Altaf Hussain Is A Traitor And Hhould Be Hanged, Says Sindh Home Minister

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTAN NEWSPAPER ‘DAWN’)

 

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain is a traitor like arrested Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and should be handed a death sentence as well, Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Sial said while addressing a ceremony in Karachi on Tuesday.

Sial said the Sindh government has already written to the federal government asking it to issue red warrants for Hussain. “It is now the responsibility of the federal government to issue the red warrants,” he said.

Sial also took on the former president Pervez Musharraf and former home minister Zulfikar Mirza for accusing PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari of involvement in Benazir Bhutto’s murder.

“Why did Pervez Musharraf do nothing against Asif Zardari when he was the president?” Sial asked. “Zulfiqar Mirza was the Sindh home minister [at the time]. Why did he not speak then?”

The PPP leader said the provincial government has requested the federal government to suspend cellphone services on the 9th and 10th of Muharram.

The Sindh home minister also credited the Pakistan Army, Sindh government and Rangers for bringing peace to the province.

Dozens Of People Killed In A Bloody Day Of Attacks Across Pakistan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

Dozens Of People Killed In A Bloody Day Of Attacks Across Pakistan

Pakistani security officials inspect the site of an explosion in Quetta on Friday. All told, dozens of people were killed Friday in several cities across Pakistan.

Banaras Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan was hit with a spate of violence in several cities Friday, leaving the country to cope with the deaths of dozens of people and scores more injured. In twin bombings at a market in Parachinar, a car bombing in Quetta and a shooting in Karachi, more than 80 people were killed in the bloodshed.

“Enemy trying to mar festive mood of nation through such cowardly acts,” Pakistan’s chief of army staff, Qamar Javed Bajwa, said in a statement quoted by a military spokesman. “Shall fail against the resilience of Pakistan.”

The deadliest of Friday’s attacks came during rush hour in the town of Parachinar, where local authorities say 67 people were killed and scores more were injured. Turi market had been packed with residents preparing for their iftar meals to break the Ramadan fast at day’s end.

“The first blast took place at around 5pm in Turi Market, located on the edge of the recently-designated Red Zone, said a senior administration official,” Pakistani news outlet The Express Tribune reports. “The second explosion occurred when rescuers and bystanders rushed to help the survivors of the first blast.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the two explosions, though the BBC reports that some believe Shiite Muslims were specifically targeted.

However, the British news service says two separate extremist groups — the Islamic State and a Taliban offshoot known as Jamaat-ul-Ahrar — claimed responsibility for an attack earlier that day in the city of Quetta. The bombing in Quetta occurred near a local police official’s office, and The New York Times reports that seven police officers were among the 13 people killed.

The paper, citing local officials, says at least 19 people were injured in the blast.

Elsewhere in the country, in the port city of Karachi, gunmen opened fire on police, killing at least four officers before fleeing the scene.

Pakistani Military Kill More Than 100 Jihadist One Day After ISIS Murder 81 Worshipers In Sufi Shrine

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

More than 100 militants were killed in a sweeping crackdown launched by Pakistani security forces a day after a suicide attack claimed by the Islamic State left 81 dead at a crowded Sufi shrine.Thursday’s attack at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sindh province was preceded by suicide attacks in Lahore and the northwest. The surge of violence that has claimed more than 100 lives in a week has shaken the confidence of Pakistanis after a recent improvement in the security situation.

The attacks also came at a time when Pakistan’s civil and military leadership had been congratulating itself for defeating terrorism across the country. Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa pledged to avenge the deaths and said there would be “no more restraint for anyone”.

Crackdown targets militant groups across the country

The army and paramilitary forces launched operations in Karachi and other parts of Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces and the tribal areas. “Over 100 terrorists have been killed since last night and sizeable apprehensions also made,” said a statement from the military’s media arm.

Eighteen militants were killed in different parts of Karachi alone since Thursday night and scores were arrested in different cities.

