Monday, December 24, 2012
The Express Tribune
http://www.arabtimesonline.comChristians living in the Pakistani neighbourhood where a young girl was accused of blasphemy say they are facing a bleak and joyless Christmas, crushed by poverty and harassed by Muslims. Rimsha Masih spent three weeks on remand in one of Pakistan’s toughest prisons after being arrested on August 16, accused of burning papers printed with verses from the Quran, in a case that drew worldwide condemnation. Under the Islamic republic’s blasphemy laws, she could have been jailed for life, but the Islamabad High Court threw out the case against her in September. Blasphemy is so sensitive in Pakistan that even unproven allegations can provoke visceral, violent reactions. Rimsha and her family will spend Christmas as they have spent the last four months — in hiding, fearing for their lives. Her home stands empty and the festive season promises little cheer in the run-down area of Mehrabad, a warren of filthy, unpaved streets winding between tiny single-storey breezeblock houses on the edge of Islamabad. Difficult Christmas traditionally means new clothes, music and celebrations, but locals say things have become much more difficult since the Rimsha case. A patch of waste ground, where children play and goats nose through piles of rubbish, should be home to a Christmas tree by now. But not anymore. “A day or two ago we were discussing how to decorate a tree when some young Muslim men came and mocked us, saying ‘You are talking about it but you will not dare put it up,’” Amjad Shehzad, a housepainter, told AFP. “Normally at Christmas we put up stars on our houses, but this year we will not be able to do this either,” he added. Pakistan is overwhelmingly Muslim and at around two percent of the population, Christians are among the country’s most marginalised citizens. Many are impoverished and trapped in dirty, menial jobs. “We are scared. We are frightened. We cannot sit together, we cannot speak loudly, we cannot celebrate openly. We have threats,” said Ashraf Masih, a sweeper and a father of nine, in his unheated two-room house. “If we sit together and talk, all of a sudden the Muslim owner of the house will come and ask ‘Why are you here, what are you talking about?’” Drums and a lectern are piled up in a corner — rescued from a house that had been used as a makeshift church until the neighbours complained about the noise and the landlord intervened. Dividing He built a concrete wall across the inside of the building dividing it into two homes. Gold paper crosses and a picture of Jesus Christ, arms outstretched in supplication, still adorn one wall. “Christmas is coming and we are upset. What will we do on Christmas? Every year we used to celebrate it here but now we have no church to celebrate in the area,” said Aslam Masih, a 37-year-old gardener and father of three. His wife Kalsoom Aslam said money was also a worry. “The atmosphere is not good and our church is closed,” she said. “Either we pay the rent or we make preparations for Christmas.” Many of Mehrabad’s 400 or so Christian families fled when Rimsha was arrested, fearing for their safety. In 2009, in the central town of Gojra, Muslims burnt more than 70 Christian houses, killing seven, after a rumour that a page from the Quran had been desecrated during a wedding. But Aslam Masih says most have since returned to Mehrabad. “We are back in our houses, though some Christians have been shifted to (the neighbourhood of) H-9/2 in a graveyard, where they have some makeshift arrangement living in tents.”
The Express Tribune
- NATO troops in Kabul celebrate Christmas Eve troops with festive songs, church services and Christmas dinner.
