Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Circus is in Town, Again, By Saroop Ijaz

By Saroop Ijaz      June 28, 2014

The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore
A few days ago, the newspapers headlines had a statement of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, which read, “if I am allowed to complete my term then …”. Reflect on this for a moment, on the uncertain nature, almost pleading nature of the statement. This is humiliatingly and bracingly candid. And for once, Mian Sahib is not to be blamed. The missteps of the Mian brothers and this government are many and then some more, yet they have the mandate to govern for five years, and no one, not Mr Imran Khan, not His grace Tahirul Qadri, not Gullu Butt, have the legitimate authority to strip them of that right. Mid-term elections are democratic, yet those who ask for them have very shabby democratic credentials and cannot and should not be taken on face value.
His holiness, Tahirul Qadri’s precise demands are unclear. He wants the “revolution” yet will settle for protocol, armoured vehicle and live coverage. However, the desires of his heart are crystal clear; he wants a ‘coup’, ‘a military takeover’. Deep down, he must fancy himself as a philosopher king of antiquity, however, the pragmatist in him is simply hoping for the army to take over and give him some power or perhaps, merely protocol. Mian Sahib has dealt with Dr Tahirul Qadri with spectacular ineptness, yet this is no way excuse the very dangerous politics (or is it non-politics) that Allama Sahib espouses and seeks to practice.
There is little point in euphemism, Shaykh-ul-Islam wants us to believe that he is backed by ‘our guardians’, i.e., the military. The government also believes it, and that is making it shake in its boots. Dr Tahirul Qadri made it clear at the Lahore Airport that he was not willing to be escorted out of the plane by anyone less than the Corps Commander Lahore, yet, not even a lance naik answered Dr Qadri’s melodramatic plea. It is certainly premature to say that the ‘boys’ do not back him anymore (and please, let us not pretend that they have not had a soft corner for him in the past, to say the least).
Shaykh-ul-Islam is a veteran of Machiavellian politics, with no greater objective in life than himself, and is clear in what he desires to achieve (military takeover) even if hopelessly opaque in how he seeks to bring that about.
The case of Mr Imran Khan is more curious and certainly sadder. Mr Khan is not sure what he wants, except maybe that this elected government should go home. Why and how it should go home are questions that might require a few minutes of thinking, and Mr Khan clearly has not been able to find the time to do much thinking at all. The election was rigged, he says. It very well might have been. Yet, Mr Khan was the prime beneficiary of pre-poll rigging, with inordinate media coverage given to him, and the TTP extending him the assurance of not attacking him or his party during the campaign (a concession not extended to the PPP and the ANP).
Mr Khan is anti-government, anti-this system, anti-corruption and all the rest of it. The question is what is Mr Khan ‘pro’ (except for himself and just a tad TTP)? We don’t know the answer. Mr Khan is also clearly becoming angrier by the day, at this internal confusion. He has abused ‘his heroes’ of the past breathtakingly easily. Exhibit-A, Justice (retd) Iftikhar Chaudhary, when some of us (including your humble servant) pointed out that Justice (retd) Chaudhary was very fallible like the rest of us, Mr Khan and his devotees called us “conspirators against Independent Judiciary”, “apologists for the corrupt government” and other more strongly worded, lovely names. Mr Khan either loves or hates, he does not agree or disagree. Be it General (retd) Musharraf or Justice (retd) Chaudhary. Mr Khan does not like even semi-complex thoughts and loves binaries, one-liners and Sheikh Rashid.
Mr Khan said that he will himself “execute” any police officer, who tries to restrain or use violence against his workers. Take a bow Mr Khan, you have outdone your best friend Sheikh Rashid at his game, namely, crude, violent remarks. If Mr Altaf Husain’s speech can be construed as incitement to violence in other jurisdictions, then how is it any different? Short answer: it is not. The violent outbursts of Mr Khan are inexplicable, perhaps professional jealousy at Dr Tahirul Qadri stealing his thunder (and some parts of the script). In any event, Mr Khan resorts to violent imagery and the use of force rather easily except when it involves “our estranged” brothers (the TTP, in case you are still wondering). What, Mr Khan, no talking with the police officers prior to the execution, no committees, display of love, etc., are they not “our people”? This seems to be nitpicking at a stray remark, and it perhaps, is. Yet, Mr Khan does incitement to violence and if he wants to do national leadership, he will be called out on these remarks.
The spirit continues to sink ever since Dr Tahirul Qadri’s arrival. Firstly, the government made muck out of handling the arrival of Shaykh-ul-Islam, who thrives on attention and disruption. Had he been ignored, the wind out of his sails would have been knocked out. Secondly, and more importantly, the coordination and implementation capacity of the government seemed to be exhausted merely in dealing with one Canadian, this does not bode well, there is a war going on with hundreds of thousands of people displaced, Mian Sahiban will have to up their game. 
Thirdly, if Dr Tahirul Qadri and a couple of failed and fringe politicians is actually what ‘our guardians’ have come to using, well then, how the mighty have fallen, indeed; from the IJIs to clowns and retirees. Never mind, that the war should keep ‘the boys’ busy these days anyway. If ‘the boys’ have nothing to do with it, one clear, public statement from the ISPR should be enough for the much-awaited and well-deserved flight back to Canada. Lastly, the deficit of our politics has become such, that while a war continues, people are in internally displaced camps, Punjab remains the theatre of power politics, with Mr Khan, Dr Qadri, the Media and Mian Saihban prioritising it over the existential and humanitarian crises that we face.
As far as the mainstream political forces are concerned, united they will stand. Mian Sahib needs to get his act together, there is no doubt about that. Equally, there is no, absolutely no justification for anything which is ‘extra’ constitutional (which is just an oblique way of saying illegal).
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2014.
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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Sri Lanka shuts terror door on Pakistan, Jun 29, 2014,

NEW DELHI: Sri Lanka has banned visas on arrival for Pakistanis after investigations showed that jihadist groups targeting India were using Sri Lanka as a transit point. Lanka is also one of the few countries that extended such a facility to Pakistani nationals.

