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Archives for : Pakistan

#Peshwarattacks – statements from human rights groups, media commentary and editorials


[a short compilation of statements from Human Rights organisations and Media Commentary and Editorials]

HRCP slams killing of children in Taliban attack

December 16, 2014

Lahore, December 16: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called the killing of more than 120 children in a Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar a national tragedy which it said must open the eyes of anyone still harbouring any doubts that Taliban and Pakistan could coexist.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Commission said: “HRCP is deeply saddened by the large number of children killed in the Taliban attack on ArmyPublic School in Peshawar. This is a national tragedy of immense proportions, and an extremely sad day for Pakistan. Our heart goes out to the families of the children whose lives have been cut short by this abhorrent act of terrorism.

“The target was an army-run school, but it was a school nonetheless. It is not children who fight against the Taliban. And yet the choice of the target and the heavy casualties among the children leave no doubt that the massacre was aimed at killing as many children as possible.

“Nothing, including religion, norms of armed conflict or even common decency, justifies such brutal targeting of children. But it is no secret that the killers and those who dispatched them to attack the school have respect neither for religious commandments nor notions of civilised or decent behaviour. The targeting of children made sense to them because they stand for blood-letting and not much else.

“HRCP reiterates its firm belief that Taliban and Pakistan cannot coexist and anyone still harbouring any notions to the contrary is naive beyond belief.

“It had already been established, much before Tuesday’s massacre of children in Peshawar, where the Taliban stood in terms of education or value of children’s lives. Their actions today have shown once again that Pakistan will not know peace until this madness is taken on in all its manifestations and defeated.

“This cold-blooded slaying of our children should drive home once for all what the fight against the extremist militants is all about. And if this too does not wake up all those who have been choosing their words carefully only with reference to the Taliban, who have buried their heads in the sand or who have refused to see the logic in launching operations against the barbaric bands responsible for killing tens of thousands of citizens then nothing else will.

“HRCP calls upon the federal and all provincial governments to pursue this battle with the unison the task demands and particularly make it an urgent priority to punish the puppet masters who ordered the children’s massacre. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government must also rethink its policy of hospitality towards militants and side, through both acts and deeds, with the citizens suffering from the militants’ brutality.

“The fight against Taliban is literally the fight for the lives of Pakistan’s children and to secure for them a future safe from the barbaric brutalities that the Taliban and their ilk stand for.”

Zohra Yusuf
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
107-Tipu Block, New Garden Town, Lahore – 54600
Phone: (92-42) 35845969 Fax: (92-42) 35883582

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Amnesty International

Pakistan: Sickening Taliban school attack highlights vulnerability of civilians
The vast majority of those killed in the attack were school children.

The vast majority of those killed in the attack were school children.

“Of prime importance now is that the Pakistani authorities take effective steps to protect civilians and minimize the risk of this type of sickening tragedy being repeated.” Amnesty International’s David Griffiths

Today’s Taliban attack on a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar shows a merciless disregard for human life and highlights the urgent need for protection of civilians in the area, Amnesty International said.

At least 126 people, mainly children, were killed when several armed men entered the school and began firing indiscriminately at students and teachers in one of the most shocking Taliban attacks in recent memory.

“There can be absolutely no justification for targeting children in this way. This unconscionable Taliban attack is a grave reminder that civilians in north-west Pakistan desperately need effective protection from militant groups,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Asia-Pacific.

“Of prime importance now is that the Pakistani authorities take effective steps to protect civilians and minimize the risk of this type of sickening tragedy being repeated.”

A Taliban spokesman said the attack was a response to recent Pakistani army operations in nearby North Waziristan, in which hundreds of Taliban fighters were killed. The school, in an area of Peshawar close to a military cantonment, was run by the army and some of the students were children of army members.

The Taliban have targeted students in Pakistan on numerous occasions, but this is by far their deadliest attack on a school.

Since 2010, there have been at least four attack on school buses – including the one in which Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head in Swat in 2012. There have been at least three Taliban attacks on schools this year, with one fatality.

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The Guardian – 16 December 2014

Pakistan’s sickening massacre isn’t about religion – it’s about intimidation
To survive as a country Pakistan needs to map out a road to peace, with the army, politicians and the people rallying under a unifying cause

by Bina Shah

School children rescued by the army leave following an attack at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan School children rescued by the army leave following an attack at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. ‘Those killed are of the same religion as the attackers claim to follow.’ Photograph: Bilawal Arbab/EPA

Last week I wept with pride as Malala Yousafzai collected her Nobel Peace prize in Oslo, next to Kailash Satyarthi. The world stopped to listen as she gave her acceptance speech, in which she said:

“It is time to take action so it becomes the last time, the last time, so it becomes the last time that we see a child deprived of education … Let us become the first generation to decide to be the last, let us become the first generation that decides to be the last that sees empty classrooms, lost childhoods, and wasted potentials.”

We watched as Malala received the award and raised it high, able to smile with only half her face but all of her heart. She announced later that she intended to return to Pakistan in 2015, yet another marker of her triumph over the terrorists that tried to deprive her not just of education, but of her life.

We then saw a photograph of Malala as she toured the Nobel museum: when she saw her blood-spattered uniform, the one she was wearing when she was shot by the Taliban, she burst into tears. Kailash, who she calls a second father, had to comfort her as she buried her head in his shoulder.

And now, barely a week later, we are weeping as we see the images on our televisions of schoolchildren being carried out an army school in Peshawar in their blood-spattered uniforms, victims of a Taliban attack which has so far killed 126 people. Most of the children killed were between 10 and 16 years old, children of army officers who were listening to a speech being given by a senior military officer when the gunmen struck.

The Pakistani army has been conducting a “clearance operation” at the school, and says that it is determined to stop the terrorists from killing the rest of their hostages in the siege. The leader of the Taliban group claiming responsibility for the attack says it is in retaliation for the strikes against militants in North Waziristan. “They are killing our innocent families so we want them to feel the same pain,” he has reportedly said.

If anyone still thinks this is about religion, and not a political struggle with the barest patina of religion as justification for this war, they need only come to Peshawar to attend the funerals of the children, who will be buried before the sun goes down, in the Islamic tradition. They have only to hear what their parents will say, the customary response to the news of a Muslim’s death: to Him we belong and to Him we will return. The children who were killed are of the same religion as the attackers claim to follow. This is not about religion: this is about power, intimidation and revenge.

Every time there is an attack in Pakistan it prompts soul-searching, despair, revulsion and depression in the people. From politicians we only get the word “condemnation.” We have come to realise how impotent a word that really is over the past few years. It implies disapproval, not resolution to truly put an end to the situation. It calls for disavowal, instead of owning the conflict fully. It is a weasel word that, the more it is used, angers ordinary Pakistanis who have paid the price for this war with their blood and the blood of their loved ones.

The Pakistan army has shown the most steel in its attempts to batter the militants in their camps – some would say a response long overdue, while others would grimly point out that its strategic depth policy has now grown into a dangerously uncontrollable entity, and the entire nation is suffering as a result. There is so much to say about strategy and policy, about terrorism and counter-terrorism, that people have made their careers writing and lecturing on the subject. Yet no amount of expertise is able to come up with the solution to the crisis. Books, I am afraid, are not tourniquets.

There are urgent calls going out for people to come to hospitals in Peshawar and donate blood, especially O-negative type. Blood is being airlifted from Rawalpindi to Peshawar because supplies have already run out. What it will take, though, to stem the bleeding is a precise roadmap towards peace, one that combines the power of the army with the political backing of our politicians and leaders, that rallies the people and unites them under this cause. It sounds simple, and yet we still haven’t been able to agree on what that roadmap should look like, or even in which direction it should go.

Pakistan has, in fact, been accused of not wanting peace, but nothing is further from the truth. You don’t lose 40,000 people – plus 126 more, today – and want to continue to bleed out. After today we know that if we keep bleeding like this, we will not survive.

o o o – 16 December 2014

Letter from Pakistan: My Country Shrieks in Pain

Mehr Tarar

(Mehr Tarar is former Op-ed Editor, Daily Times, Pakistan)

I drop my son to school every morning.

I have been doing it for the last 13 years, and I do it even now when he’s almost 15.

As he steps out of the car with a bright smile, I blow Ayat-ul-Kursi on him, watching him enter the school gate. I worry about his safety without even being aware that I worry about his safety. No, it’s not because I feel unsafe in Pakistan, but because he is the most precious person in the world to me, and until I see him back with me, I feel a part of me is not there.

