Monday, February 17, 2020

#WeStandWithGulBukhari - The ISI wing of Pakistan embassy in UK is sniffing for my home address: Gul Bukhari


When the Imran Khan govt realised it may not be able to get me extradited to Pakistan, it wrote directly to the UK govt, hoping for action against me here.

Iam at a loss. I can’t understand what is it about me that fascinates the Pakistani government or makes it obsess over me so much. I left Pakistan in December 2018 and am leading a quiet life in the UK. Yet, the establishment hasn’t stopped hounding me.
Just a few days ago, a friend sent me some screenshots of Pakistani media channel ARY and asked what the case against me was, and what ‘dehshatgardi’ I had done. I was stunned. I asked around if these were fake screenshots. “No, Gul, this is breaking news on ARY right now,” I was told.
According to the news, Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had sent a notice, asking me to appear before it and explain myself. And if I fail to do so, I would be slapped with charges under cyber crime and anti-terror laws, my properties in Pakistan would be seized, and I would be extradited via the Interpol.
I was numb. The organisations for which I draft statements were scrambling to issue statements of protest in solidarity with me. There was condemnation over the ‘notice’ all around, but I still didn’t know what this was all about. Several news organisations contacted me and I told them that I had not received any notice from the FIA or any other organisation. Finally, Dawn published my version. I was still waiting to be contacted, even as the world was being told that I was going to be slapped with terrorism charges. A media trial had begun.
I have obviously not taken any action yet. I can do so only after I have received the actual notice. And I plan to take the FIA to court if it actually issues a notice to me. Twitterati and news analysts not only expressed solidarity with me, but also had a field day laughing at this ludicrous news.
The show wasn’t even over when reporter Murtaza Ali Shah of Geo News and The News International broke the news Saturday that the Imran Khan government had written a four-page letter to the UK government alleging that I was using the British soil to incite violence against Pakistan, spreading hatred, maligning it, and creatingdivisions in the country.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government wants the UK to take action against me under the country’s hate speech and anti-terrorism laws. And the Pakistani establishment, according to journalist Ali Shah, has sent this letter to 10 Downing Street, the Foreign Office, the Home Office, and to the local police.
It was another shock to me. As reported by the journalist, the language used in the letter (which I haven’t seen yet) contained typical fauji terms like “inimical activities”, and seeks an investigation into my “lifestyle”. Having realised it may not be successful in bringing me back to Pakistan via the FIA, the Imran Khan regime wrote directly to the government in the UK, hoping that action will be taken against me here. I am wondering if those in power in Pakistan think the UK government is as big a duffer as they are. Yes, we have Boris Johnson at the helm here but he is not the one and all. Murtaza spat out his Coke laughing while reading the letter.
But the serious concerns are these: they are hounding me; slapping me with made-up charges or trying to get that done by the UK government; the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) wing of the Pakistan embassy in the UK is trying to sniff out my residential address. They are trying anything and everything.
A few months ago, through this publication, ThePrint, I tried to communicate to the Pakistani government about ending this bullying; about talking; about resolving our disagreements. But no one paid heed. The bullying continues. And if they continue on this path, what do they expect me to do? Shower flower petals on them? I will always answer them in the same coin.
I hear they are very angry with me because they think I am one of their own – a general’s daughter and another general’s daughter-in-law. Why this should put me in their category is beyond me. I have never slept with the enemy. I am no Hamid Mir, no Ehsanullah Ehsan, no Colonel Imam. They have done their best to get me to collaborate with them, offered top slots in top media channels – but I have always refused. Even under incarceration. 
I was in their safe house and under their control in 2018 when they asked me if I would toe their line if they put me on prime time TV. I said No. Then they asked me again in the car (when they were taking me back home after my abduction) and also threatened me with my son’s life, “Aitchison jata hai na (he goes to Aitchison, doesn’t he?)”, they said, referring to his school. “Uss ko kuchh ho gaya toh hum se na gila karna (if something happens to him, then don’t complain to us).” I replied, “No, you must be out of your minds.” They literally threatened to kill my son.
My message to them is this: Don’t threaten me. Talk to me. Threats work only on cowards.

#Pakistan - Extremist threat returns to Lal Masjid

Waqar Gillani
Besieged Maulana Abdul Aziz makes yet another move to take over Lal Masjid and propagate his extreme views in the face of administrative resistance.

