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Category — PAK-US ties

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

US mulling dropping Pakistan as an ally: UK publication

report i n the Express Tribune, Sept 16, 2017
The Trump administration is considering dropping Pakistan as an ally as it examines tough measures to quell more than 20 terrorist groups it says are based in the country, a UK publication had reported.

Financial Times reported that officials familiar with the Pakistan prong of Washington’s new “AfPak” strategy — which involves an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan and praise for India — say it has yet to be fleshed out. But they have plenty of levers.

President Donald Trump last month promised to get tough on Pakistan, accusing it of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting”.

The administration has already put $255 million in military aid on hold after Trump announced the policy shift. It is eyeing an escalating series of threats, which include cutting some civilian aid, conducting unilateral drone strikes on Pakistani soil and imposing travel bans on officers of the ISI, the country’s intelligence agency.

It could also revoke Pakistan’s status as a major non-Nato ally or designate it a state sponsor of terrorism. The latter options would limit weapons sales and probably affect billions of dollars in IMF and World Bank loans, along with access to global finance.

Relations are expected to take a further blow from US efforts to forge closer ties with rival India.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said this week it was “unfair” to blame his country for troubles in Afghanistan, adding that the US should have greater respect for its efforts to combat militancy. Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Pakistan in the wake of 9/11, says Pakistan resents the wild oscillations in support from the US.

“They went from our most allied of allies to our most sanctioned of sanctioned,” he said, recalling that the US worked with Pakistan to defeat Soviet Russia during the 1980s Afghanistan invasion but, once it had won, cut aid and imposed sanctions over its emergent nuclear programme. “Their narrative about us is here today, gone tomorrow and it has deeply affected their strategic thinking.” https://tribune.com.pk/story/1508324/us-mulling-dropping-pakistan-ally-uk-publication/

September 18, 2017   No Comments

US conduct first airstrike in Pakistan after new strategy declaration

By Khaama Press – Sat Sep 16 2017, 11:07 am
At least three Afghan Taliban members were killed in an airstrike in the tribal regions of Pakistan in what appears to be the first US drone strike after the announcement of the new US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

According to the local officials, the airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of Kurram Agency in the tribal regions of the country.

The officials further added that an unmanned aerial vehicle fired missiles on a gathering of the Taliban insurgents.

According to the officials, at least three of the militants were killed and two others were wounded in the attack.

The identities of those killed in the airstrike have not been ascertained so far with the Taliban group yet to comment regarding the raid.

This comes as the Afghan and US officials have long been criticizing Islamabad for remaining reckless to act against the Taliban and Haqqani terrorist network sanctuaries as they claim that the leadership councils of the two groups are based in the key cities of Pakistan from where they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan, including some of the deadly attacks on US forces.

While announcing the new US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia last month, the US President Donald Trump strongly criticized Pakistan regarding the terror sanctuaries, saying “For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen.” www.khaama.com/us-conduct-first-airstrike-in-pakistan-after-new-strategy-declaration-03449

September 16, 2017   No Comments

HBL fined $225m, ordered to shut New York branch

AFP reportt in Dawn, September 08, 2017
United States (US) banking regulators slapped a $225 million fine and Habib Bank Limited (HBL) to shutter its New York office, for repeatedly failing to heed concerns over possible terrorist financing and money laundering, officials said Thursday.

HBL, Pakistan’s largest private bank, neglected to watch for compliance problems and red flags on transactions that potentially could have promoted terrorism, money laundering or other illicit ends, New York banking officials said.

The state’s Department of Financial Services, which regulates foreign banks, had initially proposed a $629.6m penalty.

HBL has operated in the US since 1978, and in 2006 was ordered to tighten its oversight of potentially illegal transactions but failed to comply.

New York regulators said it facilitated billions of dollars of transactions with Saudi private bank, Al Rajhi Bank, which reportedly has links to Al Qaeda, and failed to do enough to ensure that the funds were not laundered or used for terrorism.