A bomb blast in a Chennai train in May revealed new plots against India by Pakistan-based jihadist groups using Sri Lanka and Maldives as transit points. A multinational investigation including Malaysia zeroed in on a Lankan national, Shakir Hussain, who confessed that he had visited India over 20 times on reconnaissance trips.

He told investigators, as was reported by TOI, that he was facilitating militants from Maldives who were tasked with attacking American and Israeli consulates in Bangalore and Chennai, critical infrastructure like airports and power plants in Chennai among other targets.

The investigation, sources said, also pointed to involvement by Pakistani officials at their mission in Colombo. Indian officials confirmed that Sri Lanka and Maldives have been red-flagged by Indian security establishment for some time. The new Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, too, has been sensitized to the growth of fundamentalism among youngsters who may be traveling to Pakistan for religious studies.
Modi, in his first conversations with Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had raised this issue which he said was of particular sensitivity to India. On his return, Rajapaksa is believed to have launched an investigation. The results of the probe have contributed to the decision.

In a related development, Sri lankan authorities have been rounding up Pakistani asylum seekers — almost 1,500 of them will be deported back to Pakistan. This has invited sharp criticism from human rights activists and the UN, because many of them are Ahmadiyas (a banned sect in Pakistan) and Shia Muslims.
The Pakistani foreign office has also been informed that its nationals would henceforth need pre-departure visas to travel to Sri Lanka. The Lankan government probe revealed that many Pakistanis are arriving as tourists by taking advantage of easy visas on "electronic travel authorization" but staying on as "refugees". In 2013, the UNHRC recorded almost 1,500 Pakistani asylum seekers. Lanka has now decided to deport all Pakistanis who have overstayed their visas.

While Indians have traditionally focused on north India as points of infiltration by Pakistan-supported elements, south India poses a particular danger.

Modi got Rajapakse on board

May 1 Chennai train blast revealed plots against India by Pakistan-based jihadists using Sri Lanka and Maldives as transit points. Modi conveyed the sensitivity of issue to Lankan President Rajapakse during his May 26 swearing in as PM and sensitized the new Maldivian president also.

On return to Sri Lanka, Rajapakse ordered probe which led to decision.

Friday, 27 June 2014

The not so reluctant fundamentalist

The not so reluctant fundamentalist

Zeeshan Salahuddin  27 Jun 2014
Qadri has promised a revolution, but his motives and track record are questionable

The last time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif redirected a flight, it did not end well for him. The then Chief of the Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf took power in a bloodless coup, jailed, then exiled Nawaz Sharif, and ruled for the next nine years. But then again, perhaps the joke is on Musharraf, for he is now under investigation in several cases, at least two of which are murder trials, banned from leaving the country, and a political failure, whereas Nawaz Sharif has ascended back to the premiership for a record third time in the country’s history.
Diverting the plane, officially for security concerns, was the latest in a list of heavy-handed tactics used by the government to nip firebrand Qadri’s religio-political revolution in the bud. A few days prior, in Lahore, in one of the worst examples of police brutality, at least eight supports of Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) were killed in clashes near Qadri’s residence. The “peaceful revolution” did not kick off to a very appropriate start. Even with dozens injured, and video evidence of over the top police cruelty, the political blame game continued unabated, with politicians spinning the tragedy into yarns of opportunity. A case was lodged against the protestors by the police. The provincial law minister was sacked.
The stage is set for a major confrontation
Qadri vowed holy vengeance against the Sharif brothers. On Monday, nearly 1,500 Qadri supporters, armed with sticks and stones, surrounded the airport in anticipation of Qadri’s arrival. This time, their sticks and stones broke a lot of bones, with serious injuries reported by at least 70 police officers at the scene. The plane was diverted back to Lahore amid clashes. Qadri refused to disembark, demanding protection from the army, creating a standoff for five hours at the airport. He finally gave in, assuaged by Punjab provincial governor Muhammad Sarwar and Pakistan Muslim League (Q)’s Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi. Federal Information Minister Pervez Rashid called the event a “hijacking for political aims”. Qadri visited the injured from Lahore a week prior. Emirates Air banned Qadri for life.
This is not the first time Qadri has attempted to bring revolution to the streets of Pakistan. In January 2013, four months shy of the elections that would see the lion of Punjab roar, and an arrow miss its mark, Qadri staged a massive sit-in on the main artery in the federal capital of Islamabad. By his own estimations, the crowd was four million strong, but crowd counting methods put that number at a fraction of this bloated figure. Regardless of the actual numbers, the sheer amount of bodies packed into Jinnah Avenue was a staggering sight.
The demands then were the embryonic beginnings of the objectives now. Qadri wanted electoral reforms, and an early dissolution of the PPP-led center. This time, he wants a people’s revolution to create an Islamic system of government. “We want a system based on the constitution and democratic principles that are practiced in other countries,” he said in a statement last Friday.
For many, Tahirul Qadri’s sudden emergence as a political force was unprecedented and unanticipated. The 63-year old founding leader of Minhaj-ul-Quran, an peace advocating organization with branches in over 90 countries, is a self-professed anti-Taliban establishment supporter. In fact, some political pundits viewed his abrupt surfacing as an attempt by certain sections of the establishment to regain power. This view is further supported because he has resurfaced when tensions between the civilian government and the powerful military leadership were at an all time high, and compounded by a long-awaited military operation launched against the Taliban on June 15, 2014, which has already resulted in 414,429 internally displaced people (IDPs).
This is not the first time Qadri has attempted to bring a revolution
Federal Information Minister’s Pervez Rashid painted the Taliban, Qadri and Imran Khan as cohorts. While there may be little truth to this allegation, as Qadri left the country in 2006 due to death threats from extremist outfits that he vehemently spoke against, it may reflect how the government feels. They are besieged by the Taliban, and a potential backlash, both in terms of retaliation, and the massive influx of refugees from the affected areas. They are heavy-handedly dealing with Qadri and his army of devotees, resulting in one political debacle after another. They are also battling coinciding protests from Imran Khan, who continues to claim election fraud. By all accounts, this government is bogged in an ever-deepening political quagmire, and the vultures are circling.
Whether Qadri manages to deliver on his promise and bring revolution remains to be seen. For now, the stage is set for a major confrontation. “I will give a sudden call”, he said to his followers at his residence on Monday, promising a date for the pending revolution. The not-so-reluctant fundamentalist ended the evening with an ominous foretelling. “The rulers will try to run away, but I won’t let the looters run away.”
The author is a journalist and a development professional, and holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in strategic communications from Ithaca College, NY, USA. He can be reached via zeeshan[dot]salahuddin[at] and tweets @zeesalahuddin

