Saturday, November 2, 2019
Naseem Nawab, a nurse, told Aid to the Church in Need about a beating she received this summer at the hands of two Muslim colleagues at the hospital.
Naseem Nawab is a Pakistani Catholic nurse who has worked at a hospital in Karachi since 2008. She told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) about a beating she received this summer at the hands of two Muslim colleagues at the hospital. It is an example of a consistent pattern of discrimination and persecution suffered by Pakistani Christians:
On August 3  I went downstairs at the end of my shift and found Ambreen and Alia, fellow staff members, waiting for me. They immediately began to beat me. They threw me on the floor, kicked at my back, and pulled my hair. They only stopped because another nurse on duty intervened.
They had come after me because I had objected to the treatment of a second-year nursing student, a Christian girl named Mishal. When I told them not to bully her, they asked why I was interfering with someone in their ward. They told me she was their responsibility.
More than a month later, they have not admitted that this was the cause of my beating—nor have they been disciplined by hospital management despite the fact that I lodged a formal complaint, nor has the police done anything.
I love Pakistan. My family is here, and I have a good, respectable job. But for Christians, it is not safe. Reports of discrimination and forced conversion have only increased, and I fear being punished for my faith. I fear that my children are in danger. I always tell them: do not go anywhere alone.
We cannot worship freely. The path to St. Jude’s, our local church, is lined with people who taunt us, even follow us. And private worship, too, is nearly impossible: to save money, we live at the hospital, where our prayers are considered a disturbance, and there was once an attempted rape at the hospital, involving an assault of Muslim young men on a Christian woman. We must be cautious.
But despite this, I know that God is on my side, and I am comforted by His presence. I have the Bible on my phone, and I read it when I am afraid, especially Psalms 23 and 121. And I pray constantly.
I pray for peace in Pakistan and that the West will protect us from the ongoing violation of human rights. I pray that those in power will use their resources wisely. I pray that my children will lead long, full lives.”
Pakistan -sponsored terrorists target migrants, minorities to show that normalcy in Kashmir is far away
With the numbers of terrorists down but some quantum of successful infiltration, as admitted by the JKP, the terrorists have had some time to reorganize, recalibrate and reselect their targets. The targeting of non-Kashmiris by terrorists in South Kashmir and the killing of 11 persons in less than two weeks could seem puzzling to observers. However, this is nothing new. It just revisits a tactical method that terror groups, under the guidance of Pakistan’s ISI, employ to remain relevant and promote Pakistan’s interests. It has happened many times in the past too. So, the question should be: Why should it be allowed to happen today? In the late Nineties, while I coordinated operations in South Kashmir from Avantipur’s Rashtriya Rifles headquarters, we were suddenly hit by a spate of two kinds of incidents — minority killings and targeting of non-Kashmiri labour. The two prominent minorities in Kashmir — Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs — live in pockets of both urban and rural areas. The urban areas are relatively safe, it’s the rural pockets that pose a challenge. While there may have been an exodus of Kashmiri Hindus in1990 under a focused Pakistani strategy, some of them did stay back, and the Sikhs hardly migrated. Both communities became the target of attacks by Pakistani terror groups from time to time. Who can forget the Nandimarg (2003) and Wandhama (1998) killings of Kashmiri Pandits and the Chittisinghpura massacre of the Sikhs in 2000. Since the latter occurred just as the-then US President Bill Clinton was to address India’s Parliament, the motive behind the attack was obvious. In 1999, just as the army was redeploying troops from Kashmir to Kargil to meet the sudden occupation of winter-vacated areas, labour from Bihar working at brick kilns and in the construction industry were targeted with mass killing, leading to their exodus. A careful analysis of the trends at that time led to the conclusion that the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had decided to execute a high-profile attack against soft targets in certain areas to announce its arrival and demonstrate its domination of the terror scene. It was almost akin to an unfurling of the LeT flag in areas of its choosing and became a signature method. Migrant non-Kashmiri labour in those days, too, were accommodated in small camps but the security for them was always insufficient. Security could have been strengthened by recognising that there was a major threat to them and gathering them into camps which were well protected and organising their secure movement to orchards or construction sites. Yet, the nature of the terror threat at that time — with more terrorists and lesser number of troops on the ground — prevented any such counter measures. The J&K Police (JKP) on its own could not provide the necessary security. Minority killings and targeting of non-Kashmiri labour tapered off in the early part of the first decade of