|Opposition reiterates demand for PM's resignation, voices support for judiciary|
|[DAWN] The opposition following a meeting on Friday reiterated its demand for Prime Minister 's resignation while calling for the National Assembly to complete its tenure.|
"Excluding the (ANP) and Aftab Sherpao, all opposition parties are committed to demanding Nawaz Sharif's resignation," said Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Khursheed Shah.
"Assemblies should continue their tenure," Shah said, adding that the opposition wants the democratic process to continue and is only calling for the PM to resign.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Pakistain 's (PTI) Shah said that the opposition had given Khursheed Shah the authority to call the NA session whenever he deemed fit.
"On the basis of the ultrasound conducted by the joint investigation team (JIT), we feel that the patient should resign," chief stated.
Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Chairman Aftab Sherpao said that the ANP and QWP, however, wished to wait for the Supreme Court's (SC) decision before deciding on calling for the PM's resignation, adding that they agreed with the opposition on the other demands, including unconditional support for the SC.
|The 'vulgarity' argument|
|[DAWN] WOMEN young and old, some with heads bare and others covered, swaying to the music, singing, cheering or with eyes moist with emotion, the definitive female presence at the PTI and PAT protests in Islamabad has been quite remarkable, and life-affirming. After all, this is a country where grotesque depredations against women to deprive them of their agency make regular headlines. Moreover, these women -- particularly those who have arrived from other cities -- have persevered through the daily discomforts and indignities that are inevitable in a society where the norms of public space are geared to men's convenience. It was perhaps inevitable then, that the bogey of 'vulgarity', which is conveniently dredged up not only to shame women but also the men associated with them, would be repeatedly raised during the course of the protests by some of the august personalities that populate our political sphere.|
Among those who have voiced their outrage that our culture is being 'undermined' by the women's assertive visibility in the public domain and that 'indecency' is being promoted by those 'dancing' to music, are Hamza Sharif and, at the joint session of parliament currently under way, as well as --surprisingly -- Aftab Sherpao. The topic has also agitated the minds of many a participant at television talk shows and generated debate on social media. It is extremely unfortunate that despite the political discourse having broadened considerably over the course of democracy taking root in Pakistain, a process in which the extent of women's participation is an important marker of success, the urge to define their behavioural parameters in the political sphere remains as robust as ever. It springs from the same mindset that prevents women from casting their vote in some parts of the country on the excuse of 'cultural constraints'. Pakistain is not a homogenous society with a uniform culture, and the attempt to score political points through specious arguments suggesting otherwise is an affront to all women in the country.
|[DAWN] THE Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain has never hesitated to own, in fact flaunt, the terror campaign it has been waging for years. Now suddenly, the banned outfit has staged a somersault, terming the killings of civilians un-Islamic and 'haram'. In a statement issued on Wednesday, TTP Shahidullah Shahid said that killing civilians was illegal and claimed that a hidden hand was behind the recent atrocities in Islamabad and Sibi. Two questions come to mind: if we are to accept the absurd notion that killings are to be categorised as Islamic and un-Islamic, who is going to judge? Two, must it take the slaughter of 50,000 people, an overwhelming majority of whom were civilians, for the TTP to wake up, express a bit of remorse and try to find a scapegoat in the two recent acts of terror in Sibi and Islamabad?|
Ever since it began its killing campaign, the TTP never wavered from its rigid two-pronged policy about acts of terror: it either had no shame in claiming responsibility for acts of mass murder, or at best chose to keep quiet. The Taliban's victims have included children in school vans, the faithful at prayer, patients in hospitals, mourners at funerals, peacemakers at jirgas, pilgrims in buses, devotees at shrines, civilians in religious processions, political activists at rallies and media persons on duty. Those murdered or maimed for life have included men and women of all age, and Paks of all professions -- doctors tending patients and judges administering justice. They have not spared the : Maulana Fazlur Rahman survived two attempts on his life, and they succeeded in killing Mufti Naeemi of Lahore because he dared to condemn their criminality behind the facade of jihad.
The list of the s' acts is too long to be mentioned, but some cold-blooded acts of carnage need to be recalled. For instance, to kill the then interior minister, Aftab Sherpao, a at an Eid congregation in Charsadda, on Dec 21, 2007, killing 56 people. Again, on Dec 4, 2009, to kill a major general, attacked a mosque in Rawalpindi murdering 40 people, including 16 children, and they had no qualms when they fire-bombed the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Sept 20, 2008, killing 40 people at iftar time. They also need to be reminded that the beheading of captured soldiers was a barbaric act in violation of Islamic laws. The TTP's now saying that the murder of civilians is un-Islamic is hypocrisy of the highest order. Nevertheless, this is not the end of the story, and the people will watch how the TTP behaves in the future and whether the sentiments expressed by its signal a change of heart or words uttered out of expediency.
