Tuesday, August 9, 2016

#LahoreKidnappings - Abductions And Abstractions

Yet another boy was abducted in Lahore on Saturday and a failed kidnapping on Sunday led to the arrest of two suspects. The high frequency of these incidents tells us that this problem is far from imagined. Kidnapping remains rampant, and the police have, so far, been unable to unravel the motives or any possible connections, and have not even been able to figure out whether they are related, or just isolated incidents of abduction.

The issue is compounded and finding rising resentment by the perceived general apathy and disinterest of the police and the state, and nothing represents this more acutely than the statement of the Inspector General of Punjab Police, Mushtaq Sukhera, who implied that the issue is not as serious as is being portrayed, because many children are “runaways”.
The IGP is a man one would assume to be well informed, but undermining the parenting capabilities of the parents of over 600 missing is not an appropriate response to deliver to their parents – or to the country watching what steps Punjab takes to find its children. The IG in taking responsibility would not be admitting policing failure, but would be taking on the burden of service that the public is expecting him to shoulder in their time of grief and anger.
No one is asking the police or the government to keep an eye on each and every child running through the streets, but the matter is one to treat with a greater sense of urgency than has been demonstrated, while being sensitive to the emotions of the parents that have missing children. Nothing more is expected at this point, but even asking for this seems excessive, when you look at the numbers cited by AIG Shahzada Sultan; in 2015, 1134 children were supposedly abducted (the actual number may be much higher), out of which 1093 were supposedly recovered. Will it take 400 more children to be abducted this year before we see action?

Pakistan’s policy of “good” and “bad” militants?”

Militant commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen Syed Salahuddin reportedly “asked” Pakistan to assist Kashmiris in an armed struggle against Indian forces if a peaceful solution to the problem was not possible. He was speaking during a press conference at the Jamaat-e-Islami headquarters, Idara Noor-e-Haq. Salahuddin, who is also the head of Mutahhida Jihad Council, said that the killing of Burhan Wani gave a new meaning to the struggle in the India-held Kashmir. He urged Pakistan government to cut off diplomatic ties with India, and that Pakistan should be ready for a fourth war against its neighbour. Furthermore, he said that Pakistan was morally bound to help Kashmiris in this struggle.
These audacious statements from the Hizbul Mujahideen chief come amid unrest in the Indian-held Kashmir, following the killing of Wani. So far 68 people have reportedly died during protests while thousands have been injured. Hizbul Mujahideen after the bloody unrest in 1989 in Kashmir was declared a terrorist organisation by India, European Union as well as the United States of America. The relations between Pakistan and India are already strained as witnessed during the recent meeting of SAARC Interior/Home Ministers when Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh left Islamabad following a war of words on the floor of the summit with Pakistan’s interior minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan.
Moreover, at a time when Pakistan is in a process of rebranding itself in the international arena, such statements from the chief of an internationally banned organisation do nothing but taint Pakistan’s efforts to get rid of terrorist/militant elements in Pakistan. Already, there is an absence of attention to the issue of Kashmir in international forums, probably because its long-standing position of not reaching any resolution appears to have reached a saturation point.
The fact that the chief of an internationally banned organisation is openly allowed to move and address a press conference comes in direct conflict with the National Action Plan (NAP). He is openly calling for a nuclear war with India, and no one seems to be bothered by the blatant instigation of violence. The conference was organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami, a party that has parliamentary representation in Islamabad. In the 1990s, it was alleged that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency was involved in funding and training Hizbul Mujahideen, and later, allegations of an armed unrest in Kashmir led to an international ban on the organisation. The open endorsement of statements and activities of Hizbul Mujaheeden by Jamaat-e-Islami is a clear repudiation of the basic premise of NAP, and is an issue that should be raised in parliament.
The Kashmir issue is not set in some fantasy land where a force lesser in numbers would somehow manage to defeat its enemy through a miracle. The results of similar guerrilla movements around the world are evident. Indian army outnumbers these militant elements many times, and such foolhardy tactics cannot be used in today’s day and age. The only way forward is a political solution to the problem by taking the people of Kashmir on board. Any more violence would simply exacerbate the situation in the valley, and delay any possible efforts of peace.
Pakistan should distance itself from the statements of the chief of the Hizbul Mujahideen, and avoid supporting any armed struggle in Kashmir. He should not be allowed to be seen in a position of “dictating” to the state on what policy it should have towards the Kashmir issue. Moreover, such organisations should not be given any public forum to speak or any space in media, as inflammatory statements such as Salahuddin’s would only harm the Kashmir cause by delaying any possible peaceful solution to the conflict.
Pakistan in its stance of solidarity with Kashmiris in their time of pain and for their struggle must be clear that Pakistan does not endorse any armed conflict in the already bleeding valley of Jammu and Kashmir. Instigation of violence and propagation of the message of an armed struggle has brought nothing but relentless misery and unending agony to the people of Kashmir. Pakistan’s endorsement of the Kashmir issue must be solely of moral support, and of solidarity in principle.


Bilawal Bhutto strongly condemns bomb blast in Quetta Civil Hospital

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned the bomb blast in Quetta Civil hospital resulting in martyrdom of over 30 people and the killing of Balochistan Bar Association President Bilawal Anwar Kasi.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said such a huge loss by terrorists has sent mourning waves across the country and those martyred in the bomb blast were all our brothers and sisters. “Terrorists are targeting hospitals, schools and other public places to shake our will to fight back. But, entire Pakistani nation was united to crush the monster of terrorism with full national might,” he added.
PPP Chairman said our thoughts and prayers go for those martyred and the injured and asked Balochistan government for best possible treatment to the wounded and in case need it can contact Sindh government for help in medical treatment.
Bilawal Bhutto expressed sympathies with those who lost their near and dear ones in the Quetta hospital and assured them that entire nation stands with them at this moment of deep grief and sorrow.