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Thursday, 26 June 2014

A country hijacked, Nadir Hassan

A country hijacked, Nadir Hassan
Unlike Luis Suarez, Tahirul Qadri is all talk, no bite. At a time when we would all rather be focusing on the World Cup, this Canadian export is demanding we take him seriously.

Qadri might have been taking directions from a force trying to derail democracy but his GPS went astray as soon as he landed in Pakistan. The publicity-hungry preacher was occupying the high moral ground after activists from his party were killed by the police in Lahore but he squandered this unlikely bit of goodwill by staging the hijacking show for no good reason.

He was miffed that the government didn’t allow him to land in Islamabad and then take a car ride to Lahore. Instead he was sent straight to Lahore and refused to disembark because he wanted to go back to Islamabad and have his precious motorway journey.

Qadri’s entitlement didn’t end there. He only got off the plane after convincing the governor of Punjab to pick him up from the airport and drive him around the city. This is like Che Guevara and Castro suspending their plans to overthrow Batista until he gave them a tour of Havana. And yet the man believes himself a revolutionary – using the word dozens of times in a speech to his supporters. What kind of revolution he wants to bring is unknown since he ends up supporting whatever the establishment wants.

At a time when the country is being whipped into frenzy over war in the tribal areas, Qadri is the biggest supporter around of Zarb-e-Azb and wants to hold a weekly prayer for our soldiers. His commitment to democracy in the abstract but distaste for every government we elect reflects the capricious impatience of the military and bureaucratic class. Let’s be honest here: Qadri doesn’t want a revolution; he just wants a return to the days when power wasn’t wielded by those who earned votes at the ballot box.

The Qadri agenda is perfect for those who profess themselves politicians but can only gain power when they have powerful uniformed patrons. The PML-Qs of the country only came into being because Musharraf needed to disguise his dictatorship in the garb of democracy.

Less clear is the involvement of the PTI, which had an opportunity to be a genuinely democratic grassroots party. Were Imran Khan endowed with patience, he would realise that railing against rigging in a landslide election and siding with a slick opportunist from Canada are not the way to take power. He needed only to wait for the PML-N government to falter and he would be next in line.

And the PML-N government has faltered and will continue to falter. Nawaz Sharif’s response to Tahirul Qadri shows just how insecure and incompetent his government is. Instead of depriving Qadri of the media oxygen that sustains him, the government contrived to turn him and his party into defiant heroes.

Everyone criticised how the PPP handled Qadri’s antics last year, only convincing him to leave his air-conditioned by promising to consult him on major decisions. That now looks like a masterstroke. Stroking Qadri’s ego to the point where he finally goes back home is preferable to draping him in the mantle of a martyr.

Nawaz is feeling the heat. Every popular elected civilian leader has to go through periods when their mettle is tested. Right now he is being blamed for everything by those who think they should be ruling the country. From keeping Musharraf in the country and ensuring he answers for his crimes against the constitution to refusing to get behind a permanent Geo ban, Nawaz has upset the true rulers. Qadri is their punishment for these crimes.

The only thing we have to be grateful for is how six years of democracy has eroded their power to such an extent that coups and co-opted politicians have been replaced by a Canadian cleric. Qadri represents not a threat but a slight irritant.

There are many who would argue that giving even this much attention to Qadri is unwarranted at a time when the war in North Waziristan has created a humanitarian crisis we are barely equipped to deal with. It is true that Qadri himself is an irritant and a sideshow.

Qadri’s talk of revolution is a bluff, designed to scare our perpetually insecure politicians but he can lay the groundwork for others to take advantage of later. Should the PML-N allow that we will know exactly how scared it is of Qadri’s patrons.

