Monthly Archives: September 2017

FRONTIER CORPS BALOCHISTAN AVERTED SECTARIAN TARGETING IN QUETTA: ISPR

Frontier Corps Balochistan on Saturday averted a sectarian targeting in Quetta in an intelligence-based operation and apprehended the mastermind and his two accomplices.

According to ISPR, a vehicle to be used as vehicle borne improvised explosive device was also recovered from Tore Shah near Pishin.

The vehicle borne IED was planned to disrupt Muharram in Quetta.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Militant Groups in Pakistan Rebrand Themselves as Political Parties

As international pressure is mounting on Islamabad to do more against militant groups operating from its soil, some militant groups are rebranding themselves as political parties.

“The Pakistan military is allowing militant, virulently anti-Indian groups to enter the political process to enable a vocal political voice against any Pakistani civilian warming relations with India,” Thomas Lynch, a research fellow at the National Defense University in Washington, told VOA.

“The aboveground voices of [Hafiz Mohammad] Saeed and [Kashmiri militant leader Fazlur Rehman] Khalil as political figures will meld with their enduring role as leaders of virulently anti-India armed groups in a way that will further constrain Pakistani political leaders from easily undertaking any moves toward rapprochement with India,” Lynch added.

New party

Saeed, the leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa group (JUD), which has been designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. and is widely considered a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group, launched a new political party last month.

Saeed was accused of masterminding Mumbai’s 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The U.S. government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

JUD’s newly established Milli Muslim League party came in third in a by-election in Punjab last week, securing more votes than Pakistan’s People’s Party contender did.

Lynch said he thought that without the military’s blessings, the militants-turned-political parties cannot thrive.

“Nothing of consequence inside Pakistan security, politics or economics happens without the Pakistan military’s concurrence, either by direct support or indirect acquiescence,” Lynch said.

“This mainstreaming of longtime militant-terrorist groups led by Saeed and Khalil is of consequence [and] therefore must be supported by the Pakistan military,” he added.

Last week’s by-election was also contested by the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, a party of the followers of Mumtaz Qadri, who was sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering Punjab’s Governor Salman Taseer, the same person he was paid to guard.

Qadri killed the governor in 2011 because he advocated for reforms in the country’s controversial blasphemy laws.

The two parties of militants-turned-politicians reportedly secured 11 percent of the total votes in last week’s election.

Increasing pressure

The politicization of militancy coincides with increasing international pressure on Pakistan to take action against militant safe havens in the county.

Announcing his South Asia strategy, U.S. President Donald Trump last month put Pakistan on notice to stop harboring militant groups that use Pakistani soil to plan and launch attacks against Afghan and U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Leaders of BRICS, an economic bloc composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, also expressed concerns this month about Pakistan-based militant groups and cited them as a problem for regional security.

Pakistan has long denied that militants enjoy safe havens in the country and has proclaimed itself as a victim of terrorism.

The country’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, however, this week admitted that Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba were liabilities for his country.

“Saeed, LeT, they are a liability, I accept it, but give us time to get rid of them,” Asif said at an Asia Society event in New York on Tuesday.

Optimism

Some analysts, however, see the new trend of pushing militants to mainstream politics as a good development.

“Unless these parties and individuals are allowed to be a part of the political system, they might never change their way and will go underground, which will be much more dangerous,” said Zubair Iqbal, an analyst at the Middle East Institute in Washington.

The question is: Can violent extremism and politics co-exist? Pakistani-based political analyst Khadim Hussain has his doubts.

“The ‘mainstreamed’ extremist organizations have not publicly revoked their ideology. They have not yet dismantled their militaristic, welfare and ideological infrastructure. This seems to be legitimizing extremist violence in Pakistan,” Hussain said.

Hussain added that ” ‘mainstreaming ‘ and ‘integration’ seem to be a tactic to divert the U.S., BRICS and other regional and international stakeholders’ attention from the core issues of policymaking in Pakistan.”

Lynch of NDU echoed Hussain’s analysis and said it was unlikely that the move would help curb extremism.

“I do not see this move helping to curb extremism in Pakistan over the short term,” Lynch said.

As Pakistan is holding national and provincial elections in 2018, analysts fear that militant groups will attempt to use the new platform to influence legislation.

“These groups will inject xenophobia and extremist views in the body politic if given free hand in politics,” Pakistani activist Marvi Sirmed wrote in an op-ed in Lahore’s Daily Times, urging the state to halt any kind of support to these groups.

Source: Voice of America

American al-Qaida Convicted in ’09 Suicide Attack in Afghanistan

NEW YORK A U.S. citizen who joined al-Qaida was convicted Friday of participating in a failed suicide bombing in 2009 at an American military base in Afghanistan.

