Friday, February 22, 2013

Killing of Shia doctor Ali Haider and his son in Lahore: the FIR must name Shahbaz Sharif too

by Shazia Najmi
Yet another doctor in the Punjab ruled by Shahbaz Sharif, the Patron-in-Chief of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, has fallen along with his 12-year old son ( This reminds one of the spree of 126 Shia doctors killed during the first chief ministership of Shahbaz Sharif which started in 1990 and lasted only two years. On the morning of 18 February as the non-Takfiri Pakistanis were mourning the killing of 87 Shias in Quetta, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi struck in Lahore and killed Dr Ali Haider and his son Murtaza Haider near FC College, which is one of the busies area in Lahore. The killers patiently pumped 6 bullets into Dr Ali Haider’s head and then pumped one bullet into his son’s head, and then leisurely disappeared on a motorcycle. Dr Haider Ali was one of the most respected doctors in the medical community of Lahore. He was a top eye-specialist and had been working at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust, Lahore. To his credit, Shahbaz Sharif has not even said a word by way of condemnation. LUBP understands his dark, Satanic honesty. At least he is not a cowardly hypocrite like the PPP leadership. Readers of LUBP must be reminded that during his incarceration, Malik Ishaq, one of the founders of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and a self-confessed killer of 70 Shias, was given a huge monthly stipend by Shahbaz Sharif’s government. His Law Minister Rana Sana openly moves around in the company of Mullah Ludhianvi and his gun-toting assassins and terrifies Shias, Ahmadis, and Brelvis.Now thanks to the efforts of Shahbaz Shairf, the PML-N has formally entered an electoral alliance with SSP/ASWJ, the political wing of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. It is Shahbaz Shairf who has given Lashkar-e-Jhangvi complete freedom to demonize the Shias. The killing of Dr Haider Ali and his little son must be an eye opener for the Shias. We advise his family to file the FIR (First Information Report) in which Shahbaz Sharif should be nominated as one of the backer of the criminals who have killed an educated man, who was a respected doctor, a loving husband, an affectionate father, and a great friend. This is the only way for the grieving family of Dr Haider Ali in the given circumstances. Shahbaz Sharif and the assassins enjoying his backing are cowards. Once an FIR is filed against him, he will know that in future, it can be taken up by some honest person who is in the position of power too. Once an FIR has been filed against him, he will think twice before letting his Lashkar-e-Jhangvi act with the usual impunity.Malik Ishaq enjoyed Punjab government’s financial assistance ever since the Sharif’s came to power in 2008, officials on condition of anonymity told The Express Tribune.The accused terror kingpin belonging to banned Sunni outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), nominated in 44 cases in which 70 people were killed, allegedly received a monthly stipend, during imprisonment, from the Punjab government. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah confirmed the disbursement but clarified that it was given to Ishaq’s family, not him, as per orders of the court. However, upon further investigation, it was revealed that nor was there any such disbursements during former president Musharraf’s tenure, nor was there any court order pertaining to the matter. Meanwhile, one of the key witnesses in Ishaq’s court case, Fida Hussain Ghalvi, is receiving police protection to avoid any untoward incidents, highlighting concerns arising from Intelligence and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) after the release of Malik Ishaq. Ghalvi while talking to The Express Tribune confirmed that on the direction of Multan City Police Officer Amir Zulifqar, Multan and Vehari police have provided two policemen to him for security protection. Furthemore, Ghalvi has also relocated from his native town out of fear for his own life. He had been currently residing in two different locations, moving back and forth for security purposes. However, leaving Ghalvi out, two other key witnesses and one complainant have not been provided any security as of yet and fear for their lives. The men identified as Khadim, Sikandar and Abdul Ghafour (complainant) are the only people to have survived the court cases which have taken 20 lives, including eight people who were murdered purely for being associated with the case. “I can be attacked at any time and I do not know if I will be alive tomorrow or not, as you know almost everyone who was a witness or a relative has been slain,’ said Sikandar, who now operating a cloth store in Dokota on Multan Road. “When Ishaq was in jail eight people were killed mercilessly by the same group,” said Khadim Hussain, who is now a farmer in Dokota. The complainant (Abdul Ghafour) of the first case against Ishaq in which 12 people were massacred during a majlis, said he has been awaiting justice for 14 years but has completely lost hope since the release of Ishaq.