the millennium and did not come to the fore despite the obvious soft nature of targets available. I, however, continued to harbour fears that the tactic would be used again when the levels of frustration of the Pakistani terror groups or the more radical of the Kashmiri terror elements would cross limits. The recent targeting of non-Kashmiri labour and others such as truck drivers took place just when the curbs on postpaid mobile telephony were lifted. There really is no connection between the two occurrences in this case, as some are attempting to deduce. What Pakistan, through its proxies, wants to try and propagate is the idea that return of normalcy in Kashmir is yet very far away and that the security space is in their hands even with a limited number of terrorists. It wants to send the broad signal that the abrogation of the special constitutional provisions for J&K is meaningless and changes nothing. With the numbers of terrorists down but some quantum of successful infiltration, as admitted by the JKP, the terrorists have had some time to reorganise, recalibrate and reselect their targets. Intelligence during the last three months has been of a lower order with a not-so-free movement of sources and non-availability of mobile communication. What we are witnessing in South Kashmir is a manifestation of this. The focus of the security establishment would unmistakably have shifted towards the prevention of street agitation and mass protests. This was the correct response, as it responded to what was the bigger threat from 2008 onwards. Thereafter, the focus has been on counter infiltration — not that the army and police cannot perform multiple tasks and they have done so creditably in the past. However, such situations do result in a shift of priorities and balancing them is a challenge. Much of this happened in 1999-2000 when the counter terror space was severely challenged after the shift of the army’s focus to Kargil. Countering an aggressive terrorist phase involving so called “fidayeen” suicide attacks on government and other security targets proved more than challenging. The security establishment bounced back very quickly to neutralise 2,100 terrorists in 2001, the highest number ever. I have no doubt that with a little recalibration, the same will happen this time too. However, what has to be realised is that this takes away the larger focus from the more important factor of comprehensively neutralising the general ecosystem which enables the Pakistan-sponsored proxies and separatists to challenge the Indian nation’s will. The “tactical pause”, so to say, must not allow for a return to the situation at the end of 2016 when the army and the police jointly launched Operation All Out. The latter was a very successful operation but we must not be drawn once again into the game of just neutralising terrorists. What the government had correctly done was to pay equal attention to dismantling financial networks and high-profile over-ground worker’s networks. That is still a work in progress as it cannot be an overnight affair. Any slippage in this is bound to embolden the Pakistani sponsors and give a boost to their capability. India goes beyond just neutralising terrorists. It’s the elusive “terrorism”, which we have rarely targeted, that should be the priority. By giving leeway on potential minority and current non-Kashmiri targeting, we may hand the initiative back to the other side. The security establishment should heed the warning that not only migrant non-Kashmiri labour but also minority elements in Kashmir are currently vulnerable. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/kashmir-valley-labourers-killing-pakistan-isi-let-6096872/
Accidents are part of life, but definitely not as frequent as registered by Pakistan Railways. And some of these, like the one Rawalpindi-bound Tezgam met with on Thursday, leaves a deep scar on memory. Seventy four passengers were roasted alive and 41 injured as a non-stationary train caught fire near Rahimyar Khan. Almost cinematically, the red-hot flames leapt out of three bogies packed with passengers as the train kept moving. It took its driver four minutes to stop it, and while it was running some of the panicked passengers jumped out of the burning coaches. Some of them didn't survive, while some suffered multiple fractures. Most of the passengers were on way to Raiwind, near Lahore, to participate in an annual Tableeghi Ijtema. Given absence of record to show who the deceased were only DNA tests would now verify their identities. There are two versions as an answer to a question what actually caused fire- one given by Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed and the other by independent witnesses. According to the minister, it was a blast caused by a gas cylinder, insisting the concerned railways staff did object to its presence, but nobody cared. The private witnesses insist the fire erupted from short-circuiting of air-conditioning system in the Business Class which engulfed the bogies that followed it. But the minister had no answer to the widely-help perception that the filled gas cylinders were not checked because the scanners at Karachi and Hyderabad stations were/are out of order. Let that be so, but how come the body-search conducted at the entry points did not detect something as big as a gas cylinder. Insofar as the question who should inquire into what led to the train inferno is concerned, there too are two answers or