The writer is a journalist based in Karachi. Email: 

Enforced disappearance of a political activist following arrest by the Pakistan Rangers

Enforced disappearance of a political activist following arrest by the Pakistan Rangers
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-097-2014  26 June 2014
ISSUES: Disappearance, torture, extra judicial killing, impunity
Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information of an incident where a political activist has been made to disappear following arrest by the Pakistan Rangers; his whereabouts are since unknown. Police have refused to file a case of the disappearance citing that in instances of paramilitary arrests police have no jurisdiction to file charges.   The provincial government too has shown no interest, ignored the entire incident of such publicly showcased arrestin a crowded public place such the hospital where it is reported that at least fifty others have also witnessed the para military forces draggingthe activists , who had been visiting a patient out of the hospital, dragging him across the floor before taking him away in an jeep type vehicle – all, in full view of the public.

18 such political activists were made to disappear during the past five months and extra judicially killed, allegedly by the same Pakistan Rangers and their bodies containing marks of torture have beensubsequently. Para military outfits such as the Pakistan rangers are thus openly used by the government of Pakistan to meet their political ends, in spreading fear and control over any dissent or activism against the incumbent regime and this is done under the cover of a perceived presence of a democratic and civilian government.  It is likely that the activist in this instance too will undergo severe forms of torture, and be most probably killed in the same manner. The common practice in Pakistan is that neither the police nor the rangers provide any information with regard to such abductions, forced disappearances and extra judicial killings and thereby circumvent the due legal process with regard to such arrests.

According to information received,Mr. Amanat Abbas, son of Inayat Abbas, 43 years old, and a resident of Gulbahar, Karachi, was arrested on 24th June 2014from the Zain-ul-Abideen Hospital at around  5.30 in the evening by officials of Pakistan Rangers. Mr. Abbas belongs to the MQM, a political partythat holds 25 seats in the National Assembly and 44 seats in the Sindh Provincial Assembly and he was in charge of theMQM unit 189 and is a prominent and well known politician /activists in the area. According to reports he had received a phone asking him to come immediately to the hospital saying that a close relative is seriously ill and injured following which he had rushed to the hospital. No sooner he had reached the emergency ward of the hospital five jeeps belonging to the Pakistan Rangers had surrounded the hospital with at least 25 persons in Rangers' uniforms. One, officer from the Pakistan Rangers, Inspector Manzoor, had already been inside the hospital premises awaiting his arrival, when he had commanded Mr. Abbas to go along with him. When Mr. Abbas had inquired as to the reason, several other soldiers from the Pakistan Rangers had grabbed him with his neck and shoulder and dragged him along the floor and was thrown into one of the jeeps parked there and which was driven by Inspector Manzoor.

According to witness accounts, people who had gathered at the scene had triedto interneve and inquire from the Rangers as to the treatment given to Abbas, and they were met by some of the Rangers pointing their guns at them. By standers there, had later informed his wife about the sudden arrest. According to some others who had followed the convoy of the jeeps, they had taken him to the headquarters of the Pakistan Rangers at Nazimabad, near Ghalib library, which is nearby the hospital.

His wife and brothers had immediately contacted police to figure out the reasons of arrest. The officials of Rizvia police stationhave refused to give any information of his arrest or any involvement in arrest. The wife of Abbas had written an application to the station house officer (SHO) of Rizvia police station to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) but he too has refused to file a report saying that in the matters of arrest by the Rangers police have no authority to issue any such report since such matters are handled with orders from higher authorities in government.

We have also received information that later during the late hours of 24th June, several close friends and  relatives had visited the local headquarter of Pakistan Rangers at Nazimabadwhere they were told that he is not there. When relatives have informed that they had received information that Mr. Abbas was brought there, the guards of Rangers warned them to leave or face similar consequences.

Mr Abbas's whereabouts are yet unknown, his family and friends fear that he would be tortured in custody and if he does not confess to a crime, if any, he would be extra judicially killed , as were the 18 other such activists this year.

The federal government has commenced an operation in Karachi, the capital of Sindh, under the title: "Targeted Operation" with the support of the police and Pakistan Rangers. The operation, which commenced on September 5, is supposedly conducted against the increase in targeted killings, extortion, kidnappings and incidents of terrorism including bomb blasts. The Pakistan Rangers has been given powers of arrest and detention of the suspects including permission to shoot on sight.

During the last nine months of the operation, according to official reports, 17,000 persons were arrested on several charges. However, contrary to this figure, the two jails operating in Karachi claim that they have received only1,500 suspects. The police and Pakistan Rangers, who at the end of every 30 days issue their report on their arrests, have not even mentioned the whereabouts of the remaining suspects. The correct figures on the encounters and extra judicial killings were not available but through reports published in the media more than 150 persons were killed under mysterious circumstances after their arrests and torture duringinterrogations.
The political party of the Karachi, the MQM, claims that since January this year,  45 activists have   disappeared following arrest by the Rangers and police and among these were found the 18 activists' whose bodies riddled with torture wounds. The government has to-date not conducted any inquiries.

Please write letters to the authorities, mentioned below, calling them to release Amanat Abbas immediately and if he is involved in any wrongdoing he should be produced before a court of law and a due legal process of prosecution should be followed instead of resorting to abductions , torture and extra judicial killings. Please also urge theauthorities  to take action against the Pakistan Rangers who are stationed at Karachi for taking law into their own hands and acting above the law.
The AHRC writes a separate letter to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances calling for its intervention into this matter.

