Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why is the PML-N blind?

By: ST Hussain The Express Tribune
According to a media report, the PML-N opposition leader in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, has said that the military should not launch any operation against terrorists in North Waziristan. The opposition leader has said this despite the fact that Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani declared in a speech at the Pakistan Military Academy on August 13 that the fight against extremism and terrorism was Pakistan’s own war and that the nation needed to support the military in it. The PML-N leader seems to think that the Pakistan Army is fighting America’s war. Why have the PML-N’s leaders ignored the fact that in the past, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), through videos and press statements has revealed its agenda to impose Sharia law through the use of force in Pakistan? It is the duty of every Pakistani to support the Pakistan Army’s fight against terrorism and extremism, and play its role in educating the people about the threats posed by the TTP. Every political party’s leader should get a briefing from the army about the ground realities before making a statement against the military decision to eradicate the menace of extremism and terrorism, which is challenging the very existence of Pakistan and making it a theocratic state — against the vision of its founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The leaders of the PML-N, who claim to be the flag holders of Jinnah’s political party, should at least respect the Quaid-e-Azam’s ideology of Pakistan and listen to his speech of August 11, 1947 in the Constituent Assembly before deciding to support the TTP’s ideology.


Pashto Eid song: 'Eid in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday'

Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Sunday (August 19), Senior Minister Bashir Bilour made the formal announcement on behalf of the provincial government. The Minister regretted that once again the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee did not take into account the witnesses reports confirming the sighting of the moon coming from every part of the province. He said 23 reports for sighting of Shawwal moon were received from eyewitnesses in various parts of the province including Dera Islmail Khan, Bannu and Bajaur.

NATO, Taliban in war of words over Afghan deaths
A suicide bombing at a wedding, a deadly airstrike on a village, grenades in a mosque — hundreds of Afghan civilians are dying violently this summer, while the Taliban and the NATO coalition wage verbal warfare. A U.N. report says 1,145 civilians were killed and 1,954 others injured during the first half of the year, 80 percent of them by militants. But like other aspects of this decade-long war, facts are often obscured by perception and propaganda. That has left both sides locked in a battle of words, crafted to win the Afghan public's support. The foreign forces and Taliban fighters have been issuing dueling statements ever since the conflict began more than a decade ago. Civilian casualties are the latest focus of the information war. In a message ahead of Eid al-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of Ramadan this weekend, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar instructed his fighters once again to avoid killing or wounding Afghan civilians. "Employ tactics that do not cause harm to the life and property of the common countrymen," the one-eyed chieftain of the insurgency said in an eight-page message released to news organizations. It came days after at least 50 people were killed in bombings and gun battles that erupted on either end of the country in the deadliest day of violence for civilians this year. The Taliban has not yet claimed responsibility for carrying out the attacks Tuesday in Kunduz and Nimroz provinces, but the coalition wasted no time in hanging the blame on Omar's shoulders. "Omar once again writes that his thugs should 'pay close attention to the protection of life, property and honor ... employ tactics that do not cause harm to life and property of the common countrymen,'" U.S. Gen. John Allen, the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said Friday in his written response to Omar's message. "Yet, as we saw in Nimroz and Kunduz provinces just days ago, Omar sent his assassins to slaughter dozens of innocent Afghan men, women and children." "Either Omar is lying, or his henchmen are not listening to him." The U.N. figures represented a 15 percent decrease in overall deaths and injuries from the previous year, but U.N. officials cautioned that civilian casualties were spiking as summer fighting continues. Those attributed to foreign and Afghan forces declined as both groups strengthened policies to protect civilians, the U.N. said — 165 civilians killed in the first half of the year, down 35 percent from 255 in 2011. The majority — 127 — came from airstrikes, though that was also a reduction from the previous year. Beyond statistics, however, the conflict is as much a "war of perceptions" as it is a fight on the battlefield, said Thomas Ruttig, who co-directs the Afghanistan Analysts Network in Kabul. "The Taliban are attacking what they consider legitimate targets," such as the Afghan police and army, foreign troops as well as Afghan government officials and their supporters, he said. "When they are attacking what they say are legitimate targets, they often do not care about bystanders." Insurgents aren't bothered by civilian casualties, even during Ramadan, said Khalid Pashtun, a member of parliament from Kandahar province, the spiritual birthplace of the insurgency. Many insurgents actually consider Ramadan appropriate because they believe any foe they kill will go to hell while a civilian fatality will go to heaven, he said. "I've heard them say many times that the civilians who get killed will go to heaven — that this is good," he said. The Taliban say that international soldiers' mere presence in Afghan cities and towns puts citizens at risk. The insurgents denounce coalition aerial attacks that have inadvertently killed civilians. And they condemn international forces for razing villages in the south — areas the coalition claims were impossible to otherwise clear because they were so booby-trapped with bombs. The Taliban exploited a rapid-fire succession of coalition setbacks earlier this year to further their information war: —In January, a video purportedly showing American Marines laughing and urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters surfaced on the Web. —In February, Muslim holy books were burned at a U.S. base, sparking deadly riots across the nation. —In March, a U.S. soldier allegedly went on a shooting rampage in two villages in Kandahar province, killing nine children, four men and three women and burning some of their bodies. —In June, Allen flew to Logar province to personally apologize for the deaths of 18 women, children and village elders killed in an airstrike during a pre-dawn raid to capture a Taliban operative. "Your troops mercilessly martyr women and children in our country, destroy villages and houses, desecrate our religious sanctities, vilify our national honors and culture, set fire to our houses and green orchards or bulldoze them until they become leveled with the ground," Omar's statement said. Stepping up its war of words with the Taliban, the coalition has issued a dozen or more statements in recent weeks accusing the Taliban of civilian carnage. After a suicide bomber blew himself up last month at a wedding in Samangan province in northern Afghanistan, killing 23 people including an Afghan lawmaker who was the father of the bride, Allen said: "Once again the Taliban have murdered Afghans in cold blood with complete disregard for innocent life or to the sanctity of a wedding. Their depravity clearly knows no bounds." In June, after Taliban gunmen stormed a lakeside hotel near Kabul, leaving 18 dead, Allen said: "There is no doubt that innocent Afghan civilians were the intended targets of this unspeakably brutal attack," Allen said. Earlier this month, a bomb exploded in a mosque in eastern Nangarhar, injuring 21 people including the mullah who was addressing the worshippers. The explosion, which shattered windows, doors and the roof of the mosque, occurred near where the mullah was standing and most of the other people injured were elders in the front rows. Allen condemned what he said was a "senseless act of terror against Afghans who were simply trying to practice their faith" during Ramadan. Mohammad Nahim Lalai Hamidzai, another legislator from Kandahar, said the Taliban consists of several factions, some of which care more about civilian casualties than others, he said. The Haqqani network, which is affiliated with al-Qaida, is aligned with the Taliban, yet often operate independently. "The ordinary Taliban don't want to kill civilians — they are fighting an emotional battle against the foreigners," he said. "When civilians get killed everybody blames the Taliban, but we have a network of insurgents and nobody knows for sure who is doing which killings." Arturo Munoz, an Afghan expert at the RAND Corporation, said the key issue is whether Afghans accept and are swayed by the coalition's condemnations of civilian deaths caused by militant attacks. "It does seem that the Afghan people are reacting negatively to the terrorist tactics used by the Taliban and the Haqqani network, which undeniably kill and maim far more civilians than U.S. or coalition operations," Munoz said. But he said the coalition's attempt to highlight civilian casualties caused by militants has been hampered by incidents like the Quran burnings, which sparked more public outrage across Afghanistan than the shooting rampage in Kandahar province. "Attacks on people can be seen as a normal part of war, but an attack on Islam is not normal and is not excusable," Munoz said, adding that the U.S. was right to apologize and taking steps to prevent future desecration of Muslim holy texts. "Nonetheless, the legitimacy of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan was damaged."