positions – while the government would like this to be done by the Railways Ministry the others have demanded a judicial investigation. Nowhere in the world are the railways free from train-to-train collisions, derailments and fire incidents. Pakistan Railways too had it, but their incidence as recurrent as since Sheikh Rasheed took over as its minister is simply mindboggling. In the 14 months of his stewardship there were no less 80 train accidents that took scores of lives. Only last July 11, a passenger train ran into a stationary freight train near Sadiqabad, causing deaths of 21 passengers. The minster blamed the local staff, refusing to accept the fact that the existing signaling system was no more functional and should have been changed. And, invariably, the minister has been blaming others for these accidents while independent sources describe the rising incidence of accidents as profound deficiency of the railways department. But, on second thought, the minister admitted that ban on filled gas cylinders was relaxed to appease the Tableeghi Jamaat members! To fit in the ‘Naya Pakistan', he introduced a number of new trains, which were not needed at all. No wonder then quite a few of them are no longer running because the Pakistan railways as it exists on the ground is not good enough to deliver on that demand. The government has no plausible answer to question why have more trains when the system is not capable of handling even the normal load. Although Sheikh Rasheed has announced that “as far as the matter about my resignation is concerned, I will talk about it on Sunday," he must resign without any further loss of time. Enough is enough. https://www.brecorder.com/2019/11/02/540477/deadly-train-inferno/
Speaking on the matter both inside and outside the assembly hall, MPAs belonging to the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) asked the federal government to conduct an impartial inquiry and provide relief to the victims’ families.
“Around 40 people who were burnt to death or have gone missing in the wake of this incident belong to Sindh,” said PPP MPA Zulfiqar Shah, raising the issue on a point of order. He lashed out at the Punjab government and railways authorities for shifting the bodies in trucks, rather than sending them in ambulances. “Every other day, PTI MPAs talk against the Sindh government’s policies,” said Shah. “We are far better than Punjab when it comes to the health sector. We never ever transport victims in trucks as they have done with the people of Sindh,” he remarked.
Referring to the opposition leader, Firdous Shamim Naqvi and PTI’s parliamentary leader Haleem Adil Shaikh’s condolence visit to Mirpurkhas, Shah said, “People have welcomed them with rotten eggs and tomatoes. This all happened when they started defending the railways minister.”
Incensed by his remarks, PTI MPAs stood up from their seats and started to protest. Meanwhile, Shah, who also belongs to the Mirpurkhas division, demanded the Sindh government to announce compensation for the victims.
Earlier, PPP’s Heer Ismail Sohu also took exception to the negligence of the railways authorities and the Punjab government for transporting the bodies in a truck. “A video has gone viral that shows government officials transporting the bodies on a truck. We have a tradition in Pakistan to respect the dead. It looks like they were loading the truck with onions and potatoes,” she said while demanding an impartial inquiry to punish those who showed a lack of respect in this case. “This was the 70th incident since the PTI government has come into power,” said Sohu. “This will continue until Sheikh Rashid holds the portfolio of the department,” she added.
GDA’s Nand Kumar Goklani and Mohammad Hussain of the MQM-P also spoke on the issue. “We should not rule out a conspiracy hatched by anti-state elements,” said Goklani. The members also offered Fateha for the victims and observed a minute’s silence in their memory.
The Sindh Assembly introduced three different laws, including the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill 2019, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Sindh Charities Registration and Regulation Bill, 2019, on Friday. All the bills were referred to the standing committees for feedback.
In the motor vehicle law, an amendment has been proposed to grant driving licences to hearing-impaired persons. “Applicants with hearing impairment, having up to 40 decibels (a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound) loss, shall wear hearing aids and in case the hearing loss exceeds the decibels, the applicant shall use sensitive technology devices,” the law states.
Adjournment motion on absconders
The Sindh Assembly rejected PTI MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman’s adjournment motion to discuss a large number of absconders living in Sindh. “There are around 57,000 absconders in Sindh. I want to know what efforts are being taken by the PPP government for their arrest,” he said.
The deputy speaker asked Zaman to convince the house on whether his adjournment motion was in line with the rules or not. Zaman tried to do so, but the Sindh government opposed the motion, paving the way for the deputy speaker to dismiss it.Earlier, as the session started with speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in the chair, the minister for parliamentary affairs, Mukesh Kumar Chawla, responded to questions related to the information technology (IT) department.
