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Posts from — July 2016

Future of Mohajir politics: By Mazhar Abbas in The News, July 29, 2016

As the new chief minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, takes oath, today, never before a strong urban force MQM, rather Mohajirs, faced an uncertain political future.

The party, with whom the Mohajirs remained associated with for the past last 32 years, has been facing serious challenges since its birth in 1984. Unlike in the past, the establishment has practically put an ‘X’ for any negotiations with them unless they fulfill some preconditions as confidence-building measures.

What the establishment really wants from MQM? Sources say it’s minus Altaf, complete overhaul of the party and dissociating with ‘militants’ which they believe also include some senior leaders, making party more open and closing 24/7 service at Nine Zero and Khursheed Memorial Hall, particularly after midnight.

The minus Altaf formula is the toughest for MQM to accept but sources say it is the key for any future relief for the party. If the party does not reconsider or review its position, it may face some more tough measures in the coming months.

All the MQM protest rallies still revolve around ‘Jeaye Altaf’ and, if you can see, the recent walk chalking in urban Sindh ‘Altaf Our Spiritual Father’. The party flags shows ‘Jeaye Altaf’ slogan. So, the MQM has yet to discard its original position – ‘Manzil Nahi Rahnuma’.

The question is: why the MQM considers Altaf Hussain as integral part of its politics and is not ready to give up. “It is our party and only we have the right to decide our future. Altaf is our destiny,” said a hardcore MQM leader on condition of anonymity.

But the MQM’s own leadership for the past three years has also remained concerned about Altaf Hussain’s speeches and remarks against the military establishment, which led to a ban on his live or recorded address on TV, something which caused MQM an irreversible loss.

As a result, the political leadership and governments in Sindh and Centre also distanced themselves from MQM. It would be interesting to see whether Murad Ali Shah visits Nine Zero or not.

So what options the MQM leadership is left with and what alternate its strong Mohajir vote bank has. If the circumstance force MQM to withdraw its nominated candidate for the Karachi mayor, Waseem Akhtar, and also receives a setback in the elections of chairmen and deputy chairmen, it would not be difficult to judge as what has pushed MQM to the wall.

The MQM leadership, particularly of London, has decided to internationalise the human rights violations during the operation, which include custodial deaths, missing MQM activists, thousands of cases and arrest of two former ministers and a mayor candidate.

The most dramatic development is the planned visit of the MQM chief to the United States in October, depending on the outcome of the cases against him in London. Though they still have three months before his visit, it indicates that the MQM’s overseas leadership has decided to use ‘victimisation of Mohajirs’ as an issue after it failed in getting support of mainstream political parties in the country and is not very optimistic about getting any relief from the Sindh government despite the change of chief minister. On the contrary, it fears Syed Murad Ali Shah may take a more hard position and back Rangers operations in Karachi.

The MQM had used this option in 1992 and 1995 as well. But this time round, it may also face counter attack from its dissidents, including Mustafa Kamal and his Pak Sarzameen Party. Even last week, the supporters of the two factions held protest and counter protest.

There appears to be some disconnect between the MQM London and the MQM Pakistan over party’s reform agenda. There are organisational problems as well as internal differences over the counter strategy.

The MQM leaders in Pakistan say they are finding it extremely difficult to motivate workers, secure the jobs of thousands of Mohajirs who may be fired on one account or the other.

Thus, all this made the local government elections most important for them, which they won despite difficulties, and are now in a position to get their mayor elected. However, the Sindh government had curtailed the major powers of the mayor, chairman and deputy chairman, including financial and the authority to dismiss the mayor.

The manner in which seven police officers made their own joint investigation team (JIT) and later claimed Waseem had admitted his role in May 12, 2007 killings generated a sharp reaction from none other than Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah. “How this can be called JIT. The Sindh government must take notice of it. The government constitutes a JIT,” he said.

Without going into details, it was clear that the Malir police took his remand in another case within 24 hours of his arrest, followed by reopening of multiple cases including the one concerning the high-profile May 12 killings, which exposed the real intention behind the move.

Thus, the MQM leadership received a strong message. Even when he was nominated, there were reports that his selection as mayor would not be acceptable to certain quarters because of his tough position on the Karachi targeted operation and certain political matters.

