Thursday, May 1, 2014
http://www.state.gov/In 2013, Pakistan continued to confront terrorist groups, including al-Qa’ida (AQ), Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Punjabi Taliban, and Lashkar I Jhangvi (LJ), all of whom mounted attacks against police, military and security forces, or engaged in sectarian violence and criminal activities against all sectors of society. Pakistan did not confront Lashkare-Tayyiba, however, who continued to operate, rally, and fundraise in Pakistan with its front organizations. In 2013, terrorists used remote-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in bicycles, motorcycles, parked cars, rickshaws, donkey carts, and alongside roads, used vehicle-borne IEDs, suicide bombers (including females), targeted assassinations, rocket-propelled grenades, and other armed combat tactics in attacks on mosques, churches, markets, journalists, aid workers, government institutions and officials. AQ and HQN continued to plot against U.S. interests in the region, including U.S. diplomatic facilities. TTP posed a threat to both U.S. and Pakistani interests, and carried out numerous attacks against Pakistani armed forces, Pakistani civilians, and government institutions. The May 2013 national elections brought in new civilian leadership, which was reviewing a new counterterrorism strategy at year’s end. In the pre-election period, some terrorist groups forged alliances with certain political parties, including religiously-based political parties. Some violent extremists conducted election-related terrorist attacks against political parties, candidates, and government officials. Pakistan’s government has pursued negotiations with TTP while also targeting the group militarily. Pakistan continued to support the Afghan peace process. Karachi continued to suffer from political and ethnic violence inflicted by different groups, including militant organizations, fundamentalist religious groups, and the militant wings of political parties. Some militant groups worked to assert control over political parties and criminal gangs operating in the city and surrounding areas of southern Sindh. The security situation in Karachi was a priority concern for Pakistan’s president, prime minister, parliament, Supreme Court, and the military and law enforcement agencies. 2013 Terrorist Incidents: During 2013, terrorist groups targeted the Pakistani government and military, engaged in sectarian violence, and perpetrated attacks against civilians. Terrorists organized armed assaults on police stations, judicial centers, border check posts, military convoys, and polio vaccination teams. Terrorists plotted against and attacked judges, prosecutors, police officers, defense lawyers, anti-TTP peace committee members, intelligence officers, and elected officials. In the months leading up to the May national elections, terrorists attacked and killed political party workers and candidates, bombed political rallies, and, after the elections, killed newly elected and appointed officials. Terrorists mounted an armed attack on a Pakistan military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) office in Sukkur, and days later stormed a major prison, releasing several dozen imprisoned high-profile terrorists. In separate incidents, terrorists assassinated a high-ranking Army general in the tribal areas, the Karachi Chief of Police, and the president’s chief of security. Terrorists targeted Shia and other religious minorities in all areas of Pakistan, especially in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Balochistan. Terrorists killed an international team of mountain climbers, including one U.S. citizen, on Pakistan’s famed Nanga Parbat Mountain. As of mid-December, over 1,025 civilians and more than 475 security forces personnel had been killed in terrorist-related incidents in Pakistan during the year. The presence of AQ, TTP, and other militant groups continues to pose a threat to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan. The TTP claimed responsibility for the majority of the frequent attacks that targeted civilians and security personnel. Terrorist incidents occurred in every province. Representative incidents include: On January 10, a string of bombings in Quetta killed over 105 people and injured an estimated 169 more. In one attack, there were two explosions 10 minutes apart, with most fatalities occurring when police and media responded to the first bombing. The banned Sunni group, LJ, claimed responsibility for the twin attack, which took place in a predominantly Shia neighborhood. On the same day, a bomb exploded under a military vehicle at a busy market area, killing 12 and injuring 47 people. A Baloch nationalist group claimed responsibility. On June 15, 25 people died in a sectarian-related coordinated attack on a women’s college in Quetta along with the medical complex where victims were subsequently taken for treatment. The attack was notable for its use of a female suicide bomber, the first such occurrence in Balochistan. Later the same day, terrorists attacked and torched the historical landmark Ziarat residence 75 miles east of Quetta. On June 23, terrorists wearing paramilitary uniforms attacked a mountaineering base camp on Nanga Parbat in Gilgit-Baltistan and killed 10 foreign climbers, including one U.S. citizen. Three security officials sent to investigate the murders were also killed by terrorists. On July 10, a terrorist suicide bomber attacked the convoy of the chief of the presidential security detail in Karachi, killing the chief of security for President Zardari and two others. On July 24, suicide bombers and armed militants attacked the regional office of the ISI in