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Category — HUman Rights/ seminars

UN body assails Pak for sharing census data with Nadra, army

by Amin Ahmed in Dawn, September 24th, 2017
ISLAMABAD: An observation mission that monitored the recently-held population and housing census has described the sharing of census data with a ‘third-party institution’ as “a breach of confidentiality of the collected data” according to census practices and procedures.

The mission, deployed by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at the request of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, also observed that “the participation of the military in the census process is not at all a recommended international practice.”

In the case of Pakistan, though, observers noted that it was essential for two reasons: to ensure the security and to avoid any mishandling of the data. However, “data collection by the military… amounts to a parallel census and this is not internationally acceptable,” the mission report says.

Observer report says army men copied data from civilian enumerators

Age records were mainly obtained from CNIC data and most often verified by the accompanying army officer through SMS to the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra). This, the report said, “breached confidentiality”.

The UNFPA had developed the terms of reference of the mission and contracted national and international observers, in consultation with a sub-committee of the PBS governing council. The purpose of the mission was to ensure that the census conducted was in line with internationally-accepted practices.

The army also administered a questionnaire, which had information on the total number of household members and the detailed nationality of the head of household. “This is very unusual and questionable especially given the fact that the main questionnaire had no provision for detailed nationality,” the report said.

The report also pointed out irregularities in the way enumerators and their army escorts collected information. For example, most observers noted that it was the civilian enumerator who provided the information about nationality to the army enumerator if the information was not seen on the identity card.

Apart from completing their own questionnaire, army enumerators were equipped with mobile phones through which they specifically verified the identity card numbers of respondents, either to be sure of their authenticity or to obtain information about the nationality and age of the identity card holders and other linked family members.

In most cases, the report said, army enumerators completed their own questionnaires by looking at the questionnaire of the civilian enumerator. In some cases, where he was not able to do so, it was done later in the evening at the end of the day’s work, by copying the information from the civilian questionnaire.

“It is of course very unusual for soldiers to not only collect information in a population census but also to embark upon verification of (the) respondent’s demographic information. In doing this, collected census data was shared with two other parties (the army and Nadra), which might further compromise the data quality, and which constitutes a breach of census data secrecy,” the report says.

“The exclusion of the residents (refugees or non-refugees) living in refugee villages from the census also breached the principle of universality. These issues need to be addressed urgently by the concerned offices if the census is to be considered in line with national legislation and basic census principles including international standards,” the mission report says.

It says the army provided much-needed logistics for the census, but noted that soldiers were also playing the role of enumerators, collecting information about respondents through the civilian enumerator, but not directly speaking to the respondents.

The army officers that accompanied the enumerators were considered cooperative and rather open regarding their participation in the census exercise. They were very willing to share their own census forms and explained why they sent CNIC numbers to Nadra.

Observers based in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa reported that they were not allowed to observe enumeration in refugee villages because no census was taking place there. According to their report, the district administrator of the area where refugee villages were located informed the team that no counting exercise would take place in any of the refugee villages because of a government directive.

However, if a refugee resided in the city, he/she would be counted or enumerated under the category “other nationality”.

This posture is however surprising because according to the United Nation Revised Census Principles and Recommendations, “population census is the total process of collecting, compiling, evaluating, analysing and publishing or otherwise disseminating demographic, economic and social data pertaining, at a specified time, to all persons in a country.”

Monitors in all provinces also reported problems with the enumeration of transgender individuals, and persons with disabilities.

The report recommended that enumerators should be better trained to interpret responses related to literacy. Many of them confused education with literacy, so that people who were literate but had not attended school were considered illiterate.

In all the provinces, observers reported that outdated maps constituted a major problem in the census.https://www.dawn.com/news/1359691/un-body-assails-census-data-sharing-with-nadra-army

September 24, 2017   No Comments

Pakistani-American preacher alleged to have inappropriate relations with women

Report in The Express Tribune, September 24, 2017
News Desk: Famous Pakistani-American preacher Nouman Ali Khan has been accused of having inappropriate relations with his female followers.