Rights lawyer Hafez Abu-Seida has filed an appeal against President Mohamed Morsi's decision to appoint 90 members of the Shura Council, the upper house of Egypt’s parliament. According to Abu-Seida, the chairman of the Egyptian Organization for Human Righs, the newly-approved constitution does not give the president the right to appoint 90 members to the body. Abu-Seida further argued that the new constitutional article granting the Shura Council legislative authority until a new parliament is voted in should only be applied to the elected members of the Shura and not the appointed members, as the constitution was drafted earlier than the presidential decision. The presidency announced late on Saturday, on the final day of the constitutional referendum, the names of 90 members of the Shura Council, chosen by President Morsi according to his constitutional prerogatives, to fill one third of the 270-member body. The Shura Council will take over the power to issue laws, currently in the hands of the president, once the constitution is approved. The final results of the two-phase referendum on the draft constitution will be announced on Tuesday. The council is expected to discuss the law regulating political rights on which the next elections of the lower house of parliament will be based. The parliamentary elections will be held in two months. A number of prominent figures are among those appointed, including the deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party Essam El-Erian, former head of the military judiciary Adel El-Morsi, American University in Cairo professor Mona Makram Ebeid, and former MP Ramy Lakah. Meanwhile, a number of opposition figures including journalists Wael Qandil and Gameela Abu-Ismail have declined presidential invitations to join the council.http://english.ahram.org.eg
An interview with renowned atheist Richard Dawkins on whether religion is a force for good or evil.
Fanaticism, fundamentalism, superstition and ignorance. Religion is getting a bad press these days. Much of the conflict in the world, from the Middle East to Nigeria and Myanmar, is often blamed on religion. But what are the alternatives? Adolf Hitler was an atheist. Communism under Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao Zedong banned religion, but also massacred millions. And science brought incredible and amazing advances, but also pollution and the atomic bomb. A critic of religious dogmatism, Professor Richard Dawkins revolutionised genetics in 1976 with the publication of The Selfish Gene, which explained how evolution takes place at the genetic level. He has since written 12 more bestsellers, including The God Delusion which sold millions of copies, was translated into more than 30 languages, and catapulted him to the position of the world's foremost atheist. Mehdi Hasan interviews evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins at the Oxford Union and asks: Is religion a force for good or evil? Can it co-exist with science? Is science the new religion? And why if god does not exist, is religion so persistent?
Whether it was the bombings in Peshawar in the 1980s or the siege of the city’s Shia in 1992, Bashir Lala would always be on the frontline The Awami National Party (ANP) has lost one of its bravest leaders. Senior provincial minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Bashir Ahmed Bilour was martyred this past weekend. One of his party colleagues and a fellow Peshawari said, “The lion of Peshawar has been slain.” Bashir Ahmed was born on August 1, 1943 in the walled city of Peshawar in mohallah Hodah inside the old Ganj gate to Bilour Din sahib. He came from the prominent business and trader family of Peshawar called the Kalals. To my generation he was Bashir Lala, or the elder brother, but to his peers and most of the common Peshawaris, he just remained Bashir jan — the dear Bashir. The bereaving Peshwaris are lamenting: Bashir jan tannay barri ziyadti keeti aiy (this is not fair Bashir jan) My first recollection of the politician Bashir Lala is from a 1977 election poster, when I believe he was contesting a provincial assembly seat as the National Democratic Party (NDP)/Pakistan National Alliance candidate. The PNA ended up boycotting the provincial elections. But Bashir Lala and his older brothers Haji Ghulam Ahmed and Ilyas Ahmed, presently a federal minister and senator respectively, had joined the National Awami Party (NAP) — and by extension, the Pashtun nationalist movement — somewhere in the early 1970s. His younger brother, Aziz Bilour, remained in the civil service and never joined politics, though there came times that all four brothers were imprisoned by the government of the time for their political affiliations. The NAP was banned and disbanded, but Bashir Lala and his family remained committed to Baacha Khan and Wali Khan’s political thought. The ANP was formed in 1986 after the merger of the NDP, Mazdoor Kissan Party, Awami Tehrik and Pakistan National Party. Bashir Lala was to later become the provincial president of the ANP. Today, Bashir Lala is remembered for the five consecutive elections he won. I saw him at his finest after his first election and the first and only election defeat in 1988. He was as gracious in defeat as he was in his five wins. The ANP morale was down, as it was routed in the 1988 polls