a high security zone in Sukkur. Three ISI officials, and 10 Sindh police and Rangers personnel were killed, and 50 other people were injured during the ensuing battle. On July 29, terrorists stormed the Central Prison at Dera Ismail Khan in KP, forcing the release of imprisoned high-value terrorists. Twenty-four people died during the attack. On September 22, two suicide bombers attacked an historic Christian church in Peshawar; 119 persons were killed with over 145 others injured. The bombers detonated their vests at the end of a church service. On September 29, 42 people were killed and over 100 injured after a car bomb blast in the crowded Kissa Khawani Bazaar in Peshawar. On October 16, the newly appointed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa law minister and 10 others died after a suicide attacker exploded a bomb at the minister’s residence in Dera Ismail Khan. Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Pakistan enacted additional amendments to the Antiterrorism Act of 1997, and promulgated several new laws to empower the national government to address terrorism with enhanced law enforcement and prosecutorial powers. Pakistan’s government is in the process of implementing four significant laws passed in 2013: the National Counterterrorism Authority Act, the Fair Trial Act, amendments to the Antiterrorism Act of 1997, and the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance of 2013 (PPO). The Pakistan government continued to make use of the reinforced counterterrorism legislation; however, the judiciary moved slowly in processing terrorism and other criminal cases in general. Pakistan took steps in 2013 to address challenges in in interagency cooperation and coordination. In 2013, Pakistan engaged in structural reforms on counterterrorism, designed to centralize coordination and information sharing. The National Counterterrorism Authority (NACTA) was empowered by new legislation in April, but was not fully activated in 2013. NACTA is envisioned as facilitating increased coordination and collection of counterterrorism intelligence among security agencies and provincial police, and providing a vehicle for national policy and strategy formulation for all aspects of counterterrorism. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has nationwide jurisdiction as a civilian agency, and is fully empowered under the PPO to coordinate with provincial and territorial counterterrorism units. Intimidation by terrorists against witnesses, police, victims, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges contribute both to the slow progress of cases in Antiterrorism Courts and a high acquittal rate. Prosecutors often lacked resources needed to conduct successfully prosecutions in the trial phase. Jurisdictional divisions among and between military and civilian security agencies continued to hamper effective investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases. Pakistan promulgated new legislation in 2013 that supports the investigation and prosecution of terrorism offenses. The new enhanced tools provided by the Fair Trial Act of 2012 and the NACTA law are in the process of being implemented by the government. These laws are designed to provide the necessary legal tools to detect, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist activities and organizations to intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors. The PPO augments the Antiterrorism Act of 1997 (as amended) and creates a federally-empowered infrastructure with special federal courts, prosecutors, police stations, and investigation teams for the enforcement of 20 specially delineated categories of offenses. Pakistan’s 2013 amendments to the Antiterrorism Act of 1997 increase protections for witnesses, victims, and judges in terrorism cases, provide for admissibility of electronic evidence in court, and set guidelines for detention and judicial review. Pakistan is implementing biometric collection in national databases and screening at border land crossings with the International Border Management Security (IBMS) system. The National Automated Database Registration Authority (NADRA) maintains a national biometric database of citizens, residents, and diaspora Pakistanis, which is continually subject to upgrades. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Pakistan’s customs and tax authority, continues to maintain currency detection units in Pakistan’s 12 international airports to counter bulk cash smuggling. The FBR has improved information sharing protocols on arrests and seizures. The Antiterrorism Courts in Pakistan have limited procedures for the admission of foreign evidence. Pakistan’s prosecution of seven suspects accused in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack is ongoing, with witnesses recording statements before the court. A Pakistani judicial commission made a second visit to India to obtain evidence and cross-examine four witnesses involved in India’s prosecution of Ajmal Kasab; however, it is unknown what impact India’s execution of Kasab in 2012 might have on the prosecution’s ability to introduce Kasab’s confession in the trial. Pakistani military forces conducted significant counterterrorism operations in the tribal areas, and civilian and other forces conducted operations in Sindh, Balochistan, KP, and Punjab. Some AQ- affiliated terrorist groups were disrupted in Punjab, and some TTP leaders were killed during security operations. Security forces intercepted large stockpiles of weapons and explosives and discovered bomb-making facilities and sophisticated telecommunication networks. Pakistan continued to arrest terrorists and initiate prosecutions throughout 