Sunday, July 8, 2012
ASSOCIATED PRESSU.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed hope Sunday that Pakistan's recent reopening of NATO supply lines into Afghanistan might lead to a broader rapprochement in U.S.-Pakistani relations after a difficult period for the reluctant allies.
Editorial:The Baloch HalThe decision of District Administration in Quetta to shut down bus service for Shia pilgrims going to Iran is outrageous. Such a decision curtails people’s right to religious freedom and it also emboldens extremist Sunni groups. The government justifies this decision referring to recent attacks in Quetta and its outskirts on Shia Muslims (most of whom belonged to Hazara ethnic community). The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group, has claimed responsibility for all attacks on Balochistan’s Shia Muslims. Since many of the pilgrims travel via Pakistan-Iran border town of Taftan on bus, the extremist groups find it very easy ambush the passenger buses in the outskirts of Quetta. Except for suicide bombings, no other form of attack on the Shia, Hazara community has proved as deadly as attacks on the buses. Besides the attack on a university bus on June 18, the dead toll in every other assault has exceeded double-digit figure. Regular protests and meeting by Shia, Hazara leaders with senior government officials in Balochistan have not helped in ending the killing of innocent citizens. There has also been uproar at the international level, mainly from human rights organizations, against the senseless killings. Yet, the situation has not received ample attention from foreign governments and the United Nations to force Pakistan to act swiftly to protect people who do not share the religious and political views of the majority in Pakistan. The State should take ownership for guarding every citizen’s freedom to religious and political views. Prior to suspending bus services, the government has to provide accountability for the June 29 statement issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (H.R.C.P), the country’s most respected human rights watchdog, which blamed elements inside the security institutions for the killing of the Shia, Hazaras. While the H.R.C.P. admits not possessing enough evidence to substantiate its allegations, we still see some weight and truth in this statement. The Shai, Hazara community has repeatedly blamed the security establishment for patronizing and protecting the Sunni extremists. If elements inside the security agencies are responsible for attacks on the Shias then there is no way mere suspension of bus service to Iran can stop this gruesome cycle of sectarian killings. If the State can successfully and safely transport hundreds of thousands of Sunni pilgrims to Saudi Arabai every year then there is no excuse for failing to provide similar protection to a few hundred Shias travelling to Iran via Balochistan. The government of Balochistan had previously decided to offer security escort to the buses that carry Shia pilgrims to Iran. The terrorists still struck despite official protection. Security failures are highly deplorable but that does not rationalize complete suspension of the existing security arrangement. The government must overhaul the current security mechanism besides probing the suspected elements inside the police who are blamed for collusion with terrorists. At this point, the government’s top-most priority should be to give the Shias and Hazaras a sense of protection and participation. They should not be left in isolation. The suspension of the bus service or stopping them from going for pilgrimage will make them feel maltreated and excluded from everyday experiences. To restrict the Shias, Hazaras inside their homes and towns is what the Sunni militant groups desire. We urge the government of Balochistan to immediately withdraw the suspension of the bus service and tighten security arrangements required to protect the Shias, Hazara in Balochistan.
The Express TribuneAn intelligence agency’s report reveals that high-profile terror suspects are flouting laws and using mobile phones in their prison cells to contact their accomplices in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and settled regions. The report was forwarded by the Punjab police chief to the concerned officials. The letter states that militants detained in Adiala, Haripur and Kot Lakhpat prisons are using cell phones to coordinate with their accomplices. This coordination includes planning and fundraising for terrorist activities. Two militants identified to be doing this while in prison are Qari Waqas in Kot Lakhpat prison and Shamsul Islam in Haripur jail. A separate intelligence report reveals that India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), in collaboration with Afghan spy agency, planned attacks on Chinese diplomats and other foreigners across Pakistan. The focus however, according to the report, is on Chinese diplomats based in Islamabad. Al Qaeda militants, meanwhile, are planning kidnapping /assassinations of diplomats in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) embassy and consulates across Pakistan in ‘the near future’ and attack their missions with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Yet another intelligence report states that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) members based in Miramshah, North Waziristan, planned attacks against law enforcement agencies – specifically, on police patrols near hotels and petrol pumps. In addition, the TTP is planning attacks on two Army Public Schools located in Rawalpindi. Terrorists are also planning to target Wah Cantonment installations, and for this purpose, a suicide bomber identified as Obaidullah is being trained near Latamber in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, according to sources. The suspect has visited Wah several times for reconnaissance of the target. Another report revealed that a terrorist with the alias Zarar, operating in Waziristan region, has planned terrorist attacks in Swat and Murree. These intelligence reports have been forwarded to the National Crisis Management Cell of the interior ministry, provincial home departments, provincial police chiefs and provincial heads of other law enforcement agencies.
