Daily Archives: August 15, 2017

Ousted Pakistani PM Sharif Seeks Review of Court Ruling

ISLAMABAD Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday sought a review of a Supreme Court decision that disqualified him from office over undeclared assets, an official from his ruling party said on Tuesday.

Sharif, 67, resigned during his third stint as prime minister shortly after the Supreme Court ruled on July 28 that he should be disqualified and ordered a criminal probe into his family’s wealth.

Jan Achakzai, a PML-N official, told Reuters Sharif had filed three separate appeals in the Supreme Court.

“It is our right to seek a review,” he said. “People of Pakistan haven’t accepted the decision.”

Achakzai said the same five-judge panel that decided on the disqualification would likely hear the review petitions.

Sharif’s disqualification stems from the Panama Papers leaks in 2016 which appeared to show that Sharif’s daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and used them to buy properties in London.

In April, the Supreme Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to remove Sharif from office – by a split 2-3 verdict – over the Panama revelations but it ordered further investigations into his family’s wealth.

The judges in July alleged Sharif did not declare a small source of income that the veteran leader disputes receiving.

Achakzai said the appeals sought a review of the disqualification on the basis that two of the five judges, who had already given a dissenting note in April’s verdict, were not supposed to sit on the panel that gave the final ruling.

Sharif has kept a grip on the ruling PML-N party, which has a solid majority in parliament, and elected one of his loyalists, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as his replacement within days of the court decision.

Critics say Sharif remains in control of the country through Abbasi and is trying to undermine the judiciary.

Sharif’s aides say he shows no signs of leaving politics and he recently called the Supreme Court ruling against him “an insult to the mandate of 200 million voters”.

Last week he started a so-called homecoming “caravan” procession across the Punjab region where he derives his voter base, from the capital Islamabad to the eastern city of Lahore, drawing large crowds along the way.

Source: Voice of America

Former Pakistani PM Turns To Court To Challenge His Removal From Office

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has filed petitions with the country’s Supreme Court challenging his disqualification from office over undeclared assets.

Environment Minister Mushahidullah Khan, who is also a member of Sharif’s party, said on August 15 that three petitions have been filed with the court by the former premier’s lawyers.

“It is our right to seek a review,” the Reuters news agency quoted Jan Achakzai, an official at the ruling PML-N party, as saying. “People of Pakistan haven’t accepted the decision.”

Sharif, 67, resigned during his third term as prime minister shortly after the same court ruled on July 28 that he should be disqualified and ordered a criminal probe into his family’s wealth.

The investigation stemmed from the so-called Panama Papers leaks in April 2016, when documents from a Panama-based law firm revealed that three of Sharif’s four children owned offshore companies and used them to buy properties in London.

According to Achakzai, the appeals seek a review of the disqualification on the fact that two of the five Supreme Court judges, who had already given a dissenting note in an April verdict ruling, were not supposed to sit on the panel that gave the final ruling in July.

Within days of the court decision, Sharif moved quickly to have the PML-N’s strong majority in parliament approve Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as his replacement.

Sharif held a series of rallies across the country last week, criticizing the court ruling and seeking to whip up popular support.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

US: Islamic State Has Committed ‘Genocide’ Against Religious Believers

WASHINGTON The United States accused Islamic State insurgents on Tuesday of carrying out a reign of violence targeting religious minorities and opposition ethnic groups, even as they have been losing control of large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Islamic State “is clearly responsible for genocide … and crimes against humanity.”

Tillerson, speaking as he released the State Department’s annual report on religious freedom in 199 countries and territories around the globe, said, “Religious persecution and intolerance remains far too prevalent.”

The top U.S. diplomat said that “almost 80 percent of the global population live with restrictions on or hostilities to limit their freedom of religion. Where religious freedom is not protected we know that instability, human rights abuses and violent extremism have a greater opportunity to take root. We cannot ignore these conditions.”

Seven countries

Tillerson singled out seven countries for an array of abuses in the way their governments treat the faithful: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, China, Pakistan and Sudan. Tillerson said that in various ways these nations intimidate believers practicing their faiths through harassment, imprisonment and executions.

“No one should have to live in fear, worship in secret, or face discrimination because of his or her beliefs,” he said.

But he laid out his most detailed indictment against Islamic State.

As we make progress in defeating ISIS and denying them their caliphate, their terrorist members have and continue to target multiple religions and ethnic groups for rape, kidnapping enslavement and even death,” he said.