Moreover, the MQM is also facing difficulties in keeping its strength of UC chairmen, deputy chairmen intact.

It also claims that hundreds of its alleged militants are in custody, with thousands of others finding it difficult to stay at home due to raids, and some of its top leaders are abroad for security and safety reasons.

The MQM leadership made some changes in the party setup and abolished their controversial sector and unit in-charges, replacing them with UC in-charges. They also decided not to resist the arrest of those who were allegedly involved in the militant activities in the past.

However, it appears as if the decision has been taken ‘somewhere’, not to give any major relief to the party, and as a result, the MQM Pakistan ran out of options.

But irrespective of the fate of Altaf Hussain-led MQM which has practically been pushed to the wall, the future of Mohajirs in politics also looks quite uncertain.

What options Mohajirs do have now? Reverting to their old parties like Jamaat-e-Islami? But Jamaat looks towards PTI which could not consolidated its position after 2013. Or the Pak Sarzameen Party led by Mustafa Kamal and Anis Qaimkhani?

However, none of these parties have come out with any programme to address the political and economic rights of Mohajirs. Though Mohajirs are also disappointed with MQM, they still vote for MQM and in the name of Altaf Hussain whom they still consider as the one who gave them identity.

But some of the MQM policies are creating vacuum and space. Thus, it’s a race between MQM and other parties before the next general elections. MQM is down, but certainly not out.

The powerful Mohajirs in urban Sindh are watching the recent political developments. The vast majority of any ethnic entity has never before remained associated with a party for three decades. Whether it was the right decision to have the party of their own or they should have remained with some mainstream parties, it will not be easy for them to look for an alternate unless it comes out with a plan to safeguard their rights. Perhaps, they may still support MQM but certainly want a more democratic party with major reforms.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/138569-Future-of-Mohajir-politics

July 29, 2016   No Comments

Trust deficit among state institutions irks SC ISHAQ TANOLI in Dawn, July 29th, 2016

KARACHI: Deploring mistrust between the federal and the provincial authorities in taking effective measures to contain violence in Karachi, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked them to settle the issues amicably.

The attorney general assured the apex court that in order to address the grievance of law enforcement agencies in Sindh regarding geo-fencing and Global Positioning System locators, a high level meeting would be arranged to amicably decide these matters and other ancillary issues between the federal and the provincial governments and agencies.

A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali took up the implementation proceedings of the apex court judgement on the Karachi suo motu law and order case.

The bench issued directives to the provincial authorities for instant provision of funds for installation of high-quality closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in Karachi and to initiate process of fresh recruitment to fill the vacancies in the police department.

At the outset, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf informed the bench that the federal authorities had no objection on provision of facilities of GPS locators to the police as demanded by the provincial police officer at the last hearing. But he opposed another demand of the Sindh police chief seeking access to the facility of geo-fencing and said it was only accessible by the intelligence agencies.

However, he contended that such information was already provided after receiving requests from any province within 24 hours while in important cases it was done within two hours.

Referring to a notification of the interior ministry asking cellular companies to share the required data with police, the bench inquired about the obstacles to implement it and wondered why the police were not being trusted regardless of the fact that all such issues ultimately related to the law and order situation of provincial metropolis.

Interior secretary Arif Ahmed Khan said as per notification the cellular companies were required to provide call data on requests of the DIGs concerned.

When the judges asked which cellular company was not implementing the notification in question, IGP of Sindh A. D. Khawaja replied that during the kidnapping of Barrister Owais Ali Shah, the son of the Sindh High Court chief justice, the call data was provided by a particular cellular company after 14 days.

The bench was informed that there were certain standard operating procedures (SOPs) under which such information could be shared with the police, but no access could be given.

Expressing resentment over what the bench called mistrust among the state institutions and agencies, it noted that it was the prime duty of the government to ensure protection to lives and property of citizens, but who would perform such duty when the state institutions start pointing fingers at each other.

The bench members directed the attorney general, the provincial chief secretary and the Sindh police chief and the chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to sit together and resolve the matter.

The court maintained it was trying to ask for resolving these issues in a positive manner and that the blame game should be stopped and there should be concrete solution between the federal government and the provinces.

The bench adjourned the hearing till Aug 11 since the attorney general sought two weeks and assured it that they would hold consultation with all those concerned to find out a solution to issues between provincial and federal agencies and governments.