Omer M Mozaffar, who calls himself Khan’s friend of 20 years, revealed details of Khan’s impropriety in a Facebook post. Mozaffar said he had been working on Khan’s case, acting as a mediator between him and the local community of Dallas scholars.

“He confessed inappropriate interactions with various women, violating agreed-upon bounds of Islamic law. He also told lies to cover up those relationships, and filed threats of litigation against multiple parties to further hide his misconduct,” Mozaffar wrote.

Mozaffar further claimed that Khan had agreed to stop public speeches until further notice, to get professional and religious counseling, and to cease all contact with those women. “I had the responsibility to determine when he would be ready to speak again. I gave him an exception, allowing him to post previously recorded lectures, so long as they were not about marriage or gender matters.”

However, Mozaffar claimed that Khan has now broken his agreement with them. He has also been sending threats against them through his attorney. Khan has also hit back with claims that this was all a campaign to ruin him.

“This was obviously incorrect; there is no campaign and Nouman is not the victim here. The scholars were seeking to protect the community and to protect him from himself,” wrote Mozaffar.

Mozaffar’s claims have also been substantiated by Navaid Aziz, who is the Director of Religious Education and Social Services at the Islamic Information Society of Calgary. Aziz wrote that the accusations against Khan have been verified by multiple people, “and some of them have even been confessed by him.”

A day after the accusations became public, Khan took to Facebook to reject the allegations. Stating that he has never used his platform to take advantage of anyone, he stated the accusations against him are slander and a means to create a ripple effect to tarnish his reputation.

“I’d like to add that I’ve had female students at my own campus for years and no student ever has or ever will claim that I’ve been inappropriate in the least bit,” he wrote.

Khan stated that his accusers are “not interested in clarification nor in rectifying the matter,” and that he “was blackmailed, threatened, harassed and warned that if I was to give a single sermon, talk about a single ayah, post a single new video about the Quran or Islam, that they will go on a campaign to ensure I am painted as some sort of threat to the Muslim community.”

Khan claimed his accusers have held public gatherings to rip his character to shreds and allowed him no opportunity to defend himself. The preacher also spoke about Mozaffar who was the mediator and who claims to be his friend for 20 years. Saying that he was “anything but a mediator”, Khan wrote that while the two have cordial relations, he knows little to nothing about his family and he knows virtually nothing about Khan’s. “To claim he’s my friend of 20 years to insinuate that he knows my personal life is really far from the truth.”

After his detailed clarification, Khan posted another message on Facebook and said he would open himself up to scrutiny as he was concerned about the negative fallout of the accusations and thus the effect on the Muslim community. “Let’s allow for a theater free environment to examine all the evidence, cross examine it, discuss and debate it and then conclude. Let us get to the truth of this as I am weary of the way things have transpired.”

Khan who appealed to the younger generation with his frank manner of speaking currently resides in Dallas, Texas. He founded Bayyinah, the Institute for Arabic and Quranic Studies in 2006. He has also been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre of Jordan.

September 24, 2017   No Comments

Pakistan does not need more thieves, harassers or mobs – its police officers are doing the job for them

by Shakir Lakhani in The Express Tribune blogs, September 24th, 2017.
The writer is a, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College
Recently, I came across a news article about senior police officers breaking down the door of a house in Rawalpindi to arrest a murder suspect.

The house they raided belonged to the cousin of the man suspected of having committed said murder. In addition, when these upright gentlemen did not find the man they were looking for, they decided to take with them cash and jewellery, worth at least a million rupees, which belonged to the owner of the house.

Naturally, the poor victim immediately went to the nearest police station to file an FIR (without which the police cannot investigate a crime) against these officers. However, as usual, the police refused to register his case against their own, and the man went from pillar to post for two months before they finally agreed to file an FIR.

Now let us take a closer look at what exactly happened. The robbery mentioned above took place in Rawalpindi, which is in Punjab. What is ironic is that the Punjab chief minister has reportedly transformed the Punjab police force into a highly professional organisation. Therefore, it is even more surprising that police officers within the ranks of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and Station House Officer (SHO) calmly looted the house, as if they knew they would not be caught or held accountable.