Today, I feel as if I have been punched in my stomach. In my heart. And in my soul. With an iron rod. As I hear of children who were killed in an Army school in Peshawar, I feel my heart stopping.

Children were shot in the face. Children were shot in the head. Children were dragged out from under the chairs, under the tables, and shot. At point blank. Methodically. Coldly. Clinically. They – who go by the name of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan – say it is to avenge the Army operation against them in the FATA. To avenge the deaths of militants who were wreaking havoc on innocent Pakistanis in myriad acts of terror. It’s retribution, they say.

I have nothing to say here. You call yourself a Muslim, you call your fight a jihad, you call your way that of Allah. And yet you do what Allah forbids you to do: to perpetrate a war in His name where you kill children. Where you kill people who have never harmed you. You are not just Pakistan’s enemy but you are also your own worst enemy.

Before a court penalizes you, before the bullet of a soldier kills you, you will die a thousand deaths. The screams of the children you killed today, the wails of the parents whose children you killed today, the pain of the nation whose young you killed today will not let you be in peace. Until you die.

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Dawn – 17 December 2014


New blood-soaked benchmark

IT was an attack so horrifying, so shocking and numbing that the mind struggles to comprehend it. Helpless schoolchildren hunted down methodically and relentlessly by militants determined to kill as many as quickly as possible. As a country looked on in shock yesterday, the death count seemed to increase by the minute. First a few bodies, dead schoolchildren in bloodied uniforms, then more bodies, and then more and more until the number became so large that even tracking it seemed obscene. Peshawar has suffered before, massively. But nothing compares to the horror of what took place yesterday in Army Public School, Warsak Road. The militants found the one target in which all the fears of Pakistan could coalesce: young children in school, vulnerable, helpless and whose deaths will strike a collective psychological blow that the country will take a long time to recover from, if ever.

In the immediate aftermath of the carnage, the focus must be the grieving families of the dead, the injured survivors and the hundreds of other innocent children who witnessed scenes that will haunt them forever. Even in a society where violence is depressingly endemic and militant attacks all too common, the sheer scale of yesterday’s attack demands an extraordinary effort by every tier of the state — and society — to help the victims in every way possible. For the survivors, the state can help ensure the best medical treatment, for both physical and psychological wounds, and rehabilitation. All too often, after the initial shock wears off and the TV cameras move on, the level of care and attention given to survivors drops precipitously. That must not be the case this time. For the families of the dead, the state can find a way to honour their sacrifices beyond announcing so-called shaheed packages and promising to disburse cheques. It is also incumbent on wider society and the media to ensure that this time the state does more than the bare minimum.

Inevitably, the hard questions will have to be asked and answers will have to be found. Schools are by definition vulnerable, the trade-off between security and access making for a relatively soft target. Yet, vulnerability ought not to mean a disaster on this scale can occur so easily. Where was the intelligence? The military has emphasised so-called intelligence-based operations against militants in recent months, but this was a spectacular failure of intelligence in a city, and an area within that city, that ought to have been at the very top of the list in terms of a security blanket. Then there is the issue of the operation to find and capture or kill the militants after the attack had begun. The sheer length of the operation suggests the commanders may not have had immediate access to the school’s layout and there was no prior rescue plan in place. Surely army public schools are under high enough risk to have merited some kind of advance planning in case of such an attack. Was that plan in place? Had there been any drills at the school to help the children know what to do in the eventuality of an attack? Who was responsible for such planning? Most importantly, will lapses be caught, accountability administered and future defences modified accordingly? The questions are always the same, but answers are hardly forthcoming.

The questions about yesterday’s attack can go on endlessly. They should. But what about the state’s willingness and ability in the fight against militancy? Vows to crush militancy in the aftermath of a massive attack are quite meaningless. From such events can come the will to fight, but not really a strategy. Military operations in Fata and counterterrorism operations in the cities will amount to little more than fire-fighting unless there’s an attempt to attack the ideological roots of militancy and societal reach of militants. Further, there is the reality that militancy cannot be defeated at the national level alone. Militancy is a regional problem and until it is addressed as such, there will only be a long-term ebb and flow of militancy, cycles destined to repeat themselves. Perhaps the starting point would be for the state to acknowledge that it does not quite have a plan or strategy as yet to fight militancy in totality. Denial will only lead to worse atrocities.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2014

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The Guardian, 16 December 2014

The Guardian view on the school killings in Pakistan


A massacre of the innocents which shows Islamist extremism at its most callous. But Pakistan’s own policies are also to blame

An injured student in Peshawar Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured the Taliban attack to a local hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, 16 December 2014. Photograph: Mohammad Sajjad/AP

There can be no worse or more barbaric stage in any conflict than when one side or the other deliberately kills the children of their enemies. The young students whose bloodied bodies, pathetically clad in their British-style school uniforms, were stretchered out of the army school in Peshawar on Tuesday, as their families stood by and wept, did not die as a result of “collateral damage”.

That dismal euphemism often covers the deaths of innocents. But at least such deaths are not willed. The Taliban militants who infiltrated the school went there with the express purpose of killing children. They were not in the city to attack military installations, police barracks, or even the officers whose children attended the school. They did not even have the scrap of an excuse which the attackers did in Beslan in 2004, that they were taking hostages in pursuit of supposedly just demands addressed to the Russian government. No, they went to Peshawar to kill kids, and they mowed them down until they themselves were mown down, or till the ammunition ran out and they escaped the scene of their crime by committing suicide.

The attack did not of course come out of nowhere. Since August the Pakistani army has been on the offensive in Waziristan, chopping away at the north-western badlands where the Taliban is strong, and in Karachi, where it has been trying to dislodge the Taliban from areas of the city which they control. The attack on the school was therefore an act of revenge, as well as an attempt to terrorise the Pakistani government and armed forces into calling off or moderating these campaigns.

It is highly unlikely to have that effect. The national revulsion at the school killings will surely reinforce the marked hostility toward the Taliban and other Islamist extremists which Pakistani public opinion displays. It will also undermine the already much discredited idea that there is, at least at this stage, a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The politicians – notably the ex-cricketer Imran Khan – who have in the past urged that course will find it hard to return to that theme. Mr Khan has unequivocally condemned the attack and postponed a nationwide protest against the government of Nawaz Sharif that his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, was due to stage tomorrow. Mr Sharif offered the insurgents talks earlier this year, but there was little sincerity on either side. The Taliban’s only potential concession was that their aims of a caliphate, sharia law, and the overthrow of the secular state could come in instalments – not much of a bargain to be had there.

So Pakistan finally embarked on the serious war against extremism which it had largely avoided in the past. The resulting campaign is the latest act in the tragic drama of Pakistani politics. The armed forces and successive governments have played with fire for many years, tolerating, supporting and using Islamist extremists in pursuit of their foreign aims in Kashmir, Afghanistan and central Asia, and in their efforts to maintain an elusive equality with India. This double game has caused untold difficulties and suffering in neighbouring countries. Finally, and predictably, the trouble they had fomented abroad came home in what one respected analyst has called “the worst terrorist backlash in the entire region”. The Peshawar massacre is proof enough of that.

The army will surely now go after the Taliban with renewed vigour. But whether the double game is really over is another question. There are many Islamist groups and sub-groups. Managing and using them, dividing them into “good” and “bad,” according to the needs of the moment, has been a way of life for the Pakistani security establishment. Optimists see a pattern emerging in which the new Afghan government, the Pakistani government and armed forces, and the United States, are closer to being genuinely united than they have ever been in the past, with the extremists unable in the future to take refuge in one country when things are not going well for them in the other. Others are doubtful, noting that using extremism has become a habit it will be hard to give up entirely. But that is the way Pakistan should go. The costs of the old policy have been demonstrated again and again, and the Peshawar school massacre has underlined them in the most horrific way.

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The Economist – Dec 16th 2014

Pakistan From the graveyard
The Pakistani Taliban massacre at least 131 people, mostly schoolchildren, in the country’s deadliest terrorist attack in years

“I AM not sure if Pakistan was created in the name of religion, but it is surely being destroyed in the name of religion.” So wrote a distraught former army officer on December 16th, as a terrorist attack, awful even by Pakistan’s grim standards, unfolded in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the north-west of the country, not far from the border with Afghanistan. Nine members of the Pakistani Taliban, speaking with the local Pashtu accent and dressed in the uniforms of the local paramilitary force, came from a graveyard and over the wall of a large, army-run school. They then moved about, killing children and teachers with guns and grenades. Three or four attackers are said to have blown themselves up.

