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State and non-state: by Babar Sattar in The News, Sept 9, 2017

The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad.
Ten years, numerous investigations and a trial later, we are as unaware of the truth surrounding Benazir Bhutto’s assassination as we were the day she was taken. The saddest part is that this has come as no surprise. Had we stumbled upon the truth amid the state putting up a show of trying to bring offenders to justice, it would have been a break from our history and practice. The ATC ruling, considered dispassionately, epitomises the rot that parts of our state have come to represent. As a whole, it is a picture of depravity, complicity, inability and timidity.

There were at least three hypotheses regarding BB’s assassination: One, she was killed on Musharraf’s instructions; two, she was killed by the Musharraf regime by engaging non-state actors; three, non-state actors conceived and executed the assassination plan and the Musharraf regime – while being aware of the threat – was either incapable or unwilling to protect BB. To state the obvious, none of these makes the state look good. It was a state crime, or state and non-state actors being in bed, or non-state actors acting with impunity due to an inept state.

The ATC ruling clarifies nothing. There is no attempt to understand or analyse the larger picture. One gets no sense that the court tried to decrypt the motive of crime or pass a ruling that would unveil the facts surrounding it or announce a sentence that legal heirs of the victim could consider retributive justice or one that would have deterrent effect in general. Is a justice system anything more than a charade if it can’t decipher the truth surrounding a heinous crime, can’t identify or nab culprits and can’t bring peace to legal heirs or society-at-large?

The ATC seems to reject the third hypothesis (proposed and pursued by the state): that non-states/the TTP executed BB. This is the only slightly reasoned part of the ruling. The court decries lack of causal linkages between the accused and the crime and highlights the larger problem with criminal prosecution: the accused kept in illegal confinement, arrest date falsified, confessional statements taken under duress, evidence concocted, involvement of intelligence agencies, SOPs not followed, investigations rife with loose ends leading to prosecution presenting a fabricated story that doesn’t withstand scrutiny.

By separating Musharraf from the trial and ordering that he be tried at a later time, the ATC court doesn’t directly address the theory that Musharraf ordered BB’s assassination. But by convicting DIG Saud Aziz and SSP Khurram Shahzad (under Sections 119 and 201 of PPC, for concealment of design to commit an offence that the police were duty bound to prevent, and for causing disappearance of evidence) the ruling leaves both theories (state ordering BB’s assassination and executing it itself, or having it executed by proxies) open.

The part of the ruling that deals with the role of the police officers is almost devoid of reasoning. It deals with their defences mechanically and while convicting them doesn’t explain in cause-and-effect terms what “design” they tried to conceal. So without the court saying who killed BB and why, we have two police officers convicted (one for ordering that the police escort team assigned to BB attend to the firing incident targeting Nawaz Sharif and for not ordering a post-mortem, and the other for ordering that the crime scene be hosed 100 minutes after the incident).

(In the interest of disclosure, as a young ASP Saud Aziz was our neighbour in Civil Lines. Khurram Shahzad was a classmate in Quaid-e-Azam University and probably the mildest soul in class. And from police officers one has only heard about both being professionals). Notwithstanding the acquaintance, if they were part of or complicit in any ‘design’ to assassinate BB, they must face the wrath of law in its harshest form. But can someone be punished for protecting a design without determining what the design is or who its authors/executioners are?

Holding the police accountable for being negligent is one thing (and about time we do so) and punishing them for deliberately destroying evidence to protect real culprits is another. Have the officers been scapegoated or have they been punished for not revealing the identity of the hidden hands behind BB’s murder? Due to poverty of reasoning, the ruling doesn’t explain. The inability of actors within the justice system to be candid in such cases is evident from the fact that the only plain-speaking part of the ruling is where the judge quotes the findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry.

The UN Commission in its findings noted: “The [BB murder] investigation was severely hampered by intelligence agencies and other government officials, which impeded an unfettered search for the truth. Despite their explanation to the Commission that they do not have a mandate to conduct criminal investigations, intelligence agencies included the ISI were present during key points in the police investigation, including the gathering of evidence at the crime scene and the forensic examination of Ms. Bhutto’s vehicle, playing a role that the police were reluctant to reveal to the Commission.