Islamabad’s Lal Masjid is once again in the limelight after its deposed firebrand khateeb, Maulana Abdul Aziz, made another move to ‘take over’ the premises. He entered the mosque with nearly 200 female students, some three weeks ago amidst weak administrative oversight.
Aziz was deposed by the Musharraf government during the siege of Lal Masjid which lasted from July 3 to July 11, 2007. He left the state-administered mosque following allegations of propagating hate speech and extremism. Since then Aziz has been running a small mosque in G-7, whilst demanding the construction of Jamia Hafsa at its appointed site in H-11 area, Islamabad. In April of last year, the government sealed the site and replaced Aziz as the khateeb.
Recently, the district administration transferred the last Lal Masjid khateeb Amir Siddique – considered a political opponent of Aziz – without immediately appointing a successor. This created an excellent opportunity for Aziz to enter the mosque, lead prayers and give a Friday sermon, for two weeks without the administration having any inkling. After concerned voices were raised, the administration cordoned off the mosque and asked Aziz and his escort of female students to leave. He plainly refused to do so. Negotiations began, and it was reported that a deal was being reached, where by Aziz would be allocated a suitable place for his seminary in return for leaving the mosque peacefully. The deal, Aziz claimed was “vague” and unacceptable.
Lal Masjid saw a severe military operation in 2007 after Aziz and his brother Abdul Rashid Ghazi were seen promoting extremist ideology. Their female vigilantes attempted to forcibly close massage centres in the capital. Lal Masjid vowed to enforce Shariah and a strict model of Islam across Pakistan. Dozens of seminary students, as well as Rashid were killed during the operation. The military also ended up demolishing seminaries adjacent to mosque – Jamia Hafsa (a seminary for women) and Jamia Faridia (a seminary for boys) linked to his hardcore Deobandi ideology. The brothers have publicly supported Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, an organisation declared officially as a terrorist outfit and involved in attacking public places across the country.
The cover photo of a new Facebook page of Lal Masjid, created by Aziz and his students, claims the mosque as “the symbol of struggle against [a] modern day Pharaoh and its authoritarian system”.
“This is our mosque. We have rendered sacrifices for this place. Our companions were martyred here. This place has immense importance for us. Why should we leave this place,” shalwar-kamees clad Aziz tells The News on Sunday, speaking calmly and softly while sitting on the floor of the mosque. He seems quite clear about his mission. “Why do they want to remove me from here? What is my crime? Why can’t I come to this mosque and lead prayers and deliver sermons?” he asks. When asked about allegations of hate speech, he says, “All politicians engage in hate speech against one another on TV talk-shows every evening, but nobody cares. I do not promote hatred, but yes I do speak against the system and call for the enforcement of Shariah. Even then we have never said, yeh jo dehshat gardi hey iss kay peechay wardi hey but political and other parties are chanting these slogans everywhere.” He vowed to deliver Friday sermons in Lal Masjid while he lives. When asked whether this situation could lead to conflict with the state and the administration, he smiles and says that “a conflict has its own benefits, it promotes knowledge and understanding.”
“It has been six-seven years now that we have been pushed to the wall. Why? For how long? They destroyed our homes, seminaries, and mosques. It is our right to fight for our due,” he says, adding, “I want to be back here and I want Jamia Hafsa to be reconstructed here.” Aziz says the success he seeks for his mission is not possible at any place other than Lal Masjid. “Lal Masjid has become the symbol of our mission and ideology. When we say something from here, the whole world listens. You can appreciate the value of this place. The government can tolerate me anywhere in Islamabad, but not this mosque. When I give sermons in a small mosque in G-7, nobody cares but when I speak from here, everyone listens. Musharraf wanted to eliminate us, but by targeting us and causing the Lal Masjid tragedy, has caused our numbers to swell by the thousands”, he believes.
“Lal Masjid has become the symbol of our mission and ideology. When we say something from here, the whole world listens. You can very well realize the value of this place. The government can tolerate me anywhere in Islamabad, but this mosque,” says Aziz.
According to Aziz, an alternative site for the construction of Jamia Hafsa is not a condition he is willing to accept. “First, they allotted space in H-11, we spent a huge amount of money there, and now all of a sudden, the government says that the Supreme Court has cancelled the allotment. How is that possible?” he asks.
On the flipside, the administration has again cordoned off the mosque following Aziz’s refusal to leave the premises. “We will do our best,” a senior police officer told TNS, “at the moment, we are ordered to surround the mosque and not allow people to enter.”
Aziz, belongs to a hardliner Islamic school of thought, who believe in armed jihad and waging war in order to enforce and expand their model of an Islamic Shariah-based system. He justifies the December 2014 attack on the Army Public School Peshawar by TTP, by saying that “every action has a reaction”. He says it was a reaction to state policies and actions against militant groups allying with the United States in the War on Terror. Muhamad Abdullah, the first khateeb of Lal Masjid had openly advocated jihad in the Soviet-Afghan war, during the era of military dictator General Ziaul Haq, who himself was considered quite close to Abdullah who hailed from Rajanpur. Following the assassination of Abdullah in 1998, the administration appointed Aziz as its official khateeb. The mosque, which has been a symbol for jihad and extremist views for many years, now, is considered a symbol of resistance against the military establishment’s policies of disowning militant groups previously nurtured by the state.
“Aziz will continue in his efforts to take his old place. He has previously been doing this as well,” political and security analyst Zahid Hussain observes, adding, “Actually, these elements have always gained space because of political appeasement.” He recalls that after the operation in 2007, when Pakistan Peoples Party came into power its leader Asif Ali Zardari relaxed his policy for Aziz and Lal Masjid on the persuasion of his political ally Fazlur Rehman, who leads the biggest Deobandi political group Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl). He says, Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain also extended support to Aziz and the mosque after the military operation. Aziz also continued to appear on TV talk shows till he tried to justify the APS attack.
“We see continued political appeasement by several political groups, from time to time. Such groups have the open or tacit support of political elements that weaken the writ of the state, these are some of the reasons that religious extremism cannot be ended in Pakistan. “Without a clear approach we will continue to face standoffs like Lal Masjid and issues will continue to erupt and be dealt with temporarily, but not resolved permanently.”

