Tuesday, April 10, 2018

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The Constitution of 1973 is a guarantor of the federation; Chairman PPP pays tributes to Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for gifting the nation its unanimous social contract

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has stated that the Constitution of 1973 was a guarantor of the federation and paid tributes to Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for gifting the nation its unanimous social contract, which unifies all the federating units.

In his message on the Constitution Day observed today, the PPP Chairman said that the dictatorial regimes had defaced the original Constitution of 1973. Before and after returning from exile on April 10, 1986, former Prime Minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto waged a valiant struggle for the restoration of the democracy and the constitution. She was imprisoned in solitary confinement and thousands of PPP workers suffered physical atrocities by the dictatorial regimes.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that it was again PPP government led by President Asif Ali Zardari who restored the 1973 Constitutional into its original shape through 18th Amendment sacrificing his own Presidential powers.

PPP Chairman said that his Party won’t allow any attempts to touch 18th amendment and urged for implementation of all the provisions without any delay.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Constitution of Pakistan enshrined equal rights to all its citizens and has carved out role for every institution without any ambiguity. “It is the responsibility of whole nation and its institutions to protect the constitution and follow it to achieve the dreams of the founding fathers of the Pakistan,” he added.


Quetta Attack a Gory Reminder of Islamic State's Presence in Balochistan

On Easter Monday, four members of a Christian family were shot dead in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s volatile Balochistan province. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) in a press statement issued by the jihadist group.
The very next day, a Pakistan Army spokesperson “categorically” denied the presence of ISIS in the country, choosing instead to extol his organization’s performance by saying that “the security situation in the province [Balochistan] has improved owing to the collective efforts of civil and military leadership.”
The day after a family had been massacred in a provincial capital, the media representative of the most powerful state institution preferred to play his own broken record. Amidst continued human rights abuses in that very province, orchestrated by that very institution, he chose to suggest that the perpetrators of the latest act of terror don’t even exist.
The insensitivity of state and its representatives toward the locals of Balochistan, religious minorities, or indeed human life, isn’t anything new. What is more damning is the continued denial of the presence of the most high-profile terror group in the world, which has found an escape route into the Af-Pak region after being battered out of the Middle East.
This is especially perilous considering that Monday’s attack is the second time in four months that the same terror outfit has targeted the same religious community, in the same city. Last December’s bomb and gun attack jolted Quetta’s Bethel Memorial Methodist Church a week before Christmas, killing eight people.
In November, a suicide bombing had targeted a paramilitary convoy, and another bomb killed two police personnel in two separate incidents. While neither of these attacks was claimed by ISIS, the month prior the group targeted a Sufi shrine in Jhal Magsi, 400 kilometers east of Quetta, killing 20.
This was the second time a shrine was targeted by ISIS last year. The Sehwan bombing in February 2017 killed 88 – the deadliest attack since 2014.
In Quetta alone, in little over three months this year, 11 terror attacks have taken place, four of which have been claimed by ISIS or have the group’s suspected involvement. This includes the March 4 and April 1 killings of Hazara men from the Shia community, which has been regularly targeted by ISIS.
This is the ground reality in just the capital of the Balochistan province in the past three months, while the Army claims that the “security situation has improved.”
Statistically, terror incidents are indeed on a decline in the rest of the country – which still puts Pakistan fifth on the Global Terrorism Index – but Balochistan remains volatile, amidst separatist militancy, the Army’s operations, and the two-pronged jihadist struggle to take over the province, spearheaded by ISIS and the Pakistani Taliban.
This tug-of-war engulfing Balochistan is an ideal scenario for ISIS, whose Khorasan faction overlapping the Af-Pak region – including the province’s border region – has now been functional for over three years.
The counterclaim against Islamic State’s presence in Pakistan is founded upon one argument that claims that the group’s core body is not in the region. According to this argument, the attacks claimed by the outfit are conducted by local militants who exaggerate their affiliation with the Islamic State, which duly fans these assertions in a bid to self-aggrandize its global reach.
Ironically, it is this very counterargument that makes ISIS an unprecedented jihadist threat. It provides the umbrella for small jihadist groups or individuals, who often may not be operationally accessible to the group’s core, to launch attacks in its name, embracing the Islamic State’s agenda of establishing a global caliphate.
This is how the Islamic State’s spread in Pakistan has been aided by the “global wings” of local sectarian outfits like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and the Taliban factions that have disintegrated from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Among these is the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which like many other Taliban subgroups has gravitated toward ISIS, seeking a global jihadist umbrella.
This is precisely why attacks attributable to the Islamic State of Khorasan doubled last year. Even though most of them were orchestrated on the other side of the Durand Line, a security report by the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) says footprint of ISIS in Balochistan and northern Sindh is increasing, where it “killed 153 in 6 deadliest attacks” last year.
With ISIS attacks rising, especially in Balochistan, the Pakistani state and its security establishment would be best advised to launch a counterterror operation designed specially to counter the ISIS narrative, which remains the group’s greatest arsenal in its successful wooing of religiously motivated militants.
This week’s Quetta attack is a gory reminder of Islamic State’s presence in Pakistan – and its continued war on non-Muslims and minority sects within Islam.