Read more

Afghan embassy officials were called to the army headquarters in Rawalpindi and asked to hand over 76 terrorists “hiding in Afghanistan”, military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted. The border with Afghanistan was also closed for security reasons, he added.

Pakistani volunteers stand beside the bodies of suspected militants killed in an overnight raid on their hideouts by security forces as they lie in a mortuary in Karachi on February 17, 2017. (AFP)

The death toll in the suicide bombing at the Sufi shrine at Sehwan in Sindh province rose to 81 on Friday and more than 250 people were admitted to different hospitals, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

Amaq news agency, which is affiliated to the IS, claimed the attack. The shrine attracts large crowds on Thursdays and the suicide bomber struck when thousands had gathered for ‘dhamaal’, a Sufi ritual of singing and dancing.

Questions raised on military’s claims about wiping out militant groups

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he would do everything in his power to protect the country but people questioned how terrorism had raised its head again after claims that the military operation in the tribal areas had wiped out most militant groups.

Read | Pakistan launches security crackdown as nation mourns Sufi shrine blast victims

The military began its operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and in Karachi in 2014 and 2016 respectively. Former army chief, Gen Raheel Sharif, had declared two years of success and said Pakistan was safer as a result of the campaign. Violence-related fatalities dropped from 7,611 in 2014 to 4,653 in 2015 to about 2,560 in 2016, and observers agreed the overall security situation had improved significantly.

But this week, all claims of success were turned on their head. Though the Pakistan Army has asked Afghanistan to hand over terrorists hiding in its territory, analysts believe this isn’t the solution.

“We cannot keep on insisting the problem is elsewhere. It is here. It is in our midst,” said security analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi. Others such as analyst Ayesha Siddiqa pointed to the proliferation of militant groups in southern Punjab and upper Sindh. Hundreds of madrassas have been established by militant groups, which use them to recruit and train young men and collect funds.

No operations in Sindh or Punjab

Despite repeated promises, the federal government has not allowed any operation in upper Sindh or southern Punjab because many of the militant groups are patronised by elements in the ruling PML-N party.

“A number of sectarian and extremist organisations are political allies of the PML-N,” Rizvi said.

The military is ready to start a sweep and even announced its intention to do so after the suicide attack in the heart of Lahore on Monday. But the military also patronises other militant groups which are used to launch attacks into India and to aid in security operations in Balochistan.

A view of the deserted tomb of Sufi saint Syed Usman Marwandi, also known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, after it was closed to the public following Thursday’s suicide attack in Sehwan in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province. (Reuters)

“Because there is a difference of opinion on whom to arrest and who to let go, the operation against militants remains a non-starter,” said Rizvi.

Thursday’s suicide bombing was also the biggest attack claimed by the IS. Most of the other attacks this week were claimed by the Taliban. The government has denied the IS has a presence in Pakistan and its links with other groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which mainly targets Shias.

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Main opposition Pakistan People’s Party leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said the government had miserably failed to eradicate terrorism. “It’s very easy to criticise the government of the PPP but the present government has protected terrorists,” he said.

Siraj-ul-Haq of the right wing Jamaat-e-Islami party said the government “appeared helpless”. He said the terrorists had shown “they can attack anywhere and at any time”.

Pakistanis fear violence could spiral out of control

Ordinary Pakistanis were fearful that the situation was again spiralling out of control just when things seemed to getting better. The terrorism could also have an impact on the economy, which had shown some signs of recovery.

Angry relatives of those who were killed in Thursday’s attack surrounded the chief minister’s motorcade in Sehwan and accused the provincial government of corruption and incompetence. The father of a girl killed in the attack told chief minister Murad Ali Shah that no help was available for several hours and his daughter died as she did not get medical attention.

A policeman walks past a pile of shoes left by devotees after Thursday’s suicide blast at the tomb of Sufi saint Syed Usman Marwandi, also known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, in Sehwan town in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province. (Reuters)

A number of people turned to social media to express their anger with the poor security arrangements at most public places. In a tweet, Dr Waqar Abidi said: “Nawaz Sharif himself is a security risk.”