PTI MPA Saeed Afridi also tabled a resolution against the “Azadi March” organised by JUI-F leader Fazul Rehman. “We are in a war-like situation following the Indian government’s efforts to occupied Kashmir Valley. This march is against parliamentary democracy and it seems to be a conspiracy against Pakistan,” states the resolution, which could not be taken up in the house. Later, the speaker adjourned the session till Monday.
Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman can snub Imran Khan and court Narendra Modi, but he won't sideline his military ties with the Pakistan armed forces.
Only a good business partner
Saudi Arabia not the inspiration
Calling Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan a "puppet", Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addressed a large crowd at the main camp of anti-government march and said that they will not bow down to any 'dictator'.
"We are not ready to bow before any selector or dictator... The hub of power is people and not the state", Bilawal said in front of the charged-up crowd waving flags of the various opposition party on Friday.
He also asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to step down and said, "All opposition parties have gathered at one platform to give a clear message to Prime Minister Khan that the time had come for him to step down".
The march, spearheaded by Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the chief of the right-wing Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), kickstarted from Karachi's Sohrab Goth area on October 27 amidst a massive show of strength by the party workers from other opposition parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People's Party (PPP), and Awami National Party (ANP), Dawn reported.
The anti-government 'Azadi March' caravans reached its final destination at Peshawar Morr in the wee hours on Friday. Opposition parties participating in the massive protest are scheduled to hold a rally after Friday prayers.JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman welcomed participants to the Azadi March.
He also thanked Awami National Party president Asfandyar Khan Wali, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PPP, PML-N and ANP workers as well all other parties` workers.
Informed sources told The Dawn that PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif is expected to join Rahman in his Azadi March rally in Islamabad. The PML-N leader is scheduled to depart for Islamabad from Lahore and is expected to address the gathering in the capital.
The anti-government protest is likely to be one of the biggest in the country, surpassing the numbers of the 2014 'dharna' held against the then Pakistani government led by Nawaz Sharif.
The purported aim of the march is to oust Imran Khan, who has been at the helm for just over a year.
#AzadiMarch_UpDates - Pakistan protests: Imran Khan crisis as angry crowds flood streets promising to bring chao
TENS of thousands of Pakistani opposition supporters rallied on Friday to demand the end of what they insist is the illegitimate government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, warning they will spark chaos if the demands are not met.The protest, in the capital Islamabad, is the first concerted opposition challenge that cricket star-turned-politician Khan has faced since he won a general election last year promising to end corruption and create jobs for the poor. The leader of one of Pakistan's largest religious parties, Fazl-ur-Rehman, is spearheading the protest with the support of both main opposition parties. It comes as Khan's government is struggling with the economy. The opposition says the government is illegitimate and is being propped up by the military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half of its history and sets security and foreign policy. The military denies meddling in politics. Khan has dismissed the opposition calls to step down and the government has warned it will not tolerate chaos on the streets. "There is an undeclared martial law here," said protester Habib ur Rehman, 35, a supporter of Fazl-ur-Rehman's conservative Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl party. The veteran politician can mobilise support in numerous religious schools and has warned of chaos across the country if the government does not step down. He was due to address the rally after Friday prayers. Security is tight in Islamabad with the government and diplomatic sector - just a few miles from the rally site - sealed off, roads blocked by barriers of shipping containers. Schools are closed, public transport suspended and internet services interrupted in some areas, a service provider said. The army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, urged Khan to handle the protest peacefully and avoid violence by both sides, a military spokesman said.
Khan won the election on promises of breaking Pakistan away from its legacy of corruption and on plans to pull 100 million people out of poverty.But an economy in crisis forced his government, like many of its predecessors, to turn to the International Monetary Fund. Pakistan got a $6 billion bailout in July. The government is trying to correct an unsustainable current account deficit and cut debt while trying to expand the tax base in the country of 208 million people, in which only one per cent of people file returns. Inflation is squeezing household budgets and traders this week protested against new tax measures. Protester Rehman said people were struggling to make ends meet, and he blamed Khan. "My family voted for him thinking he's a new person and looked sincere," he said. "But he's failed us."