Meanwhile, the bench also expressed displeasure over the release of prisoners on parole from different jails of Sindh during recent years, and directed the IG Prisons to submit a list of all those prisoners either released on parole or absconded from jails.

About the negligence of police officers during Barrister Owais Shah’s abduction, chief secretary Mohammed Siddique Memon informed the bench that he had forwarded the cases of 24 senior police officers to the secretary of establishment division for initiating action against them.

The IG Sindh police said that the DIG south had been appointed as inquiry officer to investigate the role of police officials and assured the judges that the report would be filed within one week.

The bench questioned as to why Madadgar 115 was placed under the Special Security Unit, and said that it should be under the command of CCPO of Karachi.

The members of the bench were visibly irked when the provincial chief secretary disclosed that only 17 out of the total 820 CCTV cameras installed in Karachi with a cost of Rs500 million were functioning.

He said that these cameras had a resolution of two megapixels and needed to be upgraded to 3 or 4-megapixels, adding that a fund was placed at the disposal of the IG Sindh for procurement of CCTV cameras.

However, the IG said the funds in question were meant for procurement of transportation and arms only and asked the government to purchase the cameras and run them through a private company as police lacked technical expertise.

Making a reference to the Monday’s killing of two soldiers in Karachi, the chief justice questioned that why CCTV cameras installed at the place of incident were not functioning.

The bench reprimanded the secretary for making a wrong statement and directed him to ensure that funds were made available for the purchase of high-powered CCTV cameras and also ordered him to report back the steps to be taken by the Sindh government to save the lives and property of the people in Karachi.

The bench asked the chief secretary to ensure early initiation of the project and also made it clear that there should be transparency in the process of awarding tenders for the project.

The IG informed the apex court that a recruitment policy was devised under which 10,000 vacancies were sanctioned in fiscal year 2015-16 in police while another 10,000 in year 2016-17. However, he said the recruitment process could not be initiated due to a ban on fresh appointments placed by the previous government, adding that fresh recruitments in Karachi could be completed in six weeks while in interior it would take three months.

When confronted by bench members, the chief secretary could not offer a satisfactory explanation as to why the government banned recruitments in police despite court directives.

The SC bench ordered the IG that the process of fresh recruitments in police should be initiated immediately and complete it in a transparent manner. http://www.dawn.com/news/1273876/trust-deficit-among-state-institutions-irks-sc

July 29, 2016   No Comments

US will never back derailment of democracy in Pakistan: Hale Report in The News, July 29, 2016

ISLAMABAD: US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale Thursday said the United States vigorously supports democracy in Pakistan adding that extension to the Army Chief General Raheel Sharif was Pakistan’s internal matter.He said this in an exclusive interview with Geo News programme ‘Capital Talk’ hosted by Hamid Mir.

David Hale said the US vigorously supported Pakistan’s flourishing democracy and that it would never support any power intending to derail it.

Hamid Mir mentioned the controversy generated from Senator John McCain’s interview in which he hinted at the army chief’s extension in tenure, to which David Hale said this question was for Pakistan to decide.

The ambassador said he was hopeful about 2018 elections in Pakistan and was pleased to see a vibrant political activity in Pakistan.

On the question of fresh spate of violence by the Indian security forces in the Occupied Kashmir, David Hale said the US felt concerned about the loss of lives and violence and it was up to Pakistan and India to sort out this and other conflicting issues through direct dialogue.

He said the US completely supported the CPEC and all projects that open gates of economic prosperity in Pakistan.

The ambassador reiterated that the US had concerns about Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons.

Praising the success of Zarb-e-Azb, he said Pakistan needs to consolidate on the successes of the operation.

“In dealing with the Haqqani network Pakistan has to focus on its own interests. It is not in Pakistan’s interest if its soil is used for attacks in neighbouring countries,” he said.

Hale said the US recognized Pakistan’s efforts for facilitating the Afghan peace process.

He said border management between the two countries was important for all sides.

He said the US didn’t demand Taliban’s surrender but to give up violence and engage in the political process.

