BY:T.G. MatthewI believe that I love Pakistan because every day reading different Pakistani newspapers, watching Pakistani talk shows, writing E mails to columnists and talk show hosts; If this is not love to Pakistan then what should I call it? I was watching a talk show on Dunya Tv with Zahra Naseem. The topic was minorities and their rights. I was really shocked to see that an educated person claimed that in Pakistan minorities are enjoying better life than other countries. I really do not know why we have to compare ourselves to other nations in everything we do. We pretend to hate the neighbor country India but we always love to compare our beloved country to India for almost everything. I just don’t know when we will start to set examples for others so they will follow us instead of always looking at others and learning from them. We claim ourselves a great nation but the question is what we have done great to consider ourselves great. If getting developed in religious extremism or blowing mosques and public property or hating minorities make us great then no thanks I do not want to be part of that “Great” nation. Recently the killing of Shia has changed my opinion about Pakistani extremists that they only kill Non- Muslims. In Pakistan there are sectors of people who do not even want to talk about minorities and I am really tired of listening that in Pakistan all the nation is suffering and we should not talk about minorities. I am proud to be Pakistani but it makes me to rethink before I claim a proud Pakistani when I see Asia Bibi in Jail or an 11 year old Rimsha who does not even know how to read and write or when I hear that Shehbaz Bhatti has been killed or Taseer got killed for speaking out for an infidel Asia Bibi. It makes me to reconsider my opinion about being a proud Pakistani when I talk to a graduate Christian young man Isaac Pervez who applies for a job and gets denied because he is Christian or Non- Muslim. It does not make me feel comfortable to read in the newspaper that the sweeping jobs are only for Christians when the health department of Jhang calls for applications for sweeper jobs. It does not make me happy to be told at restaurant to bring your own plates to eat because these plates are for Muslims only. My heart cries when I see today’s Pakistan because I love Pakistan. I am sure that Muslims are not more patriot than Christians or any Non- Muslim Pakistanis. I believe in this philosophy that we all have to born again and consider ourselves Pakistanis first and then Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Hindu etc. I am afraid that our next generation will not tolerate the discrimination like we did or are doing. We must save Pakistan because whatever we are it is because of Pakistan. If there is no Pakistan there will be none of us.
Monday, August 27, 2012
“It must have been early morning when about two dozen masked men, in army uniforms, stopped their convoy of buses. All passengers were asked to get down. In an organised manner they separated the Shias from among the rest and having ascertained their identity (through their names and the area they belonged to), shot them dead,” said Hussain (real named withheld on request), who belongs to a village in the Astore district of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). Twenty-four people (21 Shias and three Sunnis) in aboard three buses, who had embarked on fateful that August 15 morning, from Rawalpindi, never reached their destination in G-B (a Shia-majority region), after their buses were intercepted near Lulusar area in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province on Aug 16, where they were mercilessly massacred. Among them, 12 were from Astore and six were Hussain’s close relatives from the same village. Two family members, somehow, survived to tell the sordid episode. “They saw their cousins die in front of them,” he said. During the massacre, said Hussain, the masked men asked the passengers to loudly chant “Allah-o-Akbar” (God is Great) and “kafir, kafir, Shia kafir (infidels, infidels, Shia infidels)”. He belongs to the Shia sect although 90 per cent of the villagers were Sunnis. A shaky and grainy video doing the rounds on the internet shows the incident exactly as Hussain described to Dawn.com. Muhammad Afridi, of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, associated earlier with the anti-Shia militant outfit Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), stated the killings were in retaliation for ‘excesses’ committed by Shias against Sunnis in G-B. He warned that more such attacks would be carried out in other parts of the country. After the incident hundreds remained stranded in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, after public and private transport for the region was suspended. This is the