OP-ED Hazara killings and flawed security policies

Ailia Zehra
Violence against religious minorities such as the Hazara-Shias will not stop if extremist groups and banned terror outfits continue to be given space by the state.

In yet another targeted attack on the Shia-Hazara community of Quetta last Sunday, a man lost his life while another received injuries when gunmen opened fire at their vehicle. Targeted attacks of same pattern against the community in the provincial capital have continued unabated for the past many years, and the attackers seem to enjoy impunity because Hazara-Shias remain a soft target. After Sunday’s attack, members of the community have staged a sit-in against consistent targeted killing in the provincial capital which has entered its eighth day at the time of writing these lines. According to a report, taxi drivers are also among the protesters because taxies carrying Hazara passengers are under attack every now and then.
Once again, mainstream media has turned a blind eye to the community’s grievances. There has been a complete media blackout of the Quetta protest, which is unsurprising given that religious and ethnic minorities have always been ignored by the mainstream media.
The case of Hazara-Shias of Quetta is particularly disturbing for they have been on the receiving end of violence and state’s indifference for far too long. Because of the never-ending wave of violence, members of the community have no choice but to confine themselves within a small area which has largely isolated them from the rest of the city. This is despite the civil and military leadership’s claims about improvement in security situation of the country. Even with the heavy deployment of Frontier Constabulary (FC) in and around Quetta and the presence of countless check posts, the ill-fate Hazara-Shia community of the city continue to live under threat.
The sit-in continues in Quetta, as does the apathy of the rulers. This is not the first time members of the community have had to take to streets to demand something as basic as the right to live. In 2013 when mass bombings by anti-Shia militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were a routine in the province, the families of victims had staged a sit-in following a large scale attack along with bodies of their loved ones. The protest that continued for four days in Quetta in sub-zero temperature prompted activists and concerned citizens to stage similar sit-ins in other cities to express solidarity with the protesters in Quetta. Countrywide protests against what was described as genocide of the Shia community began, and mainstream media which was initially unmoved finally gave coverage to the protests. Two such protests were held by the heirs of victims in the city within two years against violence and inaction of the state. After the first sit-in that was held following the bombing in a snooker club in Quetta in 2013, governor rule was imposed in the city and the then chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani’s government was dismissed. The families buried the dead four days after the attack. Promises of cracking down on the militants were made but they remain unfulfilled and the violence continued unabated. A year later, there was change of government in both centre and the province after the 2013 general elections, but the woes of the community could not be brought to an end. Another large scale attack targeting the community took place in January 2014 and the Hazaras were on the streets once again with dead bodies of the victims. Although large-scale attacks targeting the Hazaras saw a decline after the military operations against terror, targeted killing of the community never completely ended. And this raises serious questions about the government’s claims that the terrorists have been defeated.
The sit-in by the Hazara-Shia community continues in Quetta, as does the apathy of the rulers. This is not the first time members of the community have had to take to streets to demand something as basic as the right to live
Also problematic is the way media chooses to report such attacks. Most news reports about persecution of the Hazara-Shia community of Quetta imply that it is an ethnic issue, which is not true. Most analysts and observers either deliberately or ignorantly hide the fact that attacks on the Hazara community of Quetta are triggered by sectarianism and not ethnicity. The LeJ that claims responsibility for almost all attacks on the community vows to ‘purge Pakistan of Shias’. Hazara-Shias are more vulnerable because of their identifiable physical features. Furthermore, it is important to note that violence against the Shia community has been going on in other provinces as well. Targeted killing of the Shia community in Karachi and the recent cases of mysterious disappearances of Shia citizens in the city are further proof that it is all part of a systematic violence against the sectarian minority. Therefore, those deliberately trying to portray the attacks in Quetta as an ethnic issue are guilty of intellectual dishonesty and need to be called out.
That faith-based killings and sectarian attacks are still taking place indicates the strategy against terrorism is marred by loopholes. Just because the ongoing attacks are smaller in extent and are only targeting religious minorities, the authorities concerned appear to be turning a blind eye to them. These attacks will not end completely if the policy of giving space to extremist groups, which are the ideological allies of the perpetrators, remains in place. Apart from improving the security situation and intelligence sharing to avoid targeted attacks in Quetta, a shift in policy on state level is also needed. Banned terror outfits like Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), which is the sister organisation of the LeJ, continues its activities with impunity. There have been instances where Rangers personnel in Karachi were seen accompanying the ASWJ leaders. Electoral alliances and other links of a number of mainstream politicians with banned outfits are also a cause of concern. It should be stated in clear terms that the violence against religious minorities will not stop if extremist groups and banned terror outfits continue to be given space by the state.