PAKISTAN: Successive governments using torture as a means of oppressive governance

A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission
PAKISTAN: Successive governments using torture as a means of oppressive governance 
A statement on the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
In Pakistan, torture has become a norm, for oppressive means of government by successive regimes; it is used mainly as a means of oppressing opposition and against youth irrespective of gender, in the suppression of their freedoms, their freedom of thought and expression, and in any attempts of struggle for freedom or for change.   It has become a tool to curb the voice of dissent and it has come to be the norm in Pakistan. Some critics point out that the purpose of torture has become the only means of governance, governance by state fear amongst the citizens of Pakistan, in particular adversely affecting the poorer and more fragile segments of the society. Therefore custodial torture is an integral part of the present system of governance based on such coercion and intimidation and for economic exploitation.

The Government of Pakistan has issued a carte blanche to the law enforcement agencies to torture any suspect, and it is widely used by them to extract confessions and statements in any type of crime investigation, and also as a means of obtaining bribes in more serious crimes i.e. murder, rape etc. AHRC's work in Pakistan has revealed that the majority of the torture victims are ordinary suspects, most often innocent. They undergo second degree torture throughout their detention and in prisons thereafter, which leads to victims suffering trauma which transforms into trans-generational proportions – and social stigma throughout their lives. This issue thus is a direct result of the policies of the government, and the blatant failure of the criminal justice administration system in Pakistan. Further, the blame does not rest purely on the government, it extends to the sheer inaction and convenient negligence of also the various arms of the government, the judiciary, the lawyers, the military and other top layers of the society, all of whom have collectively failed to address the issue of torture and its affects to the society as a whole and continue to do so.  To make matters worse, the judiciary who are the guardians of the rights of the people, on the contrary deliberately give no heed to the various complaints of torture victims who come before them to see justice nor have they assisted in conducting fair and impartial investigations when called upon in Courts. There are many instances in Pakistan where the lower judiciaries have openly colluded with the police in the extending period of remand of a suspect from five days to fifteen – knowing very well that this would extend the period of exposure to torture for these victims. The Judicial Council, which is the supreme body for judicial reforms, does not take an active interest in overseeing nor supervising the workings of the courts with regard to the illegality of some of the rules regulations and even laws and the judiciary's insensitivity to custodial torture - all of which are in gross violations of fundamental rights and the provisions of the Constitution itself.

The jurisprudence concerning domestic legislation with regard to the use of torture is grossly underdeveloped. The freedom to exercise the right, as envisaged under Article 14 (2) of the Constitution – which states the no person shall be subject to torture for the purpose of extracting evidence - has been virtually non – existent in practice since its inaction in 1973. To make matters worse, in a claim against torture, the burden of proof – beyond reasonable doubt - falls on the victim; and there are no independent agencies empowered to inquire into a complaint of torture in custody. The Pakistan Penal Code conspicuously avoids even mentioning the word 'torture' and instead terms it as  'hurt', which is hardly a  substitute to the word torture and does not specifically refer to hurt by state agent or a public official.

In 2010, Pakistan although being a signatory to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CAT) has to-date not ratified the Convention and has also not signed the optional protocol to the CAT. Convention is not made the part of the domestic law. Therefore torture, within the meaning attached to the 'act of torture' as prescribed in the Convention against Torture is not a specific crime in Pakistan.

Also in the year  2010  following immense pressure from both the civil society and international opinion Pakistan  ratified UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and pledged before the UN Human Rights Council that Pakistan will conform to its international and UN obligations defined in ICCPR and CAT and enact corresponding domestic laws relating to torture. To this date no such legislation has been enacted. Instead, the government of Pakistan has made several reservations particularly on the issue of torture claiming that such laws would be contrary to principles of Sharia law (Islamic laws). Thereafter , the government was not willing to take back the reservations despite more pressure exerted from the national and international communities till the European Union (EU) imposed a  trade embargo on Pakistan ,  until such time that Pakistan withdraws  the reservations to the ICCPR and CAT. This embargo prompted Pakistan to withdraw the reservations in September 2012.

The entire state machinery of Pakistan including successive governments uses all their efforts to retain torture, as a means from which they gain impunity from any actions and from any processes of accountability. Although several successive changes of  government may lead to some restrains in the rampant exercise of torture – the government as an institution remains as ruthless as in past , even more so. That is why all civilian governments – not to mention military governments, refuse to enact domestic legislation illegalizing torture.  The Asian Human Rights Commission is persistently approaching the government of Pakistan, its legislators and the judiciary to take all necessary measures to prevent these heinous acts of torture since the time Pakistan became an elected member of UN Human Rights Council in 2008. However all such calls have fallen on deaf ears and there has been no will from the Pakistan government nor otherwise to even consider the criminalization of torture by an act of Parliament.

Thereby torture and the infamous torture cells remain in existence and is increasing in numbers every year. In the past, there were maintained torture cells at police stations, in military cantonments and armed forces maintained separate ones. Today, in addition to these,  every police station is running at least one private torture cell and the situation is the same with the  armed forces who are free to form torture cells at any given place and even within public places. Further, in a new twist police and military showcase torture in open places to instigate fear among the people of Pakistan.

The Pakistan army is running 57 torture cells, including many in the cantonment areas; the Pakistan Air Force has good numbers of torture cells in their bases, including one in their headquarters in Islamabad; and the Pakistan Navy is also running torture cells in Islamabad and Karachi, including at Mehran Base, Karachi.

