Friday, November 29, 2013
Two militants, including an accused linked with attack on Pakistan Army headquarters in Rawalpindi, were also injured in the US drone attack that targeted a compound in Miranshah town of North Waziristan. According to sources, Aslam alias Yaseen is linked with attacks on General Headquarters (GHQ) and another attack on the naval base in Karachi. The sources further said that three militants were killed in the drone strike. Two militants were from Punjab. They said that the injured militants have been taken to hospital. The militants were fighting in Afghanistan, the sources claimed. The militants were living in the attacked compound for four months, the sources added.
Chinese fighter jets were scrambled and followed US and Japanese planes that had entered the newly-proclaimed Chinese air defense zone in the disputed area of the East China Sea, Xinhua reports. Two US surveillance aircraft and 10 Japanese F-15 jets were ‘tailed’ by Chinese pilots on Friday. China ordered an urgent dispatch of its Su-30 and J-10 fighter jets to an area in the East China Sea after the foreign aircraft “invaded” the air defense zone, they said. The reported intrusions came in defiance of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), established by Beijing last week. China’s move has triggered outrage from several states in the region and critical rhetoric from the US, as the vast zone covers disputed areas, including the islets claimed by both China and Japan. Earlier on Thursday, the Chinese Air Force conducted its first air patrol flights over the zone, as Japan and South Korea sent their own military aircraft into the zone's airspace in an act of defiance. China has stressed its decision to enforce the airspace identification zone - which requires all aircraft flying over or near it to identify themselves - follows common international practices and “is a necessary measure in China’s exercise of self-defense rights.” No international flights will be affected by the setup of the zone, Chinese Air Force spokesman, Shen Jinke, told Xinhua. Japan and its US ally blasted the decision as “unacceptable” and rejected the “unilateral” declaration, saying it would create dangerous tension. However, Chinese officials gave a reminder that both countries have long had their own ADIZ, and that the Japanese never discussed theirs with their neighbor. “If they want it revoked, then we would ask that Japan first revoke its own air defense identification zone and China will reconsider it after 44 years,” China’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Yang Yujun, said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website on Thursday. While possible action against the zone’s infiltrators has been vaguely defined as “defensive emergency measures,” The Global Times, a Chinese state media newspaper, on Friday called for “timely countermeasures without hesitation,” should Tokyo violate the new ADIZ. At the same time, the paper suggested China could ignore violations by some other states, including the US. Two US military B-52 bombers flew over the area on Monday without prior notice, with a Pentagon spokesman telling Reuters we “have continued to follow our normal procedures.”
President Hamid Karzai has said "for as long as arbitrary acts and oppression of foreign forces continue, the security agreement with the United States will not be signed. The president expressed these views in the wake of a coalition forces’ airstrike that killed an eight-year-old child in southern Helmand province.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Safdar Ali Bhatti has sought comments from the Kot Lakhpat SHO for December 3 on a petition seeking an attempted suicide case against a woman already being tried for blasphemy. The petitioner, Advocate Tahira Shaheen Mughal, submitted that at the last hearing of the blasphemy case against Waleeha Irfat in Central Jail, warders had told the court that they had foiled a suicide attempt by the accused. She asked the court to direct the SHO concerned to register a case against Irfat for attempted suicide under Section 325 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which carries a term of up to a year in prison. A witness told The Express Tribune that when the judge directed jail officials to produce the accused before the court, the warders responded that she did not wish to come out as she was not appropriately dressed. She was eventually brought to court covered in a long shawl.
