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Category — Pakistan

Slain youth’s heirs protest against police ‘brutality’

REPORT in the Nation, November 24, 2017
SARGODHA – The infuriated heirs of 28-year-old deceased mechanic, who was allegedly killed due to brutal torture by city police , placed the body on Faisalabad-Sargodha Road and staged a protest against the police on Thursday.
Traffic on both the roadsides remained blocked near at 49 Tail due to the protest . Meanwhile, the Punjab government and IG Punjab Police took note about the incident which occurred in the City Police Station lockup on Wednesday. On the other hand, the police have filed case against three police officials. Protestors chanted slogans against police and demanded arrest of the perpetrators. Earlier, city police denied handing over the dead body to the family. Later, body was given to them after completion of postmortem at DHQ Hospital.
At that occasion, the protestor said that city police just held deceased Haseeb over traffic rule violation and killed him with brutal torture. The police said that accused Haseeb was involved in a theft case and he ended his life by committing suicide. The Factor Areas police have lodged FIR against ASI Ejaz Ahmed and two other cops of PS city on the orders of high ups.http://nation.com.pk/24-Nov-2017/slain-youth-s-heirs-protest-against-police-brutality

November 24, 2017   No Comments

Five TTP men held with explosives

Report in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2017.
SHABQADAR: Police on Thursday claimed to have arrested five alleged militants of banned Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from Shabqadar with heavy cache of explosive and ammunition.

“The arrests have thwarted a major terror-bid,” SHO Shabqadar Police Station Muhammad Arif told the media.

Arif said the militants were planning an attack on vaccination teams during the on-going anti-polio drive in the area.
Police displayed the recovered 40kg of explosive, seven mortar shells, three speaker magnets, two IEDs, 10 hand grenades, 13 detonators, and five remote control receivers with 20 meter of cord from the spot.

Police also showed the five suspects with their faces covered and ammunition to media and added that by doing so they have saved the area from destruction.

Sharing details of the operation, Arif said that police had received information through their network of informers about presence of TTP militants in Shabqadar. The informers had warned that these miscreants were planning an attack on polio vaccination team as well as any government installation in Shabqadar, he said.

“The ammunition and explosives had already been dumped at a safe house and the heinous plan of mayhem and carnage only awaited the perpetrators,” the SHO said.

Owing to prior intelligence information, police spread out at various spots in Shabqadar and were finally able to track down the five suspects belonging to Bajaur Agency.

During their visit to the remand room, one of the suspects broke down under intense interrogation and coughed up that they have hidden explosive and guns in a plastic drum at Wacha Wala Graveyard of Subhan Khwar area on Peshawar-Shabqadar Road.

Subsequently, police raided the spot and recovered the explosives and other weapons.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1566771/1-five-ttp-men-held-explosives/

November 24, 2017   No Comments

AIG Ashraf Noor martyred in Peshawar suicide blast

By Iftikhar Firdous in The Express Tribune, Nov 24, 2017
PESHAWAR: Additional Inspector General HQ Ashraf Noor was martyred in a suicide blast targeting his convoy in Peshawar’s Hayatabad area early Friday morning.

Talking to Express Tribune, IG K-P Salahudin Mehsud also confirmed Ashraf’s demise in the blast. Initial investigation suggested that the suicide bomber, on a motorbike, targeted the police convoy on Hayatabad Phase I and II’s junction.

According to rescue 1122, at least two people, including the AIG and his guard Habibullah, lost their lives while five other policemen sustained injuries in the explosion which occurred near Zarghooni Mosque.
Rescue and security officials arrived at the scene of the incident and cordoned off the area.

