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Posts from — August 2017

JuD leaders challenge detention: Report in Dawn, August 31st, 2017

LAHORE: Jamatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed and its four other leaders have challenged in the Lahore High Court the last orders for their detention issued by the Punjab government.

A writ petition filed through Advocate AK Dogar states that the Home Department issued the impugned orders on July 28 last under section 1 of section 3 of Maintenance of Public Order, 1960 detaining the petitioners for a period of next 60 days.

The petition states that a representation against the detention was submitted to the home secretary on Aug 3 but no action has been taken so far. It pleads that there is no evidence whatsoever that the petitioners are planning to spread chaos in the country or that they have planned violent demonstrations.

It says the government in the impugned detention orders has only shown apprehension against the petitioners. However, it pleads, under the law no presumption and assumption can give rise to any apprehension unless it is supported by some piece of evidence.

It argues that an order of preventive detention has to satisfy the requirements laid down by the Supreme Court in many judgments but in the instant case, blatant violation of laws has been committed by the government.

The petition pleads that imprisonment without trial and conviction is prima facie unlawful and unconstitutional. It further states the government detained the petitioners to please India and America. Courts in past declared detention of JuD leaders illegal as the government failed to prove its charges, it says and requests the court to set aside the detention orders for being issued without lawful authority.

The other petitioners are Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Hussain.

In response to previous petitions by the JuD leaders, the government had taken a stance before the court that no violation of law was made in issuance of the detention orders against the petitioners.

The government said JuD and its allied organisation (Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation) had been kept under observation on the basis of a report sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And in the light of that report, the government had reasons to believe that JuD and FIF were engaged in certain activities which could be prejudicial to peace and security and in violation of Pakistan’s obligation to the United Nations Security Council resolution, it said. https://www.dawn.com/news/1355004/jud-leaders-challenge-detention

August 31, 2017   No Comments

More ominous disappearances: by I.A. Rehman in Dawn, Aug 31st, 2017

The writer is a former ambassador to Iraq and Turkey.
PAKISTAN observed the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances yesterday (Aug 30) at a time when this form of attack on life and liberty has acquired a new and more sinister dimension.

Sindh is in the grip of a wave of abductions.According to Sindh Human Rights Defenders, a body that has been monitoring cases of missing persons, out of the 120 or so victims identified since Jan 1 this year, 84 disappeared this month (until Aug 22).

Enormously more worrying is the fact that eight of the persons wrongly described as missing were known to be striving for the recovery of victims of involuntary disappearance. They are: general secretary Voice of Missing Persons, Sindh, Punhal Sario from Hyderabad; Abbas Lund from Dadu; journalist Ghulam Rasool Burfat; writer Inamullah Abbasi; Raza Jarwar; Partab Shivani from Mithi; Naseer Kumbhar also from Mithi; and Shoaib Korejo from Hyderabad. The last mentioned three have returned home but the fate of the other five was unknown till the time of writing.

As is usual in such cases those who have returned home are not talking. They communicate through their relatives in the fewest possible words. It is possible they wish to keep quiet out of fear of reprisal. Anyway, the authorities and civil society organisations both have a duty to carry out a Supreme Court directive about recording the statements of all those victims who survive the ordeal of enforced disappearances.

The identity of the state functionaries responsible for disappearances is no secret. What the authorities must do now is to ascertain whether the victims were picked up for their views or political affiliation. The impression that the space for freedom of opinion and association is shrinking must be removed.

Meanwhile, Pakistan continues to attract harsh notices from international organisations. It has not sincerely and adequately addressed the issues raised over several years by the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances. Last month, the UN Human Rights Committee, in its concluding remarks after hearings on Pakistan’s initial report under the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, made a pointed reference to disappearances and called upon Pakistan to criminalise the act of causing a person’s disappearance, ensure protection to the victims’ families and create a mechanism for offering them due compensation.

Once again Pakistan has been advised to strengthen the authority and capacity, financial and personnel-wise of the Commission of Inquiry into Enforced Disappearances. The justification for this recommendation will become clear if we take a fresh look at what this commission has been doing.

It had inherited only 138 cases of disappearance from the commission of three retired judges who had dealt with the issue in 2010. This new commission though headed by Javed Iqbal, a former judge of the Supreme Court, is not as powerful as its mandate demands. Neither a statutory nor a judicial commission, it is only a commission of inquiry created under a notification of the interior ministry. The law-enforcement authorities treat it with scant respect.

Since March 1, 2011, when it started functioning, the commission received till the end of June this year 4,059 cases, out of which it has disposed of 2,801, leaving 1,258 cases pending. Incidentally the commission had slightly fewer cases — 1,219 — on Dec 31, 2016. That alone tells us a story that is none too complimentary.