Evidence of PML-N’s support to banned terrorist groups

LUBP is releasing a new tag that is a collection of all the articles that highlight PML-N’s growing relationship with Takfiri Deobanid militants (Sipah-e-Sahaba aka ASWJ-LeJ), Jamaat-ud-Dawan (JuD aka LeT), Taliban and Al Qaeda. The Takfiri Deobandi and Takfiri Wahhabi terrorists of ASWJ-LeJ, JuD-LeT and Taliban have wreaked havoc on Pakistan’s (and also in neighbouring countries) Shia, Sunni, Ahmadi, Christian, Hindu and other communities. Please share this tag widely on mainstream and social media and also forward to all PML-N spokespersons and apologists. In particular, we ask pro-establishment fake liberals (some of whom shamelessly promote pro-ASWJ clerics as prophets of peace) how they continue to maintain their claims to liberalism while pandering to PML-N.

Egypt 'spent £1.7m on teargas' amid economic crisis

Egyptian protesters attack a police vehicle during a demonstration in Cairo. Activists have labelled the wave of police brutality as a return to Mubarak-era repression. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters Egypt spent the equivalent of £1.7m on 140,000 US-sourced teargas canisters last month, despite the Egyptian government nearing bankruptcy – and amid a wave of police brutality that 21 human rights groups this week labelled a return to Mubarak-era state repression. Egypt's interior ministry made the emergency order at the end of January, according to records retrieved by Egyptian broadsheet al-Masry al-Youm. It came at the start of a week of civil unrest sparked by protests against President Mohamed Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood, and police malpractice. Opposition activists have questioned the government's willingness to buy the teargas at a time when Egypt's foreign reserves have more than halved since 2011, the government has run out of money to pay for fuel subsidies, and officials have yet to agree the details of a much-needed and much-delayed IMF loan worth $4.8bn. They also see it as yet another example of the government's unwillingness to rein in the police force, whose brutality was a major cause of the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak, and whose behaviour has come under renewed scrutiny this year. "It's the same tactics the Mubarak regime used – spending taxpayers' money to kill the sons of taxpayers," said Hussein Abdel Ghany, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front, a disparate collection of non-Islamist opposition parties. "And at the same time they're cutting gas subsidies and raising taxes on cigarettes, which the only way some people get any joy." Teargas has been repeatedly used during protests this year, at times rendering it unsafe to navigate thoroughfares in downtown Cairo that lie several streets from the clashes. At one point in January, Tahrir Doctors – a group of volunteer medics who treat protesters hurt in clashes – warned that teargas in Tahrir Square had reached dangerous levels. But the teargas is just one part of a wave of violence that led 21 Egyptian rights groups to claim on Thursday that police brutality is as serious – or in some cases worse – than it was under Hosni Mubarak. Since the start of the unrest, sparked by the two-year anniversary of Mubarak's toppling on 25 January, activists say at least 70 protesters have been been tortured, with hundreds more detained without trial. In some cases, protesters have been murdered and raped. The number of male activists raped in custody is higher than it has been for at least a decade, according to Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. In one high-profile murder case, leftwing activist Mohamed el-Guindy was abducted for four days before being found at a hospital in a coma. Authorities claimed he had died in a car crash, but rights activists said they found torture marks on his tongue, as well as signs of strangulation and electrocution. Lawyers said he was abducted by police after a protest in late January before being held in a police camp outside Cairo. "You couldn't recognise his face from a photograph, it was so swollen," said Islam Khalifa, a human rights lawyer investigating Guindy's death, who visited him in hospital before he died. Hundreds of children are also being targeted, activists said. At least 200 have been arrested, and many beaten, according to Amr Imam, a lawyer at the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, a rights group. "The government thinks these children hold the torch of the revolution," Imam told film-makers from Mosireen, a protest-orientated media collective. "So they must get rid of them – destroy them, to put it plainly." A 13-year-old cancer patient from Alexandria – Mahmoud Adel – was confined to an adult prison for more than a week without access to his treatment. Allies of Morsi have said it is unreasonable to blame the president for police malpractice, arguing that it will take 15 years to reform institutions as intransigent as the interior ministry and its police force. "If it took them 60 years to build a system that corrupt, imagine how long it will take to reform it," said the Muslim Brotherhood's Gehad al-Haddad last month. But Heba Morayef, head of the Egypt branch of Human Rights Watch, said Morsi has shown little inclination for police reform so far. "It's not just that he hasn't delivered on any changes, it's that he hasn't publicly acknowledged that there is a serious problem of police abuse," Morayef has said.