Pakistan: Nation shocked at Shia community killings

Governor KP has said the whole nation has been deeply shocked by killing of innocent Shia community. Talking to the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah on telephone on Saturday, Governor Barrister Masood Kausar said that the worst type of inhuman act of terrorism indeed speaks the cruel mindset of the culprits who could no more remain at large and would be brought to justice. Indeed the joyous occasion of the ensuing Eid-ul-Fitr for the countrymen in general and like Gilgit- Baltistan, the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA in particular will be equally over shadowed by the shocks of the tragic incident, he added. He also requested the Chief Minister GB to convey deep sympathies on behalf of the people of the province and FATA, besides his own-self to the bereaved families and prayed for the eternal peace of the departed souls. Meanwhile, the Governor has also telephonically talked to the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal, Tahir Rafique Butt and while strongly condemning the terrorist attack has also highly eulogized the timely and courageous response of the security forces to foil the cowardly act of terrorism. He has also expressed his deep sympathies with the bereaved families of the martyr soldiers and prayed for the eternal peace of the martyrs.

Organ trade:Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa developing bill to curb illegal transplants

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) health department is developing a bill to curb illegal organ transplants. The department has completed the first draft of the bill, titled the ‘Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Human Organs and Tissue Transplantation Act 2012’. It is expected to be finalised after Eidul Fitr, following a meeting with health experts across the province. The bill will then be forwarded to the law department for approval before it is tabled in the provincial assembly to be passed as legislation. “Many people have made organ transplants a profitable business, putting the lives of thousands of people at risk,” Special Secretary for Health Dr Noorul Iman told The Express Tribune. He said a special ethics committee would also be formed, adding that it will include representatives from all religions so that the minorities may not be deprived of their rights. “Some people go to China for liver transplants, which cost $35,000. This is a loss for our country. If all transplants are done inside the province with special care, then patients will spend their money here ,” Dr Iman maintained. He said those donating organs, particularly kidneys, to earn money should also be punished in order to discourage other people from doing so. Dr Iman, who did not disclose details of the draft of the act, said that both private and state-run transplant centres would be streamlined by the government and a close eye will be kept on their activities. Regarding the punishment of those involved in the illegal transplants, the special secretary said that increased fines would be imposed. He added, however, that this did not mean that those involved in the illegal business will be let off in exchange for money. “Life imprisonment will be included among the punishments mentioned in the act” he said. Earlier on August 1, the Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the federal and provincial governments to legislate the issue of illegal human organ and tissue transplants with an awareness drive and ordered them to submit their report within two weeks.