2013. Cooperation with Pakistan’s security establishment on information sharing and law enforcement continued. Law enforcement cooperation continues with respect to terrorist attacks and plots against the embassy and personnel in Islamabad and the U.S. Consulates General and personnel in Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar. Pakistani security services continued to actively investigate individuals and organizations behind the threats to the U.S. Consulate in Lahore and have partnered with the United States for information exchange and enhanced security cooperation. Pakistan continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. ATA training and equipment focused on building capacity to respond to critical terrorism-related incidents – including explosives-related incidents – and to conduct counterterrorism investigations. The ATA program was able to successfully deliver crisis response training in the latter part of 2013. Overall, however, delays in issuance of Pakistani visas to ATA trainers significantly impeded program implementation. Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Pakistan is an active participant in the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In February 2012, FATF identified Pakistan on its public statement because Pakistan failed to address strategic deficiencies in anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance (AML/CFT). In October, the FATF noted Pakistan’s substantial steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, including by issuing a Statutory Regulatory Order that addresses the definition of terrorism and an Antiterrorism Amendment Ordinance to establish procedures for the identification and freezing of terrorist assets. While FATF praised the content of the Antiterrorism Amendment Ordinance, it encouraged Pakistan to take the necessary steps for swift ratification of the ordinance by its legislature. UN-designated terrorist organizations in Pakistan continue to avoid sanctions by reconstituting themselves under different names, often with little effort to hide their connections to previously banned groups. Although Pakistan added some named groups to its proscribed organizations list, there was still concern about the weak implementation of UNSCRs 1267 (1999) and 1988 (2011) and their follow-on resolutions. While Pakistan has taken steps over the past year to implement UNSCR 1267, it still falls short of FATF’s international standards regarding the identification and freezing of terrorist assets under UNSCR 1373 (2001). The government has the ability to freeze assets but cannot confiscate assets unless an individual or entity is convicted of a crime. Pakistan issued a UNSC Enforcement Order of 2012 setting out a range of sanctions for non-compliance in the implementation of UNSCR 1267 but has not yet applied this authority. The FATF has recommended that Pakistan increase the administrative monetary penalty available or legislate for additional criminal sanctions to meet the international standards. Lack of capacity, resource constraints, and effective CFT training for all participants in the criminal justice system are deterrents to an effective government response. Further, delays or denials of visas for U.S. law enforcement and judicial officials seeking to engage in AML/CFT capacity building have furthered hampered efforts in this area. Terrorist groups such as the Haqqani Network continued to raise funds in Pakistan. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm. Regional and International Cooperation: Pakistan actively participated in counterterrorism efforts in both regional and international venues. Pakistan is an active member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and attended GCTF meetings and supported GCTF initiatives. Pakistan is a partner in the UK’s Counterterrorism Prosecution Reform Initiative (CaPRI), and provincial governments contributed to rule of law programs in Malakand and Punjab. Pakistan participated in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meetings on counterterrorism; is a member of Interpol and the Organization of Islamic States (OIC); and participated in multilateral groups where counterterrorism cooperation is discussed, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) (as an observer) and the D-8, a group of developing nations with large Muslim populations. Pakistan participated in UN Security Council meetings on sanctions and counterterrorism, and co-hosted a UN Counter-Terrorism Committee’s Executive Directorate regional workshop for South Asian judges, prosecutors and investigators in Islamabad. Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States held high-level meetings on regional security, including efforts to combat violent extremism in the border region and to promote an Afghan reconciliation process. Pakistan also participated in bilateral meetings with a number of other nations on security cooperation and counterterrorism, including Turkey and the People’s Republic of China. Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: In 2013, Pakistan’s NACTA started consultations with Malaysia, Turkey, and Indonesia on strategies for countering violent extremism Integration of militants into society after peace agreements remained a major priority for the government. Pakistan’s military worked with civil society to operate the Sabaoon Rehabilitation Center, a de-radicalization program for youth in a military camp in Mingora, Swat. Militancy-exposed youth are rehabilitated through a combination of education and counseling. Sabaoon centers claim success in reintegrating militant youth into society, and there are now nine such centers operating in KP and FATA.