“To remove any ambiguity from previous statements or reports by the State Department,” Tillerson said, “the crime of genocide requires three elements: specific acts with specific intent to destroy and hold or impart specific people. Members of national, ethnic, racial or religious groups. Specific act-specific intent-specific people. Application of the law to the facts at hand leads to the conclusion ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims in areas it controls or has controlled.

US priority

Tillerson said the protection of religious minorities “and others who are targets of violent extremism � remains a human rights priority” for President Donald Trump’s administration.

The report said that in Iraq, where Baghdad’s forces have reclaimed the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State control, the insurgents “pursued a campaign of violence against members of all faiths, but against non-Sunnis in particular.”

The State Department said, “In areas under its control, ISIS continued to commit individual and mass killings, and to engage in rape, kidnapping, random detentions and mass abductions, torture, abduction and forced conversion of non-Muslim male children, and the enslavement and sex trafficking of women and girls from minority religious communities.”

It said Islamic State “continued to engage in harassment, intimidation, robbery, and the destruction of personal property and religious sites. In areas not under ISIS control, it continued suicide bombings and vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks against all segments of society.”

In Syria, the report said that “nonstate actors, including a number of groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United States and other governments, such as ISIS and … al-Nusra Front, targeted Shia, Alawites, Christians, and other religious minorities, as well as other Sunnis, with indiscriminate attacks, as well as killings, kidnappings, physical mistreatment, and arrests in the areas of the country under their control.

“ISIS killed dozens through public executions, crucifixions, and beheadings of men, women, and children on charges of apostasy, blasphemy, homosexuality, and cursing God,” the report said, “In Raqqa [Islamic State’s self-declared capital] and elsewhere in Syria, ISIS continued to hold thousands of enslaved Yazidi women and girls kidnapped in Iraq and trafficked to Syria to be sold or distributed to ISIS members as ‘spoils of war’ because of their religious beliefs.”

China

The report singled out China for what it said were the government’s abuse, detention, arrests and torture of adherents of various faiths.

“The government cited concerns over the ‘three evils’ of ‘ethnic separatism, religious extremism, and violent terrorism’ as grounds to enact and enforce restrictions on religious practices of Uighur Muslims,” the report said. “The government sought the forcible repatriation of Uighur Muslims from foreign countries, many of whom sought asylum in those countries on the grounds of religious persecution.”

Source: Voice of America

Ousted Pakistani PM Sharif Seeks Review of Court Ruling

ISLAMABAD Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday sought a review of a Supreme Court decision that disqualified him from office over undeclared assets, an official from his ruling party said on Tuesday.

Sharif, 67, resigned during his third stint as prime minister shortly after the Supreme Court ruled on July 28 that he should be disqualified and ordered a criminal probe into his family’s wealth.

Jan Achakzai, a PML-N official, told Reuters Sharif had filed three separate appeals in the Supreme Court.

“It is our right to seek a review,” he said. “People of Pakistan haven’t accepted the decision.”

Achakzai said the same five-judge panel that decided on the disqualification would likely hear the review petitions.

Sharif’s disqualification stems from the Panama Papers leaks in 2016 which appeared to show that Sharif’s daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and used them to buy properties in London.

In April, the Supreme Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to remove Sharif from office – by a split 2-3 verdict – over the Panama revelations but it ordered further investigations into his family’s wealth.

The judges in July alleged Sharif did not declare a small source of income that the veteran leader disputes receiving.

Achakzai said the appeals sought a review of the disqualification on the basis that two of the five judges, who had already given a dissenting note in April’s verdict, were not supposed to sit on the panel that gave the final ruling.

Sharif has kept a grip on the ruling PML-N party, which has a solid majority in parliament, and elected one of his loyalists, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as his replacement within days of the court decision.

Critics say Sharif remains in control of the country through Abbasi and is trying to undermine the judiciary.

Sharif’s aides say he shows no signs of leaving politics and he recently called the Supreme Court ruling against him “an insult to the mandate of 200 million voters”.

Last week he started a so-called homecoming “caravan” procession across the Punjab region where he derives his voter base, from the capital Islamabad to the eastern city of Lahore, drawing large crowds along the way.

Source: Voice of America

Former Pakistani PM Turns To Court To Challenge His Removal From Office

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has filed petitions with the country’s Supreme Court challenging his disqualification from office over undeclared assets.

Environment Minister Mushahidullah Khan, who is also a member of Sharif’s party, said on August 15 that three petitions have been filed with the court by the former premier’s lawyers.