20-year-old Bahraini protester dies from injuries

A 20-year-old Bahraini protester has died from injuries suffered a week ago when he was hit with a tear gas canister fired by regime forces. The victim, identified as Mahmoud Issa al-Jaziri, was hit in the head on February 14 after security forces attacked anti-regime demonstrators in Nabi Saleh, south of Manama, as they were marking the second anniversary of the uprising. The Bahraini authorities have so far made no comment on Jaziri's reported death, but Bahrain's main opposition bloc al-Wefaq said the protester died in hospital early Friday after a week in a coma. He is the third Bahraini protester killed in less than ten days. Another protester, Hussein al-Jaziri, 16, was killed on February 14 in the village of Daih, while Aminah al-Sayyed Mahdi, 35, died last Friday, a month after inhaling toxic tear gas fired by Bahrain troops at an anti-regime rally in Abu Saiba. Jaziri's funeral is expected later on Friday. Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, demanding political reform and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests. Scores have been killed, many of them under torture while in custody, and thousands more detained since the popular uprising in Bahrain began. Protesters say they will continue holding anti-regime demonstrations until their demands for the establishment of a democratically-elected government and an end to rights violations are met.

BANGLADESH: Jamaat, allies strike terror

4 killed, around thousand hurt in attacks; Shaheed Minars vandalised, national flag burnt following false claim of 'insult to Islam' by Shahbagh bloggers; hartal called for tomorrow
In a countrywide reign of terror, Jamaat-e-Islami and its sympathisers yesterday attacked law enforcers and journalists, burned the national flag and vandalised Shaheed Minars to counter the mass demand for capital punishment to 1971 war criminals. They chose mosques as gathering points and launched attacks with handmade bombs, guns, and sticks, leaving at least four persons killed and nearly 1,000 people including 14 journalists wounded. In what appears to be the culmination of a cleverly orchestrated smear campaign, the Jamaat and its adherents branded the Shahbagh protesters as atheists and tried to use Juma prayers to whip up religious sentiments against them. Gonojagoron Manchas -- from where demands are being made for capital punishment to war criminals -- became their targets of vandalism in Chittagong, Feni, Chandpur, Rajshahi, Bogra, Sirajganj, Joypurhat, Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Pabna. Jamaat and its student body Islami Chhatra Shibir carried out the attacks under the banner of 12 Islamist parties. They chanted slogans against the organisers of the Shahbagh movement, which has been calling for death penalty for all war criminals and a ban on Jamaat-Shibir. Jamaat and some like-minded radical Islamist parties had earlier announced nationwide demonstrations after yesterday's Juma prayers for punishment to the bloggers. They torched the national flag in Chandpur and Bogra, and vandalised Shaheed Minars in Feni and Sylhet, and the Awami League office in Kurigram. They attacked law enforcers in other districts, including Jhenidah, Patuakhali, Pabna and Joypurhat. Police fired hundreds of teargas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the attackers. Dozens of people, including journalists, were hit by bullets during the clashes. Of the four dead, two were killed in Gaibandha, one in Sylhet and another in Jhenidah. The person killed during clashes in Jhenidah was identified as Abdus Salam, a madrasa teacher. Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir said Jamaat-Shibir launched the attacks in a planned way. He said none of the attackers would be spared. Police have detained 172 attackers in Dhaka and several hundred more in other districts. Border Guard Bangladesh personnel have been deployed in Chittagong and Sylhet to ward off further violence. Eight Islamist parties led by Khelafat Andolon yesterday called a dawn-to-dusk hartal for tomorrow and countrywide demonstrations for Monday to protest the police attack on them and for punishment to Shahbagh protesters. In the capital, Jamaat activists took position inside the Baitul Mukarram national mosque much before the Juma prayers and started hurling brickbats at the law enforcers. They also attacked the journalists there. At the mosque, members of Jamaat and like-minded parties snatched the microphone from the Imam and started chanting provocative slogans. They also barred the Khatib from delivering Khutba, said witnesses. The fanatics also circulated copies of the offensive advertisements that Hefazat-e-Islam took out in three national dailies recently to stir up religious sentiments against the Shahbagh youths. After prayers, around 1:45pm, they brought