The US State Department has said in its annual global terrorism report that Turkey was often used as a transit country in 2013 for foreign fighters seeking to join al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Syria. Released in Washington on Wednesday, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2013,” said: “Largely because of the ongoing conflict in Syria, Turkey has voiced increasing concern about terrorist groups currently near its border. These groups include al-Qa'ida in Iraq/Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] and al-Nusrah Front. Turkey was often used as a transit country for foreign fighters wishing to join these and other groups in Syria.” The report said that terrorist violence in 2013 was fueled by sectarian motivations, marking a worrisome trend, in particular in Syria, Lebanon and Pakistan, where victims of violence were primarily among civilian populations. Thousands of extremist fighters entered Syria during the year. Among them, a large percentage were reportedly motivated by a sectarian view of the conflict and a desire to protect the Sunni Muslim community from the Alawite-dominated regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime. The State Department report underlined that the key terrorism trend in 2013 developed in Syria, which continues to be a major battleground for terrorism on both sides of the conflict and remains a key area of longer-term concern. It said thousands of foreign fighters traveled to Syria to join the fight against the Assad regime -- with some joining violent extremist groups -- while Iran, Hezbollah and other Shiite militias provided a broad range of critical support to the regime. The report added that some of the thousands of fighters from around the world who are traveling to Syria to do battle against the Assad regime -- particularly from the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Eastern and Western Europe -- are joining violent extremist groups, including the al-Nusra Front and ISIL. A number of key partner governments are becoming increasingly concerned that individuals with violent extremist ties and battlefield experience will return to their home countries or elsewhere to commit acts of terrorism, it said, adding that the scale of this problem has raised concerns about the creation of a new generation of globally committed terrorists, similar to what resulted from the influx of violent extremists to Afghanistan in the 1980s. A major challenge to Europe, the report highlighted, was the increasing travel of European citizens -- mostly young men -- to and from Syria seeking to join forces opposing the Assad regime. The report argued that these “foreign fighters” sparked increasing concerns, and actions to address them, by European countries worried about the growing number of their citizens traveling to battlefields and possibly returning radicalized. In 2013, the report said, Turkey continued to face significant internal terrorist threats and has taken strong action in response. Increased activity by the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), a terrorist Marxist-Leninist group with anti-US and anti-NATO views that seeks the violent overthrow of the Turkish state, threatened the security of both US and Turkish interests. A number of attacks occurred, including a suicide bombing of the US Embassy in February 2013 that killed the bomber and a Turkish guard and injured a visiting Turkish journalist. In its annual global terrorism report the State Department describes as prominent among terrorist groups in Turkey the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). According to the report, the PKK has spoken more often about autonomy within a Turkish state that guarantees Kurdish cultural and linguistic rights. Following three decades of conflict with the PKK terrorist organization, the government and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan began talks in late 2012 for a peace process. The PKK called for a cease-fire in March, which both sides largely observed, apart from small-scale PKK attacks in late 2013. The report pointed out that approximately 20 terrorist attacks occurred in Turkey in 2013. It said the ones that garnered the most attention were: Feb. 1, a DHKP/C suicide attack against the US Embassy in Ankara; Feb. 11, a car bomb at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Turkey and Syria that killed 13 people; March 19, a DHKP/C-coordinated hand grenade attacks on the Ministry of Justice and on the headquarters of the ruling party; May 11, a twin car bombings in Reyhanlı that killed at least 53 people -- the deadliest terrorist attack in Turkey's modern history -- and Sept. 20, a DHKP/C attack at the National Police Department headquarters and police guesthouse with light anti-tank weapons (LAWs). According to the report, the State Department continued to provide counterterrorism assistance to the Turkish national police that focused on institutionalizing advanced skills into Turkey's law enforcement infrastructure and included training in terrorist interdiction and crisis management. It said Turkey increased its cooperation with European countries regarding the status of members of the DHKP/C and also worked closely with European, North African and Middle Eastern countries to prohibit the travel of potential foreign fighters planning to pass through Turkey to Syria, although it remains a transit route for these fighters.