The Express Tribune NewsThe Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has banned the official website of the Ahmaddiya community, alislam.org, according to a report published in The Nation on Friday. A PTA official, speaking to The Nation, said that the site was blocked because, as per the Constitution, the Ahmadis are not allowed to propagate their religious views publicly. He added that the PTA has already blocked several sites with inappropriate content in the past. ProPakistani had earlier reported that the site was blocked after it was accused of publishing blasphemous content against the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Nation’s sources add that the Muttahida Ulema Board had demanded that PTA block the website for blasphemous content. After media reports emerged of the site blockade, former MNA Farahnaz Ispahani tweeted saying that she had taken up the issue with concerned officials in Pakistan and is waiting for action. Former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani also tweeted that the blockade “reflects religious intolerance and violates constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.”
Pakistan TodayTime magazine, a foreign-based magazine, has targeted CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for being ‘a lazy-eyed abrasive, un-charismatic, and visibly uncomfortable for scripted speeches’. Expressing fears that taking suo motto notice and by keeping ‘his (CJP’s) unending pursuit of President Zardari, might endanger democracy, the media source terms CJP as "an unelected judge", who has shown no letup in his vendetta against an elected prime minister and President Zardari, even at the cost which the country would end up paying. This, despite the fact that Pakistan/democracy has nevertheless withstood countless ‘indispensable democratic (and non-democratic) heroes’ in past with aplomb. The media source does not even spare CJP’s accepted ancestral honesty amid a hornets’ nest infested with blatant corruption and blind power, terming it as the source of CJP’s ‘obdurate and unending Robin Hood attitude’.
http://www.independent.co.ukIt was a coup by other means. In the past, Pakistan’s democratic hopes were often thwarted by generals taking power for themselves, or shunting governments aside by subtler means. Now it is the turn of another unelected and unaccountable institution to try the same. The government will not fall. There is an opportunity now for President Asif Ali Zardari to try and anoint a successor as he struggles to hold on to his already shaky ruling coalition. The verdict merely destabilises the government for now. But more importantly, the court was sending a message. The decision had little to do with the niceties of the law, and whether Yousaf Raza Gilani was following the court’s orders to write a letter to Swiss authorities, urging them to reopen corruption cases against his boss. It was principally about politics. In particular, it was a power play that reflected the Supreme Court’s view that it is better suited to represent the people of Pakistan than those they have chosen to elect themselves. The Supreme Court has rightfully earned much popularity for its defiance of former dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf, grilling intelligence agencies, and confronting corruption. But with the accumulation of greater clout, it has grown increasingly political, at times positioning itself as an alternative government. The court’s verdict is also being criticised in light of a recent controversy. Over recent days, a powerful property billionaire has alleged that he paid Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s son some £2m in the form of cash and pricey holidays. It is unclear whether the chief justice’s son was being suborned by the government-connected billionaire, or was extorting him. Either way, the scandal has tainted the judiciary. Questions abound about how much the chief justice knew, and for how long. The move also has political implications. The decision was taken on the petition of two opposition parties, and seems to tilt the political field against the government’s favour mere months before the next election. Political wrangling over the next few weeks could paralyse the country, to the neglect of pressing issues. Over recent weeks, simmering anger at constant power outages have boiled over into violent riots in the majority province of Punjab. The economy may require a second IMF bailout. And relations with the US linger at an all time low, with Nato supplies to Afghanistan still suspended. Whoever becomes Pakistan’s next prime minister may well wish they needn’t have assumed the burden.