out a militant procession and started marching towards Shahbagh. Obstructed near Paltan crossing, they got into pitched battles with the law enforcers. The clashes soon spread to other parts of the city. Police fired bullets and teargas shells from armoured vehicles to disperse the marchers. During the mayhem, Jamaat activists beat up camerapersons of different TV channels, photographers of several newspapers and some reporters of both electronic and print media. They vandalised dozens of vehicles. Traffic on the roads near Baitul Mukarram remained suspended for hours following the clashes. As police broke up the demonstrators in Jatiya Press Club, Matsya Bhaban and Paltan areas, Jamaat-Shibir activists got back to the national mosque premises and started throwing bombs and brickbats at police. They even set fire to prayer mats inside the mosque, said witnesses. Police and Rab personnel kept the mosque surrounded for an hour and asked those inside to come out peacefully. A group of ruling party men gathered in front of Awami League's central office on the Bangabandhu Avenue and brought out a procession. They chased some Jamaat-Shibir men out of the area. The situation there became normal after Asr prayers. On Thursday, the government decided to allow Islamist parties to bring out peaceful processions. In Rajshahi city, Jamaat-Shibir activists clashed with police at different points, leaving around 50 people, including 10 policemen, injured. In Bogra, they launched attacks on police prompting the law enforcers to fire at least 200 shots and teargas shells. More than 50 people, including nine policemen, were wounded in the clashes. More than 70 people were injured in clashes in Sylhet. At least 20 of them were hit by bullets. In Patuakhali, at least 35 people, including three policemen, were injured in clashes. DU HALLS ATTACKED Jamaat men attacked Dhaka University's Ekushey and Shahidullah halls around 2:00pm, leaving at least 15 students injured. The attackers also vandalised the office of Asiatic Society of Bangladesh on the DU campus. Some 30 attackers gathered near the main gates of the two dormitories and started pelting stones and brickbats at the students returning to the dormitories after the Juma prayers, witnesses said. Two of the injured were identified as Hridoy, a first-year student of information technology, and Al Amin, a second-year student of chemistry. Hearing the news, students came out of the dormitories and retaliated by pelting brickbats and stones at the attackers. In the meantime, another group of religious fanatics joined the attackers. However, they all fled the scene after police reached there and lobbed teargas canisters. The DU students captured four attackers and handed them over to police. SPORADIC CLASHES Near the Kataban mosque gate around 1:45pm, a group of Shibir men attacked police after they were barred from bringing out a procession. Law enforcers fired rubber bullets and teargas canisters to disperse them. Police arrested Hefazat-e-Islam leader Sheikh Nur-e-Alam Hamidi after he hit Sirajul Islam, officer-in-charge of Shahbagh police station, in the face. Hamidi earlier arrived in the capital from Srimangal. One of his followers tried to snatch firearms from a cop. Police detained three Hefazat-e-Islam activists. Later, students and locals brought out a procession in the area, chanting anti-Jamaat slogans. Jamaat activists under the banner of "Sachetan Jagrata Muslim Janata" brought out a procession from Tejturi Bazar mosque in Karwan Bazar around 2:00pm. As they reached near the Sonargaon intersection, police and Rab personnel fired several rounds of blank shots, forcing them to disperse. Meanwhile in Old Dhaka, constable Abdul Jalil was hit by a bullet in his left foot, as several hundred Jamaat activists attacked police on Nawabpur Road around 2:15pm. Two other cops were also injured. The religious extremists swooped on police when intercepted on their way to the national mosque. They also vandalised several roadside shops. Police fired shots and teargas shells to disperse the attackers. Jamaat activists also beat up two devotees in front of Bangabazar Market around 2:15pm after the two asked them not to bring out any procession in the area. Later, police swung into action and dispersed them. Of those injured in yesterday's violence in the capital, at least 30 people, including four journalists and a policeman, were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Most of them were hit by splinters during clashes in Baitul Mukarram, Press Club, Ananda Bazar, Kataban and Nawabpur areas. During the Juma prayers at Baitul Aman Jam-e Mosque in Mirpur-12, the imam described the Shahbagh movement organisers as atheists. He also called upon the devotees to launch a counter movement. Locals said the imam along with his followers brought out a procession soon after the prayers.