#IftikharPCO ka ziada bhola beta Dr. Arslaan

Let Us Build Pakistan -by Malick Ashter
بھولے باپ کا زیادہ بھولا بیٹا۔ڈاکٹر ارسلان ۔۔۔۔از۔۔۔۔۔مالک اشتر
تو جناب حالیہ ٹریپ ااور عدلیہ کے خلاف ’’سازش‘‘ کا شکار ہونے والے سیدھے سادھے ، بھولے بھالے ’’معصوم‘‘ ڈاکٹر ارسلان کا کردار سمجھنے کے لیے ضروری ہے کہ پہلے ان کے انتہائی ایماندار ،شریف النفس اور بے حد قابل والد ماجد کی ذات گرامی کا کچھ احاطہ کیا جائے تاکہ اس ’’سازش ‘‘ کو بے نقاب کرنے میں کچھ مدد ملے ۔ کسے معلوم تھا کہ 12 دسمبر 1948کو پیدا ہونے والا یہ عظیم سپوت ایک دن وطن عزیز پاکستان کا 18واں چیف جسٹس ہی نہیں بلکہ میڈیا کا تخلیق کردہ ہیرو ، شریف برادران اور تحریک انصاف کی آخری امید اور لعل مسجد والے اسلام کا خلیفہ بھی ثابت ہوگا۔ بہرحال یہ اعزاز قدرت نے سرزمین پاکستان کو ہی بخشا بسرو چشم۔ ابتدائی ریکارڈ نام افتخار محمد چوہدری، میٹرک تھرڈ ڈویژن، انٹرمیڈیٹ دوبار فیل (پاس کرنے کا کوئی ریکارڈ دستیاب نہیں ہوسکا کہ کہاں سے کیا۔ فقط ایک بیان حلفی موجود ہے جس میں چیف صاحب معترف ہیں کہ وہ انٹرمیڈیٹ میں دو مرتبہ فیل ہوئے تھے لیکن بعد میں گریجویشن کرلیا) بی اے تھرڈ ڈویژن ، جائے پیدائش مشکوک، ان کے اپنے بیان کے مطابق وہ کوئٹہ میں پیدا ہوے جبکہ معتبر ذرائع جائے پیدائش لائیل پور (فیصل آباد ) بتاتے ہیں۔ ایل ایل بی کا امتحان جامشورو سندھ سے پاس کیا۔ 1989میں وزیراعلیٰ بلوچستان جناب اکبر بگٹی مرحوم نے انہیں بلوچستان کے کوٹہ پر ایڈوکیٹ جنرل مقرر کیا ۔قسمت کی دیوی یہیں سے مہربان ہونا شروع ہوئی۔ اپریل 1999میں چیف جسٹس بلوچستان مقرر کئے گئی۔ پی سی او کے تحت حلف جنوری 2000میں ڈکٹیٹر پرویز مشرف نے پی سی او کے تحت ججوں سے حلف لینا چاہا تو چیف جسٹس سعید الزمان صدیقی سمیت چار ججوں نے انکار کردیا اور مستعفی ہوگئی۔ چوہدری صاحب کی گویا لاٹری نکل آئی ۔ بھولے بھالے افتخار چوہدری نے مشرف کو ’’یس باس ‘‘ کہا اور سپریم کورٹ کے جسٹس مقرر ہوگئی۔ 2005میں مشرف نے انھیں بہتر خدمات کے عوض چیف جسٹس آف پاکستان مقرر کیا۔ کرپشن کے الزامات اور معطلی 2007میں چوہدری صاحب کو کرپشن ،اقربا پروری اور سینئر وکلاء و ججوں کے ساتھ بدسلوکی کے الزامات پر معطل کردیا گیا۔ یہ ملکی تاریخ کا پہلا واقعہ تھا۔اور اس میں بھی بنیادی وجہ ’’ارسلان چوہدری‘‘ ہی بنا۔ جنرل الیکشن کے بعد 24مارچ 2008کو یوسف رضا گیلانی نے بطور وزیراعظم پاکستان کا حلف اٹھایا اور پہلے ہی دن چوہدری صاحب کی ہائوس اریسٹ سے رہائی کا حکم جاری کیا۔ بطور چیف جسٹس ان کی بحالی کے لیے اعتزاز احسن ، حامد خان ، علی احمد کرد، منیر اے ملک، اور عاصمہ جہانگیر نے تحریک چلائی ۔بدقسمتی سے یہ تمام کردار آج ’’چوہدری گردی‘‘ کا شکار ہیں۔ ارسلان کے کارنامے حضرت ارسلان چوہدری صاحب کے بڑے صاحبزادے اور میجر جنرل ضیاء الحق کے داماد ہیں ۔ والد گرامی کے نقش قدم پر چلتے ہوئے انٹرمیڈیٹ میں ’’سی‘‘ گریڈ حاصل کیااور چیف منسٹر کے کوٹہ سے بولان میڈیکل کالج کوئٹہ میں داخل ہوئی۔ جون 2005میں میڈیکل آفیسر تعنیات ہوئی۔ والد گرامی کی سفارش پر صرف 26روز کے اندر محکمہ صحت میں سیکشن آفیسر مقرر ہوگئی۔ محض چند روز بعد ’’ڈاکٹر صاحب‘‘ نے ڈاکٹری اور محکمہ صحت کو خیرباد کیا اور ’’ابا جی زندہ باد‘‘ کا نعرہ لگاتے ہوئے اسسٹنٹ ڈائریکٹر ایف آئی اے مقرر کرا دیے گئی۔ جہاں عام آفیسر 10سال بعد بھی ترقی کی راہ تکتا اور دعائیں مانگتا ہے یہ ’’ہونہار‘‘ سپوت ایک سال سے بھی کم عرصہ میں میرٹ کی دھجیاں اور آئین و قانون کو ہوا میں اڑاتے ہوئے گریڈ 18میں ڈپٹی ڈائریکٹر ایف آئے اے مقرر کیاگیااور وہاں سے نیشنل پولیس اکیڈمی میں ٹریننگ کے لیے بھیج دیا گیا۔ یاد رہے کہ یہ تمام حقائق سپریم جوڈیشل کونسل ریفرنسمیں موجود ہیں اور انہیں پر ارسلان کو استعفیٰ دینا پڑا تھا (بحوالہ ایکسپریسجون7 )Express 7 June 2012 رسی جل گئی بل نہ گیا۔ فرزند ارجمند کی حرام ذرائع اور دوسروں کا حق غضب کرکے حاصل کی جانے والی نوکری ختم ہوجانے کے بعد بھی چوہدری جی نے کوئی نصیحت حاصل نہ کی ۔ اور اب اسے راتوں رات کروڑ پتی بنوانے کی ٹھانی ۔ اس ’’کارخیر‘‘ کے لیے ملک ریاض کا انتخاب کیا گیا۔’’فضل ربی‘‘ نے اپنا کام دکھایا اور’’رحمت‘‘ کے خزانے برسنے لگی۔ ملک ریاض نے آخر کار وہی کیا جو شکرہ بلبلوں کے ساتھ کرتا ہی۔ اور آج اسی حرام کی سیاہی ملے باپ بیٹا دونوں عبرت کا نشان بن گئی۔ قلمکاروں کی فنکاریاں جسٹس ڈوگر نے ایک مسئلہ پر بیٹی کی سفارش کی۔ انصار عباسی جیسے رائٹ ونگ کے کالم نگاروں کا’’اسلام‘‘ فوری حرکت میں آیا۔ ڈوگر عدالت کے خطابات دیئے گئے اور اولاد کے اعلمال سے صرف نظر کرنے کی مذمت میں آیات عذاب اور احادیث کی بارش برسنے لگی۔اور آج جب افتخار صاحب کی پے درپے سفارشوں اور ہوس زر نے بیٹے کو ڈاکٹر سے مجرم بنادیا ہے تو نہ صرف وہ تمام آیات و احادیث فراموش کردی گئی بلکہ الٹا چوہدری صاحب کو ’’خلیفہ‘‘ بنانے کی سعی لا حاصل جاری و ساری ہی۔ ایک اور مسخرہ کردار ایکسپریس کا لکھاری جاوید چوہدری ہے ’’قلم برائے فروخت‘‘ کا اشتہار سجائے یہ صاحب ایک دن کالم ملک ریاض کے حق میں اور دوسرے دن چوہدری صاحب کے حق میں لکھتے ہیں ۔ ادھر مال اور ادھر اختیار دل نہ اسے چھوڑنے پر آمادہ نہ اسے اسدا للہ غالب صاحب اس دوڑ میں جاوید چوہدری سے بھی آگے نکل گئے ۔ سعودی کرنل نے ائیرپورٹ پر سیکورٹی سٹاف آفیسر کو گالی دی اور احتجاج پر زناٹے دار تھپڑ جڑ دیا ۔ سیکورٹی آفیسرنے جوابا قومی غیرت کا بھرپور ثبوت دیااور عربی کرنل صاحب کے کھنے سینک دیئے ۔ اس پر غالب صاحب نے اتنے کالم لکھے کہ خود سعودیوں کو شرم آگئی اور انھوں نے کالم نگار کا شکریہ ادا کیا۔ اب غاقلب صاحب ملک ریاض کو ایدھی سے تشبیہ دے رہے ہیں اور امید ہے کہ ملک صاحب بھی ان کا ٹھیک ٹھاک شکریہ ادا کریں گی۔ بدترین کون ۔فیصلہ آپ کا: اس سارے قصہ میں ’’بدترین کردار‘‘ کا ووٹ آپ کس کو دیں گے ۔ افتخار چوہدری جو راتوں رات بیٹے کو اعلیٰ درجے کو بیورکریٹ یا کروڑ پتی بزنس مین بنانے کی کوشش کرتا رہا نااہل بیٹا جو اپنی نالائقی عیاں کرنے کے ساتھ ساتھ باپ کے کرتوت بھی آشکارا کرگیا۔ میڈیا کے وہ قابل نفرت کردار جو ہوس زر کے لیے مجرموں کو تحفظ دیتے اور دین پر عمل پیرا ہونے کے بجائے دین کو اپنے ’’سانچہ ضرورت ‘‘ میں ڈھالنے کی کوشش کرتے ہیں ۔

Pakistan:Christian Nurses poisoned to Punish drinking tea during Muslims Ramadan
Christian staff nurses of Civil Hospital Karachi were poisoned as punishment to drink tea in their Hostel rooms during Holy Month of Ramadan being observed these days by Muslim majority community of Pakistan. Among Eleven (11) poisoned Christian nurses (3) were rushed to Intensive Care Unit ICU of Civil Hospital Karachi were remaining (8) are being treated in emergency ward. Civil Hospital Karachi is under ministry of health of Sindh government where Christian medico staff was in majority till 1985. Staff Nurses Rita, Anila and Rafia were in serious condition in ICU ward of CHK while staff nurse Rita was later transferred on life saving equipment. There are reports that FIR have been registered against unknown person on poisoning Christian nurses in Aram Bagh Police Station of Karachi and non was arrested so far. According to Ramadan Ordinance of Provincial Sindh Government, to eat in Public places is prohibited and restaurants and vendors will remain closed during timing of Ramadan. The Ramadan Ordinance is not imposed on Five Star Hotels in Sindh Province and allows minority community individuals to take meals in indoor facilities. After independence of Pakistan in 1947, all restaurants have to put curtain on their doors where Muslim and other religious communities were free to dine and smoke during Holy Month of Ramadan but laws of total ban or closure were made after Islamization of Pakistan during Zia-ul-Haq rule. The poisoning incident of 11 Christian nurses have spread wave of fear among religious minorities of Pakistan and rising extremism in society.