in Peshawar valley. That is where the workhorse Bashir Lala came into the picture. He crisscrossed Peshawar’s alleys to reach out, support and encourage the party cadres. If his oldest brother had the social suave to reach out to the Peshawar families, it was Bashir Lala’s political muscle that held together the ANP election machine in Peshawar from the non-party-based local bodies election of the 1980s to a thumping victory in the 1990 general elections. Peshawar city has traditionally been a stronghold of the assorted Muslim Leagues and then the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Having lost his first election to Syed Ayub Shah of the PPP, Bashir Lala was truly the architect of the Pashtun nationalists finally wresting away Peshawar from the League and the PPP. While deeply inspired by Wali Khan, he was an extremely effective traditional politician who understood the complexities of a large city and the problems of its people. He reached across language and sectarian barriers and stood up for his constituents regardless of party affiliation. But he was one of the few leaders who were readily accessible to party workers whenever they needed him. When the ANP secured a majority in the 2008 provincial elections, he was one of the front runners for the chief ministership. Some Peshawaris complain that if he was not a Hindko speaker he may have secured the top slot. But Bashir Lala was not only above parochial divisions and very secular in outlook personally, he was also a very pragmatic politician and not an ideologue in any sense. He was not an ideologue until perhaps an ideology of hate befell his city and the province. He became ideologically committed to fight the obscurantists with whatever it took, whenever and wherever. If Mian Iftikhar Hussain is the face of the anti-Taliban ANP, Bashir Lala was its soul. In a country bogged down by confusion over what to do about the Taliban menace, his was a clear vision and message: fight and trounce them for their thought and savage means are incompatible with anything modern. Lately, we have heard the Pakistani security establishment ostensibly lamenting that the civilians do not show leadership against terrorism. Bashir Lala was a civilian politician who led from the front, knowing full well that it would cost him his life. He had told his wife, the daughter of the Peshawari steel magnate, the late Gul Muhammad Khan, that if my dead body has wounds on the back, you must not see my face. But as we know he took the bomb shrapnel on the chest. His brothers, his wife and his two sons, Usman and Haroon, along with his compadres in the ANP are proud of Bashir Lala. To me this is nothing new. Whether it was the bombings in Peshawar in the 1980s or the siege of the city’s Shia in 1992, Bashir Lala would always be on the frontline. He would barge in with true grit and not leave until the job was done. He always did his part as he has done this time. But can his resolve and example be followed? He is the last fallen along a perilous path on which Salmaan Taseer and indeed Benazir Bhutto were slain, but would certainly not be the last one. While continuing to play footsie with its jihadist proxies, the security establishment is passing the hot potato of decision making to the civilians as they cower under fear and political expediency. Gunter Grass had noted somewhere that it is a crime to hope when there are no reasons for hope. I am not about to commit that crime. I really do not know what the fates have in store for Peshawar, but RIP Bashir Lala, you will forever be in the hearts of the Peshawaris wherever we are.
The Christian community is celebrating Christmas on Tuesday (25th Dec) with great Zeal
A gunman kills two firefighters who were responding to a house fire in Webster, New York. Two more are injured in the shootout. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
http://gulfnews.comProminent Saudi intellectual and writer Turki Al Hamad has been arrested upon direct orders from the kingdom’s interior minister, Saudi media reported. Saudi media has reported that the writer had been arrested following an order by Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef following tweets criticising Islamists. According to the media sites it was a particular tweet that landed him in hot water which called for the “correction” of Islam. Saudi site Sabq reported that the interior minister felt “severe displeasure at the slander” of the Prophet and directed the authorities to immediately detain him. Known as a liberal critic of religious radicalism, Al Hamad has caused controversy before. His novels have dealt with political and social matters long considered taboo in the religiously conservative kingdom. The Riyadh Bureau cited a series of tweets in December 2011 in which Al Hamad directly criticised Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd, a Minister of State. One of his tweets read: “Your royal highness, do you know what the people are?” Those criticising Islam in Saudi Arabia, and particularly the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), often face the risk of being charged with apostasy, a crime punishable by death. A young Saudi writer, Hamza Kashgari, was extradited from Malaysia last year upon the request of Saudi authorities for tweets which were seen as insulting to the Prophet.
