Category Archives: Entertainment

Pakistan Deports Turkish Teacher Along With Family

Pakistan has deported the Turkish former director of the PakTurk chain of private schools along with his family, his former colleagues and a lawyer have said.

Mesut Kacmaz, his wife, and two daughters were flown out of Pakistan after having been detained in September in the eastern city of Lahore, former school officials said.

A Pakistani government official who asked not to be identified told Reuters that the family was deported to Turkey over the weekend.

“The Turkish family was taken into custody by a team of security officials,” the official said.

“On Saturday, they were deported to Turkey from Islamabad on a special plane sent by the Turkish government.”

Turkey has claimed the PakTurk chain of schools was linked to Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric Ankara blames for orchestrating a failed coup in July 2016.

PakTurk denies any links to Gulen, who himself denies involvement in the attempted coup.

Usama Malik, a lawyer for the Mesut family, told AFP that the deportation had gone ahead despite a ruling by the Lahore High Court directing authorities not to take any action while the petition was still pending.

He also said that Mesut family had been granted asylum in Pakistan as refugees until November 2018.

There was no immediate comment by Pakistani officials.

In November 2016, Pakistani authorities deported dozens of Turkish teachers tied to the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges following a visit from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

More than 10,000 students are enrolled at PakTurk’s 28 campuses across Pakistan.

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.

asianetpakistan.com 2017-10-16 05:00:00

3 Ahmadi Men Sentenced to Death in Pakistan on Blasphemy Charges

WASHINGTON A court in Pakistan’s Punjab province has sentenced three men of a minority religious group to death on charges of violating the country’s controversial blasphemy law.

Mubasher Ahmad, Ghulam Ahmed and Ehsan Ahmed were found guilty and convicted by the trial court Wednesday for insulting the prophet of Islam.

The men were tried under Section 295-B of Pakistan’s penal code, commonly referred to as the blasphemy law, which recommends either life imprisonment or the death penalty for anyone found guilty of deliberately insulting Islam.

The men were arrested in May 2014 in a remote village in Punjab province after residents filed a complaint with the police and accused the defendants of tearing down a religious poster.

Four men were arrested at the time. The fourth man, Khalil Ahmad, was shot dead by an angry man while in police custody just a few days after the incident.

Saleemuddin, a spokesperson for the Ahmadi community, told VOA that the charges against the defendants and the court’s verdict were unfair.

The convicted men were trying to take down a poster, which had anti-Ahmadi slogans and text that urged the community to socially boycott the already persecuted Ahmadi community, Saleemuddin said.

We will challenge the trial court’s decision in high court, he added.

Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims, but Pakistan’s state does not recognize them as such and labels them heretics. There are more than a half-million Ahmadis living in Pakistan under the constant threat of persecution.

The Ahmadi community “is one of the most mistreated communities in the country. They have had been a target of blasphemous charges, sectarian violence and target killings, said Mehdi Hasan, a prominent human rights activist in Pakistan.

Ahmadis ‘a threat’

The death sentence for the three individuals came just a few days after Muhammad Safdar, a prominent member of the ruling party and son-in-law of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, publicly denounced Ahmadi community members as a threat to Pakistan and urged the country’s institutions not to hire them in the military or the civil service.

Safdar’s remarks stirred a debate in the country on the issue of minorities and their rights.

Pakistan Minister of the Interior Ahsan Iqbal, without mentioning Safdar by name, denounced the anti-minority rhetoric coming from politicians.

It is tragic to see hate speech against minorities in National Assembly. We believe in inclusive Pakistan. Pakistan respects all minorities, Iqbal said in a tweet.

Abuse of law

Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan. We’ve seen several incidents where angry mobs killed those accused of committing blasphemy without giving them a right to face the trial, human rights activist Hasan told VOA.

Rights groups say the controversial blasphemy law has often been abused to settle personal vendettas and disputes. Due process is often ceremonial, the rights activists add, and decisions are often informed by the growing religious intolerance in the country.

Even if courts do drop charges against defendants, mobs and local residents attack them, and law enforcement authorities look the other way in most cases, the activists charge.

Social media posts

Nadeem James, a Christian, was sentenced to death last month in Punjab after the court established that he sent a blasphemous poem to a friend via WhatsApp, an instant message application.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in a recent report said 15 people were arrested on charges of blasphemy in 2016, including 10 Muslims and five members of religious minorities.

In April 2017, Mashaal Khan, a journalism student, was accused of posting blasphemous content online and was beaten to death by fellow students at Abdul Wali Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Pakistan’s government is being criticized for strictly enforcing the blasphemy laws.

In April 2017, the government used newspapers and mobile phone services to warn its citizens not to post or upload any blasphemous materials on social media.

The government has also reportedly encouraged people to report those who violate the blasphemy law.