“More significantly, the ISI conducted parallel investigations, gathering evidence and detaining suspects. Evidence gathered from such parallel investigations was selectively shared with the police. What little direction police investigations had was provided to them by the intelligence agencies. However, the bulk of the information was not shared with police investigators. In fact, investigators on both the Karachi and Rawalpindi cases were unaware of information the ISI possessed about terrorist cells targeting Ms Bhutto and were unaware that the ISI had detained for persons in late October 2007 for the Karachi attack.

“More importantly, no aspect of the Commission’s inquiry was untouched by credible assertions of politicized and clandestine action by the intelligence services – the ISI, Military Intelligence, and the Intelligence Bureau. On virtually every issue the Commission addressed, intelligence agencies played a pervasive role, including a central involvement in the political negotiations regarding Ms Bhutto’s return to Pakistan and the conduct of elections.

“The Commission believes that the failures of the police and other officials to react effectively to Ms. Bhutto’s assassination were, in most cases, deliberate. In other cases, the failures were driven by uncertainty in the minds of many officials as to the extent of the involvement of intelligence agencies. These officials, in part fearing involvement by the intelligence agencies, were unsure of how vigorously they ought to pursue actions that they knew, as professionals, they should have taken.”

This last paragraph of the UN Commission’s finding cited in the ATC ruling is an apt critique of the ATC ruling as well. BB’s assassination and subsequent events, including bungled up investigations, the lies and cover-ups, death of a prosecutor and a clumsy trial scream out loud that instrumentalities of our state made a deliberate and sustained effort to ensure that no one gets to the bottom of who killed BB and why. The scarier bit, highlighted by the fact that BB’s party was in government after her assassination, is that everyone has made peace with the fact that survival demands not entangling with powerful state instrumentalities.

The Saleem Shahzad Commission headed by a SC judge had concluded that, while information wasn’t forthcoming and he couldn’t name names, he also couldn’t give a clean chit to intelligence agencies suspected of foul play. The issue of forced disappearances is alive and screaming to this day without an end in sight. The Axact case has been messed up just like BB’s with investigators pressurised and at least one prosecutor being delivered the ‘message’ with a grenade attack.

We saw bloggers being picked up, charged and convicted for blasphemy in a media trial by faceless accusers before being let off in the dark of the night.

So here is the message. You can survive non-state actors if you antagonise them, but neither they nor you can survive if you cross the state.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/228740-Legal-eye-State-and-non-state

September 9, 2017   No Comments

Students under scrutiny: edit in THE NEWS, September 9, 2017

The revelation that one of the Ansar-ul-Sharia Pakistan militants behind the assassination attempt on MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan on Eid day was a student at Karachi University has led to another round of soul-searching about radicalisation on our campuses. Clearly there is an issue here and something needs to be done about militant groups recruiting from colleges and universities. Any solution, however, needs to be proportionate to the problem and should not impinge on academic freedom. There are reports that officials at Karachi University are going to hand over student records to intelligence agencies so that any possible militants can be flushed out, although KU Vice Chancellor Muhammad Ajmal Khan has, in his press talk on Friday, said that no final decision has been taken on the matter yet. Presumably the data handed over would include information like classes taken by students or books they have checked out of the university library. This raises issues of the privacy rights of the nearly 30,000 students enrolled at Karachi University. Giving their personal information to the state would create an opportunity for unscrupulous elements to start targeting students for their political views and activities, even if unconnected to militancy. As it is, political space at our campuses is minimal due to the ban on student unions. Should students now live in fear of their records being handed over to law-enforcement and intelligence agencies, they would be even less likely to become politically engaged.