The figures of cases decided conceal, as has been noted before, a strange pattern of disposal. For instance, during June this year 45 cases were decided. This does not mean that 45 victims of enforced disappearance rejoined their families; it only means the present status of the 45 individuals concerned was confirmed. While 22 persons were reported to have returned home, 23 were not. Out of these 23, two were found to have died away from home, five were under detention at internment centres, seven were facing trial on criminal charges, and nine cases had been dropped for various reasons.

The highest number of cases received from a province since 2011 came from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (1,555) followed by Sindh (1,047), Punjab (858), and Balochistan (284). The case disposal pattern is quite interesting. Sindh has the best disposal rate — 756 cases out of 1,047, or 72.2 per cent; were disposed. Sindh was followed by Punjab — 440 cases out of 858 or 51.30pc; KP — 657 cases out of 1,555 or 41.2pc. Balochistan has the lowest disposal rate at 104 cases out of 284 or 36.6pc.

There is a need to look deeper into these figures. In nearly all cases of persons who returned home the information was provided by the police. Why can’t the commission ask police officials to produce the victims traced by them? The commission could then record the dates of a victim’s disappearance and his recovery and other much-needed information.

The urgency of a review of the whole set-up has become manifest. What is needed is a high-powered, properly staffed and financially well-supported commission not merely to trace the victims of enforced disappearance but also to identify their tormentors for prosecution, and to determine compensation due to the families.

Before that, however, the government must ratify the international convention on disappearances and make disappearance a penal offence. Further, the report of the judges’ commission of 2010 must be made public. If it contains classified matter that the government does not wish to share with the public that may be presented in parliament at a closed session. If the judges’ commission had suggested a practical way of freeing the state of the stigma of tolerating disappearances, that should not be left to be consumed by moths in record rooms.

PS. The family of a missing Lahore woman, social activist-journalist Zeenat Shahzadi, was again told last Thursday to keep waiting, to keep hoping against hope.https://www.dawn.com/news/1355058/more-ominous-disappearances

August 31, 2017   No Comments

Pakistan yet to implement UNHRC recommendations: Report

by Atif Khan in The Nation, August 31st, 2017
ISLAMABAD – Pakistan is up for review before the Human Rights Council for the third time this year, but the government has taken no steps towards implementation of the accepted recommendations, said a report of International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), on Wednesday.

The report launched on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, said that during Pakistan’s first Universal Periodic Review in 2008, Pakistan accepted recommendations made by France, Brazil and Mexico to ratify the Convention on Enforced Disappearances. The convention, among other obligations, requires enforced disappearance to be made an autonomous crime.

Four years later, during Pakistan’s second Universal Periodic Review, the Government once again received a number of recommendations asking it to ratify the convention and make enforced disappearance a distinct crime.

This time, Pakistan “noted” the recommendation on the ratification of the International Convention on Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED), but accepted recommendations related to the criminalisation of enforced disappearance. There have been numerous other calls on the government to recognise enforced disappearance as a distinct crime.

The government constituted a “Task Force on Missing Persons” in 2013 to provide recommendations on how to deal with the prevalent practice. The task force submitted its report in December 2013. While the report has not been made public, members of the task force have revealed that one of the recommendations in its report was the criminalisation of the practice.

The report expressed concern at the continuing practice of enforced disappearances in Pakistan and made a series of recommendations to the government.

One of the recommendations was that the crime of enforced disappearance be established and included in the Criminal Code of Pakistan in line with the definition given in the Convention on Enforced Disappearances. The report said that while court judgments were important, in many cases national jurisprudence had failed to fulfil, or had even contradicted, the international obligations of the State. The Indian Supreme Court, for example, has upheld the constitutionality of laws that shield security forces from accountability.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan too has recently upheld the validity of constitutional amendments empowering military courts to try civilians, including those kept in secret detention, for terrorism-related offences and is delaying hearings on petitions challenging laws that facilitate secret detention in some parts of the country. The report quoting Defence of Human Rights, a non-governmental organization working for the recovery of disappeared persons, said that more than 5,000 cases of enforced disappearance have still not been resolved. The Voice of Baloch Missing Persons alleges 18,000 people have been forcibly disappeared from Balochistan alone since 2001. http://nation.com.pk/national/31-Aug-2017/pakistan-yet-to-implement-recommendations-report

August 31, 2017   No Comments

Families of missing persons still await news about loved ones

by Ikram Junaidi in Dawn, August 31st, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Rawalpindi resident Kausar Rehman’s husband Asif Hameed was allegedly abducted by security agencies four years ago, and since then she has hoped he will return home.

Her husband is 44 years old and worked as a tailor at a shop in Saddar.