“DFS will not tolerate inadequate risk and compliance functions that open the door to the financing of terrorist activities that pose a grave threat to the people of this State and the financial system as a whole,” DFS Superintendent Maria Vullo said in a news release.

“The bank has repeatedly been given more than sufficient opportunity to correct its glaring deficiencies, yet it has failed to do so.”

HBL permitted at least 13,000 transactions that were not sufficiently screened to ensure they did not involve sanctioned countries, the agency said.

And the bank improperly used a “good guy” list to rubber stamp at least $250m in transactions, including those by an identified terrorist and an international arms dealer, regulators said.

In an August letter to the Pakistan Stock Exchange, Habib company secretary Nausheen Ahmad called the proposed fine of $629.6m “outrageous” and “capricious” and said the bank had decided to close its New York operations “in an orderly manner.”

But DFS said Habib will have to surrender its license after it meets the agency’s requirements.

“DFS will not stand by and let Habib Bank sneak out of the United States,” Vullo said. https://www.dawn.com/news/1356228/hbl-fined-225m-ordered-to-shut-new-york-branch

September 8, 2017   No Comments

The wall of BRICS: op-ed by Khurram Husain in Dawn, Sept 7, 2017

The writer is a member of staff.
IF you hide from reality for long enough, you can land up in a place from where it is next to impossible to find your way back. Something like that may be happening to Pakistan, where for more than a quarter century, our state has come to be virtually held hostage by a reality that we have been denying in almost every forum around the world. This reality is that within Pakistan, as a matter of official policy, violent militant groups have been nurtured, trained, supported and nestled within the general population for use as assets in an underground geopolitical game that we have tried to play in the region.

This history has been told so often, within and outside Pakistan, and evidence of the official patronage that these groups and their larger milieu enjoys has now mounted to such levels, that it has become an act of wilful schizophrenia to actually deny it now. Where exactly does one even begin to explain this to those who remain unaware of this fact even today, and resistant to really internalising its import?

For years, we have found different rationales to either justify or explain this away. Most recently, when the BRICS countries pointed to three specific groups in Pakistan and labelled them as terrorist entities, they were only echoing what the UN Security Council had done more than a decade and a half ago. Still the line came up that ‘these groups are already proscribed in Pakistan’, as a rationale or soft justification for the fact that the groups not only exist, but operate freely and openly, propagate their literature in society, operate giant administrative operations, and in some cases, are actually being mainstreamed into society as bona fide political parties.

What does proscription actually mean in Pakistan when the same members of the group in question need only start another organisation under a different name and carry on business as usual? One need only take a close look at what happened to the case against the Lal Masjid cleric who less than a decade ago had taken up arms against the state, and triggered a confrontation that actually resulted in the deaths of scores of military personnel. The case fell apart (take a look sometime at how this happened), and the cleric in question continues to live and preach openly in the same mosque. How did this come about if some form of official support was not available to him?

Another line told us that we need not worry. The countries that are crying foul over this situation are biased against us, and need to be perceived more as enemies than allies. Now we have China, we were told, which will stand by us and has no intention of similarly wagging a finger at us on this point. And with China we have CPEC, which is our road to future prosperity, something we have believed for generations now is given by a big brother, not earned through one’s own smarts and hard work.

Well now China has added its voice to the list of those countries pointing out that the presence of militant groups in Pakistan is a problem. To add meat to the proposition, they point to a “comprehensive approach in combating terrorism”, to include countering radical ideologies, halting the movement of terrorist fighters as well as their recruitment, interdicting their finances and much more. This is a heavy menu, and notice that all of what the BRICS declaration is committing to is within the framework of the United Nations, and an extension of what other leading powers in the world have already been saying for many years.

If anybody out there thought that somehow the emergence of China on the global stage, and its growing stakes in our neighborhood as well as others, along with its creed to not interfere in the ‘internal affairs’ of other countries, meant that finally we would have a free pass to engage our great game fantasies without let or hindrance, they ought to be in for a rude shock. The person who is still spinning the words to mean something other than what they say is like that person who has lived so long with his or her lies that they are unable to find their way back to reality.

