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Deobandis in South Asia — I: op-ed

by Mubashir Akram in Daily Times, September 5th 2017.
The writer is a social entrepreneur and a student of Pakistan’s social and political challenges

The Deobandi version of Islam in Pakistan is hardly what it started out to be in 1867 in India as a revivalist movement. The seven giants of the Islamic Jurisprudence of that time who established Dar-al Uloom Deoband included names like Rashid Ahmed Gangohi, Zulfiqar Ali, Shah Rafiuddin, Muhammad Yaqub and Muhammad Qasim Nanotvi. This religious seminary was once the second largest after Egypt’s Jamia Al-Azhar, and took on the tasks of spreading education, awareness and political reformation among the Muslims. This school, and school of thought gave birth to Jamiat-e-Ulmae Hind (JUH) in 1919.

In an effort to represent the Muslims, Deobandis adopted a role of peaceful political resistance against the British and viewed Hindus and Muslims as one nation under the common Indian identity. A few disagreed with this overarching identity of the Indian nation, and separated their ways to from Jamiat-e Ulmae Islam (JUI) in 1945. JUI viewed Muslims different from Hindus, and that made them a natural ally of the All India Muslim League in demand for Pakistan. JUI in Pakistan that is most famously led by Maulana Fazalur Rahman, Imran Khan’s ‘best friend!’

Not many know but Majlas-e-Ahrare Islam (MAI) was also born out of the JUH in 1929, and it professed a more conservative interpretation of Islam, but interestingly enough, mixed it with political ideas of socialism. MAI based itself on changing the society and adopted the truest possible colors of being a people’s movement. It had leaders like Syed Ataullah Shah Bokhari, Habibur Rahman Ludhianvi and Zafar Ali Khan. MAI is still running today with its Indian headquarter in Ludhiana, and Pakistani office in Lahore.

Although secular himself, the most famously known political scholar and leader of the Muslims, Ghulam Muhayyudin Ahmed (Maulana Abu al-Kalam Azad) had close relations with JUH. Although he was one of the leaders of the Khilafat Movement (1919-1922) that aimed at protecting the Ottoman Sultanate, he admired and drew inspiration from the role of Deobandi leaders during that time.

Religious influences mixed with successive political and social movements produced writers, speakers, poets and religious scholars who were connected with the masses. They were among the harbingers of the political process that liberated India, and within their own right provided political leadership to the masses. The Deobandi jigsaw had pieces of various colors that presented an interesting view to those who saw or dealt with them. But those days seem long gone now, as the sect is now almost synonymous with extremism and violence not only in South Asia but other parts of the world also, particularly Europe.

Sadly, a movement that aimed at reviving and reforming the religious and political thoughts among Muslims, itself badly needs revival and reformation of its religious and political inspirations. Reportedly fewer in numbers than the Brelvi Muslims, their political role and presence is much bigger particularly in India and Pakistan. They are much more organized, hardheaded and sharp bargainers whenever it comes to doing any sort of political or social business with them. This is especially true in Pakistan, where their influence on the State is overblown, but heavily effective. This is mainly because the Deobandis and the Pakistani State have been sharing the same strategic and political ideologies for over four decades. Both have used and misused each other depending on the challenge in a given time.

Under the doctrine of creating an (imaginary) Muslim Ummah, Pan-Islamism has always had a strong undercurrent of the Deobandi sect. Even prior to Partition, they were at the forefront providing support to movements in Afghanistan and Turkey. Given the mixture of Islam with local Sufi traditions, the Brelvis looked inward. But the ideals of Pan-Islamism motivated Deobandis to also look outward. The home-front was safe because of their connectivity with the State and a stronger experience of religious-political organization that came naturally to them. Since the creation of Pakistan, Brelvis and Shiites were partners with Deobandis during various religiously influenced movements in Pakistan but a major ‘boost’ to Deobandis came when the Soviet militarily entered Afghanistan and the Shiite-influenced Iranian revolution took place. Having hanged a popular political Prime Minister, Pakistan’s military ruler, General Ziaul Haq needed domestic and international legitimacy. The Soviet’s incursion in Afghanistan and the supposed desire of Iran to export the Shiite-revolution provided excellent opportunities to achieve that. Zia had strong Deobandi leanings. He had started favoring them from the beginning of his regime, and the time had arrived for Deobandis to start returning the favors.

Therefore, the rot began in Pakistan that sneaked into other parts of the world, and influenced the endless generations of Jihadists that many states had to grapple with.

September 5, 2017   No Comments

Efforts under way to revive MMA: by Kalbe Ali in Dawn, September 5th, 2017

Efforts under way to revive MMA: by Kalbe Ali in Dawn, September 5th, 2017
ISLAMABAD: The current political situation in the country and the region — especially after the announcement of a new US policy for South Asia and President Donald Trump’s allegations against Pakistan — has provided an opportunity to religious parties of the country to establish a united platform or revive the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).

In this connection, leaders of those religious parties which were members of the MMA have held meetings and developed contacts in recent days.