Where Pakistani Christians to migrate while Hindus to India?

When President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari was claiming “Minorities are enjoying equal rights and fully protected in Pakistan” addressing a gathering in President House to mark Minorities Day, the electronic media was telecasting images of train at Jacobabad railway station boarding 250 Pakistani Hindus migrating to India. There was 20% Hindu population in Pakistan in 1947, when it became independent state after division of sub-continent of India but millions migrated to India when East Pakistan fought for independence from West Pakistan and Hindus were targeted on allegation of supporting Mukti-Bahni. The majority of Hindus was based in Sindh province of Pakistan which was doubted loyalties and targeted by establishment after formation of Bangladesh from East Pakistan in 1971, which forced migration of Hindus to India. The migration of Hindus was slow and steady for decades and went unnoticed by Pakistani administration. The long desert border of Thar with India made a way for persecuted Hindus to migrate to India. The government of Pakistan to deny representation of Hindus never accepted their population ration and gazette showed them 2% of population. In same way, Pakistani Christians who were 13% of population of Pakistan were denied their due presence to avoid their representation in democratic institution of Pakistan and resources of state. The Pakistani Hindus lost their total confidence in Pakistan when Supreme Court of Pakistan not ensured justice in case of enforcedly converted of Islam of Hindu girls “Rinkle Kumari and others” this year when Pakistani apex court against will of Hindu girls ordered to go with their Muslim husbands who have abducted them. In “Rinkle Kumari and others case”, there was one Hindu girl from Jacobabad and one from Larkana which forced Hindu to migrate from Pakistan for safety of their life and protection from Islamic Sharia law which protects kidnapers of Christians and Hindu women and to convert them to Islam by force. Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC have raised question that where Pakistani Christians shall migrate after rising violence against them by Islamists in Pakistan? “There are widespread incidents of gang rape, abduction and enforced conversion of Christian women by Muslims in Pakistan; there are attacks on Christian’s life and properties, there are arrests under blasphemy laws, there are attacks on worship places while Muslim culprits are protected by administration which makes Pakistani Christians a genocide situation” said Nazir Bhatti Nazir Bhatti, Chief of PCC said that Pakistani Christians not feel safe and secure in Pakistan but they have no place to migrate like Hindus who can migrate to India. Bhatti invited international intervention to stop genocide of Christians, Hindus and Ahmadiyyia in Pakistan and urged US administration to condition US aid to Pakistan with human rights.

11-year-old Christian girl accused of blasphemy

An 11-eleven-year old Christian girl has been accused of blasphemy and arrested for burning pages of the Holy Quran in Islamabad on Saturday. The news emerged when a website called “Christians in Pakistan” reported the incident saying that the girl named Rimsha Masih, who has Downs syndrome, was accused of blasphemy for burning 10 pages of the Holy Quran. A police official at the Ramna Police Station, when contacted by The Express Tribune, confirmed that an FIR has been registered against the girl. The website report stated that Rimsha, daughter of Misrak Masih, is a resident of Umara Jaffar, sector G12/0 Islamabad, and was arrested on August 17 (Friday) by a women police station. The report added that the complaint was filed by Alsyed Muhammad Ummad.

Pakistan: What Next After the Judicial Coup, My Lord?

D Suba Chandran Director, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies email:
While everyone was expecting that there would be a compromise between the judiciary and the legislature in the contempt case against Yusuf Gilani, the Supreme Court disqualified the Prime Minister. Though the parliament and the President have accepted the verdict, the problem has just begun and is likely to take different forms and raise multiple questions. What is the judiciary likely to do next? Will this tussle between the judiciary, legislature and executive help Pakistan build its institutions and maintain the democratic form of government? Many within Pakistan, including the critics of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the supporters of judicial activism of the Supreme Court, consider that the higher judiciary has gone overboard by disqualifying Gilani. The civil society seems to be deeply divided over the issue; a section supports the judiciary, while another section, though not supporters of the PPP, oppose the extreme form of judicial assertion. There is also a third section, which is pro-PPP and considers that the judiciary is pursuing a political vendetta against the party, and in particular against President Zardari for delaying the restoration of the judiciary in 2008. Is the Judiciary playing to a gallery? Undoubtedly, PPP is not the darling of the people in Pakistan. People love to hate Zardari and he has become the scapegoat for everything that has gone wrong with the country. The military have silently taken a back seat allowing the PPP-led government to take all the blame – from a failing economy to the reopening of the NATO supply lines. Unfortunately for the PPP, there is no single success story for them, either on the domestic front or in its external relations. Perhaps, the only success for the government has been the length of its tenure. The judiciary, in addition to its popular appeal, also has the support of a majority within the media. While, the print media is relatively moderate, the electronic and social media have gone overboard in presenting one side of the story. The judiciary in many developing societies, including Pakistan, has become assertive whenever there is a weak government. The judiciary in Pakistan is not only aware that the government is weak and unlikely to get confrontational, but is also aware of its popular support base, especially for its Chief Justice. Would the judiciary have remained this assertive had the ruling party commanded absolute majority? Would it have a delivered a similar judgment against Nawaz Sharif had he been the Prime Minister? Zardari has avoided a confrontational course until now, and is unlikely to pursue such a strategy. So, the judiciary is likely to continue its assertion and remain even more active. Can an activist judiciary directly govern Pakistan? This is a larger question that both the judiciary and those who support its activism have to ponder. In any democratic society, where the constitution is supreme, the three primary institutions – legislature, executive and judiciary - have well defined functions and responsibilities. There is not only separation of powers, but also checks and balances. Undoubtedly in Pakistan, both the legislature and the executive have failed to perform their duties. Now the question arises as to whether the judiciary can intervene and take the role of other institutions because they have failed to discharge their responsibilities. Two more questions arise: Is the judiciary capable of governing and administering Pakistan? And in a democratic set up is it desirable? Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the most efficient of them all? A serious introspection of the entire judicial machinery is also imperative. Many within the legal fraternity would agree that the lower judiciary is extremely corrupt and inefficient. The level of pending cases and the judgments in the last six decades would attest this fact. The social system in Pakistan has begun to favour feudalism and the Taliban-style justice because the mainstream judicial system has failed to deliver. If people of Swat and Malakand demanded the imposition of Sharia, the primary reason was not that they were in love with a religious system, but because the mainstream legal system is corrupt, slow and inefficient. Justice in many parts of Pakistan is not only delayed, but also denied. In fact, Pakistan would not have reached this position had the judiciary, from the lower level to the Supreme Court, discharged its duties justly and efficiently. Advantage judiciary Given the fact that Pakistan needs accountability, what is happening presently is not essentially a bad development. This should have, in fact, happened in the late 1970s, if not during mid-1950s. The judiciary should have stood up against Zia and declared his military coup to be unconstitutional. Similar measures should have been taken against Musharraf as well in 1999. Having started late, will the judiciary now ensure that all the political institutions remain intact and the larger good of the society is not compromised? Judicial activism should help improve the process of governance, and not pit one institution against the other. After using the doctrine of necessity against the military rulers, the same yardstick should perhaps be used vis-à-vis the political leadership as well.