Everything in the declaration shows that the BRICS countries, that include Russia and China, will not advance an alternative set of norms to those around which the Euro-American world order is constructed. To combat terror financing, for example, they seek to work with the UN resolutions and the Financial Action Task Force that has for years been pointing out the vulnerability of the Pakistan financial system to being used by designated terrorist groups because the latter operate with impunity in Pakistan.

Yes there have been huge successes in our own war against terror. Groups like the TTP have been pushed out of Swat and North and South Waziristan, and the sacrifices made by Pakistan’s soldiers in the course of this fighting have been admirable and deserve commendation. Yes, the security situation has improved from a decade ago, although much ground remains to be covered.

And yes, let’s also add that much of the finger-wagging from the West, particularly America, is in bad faith. America is not losing the war in Afghanistan because of Pakistan. America is losing the war for the simple reason that no sooner had the fighting commenced in earnest in Afghanistan, it lost its focus and went barrelling into Iraq instead. All else is detail.

But there is a reason why Pakistan has had such a difficult time getting the world to recognise this simple reality: because we have been lying to ourselves and our allies about the nature of our involvement in this war all along. If Abbottabad didn’t establish this, surely the death of Mullah Mansour on Pakistani soil, with Pakistani credentials in his pocket, did. https://www.dawn.com/news/1356010/the-wall-of-brics

September 7, 2017   No Comments

Stumbling ahead without a clear policy: edit in Pakistan Today, Aug 31, 2017

On Wednesday, the issue of Pak-US relations was taken up by the National Assembly, Senate and the National Security Committee of the Cabinet. As was being feared, the NA and Senate resolutions were not identical.

It appears from the proceedings of the NA that the government had done little thinking over what to do besides rejecting Trump’s new Afghan policy and allegations against Pakistan. The recommendation to cancel the provision of ground and air lines of communication to the US through Pakistan without any serious provocation was frivolous. The advice of the Leader of the Opposition to hold a Joint Session of parliament was ignored. Also his suggestion that the government share with the Parliament whatever evidence the US administration had provided to justify Trump’s tirade. A resolution was moved hurriedly, as if under orders, without ensuring adequate presence of the MNAs. The resolution was passed “unanimously” in the presence of only 52 members from a house of 342.

The Senate passed a more balanced resolution. While rejecting Trump’s “one-sided” remarks, it called for the preparation of a national policy paper while keeping all stakeholders in mind to “serve as a [reference] document for US policymakers.” it recommended Pakistan to form a South Asia strategy that should be comprehensive. No territory should be used against a neighbouring state and there should be a focus on border management and security along the border. The resolution emphasised that Pakistan’s viewpoint should not only be conveyed to friendly countries but also to the allies of the United States.

Thousands of Pakistani students go for higher education to American universities. Pakistan needs American support while interacting with multilateral lenders like IMF and World Bank. Pakistan and America have military exchange programmes while the later also supplies Pakistan a part of its defence requirements. Pakistan has all along sought Washington’s help in resolving the Kashmir issue with India. All these positive factors need to be kept in mind while reacting to Trump’s senseless outburst.

September 1, 2017   No Comments

Hollow (Pak) Chest Thumping: edit in The Nation, September 01, 2017

The resolution moved in National Assembly on Wednesday indicates that the Parliament recognises that Pakistan’s foreign policy is a failure so far. But the way it handled the issue of US President Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy showed how ineffective the parliament actually in conducting meaningful debate and coming up with actual solutions.

The National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution against Trump’s plan,, an echo of past indignant resolutions that never amounted to a reform of our foreign policy.

The resolution is a denunciation of the Trump’s administration’s allegations regarding shuras of Taliban in Peshawar and Quetta.It also condemns America’s disregard of Pakistan’s sacrifices in the War on Terror.