third such incident since the beginning of the year. On February 28, and then again on April 3, 18 and nine Shia passengers were dragged out of the buses in a similar manner in northern district of Kohistan, and Chilas, 60 miles from Gilgit, respectively. Political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi finding a “growing trend of Islamic sectarianism” predicts that with Pakistan’s rapid shift towards religious orthodoxy in Islam, “sectarian thinking” is likely to dominate. Pakistan has recorded at least 2,642 sectarian attacks, killing 3,963 people since 1989, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) database. Balochistan, said the SATP has witnessed at least 71 incidents of sectarian attacks in which 304 persons have been killed since 2009. Over 90 people have already been killed in 34 such incidents since the beginning of 2012 until August 19. Earlier Interior Minister Rehman Malik, hinted at “foreign” hands fanning sectarianism in Pakistan to destabilise the country and promote religious hatred. Dismissing Malik’s statement, Dr Mohammad Taqi, said it is Pakistan’s own domestic policy of using jihad as a tool which has “led to the tail wagging the dog.” Talking to Dawn.com, Taqi, who left Pakistan for the United States in 1996 “anticipating the disaster we are facing” added that the intolerance and extremism Pakistan is in grips with is a “direct consequence of Pakistan’s neighbour-phobic national identity anchored in religious ideology”. Hussain from Astore called the massacre nothing short of genocide against the Shias. “If this isn’t genocide, what is?” exclaimed Hussain. “What’s worse we were advised by elders in our village, that we shouldn’t agitate as it may fuel riots,” he said. Finding the “studious silence of the Shia massacre by the Sunni majority” disquieting, Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, a peace activist and an academician told Dawn.com: “Describing the killings as sectarian is outrageous because a conflict assumes two warring sides. But in fact here there is just one side – the Shias – which is being massacred.” “Pakistan was conceived in haste with just one goal in mind – Muslims must be separated from Hindus, and then somehow all Muslims will live together in bliss. Zero thought was given to what happens when religious fervour is aroused,” said Hoodbhoy retracing the partition of the sub-continent in 1947 when India and Pakistan became two separate nations. The pre-independence writings by Wahabbi, Deobandi and Ahle-Hadees hardliners, added Rizvi, show discord between Shias and Sunnis existed even then. “The division always existed but sectarianism gained momentum in the 1980s (during military dictator General Zia ul Haq’s 11-year rule) when Pakistani state began to implement and promote religious orthodoxy and conservatism,” he said. Today, the country is more fragmented than ever before and Hoodbhoy blamed the rise in extremism to the “overdose of religion given to young Pakistanis”. Citing the recent Washington DC-based Pew Research Centre’s survey which found 50 per cent of Sunnis in Pakistan believe Shias to be non-Muslims, Hoodbhoy warned this may result in “bitter religious wars”. Eighty-three per cent of Sunnis in Afghanistan, contrary to only 50 per cent in Pakistan, accept Shias as Muslims. Even in Bangladesh, which split before General Zia ul Haq’s regime took control of Pakistan, 77 per cent of Sunnis believe Shias are Muslims. “For now the Shia’s are feeling the brunt, along with the Ahmadis, but tomorrow it will be one Sunni faction butchering another,” warned Hoodbhoy. Finding the politicians, the government and even the army incapacitated, many like Hussain say: “When the state can’t protect itself, how can we expect or have the confidence in these institutions to protect us?” “The federal government is too bogged down in its survival,” agreed Rizvi. And when the attackers get away with their crime so easily, it encourages them to repeat it while it gives others the impetus to do the same, he said. With the breakdown of the state authority, hardline Islamic groups like Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and allies like the former SSP and Jaish-e-Muhammad can pursue their narrow religious-political agenda more boldly, said Rizvi. With foreboding he said: “These trends are expected to continue. The frequency of killings will vary from time to time but it is not expected to end in the near future.” Meanwhile there are reports that all government and private schools in G-B have been closed down for an indefinite period after Taliban announced attacks on Shia schools in Gilgit. “Instead of making a strong policy against terrorists, government and security authorities seem to have bowed down to the threats of the terrorists,” it was reported in the Shiite News.