There is also growing anger at the government’s inability to implement the National Action Plan devised in 2014 to combat terrorism after a deadly attack on an army-run school in Peshawar killed more than 130 children. Analyst Sajjad Haider said the delay in fully implementing a plan agreed on by all stakeholders was unforgivable,

“It shows that the priorities of the Nawaz Sharif government do not include fighting terrorism,” he said.

Pakistan: 95% Of Women Didn’t Get To Vote In 17 Districts

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF PAKISTAN’S DAWN NEWS AGENCY)

ISLAMABAD: Over 95 per cent of registered women voters in at least 17 National Assembly constituencies did not cast their votes in the 2013 general elections.

A document prepared by the Election Commission of Pakistan, available with Dawn, reveals that turnout of women voters was less than one per cent in five of these constituencies.

According to disaggregated voters’ data, only one woman out of the total 138,910 registered in NA-33 (Upper Dir) had exercised her right to vote.

In the constituency adjacent to it, NA-34 (Lower Dir), women’s turnout was 0.11pc as only 231 out of 206,566 women voters had cast their ballots. In NA-37 (Kurram Agency), 459 out of 156,811 women voters had cast their votes or 0.29pc of the total registered women voters. However, the constituency registered an overall low turnout as 2,072 men out of 230,107 male registered voters had cast their ballots.

In NA-34, located in the troubled Bajaur Agency, women’s turnout was at 0.02pc and in NA-46, Khyber Agency, 0.2pc.

The trend wasn’t only limited to the tribal areas where certain cultural norms and the law and order situation could play a prohibitive role in this regard. Low women’s turnout was also reported in some constituencies of large cities in Punjab.

In NA-152 (Multan), the turnout of women voters was as low as 1.92pc as only 75,422 out of 3.9 million women voters had cast their ballots. The turnout for male voters in the constituency was 2.13pc.

The turnout of women voters was 2.13pc in NA-178 (Muzaffargarh), 2.24pc in the adjacent NA-177, 2.34pc in NA-175 (Rajanpur), 2.71pc in NA-174 (Rajanpur), and 2.82pc in NA-145 (Okara). The turnout recorded in NA-61 (Chakwal) was 4.42pc and 9.52pc in NA-64 (Sargodha).

The turnout of women voters in NA-271 (Kharan, Balochistan) was 3.51pc, but higher than the turnout for men, 3.04pc. In NA-31 (Shangla), 4.59pc of registered women voters had cast their ballots.

Interestingly enough, the turnout figures for women outstripped those of men in some constituencies, including NA-48 (Islamabad) where the women voters’ turnout was 61.75pc, compared to 61.01pc of male voters.

Similarly, in NA-51 (Rawalpindi) 53.24pc of registered women voters had cast their ballots compared to 52.31pc men. The difference in Attock’s NA-58 was even higher — the women’s turnout was 64.35pc while 61.81pc of registered male voters had cast their votes.

In NA-62 (Jhelum) 17.71pc women had voted, compared to 16.67pc men. Constituencies where the percentage of women voters was higher than that of male voters included NA-74 (Bhakkar), NA-93 (Toba Tek Singh), NA-101 (Gujranwala), NA-103 (Hafizabad), NA-111 and 112 (Sialkot), NA-115 and 116 (Narowal) and NA-180 (Muzaffargarh).

Areas with low female voters’ registration

The election commission has identified over 26,000 census blocks where the ratio of registered women voters is below 40pc of the total enrolled electorate.

The ECP’s gender affairs wing has shared the data with district election commissioners so that they could send it to district election commissioners. The district election commissioners will be asked to focus on the registration of women voters on priority and submit a progress report in four months.

According to another ECP document available with Dawn, 10,440 of these census blocks are in Punjab alone. Lahore tops in terms of the number of census blocks with low enrollment of women voters. The number of such blocks in provincial capital is 872, followed by Sialkot (755), Rahim Yar Khan (743), Sheikhupura (733), Narowal (620), Kasur (509), Bahawalnagar (501) and Jhang (490).