This exhibition of chest thumping in Parliament will have no effect on the US.What needs to change is how the state of Pakistan runs its business.The Foreign Ministry cannot have former ambassador’s like Abdul Basit writing embarrassing letters to other senior diplomats, destroying Pakistan’s image in the media.It cannot have a weak lobby in the US like it currently does.There has to be a redirection of funds to creating a better lobby that can present Pakistan as a moderate nation of people who have no gripe with Americans.

Beyond this the parliament has to forcefully demand the end of terrorism and renounce militant and former militant outfits.How do we expect the Americans’ to believe that we do not support terrorist networks, when our own people are unsure about the position of the state and important political parties.Remember the National Action Plan, that was support to nip terrorism in the bud after 132 children died in Peshawar? Where is it now? These legislators can shout all they want that the US is being unfair (and that might be true), but what has the political leadership specifically done in the last four years to make sure their constituents are safer?http://nation.com.pk/editorials/01-Sep-2017/hollow-chest-thumping

September 1, 2017   No Comments

‘Nato won’t let Afghanistan become haven for terrorists’

AFP report in The News, Aug 23, 2017
BRUSSELS: Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday welcomed US President Donald Trump’s plan to send additional troops to Afghanistan, saying the alliance would not let the country become a haven for terrorists.

“Our aim remains to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists who would attack our own countries,” he said in a statement. “I welcome President Trump’s new, conditions-based approach to Afghanistan and the region,” Stoltenberg added, noting that Nato has over 12,000 soldiers stationed in the country.

Donald Trump on Monday cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops to Afghanistan, backtracking from his promise to swiftly end America’s longest war, begun after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/225284-Nato-wont-let-Afghanistan-become-haven-for-terrorists

President has put Pakistan on notice, says US NSC spokesman
by Waseem Abbasi in The News, August 23, 2017
WASHINGTON: A day after US President Donald Trump’s strongly-worded warning to Pakistan, his administration is hinting at possible sanctions against officials in Islamabad for their alleged ties with militant organisations.

National Security Council (NSC) Spokesman Michael Anton told reporters here that “the president has put Pakistan on notice”. “I think the important takeaway for the Pakistani government last night is that, you know, they should understand that they’re on notice from this president, from this administration,” Anton said on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

He said under the new strategy, the US could conceivably impose sanctions on terrorist groups including the Haqqani network, which has links to elements in the Pakistani government, as well as on any Pakistani officials “who are tied to these kinds of groups, you know, in ways that they shouldn’t be.”

In his speech on Monday night on Afghan policy, Trump used harsh words for Pakistan, saying the United States could “no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations.”

“The United States has been really patient with Pakistan for a really long time. We haven’t been getting a good deal from them,” Anton added. He said the US gives the Pakistani government substantial security aid and in return receive, at best, “indifference to border crossing and terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries” in Pakistan’s tribal regions. “In the worst case, the Pakistani government has been guilty of active direct support for terrorist groups,” Anton said.

While contacted, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Chaudhry said he will wait for policy announcement from Islamabad before giving any reaction to the president’s speech. However, talking to The News earlier, he mentioned Pakistan’s sacrifices in war against terror and its recent achievements in defeating terrorism.

The NSC spokesman said the president does not want status quo in US ties with Pakistan without cooperation from Islamabad. He put the onus on the Pakistani government to repair the ties.

“How do we get the Pakistan to behave better? The answer is we have leverage points over Pakistan that the strategy contemplates we will use. Ultimately whether they behave better or not is completely up to them.”

“They may calculate that it’s more important to, you know, remain allied with terrorists, it’s more important to give terrorists safe haven, it’s more important to do all the nasty things that they’ve been doing that we don’t like than it is to have a good relationship with the United States,” Anton said.

“If so, that’s a choice that they will make and then we will make choices based on their choice.” Reacting to the speech, Pakistan expert at the Washington DC-based Woodrow Wilson Centre Michael Kugelman said it’s difficult to imagine changing its ways, no matter what punishments or incentives Trump throws its way.