Afghan bazaar bomb kills Eid shoppers

A bomb exploded Saturday in a bazaar in western Afghanistan crowded with people shopping to celebrate the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, killing four civilians, an official said. A dozen other people were wounded by the bomb which was placed under a bridge in Shindand district of Herat province, provincial spokesman Mohiuddin Noori told AFP. It came after a bicycle bomb Wednesday wounded at least 14 people at a busy market in Herat city, the capital of the province. "This morning a bomb placed under a bridge in a bazaar exploded and killed four civilians and wounded 12 including three police", the spokesman told AFP, adding an investigation was under way. Abdul Rahouf Ahmadi, a spokesman for security forces in western Afghanistan, confirmed the casualties and blamed "enemies of Afghanistan", a term used by officials to refer to Taliban insurgents fighting foreign forces in the country. A recent United Nations report found the number of Afghan civilian casualties had fallen by 15 percent in the first half of 2012. However, the country has recently been witnessing an increase in attacks on civilians. On Tuesday, a series of suicide and bomb attacks killed up to 50 people across the war-torn country. The bloodshed came as the nation prepared to celebrate the end Ramadan, with many of the victims shopping in bazaars for Eid celebrations.

Pakistan: Sectarian scourge

Thursday morning’s brutal sectarian massacre of 22 passengers travelling through the Babusar Top area of Mansehra district was a bloody iteration of a chilling pattern of attacks against religious minorities, including members of Muslim minority sects. In the early hours of the morning, terrorists ambushed four buses, hauled off passengers, checked their national identity cards and summarily executed the Shias. A spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the killings. While there was legitimate outrage across the country over Thursday’s Kamra airbase attack and the subsequent loss of lives and damage to national assets, the slaughter of innocent civilians belonging to the Shia community was not met with quite the same amount of indignation. In fact, if the past is a benchmark, the 22 victims of Babusar Top will have died as insignificantly as they had lived, with no one held responsible or answerable for their deaths. In a state where the concept of national security does not yet incorporate the crucial element of human security, the symbols of state authority seem to matter more than the citizens whose protection and well-being constitutes the very raison d’être of the state. Thus, while the airbase attack unleashed a debate about the militants’ determination to target Pakistan’s most sensitive installations and raised questions about their safety, the more elemental questions were lost in the cacophony: are Pakistan’s citizens safe? Can Pakistan protect its minorities? Is any part of Pakistan free from the scourge of sectarian terror? As things stand, this is the third attack this year that has specifically targeted Shias on buses. Meanwhile, Hazara Shias are routinely murdered in Balochistan, including the three more killed on Thursday, while sectarian violence has become a regular feature of life in Mansehra District, Kurram Agency, Dera Ismail Khan as well as south and central Punjab. The country’s financial hub of Karachi too has witnessed more than its fair share of sectarian attacks in recent days, with a blast near a bus carrying Shias to a rally on Friday killing at least one. The thick sectarian tide in the overall wave of militancy sweeping Pakistan can be explained by the fact that sectarian groups here have linked up ideologically with global jihadism. Overtly sectarian and jihadi elements are also increasingly seen occupying the same stage as mainstream religious parties. Meanwhile, those behind repeated acts of violence - such as the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi - are rarely caught or punished. Indeed, killing minorities in Pakistan seems to have become fair game while those responsible for securing citizens remain helpless, leaving minority communities to believe the security establishment is protecting the perpetrators. The mysterious escape of the local head of the LeJ, Usman Saifullah, and a key leader, Shafiq Rind, from a very well guarded Anti-Terrorist Force jail in Quetta Cantonment, is a case in point. A deadly pattern is emerging: terrorists are on a murderous rampage against Pakistan’s minority sects while the authorities have failed to prove themselves capable of taking them on. Virtually all terrorist outfits operating in Pakistan have donned the religious cloak. It is this criminal abuse of religion that the state must check against. And yet, the state is doing nothing to identify, capture, prosecute and punish those involved in sectarian terrorism. Thus, the scandal here is not just that Shia after Shia is being killed; it is that the state has become a silent onlooker in the massacre. Flaccid behaviour is too often empowering for a cunning enemy. Today, this logic is creating a dangerous moment in Pakistan where those on a killing spree are asserting themselves for little reason beyond the conviction that they can, while those who can stop them do nothing. In Pakistan, the triumph of evil may have become more and more possible under a silent, impotent state emasculated by religious extremists.

Pak preparing for military push in north Waziristan?
Preparations for a military push against militants in North Waziristan appeared to be underway, as a top US army commander held talks with Pakistani military officials on better cooperation along the border with Afghanistan. Residents of the lawless Waziristan tribal region said they had noticed "abnormal movement of military convoys in the area" and this had caused fears of another showdown between the army and tribal militants affiliated with al-Qaida , The Express Tribune reported. The top military leadership cancelled holidays for the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr for troops deployed in the region and directed them to stay alert, the report said. The preparations for a possible campaign against militants emerged as general James Mattis, commander of the US Central Command, held talks in Islamabad on Thursday with Pakistan army chief general Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani. Officials were quoted by the Tribune as saying that Mattis and Kayani would discuss how to eliminate their "common enemy" — Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud . A statement issued by the US embassy said the two commanders had discussed common security issues, including steps to improve cross-border cooperation. Surveillance craft hit in base attack ASaab-2000 airborne early warning aircraft of the Pakistan air force was damaged during the terrorist attack on Kamra airbase, defence minister Naveed Qamar has said. The nose of the aircraft was damaged terrorists stormed the airbase in Punjab province. 2 killed in fresh attack on Shias Two persons were killed and 19 others injured in a gun and bomb attack on a group of Shia students in the port city of Karachi on Friday, a day after 25 community members were pulled out of three buses and shot dead by masked gunmen in Pakistan's northwest.