At the latest count 141 people have died, 132 of them children. Survivors told harrowing stories of children shot as they tried to duck behind desks and chairs. Some were reportedly killed after gunmen interrupted a first-aid training session in the school hall; others fell in the playground. Eyewitnesses spoke of children lined up and murdered. So many injured arrived at the local hospital that it ran out of blood.

Nearly nine hours after the start of the assault, when by now it was dark, soldiers killed the last gunman. The country’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, rushed to Peshawar and spoke of both pain and resolve. “Such attacks are expected in the wake of a war, and the country should not lose its strength”, he said. The war he was referring to is Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which the army launched in the summer to clear the nearby tribal region of North Waziristan of Pakistani Taliban bases. On the evening of the outrage, ten air strikes were ordered in areas close to Peshawar, presumably on Taliban targets. Mr Sharif called an all-party meeting for December 17th, seeking to unite political parties behind a more forceful fight against the terrorists who have torn the country apart.

The Pakistani Taliban quickly admitted responsibility for the attack. Whether intended as a grotesque gesture of compassion or not, they claimed to have been communicating with the gunmen in the school, ordering them to kill only older children. The spokesman said that since “the army targets our families, we want them to feel our pain”. Revenge is clearly part of the motivation. Khalid Aziz, a former chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, notes that tribal Pushtuns, which the assailants appear to have been, have endured years of bombing, displacement and army attacks. He now expects punitive attacks by Pakistan’s army, and as a result “we are going to have a never-ending war”.

The Taliban have a brutal history of targeting the country’s pupils. In the four years to 2013, when their writ ran large, they destroyed over 1,000 schools and colleges in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Two years ago they shot a schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, in the head as she was riding home on a school bus. She survived, going on to collect the Nobel peace prize on December 10th. Ahmed Rashid, an expert on the Taliban, says the massacre in Peshawar was “symbolic of hatred for everything that Malala stands for”. As an attack on children of army officers, it was also intended to demoralise officers serving in North Waziristan.

An umbrella group more formally known as Tehreek-e-Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban looks dangerous and desperate. Squeezed by the army, fractured into squabbling parts and without territory, it is striking mostly at civilians. In November a suicide bomber killed 60 local tourists leaving a daily ceremony on the border with India in Wagah in Punjab. Taliban leaders may also worry that Sunni extremists are turning to favour a rival outfit recruiting in Pakistan, an offshoot of the Islamic State (IS). Kamran Shafi, a retired army officer, says he fears the Taliban will increasingly mimic the savagery of IS in an effort to maintain its appeal among militants. But he also calls the latest attack a “seminal event”, after which most Pakistanis, disgusted with extremism, will unite at last to oppose the Taliban.

For now, at least, it may not turn out to be a wholly vain hope. The immediate behaviour of one politician, Imran Khan, was telling. He is a cricketer turned religious conservative who has been set on ousting the elected Mr Sharif. He draws electoral support from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where his party rules, and his policy to date was never to criticise the Taliban. His position, dressed up as principle, was based partly on a calculation that a sizeable number of Pakistanis still think of the Taliban and other extremist groups as pious. Yet after the Pakistani Taliban murdered so many innocents, even Mr Khan was moved to condemn “this inhuman act of utter barbarism”. He promised to join Mr Sharif’s all-party meeting. Only if the political establishment is disunited can the barbarity more easily continue.

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The Indian Express – December 17, 2014

A special kind of evil

It defies comprehension, the special kind of evil that fired the minds of the men who brought death to Peshawar on Monday, an evil that made them target children gathering for their morning classes and extinguish so many young lives. In days to come, all of Pakistan will mourn. Indians will share their sorrow, as parents, as siblings, and as people who have learned that the living carry with them wounds inflicted by terror.

This isn’t the first large-scale terrorist attack against children — Ingush and Chechen jihadists from the Riyadus-Salikhin killed 156 at Beslan 10 years ago this September. In Pakistan, thousands have died in bombings targeted at people who did no wrong, bar worshipping the “wrong” god, or being born the “wrong” gender, or just happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There is no horror too large, it seems, for terrorists who have taught themselves to believe that god has willed them to kill. For years, Pakistan’s military establishment first patronised the jihadists who are now tearing the country apart, and then sought accommodation with them. Finding that its effort at appeasement achieved little, the army finally went to war against some jihadists in their North Waziristan strongholds. The country is now facing the storm winds the offensive stirred up.

Like all terrorist strikes, the carnage in Peshawar wasn’t mindless. The bullets carried a message for Pakistan’s people: that the army’s growing war against the hardline Tehreek-e-Taliban will bring with it unacceptable costs. For weeks now, hardline Taliban factions, some linked to al-Qaeda, have raged against what they say are large-scale human rights violations by the Pakistan army, and vowed vengeance.

The army, the terrorist commanders who ordered the attack hope to demonstrate, is incapable of defending its own, let alone civil society. In the short term, both the military and the public may respond with rage, but pressure will inevitably mount to buy peace, and that will be the Pakistan government’s acid test. In the past, these pressures have led some political forces in Pakistan to blame India for the terrorism that now afflicts the country. Hopefully, wisdom will be demonstrated now. It is time to mourn, then, but also to act. The war against religious terror in this region has only one way to go — forward. For, on either side is the abyss.

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Boston Globe

Who are the Pakistani Taliban?

By Carlotta Gall, Declan Walsh and Douglas Schorzman The New York Times December 16, 2014

The Pakistani Taliban, formally known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, is a loose and often chaotic umbrella organization representing roughly 30 groups of Pakistani militants along the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. The group was officially founded in 2007 by a prominent jihadi commander, Baitullah Mehsud, and for years it and allied groups like Al Qaeda have been based in the ethnic Pashtun tribal areas in northwestern Pakistan, particularly in North and South Waziristan.

Many Pakistani Taliban commanders had fought in Afghanistan as part of the movement that swept to power in Kabul. When US forces ousted that movement in 2001, many of its leaders fled across the border into Pakistan. The Pakistanis among them played host to their Afghan counterparts — as well as hundreds of fighters from Al Qaeda — providing them with shelter, logistical support and recruits.

The Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters steadily radicalized the tribal regions, encouraging the Pakistani Taliban to spread their influence across the mountainous region and beyond into Pakistan’s settled areas and main cities.

The militant groups resisted the Pakistani military’s efforts to impose control. They sometimes cooperated in cease-fire agreements with the Pakistani military and then reneged months later. After Mehsud created Tehrik-i-Taliban, he led the group in attacks against the Pakistani state, striking military and civilian targets in various cities. The group accused the Pakistani government of siding with the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and vowed revenge for the killing of Pakistani civilians in the 2006 bombing of a madrassa in North-West Frontier province, which was renamed Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in 2010, and in the Red Mosque siege in Islamabad in 2007.

The United States designated the Pakistani Taliban a terrorist organization in September 2010.

Q: What relationship do the Pakistani Taliban have to the Afghan Taliban?

Taliban gunmen stormed a military-run school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday, killing at least 126 people.

A: The group owes allegiance to the Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, and cooperates closely with the Afghan movement in its insurgency in Afghanistan, providing men, logistics and rear bases for the Afghan Taliban. It has trained and dispatched hundreds of suicide bombers from Pakistan’s tribal areas into Afghanistan. The movement shares a close relationship with the Haqqani Network, the most hard-core section of the Afghan Taliban operating out of North Waziristan, which has been behind repeated suicide attacks in and around Kabul and eastern Afghanistan. The groups also cooperate and provide safe haven for Al Qaeda operatives, including Al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Pakistani intelligence, which has longstanding ties with the Haqqani Network, has sought to turn the Pakistani Taliban to fight Western forces in Afghanistan and desist from attacks against Pakistan.

Q: What are the most significant attacks claimed by the Pakistani Taliban?

A: The Pakistani Taliban and affiliated militant groups have mounted a long series of devastating bomb blasts in Pakistan’s cities over the years. They attacked Pakistani military and intelligence targets, including a suicide bombing in the canteen of Pakistan’s elite special forces commandos, the Special Services Groups, and a hostage-taking inside the army’s General Staff Headquarters in Rawalpindi. The Pakistani Taliban were also behind fatal bomb blasts on softer targets like the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September 2008 and the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar in 2009.