About Afia Siddiqi, Hale said the decision had been made by the US courts which were ‘fair and just’.www.thenews.com.pk/print/138537-US-will-never-back-derailment-of-democracy-in-Pakistan-Hale

July 29, 2016   No Comments

‘Gulshan attack mastermind Tamim visited Kallyanpur den’ : report in Dhaka Tribune, July 29, 2016

For the first time, police have officially identified the Gulshan attack mastermind as Bangladesh-origin Canadian citizen Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, and said he used to visit the Kallyanpur militants in their hideout.

Tamim held meetings with the Kallyanpur militants to inspire them and provide financial support for their terrorist activities, according to the statement of a case which was filed yesterday by Mirpur Model police station Inspector (operation) Shajalal Alam in connection with Tuesday’s police raid.

Nine militants were killed when police carried out the drive in Dhaka’s Kallyanpur early Tuesday.

The case statement also read that the sole surviving suspect, Rakibul Hasan alias Rigan, has told interrogators that they received funding, arms and explosives from Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh.

The case further named other suspects who allegedly acted as trainers and leaders for the militants; they are: Iqbal, Ripon, Khalid, Mamun, Manik, Jonayed Khan, Badal and Azadul alias Kabiraz.

Police’s counter-terrorism chief Monirul Islam said although they have already got names of several suspected masterminds behind the recent militant activities, those might just be aliases. Efforts are on to find out the true identities of these people and trace them, he said.

Sources close to the ongoing investigation told the Dhaka Tribune that Gulshan attack mastermind Tamim has been working as a link between foreign and domestic militant groups. Since leaving Canada in 2013, he has been hiding in Bangladesh, the sources added.

Monirul Islam described Tamim as the leader of a new faction of JMB. The police believe that he is still in Bangladesh and efforts are on to detain him, he added.

According to investigators, JMB now has two factions: one led by JMB’s jailed spiritual leader Mawlana Saidur Rahman, while Tamim took over the other faction after coming back to Bangladesh. www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2016/jul/29/gulshan-attack-mastermind-tamim-visited-kallyanpur-den

‘Raihan trained Gulshan attackers’  : report in Dhaka Tribune, July 29, 2016
Raihan Kabir, one of the nine JMB members killed in a raid at Kallyanpur on Tuesday, had trained the youths who attacked a Gulshan restaurant on July 1, police said yesterday.

Raihan alias Tareq of Pirgachha upazila in Rangpur had remained missing for a year. “He was a trainer of the Gulshan attackers. Another Abdullah was the spiritual leader of the nine-member gang,” DMP’s Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crimes (CTTC) unit chief Monirul Islam said.

Raihan acted as a trainer and guide for the group. “Police had information about him. We know him as a Tareq. He was working as a JMB commander for Dhaka area,” the official added.

Earlier, the investigators found that Raihan had trained the militants at Sadullahpur of Gaibandha. “He was the one accused in the murder of police constable Mukul Hossain at Ashulia,” Monirul said.

Until last night, eight of the suspected JMB members were identified by the law enforcers. An associate was caught during the drive on Monday night while another managed to flee.

Mirpur police on Wednesday night filed a case against 10 named and some unnamed persons regarding the raid under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009. A Dhaka court gave the investigation officer time until September 19 to submit report in the case.

Even though all the militants had been found wearing black uniforms and had flags of the Islamic State group inside the flat, the police labelled them as members of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and claimed that the JMB had been behind the series of targeted killings.

After the Gulshan attack, police busted at least two militant hideouts in Bashundhara and west Shewrapara areas of Dhaka.

Meanwhile, the CTTC investigators have retrieved some photographs of the Kallyanpur militants wearing IS uniforms from two pen drives found inside the flat after the operation. But it could not be ascertained immediately when the photos had been taken.

Investigators suspect that they had taken the photos to send those to IS’ Amaq agency before carrying out an operation in Dhaka.

Saiful Islam, acting deputy commissioner of the CTTC unit, told the Dhaka Tribune that they had recovered several laptops and other electronic devices from the spot. “We have also got some images and clues, and are now scrutinising the information,” he added.

According to the police, Abdullah passed Dawra from a Qawmi madrasa and later completed Aleem examination from an Aliyah Madrasa. He used to motivate the other members of the gang reciting from the Qur’an and the Hadiths.

In response to a question, Monirul Islam claimed that the Kallyanpur and Gulshan militants had communication with each other.