There is a strong need for basic structural reforms in the criminal administration and the policing system in Pakistan, in order to eradicate torture. Reforming the policing system as well as the criminal justice administration system as a civilian policing system has never been a priority of any government institution in Pakistan. For these reforms would means losing control of the subterfuge activities of the military, the police and even of some of the politicians in Pakistan, who have benefitted from such a malfunctioning system. The implementation of law in Pakistan wholly depends on the police and the responsibility of the police has been to implement the rule of law by sheer force. Although the judiciary has maintained their role it is often dependent on the police to implement the rule of law especially with regard to criminal matters and instances of torture.

The essence and the very means by which the criminal justice system is administered in Pakistan are through the use of torture and ill-treatment, which, for the government, is the ideal system. For the government, there is no real need to neither develop nor reform the present system as it yields the required results and in quick time. The reason for this has been seen as that  it is mostly the poor people who are victims of torture and, most often  powerful persons with political patronage as well as persons from affluent middle class  can force the police even bribe officers  to torture suspects of theft, etc. A general consensus exists in Pakistan that, there are no confessions without torture.

The recent brutality of the police on a peaceful demonstration and torture in an open public area was demonstrated on the 17 of June when police attacked a house of a religious and political leader to clear the barricades outside his house. The police operation was continued for 11 hours during which more than 14 persons including two women were killed as a result of direct police shooting and more than 100 others were seriously injured. Police were seen chasing and beating with sticks, every woman and man who were at that peaceful demonstration.

The cases of Torture during past one year
Our work has revealed that with the passage of time, the brutality of torture by the law enforcement agencies has become graver and more ruthless than before as if Pakistan has been suddenly dragged into the medieval era. In an example of this brutality, police poured acid into the anus of a young labourer because he was unable to pay a bribe. Two young men, Mohammad Nawaz Lashari, 22, and Aijaz Lashari 25, were making and selling handmade "Reed made curtains" (sarkando ki Chiq) and hardly earning enough money to survive. On March 14, both the brothers were taken into custody on the charges of stealing a camel. They were detained in Sorah Police Station. During two days they went through severe torture, during which the police poured acid into the anus of Mohammad Nawaz Lashari who died as a result of this heinous method of torture in the early hours of March 17 this year. The police shifted his body to the civil hospital (government hospital) of Khairpur Mirs in an attempt to show that he had died there.

In another incident of brutality, a young three wheeler driver, Mr. Amin Malano, was abducted by plain clothed persons and was taken in a gray coloured car which bore an official government number plate. He was blindfolded and taken to an unknown place where he was kept for three days in illegal detention. After his ordeal he was dumped on the road side and related the details of his ordeal with media persons, please see the link of video.

In this video he narrates his story that he was taken into custody by unknown persons. He was certain, however, that they were from one of the intelligence agencies as they had asking about the JSMM and about his affiliation with the organization. He told his captors that he was not a regular member but a supporter. The captors tortured him by using cigarette butts on all parts of his body, particularly his right hand which bore ten cigarette burns in order to get confirmation that the JSMM obtains money from an enemy country. At another time as he was thirsty he had asked for water and was given acid mixed with water. His tongue was severely injured and had begun to bleed. The abductors continuously cursed the Sindhi speaking people and said that they are enemies of Pakistan. One night the Punjabi speaking abductors engraved the word 'Pakistan' on his chest. They used an electric drill into which they had inserted a knife blade. They urinated on his head on several occasions. They threw him on the road side after deciding that they had no further use for him. A farmer took him to hospital on his motor bike. Please see the link;
Balochistan is the most affected province of disappearances, torture and extra judicial killings. The family members of hundreds of victims and even the victims of disappearances and torture, who were thrown on the road sides, testified before the courts that victims were abducted by the persons from military and its spy agencies, tortured severely and their bodies were found with torture marks. Many are still missing still since 2001.

On January 25, three mass graves were found after one of them was discovered by a shepherd who saw pieces of human bodies and bones. He informed the Levies, a private armed force organised by tribal leaders, and according to Assistant Commissioner, district Khuzdar, Mr. Afzal Supra, Balochistan, the grave was excavated and 15 bodies were found.

As the news of the mass grave spread throughout the district people gathered there and started digging in the nearby area where they found two more mass graves. In total 103 bodies were recovered from the graves. The bodies were too decomposed to be identified. From the three mass graves 17, 8 and 78 bodies were found respectively. People have witnessed more than 100 human bodies in Tootak while they were digging the area. However, Pakistani military forces stopped the local people from unearthing the mass graves and took control of the area. Now, no one is allowed access to the location except military personnel.

The government has announced the investigation of the finding of mass graves but still no report has come. For the investigators it is difficult for them to come out with outcome as it will create a big question about the military operation in Balochistan.

In another incident, two young sisters, Najma (18) and Asma (20), daughters of the late Ali Hasan Rajput, were taken into custody in the late hours of October 8, 2013 by Sub Inspector Abdullah Awan, the SHO of Khambarha police station, district Ghotki, Sindh province. On the first night of abduction, both sisters were raped in the police station and during the next two days they were raped in a private house. One sister was spared for one day as her monthly menses started. The women were released in the afternoon of October 11 following which they told their uncle that they had been gang raped both at the police station and in a private house.