Baitullah Mehsud is also thought to have been behind the suicide bombing that killed former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.

Under Hakimullah Mehsud, the group demonstrated a close alliance with Al Qaeda. He claimed a role in the suicide bombing by a Jordanian double agent that killed seven CIA officials and a Jordanian intelligence official at Camp Chapman in eastern Afghanistan in December 2009, mounted in revenge for the killing of Baitullah Mehsud.

The bomber, Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, had been recruited by Jordanian intelligence and was being used to try to undermine Al Qaeda’s leadership based in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The Taliban disseminated video footage showing Mehsud beside the Jordanian before the bomber traveled from North Waziristan to Afghanistan to carry out the attack.

Mehsud later trained Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in New York City in 2010.

In 2012, the Pakistani Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani schoolgirl in the Swat Valley, in the head for advocating the education of girls. Yousafzai went on to become a worldwide symbol of the group’s indiscriminate violence and subjugation of women and girls, traveling to New York to give a speech at the United Nations. She and her family have moved to England, in part because the Pakistani Taliban vowed to attack her again.

Q: Who has led the Pakistani Taliban?

A: Hakimullah Mehsud became the leader of the Pakistani Taliban after a US drone strike killed Baitullah Mehsud in August 2009. A onetime driver for the Taliban who had risen to prominence through a series of daring attacks, he played a major role in the humiliating kidnapping of 250 Pakistani soldiers in 2007. He later stole US jeeps as they were being transported to Afghanistan and was filmed driving around in one.

Mehsud proved a wayward, vicious leader. He appeared at the execution of a former Pakistani intelligence officer, Sultan Amir, known as Colonel Imam, in 2011. Colonel Imam had long been a trainer and mentor to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, yet Mehsud ignored efforts to intercede on his behalf by senior Taliban figures, including Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Afghan Taliban leader, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the powerful Haqqani network.

Hunted by US drones, Mehsud adopted a low profile in recent months and was rarely seen in the news media. But in a BBC interview that was broadcast in October, he vowed to continue his campaign of violence. He was aware that the CIA was seeking to kill him, he said, adding: “Don’t be afraid. We all have to die someday.”

Mehsud’s deputy, Abdullah Behar, was among the four people who were killed with him, according to a Pakistani official, and it was not clear who might succeed him. Behar had just assumed the deputy post from Latif Mehsud, a militant commander whom US forces in Afghanistan detained in 2013.

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The Blaze 16 Decemmber 2014

‘We Will Kill Those Malalas’: Before Taliban’s School Massacre, Militants Warned of Revenge Against Nobel Prize Winner 

by Sara Carter

Last week, Pakistan’s deadliest militant group warned that anyone following in the footsteps of 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner and school activist Malala Yousufzai would be killed.

“We will kill those Malalas, those who are following Malala Yousafzai,” Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Taliban vowed.

On Tuesday, the group followed through with its threat.

Seven attackers massacred a Pakistani military-run high school in Peshawar, executing at least 141 people, mostly children, in one of the deadliest attacks in Pakistan’s history. Within the first 20 minutes of the attack, the men had already executed more than 60 children, Pakistani sources told TheBlaze via Skype.

A police official in Peshawar told Sajid — a source who lives in the city and spoke to TheBlaze on the condition that he be identified by a pseudonym — that the men were allowed to enter the school because they were wearing official Pakistani army uniforms. Sajid’s 14 year-old cousin was killed in the attack, and Sajid has received direct threats to his life from the TTP.

He said hospital officials at Lady Reading Hospital still have six dead children that have yet to be identified.

“These people are not human, they are not Muslim, they are monsters,” Sajid said.
Pakistani rescue workers take out students from an ambulance who injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, upon arrival at a local hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. Taliban gunmen stormed a military school in the northwestern Pakistani city, killing and wounding dozens, officials said, in the latest militant violence to hit the already troubled region. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

Pakistani rescue workers treat students injured in a shootout at a school under attacked by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. Taliban gunmen stormed a military school in the northwestern Pakistani city, killing and wounding dozens more than 100. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

The hours-long attack with ended with the deaths of 132 children, ages 10 through 18, and nine staff members: five female teachers, three guards and one security person. All of the attackers died, though it wasn’t clear whether they were shot by soldiers or detonated explosive vests, the Associated Press reported.

Sajid said TTP sent the warning about Yousafzai to members of the Pakistani media on Dec. 10. Yousafzai — now known predominantly by her first name, Malala — was shot by the Taliban in an October 2012 because of her fight to see all children of Pakistan educated.

“Democracy is black law and nowadays, Western countries, NGOs, media outlets and political parties are trying their best to strengthen this black system within and this system is main cause of present situation where everyone is facing hardships, there is no justice and people are facing the worst law and order situation,” read the five-page Taliban document, which Sajid translated from Urdu for TheBlaze.

“Unfortunately the father of Malala Yousafzai ( Ziauddin Yousafzai) is a greedy and selfish man. He wants fame, that’s the main reason that he sold the respect and honor of his daughter and pushed her in the hands of NGOs. Ziauddin violated Pashtun code and the Islamic principle just for getting fame in the world,” the document said. “Ziauddin pushed Malala to fight the Islamic principles and now Malala is against the Islamic code and principle. So we believe that holy war will continue till the doomsday, and we will continue our fight against the people like Malala and Ziauddin, who are working in the hands of NGOs and violating Islamic principles.”

A spokesman for the TTP said its actions Tuesday were also in retaliation for the recent large-scale and ongoing military operations by the Pakistan army in an area of North Waziristan, which is home to the militants and numerous foreign fighters.

“We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” Muhammad Khurasani in a statement. “We want them to feel the pain.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made an emergency visit to Peshawar and said in a press conference that military operations would continue against the militants in North Waziristan and that security forces will also launch operations against the militants in other tribal areas. He also announced a three-day nationwide mourning for the children killed.

Sajid, who has been under direct threat from the Taliban for more than a month, said he pulled his own children out of school in Peshawar several weeks ago and is now in hiding with his wife and children.

“I was worried that something like this would happen for more than a week,” he said.

“I think today the Taliban sent a very clear message and people will no longer want to send their children to school,” he said. “They are afraid. The Taliban did this in response to Malala’s activism and her great victory against them as she fights for education for all of Pakistan’s children.”

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Peshawar court asks Pakistan to look for lovestruck Indian who disappeared in 2012


In 2012, a Mumbai man entered Pakistan illegally and went to the heart of a conflict zone to find his Facebook love and rescue her from an arranged marriage. Two hours after checking into his hotel, he disappeared.
The Peshawar High Court in Pakistan has asked the government of Pakistan to investigate the disappearance of an Indian national, Hamid Ansari of Mumbai, who his parents say had illegally entered Pakistan through Afghanistan in November 2012 to find his online lover and save her from arranged marriage. His parents have reasons to believe he was picked up by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence, but Pakistan’s government has said they have no information on Ansari.

This is an India-Pakistan story of love and loss that doesn’t have many takers, because too many suspect Hamid could have been a spy or a saboteur. If he is one, would he have spent months trying to reach Kohat from Mumbai and then get caught in just two days?

This is what happened. Sitting in Mumbai, Hamid Ansari fell in love with a Pakistani Pashtun girl over Facebook. He was a 26-year-old management teacher, she was a B.Ed. student. After over a year of obsessing about each other over the internet, the phone and phone messenger applications, she called him one day, crying. She had confided in her sister about this online affair, but the sister told the parents, who decided it was time to find her a husband. It was their last phone call. She soon disappeared from Facebook as well.

A distraught Hamid did all he could to find out about her. He even found another girl in Kohat and requested her to find out. But to no avail. He decided to try and get a visa to Kohat, making several calls to the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi. As a Rotarian, he managed to get an official invite from the Peshawar chapter of the Rotary club to visit Peshawar and Kohat to interact with the youth. This didn’t help him get a visa either.

He met Jatin Desai of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy to see if Desai could help him get a visa. Kohat would never be possible, Jatin said. It’s in the heart of a conflict zone. Besides, Jatin said, that area is known for honour killings. Forget the girl, he said. But Jatin could see he was mad about the girl; she was all he could think of.

He convinced his parents to let him fly to Kabul in November 2012 for an interview for a job at Kabul airport. A week later, his phone stopped working.