“We have found information and evidence about their financiers and the instigators. We are trying to arrest them at the shortest possible time,” he added.

After at least five youths stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan diplomatic zone on July 1 and they killed over two dozen guests, IS published the photos of the five and later some photos of the dead bodies. All the attackers wearing black punjabis posed with the same AK 22 rifle before the same IS flag.

Different orientation

The CTTC boss said that three of the nine militants – Md Shazad Rouf Arko, Taj-Ul-Haque Rasik and Akifuzzaman Khan – were students of North South University.

Three others – Abdullah, Abdul Hakim and Md Motier Rahman – were students of different madrasas, he said, adding that Raihan alias Tareq had studied in a madrasa but later worked at a factory.

Our Rangpur correspondent Liakot Ali Badol talked to Raihan’s family and confirmed that he had been involved with Jamaat-Shibir. He came to Dhaka a year ago telling his family that he had got a job in a garments factory.

He was in touch with the family before being killed in the operation and sent them money occasionally.

His mother Rahela Begum and other members of the family members said that they had no idea about Raihan’s involvement with any militant group.

They learnt about Raihan from the news after the raid. His father Shahjahan Kabir has been hiding since then.

Locals say Raihan’s cousin Mehedi Hassan was a leader of the JMB. He has remained missing for the last six years. The village, Tangail Para, is locally known as a JMB den.

Earlier, police arrested the regional JMB commander, Masud Rana, and his associate Ishaq – both from Tangail Para. Raihan had good terms with them, locals said.

The duo have already made confessional statement in three cases involving the murders of Japanese farmer Hoshi Kunio and shrine caretaker Rahmat Ali, and the attempted murder of Bahai Centre Director Ruhul Amin in Rangpur. IS claimed credit for these attacks too.

Apart from Raihan, the seven other militants identified by the DMP are Abdullah, 23, son of Sohrab Ali of Ballabhpur village, Dinajpur; Abdul Hakim Nayeem, 33, son of Nurul Islam of Kuakata village, Patuakhali; Taj-Ul-Haque Rasik, 25, son of Rabiul Haq from Dhaka’s Dhanmondi area; Akifuzzaman Khan, 24, son of Saifuzzaman Khan of Dhaka’s Gulshan area; Shazad Rouf Arko, 24, son of Tawhid Rouf of Bashundhara, Dhaka; Md Motier Rahman, 24, son of Md Nasiruddin Sarder of Omarpur village, Satkhira; and Md Jobayer Hossain, 20, son of Abdul Quaium of Paschim Maijdee village, Noakhali. http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2016/jul/29/raihan-trained-gulshan-attackers

Dead militant Akifuzzaman was Monem Khan’s grandson : report in Dhaka Tribune, July 29, 2016
Akifuzzaman Khan, one of the nine militants killed in the Kallyanpur drive early Tuesday, was a grandson of the then East Pakistan provincial governor Abdul Monem Khan.

Abdul Monem Khan was the acting governor of the then East Pakistan during 1962-69.

Akifuzzaman Khan along with eight other militants were killed during a one-hour shootout with Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit of Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) at an apartment of a six-storey building in Kallyanpur in the early hours of Tuesday.

Talking to reporters at the DMP Media Centre yesterday, Additional Commissioner of DMP and head of Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crimes (CTTC) unit Monirul Islam said Akifuzzaman was the grandson of Abdul Monem Khan.

The five militants, who were killed during the commando operation at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan on July 2, also received training from Akifuzzaman, a student of North South University, the CTTC unit chief added. http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2016/jul/29/dead-militant-akifuzzaman-was-monem-khans-grandson

July 29, 2016   No Comments

Kallyanpur militant Arko was an arms trader : report in Dhaka Tribune, July 28, 2016

Dhaka:  One of the Kallyanpur militants, Shazad Rouf Arko, used to work in an arms trading company that reportedly supplies defence equipment to the army and police.

Arko, a US citizen, was a director at New Victor Limited (NVL) – which was founded by his grandfather Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rouf in 1977 and where his father is the managing director, according to US State Department documents released by Wikileaks.

According to his public profile in LinkedIn, NVL is “the oldest company in this business sector: we supply military defence equipments from abroad (China, England, Italy, USA, Canada, Korea, S Africa) to Police, Army, RAB, Navy, BOF headquarters by following the tender requirements issued by Bangladesh Government.”