A federal jury in New York reached the verdict in the case against Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, who’s originally from Houston.

Farekh’s case drew extra attention because of reports that American officials had initially debated whether to try to kill him in a drone strike, a step almost never taken against U.S. citizens. President Barack Obama’s administration ultimately decided to try for a capture and civilian prosecution instead.

Farekh was captured in Pakistan and brought to the U.S. in 2015.

Today, an American al-Qaeda member was brought to justice in a U.S. courtroom, said Bridget Rohde, the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, using an alternate spelling for the militant group’s name.

She said Farekh faces the possibility of life in prison for his efforts to murder Americans and his commitment to one of the world’s most infamous terrorist organizations.

There was no immediate response from Farekh’s lawyer, Sean Maher. He had argued the forensic evidence was too weak to convict Farekh, calling fingerprint experts’ testimony junk science in a closing argument.

Most of the charges against Farekh stem from an attack at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost City, Afghanistan, Jan. 19, 2009.

The attackers drove two vehicles rigged with explosives. An initial blast injured several Afghans, including a pregnant woman, but a much larger bomb failed to go off, sparing the lives of American soldiers.

The jury heard testimony about how forensic technicians in Afghanistan recovered 18 of Farekh’s fingerprints on packing tape used to bind the detonators on the unexploded bomb.

Farekh was convicted of conspiring to murder U.S. nationals, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to bomb a government facility and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

During the trial, the jury also heard testimony from Zarein Ahmedzay, one of three men convicted in a thwarted plot to bomb New York’s subway system. Ahmedzay told jurors he was trained by an al-Qaida operative identified by prosecutors as a co-conspirator of Farekh’s, who traveled with him from Canada to Pakistan in 2007.

Deliberations were briefly interrupted when the judge learned the defendant’s father had encountered four jurors in an elevator and complained to them that he’d been denied direct contact with him. The judge decided to replace the jurors with three alternates and ordered the deliberations to continue with a panel of 11 instead of the usual 12.

Source: Voice of America

WORK CONTINUING ON 108 MW GOLAN GOAL HYDROPOWER PROJECT IN CHITRAL DISTRICT

Work on construction of Golan Goal hydropower project is in full swing in Chitral District.

In an exclusive interview with Radio Pakistan Peshawar correspondent, Adviser to the Prime Minister Engineer Amir Muqam said the project will be completed in May next year at a cost of twenty billion rupees.

On completion, the project will generate one hundred and eight megawatt electricity.

Amir Muqam said work on the construction of 220-KV grid station in Chakdara is also going on smoothly, which will be completed in March next year at a cost of three billion rupees.

Amir Muqam said this will solve the problem of low voltage of electricity in Malakand Division on permanent basis.

Source: Radio Pakistan

40,000 TEACHERS RECRUITED ON MERIT TO BE REGULARIZED: KHATTAK

Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak says that forty thousand teachers recruited recently on merit will be regularized.

Chairing a meeting in Peshawar on Saturday, he said a committee has been constituted to submit recommendations for new service structure of teachers.

Presiding over another meeting, the Chief Minister directed to complete water supply and sanitation schemes in Peshawar in time.

Source: Radio Pakistan

American Man Convicted In Failed Suicide Attack On U.S. Base In Afghanistan

A U.S. citizen was convicted on September 29 of supporting the Al-Qaeda extremist group and participating in a failed suicide bombing that targeted an American military base in Afghanistan in 2009.

U.S. prosecutors said Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, 31, was convicted by a federal jury in New York on charges of conspiring to murder Americans, use of a weapon of mass destruction, and supporting a foreign terrorist organization.

Farekh faces a possible sentence of life in prison in a sentencing scheduled for January 11. But his attorney told Reuters on September 29 that he believes legal errors contributed to Farekh’s conviction and he will appeal the case.

The defense had argued in court that the evidence provided by prosecutors was too weak to convict Farekh.

Prosecutors said Farekh traveled to Pakistan in 2007 on a mission to join Al-Qaeda and kill Americans.

They presented evidence that his fingerprints were found on packing tape for a bomb that failed to detonate during the attack on the U.S. Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan.

Prosecutors said an accomplice detonated another device, injuring multiple people on the base.

A man who traveled with Farekh in 2007, Ferid Imam, has also been indicted in the case, but his whereabouts are unknown.

Prosecutors said Imam provided training at an Al-Qaeda camp in Pakistan in 2008 to three men later found guilty of plotting a bombing attack on the New York City subway system.

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