thaw in ties between Pakistan and India, die-hard enemies since the partition of British colonial India in 1947. The two countries endorsed a most-favored nation agreement this year that fosters trade through the mutual imposition of lower import tariffs and higher import quotas. And Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to India in April was viewed on both sides of the border as an important symbolic gesture. Murree can now do business with any non-Muslim nation, but India appears to be the likeliest market. Its beer sales are expected to double to almost $9 billion by 2016, according to a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek. In India's northwestern state of Punjab, Murree beer is already routinely smuggled over the border. Still, Bhandara acknowledges that his marketing department has tough work ahead. "We are keeping our fingers crossed and shouting at Indian Punjab to import our beer, but it's a hard sell in India," Bhandara said. "They are already producing beer in millions of barrels…. So it's not that we are going to put crates on the border, and people are going to come and quickly snatch it up. We don't see that happening, though we wish it would." Within Pakistan, sales are hardly a problem. At hotels in the capital, Islamabad, cases of Murree are hauled away by thirsty Westerners just as quickly as workers can stock them. Black marketeers make millions of rupees serving the legions of Pakistani Muslims who drink on the sly. That Pakistani Muslims can get their hands on Murree beer, whiskey, vodka and gin doesn't really bother Bhandara. "Murree's direct customers are institutions, not individuals," said the beer magnate, whose non-Muslim family has owned Murree since the late 1940s. "I'm only allowed to sell my product at government-authorized outlets. If those hotels and shops sell to Muslims, that's not my concern or jurisdiction." The people Bhandara might worry about the most, Pakistan's array of Islamist militant groups, have never attacked the brewery. The reason may lie in its location, a sprawling red-brick compound less than a mile and a half from the army's headquarters, Pakistan's equivalent to the Pentagon, and not far from the residence of army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. Inside the brewery, a tidy, clockwork rhythm prevails that seems out of place amid the dusty bustle of bazaars and motorcycle-rickshaw-choked avenues of Rawalpindi. Workers and technicians, almost all of whom are Pakistani Muslims, tend to conveyor belts spitting out thousands of bottles a day of Murree's honey-gold lager. In the distillery, an eclectic array of liquors is produced: Lemo' Lime gin, Dew of Himalayas malt whiskey, Bolskaya vodka and, until recently, even an Irish cream. Sabih ur-Rehman, a retired army major and Bhandara's right-hand man, acknowledges that marketing a Pakistani-made Irish cream was a hard sell. "I'd say it was one of the best products we produced," Rehman said. "But the market wasn't there. Those who drank it almost got addicted, it was that good. But it's a liqueur and the alcohol percentage is less. So we couldn't get customers interested." Murree executives are heartened by the federal government's decision to allow exports, but their relationship with Pakistani Punjab provincial bureaucrats has been far from ideal. Last summer, the brewery, which is already heavily taxed, got word from the Punjab government that Murree would be assessed a separate pre-production duty on ethanol purchased for use in its distillery, a move that brewery executives said amounted to double-taxing. Murree balked at paying, and for six months the brewery's operations were virtually shut down. Bhandara estimates his losses amounted to about $1 million. Murree threatened to take the case to court, but eventually agreed to pay extra duty on the ethanol provided it wasn't made retroactive. There are other government-imposed restrictions that the brewery grudgingly endures. Each morning, the brewery can't open until a Punjab provincial inspector unlocks the gates. That inspector also has the keys for the buildings within the compound that involve alcohol production, including the brewery's fermentation vats and storage tanks, the bottling department and the distillery. He unlocks only those departments that are expected to be in use that day. "It's done to prevent pilferage," Bhandara said. "The government wants to ensure that for every drop that goes out, it gets its share." That share should increase if Murree begins exporting alcohol. In Pakistan, it's virtually the only game in town; the country's only other brewery, Indus, in the south, is tiny compared with Murree. Bhandara knows he doesn't have the means to compete head-to-head with Indian beer giants such as Kingfisher. But as he begins scouting around for potential importers, he's buoyed by one conviction. He believes his beer is better. "As far as quality is concerned," he said, "our beer beats any Indian beer hands down."