Of course, it is rare for police officers to be punished or penalised for their misdeeds. Even when they beat up women, their superiors do not take any action against them. Recently, I came across another video entailing a woman being beaten up by male police officers in Gujranwala.

Apparently, the cops believed no eyebrows would be raised and they would not be punished for manhandling a woman like that. In fact, they behaved in a manner that the police would normally behave in, as if they were above the law. However, the sad part is that they are not wrong – they are above the law and we see that every day.

If they were held accountable, senior police officers would have taken them to task, but no, why would they? They depend upon the lowly constables to do their dirty work and share their illegally earned loot.

I remember a time when police officers were honest and efficient in doing their jobs. Even the low-ranked constables and havaldars (sergeants) were highly respected and many young boys dreamed of becoming police officers after graduation. In fact, I knew a civil engineer who resigned from his job, joined the police, and retired as an Inspector General (IG). Apparently, he gave up on a highly lucrative job in the private sector, just to enjoy the perks and privileges available to police officers.

Gradually with time, the police have become very corrupt. In Karachi, most police officers are appointed not because they are qualified for the jobs, but because they have either paid a lot of money to get employed, or they happen to be relatives of influential feudal lords or people higher up.

Numerous police officers are also activists of the ruling political party and use their resources and power to gather support.

After getting a job, they resort to bribery since they cannot maintain their lavish lifestyles with the salaries that they get. They also have to keep paying the right people to remain posted in Karachi otherwise, they are sent to other smaller districts. In a few years, they get so rich that they are able to buy plots and bungalows in posh housing societies, like the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) in Karachi. And because they have the right people on their side, they know that they cannot be sacked and so they continue their nefarious activities until they retire.

There was once an SHO in Karachi who owned a car show room on the ground floor of a residential building. One day, there was a dispute between his clerk and a couple of residents on the upper floors of the same building. The clerk was injured in a fistfight, and the incensed police officer immediately got cases registered against seven residents of that building. Mentioning the names of the seven people accused in the FIR was to ensure that there would be no bail for them, as the charge against them was ‘rioting and hooliganism’. It took them a week to placate the powerful SHO. Furthermore, the SHO got his clerk to state in court that there had been six people who had attacked him, instead of the previous seven. Such are the powers of an ordinary SHO in Karachi (who had probably paid a fortune to get posted to the metropolitan city).

If you are a resident of Karachi, you know that whenever someone is robbed in the city (even if the amount is in millions), they will never go to the police. A few years ago, dacoits barged into a relative’s bungalow, stayed in the house for two hours (having tea and biscuits and joking) and finally took off with about Rs15 million in cash, prize bonds and jewellery. Judging by their confidence and attitude, my relative was sure that the robbers were either serving or were former police officers. Even though I tried hard to persuade him to report the matter to the police, he refused.

“Going to the cops will only mean more harassment for me and my children,” he said.

I knew a factory owner who was recently kidnapped. The kidnappers relieved him of whatever cash he had on him, and then he managed to escape after a few hours. He reported the matter to the police and it only added to his troubles. For the next few days, the cops would call him at odd hours, mostly after midnight, to ask him questions about his ordeal. Finally, he managed to find someone who knew a very senior police officer and he ordered the SHO to end the harassment.

That is the reason why ordinary and decent folks are scared to call the cops whenever a crime takes place. Twenty-five years ago, I was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a salt manufacturing company on the coast of Karachi. Heroin addicts would routinely steal wires and cables from there, which would end up in factories that made electrical items.

My fellow directors and I never reported these thefts to the cops because we knew that they would never be able to catch the thieves in the dead of night. Furthermore, the place was mostly deserted at night and the locals were even convinced that it was haunted by evil spirits. However, one day, the heroin addicts went too far. They broke open the door of the electric meter room of our company and took away electric meters, transformers and equipment worth around half a million rupees (in today’s money). K-Electric (KE), formerly known as Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC), said we had to get a case registered with the police or we would be charged with theft.