By Nazir S BhattiWho is Anjem Choudary? Why he is living in UK? What is Sharia4 Pakistan? Why he calls Pakistan regime, an apostate regime? Why he condemns Malala Yousafzai? Why he is preaching Islamic Jihad sitting in UK? Why he wants Islamic Sharia around globe? These entire questions are very important to be discussed but I must present one incidence: It is New York City, street 5th East and a Deli on corner of 2nd Avenue, where I used to drink special Pakistani branded tea and to take Samosas in my break hours from work; it is one evening of December, 2000; I remember one Pakistani Muslim employee serving Pakistani Cab drivers and others customers behind the counter on very low wages in night watch in this deli; One evening, when I was enjoying my tea and deserts, one bearded Muslim cabby entered in Deli and ordered for Chicken Kababs; He started cursing Deli employees “You Kafir (Infidel) what you will answer Prophet Mohammad on day of judgment, you will go directly to hell on selling bear and playing lottery for people”; It must be noted that in State of New York, all grocery stores, restaurants and Deli’s you can sell bear with due permission while many states prohibit of sale and only can be purchased from special outlets. I kept silent listening conversation of that Pakistani Muslim cabbie wearing Shalwar Kameez (Pakistani Dress) and changing colors of face of that Muslim employee of Deli/Restaurant. When that Cab driver left Deli, I asked that employee “Why you not answered that cab driver?” He replied “My father sold all his property in Pakistan to pay agent to get me visa for USA, while here I have paid thousands of dollars to marry an American women for status adjustment and have to support my family back in Pakistan, so, I not want to take any risk as my case is under process with immigration”. I finished my tea and headed back to my office. On my way back, I kept thinking of attitude of that Muslim cabby and miserable condition of that Muslim employee. After two weeks, I saw that Muslim bearded Pakistani cab driver again entering in Deli and ordering food for him. He started again telling Deli employee “Leave this job which is making you infidel by selling bear and search for any job which is according to Islamic teachings” Suddenly, my mind compelled me to talk with Muslim cab driver: I asked him are you Muslim sir? He replied with proud and honor with one Arabic word “Masha-Allaha”. Next question, I asked him “What Islam teaches about interest economy?” he instantly said “Interest is Harm in Islam”. Then why you accept “Dollar” from your customers who ride your taxi as “Dollar is unit of Interest base economy”? If Interest is Haram in Islam then Dollar is also Haram according to Islam: The Muslim cab driver shocked his head and said “What you mean by it?” I said “I meant that you must go back to Pakistan and earn Pure Money which states on its rupees bills that “Rizke Halal is Ain Abadat” not interest based US Dollars. The cab driver silently left café and the Muslim employee of Deli told me after months that “He comes sometime but never talks about Hilal or Haram earnings any more”. My question to Anjem Choudary is same which I asked that Muslim bearded Cab driver in New York: “Mr. Anjem why are you living in United Kingdom, earning Pound Sterling (which is interest based Currency) and Islam declares Interest to be Haram and you talk about Sharia4Pakistan, living and buying your Halal food with Haram money?” Are you a Muslim? Do you practice Sharia law? Leave UK as a protest and go to a country like Saudi or wherever on globe where you may buy your food with Halal Money. My suggestion to Anjem Choudary and many other so-called Islamists is: Do not misuse freedom of expression and speech enshrined in Western Constitutions and learn true Islam which preaches love and peace, if it is true; See what clarifications Anjem Choudary issues on Sharia4Pakistan: 1. The shariah4pakistan body have not issued a Fatwa or death sentence against Malala Yousafzai rather it is investigating her case fully together with the involvement of the Pakistani authorities 2. What is clear is that the Pakistan regime is an apostate regime allied with the enemies of Islam & Muslims who implement kufr (non-Islamic) law 3. The Taliban & Muslims must believe in Islamic education for both boys and girls with segregation as specified under the Shari'ah. Indeed when not involved in war those amongst the Taleban opened many schools for women and even the British restricted education during the Second World War due to the obvious dangers 4. What has been said regarding Malala such as her denying Jihad and the Hijab and helping the US war effort all need to be verified & could amount to apostasy or they could amount to sin; in any case she will be given the usual excuses such as ignorance & mistake etc 5. We therefore ask Muslims not to listen to the media who have distorted our statements as a threat to Malala Yousafzai 6. However confusion among the youth is no surprise under the Pakistan kufr system and a government