“It is our right to seek a review,” the Reuters news agency quoted Jan Achakzai, an official at the ruling PML-N party, as saying. “People of Pakistan haven’t accepted the decision.”

Sharif, 67, resigned during his third term as prime minister shortly after the same court ruled on July 28 that he should be disqualified and ordered a criminal probe into his family’s wealth.

The investigation stemmed from the so-called Panama Papers leaks in April 2016, when documents from a Panama-based law firm revealed that three of Sharif’s four children owned offshore companies and used them to buy properties in London.

According to Achakzai, the appeals seek a review of the disqualification on the fact that two of the five Supreme Court judges, who had already given a dissenting note in an April verdict ruling, were not supposed to sit on the panel that gave the final ruling in July.

Within days of the court decision, Sharif moved quickly to have the PML-N’s strong majority in parliament approve Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as his replacement.

Sharif held a series of rallies across the country last week, criticizing the court ruling and seeking to whip up popular support.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

Report: Considerable Drop in Militancy in Pakistan’s Restive Tribal Areas

Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region, beleaguered for years by terrorism and lawlessness, has seen a decline in militant activities during the past few months as the result of government counterinsurgency operations, a recent security report says.

FATA Research Center (FRC), a non-governmental organization based in the capital of Pakistan, observed a decline of 19 percent in violent incidents during the second quarter of 2017 in the semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the border with Afghanistan.

The report also indicated, however, that banned terror outfits such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, Islamic State of Khorasan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were still able to carry out terrorist attacks.

The 33-page report is based on terrorism-related data from all seven FATA tribal agencies covering April through June of 2017. It focuses on militant attacks and counterinsurgency measures, civilian and security forces casualties, tactics and strategies used by the militants and military operations and government airstrikes.

The report details a surge in counterinsurgency measures by the government during the period and reveals most counterterrorism attacks were executed in the Khyber Agency.

Out of 61 counterterrorism operations, 19 intelligence-based operations and three aerial strikes were carried out in the Khyber Agency, the report said.

Pakistan’s military launched Operation Khyber on July 4, aiming to eradicate Islamic State militants in the Khyber Agency’s Rajgal Valley area. Later in July, Pakistan announced that the first phase of the operation was completed successfully.

The report says 100 violent attacks were recorded in the second quarter, down from 119 in the January-March period. Seventy of the fatalities from terror attacks in FATA region were civilians, including 45 who died in a twin suicide blast in late June that shook the main bazaar of Parachinar, headquarters of the Kurram Agency. Another 134 civilians were wounded, according to the report.

Some security and political analysts say measures taken by the government are commendable, but that Pakistan needs to make sure to keep insurgents and militants completely out of business in the volatile FATA region.

Decrease in numbers, but not severity observed

Insurgent attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other border areas may have decreased in number, but – as demonstrated by the June attacks in Kurram Agency, which killed over 60 people – not necessarily in severity,” Jonah Blank, senior political scientist with the RAND Corp., a global policy think-tank in Washington, D.C., told VOA.

In the past, the Pakistani government has tried to redirect militant groups towards its own goals rather than actually disarming them. Both civilian and military officials say that is not the case any longer. Hopefully, this will be proven true, Blank added.

Security analysts from Pakistan charge that the recent statistics are encouraging, though they also warn that the government needs to ensure the terrorists will not be able to re-establish their networks.

There had been a drop in militancy in the tribal region, Amir Rana, director of the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, told VOA. Pakistan’s government and army must now ensure to not allow the militants and insurgents of different banned terror groups to pave their way back and regain strength in areas of FATA that have been cleared after the military operations.

Khyber Pakhtunwa’s government says the province had been a victim of terrorism for more than a decade now and has taken solid measures to curb militancy.

It’s unrealistic to claim there is no militants’ presence in the province anymore, Mushtaq Ghani, Minister for Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s government, told VOA, But we have a strategy in place. Along with the military operations in FATA, we are working to enhance the capabilities of police, bomb disposal squads, counterterrorism departments and the intelligence bureaus.

U.S. and Afghanistan officials have long accused Pakistan of being selective in its crackdown on militants. They claim Islamabad targets only groups, including TTP, that pose a threat to Pakistan’s interests, and overlook other militants who are using the country’s territory to plan attacks on Afghanistan and India.

Pakistan has denied those allegations and claims it is going after all militant groups operating in the region.

Source: Voice of America