By Prof. Bhim SinghThere have been several coups in the world against the governments by the politicians and mostly by the military dictators. Coup de tat in Pakistan by the Supreme Court dismissing sitting and popular Prime Minister of the country on 19th June, 2012 has created an alarming situation about the developing democracy in Pakistan. The Supreme Court of Pakistan headed by its populist Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has, “Found Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani guilty of contempt of Court under Article 204(2) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 read with section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment till rising of the court under section 5 of the said Ordinance, and since no appeal was filed against this judgment, the conviction has attained finality. Therefore, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani has become disqualified from being a Member of the Majilis-e-Shoora (Parliament) in terms of Article 62(1)(g) of the Constitution on and from the date and time of pronouncement of the judgment of this Court dated 26.04.2012 with all consequences, i.e. he has also ceased to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan with effect from the said date and the office of the Prime Minister shall be deemed to be vacant accordingly.” The Supreme Court directed Election Commission of Pakistan to issue notification to disqualify Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani as Member of Majilis-e-Shoora (Parliament) w.e.f. 26.04.2012. The Supreme Court had convicted Mr. Gillani on 26th April, 2012. The Supreme Court also directed the President of Pakistan to take further steps for the implementation of its direction. Interestingly, the Supreme Court, though, held Mr. Gillani guilty of contempt of the court on 26th April, 2012 whereas the judgment was announced 13 days later i.e. on 8th May, 2012. No convict has any opportunity or occasion to challenge an unwritten or non-speaking judgment whose order is kept pending by the court. This is first question which needs to be answered by the Supreme Court of Pakistan as to how the period for filing appeal against the conviction of the Prime Minister has expired. This only adds to the doubt that the judiciary was in a hurry to wreak vengeance against the Prime Minister of Pakistan for ulterior reasons which deserve the attention of the jurists all over the world particularly in the countries where democracy or even semi-democracy has been functioning. Secondly, Mr. Gillani has been held guilty of contempt of court under Article 204(2) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 read with section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 and further read with Article 184(3) of the Constitution of Pakistan, which provides to uphold the fundamental rights of the citizens of Pakistan in all matters of public importance. Article 204(2) empowers the Supreme Court to punish any person who— a). abuses, interferes with or obstructs the process of the Court in any way or disobeys any order of the Court; b). scandalizes the Court or otherwise does anything which tends to bring the Court or a Judge of the Court into hatred, ridicule or contempt; c). does anything which tends to prejudice the determination of a matter pending before the Court; or d). does any other thing which, by law, constitutes contempt of the Court. The international fraternity of the jurists may have an opportunity to find fault with Mr. Gillani as to which of these provisions have been violated by a functioning Prime Minister of Pakistan. There was no abuse, no interference, no obstruction, no disobedience, no scandalization and no hatred in the entire episode or a conflict that was generated between the Chief Justice and the Peoples Party Government of Pakistan. Under Article 184(3) the Supreme Court may consider a question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights conferred by Chapter-1 of Part-II is involved, have the power to make an order of the nature mentioned in the said Article. This is also a matter of debate whether instructions issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to the Prime Minister to take cognizance in a matter against the sitting President of Republic were having any legal sanction or were they issued in good faith and in the interest of the defence of the Constitution itself. It is interesting to note that the charges against President Zardari date back to the 1990s when his late wife Benazir Bhutto was prime minister. They were accused of using Swiss bank accounts to launder bribe money. President Zardari has always insisted that the charges against him are politically motivated. The Supreme Court ordered Mr. Gillani’s government to write to the Swiss authorities to ask them to reopen the cases against Mr. Zardari, the President of Pakistan. This order of the |Supreme Court was against the letter and the spirit of the Constitution of Pakistan. Mr. Gillani was quite within the constitutional limits and the rule of law that the President of Pakistan enjoyed immunity, protection from being charged in any criminal case because, “The President shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective officers or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions.” The Supreme Court Chief Justice known the world over as an upright and honest judge has erred again, may be, he was blinded with rage of power towards the existing constitutional structure led by the Peoples