allied with the USA 7. Without Shariah implemented the Muslim youth will develop a secular mindset and not love the Shari'ah and Islam as they should 8. The views of those at the Lal Masjid are respected & our 30th Nov. conference can take place outside of it. A masjid under Shariah cannot prevent the mention of Allah's name inside but we understand the sensitivity. The initial advertisement of the Lal Masjid for the conference was based on assurances from former students. The 30th Nov. Conference by shariah 4 pakistan will hence now take place outside of the Lal Masjid insha'Allah 9. We condemn Muhammad Ali Jinnah as an enemy of Islam, the kufr constitution of Pakistan and the illegitimate regime of Zardari and their use of Malala as a pawn against the mujahideen to please their masters; the Americans 10. The solution to all of the problems of Pakistan lie in implementing the law of Allah (Shari'ah) and to have no ties with the US or UN or any kufr bodies 11. The shari'ah 4 pakistan project is a long term one insha'Allah and will continue until the Shari'ah is implemented! Mr. Anjem Choudary, if you were living in Saudi Arabia and issuing such statement, you know what your fate was going to be?
http://www.dw.deRussia has signed a deal to sell 71 military helicopters to India. At a one-day summit on Monday leaders from both countries reaffirmed their commitment to a long-term strategic partnership.
http://www.rferl.orgIn October, militants attacked a 14-year-old schoolgirl in Pakistan's Swat Valley for speaking out against their medieval practice of locking girls and women in the four walls of their houses. The near-fatal shooting was met with nearly universal revulsion. In an unprecedented display of resentment, Pakistanis excoriated the Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the attack, and stood behind young child activist Malala Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, an education and peace activist. This past week, a similar response has emerged from Pakistan's civil society and intelligentsia following attacks on polio-eradication teams in Peshawar and Karachi that claimed nine lives -- six women and three men. The level of public anger has been such that virtually no one -- not even Taliban sympathizers and apologists or the so-called anti-American groups that include Jamat-e-Islami, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI), Difa-e-Pakistan Council, or the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) of Malana Fazlur Rahman -- dared to publicly challenge the outrage. (They did, however, stop short of naming the Taliban and instead issued a general condemnation of the gory incidents). On December 20, 30 religious scholars of the Sunni Ittehad Council, a group comprising Sunni religious leaders, condemned the attacks on the polio workers and issued a fatwa emphasizing that administering polio drops and vaccines is not un-Islamic. The head of Pakistan's Ulema Council, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, on the other hand, requested that all affiliated religious seminaries and mosques in their Friday sermons condemn the attacks and highlight the importance of a healthy life in light of the teachings of Islam. "We've raised our voice both in [the] Rimsha Masih and Malala Yousafzai cases and once again we are leading the protest against attacks on polio workers. This barbarity [in the name of Islam] is no more acceptable and this voice will now ring from each and every mosque and madrasah," Maulana Ashrafi told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal on December 21. So where do Pakistanis stand? A vast majority of observers appear to believe that the reactions of Pakistani civil society, the intelligentsia, the media, and the religious right are a harbinger of change. The unity shown by Pakistanis following the attacks on polio staff and child activist Malala are reminiscent of the mammoth gatherings and rallies once staged by Kashmir-focused religious parties to highlight Pakistan enmity toward India. A shift, as it were, away from jihadists and in favor of peace. "Of course, this is pointing to the change and shift from the Taliban narrative," writer and analyst Khadim Hussain told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal. Hussain suggests that support for the jihadist agendas of right-wing parties by previous governments coupled with deliberate efforts to influence school curricula deepened the roots of radicalism and extremism in the society. Many Pakistanis see their country at a crossroad and expect incidents like the recent attacks on polio workers and Malala to eventually catapult the Pakistani security establishment into drastic and decisive action against the Taliban. "The solution, as always, is to eliminate the Taliban so that their narrative, too, is destroyed," writes Pakistan's leading English-language newspaper "The Express Tribune" in a December 19 editorial. But it is important to remember that similar expectations were expressed and suggestions forwarded following the attack on Malala, who remains in a U.K. hospital. Although Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani pointed in recent statements to landmark changes in Islamabad's policies toward, India, Afghanistan, and the Taliban, there don't appear to have been any practical steps taken in that direction. Many of those so appalled by the attacks on the polio workers and on Malala must be hoping that the current media war is just a first step -- one that is followed by determined action.