#Pakistan - 509 Hazaras killed in terror-related incidents during last five years in Quetta: NCHR report

A report released by National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) on Monday stated that 509 members of Hazara community were killed and 627 injured in various incidents of terrorism in Quetta during the last five years.
The NCHR report titled "Understanding the Agonies of Ethnic Hazaraz" lists the incidents of attacks on Hazara community from January 2012 to Dec 2017, based on the data shared by the Balochistan home department.
Narrating heartbreaking details about the plight of Hazara community, NCHR official Fazeela Alyani said, "All these precious lives were lost only in Quetta city."
However, the regional head of Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) places the figure much higher than what was being quoted by NCHR.
"More than 200 Hazaras were killed only in two suicide attacks in this period," Bostan Ali Kishmand said.
Targeted killings, suicide attacks, and bomb blasts have inflicted harm to daily life, education, and business activities of ethnic Hazara community members in Quetta, read the NCHR report.
“Fear and intimidation forced them [Hazaras] to migrate to foreign countries,” Fazeela Alyani said.
The report, however, mentions that 19 platoons of Frontier Corps were deployed at Marri Abad and Hazara Town for the protection of Hazara community.
Moreover, law enforcement officials continue to provide security to thousands of Shia pilgrims travelling from Quetta to Taftan in the aftermath of repeated acts of terrorism, read the NCHR report.
"There has been no issue of Balochs or Pashtuns with Hazaras in Balochistan," the commission quoted Senator Kabir Muhammad Shahi of National Party as saying in its report.
Similarly, the commission also quoted Senator Usman Kakar of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), who said, "We [as Pashtuns] have always helped the Hazara community and would do so in future as well."
The commission also sought the opinion of media with regard to targeted killings of Hazaras. The respondents from Hazara community said that international media is more supportive rather than national media, the report said.
The report highlights the plight of students from Hazara community and their troubles in getting education.
"Target killings forced Hazara students to abandon their education," Alyani said. She said law and order situation severely affected the education of youth.

#Balochistan: #Pakistani security forces abducted seven people in past two days

Pakistani forces have abducted two people from Jattani area of Dasht in Turbat district Kech Balochistan Monday, March 9
The victims have been named as Fida son of Dost Mohammad and Murad Jan son of Mahmood.
In another incident, Pakistani forces have raided a house in Dilsar area of Dasht in Tubart and abducted Sanni son Barkat. He is a resident of Dilsar.
On Sunday, March 8, 2018, Pakistani security forces abducted Karman son of Noor Bakhsh resident of Menaz in Buleda area of district Kech Balochistan.
The Pakistani forces also harassed women and children during this offensive.
On April 7, 2018, Pakistani forces have opened firing on three Baloch youth, as a result, one of them has been wounded in district Kech Balochistan.
According to details, Pakistan FC and other security forces abducted Hassan son of Dur Mohammad, Kambar son of Murad and Majeed son of Saleem residents of Singabad in Tajaban area of District Kech Balochistan.
It is pertinent to mention that Hassan son of Dur Mohammad has been arrested in injured condition and all the three men belong to the same family.
Among the victims, Hassan and Kambar had returned from Dubai a few days ago.