There is always a danger of such exercises turning into a witch hunt. A student may be taking a lot of classes on terrorism and reading material related to militancy out of academic interest but could end up being tarred as a militant sympathiser. Such curtailment of liberties also has a bad habit of quickly spreading. Today it is Karachi University that is giving up student data; tomorrow it could be every other university in the country. The dangers of allowing the state to compile dossiers on all university students should be obvious enough. This doesn’t mean our law-enforcement personnel shouldn’t be taking action against militants on campus. But instead of treating every student as a potential militant, they should be focusing their intelligence efforts on militant groups themselves. Infiltrating and effectively surveilling them would be a more effective way of flushing out any students in their midst. As the Karachi University vice chancellor has said, there is no reason for all students to be under suspicion because of a few bad apples. A more positive way of limiting the appeal and reach of militant groups on campus would be to allow political expression to flourish. The more options students are given, the easier it will be to marginalise the influence of extremist viewpoints.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/228746-Students-under-scrutiny

September 9, 2017   No Comments

A tale of two terrorists: By Faraz Khan / Zubair Ashraf in The Express Tribune, Sept 9, 2017

KARACHI: From students at prestigious private educational institutions to alleged militants bent on killing hundreds of their own countrymen, the tale of youngsters being used in the name of jihad is not a pretty one.

The tale is not new – the entire country knows the names of Saad Aziz, Tahir Hussain Minhas, Muhammad Azhar Ishrat and Hafiz Nasir who, after years of being educated at some of the city’s most elite educational institutions, planned and successfully executed attacks that resulted in the deaths of 45 members of the Ismaili community in Safoora Goth in 2015 and T2F director Sabeen Mahmud.

Minhas, alias Saeen, was identified as the mastermind behind the Safoora attack. He was the ‘least educated’ of the group and had only completed his matriculation.

Aziz, alias Tin Tin, holds a BBA degree from the Institute of Business Administration. Ishrat, alias Majid, has a degree in electronics engineering from Sir Syed University and Nasir, alias Yasir, has an MA degree in Islamic studies from the University of Karachi.

Contrary to popular opinion, the youth of Pakistan are not being radicalised solely in religious seminaries and these young men are evidence of this.

Now there is a new chapter in the story of radicalisation of Pakistan’s youth. The tale of Abdul Karim Sarosh Siddiqui and Sheharyar alias Abdullah Hashmi, who are suspected of being top commanders of a mysterious Pakistani version of the Ansarul Sharia militant group, begins at a university.

Sarosh is currently being considered the mastermind of an attack on Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan MPA and Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izharul Hassan.

At one time the two friends and neighbours who both studied at the department of applied physics at the University of Karachi were simply associates of Masood Azhar’s Jaesh-e-Muhammad. Like any other young assets of a political or a religious organisation, they were used to collect funds and maintain a stronghold in their neighbourhood.

Contrary to common ethnic stereotypes regarding terrorists, both Sarosh and Sheharyar were from the Urdu-speaking community.

Both from the middle-class, there was no evident financial motivation for the men’s terrorist activities.

An acquaintance of the young men who requested anonymity said tension has gripped the area since the police’s failed attempt to arrest Sarosh in an early morning raid at his residence in the Rufi Rose Petals gated housing community in Gulzar-e-Hijri.

Local residents have seen Sarosh and Sheharyar together often. According to the residents, the men were activists like those of any other religious or political organisation. “They would engage in clashes — sometimes armed — with rivals and law enforcers.”

Once the two engaged in a clash with their rivals over a dispute regarding their organisational activities in the area near Fariya Chowk and responded with heavy fire to force the other party to retreat, despite their greater numbers. “They usually carried arms with them,” commented an individual who was previously associated with a political party and wished to remain anonymous.

“They never interfered in our work, so neither did we interfere in theirs,” he said, adding that both the parties knew each other’s capacity to fight and were of the view that maintaining good ties was in their interests. “But we never thought that they would go this far, if what is being propagated by the media is true.”

Though Sarosh and Sheharyar studied at the same department at the varsity but it would be unfair to assume that they were radicalised there. Indeed, it is not yet clear whether they studied at the department at the same time or not.

“I never remember Sarosh running a [radicalisation] campaign in class or among other students,” shared one of Sarosh’s former classmates. “He was good at his studies. A bright fellow but not a regular student. He would disappear for days, weeks and sometimes months at a time,” he added, saying that he was not a ‘social animal’ by any means but would definitely respond if someone initiated a conversation with him.

