Sikhs In Pakistan Complain Of Pressure To Convert (To Islam)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Sikhs in Pakistan complain of pressure to convert

A complaint by a Sikh leader in Hangu district alleged an assistant commissioner had told members of the minority community to convert to Islam.

WORLD Updated: Dec 16, 2017 23:34 IST

Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
File photo of Sikhs walking through the narrow streets of Peshawar with Gorvindar Singh (centre), one of three Sikhs who was kidnapped for ransom, after his return home on March 1, 2010.
File photo of Sikhs walking through the narrow streets of Peshawar with Gorvindar Singh (centre), one of three Sikhs who was kidnapped for ransom, after his return home on March 1, 2010.(Reuters)

A representative of a Sikh body in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province has complained that members of the minority are being asked to convert to Islam by officials in the local administration.

A complaint filed by Farid Chand Singh, who represents the Sikh community in Hangu district, alleged that the assistant commissioner of Tall tehsil, Yaqoob Khan, had told members of the Sikh community, who had paid him a visit, to convert to Islam if they wanted their problems solved.

An incensed Singh filed the official complaint against Khan with the district commissioner. Singh told The Express Tribune newspaper that he had expressed serious concern as some Sikhs were “being forced to convert to Islam” by the government official.

Singh also said in his complaint that the Pashto-speaking Sikh community had been living in Hangu since 1901 and had never offended by anyone, specifically for religious reasons. He said they had always lived peacefully with Muslims.

Despite Hangu having been a hotbed for sectarian conflict, residents of the district had never harmed Sikhs, who were never approached by anyone to convert to Islam, he said. Sikhs have friendly relations with Muslims, who have always stood up for the community in times of need, he added.

“Had it been from someone ordinary, it would have never felt so offending but when you hear such things from a government official, it becomes something really serious,” Singh told the newspaper.

“We the residents of Doaba area are being tortured religiously,” the complaint said.

“The Constitution empowers us to defend our religious beliefs against anyone and we want you to call (the assistant commissioner of) Tall, Yaqoob Khan, and inquire (about) the issue,” it said, adding the issue “should be investigated so that the community could live in Pakistan with love, peace and harmony”.

The district commissioner, Shahid Mehood, said members of the Sikh community were offended during their meeting with the assistant commissioner but had never meant to insult them.

“There was no such issue of converting someone forcefully to Islam. Rather, the district administration ensures religious freedom,” Mehmood said.

Earlier this year,a public prosecutor told a group of Christians facing trial that he would get them acquitted if they converted to Islam. Nearly 60 Christians were on trial for the mob killing of two men mistaken for militants shortly after two suicide bombers blew themselves up near St John’s Catholic Church and Christ ‎Church of the Church of Pakistan,‎ at Youhanabad in Lahore, on March 15, 2015.

There is a sizeable Sikh population in parts of northwest Pakistan, including the lawless tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. Many of the Sikhs are petty traders and there have been instances of members of the community being kidnapped for ransom in recent years.

Hafiz Saeed release: Pakistan moving from state sponsor of terror to state run by terrorists

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Hafiz Saeed release: Pakistan moving from state sponsor of terror to state run by terrorists

The failure of the Pakistani government to press a charge against Hafiz Saeed signifies Nawaz Sharif’s decline and the court judgment reflects the military’s ascension

EDITORIALS Updated: Nov 24, 2017 16:27 IST

Hindustan Times
Hafiz Saeed gestures outside a court in Lahore, Pakistan, November 22
Hafiz Saeed gestures outside a court in Lahore, Pakistan, November 22(AP)

It is no surprise that a Pakistani court has allowed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed to walk the streets again. From the start, his detention was little more than an eyewash by the Pakistani administration in response to the fierce global criticism of LeT’s role in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Saeed was never formally charged with any terror crimes; his detention was based on minor public order rules. The judges argued that if Islamabad would not charge Saeed with a crime, then it was time to end his four-year long detention.

While there is speculation about whether Saeed’s release was linked to a lack of pressure from Washington, it is more likely that his release is the outcome of a changed domestic political landscape in Pakistan. LeT is the terrorist group most closely associated with the Pakistani military, so any serious action against Saeed was unlikely. The battle over his detention helped highlight Pakistan’s state sponsorship of terror to the rest of the world and promoted a broader, long-term policy of isolating Pakistan within the international community. That policy has been successful: Islamabad still has friends, but a lot fewer than in the past.