My fellow directors begged me not to go to the cops, saying, “The cops will torture and even kill you if you go to them!”

Nevertheless, since I had no choice, I did go into the police station and ‘persuaded’ the officer to register the complaint. When I came out of the station and returned to the salt works, my business partners were astounded to see that I was safe and sound. And mind you, they were not your common Pakistanis, they were millionaires back in the day (when a litre of petrol cost less than a rupee). Therefore, if such people were so scared of the cops, you can well imagine how a poor labourer or peasant would feel at the mere sight of a police constable.

So, will we ever have honest police officers in Pakistan? Swift justice is the answer. Until and unless justice is done and seen to be done, we shall always have corrupt police officers. Those who committed the recent robbery in Rawalpindi, for instance, should have been terminated and given lashes in public as the police even had proof in the form of CCTV footage.

This kind of punishment will ensure that all police officers turn into law-abiding citizens themselves. But I doubt that the government will have enough courage to even try to reform the police departments in the country. This is because they need a corrupt police force to enrich themselves. As long as our politicians continue to use the police for their own nefarious deeds, it will be a long time before all our cops turn into law-abiding and god-fearing citizens of the country.https://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/57383/pakistan-does-not-need-more-thieves-harassers-or-mobs-its-police-officers-are-doing-the-job-for-them/

September 24, 2017   No Comments

Policeman kills three for ‘honour’: Report in Dawn, Sept 24, 2017

TIMERGARA: A police official allegedly killed three people, including his sister-in-law, in the name of honour at Ado village in the jurisdiction of Khall police station here on Saturday.

Sources said that Hidayatullah, a police official, killed his sister-in-law along two men identified as Asghar Khan and his nephew Shah Zeb, residents of Shinkat, on suspicion of their having illicit relation with his sister-in-law. Hidayat later surrendered to the Khall police, saying he could not tolerate any scar on his family’s honour.

Meanwhile, Badshah Umar Khan, brother of Asghar Khan, told the police that Hidayat had called both Asghar Khan and Shah Zeb to his house where he killed them along with a woman and pretended they had illicit relations.

The Khall police registered the case and have started investigations.

In another such case, a youth identified as son of Gul Shah allegedly killed his sister at Banrgi village in the jurisdiction of Talash police station here the other day. The police have registered the case.https://www.dawn.com/news/1359689/policeman-kills-three-for-honour

September 24, 2017   No Comments

Firebrand clerics banned from entering capital during Muharram

By Arsalan Altaf in Express Tribune, Sept 22, 2017
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICTA) on Thursday barred 11 firebrand clerics from making speeches during Muharram while banning 14 others from entering the capital for two months.

The clerics, who were muted keeping in view their past record, include former Lal Masjid khateeb Abdul Aziz, Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) Ameen Shaheedi and Nasir Abbas Jafri, as well as Khadim Hussain Rizvi and several Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) leaders.

Orders issued by the district magistrate on Thursday said that 25 clerics who have been banned were “sectarian agitators, firebrand speakers and likely to indulge in sectarian activities.”

The clerics barred from making speeches include Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid; ASWJ General Secretary Abdul Rehman Muaviah, Sector F-8/3 Qasmia Mosque khateeb Qari Ahsanullah, and Sector G-9 Markaz Abdullah Bin Masood Mosque khateeb Abdul Razzaq Haidri.

Similarly, MWM General Secretary Jafri and MWM leader Shaheedi have also been placed under the speech ban. Two other Shia clerics included in the list are Agha Shifa Najfi of Imam Al-Sadiq Imambargah in Sector G-9, and Sheikh Mohsin Ali Najfi, who is the principal of Jamia Ahle Bait in Sector F-7/4.

Clerics from the Barelvi school of thought who have been barred from addressing crowds include Zafar Iqbal Jalali, Imtiaz Hussain Kazmi and Liaquat Rizvi.

Some other firebrand clerics who have been banned from entering the capital during Muharram include ASWJ’s Aurangzeb Farooqi as well as Tahir Ashraf; Ilyas Ghumman from Sargodha; Muhammad Saddique from Wah Cantt; and Abdul Khalique Rehmani from Kabeerwala.