Formed in 2002 ostensibly to oppose the Musharraf government’s policy of joining the US-led war on terror, the MMA was a political alliance of six religious parties — Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), both factions of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam namely Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led (JUI-F) and Maulana Samiul Haq-led (JUI-S), Shah Ahmed Noorani-led Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP), Prof Sajid Mir-led Jamiat Ahle Hadith (JAH) and the now defunct Tehreek-i-Jafria Pakistan (TJP) of Allama Sajid Naqvi.

The MMA performed well in the 2002 general elections and formed the provincial government in the then NWFP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). It split in 2007 after a rift between the two largest parties in the alliance, JI and JUI-F, deepened.

Interestingly, leaders of the JI and JUI-F, which followed different paths during the 2008 and 2013 general elections, seem more active in making efforts for MMA revival.

Talking to Dawn recently, JUP-Noorani president Sahibzada Abul Khair Zubair said that it was due to differences between the JI and JUI-F that parties in the MMA could not contest the 2008 and 2013 elections from a joint platform.

According to sources, JI and JUI-F leaders have agreed to revive the MMA.

JI Naib Amir Mian Aslam said that he and Liaquat Baloch held a meeting with the JUI-F’s top leadership about a month ago to discuss the issue. He said JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had formed a six-member committee in this connection.

Mr Aslam said JUI-F secretary general Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, who is heading the six-member committee, had held meetings with JUP-Noorani president Sahibzada Zubair, Allama Sajid Naqvi who now heads Shia Ulema Council (SUC) and other religious leaders.

A central leader of SUC, Allama Arif Wahidi, has confirmed such meetings.

The need for the establishment of a united political platform for religious parties has also been stressed by Saifullah Khalid, president of the newly formed political party of the banned Jamaatud Dawa — Milli Muslim League (MML).

He said recently that the alliance of all religious forces was the need of the hour. His party, he added, was ready to join any united platform, including the MMA.

According to the sources, it is expected that those striving for the revival of the MMA will also try to include some new religious groups in the alliance, such as Allama Amin Shaheedi-led Ummat-i-Wahida, a splinter group of Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM). They said Maulana Haideri had also held meetings with MML leaders.

Political analysts, however, expressed their doubts about the success of the efforts for MMA’s revival.

Amir Rana, director at the Islamabad-based think tank Pakistan Institute of Political Studies, says that there are several strong lobbies within religious parties which may oppose their unification.

As pointed out by Mr Rana, such a case was witnessed when a four-member delegation led by Allama Arif Wahidi attended the 100-year celebrations of JUI-F in Nowshera.

Members of the delegation of the Shia party were given seats alongside the chief guest — the Imam of Kaaba.

According to the sources, there was resentment within the JUI-F for giving such a protocol to the representatives of a Shia party.

An MWM leader is of the opinion that a number of people who once worked for Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan and then Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat joined the JUI-F after their parties were banned by the government. They have extremist views for people belonging to Islam’s other schools of thought and they will oppose any alliance with them.

Although, JUI-F or JI leaders have so far not held any meeting with the MWM leadership, insiders in the party have not expressed enthusiasm for joining the MMA. https://www.dawn.com/news/1355692/efforts-under-way-to-revive-mma

September 5, 2017   No Comments

Sattar sees plot behind attack on MQM-P lawmaker

Report in Dawn, September 5th, 2017
KARACHI: Terming the assassination bid on Khwaja Izharul Hasan a “conspiracy to destroy peace”, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan chief Dr Farooq Sattar has said that the Sindh government cannot absolve itself from the responsibility of providing adequate security to lawmakers and office-bearers belonging to his party.

“We all have been informed [by the government] of serious threats to our lives, but despite the threats there is no security at our houses,” he told reporters outside the Buffer Zone residence of Khwaja Izharul Hasan on the first day of Eid. “This is solely the responsibility of the provincial government.”

Accompanied by Mr Hasan and other party leaders, Dr Sattar said that not only the MQM-P’s senior leadership but “all our leaders, MNAs, MPAs, senators, mayors and deputy mayors are unsafe”.

He said workers of his party were angry and questioned what would have happened if the plot against any of the leaders had succeeded. “What would be the situation of this city? What happens in the cities across Sindh … is a conspiracy to destroy peace.”

The MQM-P chief said that those involved in this assassination attempt on Mr Hasan, leader of the opposition in Sindh Assembly, and those who killed two Pak Sarzameen Party workers in Orangi Town as well as those who killed an MQM councillor in Korangi must be taken to task. However, he did not directly blame any group or individual for the incident and said that the threats his partymen were facing were not hidden from anyone. “The audio and video statements coming from London [the headquarters of the Altaf Hussain-led MQM] are known to everyone. Besides, we are facing threats from religious extremists and terrorists because of our traditional liberal policy.”

Dr Sattar said that the provincial government had abandoned Karachi and everyone could see the destruction caused by torrential rains. The provincial government had snatched all resources and put the responsibility of the metropolis on Karachi mayor and the MQM-P, he added.

“We had given an SOS call to the federal government but they too left all work for us … so we asked the armed forces of Pakistan [to help] and it was due to [the presence of] their personnel that people [were] in a position to sacrifice their animals on Eid,” he added.