Mr. Afzal Ali Panhwar, the son of Munawar Ali Panhwar, a student of Biochemistry, Sindh University, Jamshoro. Afzal remained in the custody of the MI and ISI for almost one year during which time he was tortured severely. He suffered kidney damage and contracted tuberculosis. He was arrested by police and plain clothed persons on June 26, 2011 from the Hyder Chowk, near Rabia plaza, a crowded market place, at 6.00 pm when he was returning from the university. On June 12, 2012, after unbearable physical as well as mental torture which took place during the period of one year (352 days), he was found in terrible condition in a garbage dump in Dadu city of Sindh, where his captors had left him. After his release he underwent several months of medical treatment.

Mr. Afzal was elected vice chairperson of the Jeay Sindh Student Federation and four months before his extrajudicial killing he suffered a kidnap attempt by the ISI and MI. He was seriously injured in the attempt but managed to save himself from being returned to the hell of the torture cells. The following morning he got his statement recorded in the Press Club of Hydrabad, saying he had security reservations about the ISI and MI, as he had suffered a kidnap attempt for the second time the previous night. He, in his statement made it clear before the press club that his life was under threat and the Pakistani agencies, the ISI and MI wanted to kill him. At that time he applied to international human rights organizations to take some action against the uninterrupted brutality being perpetrated against him.

After release he told the journalists at Hyderabad press club about his illegal custody in military torture cell which has created more problem for him as he was told by the captors that if he tells any person about his illegal detention and torture he will be killed. And this happened when on 15 August 2013, Mr. Afzal Panhwar was again abducted by plain clothed persons in the same jeep with no registration plate and was then brutally put to death in a fake encounter in Kotri city, Dadu district. It was announced as an encounter with police when attempting to attack a train. However, the weapon which was fired at the train was an AK47, and the weapon which the police revealed in the encounter with Afzal with is a 32 caliber pistol.
Those were some of the horrifying ordeals of torture, which victims in most cases innocent had to undergo at the hands of the law enforcement agencies and it is continuing unabated in Pakistan.
The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the Government of Pakistan, and its Parliament to bring a law without further delay, making torture a crime.  The government must immediately make basic reforms to the policing system the criminal justice administration system and put in place credible mechanisms for witness protection laws. The rules regarding the handling of torture cases by the lower judiciary also needs complete change to provide fair trials to torture victims.
The government must respect and give due regard to its international obligations and follow the International treaties, and ratify the UN Optional Protocol.
The government must also close down all private torture cells maintained at every police station across Pakistan, close down all torture cells run by the armed forces and we call for perpetrators to be prosecuted with the civilian laws. Further, Rehabilitation centers must be established for torture victims and prosecutors must be trained to be able to deal with torture cases.
The Pakistan government must make a strong effort, and all-out effort backed with political will to protect the people of Pakistan from torture so that future generations would know and understand that a society that permits endemic torture is a society which has no respect for the inherent rights and dignity of a human being – which is the safeguard and respect for all human rights and especially freedom from torture.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Despite challenges economy performed well in one year

ISLAMABAD: Despite challenges, the country's economy has performed well during July to May of outgoing fiscal year (2013-14) as suggested by major economic indicators including growth rate, inflation, foreign remittances, foreign exchange reserves, external trade and industrial growth, the data of the Ministry of Finance pointed out.
Data, highlighting one year economic performance of the PML-N government, revealed that in 2013, the present government inherited some major challenges particularly terrorism, lawlessness, power shortage, economic mismanagement, rampant corruption, bad image of the country, unemployment and price hike.

"The foundation of the country had been shaken due to maladministration, rampant corruption in every sphere of life and inefficiency of the last fourteen years that had brought national institutions like PIA, Pakistan Steel, Railways and WAPDA on the verge of virtual collapse", it added.

The PML-N government under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif pledged to address all these national issues of utmost importance.

The Finance Ministry data said that economic indicators are moving in the right direction.

According to data of the Finance Ministry ,the Federal Board of revenue (FBR) realized Rs1,955 billion during the outgoing financial year July-May 2013- 14 compared to Rs1,679 billion collected during same period of 2012-13, showing a growth of 16.4 percent.

Similarly, budget deficit during July-May 2013-14 stood at around 4.2 percent (Provisional) as compared to 6.6 percent registered during same period of 2012-13.

The Finance Ministry data further revealed that Remittances during July-May 2013-14 recorded at US $ 14.33 billion as compared US $ 12.75 billion remittances received during same period of July-May 2012-13 posting a growth of 12.39 percent.

The Finance Ministry data further said that in the month of May 2014 the remittance stood at US $ 1.44 billion when compared to US $ 1.18 billion in the month of May 2013 posting a growth of 21.3 percent.

Similarly exports of Pakistan stood at US $ 21.0 billion during July -April 2013-14 as compared to US $ 20.1 billion during same period of 2012-13 showing a growth of 4.47 percent.

The Finance Ministry data further revealed that imports during July-April 2013-14 stood at US $ 37.1 billion compared to US $ 36.7 billion registered during same period of 2012-13 showing an increase of 1.08 percent.

Similarly, the trade deficit during July-April 2013-14 was registered at US $ 16.1 billion compared to US $ 16.6 billion in 2012-13, showing a reduction of 3.1 percent.

Likewise the Forex reserves stood at US $ 13.45 billion on June 9,2014 out of which State Bank of Pakistan is holding US $ 8.61 billion while banks other than SBP are holding US $ 4.84 billion.

The data further said that Consumer Price Index (Average Inflation) during July-May 2013-14 registered 8.66 percent compared to same period of 2012-13.