Arko studied at the American International School of Dhaka, the same school where Gulshan attack victims Faraaz Ayaz Hossain and Tarishi Jain studied.

He also got a BBA degree from North South University with a major in marketing, according to his LinkedIn page.

Arko also described himself as active in cricket, tennis and football as well as contesting at talent shows when he was in school. He was also apparently part of a choir and guitar performance in the US and a member of the Muslim Student Association Club there.

Law enforcement authorities have already said that Arko was a close friend of Nibras Islam, one of the Gulshan attackers. He and Nibras both went missing around the same time, while both of their names were mentioned in a case filed with the Shahbagh police station under anti-terrorism act.http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2016/jul/28/kallyanpur-militant-arko-was-arms-trader

July 29, 2016   No Comments

Qadri arrives in Lahore to host Opp meeting on 31st Report in The Nation, July 28, 2016,

LAHORE – Pakistan Awami Tehreek chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri yesterday reached Lahore after a short visit of UK and vowed to continue struggle to get justice for Model Town victims’ families.

Talking to media at Allama Iqbal International Airport, PAT chairman said he will make important announcement on July 31.

PAT is hosting opposition parties meeting at Model Town after two days.
Dr Qadri, who had arrived from Canada to lead the June 17 sit-in of the party at The Mall on second anniversary of Model Town incident, will chair the meeting.
Addressing the sit-in, he had announced to give future line of action after opposition meeting.

“I will announce PAT future line of action after the consultative meeting with opposition parties on July 31.
We already sent invitations to all parties and they accepted by opposition leaders,” he said.

He said it was hard to understand how and why the society and the state institutions were tolerating corrupt regime of Sharifs.
“World saw policemen firing and killing innocent and unarmed PAT workers in Model Town on live TV screen two years back, but to the astonishment of the whole world not a single person who fired and killed PAT workers was arrested,” he said.

PAT directly blames Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah as the responsible of the carnage which claims 14 lives party workers on August 17, 2014.
PAT held a long sit-in in Islamabad on the issue.

Taking to journalist, Dr Qadri issued another warning to rulers to give justice to the victims or be ready to face a mass movement and sit-in.
He also sought Army Chief intervention to ensure justice for Model Town victims.

A statement issued by the PAT said the party chairman was welcomed by thousands of workers and leaders at the airport.
Those present included Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, Basharat Jaspal, Noor Ullah Sadique, Sajid Bhatti, Jawad hamid, Raja Zahid and others.http://nation.com.pk/national/28-Jul-2016/qadri-arrives-in-lahore-to-host-opp-meeting-on-31st

July 29, 2016   No Comments

Controversy rages over Akhtar’s May 12 ‘confessions’ IMTIAZ ALI | AZFAR-UL-ASHFAQUE in Dawn, July 28th, 2016

KARACHI: Although police claimed on Wednesday that Waseem Akhtar, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader and its Karachi mayor-designate, had “confessed to his involvement” in the May 12, 2007 mayhem before a “joint investigation team”, the legality of the JIT itself and the veracity of his alleged confession are questionable.

While Mr Akhtar and his party insisted that he had made no “confession” or even a disclosure about the May 12 events, police claimed that they had a JIT report in which Mr Akhtar confessed that he planned the violence on the instruction of the party’s high command.

Police not only showed Mr Akhtar arrested in seven cases relating to the May 12 episode, but also leaked to media an alleged investigation report in which he apparently took responsibility for the violent events that occurred in 2007.

Mr Akhtar, who was arrested on July 19 in a case over treatment of “wounded terrorists” and militants at Karachi’s Dr Ziauddin Hospitals, was remanded in police custody on July 21 in two cases regarding “listening to the speeches” of MQM chief Altaf Hussain.

When the remand ended on Tuesday (July 26), the investigation officer produced him before the administrative judge of the antiterrorism court and claimed that Mr Akhtar had also been arrested in seven cases pertaining to attempted murder and arson on May 12, 2007. He requested the court to remand him in police custody.

The court, however, turned down the IO’s request and sent Mr Akhtar to prison on a judicial remand.

While any claim made by police in remand papers is not a confession — an admission of guilt is of no legal import if not recorded before a judicial magistrate — TV channels flashed “breaking news” that Mr Akhtar had “confessed to his involvement in the May 12 mayhem”.