Reopening MQM offices: edit in The Nation, September 05, 2017
Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan’s (MQM-P) quid pro quo with the Prime Minister seems to have fallen through. The MQM-P voted for Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi in the Prime Ministerial elections with the explicit hope of securing a development package for Karachi, and more importantly, permission to reopen the unit offices closed by the law enforcement agencies following Altaf Hussain’s controversial speech on 22 August 2016.

Of course, the party’s support wasn’t crucial – Mr Abbasi would have become Prime Minister without it – but upon election he seemed quite amenable to the proposal; until a greater office intervened.Upon his recent visit to Karachi the new Prime Minister did announce a RS25 billion development package, but informed the MQM that on the “recommendations of the security apparatus actively engaged in restoring normality to the city”, the offices cannot be reopened.And while this “security apparatus” includes provincial and federal law enforcement agencies, what the phrase really points to is the Rangers, and by extension, the armed forces.On initial viewing the security apparatus’ instincts seem understandable – why reverse all the progress that has been made in the city.However, on closer inspection there seems to be little solid footing for this assertion.What do unit offices have to do with security? Their closure might have been useful for putting pressure on the MQM to renounce their renegade leader – which they have done – but a year later is their closure still necessary?

The answers presented by the security apparatus to these questions are disjoined and underwhelming.Some officials claimed that resumption of such unit offices could lead to collection of sacrificial hides during Eid-ul-Azha for the party and allow them to generate funds from means “they applied in the past”.For one, Eid-ul-Azha is over, so this argument becomes invalid, and more importantly there is nothing illegal about a party collecting hides to finance its activities.A far as criminal activity is concerned; no link has been shown with unit offices and an increase in crime.Similarly asking the MQM – P to do without unit offices because no other political party has such an extensive network of offices is illogical – there is no limit on the kind of infrastructure a party wants to maintain, certainly not in comparison to another.The real problem here continues to be MQM-P believed association with Altaf Hussain despite their best efforts to portray otherwise. he party has tried a political solution and failed; perhaps it is time for a legal one, as there seems to be only an executive action by the government that is keeping these offices closed.http://nation.com.pk/editorials/05-Sep-2017/reopening-mqm-offices

September 5, 2017   No Comments

Pak’s educated militants – edits Sept 5, 2017

The ‘highly educated’ militant : edit in Daily Times, September 5th 2017.
The Eid day attack on Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leader Khwaja Izhar ul Hassan is yet another reminder of the unfinished task of dismantling militant outfits and establishing law and order in Karachi. There is much that the law enforcement agences need to do but it would have to be done in concert with political parties and the civil society organisations.

The Karachi police are investigating a newly-emerged militant outfit Ansarul-Sharia Pakistan’s connections with the attack on MQM-P leader.

Besides, the incident has once again brought to limelight the central presence of the educated in militant outfits operational in Pakistani cities. The issue had surfaced a couple of years ago with news of Institute of Business Administration student Saad Aziz’s alleged involvement in Sabeen Mahmud’s killing and was highlighted only recently at a conference held in Karachi of vice chancellors of higher education institutes. And now the Karachi police tell us that one of the assailants killed in crossfire during the Eid day attack, was Hassaan, a Phd holder who was teaching at an engineering university. The alleged mastermind of the attack is said to be a former student of Applied Physics at the University of Karachi and a central commander of proscribed ASP.

The presence of the educated among the ranks of the religious militants is by itself a dangerous sign; and should trigger urgent efforts to tackle religious extremism in education system. Yet the fact that those found involved in such incidents are associated with faculties of natural sciences, engineering and business management cannot be ignored. Similar education profiles of Islamist militants have been observed in studies in other countries as well.

What these faculties have in common is that their degree programmes are among the most marketable the world over and are seen as gateways to secure lucrative jobs. That some of the graduates of such programmes are opting for militancy needs to be examined systematically. The federal and provincial governments need to pay heed to this trend when planning and reviewing counter-terrorism measures.

The authorities — both elected and unelected — should also carefully review the curricula taught in these degree programmes and find ways of including broader liberal arts components in such programmes. They must realise that our students ought to be exposed to a diversity of worldviews through a mandatory social science and humanities component, regardless of their specific degree programme, in view of the increasingly globalised world economy we inhabit today .http://dailytimes.com.pk/editorial/05-Sep-17/the-highly-educated-militant

Extremists on campuses: edit in Dawn, September 5th, 2017

A shocking attack that missed its target but claimed the lives of at least two others on Eid day in Karachi has revealed a dangerous and apparently growing dimension of militancy in the country.

Sindh MPA Khawaja Izharul Hassan, a senior leader of a faction of the MQM, survived the audacious attempt on his life on Saturday, but the alleged mastermind escaped the scene of the attack.

Believed to have been injured in the attack, the militant belonging to a new outfit, Ansarul Sharia Pakistan, was quickly identified by the Sindh police: Abdul Karim Sarosh Siddiqui, a former student of the University of Karachi.

The involvement in militancy of young individuals from the mainstream-education system is not a new phenomenon. Saad Aziz of the Safoora Goth carnage was a student of the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi, while Noreen Leghari, an MBBS student of Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Hyderabad, has been implicated in ties with the militant Islamic State group.