While maintaining a low profile at the university, the youngsters were not shy or isolated when it came to their neighbourhood. They are said to have been regulars at the local mosque and at congregations around the city and country. Police claim they travelled to Afghanistan for militant training but their neighbours and acquaintances are unaware of this.

“Sarosh appears to be a strong guy. He has some extra fat on him. But Sheharyar on the other hand appeared quite lean,” said a resident who had seen them opening fire at their rivals during a clash.
“If you shook hands with him, you would never believe that his soft hands could fire a gun. But he did professionally,” he said. “It was so accurate,” said the witness.

Law enforcement version: The militants of Ansarul Shariah Pakistan were not ordinary terrorists. Their modus operandi was very different from local terror outfits operating in Pakistan. They kept the evidence of their terrorist activities with them. This has been revealed during interrogations of Sheharyar, who has been arrested by security agencies.

“We filmed all our terrorist activities. There were multiple reasons for that. One of them was to prove that we actually carried out the activity, as multiple outfits used to take the credit for each and every activity via social media,” revealed Sheharyar, who was also the spokesperson for the organisation and holds a Master’s degree in applied physics from Karachi University. The videos of have been obtained by security agencies.

This is the second such terror group in Karachi to have an interest in filming their terrorist activities, as earlier another well educated group of militants inspired by the Da’ish — the Saad Aziz group — also filmed their attack in Safoora Goth. But senior counter terrorism officers have a different opinion.

“Both groups — the Saad Aziz group and the Ansarul Sharia Pakistan have too many differences with each other,” senior Counter-Terrorism Department officer Raja Umer Khattab told The Express Tribune. “The Saad Aziz group was carrying out terror activities which had an international impact. Ansarul Sharia Pakistan was carrying out low-profile attacks like targeting those who were wearing police uniforms, even if they were from the Police Foundation or Police Volunteers.”

Khattab said that Saad Aziz group had carried out major terror activities but only attempted to film the Safoora carnage and even that attempt failed, as they lost the camera’s memory card. “Usually, the actual aim to film the terrorist activity is to prove their work to the media, masses and their leadership,” Khattab explained.

The group was also trained to carry out terrorist activities and received training in Afghanistan. They used special mobile applications to communicate with each other and kept USBs hidden in the talismans around their necks to store data of their terrorist activities, literature and other important things.

The group comprised over a dozen highly qualified members from different varsities, including the University of Karachi, NED and Dawood Engineering University. According to investigators, the group started killing policemen because they are soft targets. By killing the policemen, the outfits can prove their power.
The police have also recorded the statements of Sarosh’s father, Sajjad Siddiqui, who is currently in the custody of security agencies. The father admitted that his son has been involved in suspicious activities for the past few years. “He never gave me a satisfactory answer when I noticed his suspicious activities,” revealed Sajjad during investigations. “I even asked him to surrender but he resisted and tried to kill them instead of surrendering himself.”

Investigators believe that the group’s militants had earlier been associated with different banned militant outfits including the Da’ish, alQaeda, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaesh-e-Muhammad.

Sarosh is reportedly on the run with two others, Muzammil and Talha, after allegedly killing a policeman and injuring another during the early morning raid at his house on Sept 3.

KU strikes back : The Karachi University Teachers Society reacted to alleged portrayal of universities as breeding grounds for militants strongly, saying that Sarosh, who is being treated as a suspected militant, actually left in the middle of his studies six years ago.

A statement issued by KUTS Secretary Dr Muhammad Haris Shoaib also read that it was not the work of varsities to scrutinise its students’ profiles and provide their data to law enforcement agencies.

The teachers’ society hoped that the law enforcement agencies would be able help trace the militants and also reprimanded some media outlets for their alleged biased and insensitive reporting on the issue.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1501380/tale-two-terrorists/

September 9, 2017   No Comments

‘Unregulated madrassas must be tackled to fight extremism’ : op-ed

by Naveed Ahmad in The Express Tribune, Sept 9, 2017
The writer based in Doha and istanbul is a Pakistani investigative journalist and academic with extensive reporting experience in the Middle East and North Africa.