With no news of him, his parents opened his computer and found he had not logged out of his Facebook and email. Reading hundreds of Facebook chats, they pieced together what had happened.

Three online Pakistani friends urged Hamid to reach Kohat via Kabul, by illegally crossing the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border. They not only encouraged him to do so, but gave detailed instructions and instigated him to do it soon.

Meet Atta Ur Rehman Awan, a graphic designer with Dastak, an Urdu magazine in Kohat; one Shazia Khan who claimed to be a medical doctor in Islamabad; and a mysterious Ms Saba Khan.

This is an excerpt from a chat between Shazia Khan and Hamid:

Shazia: It’s very difficult to get a visa to Pakistan these days. Why don’t you get a visa to Afghanistan instead? From Kabul, come to the Pakistan border at Torkham and I’ll get you to Karak or Kohat from there. Luqman also says you should come via Kabul. Kabul to Torkham is only 150 kms.

Hamid: Visa for Kohat is very difficult. But visa for Lahore is easy. I asked someone at the Pakistan High in Delhi what is the way out. They said I need an invitation or a clearance from the Ministry of Interior. By the way I have a friend in Jalalabad…

Shazia: Jalalabad is just 50 kms from Peshawar…

Hamid: I asked my friend about going to Peshawar from Jalalabad, he said there’s a lot of vigilance and there’s a very high chance I would get caught. Without a Pakistan visa getting back into Afghanistan may also be difficult. It might be easier if I get a Lahore visa. I have a friend in Sindh who says that once I reach Lahore he can get me an extension visa to Kohat. But I need to first get a visa to Lahore. I am ready to take all risk.

Shazia: Oh there is no checking while entering Pakistan from Afghanistan. I will get you to Peshawar in my own car. I’ll also get you an ID card of either Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Hamid: Now you tell me what to do.

And this is a chat excerpt (translation from Roman Urdu) between Atta bhai, as Hamid called him, and Ms Saba Khan, while Hamid was not online, but was cc-ed:

Atta: I’ve been recommended this man Kamran Khan (phone number). Call him and see who he is and if he can help? But remember nobody should know Hamid is Indian. If anybody comes to know, there could be a mess.

Saba Khan: I too gave you someone’s number, was it of help? I got that number from a Frontier Corps guy. And yes, apart from us nobody knows that Hamid is Indian, let’s be clear about that.

Atta: Okay, I will call that guy. I got to know from someone that there is no problem in coming from Kabul to Pakistan. All you have to do is to strike a deal with the taxi driver at Kabul airport. There is no checking. It is only on the return trip that there are ten check points. What do you recommend? That man also told me the trick is that nobody other than the taxi driver should know you are going to cross the border. The taxi driver will drop you at Torkham.

And this chat is between between Atta and Hamid:

Atta: Please don’t mind my saying this, but you are very lazy. If I were in your place, by now I would have done everything.

Hamid: I know, but I have deliberately delayed this. And all this mess was caused by her sister. It all happened too suddenly. And then this visa problem. These Hi Commission people don’t give a visa soon.

Atta: Now don’t delay it more.

On November 12, he sent an email to Saba Khan. The email’s IP address shows it was sent from within Pakistan. Here is an excerpt, translated from Roman Urdu:

“Listen, I am fine here. I am with Atta bhai. I reached late at night, but everything is fine. Just keeping a very low profile. I should get a new mobile by evening; will let you know. For obvious reasons, I cannot call you.

Take care. Inshallah we will both return soon. Pray for us.”

Hamid Ansari’s mother is a college lecturer in Mumbai and his father is a banker. They emailed all these characters and got no replies. Most phone numbers in the chats have stopped taking calls from Indian numbers. Mrs Fauzia Ansari had a relative in Dubai call Atta Ur Rehman Awan, who said that he had found a ‘Dhaba’ in Kohat for Hamid to stay, where he was for about two days before “agencies” took him away.

Nearly a year ago, I managed to get in touch with a local journalist in Kohat, who was enthusiastic about helping bring Hamid back home. He called up Awan, who said that “agency people” took him away, and that he could not say more on phone. The journalist then met Awan in person, and also a university student that Hamid was in touch with. This journalist told me that both said “agencies” had taken him away and that the two had been questioned by them too.

The journalist from Kohat said that he could not say more on the phone and could not help, as it was “a sensitive matter”. One journalist in Lahore who had shown interest in the story said the small hotel that Hamid had stayed in was called ‘Palushan’. She visited Kohat and the Palushan Hotel, and found that Ansari had booked himself in room number 3 under the name “Hamza S/O Muhammad Khalid” on 14 November 2012 at 5.20 pm. As he was on his way to his online lover’s house, Kohat police detained him and searched his hotel, and allegedly found Indian documents. Thereafter, Ansari was probably handed over to military intelligence for investigation.

Ansari made a huge mistake, but one feels angrier about his Pakistani friends online, who first gave him this crazy advice to go to Kohat via Kabul and take the girl back to Mumbai. Hamid reportedly had the film Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge on his mind – he wanted the father to willingly let the girl go with him.

The chats also contain the woman’s father’s address and phone number. I called him up too and he angrily said what any father would say in such a case: “She had no friend. Nobody came here. She is married now.”

Perhaps the “agencies” think he is an Indian spy, given the paranoia in Pakistan about India’s alleged activities on the Afghan border. At the same time, Indian investigators first thought he was being trained for anti-India activities. Having read his long Facebook chats, I am convinced he was nothing more than a naive young man whose love was blind. Many Indians have a fascination for beautiful Pashtuns. Hamid was perhaps one of them.

When the Indian government asked Pakistan, their answer was that they didn’t know. Now, thanks to the Peshawar High Court, the Pakistani government will be forced to give a written response. Hamid’s mother approached the Indian Supreme Court to make the Indian government do more to get Hamid back. After the Indian government told the court it was doing all it could, the court dismissed the case in March this year.

Hamid has been missing for 19 months now. The maximum punishment for illegally crossing into Pakistan’s borders is six months in jail. This Eid, whoever has Hamid in their custody, might want to think of the blessings they would get if they send Hamid home.

Read mor ehere-

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Letter from Islamabad: Inside the Deadly War Against Pakistan Media

By:  | 


Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir took six bullets in an April attack. Credit: The News (Pakistan)

They wanted to kill him but he survived with six bullets in the body. He was not a case of mistaken identity. They knew who they were aiming at. Hamid Mir is arguably the most prominent TV anchor of Geo TV, the biggest network of Pakistan. He was not a stranger to threats. A bomb found planted beneath his car in November 2012 was diffused, to his good luck.

So when he was asked to host a special broadcast at Geo headquarters in Karachi over prospects of peace with the Pakistani Taliban, Mir began to feel restless. Already, he had curtailed movement within his home base, Islamabad, due to death threats. Traveling outside the city would be far more dangerous. While he reluctantly agreed to host the broadcast, Mir thought to trick his enemies so they couldn’t keep track of him. Therefore, instead of booking flight for Karachi, he purchased a ticket for Quetta, only to change it at the eleventh hour.

Nevertheless, the shooters knew when he flew to Karachi from Islamabad on April 19. They were also aware of the route he would use for reaching the studio there. They didn’t care about a security guard and a driver accompanying Mir from the Karachi airport to the Geo TV office. They opened fire at him when the car slowed down for a turn. As the driver geared up to escape the shooters, Mir was struggling to dodge the bullets being fired at him. He received six–in the ribs, thigh, stomach, and across his hand.


Mir in critical condition after the attack. Credit: The News (Pakistan)

News of the near-assassination of Mir spread like wildfire. The staff of the TV network was emotionally charged. I work for the same media house, Jang Group, that owns Geo TV. Mir would frequent our office, situated in the same building where he worked. We would chat for a long time discussing issues ranging from current affairs to the threats against journalists.

He last visited us four days before this attack. Mir then shared concerns regarding threats to his life and the possible culprits. He had recorded a message for his family to release in case of any untoward situation. Geo TV’s top management was also briefed on the threatening messages sent to him time and again.

So when Hamid Mir was struggling for life, unconscious on a hospital bed, his brother Amir Mir, an investigative journalist, went on Geo TV to name the prime suspect in the attack–the chief of the ISI, Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency. His statement was in line with the instructions of his injured brother. This turned out to be counterproductive.