Read more

What precipitated Saeed’s release is the ongoing power struggle between former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military establishment. One could almost say the failure of the government to press a charge against Saeed signifies Sharif’s decline. The judgment is just as much a reflection of the military’s heightened power. Part of the military’s strategy is promoting a cluster of political parties to undermine Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). These have included a party built around former cricketer, Imran Khan, but today also include a political party structured around LeT. With Pakistani general elections scheduled for next year, it was necessary for Saeed to be released so that the LeT chief could effect the transition from a pretend prisoner to an authentic politician.

While Saeed’s release is reprehensible, it should be recognised that his conviction on terror charges would have meant a fundamental shift in the mindset of the Pakistani military establishment. His release indicates that if there is any change, it is only for the worse. Rawalpindi’s generals seem to have concluded that it makes sense for the future of their country to bring Saeed and his murderous cohorts into the political mainstream. Pakistan may now cease being a state sponsor of terrorism and instead become a state run by terrorists.

Afghanistan cancels friendly T20s against Pakistan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ESPN)

Afghanistan cancels friendly T20s against Pakistan

The ACB did not offer any official reason for cancelling the T20s AFP

The short-lived détente between the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) and the PCB is seemingly over, barely a week after it had begun. In the wake of a bomb blast in Kabul on Wednesday that killed over 80 people, the ACB has cancelled the friendly T20 matches it had scheduled with Pakistan, to be played in July and August in Kabul and Lahore.

No official reason has been provided by the ACB but the board tweeted:

@ACBofficials cancells friendly matches including initially agreed terms of mutual cricketing relationship with @TheRealPCB

 

The two boards had come to an agreement last week to revive broken ties by playing two friendly matches in each country. As part of the agreement, the PCB was also to provide Afghanistan with venues for training and conditioning camps, and the possibility of reciprocal tours between the youth and senior teams.

A similar deal between the boards was also struck in 2013, when Afghanistan cricketers were given access to the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. Eventually, however, the ACB took to using facilities in Greater Noida in India to train players for tournaments.

Last Saturday Atif Mashal, the ACB chairman, met his PCB counterpart Shaharyar Khan in Lahore and after the meeting stressed that both boards were eager to renew ties. In it he hinted at the complex geo-political scenario that inevitably has an impact on cricket relations.

“We want this relationship and rebuilt this relationship with mutual respect and mutual understanding,” Mashal had said. “Relations with Pakistan doesn’t mean we don’t have relations with India. We’re always thinking of balancing the relations between Pakistan and India.

“India is also a strategic partner, a friend, and they also support Afghanistan cricket. Pakistan did a great job in the development of Afghanistan cricket and we value both nations.

“We know there is tension in the border but it’s my job to keep this interaction between two cricketing nations going and to help governments start something positive. We are trying our best to keep sports, especially cricket, away from politics as well as looking for our national interests.”

The PCB was set to write a letter to the Pakistan government seeking permission to play in Kabul. And a number of Pakistan players – including Umar Akmal, Sohail Tanvir and Kamran Akmal – were part of the auction for the Shpageeza T20 League, Afghanistan’s six-team franchise-based tournament.

But ESPNcricinfo understands that Pakistani participation in the T20 league may now be in jeopardy.

Bombings: Are They Really About Religion, Or About Financial Control Of An Area?

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

Suicide bomber strikes mosque in northwest Pakistan, killing 25

A suicide bomber shouted “Allahu akbar” and blew himself up in a packed mosque in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 25 people and wounding 30 during Friday prayers.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing in Payee Khan, a village in Mohmand Agency that is part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas bordering Afghanistan.

“The suicide bomber was in a crowded mosque, he shouted ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is great) and then there was a huge blast,” said Naveed Akbar, deputy administrator of Mohmand Agency.

Akbar added that some fatalities appear to have been caused when part of the mosque caved in from the force of the blast.

“A portion of the mosque and verandah collapsed in the blast and fell on worshipers. We are still retrieving bodies and the injured from the rubble of the mosque,” he said.

Local tribal elder Haji Subhanullah Mohmand said the attack may have been carried out by Islamist militants seeking revenge after local tribesmen gathered a volunteer force and killed one and captured another insurgent.

“It seems to have enraged the militants and they got their revenge by carrying out a suicide attack in a mosque today,” Mohmand said.

Pakistan’s frontier regions, which are deeply conservative and hard to access due to rough terrain, have long been the sanctuary of fighters from al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups.