Several TV channels held talk shows on the alleged confession without examining whether he had really done so.

Although the Sindh home department has not notified any joint investigation team comprising officials of intelligence agencies, police and Rangers to interrogate Mr Akhtar, TV channels claimed that they had seen the report of a JIT in which Mr Akhtar — who was adviser to the Sindh chief minister on home affairs in 2007 — admitted that he had planned the May 12 mayhem in the city to sabotage the visit of the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

A senior police officer told Dawn that Mr Akhtar had said “many things” during interrogation, but made no “confessional statement”.

Seven police officials — a DSP, four inspectors and two sub-inspectors of Malir police — investigated the Karachi mayor-designate, but they named themselves a joint investigation team.

According to their report, Mr Akhtar had “confessed” that he planned the May 12, 2007 violence with the help of then in charges of MQM’s Lyari and Gulshan sectors and on the directives of the ‘party high command’.

The report went on to read that the sole purpose was “to prevent any rally being taken to receive the then deposed chief justice of Pakistan at Karachi airport”.

‘False, concocted stories’

The Muttahida said that its mayoral nominee had not given any ‘confessional statement’ about the May 12 happenings in police custody.

At a press conference, senior MQM leader Kanwar Naveed Jameel read out a hand-written note from Mr Akhtar in which he denied and condemned “all false and concocted” stories claiming that he had taken responsibility for the May 12 violence.

The letter, which Mr Akhtar gave to his lawyers during a meeting at the Karachi central prison on Wednesday, read: “I have not made any new disclosures or given a confessional statement with regard to the May 12 [incidents]. I repeated my previous statements that there should be an open inquiry by the superior judiciary.”

Mr Akhtar requested all media houses to verify any “negative news” about him before airing it.

Mr Jameel said that the “fake and fabricated” investigation report made by certain police officials was solely aimed at defaming Waseem Akhtar.

“He remains the MQM’s candidate for the office of Karachi mayor and will soon be honorably acquitted in all cases.”http://www.dawn.com/news/1273677/controversy-rages-over-akhtars-may-12-confessions

July 29, 2016   No Comments

Who is Murad Ali Shah?: report in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2016

KARACHI: Syed Murad Ali Shah, the successor to Qaim Ali Shah, belongs to a family of politicians. He is serving as the Sindh finance minister.

His father Syed Abdullah Shah also had the additional portfolio of finance when he served as chief minister of Sindh during Benazir Bhutto’s second government.

Murad, 54, is a graduate of the Stanford University from where he received MSc degrees in economic systems and civil structure engineering. In 1986, he gained a BE Civil Engineering degree from the NED University.

He hails from Jamshoro. His family belongs to Lakyari Syed, the descendent of Shah Sadaruddin Lakyari (Lakhi Shah Sadar) near Sehwan Sharif. From 1986 till 1990 he served as an engineer at Wapda, Port Qasim Authority and the Hyderabad Development Authority before joining the Citi Bank.

Shah was elected to the Sindh Assembly in the 2002 elections. He was again elected to the provincial assembly in the 2008 election, and assigned the portfolio of finance in the cabinet of Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah.

He was barred from contesting the 2013 elections because of his Canadian citizenship. However, he gave up his second nationality to run in the election. He was elected to the Sindh Assembly for a third consecutive time. He was subsequently assigned the finance ministry in the provincial cabinet.

There is a perception that Shah looks more a bureaucrat than a politician and is not social. However, people in his constituency think otherwise. “Like his father he knows most of the voters in his constituency,” social activist Mustafa Meerani, who lives in Shah’s constituency, said, adding Shah has established schools, dispensaries, constructed roads and provided jobs to poor people on merit.

Being a relative of Pir Pagara, Shah has always gained moral support from PML-F circles. This can be judged from the fact that during the 2002 elections when the PPP started lobbying to form government in Sindh and tried to convince the late Pir Pagara (Shah Mardan Shah) to support it, he responded to them saying, “I will only support you if you give the chief minister’s slot to my Lakiyari Lal (Murad Ali Shah).” http://tribune.com.pk/story/1150274/syed-murad-ali-shah/

July 29, 2016   No Comments

Killings drop but kidnappings, gang rape & riots on the rise, says CTD data REPORT in Dawn, July 28th, 2016

KARACHI: After a significant drop in crime rate in the wake of Rangers-led operation in the city, the incidents of kidnapping, gang rape and riots have registered an alarming rise not only in Karachi but also in the rest of the province, according to data compiled by police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD).