Bahraini teenager killed in clash with police

A 16-year-old protester died after what opposition activists in Bahrain said was a "brutal attack" by security forces, but the Bahrain government described as a defensive response to a petrol bomb attack on police. Opposition parties in Bahrain say more than 45 people have been killed in protests since June 2011, when the government lifted the martial law it imposed to help quash pro-democracy demonstrations by its Shi'ite Muslim majority inspired by revolts against repressive dynasties across the Arab world. The interior ministry says protesters have injured more than 700 police officers in clashes and that the police, who do not use live fire, are practising restraint. The protester's death after the protest on Friday night came as the United States, an ally of Manama, expressed concern over Bahrain's jailing of a prominent opposition activist, Nabeel Rajab, for three years. The government identified the dead youth as 16-year-old Hussam al-Haddad, and said he had been among protesters throwing petrol bombs at police and had died after being taken to hospital. The opposition Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said witnesses had seen the security forces firing gunshot pellets at Haddad before men in plainclothes kicked him repeatedly as he lay on the ground while police stood by. The main opposition Wefaq movement said in a statement in Arabic that Haddad had been "martyred after being brutally attacked". The government said police were acting in self defense. "Terrorists launched petrol bombs at close range, forcing the police to take the necessary actions to defend themselves and innocent bystanders from the potentially lethal attack," the government Information Affairs Authority said in an emailed statement in English. "Despite warning shots by the police the attack continued; so security personnel dealt with the case according to its legal authority," it added, citing the police chief of Muharraq district where the incident took place. Rights groups have accused the government of firing teargas canisters at close range and into confined spaces as a weapon instead of using the gas solely to disperse protests, something the government has denied. Bahrain's Shi'ites say they have been marginalized in the tiny island kingdom's political and economic life, but the Sunni-led government denies this. The ruling family has rejected the main opposition demand for an elected parliament with full powers to pass laws and form governments, but has carried out reforms to increase parliamentary scrutiny over ministers and has said it will reform the police. The U.S. Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, on the west of the Gulf, a transshipment route for 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil exports and bordered to the north by Iran. On Friday the U.S. State Department said it was "deeply concerned" at the jailing of Rajab, a prominent opposition leader, on charges of leading illegal gatherings. "We have repeatedly urged the government of Bahrain to take steps to build confidence across Bahraini society, and to begin a meaningful dialogue with the political opposition and civil society. Excessive punishment for peaceful expression... will not contribute to those efforts," it said in a statement.

Kamra attackers trained in Waziristan

The terrorists who attacked a key Pakistan Air Force base had been trained in the Waziristan tribal region where plans for the raid could be traced, interior minister Rehman Malik has said. Four of the nine terrorists involved in Thursday's attack on Kamra airbase in Punjab province had been identified, Malik said during an interaction with the media on Friday as he described the North and South Waziristan as a hotbed for criminals. He claimed the attack had been foiled and all the terrorists were killed because of an advance warning about a possible attack on PAF installations. The attackers had been trained in Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan and the raid "could be traced back to North and South Waziristan", he said. The Taliban were harbouring criminals from all over the country and there is a need to trace the mastermind who sent the terrorists to Kamra, he added. His hard comments about terrorists harbouring in Waziristan come as speculation mounted here about a military offensive in the offing in the region. Nine terrorists and two PAF personnel were killed during the attack. A rocket-propelled grenade fired by the attackers damaged a Saab-2000 surveillance aircraft. The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out to avenge the killing of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and Osama bin Laden. Answering a question from reporters, Malik said no decision had been taken as yet about launching an operation against militants in North Waziristan. Such a decision will not be taken under foreign pressure, he said.

Afghan militants storm Kalash Valley, steal herd of goats

The Express Tribune News Network.
Dozens of Afghan militants crossed into the Kalash Valley of Chitral on Friday, made off with a herd of goats and kidnapped a shepherd. According to an official of the Chitral Scouts, the militants came from the Nuristan province of Afghanistan. The official had rushed to the site and chased the militants up to the border following the incursion. The official said that the militants attacked the Dobazha pastures in the morning and took away around 700 goats with them. “They also kidnapped a shepherd identified as Abd Khun, a resident of Kara Kaarh area of Bamboret in Kalash, for showing resistance,” the official said. He added that before the arrival of the scouts, the residents of the area also followed the militants in efforts to release the herds and the shepherd, but the residents said that the militants had crossed the border immediately and had also killed at least 20 goats. The residents expressed concern over the continuous border incursions of militants into the Garmai pastures of Bamboret, the stealing of their herds and kidnappings of shepherds. They demanded the security forces in Chitral to stop living in plains and move into their check posts in the mountains to guard the borders. According to a local, the armed residents of Bamboret who chased after the militants had crossed the border into Afghanistan and had successfully taken back their goats and the shepherds. Pakistani security officials say that militants from banned outfits, who have found a safe haven in Afghanistan, have sporadically carried out attacks on the security forces in Pakistan. Pakistani government officials have repeatedly urged the Afghan government to stop the cross border attacks and take action against the militant factions who are constantly targeting security forces and civilians, but the Afghan government denied the incursions and instead blamed Pakistan for violating its border. Both the countries claim that they would work on these issues and would put pressure on the enemy that operates along the border to put an end to the incursions.

Zardari calls to frame law to prevent forced conversion

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has directed the Sindh government to frame a draft law to amend the Constitution to prevent the forced conversion of minority communities in the southern province. During a meeting held in Karachi on Thursday, Zardari directed Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah to form a committee under provincial law minister Ayaz Soomro to prepare the draft law to amend the constitution. Elected representatives and leaders of the Hindu Panchayat will be included in the committee, The Express Tribune quoted its sources as saying. The President made the decision after he was briefed about the concerns of Hindus by his sister Faryal Talpur, a lawmaker of the ruling Pakistan People's Party, and chief minister Shah. "The reports of the mass migration of Hindus to India are merely speculative but people of the Hindu community are insisting that a law is made against forced conversions," Shah was quoted as saying by the sources. Zardari directed Talpur and Shah to visit Jacobabad and meet representatives of the Hindu community before the draft law is framed. The President recently formed a committee of three parliamentarians headed by federal minister Maula Bux Chandio to meet the Hindu community across Sindh following reports of their mass migration to India due to forced conversions, kidnapping for ransom and extortion demands. A member of the Sindh cabinet familiar with the latest developments said: "If any case of conversion is reported without the consent of a girl and her parents, the (police station chiefs) would frame charges of kidnapping against the people involved."

Pakistanis stage protest against recent Shia killings

Pakistanis have gathered
outside the parliament building in the capital, Islamabad, to voice their anger at the targeted killings of Shia Muslims in various parts of the country. The demonstrators assembled in front of the country’s parliament on Friday following a march on the International Quds Day and called on Islamabad to take stronger action to stem the rising tide of violence against Shia Muslims. The protest came after gunmen dragged the Shia passengers off a bus in the northwestern district of Mansehra on Thursday and killed them at point blank range. Several others were injured during the attack. The victims were going from Rawalpindi to Gilgit -- a heavily-Shia-populated area. Meanwhile, on the same day, at least three more Shia Muslims were killed by armed men in the city of Quetta in the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan. Following the attack, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the killing of Shia Muslims in northern Pakistan. In a released statement on Thursday, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said the UN leader slammed the “appalling” attack. Also on Thursday, hundreds of Pakistani people took to the streets in the southern city of Karachi to slam the violence against Shia Muslims across the country.