Similarly, incorporation of companies during July-May 2013-14 were registered at 4,137 as compared to 3,587 registered during the same period of 2012-13 showing a growth of 15.33 percent.

Large scale manufacturing (LSM) growth during the period from July to March 2013-14 remained 4.3 percent as compared to that of 3.5 percent during same period of 2012-13.

Likewise credit to private sector during July-May (2013-14) stood at Rs328.9 billion against Rs33 billion during same period of last financial year, thus showing a surge of 796.66 percent whereas the agriculture credit also increased by 13.09 percent from Rs336 billion to Rs380 billion.

The GDP growth rate during first half of current financial year, remained 4.1 percent while during first half of 2012-13, the growth rate remained 3.4 percent while the growth monetary assets during July-May (2013-14) registered 8.02 percent as compare to growth of 12.23 percent during same period of last year.

Similarly Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) as on May 29, 2014 remained 29,540 points while on May 11, 2013 the KSE index was at 19,916 points thus showing an increase of 48.32 percent.

Market capitalization as on June 10, 2014 stood at Rs7.26 trillion while it was Rs5.04 trillion on May 11, 2013 showing a growth of 44.04 percent, while market capitalization in US dollar term witnessed a growth of 43.74 percent whichstood at US$ 73.74 billion on June 10, 2014 and on May 11, 2013 it stood at $51.3 billion.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

ISIS next target is Jordan

ISIS next target is Jordan
JUNE 17, 2014

Iraqi tribesmen gather in Baghdad to show their readiness to join Iraqi security forces in the fight against militants on June 16. (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, buoyed by its recent successes in Iraq, wants to expand its regional reach. Reports that Iraq has withdrawn forces from western towns close to its 180-kilometer (110-mile) border with Jordan have left Amman feeling vulnerable, and the Hashemite kingdom, certainly a target of interest for the jihadist movement, has deployed additional security personnel along the border.
However, taking on Jordan would be tough for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The group has the ability to stage terrorist attacks in the country, but significant constraints will prevent it from operating on the levels seen in Iraq and Syria.
The June 15 edition of the Jordan Times reported that Amman had beefed up security along its border with Iraq amid fears that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is inching toward the kingdom. Quoting unnamed Islamist sources, the report added that the jihadist group had established a branch within the kingdom as part of its plans to create a regional emirate.
The militant group's intent to expand into Jordan follows the region's geopolitical logic. After its push into Iraq, and already controlling significant swathes of Syrian territory, the jihadist group can try to push into the Hashemite kingdom from two directions. Jordan is the only opening available to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant -- the group cannot move north into Turkey, nor could it move southwest into Lebanon. Even in Jordan, though, the group faces considerable challenges.
For starters, the Jordanian regime is far more stable than Syria or Iraq, and its security forces have proved to be quite effective. Furthermore, Jordan has strong backing from the United States and Saudi Arabia, especially since the kingdom became a critical staging ground for support to Syrian rebels. Washington and Riyadh can extend financial, intelligence and military assistance to Amman. But Jordan is also a key sanctuary for rebels, and this aids the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant's cause.
Jordan has long had a substantial Salafist and jihadist presence. Since the start of the civil war in Syria, jihadists have moved frequently across the Jordan-Syria border. Amman has tried to crack down on this cross-border traffic, but it has not brought it to a stop.
Jordan is the native country of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the slain founder of the organization that later became the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. However, the kingdom's jihadist landscape is currently dominated by forces that oppose the group and are aligned with al Qaeda and its Syrian ally, Jabhat al-Nusra. Though the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has its own supporters in Jordan, the best-known jihadist ideologues in the country -- people such as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and Abu Qatada -- have criticized the group, especially its revolt against al Qaeda prime, creating dissension within jihadist ranks in Syria.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant's jihadist opponents are dismayed by what they see as the group's high-risk maneuvers, such as its mass killings of Shia and its insistence on imposing austere Islamist laws in the areas it controls, actions that risk alienating locals in a given country. In September, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiriissued guidance specifically addressing the issue, calling on jihadist fighters to refrain from fighting sects, such as Shia, Ismailis, Qadianis and Sufis, unless elements from those sects begin the fight. He similarly called for noninterference with Christian, Sikh and Hindu communities living in Muslim lands. He also ordered jihadists not to target noncombatant women and children or fellow Muslims via explosions, killings, kidnappings or destruction of property.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant openly rejected this call. The group's predecessor, al Qaeda in Iraq, despite frictions with Jordan-based jihadists, was able to stage attacks in the country, including suicide bombings in 2005 that targeted three Western hotels in Amman, and the 2002 assassination of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley. Now that the group's capabilities have dramatically expanded, it can certainly carry out attacks in the kingdom if it chooses to do so. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant will have to assess its current position, especially in light of its push into Iraq, and decide whether it is in its interest to quickly begin operations in Jordan, or whether it should wait until it has consolidated itself in Iraq and weathered the counteroffensive from Shia and Kurds there.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant certainly will not want to alienate many of its Iraqi Sunni partners who have sanctuary in Jordan. Sunni tribal forces in Iraq would prefer that the group focus on that country and desist from any action in Jordan that could trigger a strong reaction from Amman. It is unclear how the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant will proceed. The key thing to bear in mind is that while it can carry out terrorist attacks in Jordan, there are too many constraints for the group to act in Jordan as it has in Syria and Iraq.