Drone kills eight suspected militants in Pakistan

A U.S. drone aircraft killed eight suspected Islamist militants in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, security officials said. A drone missile struck a house in the Shawal Valley where militants were reported to be hiding in the North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border. "Two missiles were fired on a house. Eight militants were killed," said a local intelligence official. The drone attacks, which fuel anti-American sentiment in Pakistan because they can kill civilians and are seen as a violation of sovereignty, are one of several factors straining ties between strategic allies Washington and Islamabad. The CIA, which operates the drones remotely, has stepped up strikes in recent weeks in North Waziristan, described by Western intelligence agencies as a global hub for militants. The escalated campaign means the United States may have obtained information on high-value targets like members of the Haqqani network, one of the deadliest Afghan insurgent groups fighting U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Hope fades away for Hazaras of Pakistan

BY Saleem Javed
“At least 60 people belonging to Hazara community living in Quetta have been killed in targeted attacks, including suicide, remote-controlled and timer device bombings and firing,” says a report published in this newspaper, following a brutal attack on Shia pilgrims belonging to the Hazara community.
Thursday’s bomb attack in the Hazarganji area on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Balochistan was not the first such attack of the year. Not even the first of the month. The Hazara community has been targeted, with great impunity, by outlawed militant organisations on at least six occasions in the current year. While all attacks have claimed precious lives, one of worst attacks against the community came last September, when a bus carrying Hazara passengers was stopped by assailants heavily armed with rocket launchers and Kalashnikovs. They identified Hazara men, took them off the bus and slaughtered them one by one within half a kilometre from a security check post. A similar incident was repeated a few days later in Akhtarabad area of Quetta. Some unconfirmed reports say “over 800 Hazaras have been killed in 24 incidents of mass-murder and 131 targeted ambushes since 2001.” Murderous motives Responsibility for most of these attacks has been claimed by outlawed group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, who have gone as far in their hate preach as declaring the community “wajib-ul-qatl” or deserving of death in their edicts handed out in the Balochistan province. Moreover, the community has been warned that its settlements in Hazara Town and on Alamdar Road will be transformed into graveyards as the war against them continues, according to a column published in this newspaper. The killings have received mixed reactions and analyses from government officials, politicians and Hazara community leaders. Some blame security forces and intelligence agencies for the killings. Others point the fingers at the sectarian fanatics, Taliban and land mafia while some people even suggest a complex amalgam of all the aforementioned factors. The Hazaras are being systematically killed because they are anti-Taliban Role of security forces While there is little doubt that all the attacks have been unprovoked and unidirectional without any apprehensions for many years, for Hazaras, the failure of security forces to protect their community remains an unanswered question. “They have not failed. They have rather no intentions to protect us from the terrorists” explains Sardar Saadat Ali Hazara, a community leader. Members of the community allege that Hazara killings are designed as a counterinsurgency campaign to divert attention away from the activities of security forces in Balochistan. “The Hazaras are being systematically killed because they are anti-Taliban and because they do not agree with the policy of strategic depth towards Afghanistan,” says Tahir Khan Hazara, a political activist. “They consider the Hazaras as pro-Northern Alliance and suspect our patriotism,” says Zaman Dehqanzada of the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP). Dehqanzada alleges that his community’s ‘refusal to fight the Baloch’ has led them to become targets of unabated violence. “We are not going to destroy our relations with our brothers in Balochistan,” he adds. Meanwhile, a former chief sectary Balochistan revealed on the condition of anonymity that the state policy towards the Hazaras has dramatically changed since 2001. “They are kept away from sensitive administrative posts both in the armed forces and civil bureaucracy as they are considered, albeit falsely, pro-Iran and Pro-Northern Alliance just because they are Farsi-speaking Shias,” the official said. According to a recent report on the killings of Hazaras, the Frontier Corps (FC) believes that “the Hazaras are receiving funding from Iran to incite Shia revolution in Pakistan,” a statement refuted by the community. How can a small community, they say, surrounded by military cantonment bring about Shia revolution in Pakistan? We have repeatedly demanded targeted actions against Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, who