Source: Voice of America

Ex-Hostage Father Says Captors Killed Infant Daughter

TORONTO A couple held hostage for five years by a Taliban-linked extremist network in Afghanistan was safely back in Canada on Saturday after what the husband described as a harrowing firefight during a raid to free the family.

In a video released by Pakistan’s military that was filmed before he left that country for home, Joshua Boyle said Pakistani security forces positioned themselves between the hostages and their Haqqani network captors to keep the family safe amid the gunfire.

“A major comes over to me while I still have blood on me. The street is chaos and he says to me, In the American media they said that we support the Haqqani network and that we make it possible. Today you have seen the truth. Did we not put bullets in those bastards?”’ Boyle recalled, appearing beside his wife and children in the video.

“And so I can say to you I did see the truth, and the truth was that car was riddled with bullets. The ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency) and the army got between the criminals and the car to make sure the prisoners were safe and my family was safe. They put them to flight and they ran like cowards. And this is proof enough to me the Pakistanis are doing everything to their utmost.”

The circumstances under which the video was recorded were not immediately clear.

Boyle, his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, and their three children were rescued Wednesday, five years after the couple was abducted in Afghanistan while on a backpacking trip. Boyle said the kids, who were born into captivity, were adjusting to a new reality after growing up amid a group of pagan” bandits.

“These are children who three days ago they did know what a toilet looks like. They used a bucket,” Boyle said in the video. Three days ago they did not know what a light is or what a door is except that it is a metal thing that is locked in their face to make them a prisoner.

“And now they are seeing houses, they are seeing food, they are seeing gifts. All of this,” he continued. They are doing very well.”

Coleman was pregnant at the time of their abduction and ultimately gave birth to four children while in captivity. Boyle said after landing at Toronto’s airport that the extremists killed their newborn daughter and raped his wife during the years they were held. He called on the Afghan government to bring them to justice, saying, God willing, this litany of stupidity will be the epitaph of the Haqqani network.”

The birth of the fourth child had not been publicly known until then.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nafees Zakaria, said the rescue raid was based on a tip from U.S. intelligence and shows that Pakistan will act against a common enemy” when Washington shares information.

U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of ignoring groups like the Haqqani network.

After returning to his parents’ home in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Boyle emailed The Associated Press a statement saying they had reached the first true home’ that the children have ever known _ after they spent most of Friday asking if each subsequent airport was our new house hopefully.”

“Our daughter has had a cursory medical exam last night, and hospital staff were enthusiastically insistent that her chances seemed miraculously high based on a quick physical. Full medical work-ups for each member of my family are being arranged right now, and God-willing the healing process _ physically and mentally can begin.”

Earlier, on a flight from London, Coleman, who is from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, sat in the business-class cabin wearing a tan headscarf.

She nodded wordlessly as she confirmed her identity to an AP reporter on board. Next to her were her two elder children. In the seat beyond that was Boyle, with their youngest in his lap. U.S. State Department officials accompanied them.

Boyle provided a separate, handwritten statement then expressing disagreement with U.S. foreign policy.

“God has given me and my family unparalleled resilience and determination, and to allow that to stagnate, to pursue personal pleasure or comfort while there is still deliberate and organized injustice in the world would be a betrayal of all I believe, and tantamount to sacrilege,” he wrote.

He nodded toward one of the State Department officials and said, Their interests are not my interests.”

Washington considers the Haqqani group a terrorist organization and has targeted its leaders with drone strikes. But the Haqqani group also operates like a criminal network. Unlike the Islamic State group, it typically does not execute Western hostages, preferring to ransom them for cash.

A U.S. national security official, who was not authorized to discuss operational details of the release and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. obtained actionable information, passed it to Pakistani officials, asked them to interdict and recover the hostages — and they did.

President Donald Trump, who previously had warned Pakistan to stop harboring militants, praised the country for its cooperation on many fronts.” He said Friday on Twitter that the U.S. is starting to develop a much better relationship with Pakistan and its leaders.”

The operation appears to have unfolded quickly and ended with the raid, the shootout and a captor’s final, terrifying threat to kill the hostage.” Boyle told his parents that he, his wife and their children were intercepted by Pakistani forces while being transported in the back or trunk of their captors’ car and that some of his captors were killed. He suffered only a shrapnel wound, his family said.

U.S. officials did not confirm those details.

A U.S. military official said that a military hostage team had flown to Pakistan Wednesday prepared to fly the family out. The team did a preliminary health assessment and had a transport plane ready to go, but sometime after daybreak Thursday, as the family members were walking to the plane, Boyle said he did not want to board, the official said.

Boyle’s father said his son did not want to board the plane because it was headed to Bagram Air Base and the family wanted to return directly to North America. Another U.S. official said Boyle was nervous about being in custody” given his family ties.