What is clear is that the higher education system in the country remains thoroughly ill equipped to either curb extremism among students or identify individuals before they are able to go on to commit violent crimes. In the wake of the latest Karachi attack, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Shah has claimed that a security audit and verification system will be introduced in the province to try and identify students with militant and terrorist leanings. That may be a welcome move, but it will need to be carefully implemented.

The blunt instrument of the state should not be used against young people who may simply have an educational interest in different ideologies or want to practise a different kind of politics to what the state condones. The focus must be narrow and precise: religiously inspired militants who are on the path of violence against state and society, be they so-called lone wolves or part of an established network of militancy.

The measures that need to be taken cannot be limited to the campus either. The physical and online networks of jihad must be monitored more closely. After more than a decade of fighting militancy, why is it still relatively easy for individuals seeking to join militant groups to do so?

Surely, as the militancy evolves, the state’s response in fighting it must evolve too. Finally, there is the original reality ie madressah networks through which a great deal of recruitment and facilitation of militancy occurs. The emergence of a new challenge does not mean long-standing threats can be ignored. More effort is needed on all fronts. https://www.dawn.com/news/1355651/extremists-on-campuses

September 5, 2017   No Comments

Radicalisation: Universities – incubators of fanatical minds?

By Faraz Khan In the Express Tribune, September 5, 2017
KARACHI: The alleged attack on leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izharul Hasan once again raised the spectre of universities turning into breeding grounds for radicalising students.

Profiles of those allegedly involved in the attack suggested that the authorities overlooked the emergence of religious fanaticism at universities even after the busting of a gang convicted of the deadly Safoora bus carnage.

One of the suspected assailants, who was killed in an alleged shootout with police shortly after the attack, was identified as Ahsan Israr, a PhD scholar who taught at an engineering university in Karachi. The other suspect, later identified as Abdul Karim Sarosh Siddiqui, was said to be a commander of a brand new militant group – Ansarul Shariah Pakistan (ASP).

The same militant was described as being the mastermind of the attack on Izharul Hassan.

Police officials said that Siddiqui was a second-year BS student enrolled in Applied Physics department at Karachi University.

Siddiqui managed to escape when a raid was carried out on his house in Gulzar-e-Hijri. The police raid was led by District Malir SSP Rao Anwar who was accompanied by personnel of intelligence agencies.

Later, SSP Rao Anwar told media persons that Siddiqui escaped despite being wounded in the ensuing firefight.

A police constable, Aijaz, was martyred during this encounter while another was injured during an shootout at the Kaniz Fatima Society in Gulzar-e-Hijri.

Siddiqui is said to be a close friend of another militant, Hassan, who was killed following the attack on Izharul Hassan.

Raids were also conducted for Siddiqui’s arrest in various Karachi localities, including Gulzar-e-Hijri, DHA, Super Highway and Sacchal.

It is learnt that fathers of both Siddiqui and Hassan had been detained along with more than half a dozen others described by police as being members and facilitators of the group.

A suspected spokesperson of the organisation was reportedly arrested during a raid in DHA.

MQM-Pakistan leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan survived an attempt on his life on the first day of the Eid.

Police officials remained busy in inquiries about the killing of an attacker – Hassan in an alleged encounter in the Taimuria area.

People had reportedly caught the suspect alive and handed him over to police.

There are reports suggesting that the suspect was later shot in the head by police.

The investigation into the attack on Khawaja Izharul Hasan led to the reopening of a number of cases that were lying dormant.

About 34 bullets were fired by two 9mm pistols during the attack on Khawaja Izhar. A forensic report of the pistol recovered from the possession of the perpetrator stated that the same weapon had been used for killing a traffic police DSP in Azizabad and four other policemen in the SITE area. The other pistol had reportedly been matched with other high-profile cases, including attacks on police in the Dhoraji area, FBR Regional Office and Police Foundation personnel in Gulistan-e-Jauhar.

The police have also obtained footage of the attack on Khawaja Izhar.

“It is alarming that highly educated people are found to be involved in terrorism,” said a senior officer of Counter-Terrorism Department. “This is why we tried to coordinate with all universities, public sector and private, a couple of months ago.”

Murad Expresses Solidarity

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Monday that the plan for the attack on Izharul Hassan was “created out of this city and may be out of this country”.

The chief minister visited the residence of Khwaja Izharul Hassan to express solidarity with him against the attempt on his life.

The CM was accompanied by MPA Saeed Ghani, PPP General Secretary Waqar Mehdi, Rashid Rabbani and his principal secretary Sohail Rajput.

MQM-Pakistan MPA Faisal Subzwari also attended the meeting.

Replying to a question on the attack, the chief minister said that he would carry out a security audit and student verification in all educational institutions to determine the veracity of the assertion that they were breeding grounds of terrorists.

“It is painful to see well-educated persons involved in terrorism. We will have to review our entire education system. We will also have to invest on a stricter cyber security regime to keep a check on social media which is causing terrorist tendencies,” he said.

Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the provincial government had provided adequate security to MQM leaders and other important personalities.

He said: “The attack on Izahrul Hassan was an attempt at creating fear and insecurity in the city, but thank God he remained safe,” he said.

The chief minister said that the provincial assembly had enacted a new law making it necessary for keeping track of people coming from other areas.