“On Oct 10, 2013, he dropped the children off at school and went to his shop. According to an eyewitness, a car stopped him near the shop and two people got out of the car, tied his hands and covered his face and put him in the car. One person drove my husband’s motorcycle, and they left,” Ms Rehman told Dawn at an event at the National Press Club on the International Day of Enforced Disappearances.

She said she has been hoping for some news about her husband since he disappeared.

“My husband was a tailor in Saudi Arabia, but I used to insist that he come to Pakistan. In 2010, my husband came to Pakistan for good and began working here. He was not involved in any illegal activity, but he would pray at a mosque five times a day,” she went on.

“I have seven children – five daughters and two sons – and we live in a rented house. It has become impossible to survive, due to which some of my relatives help me financially. I am sick, but I cannot afford medicines. My husband’s brother died last week, but the agencies did not bother to release my husband,” she said.

Ms Rehman claimed that the families of people who have killed tens of individuals are aware of them, but the relatives of innocent missing persons do not have the right to be informed about their loved ones.

Saima Sadia from Johar Town, Lahore, claimed her husband Kamran Sajid was arrested by security agencies from her home on the night between Sept 8 and Sept 9, 2015.

“Since the disappearance, no one has bothered to tell us where my husband is. Some of my relatives told me he is alive and in the custody of an agency.”

Ms Saida and her husband we were married in 2010, and have two daughters.

Her husband is 35 years old, and was an electrical engineer at the Air Weapon Complex (AWC). Before they were married, he was arrested after an attack on Gen Pervez Musharraf, as people from AWC were involved in the attack, but he was declared innocent and released.

Head of Defence of Human Rights Amina Masood Janjua, while speaking to the press, said families of missing persons were suffering but no one had bothered to bring them relief.

Pointing to the establishment, she said: “You don’t care about your own people, and today you are saying Donald Trump did not care about the services of Pakistan. Currently, genocide of some segments of society in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is being done in Pakistan.”

She alleged that even the Supreme Court was not ready to take up the missing persons issue. A case was registered against a subedar, which was dumped, while fake cases are registered against missing persons and they are killed in police encounters, she said.

Ms Janjua said 90pc of missing persons’ relatives do not lodge FIRs out of fear.

“According to estimates, there are 25,000 missing people in Pakistan. Before becoming premier, Nawaz Sharif came to our camp and assured that he would take up the issue in parliament. However, after becoming prime minister he did not bother to do anything, and finally he lost his premiership.”

She added that although Urdu is the official language, the missing persons commission holds proceedings in English and issues notices in English, which the majority of relatives of missing persons cannot understand.

Advocate Omer Gillani said the missing persons issue shows the failure of the state, as everyone knows who is doing it but no one can raise a voice.

“I want to say that agencies are involved in abductions. On the other hand, the missing persons commission, headed by Justice Javed Iqbal, has been doing nothing. It is the obligation of the commission to register cases against those who are involved in enforced disappearances. The commission has recovered over 2,000 persons but never bothers to register cases against the agencies or officials of agencies,” he said.

He suggested that the commission should be closed, because it “has become dysfunctional”, and a new institution should be established.

After the event, families of missing persons, as well as individuals such as Senator Farhatullah Babar, Asma Jahangir and former senator Afrasiab Khattak, gathered outside the press club to show solidarity with missing persons. www.dawn.com/news/1355052/families-of-missing-persons-still-await-news-about-loved-ones

‘Enforced disappearances in Pakistan no longer restricted to conflict zones only’ : by Ailia Zehra in Daily Times, August 31st 2017.
Lahore: The practice of enforced disappearances in Pakistan is no longer restricted to conflict zones alone. It has become a tactic for suppressing dissenting voices wherever they are present, says a report published by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

To support the argument, the report refers to the ‘disappearance’ of a number of secular bloggers and journalists from across Pakistan earlier this year.

The report titled No More “Missing Persons”: The Criminalisation of Enforced Disappearance in South Asiaurges South Asian governments to criminalise the practice of enforced disappearance, adding that it has long been used against insurgent groups or in the name of ‘countering terrorism’. The ICJ study notes that South Asia has the highest number of credible and unresolved cases of enforced disappearances in the world.

The study is based on commission’s work in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

In Pakistan, the report says, estimatesof enforced disappearances cases range from 1,256 to more than 18,000. Most of these cases have been reported from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

The report has raised concerns about presence of detention centres along the north-western border. The practice has also been reported in large number in Balochistan and, recently, in Sindh, mostly against political activists.

The report notes with concern that despite attempts by families of victims not a single perpetrator has been held criminally accountable for enforced disappearance in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The police’s refusal to register First Information Reports (FIRs) against members of law enforcement, security or intelligence agencies has also been termed problematic.

Immunity enjoyed by members of the armed forces in all five countries studied for the report for actions undertaken in the mere name of national security has been identified as a barrier to eradication of the practice.