The narrative about counter-terror in Pakistan is equally reactionary and lame as is the idea of negotiating with terror groups. A single-handed approach of military operations has proven defective too. Madrassas or religious seminaries have been long blamed for present day extremism and militancy after successfully creating foot soldiers for Afghan uprising and succeeding against the Soviet Union.

It is alarming that the killers of Sabeen Mahmud or Daniel Pearl were not poverty-stricken radicals or brought up and brainwashed on charity. Like them, hundreds of others subscribing to the fanatic interpretation of religion, sect and ethnicity have had exposure to the universities and occasionally to the best schools abroad.

The rogue children of classical middle-class can be found in sectarian and ethno-nationalist camps. The numbers have been soaring and not just within Pakistan but also within the expatriate community. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, in particular, spew alarming trending topics and fearsome reflections therein. Sectarian and ethnic militias go cyber through tools like ‘Telegram’ and ‘Signal’ much before any given sleuth, journalist or academic. Truly, the challenge of extremism and fanaticism is bewildering.

Despite their diminishing significance owing to changing trends and tools, madrassas remain an elephant in the room. Bizarrely, the regulation, moderation and mainstreaming have been tasks the executive served better with rhetoric than action may it be Musharraf, Zardari or Nawaz at the helm.

During over four years in power, Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N failed to take concrete steps in stemming soaring religious intolerance. An ill-advised decision of reviving the ‘Pakistan Madrassa Board’ has reduced the state’s role from regulator to a competitor, also seen as a giant step backwards.

As per a report presented by the government in the Senate early in 2015, at least 23 madrassas were tracked across Pakistan for foreign funding. There exist madrassas that receive informal funding from foreign sources to propagate hard-line views to the younger generation. The sources of foreign funding vary from Iran and Iraq on one hand, and some Arab influential in the Gulf on the other. However, Islamabad could not find traces of a foreign government explicitly funding any religious seminary due to an absence of official and formal dealings.

According to the ministry of religious affairs, some 200,000 youth ‘graduate’ from over 26,000 madrassas every year. Graduates from these intuitions either mostly remain jobless or work as prayer leaders for just Rs 10, 000.

Though there was no governmental oversight on seminaries’ curricula and funding sources, the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto discontinued the formality of registration in 1996. That very decision led to the mushrooming of unregistered madrassas in the country. Not many availed the option to register themselves when Pervez Musharraf offered concession until September 30, 2005.

Only two attempts were made since 9/11 to bring the autonomous madrassas into the mainstream academic setup.

Not only did Musharraf amend the Societies Registration Act of 1860, requiring madrassas to register with the government and submit audited financial statements along with a list of donors every, he also lost his interest in reform owing to political challenges from the opposition.

Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the umbrella organisation of seminaries – Ittehad-e-Tanzeemate-Madaris Pakistan (ITMP) – he also consented to include compulsory science and art subjects at matriculation and intermediate levels. The government formed a regulatory body within a month. The parliament could not prepare the draft legislation for review by the seminaries’ leadership and missed the chance.

Despite bitter sectarian differences, several clergy leaders tend to unite whenever madrassas have been threatened for operating illegally, radicalising the youth and having dubious funding sources. To strike parity with the mainstream academic institutions, the situation necessitates a greater role in determining the madrassas’ curricula, quality of teachers and examination standards.

With the conclusion of ‘Operation Zarb-e-Azb’ in most parts of Waziristan, unregulated and shadowy madrassas must be tackled as part of a grand strategy to curb radicalism and extremism. The state has to come forward and assert its writ beyond the agency to curb extremism, backed by local or foreign support.

Islamabad needs to reactivate the ITMP as per the original vision evolved after a consensus of management of leaders of various madrassas. The government has neither the capacity to nationalise them nor the ability to deal with angry mobs, protesting and jamming the economy already under IMF debt.