He was once married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a senior al-Qaida financier. Her father, the late Ahmed Said Khadr, and the family stayed with Osama bin Laden briefly when Omar Khadr was a boy.

The Canadian-born Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured by U.S. troops following a firefight and was taken to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Officials had discounted any link between that background and Boyle’s capture, with one describing it in 2014 as a horrible coincidence.”

The U.S. Justice Department said neither Boyle nor Coleman is wanted for any federal crime.

U.S. officials have said several other Americans are being held by militant groups in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

They include Kevin King, 60, a teacher at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul who was abducted in August 2016, and Paul Overby, an author in his 70s who disappeared in eastern Afghanistan in 2014.

Source: Voice of America

Ex-Hostage Father Says Captors Killed Infant Daughter

TORONTO A couple held hostage for five years by a Taliban-linked extremist network in Afghanistan was safely back in Canada on Saturday after what the husband described as a harrowing firefight during a raid to free the family.

In a video released by Pakistan’s military that was filmed before he left that country for home, Joshua Boyle said Pakistani security forces positioned themselves between the hostages and their Haqqani network captors to keep the family safe amid the gunfire.

“A major comes over to me while I still have blood on me. The street is chaos and he says to me, In the American media they said that we support the Haqqani network and that we make it possible. Today you have seen the truth. Did we not put bullets in those bastards?”’ Boyle recalled, appearing beside his wife and children in the video.

“And so I can say to you I did see the truth, and the truth was that car was riddled with bullets. The ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency) and the army got between the criminals and the car to make sure the prisoners were safe and my family was safe. They put them to flight and they ran like cowards. And this is proof enough to me the Pakistanis are doing everything to their utmost.”

The circumstances under which the video was recorded were not immediately clear.

Boyle, his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, and their three children were rescued Wednesday, five years after the couple was abducted in Afghanistan while on a backpacking trip. Boyle said the kids, who were born into captivity, were adjusting to a new reality after growing up amid a group of pagan” bandits.

“These are children who three days ago they did know what a toilet looks like. They used a bucket,” Boyle said in the video. Three days ago they did not know what a light is or what a door is except that it is a metal thing that is locked in their face to make them a prisoner.

“And now they are seeing houses, they are seeing food, they are seeing gifts. All of this,” he continued. They are doing very well.”

Coleman was pregnant at the time of their abduction and ultimately gave birth to four children while in captivity. Boyle said after landing at Toronto’s airport that the extremists killed their newborn daughter and raped his wife during the years they were held. He called on the Afghan government to bring them to justice, saying, God willing, this litany of stupidity will be the epitaph of the Haqqani network.”

The birth of the fourth child had not been publicly known until then.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nafees Zakaria, said the rescue raid was based on a tip from U.S. intelligence and shows that Pakistan will act against a common enemy” when Washington shares information.

U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of ignoring groups like the Haqqani network.

After returning to his parents’ home in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Boyle emailed The Associated Press a statement saying they had reached the first true home’ that the children have ever known _ after they spent most of Friday asking if each subsequent airport was our new house hopefully.”

“Our daughter has had a cursory medical exam last night, and hospital staff were enthusiastically insistent that her chances seemed miraculously high based on a quick physical. Full medical work-ups for each member of my family are being arranged right now, and God-willing the healing process _ physically and mentally can begin.”

Earlier, on a flight from London, Coleman, who is from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, sat in the business-class cabin wearing a tan headscarf.

She nodded wordlessly as she confirmed her identity to an AP reporter on board. Next to her were her two elder children. In the seat beyond that was Boyle, with their youngest in his lap. U.S. State Department officials accompanied them.

Boyle provided a separate, handwritten statement then expressing disagreement with U.S. foreign policy.

“God has given me and my family unparalleled resilience and determination, and to allow that to stagnate, to pursue personal pleasure or comfort while there is still deliberate and organized injustice in the world would be a betrayal of all I believe, and tantamount to sacrilege,” he wrote.

He nodded toward one of the State Department officials and said, Their interests are not my interests.”

Washington considers the Haqqani group a terrorist organization and has targeted its leaders with drone strikes. But the Haqqani group also operates like a criminal network. Unlike the Islamic State group, it typically does not execute Western hostages, preferring to ransom them for cash.

A U.S. national security official, who was not authorized to discuss operational details of the release and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. obtained actionable information, passed it to Pakistani officials, asked them to interdict and recover the hostages — and they did.

President Donald Trump, who previously had warned Pakistan to stop harboring militants, praised the country for its cooperation on many fronts.” He said Friday on Twitter that the U.S. is starting to develop a much better relationship with Pakistan and its leaders.”

The operation appears to have unfolded quickly and ended with the raid, the shootout and a captor’s final, terrifying threat to kill the hostage.” Boyle told his parents that he, his wife and their children were intercepted by Pakistani forces while being transported in the back or trunk of their captors’ car and that some of his captors were killed. He suffered only a shrapnel wound, his family said.