Party of Pakistan. The Supreme Court has infringed the command of clauses (2), (3) & (4) of Article 248. Article 248(2), 248(3) & 248(4) clearly command that no criminal or civil proceedings shall be initiated in any manner against the President or a Governor. Secondly, the Supreme Court also ignored the fact that, “The Swiss shelved the cases in 2008 when Zardari became President and a Prosecutor in Switzerland has said it will be impossible to reopen them as long as he remains head of state and so is immune from prosecution.” This matter was insisted by Mr. Gillani and the Supreme Court utterly failed to find a reasonable and legitimate answer to this assertion of Mr. Gillani while ordering his conviction followed by his dismissal. Thirdly, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has erred gravely on another point declaring a sitting Member of Parliament as disqualified when there is no such account in the entire story dealing with the circumstances of the case. A sitting Member can be disqualified within the meaning and scope of Article 63 which has been mentioned by the Supreme Court in a hurry. According the judgment Mr. Gillani has been disqualified by the application of Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution of Pakistan. The reading of this Article leads to the conclusion that a person shall only be disqualified if (g), “He has been convicted by a court of contempt jurisdiction or propagating any opinion, or acting in any manner, prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or the integrity, or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan, unless a period of five years has lapsed since his release.” A careful study of this clause does not provide an iota of doubt that Mr. Gillani has committed no such offence as was prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan or the sovereignty or integrity nor there is any case that the Prime Minister had ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan. The fact is otherwise. The Prime Minister of Pakistan walked into the court room on the day of judgment with grace and obedience, stood on the floor of the court like a gentleman and absorbed his 30-second- sentence with grace and patience that was expected of a person holding the rank of Prime Minister of the country. This is unfortunate that Election Commission of Pakistan, who was not served even a notice on the disqualification of Mr. Gillani issued a notification dislodging Mr. Gillani as Prime Minister. It is a mockery of the Constitutional arrangements in Pakistan that the Election Commission of Pakistan was not answerable to the President of Pakistan. The Election Commission of Pakistan by obeying the Supreme Court’s order to notify the disqualification of Mr. Gillani has added to the woos of shaky democracy in Pakistan. The judgment of the Supreme Court is loaded with contradictions and legal abuses of authority vested in the Supreme Court. Obviously, no legal person or a jurist can accept the judgment of the Supreme Court as its’ suffers from several serious anomalies and lacunas. The Chief Justice of Pakistan has given an impression that he was taking a clue from the judgments of the Supreme Court of India. This is not true at all. In India under Article 102 of the Constitution, no elected person shall be disqualified unless he is convicted for moral turpitude and sentenced for a period exceeding two years that too in a criminal offence. Conviction in a contempt of court case is not criminal offence nor this conviction shall attract any punishment for disqualification of an elected Member of Parliament. Even in the Constitution of Pakistan the minimum sentence has to be two years to disqualify a person from the membership of the National Assembly. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan amounts to a judicial coup against the developing democracy in Pakistan, which has started breathing during the past couple of years. The Parliament of Pakistan has clear jurisdiction to amend the law to this affect so that the Pakistan shall be free from any further coup from the armed forces or judicial command.
( The writer is Barrister-at-Law,Sr. Advocate & Chairman, State Legal Aid Committee)
http://www.sunday-guardian.comThe Pakistan Supreme Court's decision to disqualify Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is unprecedented in Pakistan's constitutional history. It is a judicial assault on Pakistan's fledgling democracy, if not a "judicial coup". While the ostensible reason behind the decision was Gilani's reluctance to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, it is still not clear if there is a larger game-plan to unseat the PPP-led government. The PPP could have challenged the verdict as the power to disqualify a member of the National Assembly lies with the Election Commission and not the judiciary, but has chosen to avoid confrontation with an increasingly assertive judiciary. In all likelihood, the PPP decided that by avoiding a confrontation, it may buy some more time to manoeuvre the course of developments until the next elections. Given the fact that very soon a caretaker government will be formed to oversee the next general elections scheduled to be held in February 2013, the timing of the decision raises many questions. Though the PPP coalition has elected a new Prime Minister in Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, but it is apparent that the judiciary has not stopped with the verdict against Gilani. A non-bailable arrest