Blasphemy trial Meanwhile, M Amanullah, who claims to be Irfat’s fiancé, has filed a petition asking that she be sent to a private hospital for treatment and for him to be allowed to stay with her as an attendant. He said that Irfat had been behind bars for a year and a half and her confinement had caused psychological issues. The Punjab Institute of Mental Health, in a report dated August 29, 2013, declared that Irfat was suffering from a mood disorder which caused impulsivity issues and she required pharmacological treatment as well as counselling. Advocate Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry filed an objection petition in response, alleging that the medical report issued by the Mental Health Institute was invalid and an attempt to evade criminal prosecution. He said that no notice had been issued to the complainant when the constitution of a medical board to examine the accused was ordered, which was illegal. A board of certification had not been assembled to examine the accused, he said. The judge directed the jail superintendent to get the accused medically examined by a medical officer. If this facility was not available in the jail, the judge said, the accused should be examined elsewhere. The judge fixed December 3 for recording the statements of prosecution witnesses. At the last hearing, Irfat had complained to the judge that women prisoners in the judicial lock-up had told her she deserved to be killed as a blasphemer. Irfat’s request for post-arrest bail was dismissed in July 2012 and an acquittal application was dismissed on April 8, 2013. An FIR was registered against Irfat at the Factory Area police station under Section 295-B (defiling the Holy Quran) of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of Abdul Monam Shah, a security guard at Punjab Society near DHA. He said that at 5a on March 3, 2012, while he had been on patrol, a woman named Saima Bibi had made a hue and cry stating that she had seen Irfat tearing up two copies of the Holy Quran and then sitting and spitting on them. He said that he and a society resident named Boota had entered Irfat’s residence and seen her sitting on pages of the Holy Quran and using derogatory language.
World Watch Monitor Discloses An Increase In Blasphemy Allegations After The Peshawar Church Bombings
According to statistics presented by the World Watch Monitor: four blasphemy cases against Christians were registered in not more than a month’s time; this ratio is four times higher than the monthly average recorded from 2011 till date. Notwithstanding the fact that no direct or substantial proof was available against those accused in all of these cases. The incident of All Saint’s Church bombings was a marker in the history of Pakistani Christians. Reactions from the Muslim majority to Christians protesting against the deadliest bombings were mixed. Few days back UK Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi also expressed concerns for Christians in Pakistan urging for international reaction to minorities being persecuted in WashingtonDC. World Watch Monitor has examined the time period since the Peshawar Church bombings; noticing a general environment of much commiseration and kindness towards Christians however few blasphemy charges have tainted the set-up of mutual harmony. In a recent write-up, the World Watch Monitor claims that as a reaction to the twin suicide bombings targeting Christians, the Pakistani Christians erupted in nationwide protests showing annoyance with the government to provide security to the minorities. The WWM presented a case from Hyderabad, as Christians held protest rallies in almost every corner of the city. However, some anti-rally protesters got in amongst the Christians and started attacking passers-by and buildings such as gas stations, said Catholic priest Father Samson Shukardin.”The situation got tense but it still remained calm because the Muslims were equally saddened by the attacks,” he said. Another incident was reported in this write-up from Rawalpindi involving a clash between the Malik and Pashtoon tribes and the Christians of Iqbal Town. When the Christians there held a protest rally on September 23, about two dozen men pelted them with stones. Saleem Masih, a resident of Iqbal Town, said that three days after the protest, a Muslim desecrated a copy of the Qur’an, but Christians were blamed. For the following few nights, he said more than 100 armed Christians guarded the Christian area in Iqbal Town. On October 29, at about 7pm, worship was taking place in the Pentecostal Saints Church of Pakistan in IqbalTown when about five young Pashtoon men thumped the main gate shouting to close the Church. When the congregants came out, the young men fled from the scene. A similar episode extended on November 2 in IqbalTown, where a Christian convention was taking place. A group of young men again tried to disrupt the gathering. “One of them said that they are the ‘lords’ of this