are a handful of terrorists but the government and security forces have given us a cold shoulder. While the FC also blames the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) for the Hazara killings. Hazara leader Sardar Saadat strongly disagrees. “BLA has no issues with the Hazaras. It is, in fact, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi operatives who kill the members of my community and roam freely all around. Everybody knows that they are being trained and protected in Qubo area of Mastung,” he says. Chairman of HDP Abdul Khalique Hazara is of the same view. “We have repeatedly demanded targeted actions against Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, who are a handful of terrorists but the government and security forces have given us a cold shoulder. Balochistan Home Minister Zafarullah Zehri has said on the floor of the provincial assembly that he had clues about those involved in the target killings but he was helpless. So we were forced to call international protests against Hazara genocide in order to pressurise the government to take actions” Religious radicalisation All the secular nationalist parties of Balochistan are of the view that religious extremism is thriving in the province in order to counter the activism of the Baloch nationalists. The nature of killings, they say, also indicates the same. Almost all the attacks on Hazaras have either taken place in the vicinity or in between two FC check posts – raising questions over the ability of heavily armed men to cross the check-posts, kill innocent civilians and escape on their pick-up vehicles without being caught or chased after. “If you look at the videos of the Mastung and Akhtarabad massacres released by the terrorists on YouTube, you will find out that all these incidents have taken place on an international highway, bustling with traffic but the terrorists seem in no haste as they slaughter our people. It takes them almost half an hour to accomplish their mission and not a single vehicle passes the site of the attack. How was the traffic blocked on both sides?” asks a Hazara activist, who wishes to remain anonymous for security reasons. Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) issued a statement on its website a day after the Mastung massacre under the title of “Members of Shia community were under attack while the military forces look on” questioning the role of military establishment in such attacks. According to AHRC “more than 500 Shias have been killed in terrorist attacks during the past three years after the FC received the powers of the police” It further adds: “These campaigns against the Shia religious community is very well known to police, FC, the army and its intelligence services but no action has been taken against the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.” According to columnist, Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad, “Attacks on the Hazara community started only two years after former president and army chief General Pervez Musharraf’s coup. These coincided with the period when agencies were directed under a master plan to give religious parties and militant groups a free hand.” Talibanisation of Balochistan The Taliban had massacred tens of thousands of Hazaras in Afghanistan during their reign in Afghanistan and had warned them to leave the country. The Hazaras of Afghanistan were part of the so-called Northern Alliance which resisted Taliban’s rule and later on allied with the international forces to overturn the radicals. To avenge their defeat the Taliban pointed their guns towards the Hazaras of Baochistan by allying with LeJ and Al-Qaeda operatives. In an open threat letter distributed at Hazara localities in Quetta Lashkar-i-Jhangvi warned the Hazaras to leave Pakistan by 2012 and in another, they vowed to continue targeting the community in Pakistan, particularly in Quetta. For the community, being targeted repeatedly and labelled as conspirators is heartrending as they take pride in their role as servants of the country ever since its creation. History of Hazaras in Pakistan The Hazaras are believed to be the descendants of Kushans who, in the sixth century, built giant Bhuddas of Bamiyan in Hazarajat of central Afghanistan. The Buddhas were dynamited and destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. The native language of Hazaras is Dari (Farsi) and they mostly adhere to Shia Islam. The very first group of Hazaras migrated from Hazarajat of Afghanistan to British India and served in “Broadfoot’s Sappers” from 1839–1840. In 1904, Lord Kitcherner the Commander-in-Chief in India directed Major C. W. Jacob to raise a battalion of Hazara Pioneers, which led to the birth of the 106th Hazara Pioneers with drafts from the 124th Duchess of Connaught’s Own Baluchistan Infantry and from Major Jacob’s own regiment. The 106th Hazara Pioneers were renamed “The Hazara Pioneers” in 1929. As a result of the financial crisis in 1933, all Pioneer Regiments in the Indian Army, including the Hazara Pioneers, were disbanded. According to Brigadier N. L. St. Pierre Bunbury, “the Hazara Pioneers was the best shooting regiment in the Indian Army.” Military services Inspired by The Hazara Pioneers and because they had no land in Balochistan, the Hazaras either joined the Indian army or established small businesses in Quetta city. One of them,