warrant was issued against the earlier nominee Makhdoom Shahabuddin by a Rawalpindi court at the request of the Anti Narcotics Force for his alleged involvement in a multi-billion-rupee drug scandal. Further, the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court has issued a notice to President Zardari for holding multiple offices despite an earlier declaration ordering against it. The court had ruled on 12 May 2011 that President Zardari should surrender the position of co-chairman of the PPP and that the presidency should not be used for political activities. A larger bench has been constituted for further proceedings of the case and President Zardari has been asked to reply within a week. It is likely, that in the coming days many old and new cases against the PPP leadership would be brought up in the courts. The memogate commission might be used again to target President Zardari. The fate of the new Prime Minister is a foregone conclusion. The Supreme Court will also expect him to write a letter to the Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against President Zardari. The tension between the judiciary and the executive is likely to further escalate in the coming days. Questions can be raised about the decision against Gilani — whether it was in accordance with the rule of law or for purposes of political expediency. Is this truly an independent judiciary upholding constitutional principles? Or is the judiciary being used for political purposes. It may be recalled that in 1999, when General Pervez Musharraf ousted the democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had not only endorsed and legitimised the move taking oath on the Provisional Constitutional Order, but had also invoked the dubious doctrine of necessity to grant him the power to amend the Constitution. Is the Chief Justice above board now? Or is he pursuing a personal agenda? It is hard to believe that the increased judicial activism, which can lead to great instability, does not have the concurrence of the military, particularly at a time when the country is going through difficult times. If the clash between the judiciary and the PPP paralyses the functioning of the government, there may be a move to set up the neutral caretaker government much earlier than its stipulated time. In the absence of a process of consultation and consensus between the present government and the opposition, the Chief Election Commissioner will become the sole determinant of the selection and installation of such a government. At the moment, the Election Commission is presided over by an acting CEC, Justice Shakirullah Jan, a serving Supreme Court judge appointed by the Chief Justice. If he continues, then the next caretaker government will be chosen directly by the CEC and indirectly by the Chief Justice. If the powers that be in Pakistan decide to postpone the elections on some pretext, the caretaker government can be given an extension by the judiciary. This will bring back the unelected representatives who have ruled Pakistan for half of its history. This may also be the only way to fix the Zardaris and Gilanis. But the political costs of this trajectory of developments for democracy in Pakistan will be severe. One has to wait and watch how the PPP plays its cards in the standoff with the judiciary in the next few months.
ahram.orgBahraini rights activist Mariam Al-Khawaja
The Express Tribune NewsThree Shias were gunned down on Monday in Quetta, a police official said. According to police officer Zakir Ali all three of them were killed in a sectarian drive-by shooting. Balochistan is a flashpoint for sectarian violence involving majority Sunnis and minority Shias that has left thousands dead since the 1980s. Earlier late Sunday, gunmen shot dead five people in attacks on two buses in Bolan as rebels staged a strike to mark the death anniversary of tribal chieftain Nawab Akbar Bugti, officials said. According to police official Iftikhar Bugti, five people including two women were killed in the incident. There was a “complete strike” in Quetta and several other districts on Sunday, local police chief Wazir Khan told AFP, with shops and markets closed and traffic brought to a standstill. The halt was called by Balochistan Republican Party (BRP) leader Brahmdagh Bugti to mark the sixth anniversary of the death of his grandfather Akbar Bugti, who was killed in his mountain hideout during a military operation in 2006. BRP spokesman Sarbaz Baloch claimed responsibility for the shooting. “We had launched an appeal for a complete strike and the buses bound for southern Sindh and central Punjab provinces had ignored our appeal. We therefore opened fire on them,” he said in a telephone call to AFP. Police and residents said Sunday’s strike was almost complete across the impoverished and insurgency-hit province, with 21 out of 30 districts affected. People blocked roads and erected barricades in several places on highways leading to Iran, Karachi and other important cities, they said. The strike was endorsed by other political and religious parties in the province, with around 300 people demonstrating in Quetta to demand the extradition and trial of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for ordering the operation in 2006. Baloch rebels rose up in 2004, demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the oil, gas and mineral resources in the region, one of the most deprived in Pakistan. Bomb blasts and attacks on police and security forces are frequent in the province.