The report states that there is aclear lack of political will to hold to account perpetrators of rights violations.

Discussing the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the report says that the court has issued several strongly worded opinions, including when it called for the establishment of a commission of inquiry to investigate cases of enforced disappearances and noted that principles enshrined in the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Disappearance (ICPPED), not ratified by Pakistan, are applicable in the country. The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearance established in 2011 hasn’t made any significant progress, the report notes.

It questions the SC’s recent decision to uphold the validity of constitutional amendments empowering military courts to try civilians, including those kept in secret detention, for terrorism-related offences. Meanwhile, it notes, courts in Pakistan tend to delay hearings on petitions challenging laws that facilitate secret detentions.

The SC verdict in the Mohabbat Shah case has been mentioned as one of the court’s strongest judgements yet on the practice of enforced disappearances. The Apex court had held that unauthorised and unacknowledged removal of detainees from an internment centre amounted to an enforced disappearance. It expressed concern at the ‘kafkaesque workings’ of security forces and held that “no law enforcing agency can forcibly detain a person without showing his whereabouts to his relatives for a long period”.

South Asian states have been urged to ensure that all acts of enforced disappearance as defined by international law constitute a distinct criminal offence under domestic criminal law of these states. It says that it is needed to provide a proper foundation for authorities to implement the duty to promptly investigate allegations of enforced disappearance and to prosecute or extradite alleged perpetrators. http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/31-Aug-17/enforced-disappearances-in-pakistan-no-longer-restricted-to-conflict-zones-only

August 31, 2017   No Comments

Two missing persons traced, 10 remain untraced, PHC told

by Akhtar Amin in The News, Aug 31, 2017
PESHAWAR: Amid protests against enforced disappearances across the country to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday heard 12 cases of missing persons, including two who have been traced.

A two-member PHC bench comprising Justice Qalandar Ali Khan and Justice Nasir Mehfooz disposed of the cases of the two missing persons after the officials produced records showing that Aiwaz Khan and Hazrat Khan had been traced out.

Muhammad Saleem Khan, the spokesman for the missing persons’ cases on behalf of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and federal governments, informed the bench that replies from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and other respondents, including Ministries of Defence and Interior, were still awaited in the cases of the missing persons Ahmad Ali, Shakirullah, Hafiz Muhammad Karim, Izharullah, Abzair Ali, Zahoorul Islam, Shafiq and others.

However, despite the occasional tracing out of some missing persons, the issue has persisted. Presently, about 600 cases are pending before the PHC. An official dealing with missing persons cases told The News that during the last several months, about 300 cases of missing persons were disposed of in the PHC as majority of them had been shifted to various internment centres in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata where they would face terrorism charges and would be tried by the military courts.

The official added that about 1,600 missing persons’ cases were also pending with the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances in Islamabad. On the other hand, the family members are now least interested in the missing persons’ cases in the PHC due to the lack of progress in the court. Many have stopped appearing at the hearing of the cases.
https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/227245-Two-missing-persons-traced-10-remain-untraced-PHC-told

It’s high time Pak ended illegal practice of enforced disappearances: HRCP
Report in The News, Aug 31, 2017

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances (August 30) holds particular relevance to Pakistan because the phenomenon euphemistically called the “missing persons issue” is entrenched in the country, said a statement issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Wednesday.

The HRCP and the joint action committee of civil society and human rights activists also rallied at the Karachi Press Club to protest against enforced disappearances. A large number of rights advocates, political workers and the victims’ families participated in the demonstration, expressing their concerns over the apparent increase in citizens, mainly members of Sindhi political parties, going missing.

Carrying placards and banners, the protesters chanted slogans against enforced disappearances and demanded that the families of the “missing persons” be informed about their whereabouts.

They said a number of peaceful political workers, writers, philosophers, journalists and students had gone missing across the province, adding that no one from the provincial government or the police department took responsibility of “illegal detentions” or had a clue of their whereabouts.

HRCP Sindh Vice-Chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt said the province’s civil society was gravely concerned about frequent reports of “citizens being whisked away by law enforcers”. “Most of them are not presented in court, and the law enforcement agencies are not disclosing their whereabouts. It is a worrisome trend.”

Other prominent participants of the rally included Shireen Ijaz of the HRCP, Ellahi Baksh Baloch of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation, Saeed Baloch of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, and rights activists Abubakkar Yousafzai, Abdul Wahab Baloch and Abida Ali.

Meanwhile, the HRCP statement stressed it was high time that Pakistan took robust measures to end the illegal practice of enforced disappearances and bring the perpetrators to book.

The rights body said International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances “serves to remind us that despite a large number of disappearances coming to light, not a single person has been held to account for perpetrating such heinous actions”.