The Express TribuneThe year 2012 was no different for the residents of Karachi. The city’s scariest specter – target killing – haunted it all year round, while many lives were also lost to multiple terrorist attacks. Below are few facts gathered from police data about the killings in the city. • At least six people were killed each day. • Over 3,000 people were injured in firing incidents. • Around 70 of the said injured are handicapped for life. • Around 61 of the dead belonged to Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), 18 to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), 19 to Awami National Party (ANP), 13 to Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi (MQM-H) and eight to Sunni Tehreek (ST). • Sectarian violence claimed 45 lives in 2012 including five lawyers and two doctors. • Nearly 28,104 targeted operations were carried and 92 criminals killed. According to the Sindh Police, not all murders were target killings. A police representative said target killings have only claimed 438 lives, while the rest were victims of personal fights and enmities. Today’s toll At least eight people were killed in Karachi, while one police officer sustained injuries on Monday in different firing incidents across the city. Unidentified armed men gunned down three people in Nazimabad, two in Machar Colony, one in North Karachi, one in Sohrab Goth and another in Ayub Goth.
Business RecorderThat the work and performance of the Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are presently under the sharp focus of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly is no exceptional development. In August last year also the PAC looked into their work and contribution to the national cause, and was quite satisfied over Economic Affairs Division's assurance that a 'new mechanism' would be proposed for a periodic review of foreign-funded projects. The mechanism was expected to ensure that secretaries of respective departments would be responsible for any delay in implementation of projects and improper utilisation of funds. No such mechanism seems to have been put in place, confirming the perception that the NGOs have free hand in utilisation of funds channelled to them by foreign donors. Otherwise, the EAD officials would not have expressed their helplessness by admitting before the committee that they work only as post offices for the transfer of funds and they had 'nothing to do with the implementation of projects'. But the atmospherics that obtained in the PAC meeting suggest that the members were equally interested, if not more, who gets what and from where - an indication of their mistrust in the credibility and integrity of the beneficiary NGOs. But for the hurt felt by some bloated egos there was not much of justification to be judgmental about quality of services delivered by these entities. The bitter truth is that international donors in recent times have opted to channel their funds through non-governmental organisations rather than government of Pakistan. The question whether did the PAC meeting also deliberate upon this aspect of the issue, remained unanswered. From the media reported account of this particular meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, it increasingly appears that the non-military component of US funding sanctioned by the Kerry-Lugar Act was under scrutiny, with a member complaining that it was being used by the USAID and 'surprisingly the government of Pakistan has no control over the projects funded through this money'. Another member was of the view that on paper the USAID was undertaking countless projects for the benefit of the masses, but on ground "we don't see anything in concrete terms". Both the members happen to be part of the ruling coalition, begging the question where they were all these months after EAD officials' commitment of putting in place a "new mechanism". Isn't it in their knowledge that release of funds under the Kerry-Lugar legislation envisaged the delivery of most of the civil aid through the NGOs and the government of Pakistan had agreed to that precondition? The fact is that it is not only the US Congress that would like the aid distributed through non-governmental organisations in Pakistan, the other aid-giving countries too think and plan along the same lines. Not that the government should have no oversight on the utilisation of foreign funds, but it should be more in terms of checking misuse if any, rather than trying to bring it under its umbrella. That some NGOs may be the Trojan horse busy planting and nurturing anti-Pakistan concepts