AFPTaliban Islamist insurgents beheaded 17 civilians, including two women, who were holding a party with music in a southern Afghanistan village, officials said Monday. "I can confirm that this is the work of the Taliban," the Helmand provincial governor's spokesman Daud Ahmadi told AFP, referring to the hardliners notorious during their rule for public executions and the suppression of music and parties. "Two women and 15 men were beheaded. They were partying with music in an area under the control of the Taliban," he said. Nematullah Khan, the Musa Qala district chief confirmed that the villagers had organised a party with music, and one local official said he suspected that the two women had been dancing. Secret parties with dancing women from a gypsy-type tribe are common across southern Afghanistan. During their 1996-2001 rule in Afghanistan the Taliban, waging a fierce insurgency against the NATO-backed government of President Hamid Karzai, also tried to stop the mixing of men and women who were not related. The latest atrocity happened near Zamindawar village, an area on the border between Kajaki and Musa Qala districts where the Taliban are active. The insurgents have in the past been blamed for beheading local villagers, mostly over charges of spying for Afghan and US-led NATO forces. Haji Musa Khan, a tribal elder in Musa Qala district, said the region had seen a surge in such killings in recent months. "We had three people beheaded during the month of Ramadan. Another person, the son of a tribal elder, was beheaded recently," he said. Khan said the killings followed major military operations by Afghan and NATO troops in the area. Hours after the beheadings, Taliban insurgents overran an Afghan army post in the same province in a pre-dawn attack on Monday, killing 10 troopers, authorities said. Four soldiers were wounded and six others were missing following the attack in Helmand's Washir district, senior regional police officer Colonel Mohammad Ismael Hotak told AFP. Ahmadi confirmed the incident and said the attack was an "insider" plot in which some army soldiers helped the rebels attack the post. "The Taliban attacked a post in Washir and killed 10 soldiers. Four other soldiers were wounded and five others have gone with the Taliban with their guns," he said. "It was an insider plot." If it is confirmed that the attack was facilitated by soldiers it will mark a new escalation in a string of insider attacks on Afghan and NATO security forces. Two NATO soldiers were killed Monday when an Afghan army soldier turned his weapon against them in a "green-on-blue" attack in eastern Laghman province, the US-led International Security Assistance Force said. "ISAF soldiers returned fire and killed the attacker," ISAF said. The latest NATO deaths take the toll from insider attacks this month alone to 12 and to a total of 42 this year, making up around 13 percent of all NATO deaths in 2012. NATO, which has about 130,000 troops in Afghanistan, has struggled to stem the attacks and they have become a major issue in the Afghan war, eroding trust between the two forces.
Associated PressAttackers hit international forces, the Afghan army and Afghan civilians in two days of violence that by Monday morning had left 29 people dead — two of them Americans soldiers killed by an Afghan colleague. In the deadliest attack, insurgents beheaded 17 Afghan civilian for taking part in a music event in a Taliban-controlled area of southern Afghanistan, officials said. The attack happened Sunday night in Helmand province's Musa Qala district, said provincial government spokesman Daoud Ahmadi. All of the bodies were decapitated but it was not clear if they had been shot first, Ahmadi said. The victims were part of a large group that had gathered for a celebration involving music and dancing, said Musa Qala government chief Neyamatullah Khan. He said the Taliban slaughtered them to show their disapproval of the event. Information was only trickling out slowly because the area where the killings occurred is completely Taliban controlled, Khan said. Then on Monday morning, two American soldiers were shot and killed by one of their Afghan colleagues in the east, military officials said, bringing to 12 the number of international troops — all Americans — to die at the hands of their local allies this month. But Afghan officials said Monday's attack in Laghman province was a separate case from the rash of recent insider attacks on international forces, because it appeared to have been an accidental shooting. When the group of U.S. and Afghan soldiers came under attack, they returned fire and ran to take up fighting positions, said Noman Hatefi, a spokesman for the Afghan army corps in eastern Afghanistan. But an Afghan soldier fell and accidentally discharged his weapon, killing two American soldiers with the errant rounds, he said. "He didn't do this intentionally. But then the commander of the unit started shouting at him, 'What did you do? You killed two NATO soldiers!' And so he threw down his weapon and started to run," Hatefi added. The U.S. troops had already called in air support to help with the insurgent attack and the aircraft fired on the escaping Afghan soldier from above, killing him, Hatefi said. NATO spokesman Lt. Col. Hagen Messer of Germany confirmed that two international soldiers were killed by an Afghan soldier in Laghman province, but declined to give further comment. Insider attacks have been a problem for the U.S.-led military coalition for years, but it has exploded recently into a crisis. There have been at least 33 attacks so far this year, killing 42 coalition members, mostly Americans. Last year there were 21 attacks, killing 35; and in 2010 there were 11 attacks with 20 deaths. Meanwhile, Helmand officials reported that 10 Afghan soldiers were killed in an attack on a checkpoint in the south, and five were either kidnapped or joined their assailants. Ahmadi, the provincial spokesman, said insurgents attacked the checkpoint in Washir district Sunday evening. Another four soldiers were wounded he said. Ahmadi did not provide details of the attack. He said the five missing soldiers left with the insurgents but it was unclear if they were kidnapped or went voluntarily.