“Pakistan has ironclad immutable strategic interests which dictate maintaining ties to groups like the Taliban,” Kugelman said. “It sees them as useful tools to keep Pakistan’s enemy, India, at bay in Afghanistan,” he added.

In his reaction to the speech, former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States Husain Haqqani said it remains to be seen how effective President Trump’s policies about pressuring Pakistan turn out to be.

“From Pakistan’s perspective, a decision needs to be made about whether confrontation with the US is worthwhile or whether Pakistan should accept Trump’s offer of great rewards for Pakistan in return for helping US in Afghanistan,” he said. “Trump has also threatened to enhance India’s role if Pakistan does not change. That should be a cause for concern in Rawalpindi and Islamabad,” he added. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/225350-President-has-put-Pakistan-on-notice-says-US-NSC-spokesman

August 23, 2017   No Comments

Religious freedom under attack in Pakistan: US Secretary of State Tillerson Report in Dawn, Aug 17, 2017

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson alleged on Wednes­day that religious freedom was under attack in Pakistan, where more than two dozen people were on death row or serving a life imprisonment for blasphemy.

He said the Pakistan government had marginalised the Ahmadiya community and refused to recognise them as Muslim.

“It is my hope that the new prime minister and his government will promote interfaith harmony and protect the rights of religious minorities,” said Secretary Tillerson while releasing the annual US report on religious freedom for 2016.

The report also highlights attacks in India by cow protection groups against people accused of bovine trafficking or having beef in their refrigerators or vehicles.

The report singles out some key US partners in the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia, for not allowing religious freedom in their territories. It also criticises Israel for refusing to implement an agreement on egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The report points out that Israel has ignored the advice to establish a “shared society for Jewish and Arab populations” and notes that relations among religious and ethnic groups in Israel and the Palestinian territories remain “strained”.

The chapter on India says that in 2016, “there was an increase in violent incidents by cow protection groups against mostly Muslim victims, including killings, mob violence, assaults and intimidation”. https://www.dawn.com/news/1352082/religious-freedom-under-attack-in-pakistan-us-secretary-of-state-tillerson

August 18, 2017   No Comments

US designates Hizbul Mujahideen as terror outfit

by Waseem Abbasi in the News, August 17, 2017
WASHINGTON: In another indication of its growing ties with India, the United States on Wednesday designated Kashmiri organisation Hizbul Mujahideen as terrorist outfit, freezing its assets and banning US financial transactions with the group.

In a statement posted on its official website, the State Department said the move was aimed at denying resources to Hizbul Mujahideen that it “needs to carry out terrorist attacks”. The announcement came nearly two months after the State Department declared the Hizb’s chief, Syed Salahuddin, as a global terrorist.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office had called the earlier move “completely unjustified”. The decision had faced criticism and condemnation from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), with Kashmiris chiding the US President Donald Trump’s administration for “equating their legitimate struggle for internationally acknowledged right to self-determination with terrorism”.

Separately, on Wednesday, the US Treasury Department also said it had listed the Pakistan-based group as a counter- designated group, freezing any assets it may hold in the United States and prohibiting Americans from dealings with it.

“Today’s action notifies the US public and the international community that Hizbul Mujahideen is a terrorist organisation. Terrorism designations expose and isolate organisations and individuals and deny them access to the US financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of US agencies and other governments,” the State Department said.

Michael Kugelman, Senior Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Centre, told The News that the decision is another indication of how quickly the US-India relationship is deepening. “It may not be coincidental that the State Department announced this move the very day after the US and India announced a new initiative to deepen their strategic dialogue, which includes the formation of a new ministerial dialogue on defence and foreign affairs,” he said.

Kugelman believes the Trump administration is telegraphing a powerful message that on matters of militancy, it firmly sides with India. “I doubt this decision will have any type of major impact on Pakistan, but it will certainly cement the perception in Islamabad that Washington is deepening its embrace of New Delhi. That’s a perception that I imagine to be quite accurate,” he said.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/224048-US-designates-Hizbul-Mujahideen-as-terror-outfit

August 18, 2017   No Comments