U.S. officials did not confirm those details.

A U.S. military official said that a military hostage team had flown to Pakistan Wednesday prepared to fly the family out. The team did a preliminary health assessment and had a transport plane ready to go, but sometime after daybreak Thursday, as the family members were walking to the plane, Boyle said he did not want to board, the official said.

Boyle’s father said his son did not want to board the plane because it was headed to Bagram Air Base and the family wanted to return directly to North America. Another U.S. official said Boyle was nervous about being in custody” given his family ties.

He was once married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a senior al-Qaida financier. Her father, the late Ahmed Said Khadr, and the family stayed with Osama bin Laden briefly when Omar Khadr was a boy.

The Canadian-born Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured by U.S. troops following a firefight and was taken to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Officials had discounted any link between that background and Boyle’s capture, with one describing it in 2014 as a horrible coincidence.”

The U.S. Justice Department said neither Boyle nor Coleman is wanted for any federal crime.

U.S. officials have said several other Americans are being held by militant groups in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

They include Kevin King, 60, a teacher at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul who was abducted in August 2016, and Paul Overby, an author in his 70s who disappeared in eastern Afghanistan in 2014.

Source: Voice of America

Parents of Freed Afghanistan Hostage Angry at son-in-law

WASHINGTON The parents of an American woman freed with her family after five years of captivity say they are elated, but also angry at their son-in law for taking their daughter to Afghanistan.

Taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me, and the kind of person I am, is unconscionable, Caitlan Coleman’s father, Jim, told ABC News.

Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle were rescued Wednesday, five years after they had been abducted by a Taliban-linked extremist network while in Afghanistan as part of a multi-nation backpacking trip. She was pregnant at the time and had three children in captivity.

Two Pakistani security officials say the family left by plane from Islamabad on Friday. The officials did not say where the family was headed, but Boyle’s family has said the couple’s plan is to return to Canada. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with official protocol.

Caitlan Coleman is from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, and Boyle is Canadian.

Coleman’s mother, Lynda, said the opportunity to finally speak to her daughter after she was freed was incredible.

I’ve been waiting to hear that voice for so long. And then to hear her voice and have it sound exactly like the last time I talked to her, she said.

Pakistan’s foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said the Pakistani raid that led to the family’s rescue was based on a tip from U.S. intelligence and shows that Pakistan will act against a common enemy when Washington shares information.

U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of ignoring groups like the Haqqani network, which was holding the family.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump, who previously warned Pakistan to stop harboring militants, praised Pakistan for its willingness to do more to provide security in the region.

The operation appeared to have unfolded quickly and ended with what some described as a dangerous raid, a shootout and a captor’s final, terrifying threat to kill the hostage. Boyle told his parents that he, his wife and their children were intercepted by Pakistani forces while being transported in the back or trunk of their captors’ car and that some of his captors were killed. He suffered only a shrapnel wound, his family said.

U.S. officials did not confirm those details.

A U.S. military official said that a military hostage team had flown to Pakistan Wednesday prepared to fly the family out. The team did a preliminary health assessment and had a transport plane ready to go, but sometime after daybreak Thursday, as the family members were walking to the plane, Boyle said he did not want to board, the official said.

Boyle’s father said his son did not want to board the plane because it was headed to Bagram Air Base and that the family wanted to return directly to North America. Another U.S. official said Boyle was nervous about being in custody given his family ties.

He was once married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a senior al-Qaida financier. Her father, the late Ahmed Said Khadr, and the family stayed with Osama bin Laden briefly when Omar Khadr was a boy.

The Canadian-born Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured by U.S. troops following a firefight and was taken to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Officials had discounted any link between that background and Boyle’s capture, with one official describing it in 2014 as a horrible coincidence.

The U.S. Justice Department said neither Boyle nor Coleman is wanted for any federal crime.

The couple told U.S. officials and their families they wanted to fly commercially to Canada. The U.S. officials were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the release and spoke on condition of anonymity.

U.S. officials call the Haqqani group a terrorist organization and have targeted its leaders with drone strikes. But the group also operates like a criminal network. Unlike the Islamic State group, it does not typically execute Western hostages, preferring to ransom them for cash.

The Haqqani network had previously demanded the release of Anas Haqqani, a son of the founder of the group, in exchange for turning over the American-Canadian family. In one of the videos released by their captors, Boyle implored the Afghan government not to execute Taliban prisoners, or he and his wife would be killed.

U.S. officials have said that several other Americans are being held by militant groups in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

They include Kevin King, 60, a teacher at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul who was abducted in August 2016, and Paul Overby, an author in his 70s who had traveled to the region several times but disappeared in eastern Afghanistan in mid-2014.

Source: Voice of America