EDITORIALIn a series of blows against terrorists, Afghan and Pakistani, on Saturday, a sudden flurry of successes triggers thoughts on what this means for the struggle against terrorism on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. First came the news that a drone strike in North Waziristan had killed Badruddin Haqqani, the financier of the dreaded Haqqani network, considered responsible for some of the most high profile attacks on western and Afghan forces inside Afghanistan. The source of the news was Pakistani intelligence officials and terrorist sources. The US, which could have been expected to quickly claim the success as a significant blow to the operational functioning of the Haqqani network, retained discreet ambiguity by neither confirming nor denying the information. This unexpected circumspection could be because past claims of success were later refuted or proved false, or even a tactical low key approach, given the current sensitivity surrounding drone strikes on Pakistani soil, an issue resonating between Islamabad and Washington these days. Badruddin Haqqani was reportedly a younger son of the leader of the network, veteran Mujahideen fighter Jalaluddin Haqqani. He was widely believed to be the finance and smuggling in-charge of the network, reportedly often travelling abroad to raise funds from friendly states and non-state supporters. If the news of his killing proves accurate, it would represent a significant blow against the network, against whom the US has been pressing Pakistan for a military operation, so far resisted by the Pakistani military. The second bit of news was even more intriguing than the one about Badruddin Haqqani. It said Mullah Dadullah, a commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had been killed along with 12 bodyguards in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar by a NATO air strike. Eastern Afghanistan generally, and Kunar province in particular, are believed to be the safe havens and operational bases of the TTP after it was driven over the border by the Pakistani military’s offensives in Swat and South Waziristan initially, and follow up operations in other Agencies of FATA subsequently. Since the withdrawal of US and ISAF forces from these eastern provinces of Afghanistan, the area is believed to be in the control of the Haqqani network, which therefore now stands accused of working against its erstwhile mentors in the Pakistani military establishment by supporting the TTP that has declared war on the Pakistani state. Now, therefore, if he has been killed by a NATO air strike inside Afghanistan, does this signal a new level of cooperation between the US/NATO and Pakistani forces? Inevitably, there is a discreet silence on all sides on this aspect, so as to maintain plausible deniability by the Pakistani military of any notion of ‘joint operations’ in the border area. NATO did reveal through a statement that Mullah Dadullah was responsible for the movement of fighters and weapons, as well as attacks against the Afghan and coalition forces. Here then, is an example of congruence of interests as far as the target was concerned, and quite possible effective sharing of intelligence. The result is a body blow to the TTP and its friends amongst the Afghan Taliban. The third item worth considering is the attack on a military check post in the Mohmand Agency, which was beaten back without any casualties. Some media sources have reported the attack as emanating from ‘Afghan terrorists’, presumably misled by the place across the border from where the attack originated. However, this is far from clear, given that the area s across the border house TTP elements who arguably would have more interest in attacking the check post, in line with previous such forays, rather than some real or imagined ‘Afghan terrorists’. Further news reports stated that TTP commander Wajeehuddin Mehsud and his collaborator Maulvi Abdul Qadir, a prayer leader at a local mosque, were arrested from a house in Nowshera. Last but not least, 28 terrorists of the Pakistani Taliban were killed in Bajaur by Pakistani troops backed by a local pro-government Aman Lashkar (peace militia) after a rocket attack. This series of successes on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border may be signs of closer cooperation between the two ostensible allies fighting terrorists in their own theatres. However, judgement should perhaps be suspended for fear that this may the proverbial single sparrow that does not a spring make. If the pattern is repeated and/or continues, one could perhaps argue with greater confidence that the logic of cooperation between Pakistan and the US/NATO forces is finally starting to take hold after a particularly fraught year and a bit. If so, this can only be welcomed, since the forbidding terrain of the border area suggests only such cooperation can yield success.