“This is a cosmopolitan city…sometimes you do not even know who is living in your neighbourhood but we are trying to maintain a record.”

Izharul Hassan told media persons that he had been saved by people’s prayers.

Latter, the chief minister accompanied by PPP leaders, Leader of opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khwaja Izharul Hassan went to the residence of Mohammad Kamran, the father of Arsal, who was killed in the attack, and offered condolence. He assured him that the killers would be brought to book.

Earlier at the CM House, the additional IG Karachi Mushtaq Maher briefed the chief minister about the progress made in this case.

Cm In Jamshoro

Sharing his assessment over the fatal attack, CM Murad said the party’s leadership faced threats from its exiled leader.

“MQM-Pakistan (leaders) are facing threats (originating) from Altaf Hussain (in London),” the CM told media persons at his village Waharn in Jamshoro district on Monday. https://tribune.com.pk/story/1498035/radicalisation-universities-incubators-fanatical-minds/

September 5, 2017   No Comments

ATC found prosecution in Benazir murder case ‘confused’

Malik Asad in Dawn, September 5th, 2017
ISLAMABAD: The prosecution in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case and an official of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) weakened the case against the five terrorism suspects which led to their acquittal.

An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) of Rawalpindi on Aug 31 acquitted five terrorism suspects in the case but convicted two senior police officers — Saud Aziz, who was police chief of Rawal­pindi when the former prime minister was assassinated, and Khurram Shahzad, a former senior police superintendent at Rawal Town — for criminal negligence and sentenced them to 17 years imprisonment and Rs1 million fine each.

The judge observed in the verdict that the “prosecution itself was confused”.

The investigation against the five terrorism suspects — Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gul, Sher Zaman, Rasheed Ahmed and Etizaz Shah — had been based on a ‘conspiracy’ to kill Ms Bhutto on Dec 27, 2007.

In order to establish that the assassination had been planned by terrorists, the investigators had relied on a telephonic conversation between Baitullah Mehsud of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with a cleric in which the former had congratulated the latter for successfully carrying out the attack on Ms Bhutto.

This was the same audio conversation which the then National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) director general had released to the media at a press conference a few hours after Ms Bhutto’s assassination.

The investigation of the first Joint Investigation Team (JIT) of the Punjab police had centred on this conversation, while the second JIT, which had probed the murder case under the supervision of then federal minister for interior Rehman Malik, had also treated the conversation as prime evidence.

Piece of key evidence

However, this piece of key evidence lost its value after Mohammad Ismail, an operator of the ISI who had intercepted the conversation, did not appear to testify in court.

The prosecution had relied on this conversation to establish the murder being part of a conspiracy, the 46-page verdict by ATC Judge Asghar Ali Khan noted. The prosecution had also claimed that the confessional statements of the terrorism suspects, forensic analysis of their cell phones along with oral evidence was sufficient to connect them to the murder.

The court verdict had pointed out that the then NCMC director general, testifying before the ATC, had also disclosed where he obtained the audio cassette of the said conversation from. The verdict states: “Brigadier (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema, who stated that on December 28, 2007 he was director general NCMC Ministry of Interior Govt of Pakistan Islamabad, was called to attend a meeting at the ISI headquarters, Islamabad.”

According to Brigadier Cheema’s statement: “The meeting was attended by the ISI DG, the IB DG and the MI DG … chaired by the President that all facts known to the intelligence agencies so far should be shared with the public through a press briefing.”

It further said, “During the meeting, we (Cheema and then secretary interior Kamal Shah) were given a briefing by Major General Nusrat Naeem (of the ISI) in which the following material was handed over to me. Video footage of the incident and an audio cassette of the intercepted conversation by the ISI between Baitullah Mehsud and one Molvi”

Intercepted conversation

Discussing these revelations, the court order noted that the witness “disclosed an important fact about a conversation between Baitullah Mehsud and one Molvi which was intercepted by the ISI…The said conversation was translated into Urdu language by Tahir Ayoub, the then SP investigation… Before coming to the contents of the said conversation between Baitullah Mehsud and one Molvi, it is important to mention here that Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema had nowhere in his statement mentioned the source as well as the manner of intercepting the alleged conversation…He had only mentioned that he attended a meeting at the ISI headquarters where he was handed over the video footage of the incident, an audio cassette of the intercepted conversation and an X-ray report of Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto.”

However, the judge noted that Ismail, an operator of the ISI, was mentioned in the police report u/s 173 (Report of police-officer) of the criminal procedure code as the person who had intercepted the said conversation and downloaded it on an audio cassette.

However, the judge noted that: “Surprisingly, the said witness was given up by the prosecution and was not produced in the witness box.”

Subsequently, the judgement states: “Records/data allegedly intercepted by ISI officials was not proved as ISI official Mohammad Ismail who allegedly intercepted the said call was not produced in the court.”

According to the court order, “the prosecution itself was confused.”

The ATC order said: “to establish the conspiracy, prosecution has to prove beyond all reasonable doubt the agreement between the accused persons to kill the deceased.”

It may be mentioned that on Aug 3, 2017, during the concluding arguments, when the defence counsel challenged the admissibility of the audio conversation, Chief Prosecutor Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) offered to discard the said evidence.