In 2014 the army launched a major operation in other parts of FATA, including North and South Waziristan against insurgents who routinely attacked government officials and civilians.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the bombing and said the “attacks by terrorists cannot shatter the government’s resolve to eliminate terrorism from the country.”

Security in Pakistan has improved in recent years — the military says “terrorist incidents” dropped from 128 in 2013 to 74 last year — but Islamist extremists continue to stage major attacks.

A bombing of lawyers in the city of Quetta killed 74 people last month, an attack claimed by both the Islamic State and Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban.

Jamaat-ur-Ahrar also claimed the Easter Sunday bombing in a park in the eastern city of Lahore that killed 72 people.

Pakistan Security Forces Kill 4 Taliban Murderers

(This article is courtesy of CNN News)

Christian neighborhood, courts attacked in Pakistan

Pakistani police officials inspect the site of a suicide bomb attack at a district court in Mardan.

Story highlights

  • Suicide bombers attack Peshawar and Mardan Friday morning
  • 13 dead in Mardan, one killed on outskirts of Peshawar

Peshawar, Pakistan (CNN)At least 14 people were killed Friday in the latest suicide attacks by a Pakistani Taliban splinter group targeting Christians and lawyers in the country, authorities say.

Both attacks were claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group of Pakistan’s Tehreek-i Taliban (TTP) — also known as the Pakistani Taliban — which has killed scores of people in previous attacks targeting both groups in the country this year.
In the city of Mardan, in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, at least 13 people were killed and another 53 injured in an attack at the city’s district courts Friday, District Police Officer Faisal Shehzad told CNN.
The attacker threw a hand grenade at the court gates, then blew himself up after security prevented him from entering, Senior Police Superintendent Shafiullah Khan said.
Four of those killed were lawyers, according to Amir Hussain, the president of the Mardan Bar Association.
There will be three days of mourning, during which time the courts will be shut, Hussain added.

Christian neighborhood attacked

Earlier in the day, a bystander was killed and three members of Pakistan’s security forces injured when suicide bombers struck a Christian neighborhood near Warsak Dam on the outskirts of Peshawar, according to the Pakistan’s military.
Pakistani police previously told CNN that four bystanders were killed and five were injured.
The attackers, four suicide bombers who were also equipped with arms and ammunition, entered the neighborhood after attacking a security guard early Friday morning, Peshawar Police Superintendent Kashif Zulfiqar told CNN.
Security forces responded, exchanging fire and killing the four assailants, according to a statement from the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Public Relations department (ISPR).
A house-to-house search is currently underway and the situation is under control, the ISPR says.

The Taliban in Pakistan's terror legacy

The Taliban in Pakistan's terror legacy

The Taliban in Pakistan’s terror legacy 01:41
“We have enhanced the security of Christians establishments, schools, hospitals, colonies and churches,” said Zulfikar.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan congratulated security forces for their prompt response in foiling the attack.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the latest attacks in a statement released by his office.
“These cowardly attacks cannot shatter our unflinching resolve in our war against terrorism,” he said. “These receding elements are showing frustration by attacking our soft targets. They shall not get space to hide in Pakistan.”

Claim of responsibility

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a group known for its bloody tactics aimed at soft targets, claimed responsibility for both attacks in an emailed statement.
“If Islamic law is not imposed across the country, such attacks will continue to be carried out,” the statement said.
The group has been behind devastating attacks in Pakistan this year, including an Easter Sunday attack targeting Christians in the eastern city of Lahore which killed at least 69 people, and ablast at a hospital in the western city of Quetta last month, which killed 72 people, many of them lawyers.

Pakistani soldiers cordon off a street leading to the Christian neighborhood on the outskirts of Peshawar.

Amnesty International’s South Asia director Champa Patel said in a statement that the attackers were “seeking to undermine the rule of law by targeting both the people who defend it in court and the people it should protect.”
The attacks were a “horrific reminder that Pakistan’s authorities must do more to ensure vulnerable groups are protected,” Patel said. “The authorities have a duty to protect the right to life, prevent human rights abuses, and hold perpetrators to account in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty or other human rights violations.”
Christians make up only 2% of Pakistan’s population, and face persecution from hardline Islamists, who want to see a strict interpretation of Islamic law take precedence in Pakistan’s legal system.
Previous attacks on Christians in Pakistan have included a suicide attack in Lahore that killed at least 14 people in March last year, and suicide attacks on a church in Peshawar in 2013 that killed more than 80 people.
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