General Musa Khan Hazara (Hilal-e-Jurat), joined the Indian army as a jawan (soldier) who later served as the Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan army from 1958 to 1966. He also served as governor of West Pakistan and Governor of Balochistan from 1985-91. The trend of seeking commission in the armed forces did not cease and another Hazara, Air Vice Marshal Sharbat Ali Changezi, also reached the upper echelons of Pakistan Air Force. Hazara women, too, followed suit. A Hazara girl, Saira Batool, is among the first female pilots in Pakistan Air Force. Civil services and politics Hazaras also played an important role in the formation of Pakistan. A Hazara politician, Qazi Mohammad Essa (his son, Faiz Essa, is the present Chief Justice of Balochistan High court ), was the founder of Balochistan Muslim Leauge who represented Balochistan in Lahore Resolution in 1940. In spite of having a population of only about half a million, the Hazaras have been prominent in provincial and national politics. The community’s political party, Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), founded in 2003 describes itself as a secular, liberal and nationalist party whose founding chairman, Hussain Ali Yousufi was assassinated by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi on January, 26, 2009 on Jinnah road, Quetta. A Pakistan People’s Party MNA from Quetta, Syed Nasir Ali Shah, is also a Hazara. The Hazara community has given birth to some of the best national sportsmen such as legendary footballer, Qayyum Changezi, three-time Olympian boxer Syed Ibrar Hussain Shah, who was assassinated on June 16, 2011. While the community continues to reiterate its support for the country and refutes all claims of the presence of anti-state elements, it remains unclear why the government and security forces have been unable to curtail the hate crimes and broad-day-light massacres of Hazaras. “All around the world, it is always the smallest, most peace-loving, least politically connected groups that are selected as targets by those seeking to scare the populations they seek to control,” Rafia Zakaria opined in her column on violence against Hazaras. Indeed, if her words are to be understood, the signs are ominous for the already scarred province of Balochistan. Dr Saleem Javed is a freelance journalist and human rights activist based in Quetta.

Dr Arsalan’s ‘threats’ won’t deter NAB

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Admiral (r) Fasih Bukhari on Saturday said that the investigation into Dr Arsalan Iftikhar’s case would be made transparent as the NAB had no “specific agenda”. Addressing a press conference, Bukhari also told the media about a letter written to them by Arsalan’s counsel which he claimed was “an effort to influence the proceedings of the case”. “The notice bears threatening language attempting to hamper proceedings. This constitutes offence under the law and this aspect will also be looked into. NAB considers the contents of the notice not only threatening but an attempt to intervene in the official working of the organisation. As JIT is in the process of complying with the orders of the SC, the ‘notice’ by Mr Arsalan Iftikhar is tantamount to the contempt of court as well,” he added. “I have constituted the joint investigation team (JIT), headed by DG Financial Crimes, NAB. The team comprises of members from police, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and NAB. Services of legal, financial and forensic experts can be hired by the team if needed. The NAB is conducting the investigation into the matter to comply with the orders of the Honourable Supreme Court (SC),”said Bukhari. He emphasised that the investigations into the case would be “impartial, transparent, purely on merit and strictly under the laws of the land” as NAB had no specific agenda. He said the team would also visit London while laying focus on the point that the investigation may take some time. Asked how he could remain impartial in probe against Dr Arsalan when Malik Riaz had played a key role in his appointment, the NAB chief said, “It doesn’t matter if I know Malik Riaz or Nawaz Sharif, the investigation will be unbiased.” He also added that he had never taken any money from Malik Riaz. The NAB chief explained about the composition and terms of reference (ToR) of the JIT constituted to investigate the matter. He said the court had ordered the federal government to activate the state machinery to investigate the case and punish the culprits. “Pursuant to the directives of the SC, the office of the Attorney General asked NAB to conduct in-depth investigation by constituting a team comprising upon the officials of NAB, FIA and police”. He said that the JIT would determine whether it was a case of collusion between two private individuals or a case of extortion by any of the accused. “The team will look into all the relevant transactions, money trail, investments, commercial dealings, business profiles, relevant meetings and if required details of communications between those associated, in any manner, with the case,” he maintained. Responding to a question, the chairman NAB said that the JIT would largely depend on documentary evidence; therefore, the question of favour or disfavour to anyone didn’t arise.