Nawaz Sharif and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Connection

Nawaz League SSP & Lashkar-e-Jhangvi by RohailAsghari

د نوازشریف مسلم لیګ او د لشکر جهنګوي تعلقات؟
په پاکستان کې پر شییعه ګانو د زياتېدونکو حملو چې زياتره وخت يې لشکر جهنګوی ذمه واري قبلوي، وروسته د دې هيواد په ميډيا کې د حزب اختلاف د لوی ګوند مسلم ليګ ن او لشکر جهنګوي ترمينځ پټ تعلق د بحث توده موضوع ګرځېدلې ده . تيره ورځ(چارشبنه) آن د پاکستان د داخله چارو وزير رحمان ملک پر پنجاب حکومت ږغ وکړ چې د ناقانونه ګرځول شوي تنظيم لشکر جهنګوي پر ضد دې کاروايي وکړي ګنې نو مرکزي حکومت به يې پخپله وکړي. آيا په رښتيا هم مسلم ليګ ن له لشکر جهنګوي سره پټ اړيکي لري ؟ ( په دوه زره اتم کال کې انتخابات وشو نو د دوی ترمينځ يوه دوستانه رشته جوړه شوه. د لشکر جهنګوي او مسلم ليګ ن ترمينځ يوه معاهده وشوه چې مولانا لدهیانوي ور وکړه. معاهده دا وه چې شهباز شريف به له بکهر څخه د اسمبلۍ پر نشست مقابله کوي چې وروسته به وزيراعلی جوړيږي. نو هم په دې نشست به د ده مقابله د لشکر جهنګوي د مشر ملک اسحاق له کشر ورو سره کيدله. د تړون له مخې د ملک اسحاق ورو به شهباز شریف ته کښېنې او پر ده به وژونکې حمله هم نه کوي. ددې په ځواب کې به، که چرته هيڅ يوه عدالت هم ملک اسحاق ته سزا ورنه کړه نو مسلم ليګ ن به يې له بنده خلاصوي او دده ملګرو ته به نوکرياني ورکوي. نن رشته دا ده چې ملک اسحاق په رحيم يار خان کې په خپل کور کې دی او دا مې اوريدلي دي چې هلته تعينات پوليس افسرانو ته حکم ورکړل شوی دی چې د ملک اسحاق هره خبره و مني. بله فيصله، په دوه زره ديارلسم کال کې په کېدونکو انتخاباتو کې د دواړو ترمينځ د انتخابي اتحاد شوې ده. لشکر جهنګوي چې د اهل سنت و الجماعت په نوم رجسټر ده، درې يا څلور سيټونه له جنوبي پنجاب ورکول کيږ ي او په بدله کې به دوی په جنوبي او مرکزي پنجاب کې د مسلم ليګ ن حمايت کوي.) په امريکا کې میشت څيړونکی او ليکوال ډاکټر محمد تقي بيا د مسلم ليګ ن او لشکرجهنګوي ترمينځ پراخېدونکي تعلق ته سياسي او فکري اتحاد وايي. دده په خبره کله چې جنرال مشرف په ۱۹۹۹م کال کې د نواز شريف حکومت ختم کړ او د هغه کورنۍ په سعودي عرب کې ميشته شوه نو د ډاکټر تقي په خبره، هلته د نواز شريف پر سوچ وهابي فکر غلبه شو. د نوموړي په خبره له جدې څخه د ستنيدو وروسته د ميا نواز شريف بريلوي اندز فکر بدل شوی دی. د ده په خبره دواړه وروڼو به پخوا په داتا دربار کې حاضري ورکوله خو اوس داسې ډير کم ليدل شوي. ډاکټر تقي دا هم وايې چې ميا برداران د لشکر جهنګوي له مشر ملک اسحاق سره په سعودي عرب کې ليده کاته هم شوی وو. دده په خبره داسې رپورټونه هم ورکړل شوي چې د شهباز شريف په مشري کې پنجاب حکومت ملک اسحاق ته هر مياشت وظیفه هم ورکوي خو البته د پنجاب د قانون وزير ويلي چې دا کار دوی د عدالت په حکم کوي. خو د مسلم ليګ ن د اطلاعاتو مرکزي سيکټري صديق الفاروق پر ځای د دې چې د لشکر جهنګوي او د دوی د ګوند د تعلق په اړه د مشال ريډيو د پوښتل شوې پوښتنی ځواب ووايي نوموړي برعکس دا تور ولګولی چې مخالفين په تيره بيا پيپلز پارټۍ پر دوی بې ځايه الزامونه لګوي. ( تر ټولو له مخه مسلم ليګ ن او نوازشريف د ترهګری پر ضد قانون جوړ کړی، د دهشت ګردي خلاف عدالتونه يې جوړ کړل او هم دغو عدالتونو ترهګرو ته سزاګاني واورولې. خپله نواز شريف چې کله کور ته په لاره وو نو دهشت ګردانو په لار کې جوړ پل والوزولی او د نواز شريف ژوند خدای پاک بچ کړی. زموږ مخالفين په تیره بيا پيپلز پارټی، نړی په خصوصي توګه يورپ ته خپل ځان غير جانبداره او تش په نامه سيکولر ښکاره کولو په خاطر په مسلم ليګ ن الزامونه لګوي.) که څه هم مسلم ليګ ن له لشکر جهنګوي سره په ښکاره له تعلق انکار کوي خو په پاکستان کې زياتره کارپوهان او څيړونکي د ثبوتونو پر بنياد د دوی تعلق ثابتوي.

