Monday, January 21, 2019
Veteran US politician Bernie Sanders has severely criticised Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) and called for the international community to hold him accountable for his crimes.
Sanders – a former nominee for the US presidential elections – also criticised US President Donald Trump for supporting Bin Salman and describing him as a “reformer”. He also called for the US and the international community to hold the “despotic” Saudi regime accountable for its crimes.
In a tweet, Sanders wrote: “Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has been hailed as a progressive reformer. But his track record of imprisoning, torturing and murdering activists begs to differ. It’s time that the US and the international community hold this despotic regime accountable.”
Sanders also spoke about the Yemeni crisis resulting from attacks by the Saudi-led coalition, labelling it the “worst human crisis in the world”.
In a historic move in December, senators supported a motion tabled by Sanders which called for an end to US military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war.
The motion pointed out that the UN described the conflict, during which tens of thousands of people have been killed, as a dire humanitarian crisis which has left the country on the brink of famine.
The ‘Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan’ was prepared by two Chinese companies, China Communication Construction Company Limited and Fourth Harbor Engineering Investigation, at a cost of Rs521 million.
The companies started work on the project in 2017. It was completed in December 2018 and sent to the federal government for approval.
However, according to sources, the government has not yet taken any step so far for the approval of the plan, which is pending with the steering committee of the Planning and Development department for further decision.
The governing body of the Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) had already given approval of the plan for implementation.
“Chinese companies have expressed their reservation and displeasure over the delay in approving the plan by steering committee of the planning and development department. They have warned that in case of increase in the cost of the plan, the government of Pakistan will be bound to pay the extra cost,” a senior official privy to the developments said on condition of anonymity.
According to the official, any further delay in approval of the plan implementation would also have an adverse impact on several development projects of GDA.
By TAHA SIDDIQUI
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Judicial support for army
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The silver lining
#Justice4SahiwalVictims - #Pakistan - #ANP demands exemplary punishment for culprits involved in Sahiwal incident
(ANP) Mian Iftikhar Hussain expressing deep regret and over the Sahiwal tragedy Monday demanded of the government to make the responsible elements an example for others so that no other could dare to resort to such inhuman act in future.
#Justice4SahiwalVictims - #Pakistan - The prime minister should ask for forgiveness over the Sahiwal incident: Khursheed Shah
Speaking to the media in Sukkur, he also said Prime Minister Imran Khan should ask the nation for forgiveness.
He lamented that provincial and federal ministers were making unfortunate statements on the incident in which four people were killed by the CTD. The CTD initially claimed they were kidnappers, later changing its statement to say they were terrorists.
In its latest statement, the department has said one of the two men killed was a terrorist, while the other three were used to cover his terrorist activities.
Shah said all the ministers who called the deceased terrorists should submit their resignations to the prime minister.
The Counter Terrorism Department’s (CTD) supposed intelligence-based operation in Sahiwal has proved, once again, that no matter how much money and training you can throw at the police department, it will stay one of the most incompetent, corrupt and abusive of power in the country. The exercise, right from the brutal killings to efforts at cover up – there have been at least four different versions of events from the CTD so far – to false accusations of links to terrorism and registration of a fake FIR, bears text book marks of a crime that everybody has seen the police commit time and time again.
And since the new video of the incident that came online Sunday evening clearly showed police officers moving three children out of the car before killing the rest of its occupants, in cold blood, one wonders what purpose the prime minister’s high-profile JIT will now serve. Also, do such investigations really need a JIT and ‘a report to be presented to the PM in three days’? How hard can it be to produce transcripts of official communication backing the department’s claims? And who ordered the killing, especially in such a brutal way?
This is not, of course, the first such incident. Yet there haven’t yet been any examples where culprits in the police department have been duly punished. How can it be that despite all the training CTD officials still do not understand that, even when apprehending real terrorists, it’s just not for them to pronounce who is or is not guilty, and then take people’s lives in targetted killings? Neither the PM’s tweet nor the CM’s Rs20 million will mean anything to anybody, especially the poor innocent children who just saw their parents and sister get cut down on a main road, unless they can deliver swift and severe justice. And while they’re at it, they must also throw out senior CTD officials who clearly tried to help with the immediate cover up. Once that is done, they must finally begin the long process of reforming this anti-terror force that so often kills the innocent and unarmed and spreads terror among its own people.
The euphemism ‘encounter’ has become an unfortunate part of our vocabulary to describe extrajudicial and usually premeditated killings by the police. In a country where the justice system is weak and unreliable and law-enforcement has not proven up to the task of properly investigating criminal cases, the police have taken the law into their own hands on far too many occasions. ‘Encounters’ became a common method of dealing with political violence in Lahore and Karachi in the 1990s and – with the ‘war on terror’ – are now justified by describing the victims as terrorists. In a better world, and a lawful state, the massacre in Sahiwal on Saturday should never have happened – and it should definitely not be something anyone should be able to get away with. As per most reports, officers of the Counter-Terrorism Department shot dead four people, including a father, mother and their teenaged daughter – while their three other small children were present there and have survived – in what the authorities have described as an intelligence-based operation and a shootout with terrorists. However, it didn’t take long for this official version to be disputed. Eyewitnesses have claimed that the CTD officials killed the family in cold blood and that no weapons were recovered from the vehicle of the victims, suggesting that rather than being a shootout all the fire was directed only in one direction.