No officials stepped forward to determine the veracity of Mir’s allegations and to look into the reasons for his suspicions towards the top spy chief. Instead, an organized campaign started against the victim journalist, his vocal colleagues, and Geo TV. The agency was not facing accusation for the first time. It has been accused in the past of harassing, torturing, and even killing a journalist. Saleem Shahzad, a journalist who was kidnapped in broad day light in May 2011, was later found dead; he had also expressed suspicions through an email.


Mir was Pakistan’s top new anchor. Credit: The News (Pakistan)

While Mir sufffered from multiple injuries, Geo TV was next in the firing line. Running the accusatory statement of an injured employee turned out to be its crime. A complaint by the ISI led the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to shut down the TV network, which was accused of having a history of “anti-state activities,” among other things.

Before the regulatory body would decide, the network was virtually shut down by the cable operators who succumbed to invisible pressure. A senior officer of PEMRA, which oversees the industry, held the operators to account for their illegal closure of Geo TV. He was picked up one night and tortured. The next day, he requested transfer to another position. The regulatory authority finally gave up. Forty-five days later after this near-closure, PEMRA slapped a 15-day suspension on Geo TV for running the allegations against the ISI spy chief. No right of hearing or even response was granted to the network.

The attack on Mir also brought to the surface cracks within the Pakistani media. A general perception about the nation’s lively news media is that they stand united against threats to press freedom. Such solidarity has turned out to be an illusion. Attacks from rival TV networks started accusing Geo TV of maligning the ISI. (As the accusatory statement pointing fingers at the ISI chief was run on TV, his picture was also flashed.) Even the demand for Geo TV’s closure initially came from the rival channels.

Holding Geo TV to task for broadcasting Mir’s allegations might seem odd when the Pakistani media has no qualms about routinely running serious allegations against the Prime Minister and President (the supreme commander of armed forces). The difference here was the allegations on Geo TV were against the spy chief of the most powerful agency in Pakistan.

Instead of discussing the possible attackers of Mir, the debate centered on the accusation and its coverage. Those who tried to highlight the case of a victim-journalist demanding a probe were targeted through talk show hosts close to the military establishment and harassed by different means.

My two colleagues and I received emails from someone identified as “Khaki power,”threatening us of dire consequences if we continued speaking out. Thugs were sent to the hometown of my colleague to resuscitate a police case against him that was quashed 10 years ago. Our female staffers were harassed into quitting the network. Male staffers were assaulted by “anonymous” attackers. The vans carrying newspapers were put on fire and the drivers tortured.

I was also under scrutiny for demanding legislation for the spy agencies. Unlike in many other countries, there is at present no law governing the functions of Pakistan intelligence agencies. They were founded through an executive order but no law was made to formalize their functions. I wrote several articles arguing for the legislation. It turned out to be my crime. I, too, came under fire.

Surveillance on me was intensified. Some anonymous officials went to the village where I was born and raised. They inquired about my reputation and took pictures of my house there. Then they visited the organizations I had collaborated with in different projects. The purpose was to spot some irregularities that could be used to defame me.

The Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan, which I founded in 2012, also came under scrutiny.  I was dubbed a rent-a-journalist who works hand-in-glove with foreign interests. At my newspaper, our top management is being pressured to fire six journalists, my name included.

A hate campaign on social media was started to scare my colleagues and I into silence. Being an advocate of free speech, I hardly block anybodyon Twitter, hoping they will learn to improve the quality of argument, but the abusive commentary and naked threats have become a permanent feature.

It is more than two months now since Mir was attacked. A lot has changed. Geo is struggling to stage a come-back. It has officially been restored but is still absent from TV screens in many parts of the country, as the cable operators are still keeping it off the air. While Geo tendered a public apology for “excessive and emotional coverage” of the attack on Mir, it also sent a defamation notice to the ISI demanding an apology or evidence to back up allegations that Geo engaged in anti-state activities. Neither has been done.

Censorship started creeping into the newsroom soon after this crisis started. It is now rapidly advancing. Geo TV, being the biggest channel, is the front line of defense against these attacks on media freedom. It is still fighting, but other networks have surrendered, angling instead for a share of the 60% of Pakistani viewers that Geo has controlled. Those who failed to compete in the marketplace are now conspiring against the network. They are gaining business but losing freedom. Meanwhile, journalism in Pakistan is suffering.

Read more here- 

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Pakistan Court Seeks Information on Missing Indian National


Published: 02nd July 2014 04:39 PM

D: A Pakistan court has issued notice to the defence and interior ministries demanding an explanation on the disappearance of an Indian national from Kohat district in 2012, a media report said Wednesday.

During the hearing in the Peshawar High Court, a two-judge bench Tuesday questioned as to how the Indian national entered Pakistan from Afghanistan without valid documents and reached Kohat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Dawn online reported.

Nehal Hamid Ansari, 28, had arrived in Afghanistan in 2012 in search of a job, but he crossed over to Pakistan ostensibly to help a woman in Kohat he met on the social networking site Facebook.

Ansari, an MBA degree holder, worked in Mumbai as a teacher before leaving for Afghanistan.

Ansari’s mother Fauzia said that he was in constant touch with his Facebook friends from Pakistan who had advised him on how to cross over into the country without legal documents.

Fauzia also said that her son had stayed at a hotel in Kohat before he disappeared.

The human rights cell of the Supreme Court had forwarded the case to Pakistan’s Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances in March this year.

The commission April 10 had directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa home department to constitute a joint investigation team to trace Ansari.

The bench fixed Sep 8 for the next hearing with the direction that the defence and interior ministries inform the court of Ansari’s whereabouts.

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Pakistan Gang Rape: Police Arrest Three Men after Woman is Found Hanged from Tree #Vaw


Pakistan Rape Victim

The body of 20-year-old Muzammil Bibi was discovered by her parents.Reuters

A man has confessed to the rape and murder of a woman in Pakistan.

20-year-old Muzammil Bibi’s body was found hanging from a tree in the Layyah district of Punjab province.

Police have confirmed that the woman’s boyfriend of six months, named as Muhammad Saqib, was taken into custody after he confessed to her rape and murder.

He admitted he attempted to force the victim to have sex with two of his friends at a wholesale vegetable shop where he worked, but she refused.

After she resisted the rape her attackers strangled her. Her body was hanged to make it appear to be a suicide.

Senior police official Ghazi Salahudin said: “The incident occurred in Layyah district (in Punjab province) on Thursday night and was reported to the police on Friday when the local people saw a woman hanging from a tree.”

The incident echoes an attack in India last month, in which two teenage girls were found gang-raped and hanged from a mango tree in Uttar Pradesh state. Three men were arrested over the killings and two policemen were held on suspicion of trying to cover up the crime.

Senior officer Sadaqat Ali Chohan said that the latest rape and murder of a woman in Pakistan bears a chilling similarity to the UP gang rapes and may have been a copycat crime.

“This is the first time in my 22 years of service in the police that I have seen such a case, where a girl was raped in this way and found hanging from a tree,” he said.

“We have heard of such cases in India but never in Pakistan. The girl’s clothes were torn. We took her down and moved her to hospital. Her body had signs of resistance. We have arrested three individuals who have confessed to the crime.”

The victim was the eldest of eight siblings. Her parents are both blind and earn their livelihood by farming a small piece of land.

Police said her parents spent all night looking for her and found her body hanging the next morning.

The latest incident in Pakistan follows the death of 17-year-old Pakistani gang rape victim, Amina Bibi, who died after setting herself on fire in protest at a police decision to set a key suspect in the case free.

The incidence of rape and domestic violence is not as high profile in Pakistan as it is in India. India’s government has been heavily criticised for their alleged lack of action over the rising number of rapes in the country. The Delhi gang rape of a student on a bus sparked protests in the Indian capital, with demands for more severe penalties for perpetrators.

A rape is reported on average ever 20 minutes in India, but critics claim many more are either unreported or deliberately ignored by police.

Earlier this month, a member of India’s ruling BJP party caused outrage after making comments suggesting that an incident can only be accepted as rape if the authorities are notified.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for action over sexual violence against women.

“We say no to the dismissive, destructive attitude of ‘Boys will be boys’. Together, we can empower more people to understand that violence against women degrades us all.”