He not only distanced the prosecution from the said conversation but claimed that it was evidence fabricated by then military dictator retired General Pervez Musharraf to save his own skin.

The ATC judge pointed out that the accused had disowned their confessional statements, while the material which the prosecution had produced before the court was not sufficient to prove the case against the five suspects.

September 5, 2017   No Comments

Assassination bid ‘mastermind’ escapes after gun battle in Karachi

by Imtiaz Ali in Dawn, September 5th, 2017
KARACHI: Two days after the attempt on the life of leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khwaja Izhar-ul-Hasan, law enforcers raided the house of the alleged mastermind of the attack on Monday but failed to capture him as he escaped following a fierce gun battle that resulted in the killing of a policeman.

Khwaja Izhar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan came under an armed attack on Sept 2 as soon as he left a mosque after offering Eid prayers in Karachi’s Buffer Zone locality. He remained unhurt in the incident but one of his police guards and his friend’s son suffered serious bullet wounds and died.

One of the assailants — later identified as Hassaan, a lab technician in the Dawood University of Engineering and Technology (DUET) — was also killed under controversial circumstances.

Late on Sunday night, the militant Ansar-ul-Shariah Pakistan (ASP), in a Twitter message, claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt on “pro-American MQM’s leader khuwaja izhar”.

A few hours later, intelligence officials along with a heavy contingent of police carried out a targeted raid on Monday morning in Rufi Rose Petals Bungalows — one of the many housing societies in Karachi’s Scheme-33 area near the Superhighway — to arrest a suspected militant but met stiff resistance from him.

As the militant fired indiscriminately, one intelligence official and two policemen sustained bullet wounds and one of them, identified as Constable Aijaz, died.

Malir SSP Rao Anwar said that the militant managed to escape. He identified the suspect as Abdul Karim Sarosh Siddiqui, who he said is linked with the ASP.

“He is the mastermind of the attack on Khwaja Izhar,” clai­med SSP Anwar while talking to Dawn. He said that Siddiqui fired at law enforcers with 9mm and TT pistols and the spent bullet casings collected from the scene were sent for a forensic analysis to ascertain whether the same weapons had been used in any previous attack.

According to him, Siddiqui was a student of Karachi University’s Applied Physics Department in 2011. His father was a retired professor of the same university. He was taken into custody for questioning, the SSP said.

Controversy surrounding ‘assassin’ killing : Earlier on Saturday, assailants clad in police uniforms fired at Khwaja Izhar as soon as he emerged from a mosque. He survived the attack, but his guards — Constable Moin, assistant sub-inspector Zulfiqar, Constable Shakeel — area residents Kamran, his son Arsal and Shaikh Abdul Waris sustained bullet wounds. Moin and 13-year-old Arsal died on the spot.

Khwaja Izhar’s guards returned fire but it was still unclear whether their bullets hit any of the assailants.

Initially, police claimed that the law enforcers chased the fleeing suspects and managed to kill one of them. However, footage made from CCTV cameras and cellphones showed charged people beating up one of the suspects after catching him. It was unclear as to how the suspect ended up dead.

Sindh Home Minister Sohail Siyal ordered DIG-South Azad Khan to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death of the attacker.

The DIG told Dawn on Monday that the inquiry was still under way as the police were waiting for the final medico-legal report.

He, however, said that the suspect, identified as Hassaan, got injured during an exchange of fire with the police but it was also true that he was subjected to a hiding by a mob.

A senior police officer said that Hassaan was an educated person and worked as a lab technician in the DUET, an engineering university in Karachi.

He belonged to an educated family and his father had a PhD from a university in Islamabad, the official added.

A 9mm pistol was also seized from deceased Hassaan.

Two police officers, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that the 9mm pistol was sent to the forensic lab which confirmed that the same weapon was used in the targeted killings of four policemen in SITE in June and the assassination of a DSP-Traffic and his constable driver in Azizabad in August.

They said that both the attacks were claimed by the ASP, which threw pamphlets on the scenes of crime.

CM promises more security
Also on Monday, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah visited the residence of Opposition Leader Khwaja Izhar to express solidarity with him

He told reporters later that his government had given ample security to MQM leaders and other important personalities and would provide them more security if needed.

“The attack on Izahr-ul-Hasan was an attempt to create fear and insecurity in the city but Almighty Allah kept him safe,” he said.

He said that the planning of the attack “must have been made out of this city and may be out this country”.

He said he would conduct a security audit and verification of students of each and every educational institution to ascertain if they were breeding terrorists. “It is quite painful to see the highly educated persons involved in terrorism,” he said.

Later, the CM went to the residence of the father of victim boy Arsal and offered condolence. He assured him that the killers of his son would be brought to book.https://www.dawn.com/news/1355681/assassination-bid-mastermind-escapes-after-gun-battle-in-karachi

September 5, 2017   No Comments

Big terrorist gang unearthed in Karachi: by Aamir Majeed in The News September 5, 2017

KARACHI: A Malala Yousufzai attacker, along with three other Daesh activists, was killed in an encounter near the Sadaf Society in Karachi on Monday.