The injured have been shifted to the Hayatabad Medical Complex where they are being treated.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1566938/1-aig-ashraf-noor-martyred-in-peshawar-suicide-blast/

November 24, 2017   No Comments

Water to Katas Raj to be restored at all costs: CJ

Report in The News, Nov 24, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said on Thursday that water to the Katas Raj temple will be restored even if 10 wells have to be closed.
He lambasted the government for its inability to safeguard one of the Hindu minority’s most revered places of worship, the Katas Raj Temple in Chakwal, where the sacred pond is drying up.
The chief justice of Pakistan described Katas Raj as a national heritage site that must be protected and directed authorities in the Punjab to form a committee to probe the issue.
The Supreme Court was hearing a suo moto case it had taken up on the basis of media reports that the pond atKatas Raj was drying up because the nearby cement factories are drawing large amounts of groundwater through a number of wells.
Almost every home in Katas Waulah and Choa Saidan Shah also draws water through bore wells in the absence of a proper water supply network. The unchecked plantation of eucalyptus saplings in the region has compounded the problem, some reports suggested.
“This temple is not just a place of cultural significance for the Hindu community, but also a part of our national heritage,” Nisar observed. “I want a solution to this problem.” The chief justice ordered authorities to fill the pond within a week. “The pond should be filled in a week even if water has to be carried in water-skins to fill it,” he said.
The Punjab government and a district coordination officer submitted reports on the issue to the court, and the additional advocate general made important disclosures about a cement factory operating in the area, saying its water usage is greater than that of the entire population of Chakwal city.
Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf incurred the ire of the chief justice as he was not present when the court began hearing into the matter. Once Ausaf arrived in the court, CJP Nisar stressed the importance of protecting the rights of the minorities.
Ausaf was directed to form a committee to assess the matter and to assist the panel. The chief justice suggested that a citizen of Chakwal who often raises his voice on the issue should be included in the committee.
“Our goal is to find a solution to the matter of how water can be provided,” Nisar said. “If we need to close down 10 tube wells or halt the water consumption to the factories, we will do it.”
He added it was regrettable that cement factories appeared to have cut away more than half the mountains in the area. The court, he said, is not against setting up of factories “but they should be located in places that do not cause inconvenience to ordinary citizens”. He added: “It is unacceptable to live without access to clean water or air.” The case was later adjourned for a week. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/248253-water-to-katas-raj-to-be-restored-at-all-costs-cj

November 24, 2017   No Comments

SC wants govt to save Katas Raj temples: by Nasir Iqbal in Dawn, Nov 24, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the federal and Punjab governments to form a special committee of experts to saving the fabled prehistoric Hindu temple of Katas Raj, whose pond is fast drying out.

“We live in an Islamic country and it is our duty to protect the rights and holy places of minorities, including those of Hindus,” observed Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, regretting that one of the holiest Hindu temples was not being looked after properly.

The chief justice was heading a three-judge Supreme Court bench that had taken suo motu notice of media reports that the Katas pond was drying out as nearby cement factories sucked up large quantities of groundwater through a number of drill bores. The bores have severely reduced subsoil water levels and have affected water usage of domestic users as well.

There is no life without the two bounties of Allah Almighty, including clean drinking water and clean air, the chief justice said, observing that the court could go to any extent, including reducing the capacity of certain factories or industrial units.

But we will not tolerate the enrichment of a few at the cost of the sanctity of temples that belong to the minorities, he said.

“We need a solution for the future, therefore I suggest setting up a committee under the court’s supervision, which should suggest remedial measures to mitigate the damage already done to the temple,” the chief justice observed.

The committee would consist of experts from the federal as well as the provincial governments, Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Chairman Siddiqul Farooq, and local environmentalist Mohammad Safdar Malik.

The latter also handed over certain proposals to the court, highlighting possible remedial measures. Once the committee is formed, the Supreme Court may issue a timeline for the completion of its task.

“This is a job for the legislatures and the executive, but when they do not carry out their responsibilities well, the courts come into play,” the chief justice explained, adding that even though the factories also had a role in the industrial growth of the country, but there should be some sense of proportion.

Such factories or industrial units should be established in places where the lives of ordinary people are not affected and the environmental degradation should be minimal, he warned.

The court also hinted at examining the extent of the pollution, caused by widespread quarrying in the mountains of the Salt Range, which was adversely affecting the health of locals.