NATO in Talks on Scale of Afghan Role After 2014 Deadline

NATO defense ministers meeting here on Friday said they made progress toward planning a military assistance mission in Afghanistan after the alliance’s combat role expires at the end of 2014, with some partner nations already offering to participate. A draft proposal discussed here for possible NATO operations in Afghanistan after 2014 envisions a force of up to 9,500 American troops and up to 6,000 more from other coalition nations, according to alliance officials, who stressed that no final decisions have been made. Other NATO officials said the combined American and allied force would be smaller, falling in a range of 8,000 to 12,000 troops. George Little, the Pentagon spokesman, said reports that the United States told its allies it was considering 8,000 to 12,000 of its own troops were wrong. “A range of 8-12,000 troops was discussed as the possible size of the overall NATO mission, not the U.S. contribution,” Mr. Little said. “The president is still reviewing options and has not made a decision about the size of a possible U.S. presence after 2014.” In official comments, NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the session included serious discussion on “preparing a new and different NATO-led mission after 2014 to train, advise and assist Afghan Security Forces.” Mr. Rasmussen added that “many partners have already offered to join us and are working with us to plan the new mission,” but he provided no details. Officials stressed that troop numbers remain for planning only, and that any enduring NATO military presence in Afghanistan would be possible only through successful negotiations with the Afghan government and contributor nations. That military presence would focus on supporting and training Afghan Army and national police forces, as well as on a narrower counterterrorism mission specifically hunting for high-value adversary leaders. Officials said the draft plans also called for coalition troops to provide “robust force protection” of their personnel. The draft concept of operations was described by several NATO officials on standard diplomatic rules of anonymity that prohibit identifying them by name or nationality. But, speaking in broad terms, Mr. Rasmussen made note that a number of nations in the coalition already had pledged to participate in the post-2014 mission. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, attending his final NATO session before retiring from public service, said that he and other defense ministers “did discuss a range of options.” He said no firm or final numbers existed for the American or coalition contributions, but that the alliance was firm in its commitment to Afghanistan’s long-term stability. The draft concept for post-2014 Afghanistan envisions a presence of foreign forces operating out of a central headquarters in Kabul but linked to training bases in four sections of the country in a hub-and-spokes design. Conventional troops acting as advisers would not be present at the division, brigade or battalion level, but would mentor Afghan security forces at the level of the corps headquarters. Mentoring of Afghan troops at the level of smaller, tactical units in the field would be carried out by Special Operations forces, according to current planning concepts. The United States currently has about 66,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan. NATO and other coalition nations have about 37,000 troops. President Obama has announced that 34,000 United States troops will be removed by February 2014.

The rise of Pakistan's militants