and forces the government agencies should be looking into that. But it has to be conceded that the autonomy the NGOs need and the possibility of some of them being involved in anti-state activities are two different issues. No foreign aid and assistance comes free; the donor governments desire to improve their image among the recipient public in return for popular support at international forums. The donations from the non-state entities too are made along similar lines, but in there they are essentially motivated with a feeling of sharing the burden of the recipients, be it by sending doctors to alleviate sufferings of the calamity-struck victims, to help improve quality of life by providing medical facilities or to help the recipients shed ignorance by way of helping them with better education tools. Perhaps in normal times Pakistan could be choosier about the need for the NGOs and the quality of their work, but not now. Given our poor governance and near total dysfunctional official public-service networks the NGOs are a boon, and there is no justification to put them on the defensive by discouraging their workers who work here under ever-looming threats to their life and limb.
Editorial:DAILY TIMESHe did not give up till the end and had vowed to continue his struggle against the terrorists who had made Pakistan and particularly Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) a house of cards by putting it under repeated and continuous terrorist assaults. Bashir Ahmed Bilour died in a rally attacked by a suicide bomber at the Qisa Khawani Bazar in Peshawer, where he had gone to address a corner meeting of the Awami National Party (ANP). Though escorted by high profile security, the bomber nevertheless managed to reach Bilour and detonated the bomb inches away from the senior provincial minister of KP. The SHO of the area police station and Bilour’s personal secretary died on the spot. This was the third attempt on his life by those who had always resented his courageous denial of the ideology of terrorism. Bashir Bilour had always he was not afraid of being martyred. Perhaps he had realized that the war on terrorism is not going away any time soon and not until it had taken its toll of lives and resources of Pakistan. Bashir Bilour was famous for his defiance against the terrorists that had earned him umpteen enemies within the Taliban as well as their apologists. The same streak of boldness was visible when his son, Usman Bilour, taking up the thread of his father’s resolve, said that the Taliban may get tired of killing us but we will not give in until peace is attained. Such being their courage, still the country is unable to combat the menace of terrorism. It is so because the problem lies with the approach of fighting terrorism that is not cohesive and coherent in nature. As far as the government is concerned, the general impression is that it has left the war on terrorism to the military, and its interior ministry, or the intelligence and law enforcement agencies are reduced to empty slogans. Are the back to back high profile attacks on the PAF base in Peshawar and the assassination of Bashir Bilour an indication of the Taliban’s escalation of their terror? If that be the case, the claim of the military that the terrorists had been weakened loses credibility. The strategy pursued by the military of splitting the terrorists does not seem to have achieved the desired results. Ostensibly, these groups have become more dreadful after splitting, because of their dispersed power. This reinforces the notion that Pakistan has been fighting the war on terror the wrong way and this has strengthened the terrorists in their approach and tactics. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack on Bashir Bilour. A spokesman of TTP from Dara Adam Khel and Khyber Agency, Muhammad Afridi said that TTP has set up a new ‘revenge wing’ to carry out such attacks, especially on ANP and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Responding to this claim the President of ANP Asfandyar Wali has rightly said it to be surprising that terrorists sitting in Pakistan are not only carrying out ferocious attacks but are also taking pride in claiming the responsibility for the same, and yet they are free to move around. The question is, how many more lives would we sacrifice before coming to terms with the fact that this war is getting threatening and the prospects of winning it might also be slipping from our hands, if, as is being feared, the terrorists have infiltrated into the cities of the country. Would we pound bombs on our people to flush them out? The only strategy left to fight this dispersed power is to consolidate and develop a Central Intelligence Data Gathering System, as has been now authorized in the Investigation for Fair Trial Act. Though late, because of obvious reasons, this databank and the system around it should be developed on a war footing, and in the meanwhile a consensus created to hound and pin down the terrorists hiding in the mountains of the northwestern areas of Pakistan.