“It is a matter of equally grave concern that disappearances continue in Pakistan today, as is apparent from the information released by the officially constituted Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED).

“There is a wide range in estimates of the overall number of cases. But even taking the most conservative estimates, a significant number of disappearances remain unresolved in the country.

“The cases reported to the CIED also demonstrate that the incidence is truly nationwide, having spread to areas where it had not been reported from earlier, including Sindh, where political activists have largely been targeted.

“In Sindh, those campaigning against disappearances are now themselves becoming victims. In Punjab too, Zeenat Shahzadi, who raised her voice for victims of disappearances became one herself. She remains missing two years after being picked up from near her house in Lahore in August 2015.

“The HRCP regrets that the Pakistani government has not implemented the recommendations made by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) after its visit to Pakistan in 2012 and subsequently as well.

“In its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Pakistani government had accepted a recommendation to specifically criminalise enforced disappearances. However, no concrete steps have been taken so far to make disappearances a distinct and autonomous crime.

“Criminal complaints in cases of disappearances, where registered by the police, continue to be filed under general criminal law provisions related to abductions or wrongful confinement. Other recommendations accepted by Pakistan, but not implemented, include strengthening of the CIED and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“The HRCP calls upon the prime minister to take all necessary steps to implement all of the WGEID recommendations and the relevant recommendations accepted by Pakistan in its UPR.”

The rights body particularly urged the premier to “make enforced disappearances a distinct and autonomous crime under the criminal law, order all state agencies to cooperate in the recovery of all missing persons and desist from abducting citizens, keeping them in secret detention or killing them and dumping their dead bodies, and end the widespread impunity for enforced disappearances”.

The statement said the earliest possible start of proceedings against any state functionaries involved would contribute to giving the people some hope of getting justice.

The body also urged the government to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, arrange compensating missing persons’ families suffering for years, and ensure desisting from making laws impacting legalising forms of secret, unacknowledged and incommunicado detention. www.thenews.com.pk/print/227120-Its-high-time-Pakistan-ended-illegal-practice-of-enforced-disappearances-HRCP

August 31, 2017   No Comments

Confessions of TTP’s Mufti Shakir reveal dark underbelly of militancy in Karachi

by Imtiaz Ali in Dawn, August 31st, 2017
KARACHI: Mohammad Shakir­ullah alias Mufti Shakir, who was arrested over charges of killing policemen and carrying out the suicide attack on CID SP Chaudhry Aslam in 2014, was released on bail and subsequently fled to Afghanistan and is now running an active training camp for militants, it emerged on Wednesday.

During interrogation by a joint investigation team (JIT) inside the Karachi Central Prison in March 2014, he had confessed to having killed, along with his accomplices, 10 policemen and an army soldier.

The JIT report reviewed by Dawn revealed that he (Mufti Shakir) had once presented himself for the suicide attack on SP Chaudhry Aslam but was prevented from doing so.

The report further said that Shakir had submitted fake documents in order to get bail.

It said Shakir was born in 1981 in the SITE area and was raised among six brothers and nine sisters. He received primary education from the KMC school there but later studied at three famous seminaries of Karachi where he memorised Quran by heart and completed a course for religious scholars in 2009. In the same year, he established a seminary in SITE and became its principal. The seminary was sealed recently.

Road to militancy

The JIT report disclosed that Shakir joined a militant outfit, Harkatul Mujahideen, when he was studying in a famous seminary in 1996. When differences erupted in the group and Jaish-i-Mohammad emerged in 2000, he abandoned it.

However, in 2012, he joined outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (Khyber Agency) on persuasion of the outfit’s then Karachi chief.

He received militancy training in Mansehra in 1999 and bomb making in Khyber Agency in 2012 and carried out three bomb blasts on an experimental basis there.

Criminal history

Shakir told the JIT members that in July 2012 he had received a ‘chit’ amounting to Rs10,000 as fine imposed by the TTP (KA) on him. The TTP (KA) in its chit had said they were imposing the fine on him because two of his brothers had links with CID personnel and advised him to stay away from them.

He further told the JIT members that subsequently he along with his mother and two brothers visited the Khyber Agency where he met TTP (KA) chief and rejected the charges.

After staying there for 40 days, he returned to Karachi where he started working for TTP (KA) and formed a cell which comprised 10 persons, four of whom were killed later.

He had also ‘confessed’ to having killed, along with his accomplices, 10 policemen and an army soldier from 2013 till his arrest in early 2014. During this period, he along with his accomplices carried out around 20-25 attacks, including grenade attacks, on police vans.

The victims were identified as army soldier Imran, CID head moharir, police constables namely Mohammed Anwar, Mohammed Sher, Pervez Akhtar, Shahzad Raza, Rajab Ali, Rashid, Amir, Shabbir, Waqar and Fazl Amin. All law enforcers were gunned down in the SITE area in 2013.