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is scared of workers, Turkey’s main opposition leader has said, condemning the police crackdown on protesters wanting to celebrate May Day at Taksim Square. “The government is scared of the worker. I condemn this unfair intervention that is made on May Day, Labor Day,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said. His comments came as police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber pellets to prevent thousands of people, some armed with Molotov Cocktails and stones, from defying the authorities’ ban on May Day rallies in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square. In a message released on April 30, Kılıçdaroğlu had stated that people should be able to hold May Day rallies wherever they wanted. “Whatever you call it, May 1 is an official holiday and celebrating this holiday wherever one wants and however one wants, without giving harm to anybody’s life or property, is the most natural right for all,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in his written message released on the occasion of May Day. Committing violations of rights had become now a “habit” for the government, the CHP leader added. “The government is primarily targeting the press deliberately, as well as organized society and the organized struggle,” he said. Taksim Square has a symbolic meaning for Turkey’s labor movement. On May 1, 1977, also known as the “Labor Day Massacre,” 34 people were killed in clashes, after which the square was not allowed to be used as a site for Labor Day demonstrations. However, the government declared May 1 to be an official holiday in 2009; and in 2010, for the first time in 32 years, thousands of people marched to Taksim Square and demonstrated. No major incidents occurred during the demonstrations in 2010, 2011 and 2012. But this was not the case in 2013, when access to Taksim Square was blocked by the authorities, citing construction ongoing at the site, which officials said might be dangerous for demonstrators.
May Day marches in Kiev and Moscow focus on the bitter conflict between the two governments.
Sharif family got relief in payment of huge amount of interest over Rs. 3.25 billion loans they borrowed from banks. According to media reports, Sharif family had borrowed Rs. 3.11 billion overall loans from eight banks in a period of 16 years from 1982 to 1998. The loans borrowed from the banks included National Bank, which issued Rs.1.5 billion loan to the family, sources said. Sharif family handed over their four factories to the banks against their loans and later got stay orders against selling of these factories from courts. According to sources, the stay orders were lapsed this year in February. Sharifs settled the issue with banks before the sale of these factories. They paid only principal amount of the bank loans outstanding against them and got written off around six billion rupees interest of loans piled up through past 16 years, sources added.
The use of tear gas and water cannon against peaceful protesters today by police in Istanbul is a reprehensible move to crack down on free expression and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said. Riot police sealed off the whole of central Istanbul near Taksim Square to ensure that no protesters made it to a peaceful demonstration planned there to mark May Day. “A peaceful march this morning was cut off by a human wall of riot police blocking the main access road from ªiºli into Taksim Square, the epicentre of last year’s Gezi Park protests,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey expert, who witnessed the events first-hand. “In a repeat of the abusive tactics that have sadly become the Turkish authorities’ stock response to peaceful protests, tear gas and water cannon were fired to disperse the crowd assembled there. “Police sealed off the entire area, with one riot police officer on the roadblock remarking: ‘No people, no problems’. The Istanbul Governor had justified the ban on the grounds that it would disrupt traffic and tourism – then sealed off the area to everyone. What should have been a lively peaceful protest in the square has been denied – one more nail in the coffin of freedom of expression and assembly in Turkey.” After several years of peaceful large-scale May Day celebrations in Taksim taking place with the approval of the Turkish authorities, in 2013 they refused to allow demonstrations to take place and police prevented and dispersed peaceful protesters with abusive force. This year, a reported 39,000 police officers and 50 water cannon trucks were drafted in as the authorities refused to allow demonstrations to take place. With scant warning, police today used tear gas and water cannon against a crowd of several thousand people peacefully assembled close to the DÝSK union confederation building in the ªiºli district. The scene was a carbon copy of the abusive force against trade unionists in 2008, found by the European Court of Human rights to violate their right to peaceful protest in the case of Disk and Kesk vs. Turkey. On occasions when the authorities have allowed May Day rallies to take place in Taksim Square, they have passed peacefully and without injuries or damage to property. On occasions where the authorities have refused permission for Taksim May Day rallies to take place, they have resulted in the use of abusive force by police against demonstrators, injuries and major disruption across the city. This year has proved to be no different.