#Pakistan - #Ehsanullahehsan - Terrorist at large

It has been difficult for the government to explain the mysterious escape of the former spokesperson of two major Pakistani militant groups, Ehsanullah Ehsan. It has yet to make a formal comment – despite facing strong criticism for the security lapse.
All one has heard is a brief statement by an unnamed security official to a foreign news agency confirming Ehsan’s escape. This amounts to nothing as the video released by Ehsan is itself a confirmation that he is no longer in the custody of Pakistani authorities. The tough language used by him in the Urdu audio message against Pakistan’s intelligence agencies is also evidence that he is now a free man with no fear of getting re-captured.
It is obvious that Ehsan recorded the message once he had reached a place where he felt safe. Until now, there has been a guessing game about his whereabouts after his escape. Afghanistan was frequently mentioned, as it is where Ehsan spent several years along with other militants after fleeing the major military operations undertaken by Pakistan’s security forces in the FATA, now merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
In his audio statement Ehsan didn’t mention the place where he is now based, though he reluctantly told a journalist when pressed that he had safely reached Turkey. When this was reported in The News International, he initially reacted angrily by criticising the newspaper for reporting something that was off-the-record, but later relented and said it was okay, as whatever Allah has decided will happen. If he is indeed in Turkey, questions arise as to how and with whose help did he and his wife, son and daughter get Turkish visas, took flights to reach there and found a place to stay.
Many are sceptical about Ehsan’s claim that he is in Turkey, though several former Afghan Taliban militants have made their way there in recent years. Among them was Agha Jan Mutassem, the former Afghan Taliban Finance Commission head and now a dissident, who escaped to Turkey after he survived an attempt on his life in Karachi resulting from internal rifts. Mutassem was apparently helped by the Afghan government.
If one were to believe Ehsan, he escaped on January 11 along with his family. He waited until February 6 before issuing his statement about the escape. This gave him enough time to shift to somewhere secure. He has made many enemies and is a wanted man. He has to be wary of both Pakistani intelligence and law-enforcement agencies and his fellow militants, who were angered by his confessional statement telecast on Pakistani TV channels after his surrender on February 5, 2017 in which he narrated how the outlawed terrorist groups, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahraar had developed links with the Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and were getting paid for carrying out acts of terrorism in Pakistan. If he makes good on his promise made in his audio statement to expose the activities of Pakistani intelligence agencies, having seen the working during his custody, Ehsan could even offer his services to a bidder among the anti-Pakistan spy agencies. He was a dangerous man before he surrendered and will continue to pose grave danger after his escape.
If one were to believe Ehsan, he escaped on January 11 along with his family. He waited until February 6 before issuing his statement about the escape. This gave him enough time to shift to somewhere secure.
Ehsan had surrendered to Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency under an agreement terms of which remain unknown. He claimed in his audio statement that the government violated the agreement and kept him in custody for about three years, forcing him to devise a plan to escape. He promised to reveal the details of the agreement and the name of the prominent figure who had guaranteed its implementation. Questions are being asked whether he was allowed to finally walk free under the terms of that agreement.
Ehsan was no ordinary prisoner and, therefore, his escape made headlines. Questions were raised in the country and abroad as to how someone who regularly claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks in Pakistan in the past managed to escape with such apparent ease. He had served as spokesperson for both the TTP and Jamaat-ul-Ahraar for about nine years and proudly claimed attacks that killed scores of innocent people.
Ehsan’s real name is Liaqat Ali. He belongs to the Mohmand tribal district. He was initially the TTP spokesperson, but assumed this role for the Jamaat-ul-Ahraar when the latter broke away under the leadership of Abdul Wali aka Omar Khalid Khorasani. The Jamaat-ul-Ahraar was primarily led by and made up of militants from Mohmand district and Ehsan joined it even though he had a much bigger and important role as the spokesperson for the mainstream TTP.
Some of the attacks that were claimed by Ehsan as the TTP and Jamaat-ul-Ahraar spokesperson included the one on Malala Yousafzai in Swat in October 2012, another one in Gilgit-Baltistan in which nine foreign trekkers were killed, the big one at the Wagha border with India in which more than 50 people were martyred and many others targeting Shias and Christians, etc. However, he had made no claim about the horrendous terrorist assault on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 in which 147 people, including 132 schoolchildren, were martyred. In fact, he condemned the attack on the school and the killing of innocent children. The claim of responsibility was made by the Maulana Fazlullah-led TTP, which by then had become a rival of the Jamaat-ul-Ahraar for which Ehsan was working at the time.
However, this hasn’t stopped parents of many martyred APS children from condemning Ehsan as they continue to believe that he had made the claim of responsibility for this attack. The Shuhada Forum of the aggrieved parents led by a Peshawar lawyer, Fazal Khan, who lost his son in the APS tragedy, staged a protest against the government for failing to stop Ehsan’s escape. They also approached the Peshawar High Court (PHC) with a plea to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the concerned government officials for violating the court’s earlier orders that barred them from releasing Ehsan without an order of the PHC. The case in the court would go nowhere now that Ehsan has gotten away.