Pakistan is gearing up for parliamentary elections, which are expected within months. However, experts say that Islamist militants could try to create panic and chaos in the country by launching fresh terrorist attacks. Many in Pakistan and in the West doubt whether the incumbent Pakistan People's Party's government will be able to hold general elections in a safe and peaceful environment. That militant Islamist groups are capable of creating havoc in the country is evident from the bomb blast in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta (16.02.13) which killed at least 81 people and wounded more than 200. The target of the attack was the Shiite minority belonging to the ethnic Hazara community. The anti-Shiite militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Islamist terrorism has plagued Pakistan's progress for nearly a decade. However, Islamist violence has intensified and increased sharply in the past few years in the country. Terrorist attacks have been mostly perpetrated by the Pakistani Taliban on civilians and security forces but there has also been an increase in targeted killings of political and human rights activists, particularly in the southern port city of Karachi. Terrorism has badly affected the economy of Pakistan, which heavily relies on the World Bank and the IMF assistance.The West has often accused the Pakistani military and intelligence service the ISI of covertly backing al Qaeda and the Taliban so that it can use them as a bargaining chip while dealing with Kabul and Washington. Pakistan denies these allegations. Wide range of targets Taliban militants wreaked havoc on the country throughout 2012 as they targeted civilians and attacked sensitive military installations. In August, militants armed with guns and rocket launchers attacked an air base in the town of Kamra in the Punjab province. The large base is home to several squadrons of fighter and surveillance planes, which air force officials said had not been damaged in the attack. The Taliban indiscriminately killed innocent civilians in markets and places of worship, targeted international and national human rights and charity workers, journalists, and religious and sectarian minorities. The Taliban shooting of teenage activist Malala Yousafzai in northwestern Swat valley shocked the entire world. Most Pakistanis also condemned the attack on Malala, who is recuperating in the UK. The year 2012 was one of the deadliest for Pakistan's Shiites. Human rights groups estimate that more than 300 Shiites have been killed in Pakistan this year so far in sectarian conflict. In August, several gunmen dressed as Pakistani security officials stopped a bus traveling from Rawalpindi to the northwestern Gilgit region and dragged the passengers off the bus. The gunmen asked the passengers to show their identity cards and then shot 22 Shiites at point blank range.It was the third such incident in six months. Pakistani experts say that although Shiite Muslims are also murdered in other parts of Pakistan, those living in the northwestern Gilgit-Baltistan region, a predominantly Shiite area, face systematic attacks by the Taliban and other militant groups. Some experts have even gone so far as calling it a "sectarian cleansing" of Shiites. Fighting a losing battle? Many in Pakistan think that the country has already lost the war against the Taliban. Experts say that the Islamist militants are not only creating havoc in the country by attacking civilians, but that they are also powerful enough to target sensitive military installations and liberal politicians. Five years ago, the Taliban allegedly assassinated the country's most liberal politician and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi. Since then, the Islamists have killed a number of high-profile politicians, most of whom belong to the ruling PPP and the Awami National Party. Experts like Malik Siraj Akbar, who is based in the US, are critical of Pakistan's response to the Taliban and the menace of terrorism. Akbar told DW in an interview that the main reason liberal Pakistani parties faced a dilemma was that Pakistan had not officially owned the war on terror. "Pakistan is not ideologically convinced that it is its war." For this reason, counter-extremism and counter-terrorism experts in Pakistan say liberal parties have not been able to get the masses behind them in the fight against terror.