Barelvi sect’s Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Yousuf Rizvi alias Tokay Wali Sarkar; Pir Irfan Al-Mashadi and Dr Asif Ashraf Jalali have also been barred from entering the limits of ICT for two months.

Shia clerics banned from entering the capital include Syed Zakir Maqbool Hassan of Chakwal; Hafiz Tasaddaq Hussain from Lahore; Muhammad Iqbal from Chichawatni; Ghazanfar Tunsavi from Bahawalpur; and Jaffar Jatoi from Lahore.

“[These] ulemas shall not enter, reside or remain in the revenue limits of District Islamabad for a period of two months from the date of issue of this order,” the magistrate’s order read. Citing a report from the police special branch, it said the clerics banned from entering the capital were “in the habit of making inflammatory, objectionable and fiery speeches on sectarian issues”.

Guarding processions

As many as 12,000 personnel of the Islamabad Police, Pakistan Rangers and FC would perform security duties during Muharram and maintain high vigilance to thwart any untoward incident.

As many 1,500 personnel from the Rangers and 500 personnel from the Frontier Constabulary will also assist Islamabad Police in ensuring security. Islamabad SSP Sajid Kiani said that in view of the National Action Plan (NAP) and directions from IGP Islamabad Khalid Khattak, all wings of the Islamabad police have been directed to ensure complete coordination for the success of the security plan.

As per the strategy, the special branch will monitor activities of people put under the fourth schedule and members of proscribed organisations. A total of 909 religious gatherings (majalis) and 177 processions will be held. Rangers and police commandos would secure Imambargahs, while the DSP of Crime Investigation Agency would be the focal person for security arrangements of these gatherings.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1512865/firebrand-clerics-banned-entering-capital-muharram/

September 22, 2017   No Comments

by Quratulain Fatima in Daily Times, September 19th 2017.

The writer is a policy practitioner, an Oxford public policy alumnus and Oxford Global leadership initiative fellow
Up till now, the attempts to bar forced conversions through specific laws have fallen flat. The proposed bill against forced conversions was tabled in November 2016 in the Sindh Assembly. However, the bill got stalled due to strong objections from certain religious hardliners, and has not been ratified

Jinnah’s September 11 speech has been quoted time and again to assert state responsibility towards minorities’ protection. Despite this and constitutional protection to minorities, they face many types of persecution. Hindus are estimated to be around 2 percent of the Pakistan’s population. However, it is feared that the Hindu population is dwindling at an alarming rate. According to the Pakistan Hindu Council, religious persecution, especially forced conversions remain the foremost reason for migration of Hindus from Pakistan.

Pakistani Hindus are losing daughters to forced marriages. These forced marriages are hidden behind sham conversions to Islam. Religious institutions are pivotal in promoting this practice and supporting the conversions of minor Hindu girls. Consent remains the foremost requirement for conversion and marriage. However, under the tenets of Islam as well as Pakistan’s law, minors cannot give informed consent and consent under coercion is void. Girls are often minors and legally lack informed consent even if they are coerced through the promise of marriage.

Religious institutions like Bharchundi Sharif and Sarhandi Pir support forced conversions and are known to have support and protection of ruling political parties of Sindh. So much so, Mian Abdul Haq alias Mian Mitha, a former legislator of Pakistan People’s Party was found involved in the case of Rinkle Kumari’s forced conversion and marriage in 2012.

Recently, abduction of a school teacher, Ameeta Kumari in Gambat by an influential feudal made rounds on social media. Also in 2017, 16 years old, Rvaita Meghwar was abducted near Nagar Parkar in southeastern Sindh Province and married off to a Muslim man twice her age. These incidents are preceded by a consistent stream of conversions of lowers caste minor Hindu girls for the past many years. According to the National Commission of Justice and Peace and the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) around 1000 Christian and Hindu minority women are converted to Islam and then forcibly married off to their abductors or rapists. This practice is being reported increasingly in the Districts of Tharparkar, Umerkot and Mirpur Khas in Sindh.