In the same year, he had also attacked a police van outside a factory along with his accomplices Fazl Rehman and Abdullah alias Mukhtar (both killed later on).

Suicide attack on Chaudhry Aslam

Shakir radicalised a seminary student, Naeemullah, 25, who carried out the suicide attack on SP Aslam on January 9, 2014. The alleged suicide bomber was a son of a religious scholar who ran a seminary in the Pirabad area.

The report revealed that Shakir had developed ties with one militant linked with banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) who in December 2013 asked him to provide a suicide bomber for carrying out the attack on SP Aslam.

Initially, Shakir indicated his desire to carry out the attack but the LJ militant told him that he was a “religious scholar” and his preaching skills “were needed more.”

Therefore, another person was prepared for the attack.

Shakir mentally prepared Naeemullah and motivated him at his home for seven to eight days continuously.

During this period, Naeemullah told Shakir that he belonged to TTP (Swat) and without approval of his group’s chief, he could not carry out the terror act. However, Mufti Shakir motivated him that SP Aslam was such an “important target” that the consent of the emir (chief) was not needed, according to the JIT report.www.dawn.com/news/1354971/confessions-of-ttps-mufti-shakir-reveal-dark-underbelly-of-militancy-in-karachi

August 31, 2017   No Comments

Policy being devised to avert Daesh threat: by Azaz Syed in The News, Aug 31, 2017

Islamabad :In a move to avert the threat of Daesh or Islamic State (IS) in the country, Pakistan has decided to formulate a formal policy regarding the suspected citizens involved in international conflicts.

Security agencies are collecting data on Pakistani citizens suspected to have travelled to the Daesh-affected parts of the world including Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and have not returned to Pakistan.

“We have collected the data of those travelling abroad, particularly of those who travelled to the militancy-hit countries and did not return. We are trying to find out the real reasons for militants to go to these regions,” said Ehsan Ghani, the chief of National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) in an exclusive chat to this correspondent.

According to a Nacta report, a copy of which is also available with The News, the government has convened multiple meetings of federal and provincial-level stakeholders to assess the threat.

The sources claim that the decision to avert the threat was taken at a recent high-level meeting. In this regard, data of the Pakistani citizens, who have travelled to Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other conflict hit areas, has been collected through Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The report says that the data received from the provinces is at the verification stage following which Nacta would prepare a policy recommendation paper.

They claim that a special focus is being laid on those who have not returned to Pakistan despite the expiry of their visas. “We have a lot of data of those who did not return from these areas but we cannot say all those, who went to conflict-hit areas, are terrorists as some of them could have gone there to reach Europe or find a job even, so we are doing ground verification,” added Ghani, when asked about the people who are still in the above-mentioned regions without any legal cover or having their visas expired.

In this regard, the sources claim that there has been no formal interaction between Pakistan and Iran or Pakistan and Afghanistan so far to identify such people using their intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

The sources claim that authorities are concerned about the possibility of the Daesh threat spreading in the country, especially as there is a plethora of jihadist mindset having fought in Afghanistan against Russia and against the US and its allies.

According to Asfandyar Mir, a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Securry and Cooperation and an expert on armed groups in South Asia, Daesh presents a unique threat which Pakistani policy makers are rightly concerned about. According to Mir, “Although Daesh doesn’t have much military strength in Pakistan for now, it is certainly the more attractive brand for the budding jihadists.”

According to the Nacta report, there are a total of 8,333 suspected militants across the country who have been placed on the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 which bars them (who is placed on Fourth Schedule) to not leave the area of their police station jurisdiction without the permission of station house officer (SHO) and brings them within the orbit of some other minor restrictions.

Previously, the people – who have remained trained fighters and were known as Afghan-Trained Boys (ATBs) or men who remained in the Afghani prisons, known as returnees of Afghan prisons (RAPs) – were also part of the Fourth Schedule but now there is a shift in the previous policy.

The sources claim that this time the Pakistanis, who travelled to Afghanistan and Iran since the start of the current year but haven’t returned, are the main focus.

Earlier in March this year, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had warned that the Islamic State (IS) wants to recruit young people from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Experts say that Pakistan’s proactive action against Daesh also reflects the dual view Pakistan has towards armed groups.

“In Pakistan, Daesh is getting the short end of the stick because of its ideology. Daesh professes a radical ideology which challenges the Pakistani state and military, something that groups like the Afghan Taliban and Haqqanis don’t do,” Mir adds.

Meanwhile, the Nacta – Pakistan’s only civilian counter-terror institution –has set up a special task force at its headquarters.