Kohat tunnel closed to foreign travellers
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has banned travel of foreigners from Peshawar to southern districts of the province and tribal and semi-tribal regions through Kohat tunnel. Besides, security at the tunnel has been beefed up and all those intending to travel through it must carry their computerised national identity cards. The standard operating procedure (SOP) in this regard was announced by Home and Tribal Affairs Department, Peshawar, on Friday. It stated that travel of foreigners from Peshawar to Kohat, Hangu, Karak and Bannu districts, and North and South Waziristan agencies through Kohat tunnel had been banned, as for this they would have to pass through the restive Darra Adamkhel, a Frontier Region (FR) of Kohat district, and onwards through Kohat tunnel. Similar restriction is also meant for all those Pakistani staff members working with any international or local NGO. The restraint is also applicable in case of other remaining five FRs i.e FR Peshawar, FR Bannu, FR Lakki, FR Tank and FR Dera Ismail Khan as well as the seven tribal agencies, including Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan. However, the people will have to obtain prior permission from the Home and Tribal Affairs Department so that necessary NOC and proper security arrangements could be made for them well in advance. Ban on travel through Kohat tunnel is in addition to the restriction already imposed for 10 districts for visiting foreign tourists, diplomats, foreign missions, expatriates and Pakistani staff members working in NGOs and INGOs with regard to entire seven districts forming Malakand Division, including Swat, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Shangla, Buner, Malakand and Chitral and three southern districts of Hangu, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan. The home department advisory clarified that all ambassadors/foreign missions/diplomats/embassies’ officials intending to visit the aforementioned specific areas were advised to route their written requests through the federal ministry of foreign affairs, Islamabad, so that it should reach the provincial government’s home department, Peshawar, a fortnight or at least 12 working days in advance, enabling it to process it and obtain security clearance from the quarters concerned and to make proper security/ protocol arrangements for the visiting foreigners/dignitaries. The government has asked the foreigners/expatriates and Pakistani staff working for NGOs/INGOs to route their written requests for visiting the abovementioned areas through their respective organisations. For visiting the rest of the districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, all categories of foreigners might forward their written requests to the home and tribal affairs department, Peshawar, at least five working days prior to their visits so that proper arrangements could be made for their visit. Meanwhile, to thwart any threat to strategic Kohat Friendship Tunnel two extra army units and sniffer dogs have been deployed there, turning it into a nuisance for a large number of people proceeding to their hometowns for celebrating Eid, sources told Dawn in Kohat on Friday. The National Highway Authority and security forces have also renewed their request to people to keep their identity cards and papers of vehicles with them for easy passage through the tunnel. The security forces have forbidden travel through the tunnel for those people who did not possess CNIC. The sources said that this time the authorities had also not opened the hilly track between Darra Adamkhel and Kohat to ease traffic at the tunnel. They said that the villages close to the hilly track on Darra Adamkhel side were still infested with militants, who could cause harm to passengers.


The former Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani had strongly retaliated against the Supreme Court of Pakistan asking the Court not to sack another Prime Minister. Addressing a news conference, he said that the PPP would retaliate and protest against such a decision if repeated. The party reserved the right to mass agitation to mobilize public opinion against the judges what he said their biased opinion against the PPP and the Party Chief Asif Ali Zardari. The warning indicated that Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and other top PPP leaders will lead the anti-Supreme Court protests in all parts of Pakistan. He had complained that the sitting Supreme Court had taken up all the PPP specific cases on top priority basis ignored cases against other political leaders and parties and he cited the Air Marshal Asghar Khan Case in which ISI had distributed money among the politicians and parties to defeat the PPP in the 1991 elections by forming all alliance in the name of IJI. The former Prime Minister also suggested that the Executive Order of the Prime Minister reinstating the Judges should be referred back to the Parliament for approval as was the case of NRO. He was of the opinion that dispatching Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family to Jeddah on a charter plane from Attock Fort was also a NRO and the Supreme Court ignored the NRO that benefited the PML-N chief and his family. Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani suggested to the PPP to agitate and resist vigorously if the Supreme Court tries to remove another Prime Minister is removed. He advised the Prime Minister not to appear before the Supreme Court as he had committed a mistake to give honour to the Court. The Prime Minister enjoys complete immunity under Article 248(1) and there is no need to appear before the court. If the Supreme Court sends elected Chief Executives home there is no need of holding elections, Yusuf Raza Gilani told journalists at the news conference. He was of the opinion that the Supreme Court got a chance to reverse its decision while hearing the review petition filed by the Government. It can reverse the process of confrontation between the PPP or the Government and the Supreme Court. Similar opinion had been given by other PPP leaders, including Senator Abidi, Sharjeel Memon and other leaders from the Punjab Province criticizing the verdict and anti-PPP role of Supreme Court in politics. A former Chief of the International Crisis Management Cell and a former Judge of the Indian Supreme Court had leveled serious allegations against the Supreme Court claiming that it was highly politicized verdict and the Court had crossed all limits. We hope that both sides will observe restrain and avoid confrontation in the interest of political stability and continuation of the democratic process by avoiding strong stand against each other. PPP is the most popular political party of the people to this date and other parties had no match to its popularity, to say the least. There is a chance that the PPP may return to power if fresh elections are held as political opponents had failed to perform well. The Opposition parties are not playing their political cards well and they are yet to attract the attention of the common people from the remote corners of Pakistan. To us, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari is still the most powerful political personality in the country to this date if somebody likes it or not. He had already outwitted all his political opponents and most of them were clean bold. The decision makers should keep in this mind while planning action against the PPP, its Government or leaders. Zardari had managed to control the entire PPP and its militant cadre and the PPP workers will respond to the call from President Asif Ali Zardari. Or he may use Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani is the fit man for the fit job to agitate if it was decided to protest its point.

Pakistan: Shia killings on the rise

Thursday’s execution-style killing of Shia citizens in Mansehra district and the killing of Hazaras in Quetta were only the latest incidents in what is now a clear trend: targeting innocent members of the sect — not necessarily members of any political or religious organisation — and killing them for no reason other than their religious affiliation. The Mansehra attack had a particularly disturbing aspect to it, with passengers made to show their identity papers and those suspected of being Shia, on the basis of their names or tribal affiliations, being picked out and killed. Like other recent sectarian killings in Balochistan, Kohistan and Orakzai, the approach used resembled ethnic cleansing in its chilling focus on identifying and killing innocent citizens simply because of their membership to a particular community. And while the Hazara community under attack in Balochistan is relatively small and powerless, the same is not true of Shia communities elsewhere in the country. If not arrested, this trend could well spiral out of control, turning the issue into a much larger conflict. Meanwhile, where is the outrage from the security forces and politicians? We know these groups are willing to launch aggressive messaging campaigns when they wish to. Take, for example, the army’s response to Salala, the PML-N’s reaction to the government’s refusal to write the ‘Swiss letter’, the ruling party’s defensive posture on threats to democracy or the PTI’s campaign against drone strikes. And while it is unclear what judicial activism can achieve in such cases beyond raising their profile, where is the judiciary that otherwise takes suo moto notice of everything from the price of sugar to violence in Karachi? As each of these groups tries to focus on topics they think will boost their populist or nationalist credentials, the campaign to eradicate a minority community continues to receive less official attention than it should. Beyond the messaging failure, little appears to have been done to confront the physical danger. Providing security escorts to pilgrims’ buses and changing the routes Shia travellers take has not been enough. Whether combating the problem is a matter of improving intelligence-gathering to prevent attacks, pre-emptively going after the groups that are carrying them out, improving policing in vulnerable areas or other intelligence or security measures, further delays are inexcusable. The state needs to demonstrate what it is doing to combat this threat. If not, Pakistan may as well give up any pretence of being a state for anyone other than its majority religious community.