The challenge does not merely require executive or constitutional remedies. In fact, besides registration and mainstreaming of mosque and madrassas, training of religious teachers and imams has to be mandatory, widespread and stringent. The financial help from the Gulf States will not stir conspiracy theories amongst the religious cadres in Pakistan.

Over the decades, a spike in sectarian as well as ethno-nationalistic fanaticism has not been addressed in an overarching systemic manner. The culture of intolerance and drifts to impose Senate views or ways of life are not unique to Pakistan alone.

The world underwent a mammoth task of de-radicalisation after the World War II when it faced the challenge of curbing ‘Nazism’. Ever since scores of success stories against extremism and intolerance emerged, each rooted and accustomed to its peculiar setting. Excessive use of force, military courts or policing could not have helped them achieve Europe, which it did in the post-war era.

Pakistan lacked a holistic approach to learn from the existing body of knowledge and adapting practical and theoretical facets of successful strategies and methods to de-radicalise the society and bring the fringe elements back to the mainstream. Using a coherent theory of radicalisation and de-radicalisation and integrating it into typology and methodology of projects can do the trick.

Two de-radicalisation centres setup after the Swat operation offer a good pilot project. Nevertheless, academia and experts have yet to delve deep in devising ways to measure effectiveness, standard methods and procedures for such programme from the national perspective.

For that matter, Understanding De-radicalisation: Methods, Tools and Programs for Countering Violent Extremism by Daniel Koehler comes handy by building what amounts to the genuine theory of de-radicalisation programmes.

Besides, Pakistani society longs for restorative justice policy whereby the social trauma – which can even be dubbed as post-traumatic stress disorder – could be addressed. Television, whether news or entertainment, have to shy away from propagating violent scenes while the censor board must also not evaluate films, national or foreign, on the same touchstone.

Regrettably, the academic institutions have not been part of the de-radicalisation campaign.

The old-fashioned debating forums and essay writing contests or intra-district and inter-provincial exchanges have gone obsolete. Participation of youth in extracurricular activities, including sports, should be reflected alongside his academic grade.

Similarly, the grassroots economic development also hits at the heart of poverty. Lack of jobs in the private and public sectors is a trial requiring immediate remedy. Expanding vocational training centres under strict regulations for quality education cannot be delayed any further. To start with, stress should be given on districts with higher poverty and extremist trends for imparting technical training.

The most daunting aspect of radicalisation is the one Pakistan is least prepared for, the cybersphere. That is where self-radicalisation occurs, eventually, the youth embracing a certain extremist group, which may or may not indulge in active terrorist acts. As much as social media is tantamount to urban Pakistan’s pulse, it also presents the opportunity to create content to counter extremism. Banning social media outlets or blocking certain Twitter or Facebook accounts equates to brushing the dirt under the carpet.

A hyper-nationalistic rhetoric mistaken for counter-terror narrative fails to engage an isolated and confused mind. Based on a comprehensive theoretical framework drawn from global success stories of de-radicalisation, a holistic strategy has to be put in action with political will trickling down from the very top. Time is always of the essence.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1501029/unregulated-madrassas-must-be-tackled-to-fight-extremism/

September 9, 2017   No Comments

Six soldiers injured in Orakzai bomb blast : report in The News, Sept 9, 2017

KALAYA: Six personnel of law enforcement agencies sustained injuries as miscreants targeted a convoy of security forces with an improvised explosive device (IED) in upper parts of Orakzai Agency, official sources said.

They said a convoy of security forces was on its way to Ghaljo from the Khadizai area in upper parts of Orakzai Agency when it was targeted with an IED. As a result, six security personnel sustained injuries in the attack. The injured soldiers were identified as Subedar Yasin, Havaldar Shafiq, Sepoy Anwar Said, Noor Alam and another soldier whose identity could not be ascertained.

The wounded were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital in Kohat.

JAMRUD: A roadside bomb went off while security forces on Friday recovered and defused another explosive device in Jamrud in Khyber Agency, official sources said.