Read more here –

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Main bhi Kafir, Tu Bhi Kafir – Salman Haider #Poetry



पाकिस्तान के एक मशहूर शायर सलमान हैदर की एक कविता ‘मैं भी काफ़िर, तू भी काफ़िर” इन दिनों चर्चा का विषय बनी हुई है और पाकिस्तान में इस कविता पर विवाद भी हो रहा है।
(न सिर्फ पाकिस्तान और मुस्लिम कट्टरपंथी बल्कि भारत और हिन्दू कट्टरपंथियों पर भी बिलकुल सही बैठती है।)


मैं भी काफ़िर, तू भी क़ाफ़िर
मैं भी काफ़िर, तू भी क़ाफ़िर
फूलों की खुशबू भी काफ़िर
शब्दों का जादू भी काफ़िर
यह भी काफिर, वह भी काफिर
फ़ैज़ भी और मंटो भी काफ़िर
नूरजहां का गाना काफिर
मैकडोनैल्ड का खाना काफिर
बर्गर काफिर, कोक भी काफ़िर
हंसी गुनाह, जोक भी काफ़िर
तबला काफ़िर, ढोल भी काफ़िर
प्यार भरे दो बोल भी काफ़िर
सुर भी काफिर, ताल भी काफ़िर
भांगरा, नाच, धमाल भी काफ़िर
दादरा, ठुमरी, भैरवी काफ़िर
काफी और खयाल भी काफ़िर
वारिस शाह की हीर भी काफ़िर
चाहत की जंजीर भी काफ़िर
जिंदा-मुर्दा पीर भी काफ़िर
भेंट नियाज़ की खीर भी काफ़िर
बेटे का बस्ता भी काफ़िर
बेटी की गुड़िया भी काफ़िर
हंसना-रोना कुफ़्र का सौदा
गम काफ़िर, खुशियां भी काफ़िर
जींस भी और गिटार भी काफ़िर
टखनों से नीचे बांधो तो
अपनी यह सलवार भी काफ़िर
कला और कलाकार भी काफ़िर
जो मेरी धमकी न छापे
वह सारे अखबार भी काफ़िर
यूनिवर्सिटी के अंदर काफ़िर
डार्विन भाई का बंदर काफ़िर
फ्रायड पढ़ाने वाले काफ़िर
मार्क्स के सबसे मतवाले काफ़िर
मेले-ठेले कुफ़्र का धंधा
गाने-बाजे सारे फंदा
मंदिर में तो बुत होता है
मस्जिद का भी हाल बुरा है
कुछ मस्जिद के बाहर काफ़िर
कुछ मस्जिद में अंदर काफ़िर
मुस्लिम देश में अक्सर काफ़िर
काफ़िर काफ़िर मैं भी काफ़िर
काफ़िर काफ़िर तू भी काफ़िर!

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Pakistan – Die my daughter, die quickly ! #Vaw #Womenrights

Farzana Perveen’s murder was not the first time men played the game of honour on a woman’s body. In societies like Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and much of the Middle East and Africa, this is an everyday reality women have to live with. According to a 2000 UN report, around 5000 women are killed every year around the world. There exists no UN research after that. In 2012-13, the global figure estimated by independent organizations was 20,000 killings per year. In Pakistan, HRCP reported the number of killings in 2012 at 949 and in 2013, at 869.
Just to freshen up the memory, two women were shot dead a few months ago in Sindh for ‘bringing shame’ to their families by choosing their husbands. Earlier, four women were killed in Qila Saifullah for similar reasons. Three girls from Kohistan were killed because their images were seen in a video wherein they were singing in the presumed presence of boys who were also reportedly killed later. A couple was shot dead in Kashmir on the suspicion of ‘illicit relations’. A famous actor in Lahore was beaten, humiliated and her eyebrows shaved on suspicion of infidelity.
Sürücü, a 23 years old girl, Turkish by origin living in Berlin, who married a non-Turkish man of her choice, was killed by her six brothers aged 16 – 25. Laura Wilson was the first white victim of honour killing in UK. In 2010, Ashtiaq Asghar, her boyfriend of Pakistani origin, killed her for conceiving a baby as a result of her brief fling with another guy.
Methal Dayem, a 22 year old girl from the West Bank was killed in Cleveland by her cousins Yezen Dayem and Musa Saleh for driving her car, for being too independent and refusing to marry her cousin. In Toronto, five year old Farah Khan’s father and stepmother killed her because the father suspected that she was not his child. Jagir Kaur, a politician in Indian Punjab killed her daughter Herpreet who fell in love with Kamaljeet Singh, her party’s political worker. She and six others were charged for murder but not arrested.
Susheela, the daughter of a Jat shopkeeper in Haryana, married Rajpal, a Dalit. A few days after she told the court she had chosen to marry Rajpal, she was poisoned to death. After Sushela’s murder, Rajpal was charged with her abduction and rape. He is now serving life term in jail, while Susheela’s killers are leading their normal lives.
Naz Perveen, a 25 year old in Utter Pradesh, married Kasif Jamal, 35, against her family’s wishes. Both were killed in broad daylight in a busy market. Dozens from the community came out to claim responsibility. No investigation was ever done.
Hatice Peltek, a 39 years old Turkish woman was killed by her husband because she was ‘a shame on the family’ after being molested by her brother-in-law. Yasser Said shot his 17 year old daughter Amina because of her ‘western ways’, while his wife helped him. Palestina Isa, a 16 year old Palestinian- American was stabbed to death by her father Zein Isa while her mother Maria Isa helped him by holding her tight. The murder surfaced two years later when the FBI accidentally heard the audiotape of Zein’s bugged home.
Back in 1999, Saima Sarwar’s murder by her family in the office of veteran human rights defenders and lawyers, Asma Jehangir and Hina Jillani, was one of the most publicized honour killing cases in Pakistan. No one pursued the case further because her family was well connected politically. Like in a number of other honour killing cases, no one was prosecuted for the murder of Ayman Udas, a young Pashtun singer from Peshawar whose brothers killed her for not being ‘chaste’ after she divorced, remarried and pursued a singing career.
This story is endlessly repeated whether it is Pakistan or may be the West Bank, Gaza, Turkey, Afghanistan, Somalia, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Canada, USA or UK. If a woman dares to live on her own terms, make her own choices and challenge societal norms.
Most – almost all – cases of honour crimes happen in conservative societies with strict codes of social engagement especially for women. Everyone in these societies – men and women – are perceived as roles, not individuals. You have to always act in your role as mother, daughter, sister, wife, husband, brother, father etc. The moment you move out of these well-constructed roles and start living as an individual, you ‘bring shame’ to the family and ‘dishonor’ it.
The ‘honour’ is not only violated by a woman’s decision to marry against her family’s wishes. There is a wide range of things that make her unchaste and thus liable to be killed, tortured and humiliated, in some cases even raped. She is worth nothing if she doesn’t fulfil moral standards dictated by ‘culture’. Doesn’t matter even if she dies or is raped. She deserved that.
Family honour can be disrupted if she asks for a divorce, moves out of an abusive relationship, refuses a marriage proposal, chooses her profession, insists on wearing clothes of her choice which may be ‘western’ and thus unworthy of a chaste woman. She can hurt honour by just moving out of the house.
Murders however, are the extreme form of honour crimes that include an array of other ways to target women. Shaving off the head and eyebrows, beating, torture, acid burning, chopping off limbs, confinement to the home and forced marriages are various other forms of honour crimes.
When onlookers and the police did not help Farzana in front of the Lahore High Court, the judges were not moving and the Prime Minister was ‘taking notice’ after 48 hours of a gruesome murder when the international media shrieked, all of them were just following this code. Not a big deal. The state and society, in these cases, mostly act as accomplices or witness the violence silently because the act is not a crime in the social consciousness. It is an obligation.
A female relative of Palestina Isa summarized it very finely when a journalist interviewed her after her parents were sentenced. “Palestina left no choice. You guys need to understand our culture and religion.” Another of their family friends’ Mrs. Abraham said, “I feel it [the sentence] is not right. We follow our religion. Isas had to discipline their daughter or lose respect. They’d be embarrassed in front of everybody in the country like somebody going outside without their clothes on.”
In this scenario, no law in however strong language it is drafted, can save women (and men) from perishing at the altar of honour. The FBI tape played in the courtroom and carried voices of Isa shrieking for help from her mother, while her mother told her to keep quiet and her father screamed, ‘Die quickly. Die, my daughter. Hurry up.’ Hurrying up is the only recourse for us it seems.
This article was originally published in The Nation on June 3, 2014

 The writer is an Islamabad based defender of human rights and works  on democratic governance.