The CTD has released an official statement, claiming once again that they had legitimate intelligence that the man driving the car was a Daesh-affiliated terrorist and that he fired the first shot. In the meanwhile, the officers who took part in the ‘encounter’ have been arrested and an FIR has been filed. While Prime Minister Imran Khan has promised swift action, let us also urge that, if any confidence is to be left in law-enforcement, the investigation needs to be transparent and justice must be done. The JIT set up by the IGP Punjab will hopefully uncover the facts. We need to know them all, but while this process continues, we must remember that the first duty of police is to protect life. If there was any terrorist involvement in all that happened, it is the tires of the car that should have been shot out. Surely the CTD has training in this?
In this particular case, the fact that children were involved has helped bring the conduct of law enforcement under scrutiny as well as given it media attention. That clips of the ‘encounter’ went viral also helped galvanise public opinion. But this horrific incident is likely not the only one of its kind. The fact is that our law-enforcement has managed to get away with little regard for the human life and has not been investigated for that because the victims are less likely to get much sympathy. Even when there is no proof that those killed were guilty of a crime, simply invoking the word ‘terrorist’ is usually enough to forestall any criticism.
We need to keep in mind that the only time it is appropriate for law enforcement to use lethal force is when suspects prove an imminent danger. Extrajudicial killings cannot become just another tool in our counterterrorism arsenal because this erodes trust in rule of law and gives the state an unlimited licence to kill. The state also needs to ensure that justice is done – no matter what. As we have seen in the protracted saga of Rao Anwar, even when multiple investigations have shown that a person was killed without any justification, justice can be hard to come by. In the case of the Sahiwal killings, it is important – after an impartial investigation and if wrongdoing is established – to punish not only those officers present at the scene but for those higher up the chain of command to be held accountable as well. Extrajudicial killings have become unwritten official policy and the only way to eliminate them is by showing that any disregard for due diligence and due process comes with real consequences. The tragedy which killed one child and wounded her three siblings will not be forgotten easily by the people, including relatives of the family who have staged angry protests. We should not forget it either.
On Saturday, January 19, 2019, officials of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab Police shot and killed a couple and their teenage daughter in Sahiwal, reportedly acting upon intelligence that claimed the family was accompanied by a 'terrorist' — the family’s neighbour, Zeeshan.
Eye-witnesses of this incident include the three surviving children of Khalil and Nabeela. All victims were unarmed.
The video footage from this incident was widely circulated, resulting in extensive outcry on social media, as well as a lynching attempt on police officials by an angry mob in Lahore.A joint investigation team (JIT) has been formed to probe into the incident and the prime minister, while praising the CTD generally, has assured that ‘swift action will be taken’.The Punjab governor has claimed the victims were ‘at the wrong place, at the wrong time’; the Punjab law minister, meanwhile, has called them ‘collateral damage’.Social media users, including journalists, have demanded the perpetrators ‘be hanged’. Others have faulted the weaknesses in our criminal justice system — an area of particular interest to our new chief justice.
Talk-show analysts have blamed ‘bad intelligence’, a connection that will be difficult to establish and unlikely to result in proceedings against those responsible for its collection and dissemination.Most observers have lashed out at the malpractices of, and abuse by, police officials at large. This sentiment is likely to stick, no matter the outcome of the JIT report.The shooting in Sahiwal comes on the heels of a much-publicised police reforms event in the capital and, more importantly, barely a year after the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud and months after the killings of Intizar Ahmed and Amal Umer in police encounters in Karachi — albeit under very different circumstances.
Additionally, recent estimates by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan suggest that approximately 3,345 people have been killed in police encounters in the country between 2014 and 2018, including 12 minors.
The Sahiwal shooting is disturbing on multiple levels and, indeed, speaks volumes about police practices and culture in Pakistan and beyond.
Such incidents cannot be justified or rationalised or explained away in any straightforward manner. They are tragic outcomes of processes and institutional cultures that, similarly, cannot be simplified nor understood in isolation of the socio-political contexts in which they evolve and develop.
In this regard, it is important to have a discussion on police culture, of which one aspect is police use of force. It is pertinent to remind the reader that the police, in fact, do much more than use force. Nevertheless, given the incident in question, it is central to this discussion.
A trigger-happy police force is a symptom of militarism institutionalised within state mechanisms and apparatus.