Turkey has been relegated from the league of “Partly Free” countries to the league of “Not Free” countries, according to the latest report from U.S. think tank Freedom House. The report, titled “Freedom of the Press 2014,” concludes that global press freedom fell to its lowest level in over a decade in 2013, as hopes raised by the Arab Spring were further dashed by major regression in Egypt, Libya, and Jordan, and marked setbacks also occurred in Turkey, Ukraine, and a number of countries in East Africa. Citing the desire of governments, especially authoritarian ones, to control news content as the main reason for the regression, the report suggested that there were positive developments in a number of countries, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa but that the dominant trends were reflected in setbacks in a range of settings. Turkey, which was 117th in last year’s report, fell to 134th place. Libya, South Sudan, Ukraine, and Zambia also saw their statuses downgraded for 2013, while significant declines occurred in the Central African Republic, Egypt, Greece, Jordan, Kenya, Montenegro, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. “The region’s [Europe] largest numerical change occurred in Turkey, which declined from 56 to 62 points and moved from Partly Free to Not Free. Constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press and expression are only partially upheld in practice, undermined by restrictive provisions in the criminal code and the Anti-Terrorism Act. Turkey remained the world’s leading jailer of journalists in 2013, with 40 behind bars as of Dec. 1, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists,” the report said. Freedom House stressed that journalists were harassed while covering the Gezi Park protests and dozens were fired or forced to resign due to their coverage of sensitive issues like negotiations between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). “The firings highlighted the close relationship between the government and many media owners, and the formal and informal pressure that this places on journalists,” the report added.
Riot police in Turkey have used tear gas and water cannon to prevent demonstrators defying a ban on protests on Istanbul's central Taksim Square. The Anatolia news agency said several demonstrators were injured and at least five detained. Intensive security measures were in place, and roads and streets near Taksim Square closed to traffic from the early morning. Turkish media said some 40,000 police would be deployed in the city on 1 May. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier warned people they should "give up hopes" of gathering on Taksim Square - a focus of anti-government protests. But a joint statement from the main trades unions on Wednesday said: "We will be in Taksim despite the irrational and illegal ban. All roads will lead to Taksim on May Day". Mr Erdogan's party won local elections in March. That was the first vote since mass protests last June, and was seen as a barometer of his popularity. The prime minister has been eyeing a run for the presidency in August - the first time voters will directly elect the head of state - or may seek to change the rules to allow him to seek a fourth term in office.
http://www.rferl.org/Tens of thousands of people took part in a May Day parade through the center of Russia's capital, Moscow, on May 1.
http://dunyanews.tv/Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari retweeted a Twitter post – indicating Ittefaq Foundry’s 40 million debt in terms of electricity payments – with his comments asking “where is Abid Sher Ali?”, Dunya News reported. Posting on the occasion of Youm-e-Shuhada, he tweeted: “Our martyrs can no longer speak. Let us pledge to be their voice. we must not let their sacrifice be in vain, 1/3 #YoumeShuhada" “we will not surrender the country they died defending to the animals who killed them. 2/3 #YoumeShuhada" second part of the tweet said. He concluded the message in third part of his tweet vowing that martyrs will always have a voice as long as he is alive. “As long as SMBBs son lives they shall have a voice. 3/3 #YoumeShuhada" Earlier, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari alleged on Tuesday that people of Sindh are being targeted through loadshedding and power cuts because they voted for the ‘party of martyrs’. In his Twitter post, Bilawal said that people of Sindh are being victimized through loadshedding and power cuts by Federal Ministry for Water and Power. “PPP won’t tolerate victimization of the people of Sindh province for voting the party of martyrs.” the tweet reads.