area and nothing can take place without their permission,” said Riaz Masih. The WWM further writes about another incident in Lahore, when Christians from the Christian colony of Yahounabad were holding a rally, a Muslim vegetable vendor, Muhammad Akbar, known as Billa, jeered at them. He shouted at protesters that it didn’t matter that a “few Christians had died in the [Peshawar] blast”. He said these same Christians had also come out to protest when Joseph Colony was set on fire. “He even went on to ridicule the poor Christian community by saying that Christian women were willing to do anything for the sake of two kilograms of potatoes, so what right did they have to protest,” Pakistan People’s Party minority wing leader Napoleon Qayyum told World Watch Monitor. Violence then broke out between the Christians and Billa, during which his shop was damaged. Since then, local Christians have boycotted Billa’s vegetable stall. The report goes on with another incident in Karachi, when the Christians of Michael Town had to flee from their homes following a rally on September 23, after they were accused of committing blasphemy by pelting the sign of a mosque with stones. A journalist working for a local news channel, who reached the site when the attack was taking place, told World Watch Monitor that “a large number of attackers wearing dark brown and green turbans” told him that a text message had been circulated saying that the Christians had demolished a mosque, so they had come to avenge the “blasphemous act”.Although the Pakistani police initially tried to strike a compromise between the Christians and Muslims in Karachi, in the end they registered two criminal cases against the Christians. The first case was registered against three men (Yasir, Harry and Waqas Masih) for allegedly murdering a man who was part of the Muslim mob and who died in the stampede.The second case was lodged against Ubert, Ilyas and Babar Masih under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. No criminal case for the rampage and arson carried out by the Muslim mob was registered, primarily because the Christians feared a backlash.About 300 Christian families had to flee from their homes in the wake of the blasphemy accusation. They returned after two weeks following mediation by the Sindh government. However, the legal cases are still pending and these Christians will face trial. - See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/world-watch-monitor-discloses-an-increase-in-blasphemy-allegations-after-the-peshawar-church-bombings/#sthash.PAQn4XgI.dpuf
''Each of Nawaz Sharif’s past choices for army chief has ended in a crisis for the country. Will he prove fourth time lucky?'' Everything had been planned down to the last, small detail — but one. Late on the evening of October 12, 1999, as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif swore in Lieutenant General Khwaja Ziauddin as Pakistan’s new army chief, there was no star to pin on his shoulder, to add to the three already there. Mr. Sharif’s military secretary, Brigadier Javed Malik, took one from his own uniform, so that it could be put on to his new chief’s shoulder. It proved an ill-omen: late that evening, the man Mr. Sharif had sacked, General Pervez Musharraf, flew back to Pakistan from Sri Lanka, and rode to power in a coup. Lieutenant General Khwaja Ziauddin was arrested and relieved of his new-found rank at gunpoint. Mr. Sharif went to prison, and then exile. Brigadier Malik never got his star back. Now, with Mr. Nawaz Sharif appointing General Raheel Sharif — no relative — to lead the Pakistan Army, he’ll be hoping to break with the past. Mr. Sharif’s past appointments to lead Pakistan’s army have all involved breaking with seniority — and ended in crisis for his governments. General Wahid Kakkar, appointed in 1993 superseding Lieutenants-General Rehm-Dil Bhatti, Mohammad Ashraf, Farrakh Khan and Arif Bangash, eventually forced Mr. Sharif’s resignation from office. In 1998, Mr. Sharif sacked the soft-spoken General Jehangir Karamat for demanding the creation of a National Security Council to adjudicate on civil-military relations. He brought in General Musharraf — with historic consequences. DISTINGUISHED FAMILY The man Mr. Sharif has now picked, Pakistan Army sources say, has made a career by avoiding controversy. Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif, soft-spoken and dignified, comes from a Punjabi family with a long military history: his father was an officer, as were his brothers and at least one brother-in-law. His older brother, Major Shabbir Sharif, was among the country’s most decorated officers, winning both its highest military honours, the Sitara-e-Jurrat and the Nishan-e-Haider, for his role in separate battles in the 1971 war. In Pakistani accounts of the 1971 war, Major Shabbir Sharif is credited with holding back Indian armour at the Gurmakhera Bridge for several days. Former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf was a course-mate of Major Shabbir Sharif — and took the younger brother under his wing when he was commissioned into service in October, 1976. In 1998, General Musharraf was hand-picked as chief of army staff by Mr. Nawaz Sharif — superseding his seniors, Lieutenant General Ali Kuli Khan and Lieutenant General Khalid Nawaz Khan, just as General Raheel Sharif has now done. His rise to power gave General Sharif a mentor at the highest level of the Pakistan Army. General Sharif was chosen as personal secretary to the new army chief, but General Musharraf then changed his mind and instead sent him for a prestigious course at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. Later, General Sharif served as chief of staff to Lieutenant General Abdul Qadir Baloch, then commander of the Gujranwala-based XXX corps. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Lieutenant General Baloch was transferred to the Quetta-based XII corps, a formation responsible for operations against jihadists who were known to be crossing the border from Afghanistan. He took General Sharif with him as his chief of staff, a Brigadier-rank appointment. Then, General Musharraf promoted General Sharif to the rank of Major General, assigning him as General Officer-Commanding of the prestigious Lahore-based 11th Infantry Division — a formation with a key role in the event of a land war with India. CHALLENGES The challenges before General Sharif are huge. His predecessor, General Pervez Kayani, sought to heal the fractures between the Pakistan Army and its jihadist clients during General Musharraf’s tenure. Even though terrorist violence has sharply escalated in Pakistan, it is generally unnoticed that both military and jihadist fatalities are in decline, suggesting a diminishing will for combat. In a 2010 article, former United Nations official Chris Alexander charged General Kayani with “sponsoring a large-scale, covert guerrilla war through Afghan proxies” — a charge western and Afghan leaders have since repeated. General Kayani also part-reversed a ceasefire General Musharraf had put in place on the Line of Control, and loosened restraints on jihadists operating against India. Experts say General Sharif, a conservative figure, is unlikely to spearhead a radical shift in Pakistani military thinking. The military expert, Hamid Husain, has written that General Sharif “is a gentleman but almost all agree that for a peacetime army, it would make no difference but he is probably not suited to lead an army engaged in a war.” “The biggest challenge before General Sharif,” says Rana Banerjee, a Pakistan expert who earlier served in the Research and Analysis Wing, “is to find a way to deal with the existential threats posed by the Taliban. We’ll have to watch closely, though, if he’s able to build a consensus around this in what is evidently a very divided Pakistan army.”
The Express TribuneA drone strike in North Waziristan early Friday killed three, Express News reported. The unmanned aircraft fired two missiles in Miranshah town at a time when many in the country are protesting against the CIA drone campaign. The timing is further controversial as the strike comes on the eve of Pakistan Army’s change of command ceremony where Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will hand the baton to his successor General Raheel Sharif. Express News correspondent Nasrum Minallah reported that the drone remained in the area for a while after the attack, flying very low. It could not be ascertained whether the drones targeted a vehicle or a compound. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led (PTI) government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has held an increasingly anti-drone stance with regular sit-ins being arranged to protest against the strikes. The November 21 drone strike, which killed six people and injured eight others in the populated area of Hangu, had angered the people in the province further with many political parties, including PTI and Jamaat-e-Islami blocking the Nato supply routes. Drone damage The Pakistani government officially condemns drone strikes as a violation of its sovereignty and this has been a contentious issue between the two countries. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his visit to the US urged President Barack Obama to halt the programme. Despite their deep unpopularity in Pakistan, the US sees them as a vital tool in the fight against militants in the tribal areas. The number and identity of casualties is often hard to determine because the tribal areas are off-limits to foreign journalists and aid organisations, but the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates deaths at between 2,500 and 3,700. Hundreds of civilians have died in the attacks, according to various estimates, prompting outrage in Pakistan and abroad. A major report last month from rights campaigners Amnesty International said the US may be guilty of war crimes.