The judges maintained that while they were not against development work, quarrying could be done elsewhere in the range, away from settled areas.

The chief justice highlighted the need for a balancing factor and noted that even developed countries had proper corrective measures in place to protect against the ill-effects of environmental degradation.

In its report, the Punjab government conceded that the aquifer feeding the Hindu temple in Katas was under severe stress, which had drastically reduced the water level in its prehistoric pond.

The report claimed the pond was drying out because of the massive water requirements of the nearby cement factories, which were sucking up groundwater through a number of drill bores.

In addition, almost every home in the vicinity is obtaining water from bores, as there is no proper water supply in the areas of Katas, Waulah and Choa Saidan Shah city. The problem has been aggravated by the plantation of water-intensive eucalyptus trees in the region.

Katas Raj is considered the second most sacred shrine of the Hindu religion. Its origin dates back to 600AD, and the temple complex is built around a water pond, which in Hindu mythology was formed by the tears of Shiva, as he wept uncontrollably over the loss of his wife, Sati.

The pond covers an area of two kanals and 15 marlas, with a maximum depth of approximately 20 feet. The pond is a natural spring and like all other springs, sees highs and lows in the water flows linked to seasonal variations. https://www.dawn.com/news/1372550/sc-wants-govt-to-save-katas-raj-temples

November 24, 2017   No Comments

Army major martyred in clash with militants in DI Khan

Report in The News, Nov 23, 2017
DERA ISMAIL KHAN: A major of the Pakistan Army was martyred in an operation against terrorists in the Kulachi area on Wednesday.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) through a statement said security forces launched the operation on the basis of information about the presence of militants in the area. 28-year-old Major Ishaq embraced martyrdom in the exchange of fire with militants, it said, adding, the officer hailed from the Khushab district in Punjab and left behind a widow and a one-year-old son.
Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa attended the funeral prayer of the martyred officer in Dera Ismail Khan. The sources said that the forces launched a search operation in the area after the incident. However, there was no word about any arrest being made. The pictures of the late Major Ishaq with his infant child went viral after the news of his martyrdom broke out. There were reports that Major Ishaq led the charge on the house where the terrorists were holding out and lying in wait. Kulachi is known as a place where terrorists have been operating.
Meanwhile, KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra offered his condolences on the martyrdom of Major Ishaq. In his message, he said that peace was restored in the country due to the unmatched sacrifices of the Pakistan Army and security forces.
APP adds: President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expressed grief and sorrow over the martyrdom of Major Ishaq and said that he embraced martyrdom to achieve a great objective, which was the elimination of terrorism. In their separate messages, the president and prime minister said the sacrifice of Major Ishaq for his beloved country would not go in vain. They said the armed forces and other security agencies had rendered invaluable sacrifices for the homeland. They emphasised the Operation Raddul Fasad was being carried out all over the country to eradicate terrorism without any discrimination.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/247675-army-major-martyred-in-clash-with-militants-in-di-khan

November 23, 2017   No Comments

Govt set to send 95 cases to military courts

By Zafar Bhutta in The Express Tribune, November 23, 2017
ISLAMABAD: After Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had drawn the attention of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to slowing down of transfer of cases to military courts, the government is set to send 95 fresh terrorism-related cases to special courts for trial.

Gen Qamar had written a demi-official (DO) letter to explain the issue prior to it being referred officially, drawing the attention of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to the lack of terrorism-related cases being transferred to military courts.

He informed the prime minister that the government had not forwarded any cases to the military courts since January this year.
As per procedure, all cases require the federal government’s approval before transfer to the military courts. Hence, the defence ministry could not send these cases to the courts directly.

The government had to determine the age because in August last year, the Peshawar High Court suspended a death sentence awarded to Haider Ali by a military court.

The high court said since Ali was a juvenile, he could not be executed because the juvenile justice system ordinance prohibited trial of an underage suspect other than by a designated court.

