Daily Archives: October 9, 2017

Former PM Sharif’s Son-In-Law Arrested On Return To Pakistan

The son-in-law of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been arrested by Pakistani anticorruption authorities in connection with corruption cases pending against him.

Cabinet minister Talal Chaudhry said that Muhammad Safdar was arrested at Islamabad airport early on October 9 upon his arrival from London.

The arrest came hours before Safdar and his wife Maryam Nawaz were to appear before an anticorruption tribunal. She was not detained and later reached the court.

Sharif himself was expected to be indicted over corruption allegations on October 9, after the anticorruption court on October 2 deferred his indictment by a week.

Sharif, his daughter, his son-in-law, and his two sons face corruption allegations after a probe into documents leaked from a Panama law firm indicated that Sharif and some of his family members had undisclosed assets abroad.

Sharif was disqualified from office in July. He denies any wrongdoing.

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.

Former PM Sharif’s Son-In-Law Arrested On Return To Pakistan

The son-in-law of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been arrested by Pakistani anticorruption authorities in connection with corruption cases pending against him.

Cabinet minister Talal Chaudhry said that Muhammad Safdar was arrested at Islamabad airport early on October 9 upon his arrival from London.

The arrest came hours before Safdar and his wife Maryam Nawaz were to appear before an anticorruption tribunal. She was not detained and later reached the court.

Sharif himself was expected to be indicted over corruption allegations on October 9, after the anticorruption court on October 2 deferred his indictment by a week.

Sharif, his daughter, his son-in-law, and his two sons face corruption allegations after a probe into documents leaked from a Panama law firm indicated that Sharif and some of his family members had undisclosed assets abroad.

Sharif was disqualified from office in July. He denies any wrongdoing.

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.

Pakistan Nabs Suspect Distributing Pamphlets Allegedly Linked to Hizb-ut-Tahrir

Authorities in Pakistan say a terror suspect is in custody on charges of distributing pamphlets on behalf of banned Islamic extremist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, or HuT, and that a case has been opened against him under anti-terrorism laws. VOA could not independently verify the authenticity of the pamphlets.

According to officials, the man was one of five people seen circulating the pamphlets outside a busy mosque in Islamabad after Friday prayers last week. The leaflets read, “Get rid of this weak leadership which seeks honor in subservience to and alliance with America.” The other four men fled when security personnel arrived, authorities said.

“The government is vigilant and there have been instances in the past where HuT’s members were taken into custody by the security authorities,” Rasul Baksh Rais, a political analyst from Pakistan, told VOA.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which translates to the “party of liberation,” is an international political organization created six decades ago with a charter to re-establish a caliphate across the Islamic world through a bloodless revolution.

The organization has a global and prominent existence in the European, Middle Eastern and Central Asia region. The group operates freely in many Western countries where free speech laws provide them protection.

In Pakistan, the group has been active since the ’90s, and tried to propagate its message of bringing an Islamic revolution through Sharia, or Islamic law.

The government placed a ban on Hizb-ut-Tahrir in 2004, but it has been operating as an underground movement since then. Pakistan considers members of the proscribed outfit as terrorists, although their non-violent ideology makes them unique from other militant groups active in the country.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir works in complete secrecy and it is hard to assume or estimate the number of members linked to the terror group, but analysts say they have a clear policy of targeting the highly skilled and qualified youth belonging to well-to-do families to form a caliphate in the country.

“I believe HuT has a relatively small presence in Pakistan, but they are certainly targeting the educated youth,” Rais said. “Hizb-ut-Tahrir doesn’t believe in any constitution or government other than the caliphate. In a way, HuT’s ideology is not different than the Islamic State’s ideology and their pattern of targeting youth is similar to the IS as well.”

In 2016, Islamabad police arrested a software engineer as he was distributing HuT’s pamphlets in one of the busiest markets after Friday prayers.

In 2011, a military court convicted five high-ranking officers, including four majors and a brigadier, after establishing their sympathies and allegiance to HuT.

Pressure on Pakistan

In the past few years, Pakistan has faced mounting pressure from the international community for not being able to crush the militant groups active in the country.

Last month, the economic bloc known as BRICS, which comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, expressed concern over Pakistan-based militant groups, including Hizb-ut-Tahrir, citing them as a threat to the region.