http://www.firstpost.comImran Khan says Pakistan’s blasphemy law is necessary. He says it is a British law and thinks in its absence people would be lynched and there would be anarchy, because it is an emotional issue. The stern law therefore also helps those accused of blasphemy. Is he right? Let us consider the law. Only seven cases of blasphemy were registered in undivided India and Pakistan from 1927 to 1986, according to a group of Pakistani Christians. The National Commission for Justice and Peace says that in the last 25 years, 1058 cases of blasphemy were registered. Of the accused 456 were Ahmadis, 449 were Muslims, 132 were Christians and 21 were Hindus. Non-Muslims, who are four percent of Pakistan’s population, are 57 percent of those charged with blasphemy. The other aspect is that by far the majority of cases are filed in Punjab. India and Pakistan share their penal code, which was given to us by Macaulay in the 1860s. Pakistan’s primary law on blasphemy is the same as India’s law, which I wrote about yesterday.Pakistan’s section 295-A reads: “Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of the citizens of Pakistan, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations insults the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both.” Both in India and Pakistan, this law is secular and applies to all faiths. The only significant difference in Pakistan’s law is the punishment, which in India is only three years. In 1982, President Ziaul Haq introduced an ordinance that added a section to this law. Section 295-B reads: “Whoever willfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Qur’an or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.” It is difficult to see what new element this added which was not covered by 295-A, except that it is specifically a law that protects Muslim sensibility, and the punishment is increased. Under prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo another addition to the blasphemy law was legislated in 1986. Section 295-C reads: “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.” This also was already covered by the original secular law. And again, here the punishment was increased, this time delivering death. Till this change came, the number of blasphemy cases, to remind the reader, was only seven in 60 years. Therefore Imran Khan is wrong to say the anti-blasphemy law is helpful in keeping peace. The truth is the opposite: Pakistanis have registered so many cases since 1986 because the Islam-specific laws 295-B and 295-C are being deployed. It is often said that property disputes or personal enmity are the reasons for many of these cases, because people can be charged on the basis of hearsay. If this were the case, the law would be misused in India also, which it is not. My view is that it is strong religious sentiment that is the reason why so many Pakistanis are accused of being blasphemers. President Musharraf said he would look into softening the law, but couldn’t. Sherry Rehman tried to introduce a change in the law and failed. Why? I would say that it is not possible for the state to bring change over an unwilling population. Punjab’s Muslims have defied the state on religion before. Emperor Bahadur Shah I (Aurangzeb’s son) was unable to get the Lahore Jama Masjid to recite the khutba because the word “wasi” was added by him to the name of the fourth caliph, Ali. Wasi means heir, and Shias use the word to suggest that Ali was the only rightful heir to prophet Muhammad, not the first three caliphs whom the Sunnis regard as legitimate. The khutba, which is a formal sermon delivered on Friday, proclaimed the emperor as head of state and was therefore important as a sign of his sovereignty. The emperor had an angry showdown with four sullen clerics in his tent, demanding they comply. In Bahadur Shah’s view the additional word was not against any specific Sunni practice. The clerics did not back down and, supported by the Afghans in Punjab, threatened civil war. A crowd of 100,000 civilians gathered to fight the state. In all the rest of India the khutba continued to be read in the prescribed form except Lahore. The emperor had to back down and finally the khutba was read on 2 October, 1711 without the word wasi. There is no chance that the state will be able to undo the two changes in Pakistan’s blasphemy law.
The Wahhabi Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) terrorist group has released a gruesome video of beheading two Shia Muslims in Pakistan. The Pakistani group first published the video titled “Revenge” last Thursday night on the Wahhabi terrorist Seminary Jamia HafsaUrdu forum and then distributed the film on other Wahhabi-Nasabi jihadist forums. In the video, the Shia victims, Shaheed Haseeb Zaidi and Maulana Nooruddin, with their hands tied behind their backs were accompanied by four masked members of the group. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorist group is believed to be linked to Pakistan’s Taliban and most militant attacks on Pakistani Shias are conducted by the group. The notorious group is regarded as al-Qaeda’s muscle in terror attacks and has an extensive network in Pakistan. This is while unknown gunmen killed at least three Shia Muslims from Hazara community and injured two others in southwestern Balochistan province of Pakistan. The incident occurred when the assailants opened fire at a taxi on Spini road of Quetta town on Monday. The gunmen fled the scene following the attack and no group has yet claimed the responsibility for the offensive.