Sources told The Express Tribune that a committee of the ministry of interior was constituted to examine and recommend the cases to the competent authority for trial and prosecution by the courts established under the Pakistan Army Act 1952.

The committee met on October 31 and again on November 1 in the interior ministry to examine 90 cases recommended by the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and 10 cases recommended by Sindh.

Recently, the committee briefed the cabinet that it had thoroughly discussed each case and observed that 85 out of 90 cases forwarded by the K-P government and 10 cases of the Sindh government were covered under Section 2 of the Pakistan Army Act 1952.

Moreover, the committee also deferred four cases of the K-P government for further discussion whereas the case of an accused, who had died in custody, had been closed.

The cabinet granted approval to sending the cases to the military courts on a summary submitted by the interior division.

November 23, 2017   No Comments

Shiv Mandir restored battling affluent Hindus powerless against Auqaf

by Sanjay Mathrani in Daily Times, Nov 23, 2017
The writer hails frorm Hyderabad, Sindh
Hyderabad has kept a separate image through many ways. Whether we talk about the past or the present, it has executed numerous efforts for the preservation of old buildings.

Before partition, the city was home to hundreds of Hindu families known as “Sindhi Hindus.”

The imprints of the Hindu community are still visible in the city’s architecture.

The sacred and religious places of that time built by affluent Hindu residents still exist, though, not in the same form as they once were. These include temples and houses.

According to some people, the Hussainabad Bhutto Park in the market was once green and lush and magnificently breathtaking with waves of the Indus River touching it and breathing life into it. Unfortunately, today it has been reduced to ruins, losing all of its beauty and attraction.

Usually I pass through the narrow streets of the market, particularly from Silawat Para, but when I passed from the same route today my glance accidently stopped at Shiva’s temple, a sight that hit my inner soul. I went ahead through the entrance of the temple and came upon a sacred tree known as “peepal.” Hindus hold this tree sacred.

Some moments later a worshiper of the temple with the name Shewadhari went inside a room in an attempt to praise his master. The sounds he made were very familiar to me as I had heard them a lot of times before; he kept pronouncing “Hari … Hare.”

Once you enter the temple you will notice four little stairs near the main gate with a particular space for shoes on the right side and a water cooler that has been shifted there.

The brightness inside the temple decreased slightly and the chanting smell of agarbati gave way to my sense of direction. The worth of the temple can be measured by its valuable art work and architecture and the people (caretakers) have still coloured its walls with rainbow colors and lovable designs.

Ashok Kumar Meghwar, who has been taking care of the temple for the last 20 years told me, “My grandfather Kirahanchand devoted his whole life till his last breath in such practices and I’m also following in his footsteps,” he said.

I saw a Hanuman statue which according to Ashok might’ve “been brought by some people and we haven’t had the right to refuse any person his faith and belief.”

This particular temple is a Shiv Shanker Mahadev temple. A Shiva ling, along with a sculpture of Shiva’s sacred bull Nandi, made from white marble is present inside and supposedly as old as the temple itself.

The quarter is also filled with lovely paintings of various Gods including Krishana, Durga and Ganesha.

The unexplored history behind the temple as I learnt was that the temple had remained closed for a long period of time after the Partition. Following the incident some communities such as Bhil and Meghwar played an outstanding role in its reopening in the 90s.

A few affluent Hindus made an issue on the temple’s revival saying that such lower classes didn’t have any right to own God by themselves and couldn’t take care of holy places.

According to the other caretaker, the ground room area of the temple was seized by the Auqaf Department of Sindh. On approaching some minority leaders, it came into notice for its sanctity, but up-to this day there hasn’t been any support of these high profile ministers and minority leaders on the matter.

He also said that on every Monday a weekly hymns session is held along with an annual Maha Shivratri festival that is vibrantly celebrated by everyone, however it’s very hard to block the road without having any alternative sources and a Satsang Hall.

It is undoubtedly sad to see such historical heritages in such condition and the Auqaf Department and minority grants not being able to facilitate an effective or proper response.