Hindus form a major minority in lower Sindh. They have co-existed peacefully with Muslims for centuries. This has changed in the wake of extremism that engulfed Pakistan since the 1980s. Apart from being vulnerable to the Blasphemy law, Hindu communities are becoming highly vulnerable due to abductions of women and their forced conversion to Islam. Since violent extremism particularly strikes the lower classes who aren’t able to defend themselves, the upper-class Hindus are apparently safe from this onslaught.

According to a submission to UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, by the World Sindhi Congress (WSC), Pakistani Hindus face two kinds of forced conversions. One is bonded labour and the other is forced marriage. Both are affecting the lower caste Hindus wherein forced conversions specifically target Hindu girls.

Up till now, the attempts to bar forced conversions through specific laws have fallen flat. The proposed bill against forced conversion was tabled in November 2016 in the Sindh Assembly. The bill recommends a five-year punishment for perpetrators, three years for facilitators of forceful religious conversions, and also makes it a punishable offence to forcibly convert a minor. The bill got stalled due to strong objections by certain religious hardliners and has not been ratified.

However, there is a remedy in other laws. There are laws enacted that protect minors and are invoked in the case of marriages to cover forced conversion. These laws include Section 365-B of the Pakistan Penal Code which delegitimises a marriage under duress or force, the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929, 2013 act against child marriage in Sindh, and certain sections of the Pakistan penal code against forced marriage, kidnapping, abducting or force into marriage.

Unfortunately, in the case of forced conversions of lower caste Hindu girls, the feudal and extremist pressures hamper implementation of the laws. Forced conversion cases pertain mostly to lower caste poor Hindu families who mostly do not report and seldom pursue cases. Therefore, the reported number of forced conversions is greater than what it actually is.

There has been intense reporting of forced conversion cases throughout the media in recent times. However, policy processes lack provisions for concrete actions. Most importantly, the government of Pakistan should immediately ratify and implement the Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Act 2016 against forced conversions. An accountability mechanism must be established to ensure religious institutions do not become party to forced conversions. Protection should also be provided to the victims, their families, and judges presiding over the cases. Penalties should also be devised and imposed on law enforcement agencies that align with powerful feudal and political interests.

These arrangements should augment Article 36 — Protection of minorities — of the Constitution of Pakistan. It should weave into the larger framework of minority protection and equal opportunities as an equal citizen of Pakistan. http://dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/19-Sep-17/forced-conversions-of-pakistani-hindu-girls

September 19, 2017   No Comments

Deobandis in S Asia — III

by Mubashir Akram in Daily Times, September 18th 2017.
The writer is a social entrepreneur and a student of Pakistan’s social and political challenges.
Something that Maulana Masood Alvi started in Multan in the 1980s created a legacy of local, regional and now transnational violence. The second Deobandi influenced transnational jihadist organisation, Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami was also formed in Multan. Its founder, Nasrullah Langrial was caught and imprisoned in the Indian part of Kashmir, and was released after over a decade. Langrial is happily married now, and living life mainly incognito.

According to the official list of the Government of Pakistan, of the 64 proscribed organisations, nearly 37 are Deobandi. Two of the four organisations under the State’s observation are Deobandi, while both organisations that are banned and are on the watch list of the United Nations are Deobandi.

The association of violence with an otherwise thinking and progressive Deobandi sect in Pakistan is something entirely different than what the sect is known for in India and Bangladesh. The Deobandi sect is headquartered in Deoband, India, but they are not known as radical there or in Bangladesh. Not only have the elders of Deoband in India condemned violence of its following in Pakistan, they have also maintained a distance with them. Deobandis in India are the defenders and frontline soldiers of protecting the secular nature of the Indian constitution and polity. Meanwhile here in Pakistan, the mention of ‘secularism’ draws wrath from most religious parties.