The sources said the miscreants had planted two improvised explosive devices on roadside in the Jabba area in Jamrud tehsil. They said that an explosive device exploded. However, it did not cause any casualty. The sources said security forces cordoned off the area after the explosion and found another explosive device planted nearby during the search. Security forces recovered and neutralized the explosive device, the sources added.Meanwhile, a search operation was launched after the explosion and recovery of the bombs.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/228793-Six-soldiers-injured-in-Orakzai-bomb-blast

September 9, 2017   No Comments

COAS confirms death sentence of four terrorists: report in The News, Sept 9, 2017

RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has confirmed death sentences of another four hardcore terrorists.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement, the death sentences were awarded by the military courts. The convicts were involved in offences of terrorism, including killing of innocent civilians, attacking law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and armed forces of Pakistan.

On the whole, they were involved in the killing of 16 persons and injuring eight others. Arms were also recovered from their possession. Around 23 convicts were also given imprisonment of various duration by the military courts. The details of terrorists given death penalty are as under:-

Raiz Ahmed, son of Ghularam Khan: The convict was a member of a proscribed organisation. He was involved in attacking law-enforcement agencies and armed forces of Pakistan, which resulted in the martyrdom of eight officials of police and Frontier Constabulary and injuries to five police officials.

He was also involved in destruction of Government Middle School, Aligrama. He was found in possession of a fire-arm. The convict admitted to his offences before the magistrate and the trial court.

Hafeezur Rehman, son of Habibur Rehman: The convict was a member of proscribed organisation. He was involved in killing of three innocent civilians. The convict admitted to his offences before the magistrate and the trial court.

Muhammad Saleem, son of Muslim Khan: The convict was a member of proscribed organisation. He was involved in attacking LEAs and armed forces of Pakistan, which resulted in martyrdom of four soldiers and injuries to another soldier. He was found in possession of fire-arm.

The convict admitted to his offences before the magistrate and trial court. He was given death sentence. Kifayat Ullah, son of Dilresh: The convict was a member of a proscribed organisation. He was involved in attacking armed forces of Pakistan, which resulted in death of a soldier and injuries to two other soldiers. He was found in possession of fire-arm.

The convict had admitted to his offences before the magistrate and trial court.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/228791-COAS-confirms-death-sentence-of-four-terrorists

September 9, 2017   No Comments

Top military commanders review security situation at GHQ huddle

Report in The Express Tribune, Sept 9, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Top military commanders on Friday met in Rawalpindi to review the internal and external security situation of the country with focus on recent developments, including President Donald Trump’s new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

The Corps Commanders Conference was presided over by Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) – the military’s media wing – said the forum discussed internal and external security situation of the country as well as progress on operation Radd-ul-Fasaad.

Unlike in the past, the ISPR only issued a brief statement.

Official sources, however, said a part of the discussions was the evolving regional security situation in the wake of the new US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

Pakistan for not doing enough in the fight against terrorism. He had alleged that Pakistan provided support to certain militant groups, including Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, and asked Islamabad to change its approach.

Pakistan has rejected these allegations and insists that the country’s counter-terrorism campaign targeted militant from all groups. The Trump strategy also prompted the Pakistan government to undertake a review of its foreign policy.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said Pakistan would have to bring a “paradigm shift” in its foreign policy in view of the rapidly changing scenario at the regional and international front. However, he clarified that Pakistan was not seeking divorce with the US but from now on the Pakistan-US relationship would be driven by the country’s national interests.

The Army Chief, in his speech at the GHQ on the Defence Day, had said Pakistan would be ready to support the US and Nato for peace and stability in Afghanistan. However, he also made it clear that Pakistan’s security concerns should also be addressed.

Pakistan is upset at a greater role for India in Afghanistan in the new US strategy for the region. Islamabad has long suspected that India has been using the Afghan soil to create instability in Pakistan.

Experts on the regional affairs believe that increased Indian footprint in Afghanistan could ignite fresh regional tensions and further deteriorate ties between Islamabad and New Delhi. Pakistan has already decided to reach out to regional players, including China, Russia, Iran and Turkey, in an effort to garner their support in view of the evolving situation.

September 9, 2017   No Comments