Shiv Mandir restored battling affluent Hindus powerless against Auqaf

November 23, 2017   No Comments

Islamabad seize: two edits/Nov 22, 2017

The politics of siege: edit in Dawn, Nov 22nd, 2017
THE democratic right to protest has been hijacked and the federal capital and the country’s fourth most populous city, Rawalpindi, have virtually been held hostage. It ought to have been an unacceptable state of affairs. But a misguided protest by far-right religious parties, led by the freshly minted Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, and a mishandled response by the federal government have snowballed into a full-fledged political and law-and-order crisis. Leave aside for a moment the reason for the protest and the demands of the protesters who have made life miserable for hundreds of thousands of commuters between Rawalpindi and Islamabad for over two weeks now. If it were any other group of citizens — nurses, teachers, government employees or farmers — would their protest have been allowed to disrupt the lives of the denizens without any end in sight? Why, then, is this impunity afforded to a gathering that has threatened violence, made extreme demands and undermined the democratic order in the country?

To be sure, the democratic right to protest must be protected against undesirable and illegal encroachment by the state. However, the core of the TLY’s complaint has already been addressed by parliament and demands such as the sacking of federal ministers cannot be countenanced; it would set a terrible precedent and encourage future protests. Just as clearly, the protesters must not be evicted in a violent manner. The clumsiness of the state security apparatus could trigger violence that may spiral out of control. A negotiated settlement, with all institutions of the state firmly lined up to bring a peaceful end to the protest at the earliest, is the only sensible path out of the crisis. The failure to do so until now is a reflection of the lack of coordination and communication among state institutions. A firm, united message from all major institutions has not been in evidence so far.

The problem, however, clearly goes beyond the latest siege of Islamabad. Whether it was the PPP and PML-N’s ‘long march’ politics or the PTI’s several attempts to paralyse life in the capital, the democratic right to protest has morphed into dangerous demonstrations of street power. There is a line between legitimate democratic protests and protests that destabilise democracy or are anti-democratic — and it appears that line has been crossed in Pakistan. Quite how new rules can be negotiated among the political class is unclear, but it is apparent that this new phase of politics of sieges is unsustainable. Making parliament the locus of political activity could be one way of pulling back from the brink. Another possibility is that the mainstream parties determine new rules for protests in Islamabad that allow protesters to make their point without massively disrupting daily life. If the danger of escalation is not addressed, some kind of dreadful violence may materialise sooner than later.https://www.dawn.com/news/1372093/the-politics-of-siege

Beyond the ridiculous : edit in The Express Tribune, Nov 22, 2017.
To say that the virtual lockdown of large parts of Islamabad by a right-wing religious party for a fortnight goes beyond the ridiculous is an understatement. Equally to say that the government and its various agencies have displayed comprehensive incompetence is no understatement either. Multiple deadlines for the resolution of the crisis have come and gone. Consultations are endless and fruitless. Ever-increasing and preposterous demands by those manning the blockade make a negotiated resolution increasingly unlikely. There is more than a chance that those ‘protesting’ are seeking to push the government into a violent confrontation that will then be exploited and held up as an example of just how much the government is a mere tool in Western secular hands.

Meanwhile the life of much of the capital city of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is throttled; traders are losing money hand over fist, and commuters massively inconvenienced to say nothing of the cost of wear and tear on their sorely pressed private cars. The latest wrinkle is that the Supreme Court has taken suo-motu notice on the basis of Article 15 of the Constitution which allows and protects freedom of movement to the general public. Contempt notices have been issued to a basket of high-ranking officials and the SC has given yet another deadline of 23rd November.