Big or small, all religious sects in Pakistan have their ‘fair share’ in different forms of violence, but violent elements associated with the Deobandi sect have constantly challenged the Pakistani state and succeeded in creating its own hamlet of their violent and misinterpreted Sharia in Swat. Shiites tried doing that once in 1979 when they laid a siege in Pakistan’s administrative center, the Secretariat, for over three days. As I mentioned earlier, Iran was on the wrong side of the Free World in its struggle against Communism in Afghanistan. Hence, all support that Iran could provide to its protégés in Pakistan was gagged quickly, while the other side started a homerun. This homerun hasn’t stopped yet, and continually worries the Deobandi elders.

It is true that many leading scholars among the Deobandi clergy tried dissociating themselves and the sect from the emergent trends of violence and extremism. But they were either sidelined, not paid attention, silenced or killed. Those who misinterpreted the religion, ignored the teachings of their elders, but were willing to play along the tune became mainstream and the self-proclaimed representatives of the sect. None other than the consecutive Deobandi leadership and the followers are to shoulder the blame of this defacement of their sect whose leaders once sided with the nonviolence of Mohandas Karamchand, also known as Mahatma Gandi.

The Pakistani state, after its comedy of errors of letting the obscurantist elements run amok right after the Soviet incursions in Afghanistan, tried changing the direction of its nearly three-decade long love affair overnight. It backfired, and backfired horribly. Friends and fabled warriors of yesteryears become terrorists we know today. Those who once enjoyed glorification, were now demonised. The jihadist organisations associated with the Deobandi sect had propelled forward the geostrategic designs in the past, and learnt a lot along the path. Once the saints of yesterday became sinners of today, they started hitting any and everybody who dared standing in their way. They spared no one, from Maulana Hasan Jan to Maulana Fazalur Rahman and late Qazi Hussain Ahmed. And as it was happening, the self-proclaimed Deobandi leaders and most of the followers kept condoning this spate of violence implicitly, and conveniently looked the other way considering punishing the state by slaughtering the society. The sagacity and grace of late Maulana Saleemullah Khan was quickly replaced by Maulana Abdul Aziz. This decay did not happen overnight. This rot took over four decades and sane elements among the leadership of the Deobandis mostly idled and preferred watching the show go on.

Whatever was left in this vengeful rot, was filled in by then Ameer of Jamat-e-Islami, Syed Munawar Hasan, who constantly refused to condemn the butchery of over 140 children at the Army Public School, Peshawar on December 16, 2014.

Whatever the Deobandis and their leadership do in Pakistan now has impacts in the South Asian region and the world. Deobandis in Pakistan can learn a lot from their counterparts in India where they have guarded their religious identity side by side with their political struggles. They have done it without indulging in any form of violence over the decades, and are recognised as representatives of the Muslims. Why cannot the Pakistani Deobandis do that too?

The answer has to come from within the Deobandi community, and it should have already come long before they became associated with violence and extremism.

September 18, 2017   No Comments

ISI to have more civilians at the top: by Malik Asad in Dawn, September 17th, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Pakis­tan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government has increased the civilian share in the senior hierarchy of the country’s premier intelligence agency — Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Sep­t 15, 2017 approved a proposal to increase the number of directors general (DGs) — the highest civilian post in the agency — from one to four.

The post of civilian DG in the ISI is a grade 21 position, equivalent to a serving major general of the armed forces.

Previously, there was only one civilian DG post in the intelligence agency.

PM Abbasi approved the summary sent to the PM Office by the Defence Ministry, proposing four civilian DGs in the ISI.

In addition, the prime minister has also enhanced the number of deputy directors general (DDGs) from eight to 15. The same summary recommended the creation of seven additional DDG posts for civilian officers in grade 20.

According to the office order issued by the PM Office on Sept 15, “The prime minister has seen and is pleased to approve the proposal at para 5 read with the views of Establishment Division… and of Finance Division.”

The office order titled: “Revised establishment — Defence Intelligence Service (DIS) Cadre Of Directorate General ISI” was signed by the Prime Minister’s Secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad and was circulated to Establishment Division Secretary Mian Asad Hayauddin, the finance ministry and the defence secretary.

When contacted, Parliamentary Sec­retary for the Cabinet and Establi­sh­ment Division Raja Javed Ikhlas termed the order “a routine matter”.