Sindh has 5,779 census blocks, including 1,575 in Karachi West, 629 in Karachi Central, 560 in Malir, 509 in Karachi East 401 in Korangi, 258 in Ghotki, 204 in Hyderabad, 131 in Khairpur and 117 in Kashmore.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the number of census blocks with less than 40pc registered women voters is 3,782, including 601 in Lower Dir, 600 in Kohistan, 469 in Upper Dir, 343 in Peshawar, 250 in Mardan, 147 in Mansehra, 138 in Chitral, 132 in Charsadda, 127 in Batagram and 103 in Bannu.

Balochistan has 3,539 such blocks, including 554 in Khuzdar, 315 in Kalat, 223 in Quetta, 208 in Dera Bugti, 196 in Killa Abdullah, 188 in Kohlu, 162 in Pishin, 143 in Awaran, 137 in Matung, 132 in Lehri, 125 in Loralai, 121 in Labella, 114 in Kachhi and 105 in Jhal Magsi.

In Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the number of census blocks is 2,410. They include 736 clocks in North Waziristan, 350 in Bajaur, 337 in Mohmand, 266 in South Waziristan, 240 in Khyber agency, 141 in FR Bannu and 121 in Kurram agency. The Federal Capital has 53 such constituencies.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2017

Pakistan Army And Police Officers Rounding Up Murderers

(This article is courtesy of the Pakistan Observer News Paper)

Terror threat in Islamabad, Karachi

Parliament, Bilawal House, CM and Governor Houses on hit list

Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad—Intelligence agencies on Saturday issued terror alerts in Islamabad and Karachi after receiving threat calls.
The agencies received four calls regarding possible bomb blasts at various places in Islamabad including hotels and area near Parliament House after which police personnel launched a search operation.
They have identified the caller.
The local administration has tightened security at main places and declared adjoining areas of Parliament House as clear after conducting search.
The officers said that no suspicious material has been found during operation while the caller has been traced and will be soon captured.
On the other hand, another red alert was issued in Karachi in the wake of security threats.
According to intelligence agencies, the terrorists may strike in the next two to three days in the Sindh capital.
Sources said that according to formal notification issued by the intelligence agencies, the terrorists may use water tankers filled with explosive material to target important places including Bilawal House, Governor and Chief Minister Houses, Headquarters of CPO/Rangers Headquarters, Law-enforcement agencies offices, diplomatic missions, prayers congregation, Imambargahs, Ismaili Jamat Khana and Churches.
The notification calls for a red alert to be sent to field staff and stringent checking measures should be adopted to keep any suspicious activity in the city under check.
Sources said that security has been tightened at all important points especially identified by the notification to avert any untoward incident.
Besides, they said that raids are being carried out in different localities of Karachi to foil any terror bid.
The reports come just days after Pakistan Army launched the much-awaited targeted operation against banned outfits in Southern Punjab following a deadly attack in Lahore’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park last month.
The operation is being carried out by civil and military law-enforcement agencies, including Rangers, Police and Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) against hardened criminal and ferraris.
The sources said that law and order situation has witnessed marked improvement in Karachi and acts of crimes have reduced significantly since the launch of Rangers operation back in September 2013 on the order of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
They, however, said that still certain elements, backed by foreign agencies, are operating in the city to pollute and disturb the overall situation.
They said that coordination amongst security and law-enforcement agencies have been enhanced in order to foil their sordid designs.
According to Rangers’ two-year performance report, 10,353 suspects have been arrested in 5,795 raids since the launch of operation in Karachi. The detainees include 826 terrorists, 334 target killers and 296 extortionists.
The Rangers said 364 terrorists associated with various banned organizations including al Qaeda, factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were killed in gunfights with the force.
Meanwhile, 7,312 weapons and 348,978 cartridges were seized in two years. Twenty-seven Rangers soldiers have lost their lives in the same period.
The city police have killed more than 500 suspected terrorists and criminals and arrested over 70,000.
Since the launch of the operation, 250 policemen have lost their lives in the line of duty.