SSP Rao Anwar Ahmed said the police, acting on a tip off, raided the Dawood Bungalows in the area. “After the police encounter, four terrorists were killed, including commander Khalid who had attacked Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai on October 9, 2012 in Swat.” Malala was shot due to her outspoken narrative of Taliban atrocities and their ban on women education. Khalid also happened to be a cousin of notorious Mullah Fazlullah who then headed the Tehreek-i-Taliban Swat and is now the chief of TTP.

“Besides Malala, Khursheed was also involved in attacking army officials, and a bomb attack on the Quaidabad police,” the SSP claimed. According to SSP Rao Anwar, Khursheed’s brother Anwar Iqbal is the mastermind of the attack on Malala Yousufzai and is stated to have personally supervised the attack.

Meanwhile, a Karachi Police cop was martyred and another injured on Monday during a joint search by police and security agencies in the Kaneez Fatima Society of Gulzar-e-Hijri locality for arresting an alleged mastermind of murderous attack on Sindh Assembly’s Leader of the Opposition Khawaja Izharul Hassan on Saturday.

Malir Division’s SSP Rao Anwaar Ahmed told The News that a house-to-house search of Kaneez Fatima Society was conducted. The militants opened fire on the police due to which a Karachi Police cop Aijaz was martyred, while Khalid sustained injuries. “However, the mastermind, Abdul Kareem Sarosh Siddiqui, managed to escape in an injured condition,” the SSP said.

Rao further said the police raided Siddiqui’s house and recovered the copy of his Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) and Karachi University’s student card. The police officer said Siddiqui is the commander of newly-emerged Jamaat Ansarul Sharia Pakistan. Siddiqui’s father Muhammad Sajjad Siddiqui has been taken into custody for interrogation, Rao said while adding one of Siddiqui’s close aides Hassan was killed in an encounter with the police after the attack on Khawaja Izharul Hassan.

The alleged attacker on Sindh MPA Kh Izhar, Abdul Kareem Sarosh Siddiqui, is a student of Applied Physics at the University of Karachi while his father is a professor at the university. The University’s Campus Security Officer, Muhammad Asif, confirmed that Sarosh Siddiqui studied at the campus during 2012-14.

Meanwhile, the forensic examination of empties and weapons recovered from Sarosh Siddiqui’s house could not be conducted due to technical snags with the Sindh Police’s newly-inducted Integrated Ballistics Identification System.

Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal expressed grief and anger over the martyrdom of Karachi Police cop. He directed Additonal Inspector General (AIG), Karachi, Mushtaq Meher, to submit a detailed investigation report immediately. The minister also ordered watertight security across the province and directed the Sindh Police to crack down against criminals.

Salis Bin Perwaiz adds: The investigation into Monday’s attack on the opposition leader Khwaja Izharul Hasan was shifted to the Counter Terrorism Department. According to officials, the killed terrorists belonged to Ansarul Sharia. One of them turned out to be a lab technician at a private university. An FIR of the incident was registered at the CTD Sindh Police Station on behalf of the State. The complainant in the FIR is Jamal Leghari, SHO of Taimuria Police Station, in whose jurisdiction the incident took place.

According to the FIR, “SHO Jamal Leghari was informed that after offering prayers MPA Khawaja Izharul Hassan was heading towards his residence along with police guards when three terrorists wearing police uniforms opened indiscriminate fire on the MPA due to which Police Constable (PC) Moinuddin, 35, and a passerby child Arsal Kamran were martyred, while ASI Zulfiqar, PC Shakeel, Kamran, Atif and Abdul Waris were injured.

“The police guards retaliated, injuring one of the terrorists who however along with accomplices escaped.

“The policemen and passersby shifted the injured to a hospital, while police chased the criminals. The officials engaged the fleeing terrorists in an encounter near Degree College and arrested one terrorist with bullet injury to head while his companions escaped. The police recovered a 9mm pistol and a motorcycle from the terrorist.

“The police have registered an FIR at the c under relevant sections of the Anti Terrorism Act and PPC. The case has been referred to CTD’s Transnational Terrorists Intelligence Group.”

A senior official of the CTD Sindh said according to initial investigations, the attack on MPA Izharul Hasan was planned by Ansarul Sharia Pakistan. He added the killed terrorist was identified as Hasaan Israr of the banned outfit. He worked as a lab technician at a private university.

Moreover, it was found out that the 9mm pistol recovered from the crime scene was also used in several attacks on the police officials. The pistol was used in killing a senior police official in Azizabad. The weapon was also used to kill four policemen in the SITE area during Ramazan.

Talking to The News, Addl IG Sanaullah Abbasi, chief of CTD Sindh, said the attack on MPA Khawaja Izharul Hassan was a conspiracy to reverse the gains achieved by the law enforcers but the police would foil the design.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/227870-Big-terrorist-gang-unearthed-in-Karachi

September 5, 2017   No Comments

Three FC personnel martyred in Panjgur ambush

by Saleem Shahid | Behram Baloch in Dawn, September 5th, 2017
QUETTA: Three security personnel, a lieutenant colonel among them, were martyred and a Frontier Corps (FC) commander and two others injured when their convoy was ambushed by suspected militants in the Shangar area of Panjgur district on Monday morning.