Ghani revealed this while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior at the headquarters of National Database Registration Authority (Nadra). The committee met with MNA Rana Shamim Ahmed Khan in the chair and was briefed on the National Action Plan (NAP) by the Nacta chief.

Ghani gave his detailed briefing on the steps taken by the government to chock the terror financing in the country. “The taskforce on terror financing is regularly coordinating with already set up provincial Counter-Terror Financing Units (CTFUs) and other stockholders on the issue,” he said.

Almost six months back, all the provinces established CTFUs on the directions of Nacta. In this regard, the provincial law enforcement agencies are applying and taking steps to chock terror financing in their respective areas.

The Nacta chief, who has recently fought a successful war against a serious ailment, said the authority had also framed a model law for regulation and facilitation of charities as well as to ensure safe charity practices in the country.

The authority had shared the model with all provinces to enact the same in order to stop collection of donations by illegal entities and misuse of charity; however, charity can be given to deserving people, he said.

Ghani added that the Nacta issued standard operating procedure (SOPs) for strict implementation on the model law, especially during the days of Eid-ul-Azha.

He said other measures to curb terror financing included policy on branchless banking and obligatory money declaration.

He said the authority had sent a detail brief to Pakistan’s missions abroad about the steps taken against terrorists and extremists in the country and successes achieved during anti-terror operations.

According to a recent US country report on terrorist attacks in 2015-16, he said, terrorism-related violence in Pakistan declined for the second straight year in 2016. Pakistan ranked 4 among the countries hit most by terror attacks in 2016, while it was third in the same report in 2015, he said.

The countries most heavily suffering from terrorism in 2016 were Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Nigeria, Syria, Turkey, Yemen and Somalia. He said the terror incidents in Pakistan had significantly declined as the country witnessed 2,061 terror attacks in 2010, 785 in 2016 and 426 in 2017 till date.

Talking about the registration and regulation of religious seminaries, Ghani said registration data forms had been finalised in consultation with Ittehad Tanzeem-ul-Madaris Pakistan (ITMP), and the federal and provincial governments, adding that the provinces had started implementation.

He said the law enforcement agencies had arrested 272,065 suspects during various operations since the approval of NAP. “The law enforcement agencies have conducted over 3,572,615 stop and search operations and 8,253 intelligence-based operations in various parts of the country,” he said.

The Nacta chief said since the approval of NAP, 416 convicts had been executed, including 383 in Punjab, 18 in Sindh, seven in KP, seven in Balochistan and two in AJK.

Following the recommendations of apex committees and Ministry of Interior, a total of 190 cases have been transferred to military courts, of which 28 are from Punjab, 30 from Sindh, 86 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 43 from Balochistan and three from Gilgit-Baltistan. The military courts have decided 49 cases while 147 are still under process, he said.

He said in total, 1,352 cases had been registered for hate speech and spreading hate material. These included 958 in Punjab, 106 in Sindh, 191 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 51 in Balochistan, 13 in ICT, 10 in AJK and 24 in Gilgit-Baltistan. The law enforcement agencies also arrested 2,528 people and sealed a total of 70 premises on the above-mentioned charges, Ghani added.

The Nacta chief said 17,746 cases had been registered for misuse of loud speaker and 18,458 people were arrested. Regarding establishment of Counter-Terrorism Force (CTF) in the country, he said Punjab had recruited 4,300 personnel in CTF against the sanctioned strength of 5,000, Sindh 728 against the sanctioned strength of 1,000, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 2,080 personnel against the sanctioned posts of 2,206, Balochistan 1,000, ICT recruited 500 against the sanctioned strength of 1,000, while Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK recruited 168 and 260 personnel for CTF respectively.

He said since the launch of Karachi operation, target killing incidents had dropped by 97 per cent, murders cases by 87 per cent, terrorism by 98 per cent and robberies by 52 per cent.

Ghani said there was visible improvement in law and order in Punjab as effective operation had been launched by law enforcement agencies to curb militancy in the province.

About elimination of militant militias in the country, he said law enforcement agencies had arrested 265,193 terror suspects.

He said the last date of return for the proof of registration card holder was December 31, 2017. The Ministry of Safron in consultation with Nadra had finalised an operation plan for documentation of unregistered Afghan refugees, he said, adding that draft National Refugee Law had been developed and shared with all relevant stakeholders.

A representative of Nadra briefed the committee on the current status of blocked CNICs, while the Ministry of Interior official shared details of the new licence policy and extension of visa policy.

The parliamentary body constituted a sub-committee under the convenorship of MNA Kanwar Naveed Jameel with the ToRs to visit the Central Jail Karachi and probe into the prisoners’ complaints.