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Pregnant Pakistani woman stoned to death by family for marrying man she loved #Vaw

LAHORE, Pakistan — A pregnant woman was stoned to death by her own family in front of a Pakistani high court on Tuesday for marrying the man she loved.

Nearly 20 members of the woman’s family, including her father and brothers, attacked her and her husband with batons and bricks in broad daylight before a crowd of onlookers in front of the high courtof Lahore, police investigator Rana Mujahid said.

Hundreds of women are murdered every year in Muslim-majority Pakistan in so-called “honour killings” carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behaviour, but public stoning is extremely rare.

Mujahid said the woman’s father has been arrested for murder and that police were working to apprehend all those who participated in the “heinous crime.”

Another police officer, Naseem Butt, identified the slain woman as Farzana Parveen, 25, and said she had married Mohammad Iqbal against her family’s wishes after being engaged to him for years.

Her father, Mohammad Azeem, had filed an abduction case against Iqbal, which the couple was contesting, her lawyer Mustafa Kharal said. He confirmed that she was three months’ pregnant.

Arranged marriages are the norm among conservative Pakistanis, who view marriage for love as a transgression.

Pakistan stoning

A family member of a pregnant woman who was stoned to death by her own family wails over her dead body in an ambulance at a local hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Nearly 20 members of the woman’s family, including her father and brothers, attacked her and her husband with batons and bricks in broad daylight before a crowd of onlookers in front of the high court of Lahore, police investigator Rana Mujahid said. AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private group, said in a report last month that some 869 women were murdered in honour killings in 2013.

But even Pakistanis who have tracked violence against women expressed shock at the brutal and public nature of Tuesday’s slaying.

“I have not heard of any such case in which a woman was stoned to death, and the most shameful and worrying thing is that this woman was killed in front of a court,” said Zia Awan, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist.

He said Pakistanis who commit violence against women are often acquitted or handed light sentences because of poor police work and faulty prosecutions.

“Either the family does not pursue such cases or police don’t properly investigate. As a result, the courts either award light sentences to the attackers, or they are acquitted,” he said.

Parveen’s relatives had waited outside the court, which is located on a main downtown thoroughfare. As the couple walked up to the main gate, the family members fired shots in the air and tried to snatch her from Iqbal, her lawyer said.

When she resisted, her father, brothers and other relatives started beating her, eventually pelting her with bricks from a nearby construction site, Iqbal said.

Iqbal, 45, said he started seeing Parveen after the death of his first wife, with whom he had five children.

“We were in love,” he told The Associated Press. He alleged that the woman’s family wanted to fleece money from him before marrying her off.

“I simply took her to court and registered a marriage,” infuriating the family, he said.

Parveen’s father surrendered after the incident and called the murder an “honour killing,” Butt said.

“I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it,” Mujahid, the police investigator, quoted the father as saying.

Mujahid said the woman’s body had been handed over to her husband for burial.


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CIA’s deadly Ruse – Murdered health workers and the return of Polio



VaccinationIn early 2011, a CIA-recruited Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, entered Osama Bin Laden’s compound posing as a Hepatitis B vaccination worker. His real intention was togather samples of the Bin Laden family’s DNA to aid the CIA in locating the Al Qaeda leader. Although Dr. Afridi was apparently unsuccessful, the CIA’s actions would have dire consequences for vaccine workers—and for the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases.

On Tuesday, the Obama administration indicated it would no longer employ vaccination programs in its intelligence efforts. This announcement came in response to a letter, sent by the deans of twelve U.S. schools of public health, condemning the practice.

The damage, however, has already been done.

In March, Salma Farooqi, a thirty-year-old mother of four, was abducted from her home, tortured and killed for distributing polio vaccine in Pakistan. She is just one of thirty Pakistani “Lady Health Workers” killed since 2012 for their work on vaccination programs. Scores of other vaccinators and support staff have also been murdered. After the CIA deception was uncovered, the Taliban began a systematic program of attacks, leading the United Nations to temporarily withdraw its staff supporting the polio eradication program.

All this has seriously impaired polio vaccination efforts. Even before the Bin Laden ruse, vaccination programs were deeply distrusted in many parts of the world. The disclosure of the fake program has spread such fears—and given them a measure of legitimacy. This has contributed to the sad reality that polio, a disease that recently seemed on the path to eradication, is now experiencing a resurgence, with Pakistan among the worst affected countries. This alarming spread led WHO Director-General Margaret Chan last month to declare wild poliovirus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under the International Health Regulations (IHR) – making it only the second disease so designated. The CIA’s deception alone can hardly be blamed for this new crisis, but it is an important contributing factor.

What does the future hold? While reassurances that the U.S. government will not repeat its mistake are of course welcome, it is doubtful that a U.S. government statement will do much in the short-term to quell fears among Pakistanis (and others) that vaccination programs are a front for espionage. It is seems that only time and broader improvements in trust between the United States and Pakistan will be able to undo the damage caused. A formal apology, while unlikely, could also help to mend relations.

The aftermath of the U.S. government’s clumsy actions in Pakistan should provide important lessons for U.S. government intelligence programs. First, the devastating results reinforce the dangers of a myopic view of national security that focuses on eliminating immediate threats by any means possible, without taking into account the longer-term implications. The spread of polio, attacks on health workers, and deeper distrust between the United States and thePakistani people are all long-term threats to U.S. security. The broader and more important concern, however, is one of morality and social justice—concerns that pervade U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Whether or not it is the government’s intention, too often the United States seems willing to endanger foreign civilians’ lives and health to protect U.S. citizens. Such actions are both morally wrong and deeply counterproductive. Let’s hope that the U.S. intelligence community’s most recent foray into public health is its last.

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Indian journalists’ expulsion test India-Pak ties


Two Indian journalists, one from PTI and the other from The Hindu, were recently expelled from Pakistan. As far as known, the two scribes had done nothing objectionable to invite such a harsh action.

The expulsions, which come at a time when India is set to get a new government at the helm, raises questions about the peace process between the two neighbouring countries.

One source indicated that the action by the Pakistani government could have been the fallout of India denying permission to a batch of 500 Pakistani pilgrims to visit Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti’s Dargah in Ajmer. Another report suggests that the Pakistani military intelligence outfit ISI engineered the provocative act.

Meanwhile, the Indian High Commissioner has taken up the matter with the Pakistani foreign ministry.exchange4media spoke to some senior journalists to gauge their reactions to this incident. Most wanted firm action against Pakistan by India to send out a clear message.

Satish K Singh, Group Editor, Live India remarked, “On the one side, the Pakistani government sends congratulatory message to the new government in New Delhi, and on the other hand, it acts in a most undesirable manner by expelling two senior journalists. What kind of diplomacy is this? Why has Pakistan used journalists to vent its frustration and raise the pitch of alarm?”

While stating that he did not support the view that media persons act as bridges of understanding between two countries, NK Singh, General Secretary, Broadcast Editors Association noted, “Journalists work on a global platform and cannot be confined to the narrow boundaries of morality or national borders. True, they do represent their nation, but more often they transcend the borders of nationhood. If some journalists expose the anti-India policies of the Pak government, obviously the Pakistani establishment won’t relish it. Action against the two journalists is certainly questionable and not warranted. Clearly, it is partisan and wrong.”

“Seriously, this is most unfortunate, and coming at such a crucial moment in history, it’s an expression of double speak and hypocrisy by the Pakistani establishment. They should have reviewed their decision, particularly when it is clear that there was no justification or reason for this kind of partisan action. Officially, the Pakistani government has not given any reason for this provocative act,” said Sanjeev Srivastav, Group Editor, Focus News.

Pramod Joshi, former Editor of Dainik Hindustan, added here, “Though an official explanation from the Pakistani government is still awaited, circumstances suggest the conspiratorial hand of the ISI, the military intelligence arm of the Pak establishment. Pakistan should have avoided this kind of extreme action. I feel the security agencies of the two countries should stay away from such partisan acts against media persons. If journalists ask uncomfortable questions, it is because of the nature of their profession, it is part of their calling. Official agencies should not be so sensitive about such matters, but give due freedom and respect to journalists. For a long time Pakistan has not sent any journalists in India, though two positions are available. I think Pakistan should now realise that such provocative acts send out negative vibes and messages and could prove bottlenecks in improving ties.”


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