Pakistan: Opposition leader calls for removal of Abid Sher, for calling legislators power ‘thieves’.
http://mediacellppp.wordpress.com/Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah said that the opposition would submit a privilege motion in parliament against the Minister of State for Water and Power, Abid Sher Ali, for calling legislators power ‘thieves’. Talking to newsmen at the parliament house, he urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to immediately remove the minister from the cabinet. He also expressed the fear that Defence Minister Khawaja Asif could be removed from office under ‘pressure’ of his subordinate department. He said the removal of the minister at the behest of an “institution working under him” would have serious consequences. He urged the PML-N to induct someone else in the federal cabinet, if necessary, and the defence ministry’s portfolio could be given to him. “Khawaja Asif is holding defence and water and power ministries, therefore, one of them could be given to some other cabinet member,” he said. Mr Shah said some elements had been trying to widen the breach between the media and the army by holding demonstrations separately in support of both of them. “The government has to bear the cost of this confrontation.” Mr Shah said similar rallies were staged in the past to derail democracy. He expressed the hope that the army and the media would foil the designs of anti-state elements. The opposition leader called upon PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Allama Tahirul Qadri to give up their plan to launch a movement against the government because it could harm democracy. When asked that the PPP was being accused of doing “friendly opposition”, Mr Shah said his party was supporting the PML-N only for the sake of democracy. In reply to a question about talks between the government and the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, he said the government appeared to be indecisive on the issue. Khursheed Shah urged the government to take the opposition into confidence on foreign policy and not to roll back the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project.
Seminaries operating inside the capital are reportedly assisting Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with the collection of extortion and ransom money by arranging deals between militants and their victims, sources in civil and military intelligence agencies said.In addition, the seminaries are also providing courier services to the TTP by arranging for the money to be transported to pre-determined locations easily accessible for TTP personnel, sources said. Intelligence officials said that an analysis of the calls made in cases of extortion and ransom demands revealed that most of them came from Miranshah in North Waziristan. Officials cited the case of retired Lt-Gen Dr Mehmoodul Hasan, who in 2013 received a call from a man named Latif, who introduced him as the second-in--command to Hakimullah Mehsud and demanded Rs50 million in extortion money. Following the demand, an administrator from an Islamabad-based seminary acted as the mediator and finalised their deal at Rs10 million. The man also sent two persons to collect the money from Lt-Gen Hasan. “Then, nearly a month ago, a man named Ashfaq called Lt-Gen Hasan again, demanding a further Rs50 million within 10 days,” the officials said, adding that this was followed by another call from someone who identified himself as a leader of the Taliban and asked the general to ensure they got their money within 72 hours. “The same man who brokered the first agreement was used to negotiate the price,” the officials said. Moreover, two industrialists from Faizabad and a politician have been receiving calls for extortion since a year, the officials said, adding that they refused to pay the amount and also denied meetings with those who approached them for finalising the deal. In response, the miscreants affiliated with Qari Sanaullah, allies of Qari Mansoor affiliated with TTP based in Miranshah, are planning to target them, they added. The officials said that the role of the religious seminaries in collecting extortion for the TTP was established and action against them has been suggested. “It was decided to mount intelligence and vigilance around the victims and the religious seminaries which would help trace and arrest those who are behind the extortions.” The vigilance will spot them whenever they contact the victims for finalising the deal, they added. The officials further stated that the groups of TTP, involved in generating funds through extortion and kidnapping for ransom, also stay at the seminaries and get assistance from there. The officials said that intelligence reports also revealed that the extortion and ransom money remained in the seminaries before being transported to other locations by the groups’ members. Moreover, some victims of kidnapping for ransom were also detained there before being taken to the tribal areas, they added. Earlier, the role of religious seminaries to assist the TTP in conducting terrorism in the twin cities was unearthed last month. The report, prepared jointly by the special branches of Islamabad and Rawalpindi police, suggested that TTP got full support from religious seminaries and worship places of the likeminded Deobandi school of thought. The report also identified 20 seminaries, all located in Rawalpindi, which were used by Taliban for terrorist attacks in the city. They are located at Cantonment, Tench Bhatta, Girja Road, Westridge, Dhamyal Camp, Saddar, Ittehad Colony Khayaban-i-Sir Syed, Kashmir Bazaar, Pindora, Sadiqabad, Pirwadhai, Chaklala, and Dhoke Hassu.