The newly appointed FC commander, Col Shah­jeeullah, was touring his command area when armed men, hiding in the mountains, launched an attack on the convoy near the Shangar area.

As a result of heavy firing, three personnel of the FC lost their lives while three others were injured.

“Three FC personnel, including a lieutenant colonel, were martyred in an armed attack by militants,” official sources confirmed, adding that Col Shahjeeullah and two other FC soldiers suffered injuries.

The lieutenant colonel was identified as Aamir Waqar, while the other deceased men were identified as Maqsood and Sepoy Irfan.

The injured were identified as Havaldar Saud and Sepoy Attaur Rehman. They were shifted to a nearby health facility along with the commander.

Source claimed that Col Shahjeeullah had recently been appointed commander of the area and had not taken charge of his new assignment as yet.

They added that security forces cordoned off the area where the incident took place and launched a search operation there to trace the miscreants.

September 5, 2017   No Comments

Half a million Pakistanis deported since 2012

By Irfan Ghauri in The Express Tribune, September 5, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Name a country, any country, and it will probably have deported Pakistanis.

More than half a million Pakistanis have been deported from 134 countries around the world since January 2012, according to statistics submitted to parliament.

While it is commonplace for Pakistanis to be deported from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and a number of European Union member states, many smaller and lesser-known countries have also booted Pakistani nationals for a number of reasons.

Most Pakistanis would not even have heard of some of these countries, much less be able to locate them on a map.

Though the total number of deportees from these states was small compared to the developed world, some of the places where Pakistani nationals were kicked out from are countries like Laos, Togo, Port Louis, Lesotho, Liberia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Burundi, Madagascar, Malawi, Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Mozambique, Angola, and Ethiopia.

The name of the tiny African nation of Lesotho was even spelt incorrectly.

In response to a question put forward by Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, the interior ministry placed before the Senate a list of countries from which Pakistanis have been deported and their annual breakdown from January 2012 till June 30, 2017.

Of the 544,105 Pakistanis deported, 71,723 were expelled in 2012; 79,539 in 2013; 78,409 in 2014; 116,185 in 2015; 111,084 in 2016; and 87,165 in just the first six months of 2017.

Saudi Arabia topped the overall list, followed by the UAE, Oman, Malaysia, the UK, Turkey, and Greece.

The Ministry of Interior started tabulating reasons for deportations from 2014. Overstaying visas, lost passports, passport retained by Kafeel (visa sponsors or employers), illegal immigration, entry refused, and other illegal entries are the most common of the 115-plus reasons for which these people were sent back home by the authorities of these countries.

Data placed before the Senate shows an ever-increasing number of Pakistanis being deported from Saudi Arabia. It deported more than half of the total – 280,052 people.

In 2012, a total of 17,369 people were deported from the kingdom in 2012; another 33,351 in 2013; followed by 45,456 in 2014; 61,404 in 2015; and 57,784 in 2016.

Pakistani nationals were deported from Saudi Arabia. The record from 2015 has already been broken this year, as 64,689 have been deported from January to June 2017.

The UAE did the second-most deportations – 10,235 in 2012; 9,597 in 2013; 8,434 in 2014; 8,690 in 2015; and 9,987 in 2016. The Emirates had deported 5,115 Pakistanis by June 30 this year.

Oman was third, having sent home a total of 20,416 Pakistani nationals during this period.

It was followed by Malaysia, which deported 16,124 Pakistanis in this period. The UK deported 13,700 and Turkey 9,776 Pakistani nationals during this period.

Among non-Brexit EU countries, Greece tops the list with 16,591 Pakistani deportees, followed by Italy with 887, Germany with 815, France with 798, Spain with 408, Belgium with 315, Norway with 265, and Austria with 248 deportees from January 2012 till June 30, 2017.

Other notable European deporting states were Sweden with 98, the Netherlands with 123, Bulgaria with 165, Cyprus with 316, Romania with 145, and Switzerland with 58 Pakistanis deported during this period.

The US deported 832 Pakistanis, while Canada sent home 337.

Interestingly, Pakistanis were also deported from war-torn countries in the Middle East. Iraq deported 27 Pakistanis in 2012; 85 in 2013; 79 in 2014; 102 in 2015; 121 in 2016; and another 90 till June this year.

Yemen deported 16 each in 2012 and 2013; seven in 2014; 49 in 2015; and seven by June of this year. Syria deported 33 Pakistani nationals, all of them in 2012. Libya deported 50 Pakistanis in 2012; 59 in 2013; 129 in 2014; 48 in 2015; one in 2016 and four by June this year.

Neighboring Iran deported 10,346 Pakistanis in 2012, followed by 6,358 in 2013, declining sharply to 50 in 2014; 71 in 2015; 78 in 2016; and 50 by June this year. Eastern neighbour India deported 12 Pakistanis in 2012; six in 2013; 13 in 2014; 10 in 2015; five in 2016; and three by June this year.

China deported 240 Pakistanis. Of these 26 were in 2012; 39 in 2013’; 36 in 2014; 46 in 2015; 80 in 2016; and 13 by June this year.

Meanwhile, western neighbour Afghanistan deported a total of 32 Pakistanis – one each in 2012 and 2013; 29 in 2014; and one in 2016.

September 5, 2017   No Comments