None of this needed to have happened. If the law-enforcement agencies had got a grip from the outset and diverted the ‘protesters’ to the Parade Ground they could have squatted there for as long as they liked with no inconvenience to anybody. The issue which supposedly triggered the protests has long disappeared into the background. It was rectified swiftly once its sensitivity was recognised but the ‘protesters’ are having none of it and want scalps. This needs to end and it needs to end now. There is little choice but to physically remove the people blocking the Faizabad interchange. This is not going to be pretty or neat and there is nobody to blame but an incompetent maladroit government. Allowing them space is an unparalleled ceding of power and a clear indicator of who really is in charge.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1564716/6-beyond-the-ridiculous/

November 22, 2017   No Comments

‘Which Islam allows blockade of roads, use of abusive language?’

By Sohail Khan in The News, Nov 22, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Questioning which Islam allows blockade of roads and use of abusive language, the Supreme Court on Tuesday took notice of the Islamabad sit-in by religious parties that has paralysed the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and caused severe hardships to dwellers of the cities for the last 15 days.

A two-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Mushir Alam while hearing a separate case, took notice of the fundamental rights being usurped by the clerics the Tehreek-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwwat, Tehreek-e-Labbaik and the Sunni Tehreek in the twin cities.

During the hearing, AOR Rafaqat Hussain Shah sought an adjournment in the case, saying Ibrahim Satti, learned counsel for the petitioner, will not attend the court solely on the ground that he resides in the vicinity where the area was blocked by the protesters.

The court sought the assistance of Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood, who stated that on account of the sit-in, he himself was facing tremendous difficulties while approaching the court and he left his home at 6:30am to reach the court. The court issued notices to secretaries defence, interior, and advocate general, Punjab.

The court in its order directed the attorney to file comments of the Ministry of Defence and interior, intelligence agencies under their respective ministries, including Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and to submit what, if any, measures had been taken to ensure that the constitutional rights of citizens of Pakistan are protected and enforced and in accordance with law. The court further ruled it appears that at the hands of a few miscreants, Islamabad and Rawalpindi are being held hostage whilst the state functionaries appear to be parleying with them rather than clearing the way for the public, who are being denied access to courts, schools, etc.

It has also been reported that access of ambulances and patients to hospitals is impeded. The court noted that the leaders of dharna are also reported to be using abusive language. It said the prevailing It said the prevailing situation demonstrates that the matter is one of public interest and a number of fundamental rights of the citizens enshrined in the Constitution including right to life, freedom of movement, right to education are prima facie being infringed which enables the court to take notice under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. It further said those in dharna or ostensibly advocating a religious cause without recourse to the courts including the Federal Sharait Court and by taking the law into their own hands and by sowing divisions and differences against the clear proscription by Almighty Allah in Surah Ash-Shura (42) Ayat (13), Surah Al-Imran (3) Ayat 103 and 105.

“Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) expanded on the Divine message, warning: ‘Do not engage in disagreement thereby causing discord among your hearts,’” says the order. The court further ruled that when two Muslims were loudly arguing in disagreement about the meaning of the Quranic verse, the Prophet (PBUH) said; “People before you perished only because of their disagreement about the scripture”. In his famous sermon delivered at Mount Arafat, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Every Muslim is a Muslim brother and that Muslims are brethren.” The Prophet (PBUH) abhorred dissension. Shortly before his death, the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Oh people, the fire has been kindled, and dissension has set in like segments of a dark night,” the court noted and ruled that the question, therefore arises whether those voicing such views in the sit-in are attempting to undermine the glory of Islam (Article 19) and acting contrary to Article 227 of the Constitution.

Earlier, during the hearing, Justice Qazi Faiz Isa questioned as to which Islam allows blockade of roads and causing hardships to the people and further asked which Islam allows using of such abusive language being used in the sit-in. He further questioned as to which Shariah and religion allows blockade of roads and causing hardships to the people. Justice Isa observed that Article 14 of the Constitution ensures free movement of the people, adding that blocking roads and disrupting free movement of dwellers of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad is violation of fundamental rights. Meanwhile, the court sought replies form the federal government until tomorrow (Thursday).https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/247123-which-islam-allows-blockade-of-roads-use-of-abusive-language

November 22, 2017   No Comments