It is not unusual for universities to award financial aid to deserving students who cannot afford the high fees demanded by seats of higher learning. But when a varsity awards an exemption – meant for the underprivileged – to the children of a key government official, eyebrows are bound to be raised. According to documents available with Dawn, the management of the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) halved the fees of two sisters in contravention of all stated rules. Both students are daughters of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi. Violating their own rules IIUI Director Academics Shagufta Haroon briefed Dawn on the process adopted to select students for the award of financial assistance, saying that every student has to fulfill the requirements before they can be considered. As per a notification dated June 3, 2008 and signed by Haroon herself, students are required to apply for financial assistance via a detailed form. According to the notification, only the “most deserving and needy students can apply for fee concession in the second semester on the basis of Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA)”. The form, a copy of which is available with Dawn, asks students to provide minute details of their family background, assets, sources of income, employment and household expenses, among other details. But no such form is available on file at IIUI in the case of the two sisters. In contravention of existing rules, on March 7, 2013, Haroon herself marked for approval an application submitted by one of the students in question, asking for a fee relaxation on the basis of merit. The application was addressed to the university’s vice president of academics. Sahibzada Sajidur Rehman – who occupied the post at the time – immediately approved the request and a notification was issued the same day, announcing a fee exemption of 50 per cent for both sisters. The basis for the exemption, according to the notification, was that “both the sisters have (a) good academic record”. The elder sister, who was pursuing a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), had a perfect CGPA of 4.00, while the younger sibling – a student in the Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) programme, had a respectable CGPA of 3.5. Following the fee waiver, the semester fee for the MBA student was reduced from Rs 65,200 to Rs32,700, while the BBA student’s fees came down from Rs68,400 to Rs37,800. There are a total of seven semesters in the MBA programme and eight semesters in the BBA programme. But when asked about the case of the two sisters, Haroon told Dawn: “I don’t know if any student has been awarded financial assistance without following the due process.” An IIUI official told Dawn that there were several other students with excellent academic records, who had never been considered for financial assistance, because they did not meet the criteria for deserving students. This particular exemption also contravenes the rules for award of scholarship set down in the minutes of the 47th meeting of the university’s academic council, which stipulates that a faculty’s scholarship committee must consider the cases of deserving and needy students and submit their recommendations to the university president. This case, however, was never put before any such committee. A source inside IIUI told Dawn, “Interviews are held to select the most deserving students out of the several who apply for assistance each semester. Since we can only give fee exemptions to 10 per cent of the students in each faculty, the screening process is quite stringent. After interviews, a consolidated list from all faculties is sent to the management for approval. Most other applicants for the exemption were either orphans or the children of non-gazetted employees, who earn less than Rs30,000 per month.” In addition, IIUI Director General Administration Gulzar A. Khawaja told Dawn it is not university policy to award scholarships on the basis of outstanding academic performance. Varsity rules also back up his claim and in the minutes of the 47th meeting of the university’s academic council, it is clearly stated that “Fee waiver shall be granted to most deserving and needy students … on the basis of having secured a minimum GPA of 3.00 out of a total of 4.00”. In the June 3 notification, Haroon notes that the director for academics asked that this requirement of a minimum grade also be removed and deserving students be awarded scholarships even if they could obtain minimum passing marks. In June 2013, the court of the chief justice issued an order staying Rehman’s removal from the position of VP Academics, which remained in force until his retirement, three months later. When approached, former IIUI VP Academics Sajidur Rehman told Dawn: “Justice Kasi has never asked me to extend fee exemption to his daughters. I have approved financial assistance for many students but always insured that all the necessary requirements are fulfilled and that assistance is extended on the basis of merit.” IHC Assistant Registrar Shafeequr Rehman, who deals with the press on behalf of the court, said that he was not authorised to comment on the issue and only the court registrar could speak on the chief justice’s behalf. IHC Registrar Meeran Jan Kakar could not be reached for comment, despite repeated attempts.