President Zardari directs to bring the perpetrators of Quetta blast to justice

Radio Pak
President Asif Ali Zardari has directed that all efforts be made to bring the perpetrators of Quetta blast to justice. He was talking to Interior Minister Senator Rehman Malik who called on him in Islamabad today (Friday) Law and order situation with special reference to the investigations into the Quetta blast was discussed during the meeting. The Minister briefed the President about the progress made so far into the investigations.

President Zardari due in Iran to finalize gas deal

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will visit Iran to finalize a deal on a multi-billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project. Speaking to reporters in Islamabad, Asim Hussain, an advisor to the Pakistani prime minister on petroleum and natural resources, said Zardari would pay a visit to Tehran in the near future to hold talks with Iranian officials over the gas pipeline project. The Pakistani official also stated that the project would inaugurate on due time, which is December 2014. Zardari will focus on the construction of the Pakistan section of the gas pipeline, Hussain added. On February 20, an Iranian-Pakistani consortium started the construction of the Pakistani section of the pipeline, which would carry Iran’s natural gas to its eastern neighbor. An informed source at Iran’s embassy in Islamabad has also confirmed the Pakistani president’s visit to Iran. The exact date of the visit has not been mentioned. The pipeline stretches from the border between the two countries to Navabshah region in Pakistan, and covers 781 kilometers of its total length of 1,881 kilometers. Meanwhile, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Moazzam A. Khan said on Thursday that the IP project would be a main solution to Pakistan’s energy shortage. The United States objects to the joint project, but Pakistan has constantly dismissed rumors that it might pull out of the project amid efforts by the United States to convince the country to abandon the pipeline. The Wall Street Journal said in a report that the United States had threatened Pakistan with stringent sanctions if it goes through the project. “Washington has made it clear that it will impose economic sanctions on Islamabad if it begins to buy gas from Iran. Besides, the UN mandated sanctions on any trade with the oil-rich country,” the Journal said. The pipeline, projected to cost about USD 1.2-1.5 billion, would enable the export of 21.5 million cubic meters of Iran’s natural gas to Pakistan on a daily basis. Iran has already built more than 900 kilometers of the pipeline on its soil.

Pakistan arrests head of sectarian group

Malik Ishaq, leader of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) group, has been arrested by authorities in central Pakistan. Ishaq surrendered on Friday in front of media in his home in the city of Rahim Yar Khan. Ishaq's surrender comes less than a week after the armed pro-Sunni group, banned since 2001, claimed responsibility for a market bombing that killed more than 80 Shia Muslims in Balochistan province. Ashfaq Gujar, a senior police officer, said Ishaq, arrested on government orders, has been sent to a high-security jail as he has been detained for one month under pre-emptive law. Ishaq and his associates have been investigated in the past. Ishaq himself was imprisoned for 14 years on charges, never proven, of killing Shias. He was released in July 2011. Ishaq was briefly detained last year following attacks against Shias. LeJ has targeted the Hazara ethnic minority in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, for several years now.