An official of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) did not comment on the development, but said that since the prime minister was the competent authority, as the ISI worked under the PM Secretariat, it was his prerogative to increase the sanctioned posts in the agency.

Formed in 1948 as an independent unit to strengthen the country’s intelligence network, ISI was formerly part of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which handled intelligence-sharing between different branches of the military, as well as external intelligence gathering.

Its headquarters was initially located in Rawalpindi, but was later moved to Islamabad.

In 1950, ISI was officially given the task of safeguarding Pakistani interests and national security, inside and outside the country.

During the Soviet-Afghan war, ISI was strengthened and re-organised, with a handful of posts being created for civilians from the Defence Intelligence Services (DIS) cadre.

According to a former ISI official, it was in 2005 when retired Gen Pervez Musharraf approved the posting of a civilian as DG ISI in grade 21 for the first time. The process for the promotion of civilian ISI officers was slow, since there was only one DG slot, he said.

However, with the addition of seven grade 20 and three grade 21 posts, the official hoped that promotion of civilians, especially young DIS officers working in “hard areas”, would be accelerated.

In June 2013, some ISI officials had petitioned the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the slow pace of their promotions. The petition stated that there were over 300 officers in grade 17 to 21 in the five cadres of the ISI, including the Surveillance (field intelligence) cadre, Vetting cadre, Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous cadre, Ministerial cadre and DIS.

The petition was dismissed by IHC Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi in September the same year, saying that the aggrieved officials should approach the Federal Services Tribunal, which was the relevant forum for such petitions. https://www.dawn.com/news/1358185/isi-to-have-more-civilians-at-the-top

September 18, 2017   No Comments

Safe return: Kidnapped Hindu businessman back home after 118 days

By Mohammad Zafar in the Express Tribune, Sept 17, 2017
QUETTA: A leading businessman kidnapped four months back in Balochistan returned home on Saturday.

Vikki Kumar, who is the son of former JUI-F senator Haiman Das, had been abducted by gunmen on May 20 from his rice mill located in Dera Murad Jamali area of Nasirabad district.

“My son has reached home safely after remaining 118 days in the captivity of kidnappers,” Kumar’s father confirmed to The Express Tribune.

According to sources, the gunmen had taken Kumar to Kalat from Dera Murad Jamali. The police and other law-enforcement agencies conducted several raids, but couldn’t find any clue to the kidnapped businessman.

When the police received information about the presence of Kumar in Kalat, they sought help from tribal elders of Nasirabad and Kalat to negotiate with the kidnappers. And as a result of successful negotiations, the police secured the release of Kumar.

The tribal elders who helped the police in negotiating with the kidnappers included Sardar Changez Khan Sasoli, Mir Abdul Ghafoor Lehri, Hafizullah Jattak, Mama Wahid Bakhsh Bangulzai, Shoakat Bangulzai and Haji Rahmatullah Bangulzai.

Initially, the kidnappers had demanded a huge amount of money in ransom. It was immediately not known if the ransom was paid for Kumar’s release.

The family denies any ransom was paid. “Vikki Kumar has been released purely with the efforts of tribal elders,” said Haiman Das, the father.

September 18, 2017   No Comments

250 Hindus convert to Islam in Thatta: report in The Nation, Sept 16, 2017, 6:02 pm

As many as 250 people from Hindu families on Saturday converted to Islam in Chohar Jamali area in Thatta’s District Sajjawal.

As per details, around 250 people of Hindu Sami family converted to Islam during a ceremony held in Chohar Jamali area in Thatta’s District Sajjawal.

The ceremony was organised by renowned trader Abdul Aziz Memon, which was attended by large number of political, social and religious personalities.

Those who converted to Islam include males and females. Gifts including Ajrak, clothes, grocery and financial help were also distributed among those who converted to Islam.

Construction of mosque and madarassa in the area were also announced on the occasion. http://nation.com.pk/national/16-Sep-2017/250-hindus-convert-to-islam-in-thatta

September 18, 2017   No Comments