Suicide bomber in SW #Pakistan kills 8 at Islamist rally

Local police in Pakistan's Baluchistan province say a powerful suicide bombing has killed eight people and wounded 16 others after hitting an Islamist rally in the regional capital.

 A powerful suicide bombing killed eight people and wounded 16 others in Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province on Monday, local police said, when it struck an Islamist rally in the regional capital.
Police said the blast went off near Quetta's press club, where dozens of supporters for a Sunni militant group had gathered outside. They added that police officers were among those killed.
Hospital officials say some of the wounded persons were listed in critical condition.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. Baluch separatist groups, as well as rival Shiite and Sunni militants, operate in the province and have staged similar attacks before.
City police chief Abur Razza Cheema said dozens of followers of the radical Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat party were rallying to pay tribute to Islam’s first caliph when the bomber blew himself up there.
Footage on social media appeared to show the explosion ripping through the local bazaar, sending people running for shelter.
The bombing destroyed some nearby shops and vehicles, police said.
The impoverished province of Baluchistan has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency by armed groups demanding more autonomy for the region and a greater share in gas and mineral resources there. The government claims it has quelled the insurgency but violence has continued.

بلاول بھٹو زرداری کی نوشہرو فیروز آمد

پی پی پی چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو زرداری کی نوشہرو فیروز آمد، پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کی شہید رکنِ سندھ اسمبلی شہناز انصاری کے لواحقین سے تعزیت کی۔
بلاول بھٹو زرداری پارٹی کی شہید رکنِ سندھ اسمبلی شہناز انصاری کے لواحقین سے تعزیت کے لیے نوشہرو فیروز آئے، انہوں نے مرحومہ کے ایصالِ ثواب کے لیے فاتحہ خوانی بھی کی۔
اس موقع پر بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے کہا کہ اس مشکل گھڑی میں پوری پارٹی آپ کے ساتھ ہے، شہناز انصاری کی پارٹی کے لیے خدمات ہمیشہ یاد رکھی جائیں گی۔
وزیراعلیٰ سندھ مراد علی شاہ، ضیاء الحسن النجار، ذوالفقار بیہن، فیروز جمالی اور دیگر رہنما بھی پارٹی چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو زرداری کے ہمراہ تھے۔