MNAs Syed Iftikhar-ul-Hassan, Shahid Hussain Bhatti, Nawab Muhammad Yousuf Talpur, Kanwar Naveed Jameel, Salman Khan Baloch, Naeema Kishwar, Sher Akbar Khan, Shazia Marri and Kishwar Zehra besides senior officers from the Ministry of Interior, Nacta, Ministry of Law and Justice attended the meeting.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/227161-Policy-being-devised-to-avert-Daesh-threat

August 31, 2017   No Comments

Pak Terrorism Scene – Aug 31, 2017

Two terrorists arrested: by Oscar Reyes in The News, Aug 31, 2017
LAHORE: A CTD team on Wednesday evening claimed to have arrested two terrorists, members of a banned organisation, TTP Ghazi Force, in an intelligence-based operation on Services Road near Chowk Old Ravi Pull. The suspected terrorists, Amjad Khan and Ikram Ullah, were preparing to launch an attack on personnel of security agencies. The CTD team recovered hand grenades and explosive material from their possession.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/227257-Two-terrorists-arrested

Two terror suspects arrested: Report in Dawn, August 31st, 2017
TAXILA: The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) has arrested two terror suspects in a raid in Thattakhel area of Taxila.

CTD spokesperson said the raid was conducted on the intelligence report according to which the suspects were affiliated with a banned organisation.

The CTD team also recovered explosive material, detonators and other ammunition from their possession. The spokesperson said the terrorists were planning to target important installations in the area. They were shifted to unknown location for further investigation. https://www.dawn.com/news/1355021/two-terror-suspects-arrested

12 militants surrender : Report in Dawn, August 31st, 2017
QUETTA: Twelve militants belonging to the banned Baloch Republican Army surrendered to security forces in Balochistan on Wednesday.

According to an ISPR statement issued from Rawalpindi, the militants handed over their weapons and ammunition to security personnel in the Nushki area after an intelligence operation, the army said.

The statement said that among those who laid down their arms were two mid-tier militants, identified as Wali Khan, a resident of Kohlu district, and Karghani, a resident of Sui.https://www.dawn.com/news/1355024/12-militants-surrender

August 31, 2017   No Comments

Blasphemy accused gets death penalty: Report in Dawn, August 31st, 2017

SANGHAR: Additional and Sessions Judge of Shahdadpur Shahid Hussain handed down death penalty to an accused on a blasphemy charge on Wednesday.

According to the FIR registered at Shahdadpur police station under Section 295-B, the convict set ablaze some religious material in Shahdadpur and police arrested him “red-handed”.

The convict had been in Sanghar district jail for over a year.

ASI Mohammad Jurial Chandio was the complainant in the FIR and all witnesses were police officials.https://www.dawn.com/news/1354958/blasphemy-accused-gets-death-penalty

August 31, 2017   No Comments

Regulating Seminaries: edit in The Nation, Aug 31, 2017

The Punjab government has decided to regulate religious seminaries that are operating in the province. The provincial government is to bring all religious schools under one department.However, it is yet to be decided whether the proposed directorate or Auqaf department will look after the affairs of these seminaries.

However, the Punjab government deserves the credit for making a bold decision regarding registration of these religious schools.There is no denying the fact that a lot of these religious schools serve as nurseries of intolerance, sectarian hate, and religious extremism.Many impart orthodox education based on centuries old syllabus called Dars-i-Nizami and there is no oversight or control over the actual content being disseminated.

Nonetheless, it must be noted that whenever a suggestion to modernise these institutions is made, the administrators of these seminaries comepletely shut off, or have a potentially violent adverse reaction.Those who run the affairs of these schools are disinclined to any slight change in the contents of the syllabus thus bringing them to an open conflict with the modern education system and western culture.The Madaris have been divided on the basis of religious sects ie Shia, Sunni and Ahl-i-Hadith.But their adherence to primitive education, Jihad and abhorrence for the western civilisation is almost the same.

The step taken by Punjab to bring religious schools under government control can be seen as a move to reform them.However, the change will need to focus on three different aspects of the madaris: The financing, the curriculum, and the state’s authority over the institutions.For permanent reformation to occur, the Pakistani government will need to implement policies that will demilitarise the madaris.All these steps taken together will bring real and positive change in the culture of madrassas.One last thing that the Punjab government needs to do is to come up with a proper legislation related to registration of religious institutions.

All other provinces should follow suit, as these institutions need to be scrutinised for transparency and authenticity of their syllabi.It is imperative to understand that the war on terrorism cannot be won until religious seminaries are monitored effectively.Also, the need of the hour for the Pakistani state is to not rely on such institutions for its narrow geo-strategic interests.The state and establishment should learn from their past mistakes.Turning a blind eye to their activities have already ruptured the fabric of Pakistani society. http://nation.com.pk/editorials/31-Aug-2017/regulating-seminaries

August 31, 2017   No Comments