Pakistan: Upsurge of terrorism

Undoubtedly, a wave of gloom and heightened concerns pervades the country. What could be more disconcerting than to see Kamra airbase being attacked by terrorists saboteurs; learn of some two dozens bus passengers being ruthlessly gunned down in the shadow of Babusar Top while run-of-the mill targeted killings remain unabated during the last week of Ramazan. That the upsurge of deadly violence was coincidental to the holiest of all nights, Lailatul Qadr, there is reason to believe that forces long engaged in destabilising Pakistan have raised the ante as if going for the last push against this country. Of course, we were being kept informed of heightened incidence of terrorism but it's beyond one's comprehension and the authorities were fully prepared and appropriately geared to meet the challenge. But even then all this has happened, creating doubts about the government's capacity to effectively meet the challenge. The latest was the fourth strike on the Kamra aeronautical complex which also houses an airbase and this was not the first time innocent Shia travellers have been waylaid on their way to Gilgit and Skardu. But it appears that preparations to stall the threatened attacks fell short of the required strength and determination and terrorists could claim victory though not complete. Yes, at Kamra all the attackers were killed but they were there to get killed, as death is of no consequence to them. Enough of lessons have been learnt from such incidents; we have to go for action. And that action has to be not only on the battle front; it has to be on the tables of authorities that are tasked to ensure peace and tranquility in the country. The truth is that insofar as an effective response to counter terrorism is concerned the task is assigned to law enforcing outfits and intelligence agencies, as other organs of state and government departments by and large stay clear of any reasonability to fight-back the demons of terrorism. And even among the concerned agencies and departments the required liaison is missing - so much so that there are reports of them not sharing operational intelligence. If the top leadership is left only with issuance of letters of condemnation and condolences following the happenings the parliament too is marginally involved. In the instant case, there was forewarning of an impending terrorist activity in the area and yet the attack occurred. The terrorists launched themselves from the nearby village. It is therefore a security necessity that there should be a buffer-zone around such high security institutions and civilian population, be it an urban slum or a village. The country is beset with the heightened phase of terrorism for more than a decade now but the government has yet to come up with a comprehensive legislation to deal with this threat in an effective and meaningful manner. The terrorists are treated like criminals under the ordinary law; investigation often lack the right direction while prosecution suffer from serious faults and lacunae particularly in the absence of witnesses, who prefer to disappear quickly. So there are only a few convictions, and known terrorists return to their business much sooner than later. We know that the elite are more concerned with their future than of the country, and are expending their energies to return to same green meadows. But that is too myopic a thinking; with the country descending in the vortex of uncertainty and chaos, they too have no future. They are expected to moderate their political ambitions and give some time to Pakistan. Equally disappointing, however, is the role of country's religious leadership. The land and people who constitute Pakistan have never been absolutely free of sectarian tensions and off and on there have been sectarian clashes. But never were they so tense and bloody as now. They need to sit together and think of a way to get out these marshes infested with cannibal crocs. If, God forbid, this boat sinks everyone will get sucked down by suctions caused by the vessel going down. For the political and religious leaderships there are also some detectable signs to read and analyse to see if there is some external force that would benefit from a weakened and isolated Pakistan. Intriguingly enough, weirdly coincidental to the Kamra incident, the foreign media, particularly the Indian and the American, were rife with stories that the airbase housed nuclear arsenal that terrorist wanted to snatch. That these reports almost echoed US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta's similar concerns is an alarming development which underscores the need for a deeper investigation into this incident. Of course, the US government has promptly modified its perception and said it has no reason to believe that terrorists could access to Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Interestingly, such an assertion and a retraction has been made by American officials earlier also. Though the Foreign Office has rejected these reports and the PAF spokesman put paid to propagandists by saying no airbase in the country houses nuclear weapons the fact cannot be denied that efforts are afoot to question Pakistan's capacity and capability to keep its nuclear assets safe from falling into the wrong hands.

Pakistan: Response to terrorism

The assault on the Pakistan Air Force Base Minhas in` Kamra may be a reminder that our security apparatus has serious flaws, but the quick and timely action taken by the base defenders prevented bigger damage. The counter-attack by the Quick Response teams of the base suggests they were on alert to deal with any untoward incident in the light of an intelligence report a few days before the attack. This is not the first attack on a sensitive military target. The attacks on GHQ (Rawalpindi) and PNS Mehran (Karachi) and three different attacks on Kamra since 2007 are a series of similar events. These provide conclusive evidence that the state is at war with the terrorists who wish to impose their narrow vision of religion on Pakistan through force of arms. It came as no surprise that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. After all they have openly declared war on the state. COAS General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani the other day sent a clear message of terror looming large over national security, implying the enemy is within. The statement of US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta expressing concern about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in the wake of the Kamra attack may be part of long standing western worries that the arsenal could fall into the wrong hands. But the US State Department, through its spokesperson Victoria Nuland, came to Islamabad’s rescue and supported the foreign office’s contention that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is secure and under a proper command and control system. Panetta continues in his self-assumed role of ‘bad cop’, while State continues to pour oil on troubled waters in its avatar as the ‘good cop’ vis-à-vis Pakistan. Where the security forces seem to have learnt lessons from previous attacks and thwarted the assault on Minhas Airbase with minimum losses, the attack on buses in the Babusar Top area of Mansehra district, where 25 people were killed after being identified as Shias, shows that the law enforcers of the country are way behind the curve on terrorism generally, and sectarian terrorism in particular. Obviously a number of such incidents have occurred in the northern areas previously with an identical modus operandi, but after the usual fuss in the immediate aftermath of such tragedies, the authorities become lax over time and the buses revert to plying without any security arrangements. The terrorists meanwhile wait out the initial flurry of the security forces and as soon as they see that it is back to business as usual, launch their own unique ‘enterprise’. Time and again lack of coordination among the intelligence, law enforcement and security agencies has been discussed in the light of the need to set up an overarching body that would manage and oversee coordination and collaboration among different agencies, ranging from the armed forces to the civilian setup, and from the federal government to the provinces, to ensure a concerted national effort against the various types and forms of terrorism, ranging from those who are waging war on the state directly (e.g. the TTP) to those involved in an indirect assault on state and society through sectarian murder. A country that has been ravaged by militancy, terrorism and sectarian conflict cannot sit sanguine on the issue of security lapses and the legal loopholes that allow terrorists to wriggle through the judicial system and return as free persons to their nefarious activities. This is tantamount to a self-inflicted invitation to threats, violence and instability. We are sitting on a volcano, and the enemy we are faced with is difficult to squash because of its scattered nature, with no central command structure that may lend itself to concerted action. Most groups in the field of terrorism are small, largely operationally autonomous entities that bite like the flea and then vanish. All the more reason for a centralised intelligence and operational database under coordinated command if the challenge is to be met.`

US drone attack kills five in North Waziristan

The drone fired two missiles on a compound in Shuwedar village in North Waziristan. A US drone strike Saturday killed at least five suspected militants in a remote Pakistani tribal town near Afghanistan border, security officials said. The drone fired two missiles on a compound in Shuwedar village in the troubled North Waziristan region. "US drones fired two missiles into a militant compound. At least five militants were killed," a security official told AFP. Local intelligence officials confirmed the attack and casualties. The attack came as people in the deeply religious region celebrated the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, they said. Attacks by unmanned American aircraft are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, which says they violate its sovereignty and fan anti-US sentiment, but US officials are said to believe the attacks are too important to give up.