This symptom has been visible not just in Pakistan, but also in the United States where debates surrounding the militarisation of policing (a characteristic of which is trigger-happy police behaviour) have been most prominent and their manifestations often violent, resulting in direct confrontations between police and civilians.In Pakistan, such militarisation has been exacerbated by the construction of 'terrorism' and 'terrorists' both pre- and post-9/11 that has implications for how the state directs and controls the policing of its citizens.In other words, a state’s threat perception — particularly one constructed based on domestic security threats — has a direct correlation with how civilian police officials will interact with and view civilians.
This is, quite briefly, the political context within which policing in Pakistan may be understood.
That said, let us not forget that police culture is also as much a product of state policies as it is of the social and cultural conditioning of police officials and the society in which these officials find themselves. It is, after all, our own society that chooses to accept certain police killings as ‘good riddance’ — like Malik Ishaq’s.
In other words, police culture is also a product of our society's depreciating levels of tolerance and our own fascination with and glorification of vigilante justice, ‘encounter cops’, capital punishment (‘hang them all’), capture and kill (‘pakro aur maaro’), all generations of warfare, boots and bombs, even hypermasculinity.It is no surprise that, through socialisation and professional grooming, such a prevailing ethos is then imbibed by certain police officials and, by extension, absorbed into the institutional culture of our police departments.
Furthermore, from a historical perspective, police culture is also a product of several decades (if not more) of poorly designed policies that have favoured zero-tolerance policing, and that have gradually eroded public trust in civilian officials and compromised the legitimacy of our police departments. This has steadily furthered the gap between the police and the policed in Pakistan.
It hasn’t helped that, over the last 70 years, police departments have remained poorly equipped, their officials too poorly paid and surviving in miserable conditions, to deal with the magnitude and multiplicity of violent conflicts that they have found themselves in, only to be raised repeatedly up to the task of ‘fighting on the front lines’.
What such political, social and historical processes have constructed, then, is a complicated relationship in which the institutions tasked with protecting civilians are as insecure of civilians as the civilians are of the police.
The Sahiwal shooting was perhaps partially a product of this relationship.
Unfortunately, given how violence is embedded not just within policing but also our aggressive reactions and calls for ‘hanging them all’, it is unreasonable to expect that a different sort of police culture can emerge without, at the very least, generational struggles.
The gruesome killings in Sahiwal have once again brought into the public domain the deep-rooted practice of extrajudicial and staged encounters.
Let’s call a spade a spade, and recognise that it has been a widely accepted practice. The country’s leadership as well as the classes with a public voice have been well aware of state agencies resorting to such encounters to deal with criminal and terrorism suspects. A certain cop of Karachi, now deceased, is still celebrated for his mastery in such encounters. Another cop still remains out of reach of the law, a year after his involvement in the extrajudicial killing of four youngsters in Karachi’s Malir area came to surface.
In off the record conversations, the excuse presented by personnel of law enforcement agencies has been that in the presence of a criminal justice system that does not ensure prosecutions leading to convictions, staged encounters have been an effective tool for ‘elimination of criminal and anti-state elements’. That innocent citizens may also get hurt in the process simply doesn’t register with them. They somehow manage to write off the lives of these citizens as collateral damage without batting an eyelid. Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat did that while addressing the press on Sunday.
The Punjab government has formed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe Sahiwal killings. How can the leadership, which claims to be working towards a Naya Pakistan, expects the public to trust the proceedings of a JIT manned by personnel of state agencies that have for long been privy to the prevalence of such practices?
At the moment, the least that should be done to ensure impartiality in investigation is to make the JIT report its proceedings to a parliamentary committee comprising lawmakers from both sides of the aisle with a history of speaking up for protection of rights and constitutional supremacy. Thankfully, we have several lawmakers on both sides with such a reputation. Their presence to oversee the JIT is a must to ensure fairness.
The public outcry over the Sahiwal killings has led to the initial attention paid to the matter. It is of crucial importance that the incident not be seen in isolation. It is a continuation of a well-established pattern of policing across the country where our law enforcement institutions lack mechanisms to instil in their personnel respect for citizens’ fundamental rights and legal procedures that ought to be followed in dealing with crime suspects. This is an alarming situation since it implies that the workings of our law enforcers is hardly any different from that of criminal gangs and thugs from whom they are meant to protect us.
We have countless examples from the recent past to corroborate such claims. Thus, action must now be initiated against the practice of extrajudicial and staged killings at a structural level. It is the responsibility of our political leadership to take up this matter. Their lack of will at this juncture where formal requirements of democratic governance have taken root in the country will further delay progress towards a substantial democracy. The risks of such a delay cannot be stressed enough. For many citizens who live on the social and economic margins of Pakistani polity, the state and its laws will further lose their credibility.
Therefore, if an emergency has ever been required in this country, now is the time. But it must be an emergency to end the state of exceptionalism that exists in our law enforcement and criminal justice systems. This emergency must be overseen by elected representatives of the Pakistani people, and the institution of the Parliament. They must work with the judiciary and the executive to fix the rot.