The data obtained by Dawn on Wednesday showed that 557 murders took place between January and July last year while 371 killings were reported during the same period this year, marking a difference of 186 lives.

A total of 737 kidnappings took place in the city during last seven months this year as compared to 722 kidnappings during the same period last year, registering an increase of 15 cases. Since these kidnappings did not lead to payment of ransom as per police’s terminology, the data was silent about the motive of the crime.

The CTD head, Additional Inspector General of Police Dr Sanaullah Abbasi, told Dawn that most of the victims were women who were kidnapped for a host of reasons. Police had arrested 301 suspects involved in such kidnappings, he said.

Police believed the incidents of kidnapping for ransom had dropped significantly as the data revealed that 32 incidents of kidnapping for ransom took place during seven months last year but this year so far, 15 such incidents had been reported.

The other disturbing trend the data showed pertained to gang rape, with a total of 21 incidents reported during last seven months this year as compared to eight such incidents during the same period last year, a rise of 13 cases.

Dr Abbasi said that reporting to police of gang rape incidents had shown an increase nowadays while in past the victims’ families were reluctant to pursue such cases out of shame or other social reasons. Five suspects allegedly involved in gang rape had been arrested in the city this year, he said.

He said that in order to enable police to address women’s issues humanely, police had launched gender-sensitization programme and human rights branches had been set up in all ranges and districts.

Besides, complaints cells had also been established and human rights subject had been introduced in the police training course for sensitizing the personnel to citizens’ rights.

According to the data, riots have registered a significant increase in the metropolis, with a total of 389 incidents reported during last seven months of this year as compared to 270 cases during the same period last year, a rise of 119 cases.

Dr Abbasi believed that the riots were an outcome of masses’ frustration over civic issues and police actions etc.

As far as crime situation in the interior of the province was concerned, a total of 575 murders took place during last seven months as compared to 734 killings in the same period last year.

A total of 27 gang rape incidents were reported this year so far as compared to 13 such cases reported last year while 45 murders were committed this year so far in the name of honour.

As many as 1,150 incidents of riots were reported this year so far as compared to 1,148 such incidents during the same period last year while 783 suspects were arrested.

Similarly, a total of 1,369 incidents of kidnappings took place this year so far as compared to 1,333 such incidents during the same period last year, registering an increase of 36 cases while 956 suspects were arrested.

Encounters

The data showed that total 125 suspects were killed in ‘encounters’ in the city so far this year (30 of the suspects belonged to Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and 40 to Lyari gang-war) as compared to 330 suspects killed (161 affiliated with Lyari gang-war and 81 to TTP) during the same period last year.

Police arrested a total of 640 suspects so far this year while 1,025 suspects were apprehended last year during the same period.http://www.dawn.com/news/1273620/killings-drop-but-kidnappings-gang-rape-riots-on-the-rise-says-ctd-data

July 29, 2016   No Comments

US avoids commenting on MQM protest: report in Dawn, July 28th, 2016

WASHINGTON: The US State Department has said that it would not like to talk about a protest the MQM held outside the White House last week, although it does highlight human rights violations across the globe.

“Not speaking about the protest, of which, frankly, I wasn’t tracking,” said Elizabeth Trudeau, director of the State Department’s Press Office, when asked at a briefing to comment on the MQM’s protest.

She, however, explained that human and minority rights were among the issues that the United States continues to “work hard” on, “not only in Pakistan” but in its engagements both bilaterally with countries as well as in annual reports.

Ms Trudeau pointed out that the department’s annual human rights report detailed and expressed concern over rights violations and the department worked with other governments to “support the rights of marginalised, disadvantaged minority groups around the world”.

She also said that the international community could learn from each other on how to protect human rights.

At the protest, MQM chief Altaf Hussain announced that he would visit the United States in October to highlight the alleged human rights violations against political workers in Pakistan.http://www.dawn.com/news/1273695/us-avoids-commenting-on-mqm-protest

July 29, 2016   No Comments