THE FRONTIER POST
By:Muhammad Ali SheikhIt has been years since Peshawar is in a grip of terrorism. A number of brave sons of Peshawar were martyred in different terrorist incidents. Men like Malik Saad and Sifwat Ghayur died at the hands of terrorists and they will always be remembered in golden words whenever it comes to talking about brave men of Pakhtun soil. Even small children were killed in attacks on school buses and other incidents. However, I have never witnessed such a sorrowful and mournful environment in Peshawar as it was on Saturday evening and throughout the day on Sunday. Peshawarites were in grip of grief, agony, anguish as they saw their beloved Bashir Ahmed Bilour being laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard. In this column of mine I have always tried to highlight the problems the people of Peshawar face in their daily life. Even I was ready to highlight another problem however, the death of Bashir Ahmed Bilour forced me to change my mind and start writing on this tragic incident and its aftereffects on Peshawar. Bashir Bilour was a person who had no personal opponents but only had political opponents who also were always full of praise for the Bashir Ahmed Bilour both as a human being and as a politician. He was always the first person to visit the spot of any terror incident in City and was also the first one all the time to speak against these incidents. Bilour was instrumental in changing the look of the Peshawar. He was Senior Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but as a son of Peshawar he always tried his best to do everything possible to make Peshawar once of the best cities. Bashir Bilour shut the mouths of those who termed him anti-Pakistan on his remarks on Urdu by inaugurating the highest national flag of Pakistan in Jinnah Park. Whenever, I pass by the 185 feet high national flag I feel proud to be a Pakistani it was Bashir Bilour who give this opportunity to feel so. For the first time we saw a digital fountain in Peshawar thanks to Bashir Bilour. The fountain is installed at Jinnah Park and people will remember their beloved leader whenever the water of the fountain will dance in colourful lights especially at night time. Renaming a number of chowks (squares) by the name of famous personalities was another achievement of Bashir Bilour. Such two chowks are Ajmal Khattak Chowk in Hayatabad and Ahmad Faraz Chowk at G.T. Road. It will be injustice if I do not mention Rescue 1122. Bashir Bilour was influential in establishment of the first ever rescue service of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa keeping in mind the need of the service with increasing number of terror incidents. And he was taken into a 1122 ambulance to the Lady Reading Hospital where he breathed his last. However, the same ambulance may have been involved in saving a large number of lives thanks to Bashir Bilour. I remember his last words about Peshawar in KP Assembly were about the construction of underpasses at University Road. It his ANP colleague MPA Atif-ur-Rehman had asked the government to force the authorities to complete the construction of these two underpasses as it was creating hurdles for motorists. Bashir Bilour stood up and told the House that he had already directed the authorities to complete the work in 60 days starting from the day he was addressing the assembly. His vision was to make Peshawar a City of Flowers again and now it is the duty of not only this government but the duty of the next government to fulfill his dream. We Peshawarites thank Bashir Ahmed Bilour from the bottom of our hearts for striving throughout his life for the betterment of our lives.
Radio PakistanPresident Asif Ali Zardari today inaugurated the first 50MW wind power project terming it an important milestone and a landmark achievement in country's efforts towards finding environmental-friendly‚ indigenous and low cost energy solutions.