In Bloody Attack, Pakistan’s Lawyers Targeted for Greater Impact

Ayesha Tanzeem

The suicide bombing in Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta on Monday that killed 70 people may have targeted the legal community in order to multiply the impact of the attack, according to some lawyers and analysts.
“In light of available information, they are going after soft targets, and lawyers are a very important community,” said Ejaz Haider, editor for national security affairs at a television channel called Capital TV in Pakistan.
Lawyers in Pakistan are considered a well-organized, vocal community that gets plenty of media glare, especially since a lawyers movement from 2007 to 2009 partially led to the downfall of the former military leader of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf.
Multiplier effect
Ihsan Ghani, the man in charge of Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority, said targeting a particular community has the effect of multiplying the impact of the attack by rallying a whole community, a large group of people around the country, who all come out and raise their voices.
“When you blast a bomb in a bazaar, everyone still feels sad, but the reaction is not the same,” he said, although he thought it was too early to jump to the conclusion that they wanted to target lawyers per se.
“They wanted to target a community, and that community can be Hazaras [a Shi'ite minority group frequently targeted], Christians, Shi'ites, lawyers or students,” he said.
Jamaatul Ahrar, a splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban, told VOA how it planned the dual attacks, by first assassinating the president of the provincial bar association near a hospital of its choosing, knowing full well that his body would then be taken to that hospital and many lawyers and senior officials would gather there. JuA spokesmen said the group already had deployed a suicide bomber at the hospital, ready to strike once the crowd became large enough.
The impact of the attack was devastating — at least 70 dead, about two dozen still in critical condition and more than 160 wounded.
The group promised more attacks would follow. Last week, the United States added this group to its list of global terrorist organizations.  
The same group had taken responsibility for an attack in March in Pakistan’s second-largest city, Lahore, in which more than 70 people were killed. That attack, it claimed, was against the Christians celebrating Easter Sunday in a busy public park.
It also claimed the assassination in Quetta last week of two men of the Hazara community, but there was no way for VOA to independently verify these claims.
“There is a pattern to these things,” according to an advocate in Pakistan’s Supreme Court, Salman Akram Raja. “Various segments of society have been put under pressure in the past, have been made to feel insecure, and it could be a continuation of that dark strategy of making the society generally fearful and less confident as people go about their daily lives,” he said.
The other objective of this attack could be symbolic, Raja and various others said.
Critical of legal system
Multiple Islamist militant groups have claimed that Pakistan’s legal system is “un-Islamic,” and have demanded it be replaced with a more Islamic version.  
Whatever the reason, Haider of Capital TV said the timing of the attack was crucial.
“The force multiplier effect is a lot, especially with celebrations planned for August 14 by Southern Command,” he said.
Pakistan celebrates August 14 as its independence day, and Southern Command is a portion of Pakistan’s military deployed in the southern part of the country and headquartered in Quetta.

An entire generation of a city’s lawyers was killed in Pakistan


Baluchistan is a place that desperately needs lawyers.
Pakistan's largest province by area, it is the home of a decades-old separatist insurgency, fueled by real grievances over neglect and lack of political representation. It is also increasingly the target of Sunni extremists, who bomb and kill its Shiite minorities. What leaders the province has are widely considered corrupt. Dozens of local journalists have been kidnapped in the past few years. It is nearly impossible for foreign reporters to enter Baluchistan. Lawyers are almost all that give the province a semblance of justice.
About 60 of them were killed in one attack on Monday in Baluchistan's capital, Quetta. They were packed into an emergency room where the body of a slain colleague lay, riddled with gunshot wounds. A widely circulated video showed lawyers milling about the hospital before an enormous explosion. A Pakistani Taliban offshoot claimed the attack, as did the Islamic State, though analysts say the latter's claim is dubious.
A generation of lawyers has been wiped out in Quetta, and it will leave Baluchistan, in more ways than one, lawless.
On Tuesday, the Pakistani bar association called for an indefinite boycott of the courts. But so few lawyers are left in Baluchistan that it will be years, probably, until its legal community recovers.
The global response has been muted. Ban Ki-moon, Hillary Clinton and other international figures issued brief statements. Pakistan's leaders did much the same. No officials have been held responsible for the security breakdown at what should have been a highly guarded scene. The website of Dawn, a Pakistani English-language newspaper, had only a day-old story and photo gallery about the attack on its homepage on Tuesday evening.
Barkhurdar Khan, a member of the Baluchistan Bar Council, was one of the few lawyers who survived the attack. He has practiced in Quetta for nine months. After the attack, Khan offered his singular perspective in a heartrending stream of posts on social media.
"All, I repeat ALL senior practicing lawyers and barristers died today," he wrote. "The number of junior lawyers, who are the sole breadwinners of their homes and who are now unemployed runs into hundreds."
"Most of those who died were first-gen educated. The scenes of misery and loss cannot be put into words. The bent shoulders of their fathers, the broken backs of their brothers. Their kids, still oblivious to their own loss, playing and hoping," Khan continued. "Every lawyer that has ever given me a lift home is dead, except for one, Naveed Qambrani, he is critical and was airlifted to Karachi."
"Heartwrenching is an understatement."