“We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaida and its affiliates, including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb-ut-Tahrir,” said a joint statement released after the BRICS annual summit, which was held in China.

Back in August, while outlining his South Asia policy, U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Pakistan for allegedly harboring terrorists and said Pakistan has havens for militant groups which plan attacks on Afghan and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies the allegations and says it has a zero-tolerance policy toward extremist and militant groups. Pakistan maintains it has cracked down on all the terrorist groups, regardless of their ideologies, affiliations and allegiances.

Source: Voice of America

Pakistani Tribesmen Call For Legal, Constitutional Reforms

Hundreds of people from Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have rallied in the capital, Islamabad, calling on the federal government to implement legal and constitutional reforms in the northwestern region.

A group of FATA legislators led the October 9 rally in which participants called for the abolishment of a century-old legal code known as the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) that is still governing FATA.

They also demanded the merger of FATA with the adjacent Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

Shahabuddin Khan, a tribal lawmaker from the Bajaur district, said they would continue pressuring the government until the FCR was abolished and the tribal areas were fully incorporated into the rest of Pakistan.

At the start of a two-day demonstration earlier this month, legislators from FATA set up a protest camp in front of parliament in Islamabad.

The Islamabad government has approved plans to bring FATA under current federal law rather than governing the region by the FCR, which was established under British rule. The legal code includes the practice of collective punishment, allowing government authorities to hold entire clans responsible for the crimes of individuals.

Key reforms would also include extending the jurisdiction of Pakistan’s national courts, incorporating tribal law enforcement into the national security forces, and establishing parliamentary representation for the tribal areas.

However, differences among political parties and parliament deputies over the future constitutional status of FATA have blocked the process.

Some want FATA to be a separate province while others want the region to be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The seven tribal districts in FATA — Bajaur, Khyber, Kurram, Mohmand, North Waziristan, South Waziristan, and Orakzai — are home to some 5 million people, mainly ethnic Pashtuns.

The region, located along Pakistan’s northwestern border with Afghanistan, has long been a stronghold for Taliban militants and other extremist groups.

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.

Gunmen Kill Five In Attack On Shi’ites In Southwestern Pakistan

Gunmen ambushed a vehicle carrying minority Shi’ite Muslims in Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta on October 9, killing four of them and a passer-by, police say.

Two other passers-by were also wounded in the attack in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, according to local police chief, Hidayat Ullah.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Sunni extremists regularly target Shi’ites and have staged previous such attacks in Balochistan and elsewhere in Pakistan.

A suicide bomber on October 5 targeted a Shi’ite shrine packed with worshippers in the village of Jhal Masgi in Balochistan, killing 24 people, in an attack claimed by Pakistan’s Islamic State affiliate.

Shi’ites are regarded as apostates by Sunni extremist groups, and are frequently targeted in deadly attacks.

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.

Pakistan’s Shi’ite Community Under Attack Again

ISLAMABAD Unknown gunmen opened fire on members of Pakistan’s Hazara community in the northwestern city Quetta Monday morning, killing four Hazaras along with a bystander.

Local police said the gunmen were waiting near a speed breaker in the road and opened fire when a car carrying Hazaras slowed down. They then escaped on a motorcycle.

The Hazara community, a sub-sect of Shi’ites in Pakistan living mostly in Baluchistan province, is a frequent target of sectarian militants.

Their distinctive facial features, believed to be a result of Mongolian and Central Asian Turkic ancestry, make them stand out amidst the local population.

Last month, a similar attack on a family of Hazaras killed four, including a 12 year old boy, as they stopped their car at a gas station.

Most such attacks are claimed by a proscribed Sunni militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami. It is believed by some to be a local partner for the Islamic State group.

Last year, the group’s spokesman told Reuters, after a deadly shrine attack claimed by IS, that it played a supporting role.

Right now, in Pakistan, and especially in the cities, wherever there are attacks taking place, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami is cooperating with them [IS] either directly or indirectly, spokesman Ali bin Sufyan told Reuters via instant messaging.

The latest attack comes within days of a suicide bombing of a Shi’ite shrine in Baluchistan that killed at least 20 people. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that.

According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, there have been 12 sectarian attacks in Pakistan in 2017 alone, killing almost 200 people. Most of those attacks were against the Shi’ites in various parts of the country.

Source: Voice of America