|North Waziristan blast|
|[DAWN] WHETHER it is a mosque or a church, religiously motivated care little; whether it is a school, a hospital or a garrison, they are indifferent. What matters to them is the enemy's death -- and it is of little consequence whoever else gets killed in the process. Wednesday's killed reportedly five soldiers and many others when the driver of an explosives-laden truck rammed his vehicle into a mosque next to a major checkpost in Khajori, North , although some reports indicate that it was the checkpost that was targeted. The struck when nearly 50 soldiers of the Frontier Corps were offering evening prayers. Such was the power packed into the bomber's vehicle that the mosque collapsed.|
This is not for the first time that a mosque has fallen victim to the practical manifestation of the Taliban's concept of jihad. In their attempt to kill politician Aftab Sherpao, they bombed an Eid prayer congregation at Charsadda, killing over 50 people in December 2007; two years later, the blew up a Rawalpindi mosque during Friday prayers in a high security zone, killing 40 people, including children and a major general; and in 2010, over 70 s lay dead after the Taliban blasted a mosque in Darra Adamkhel. The list is long. With talks in the air and some mainstream politicians acting virtually as Taliban spokesmen, the s' attack on the soldiers at prayer conveys a chillingly clear message -- the Taliban leadership is not going to exercise restraint to create a congenial atmosphere for talks. That the Taliban have left to the government to do -- unilaterally and without expecting any reciprocity. It is now for those who conferred shahadat on Hakeemullah Mehsud to let us know who was the shaheed this time round: the suicide bomber or the soldiers at prayer?
|Shaukat Aziz declared absconder|
|[Pak Daily Times] An anti-terrorism court has declared former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, former governor Owais Ghani and Dera Bugti's ex-DCO as absconders in the Akbar Bugti murder case.|
The Anti-Terrorism Court Quetta made the designations while hearing the case on Tuesday. Former interior minister Aftab Sherpao also showed up on court orders. The court rejected former military ruler 's plea for exemption, and ordered that he be produced in the court on the next hearing. former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, former Balochistan governor Owais Ahmed Ghani, former district coordination officer (DCO) Abdul Samad Lasi were declared s and the court ordered the authorities to seize their properties.
The hearing was adjourned to December 24. Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Khan Bugti was killed in a cave on August 26, 2006 during a military crackdown ordered by Musharraf who was president and army chief at the time. Bugti had led an armed campaign to press for provincial autonomy and a greater share of profits from Balochistan's natural resources. The death of the Baloch chieftain sparked angry protests in the country.
|KP pulls out of coalition with QWP; expels ministers over 'corruption'|
|[Pak Daily Times] The -led government pulled out of the coalition with Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) after two ministers belonging to the latter were dismissed on corruption charges.|
Pakistain Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman advised Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak to pull out of the coalition with QWP. "The QWP was given two warnings about the corruption of two of their ministers but this party chose to tolerate corruption and instead showed its displeasure at the corruption being pointed out by boycotting the provincial cabinet meetings," a statement from the PTI media cell quoted Imran Khan as saying.
What was striking about the statement was the revelation that two of the QWP ministers were dismissed by the chief minister on Wednesday. Imran also stated that the PTI was elected on a "mandate against corruption and there is zero tolerance for any form of corruption". "This should be a clear warning for all our ministers and MPAs that PTI cannot have as a coalition partner any party that tolerates corruption," Imran declared, according to the statement.
"Our JI ( ) ministers have proven exemplary in this regard and we respect them for their commitment towards anti-corruption," Imran added. Party sources told Daily Times that the QWP leadership was meeting in to discuss the situation arising out of the statement of the PTI chief. "We are discussing the situation," the sources said on condition of anonymity. Earlier, the Qaumi Watan Party reacted angrily to media report that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government of Pakistain Tehrik-e-Insaf was de-notifying two of its ministers for their alleged involvement in corruption.
"Whosoever has any evidence of the wrongdoing (of the two ministers) should share it with my party," said a statement from QWP provincial president, Sikander Sherpao. "We will take stern action if proof is shared with us," he said categorically in the statement. The PTI and QWP were not on good terms for the last few weeks, with Aftab Sherpao's ministers, including Senior Minister Sikander Sherpao, staying away from official meetings and assembly sessions to protest what they called "step-motherly treatment" of the QWP by the PTI-led government.
A government official said the government had conveyed to the Qaumi Watan Party two days back that two of its ministers were (allegedly) involved in corruption and the party should remove them. "Their performance as ministers is below par." The government's Information Directorate chief, Behramand Khan, declined to clarify if the government had de-notified the two QWP ministers. The alleged "corrupt ministers" are QWP's provincial General Secretary Bakht Baider Khan and Ibrar Hussain.
|Sherpao asks political forces to work together against militancy|
|[Pak Daily Times] Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao on Thursday said that all the political forces should join hands to find a viable solution to the issue of militancy. |
He was addressing a public gathering in district where former member of the provincial assembly Ghulam Qadir announced joining the QWP along with scores of his supporters.
Aftab Sherpao asked the government to pay heed to the issues confronting the masses. Load shedding, lawlessness and price-hike had made life miserable for the general public, he said.
|KP decides to withdraw army from Malakand|
|[Pak Daily Times] The government has decided to withdraw army from Malakand region, including Swat, gradually enabling the civil administration to take full control of the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas, a ruling party MPA said on Friday. "We have decided to withdraw the army from and Malakand region," Pakistain MPA and party's provincial General Secretary Shaukat Yousafzai confirmed. The previous government of Pakistain People's Party had ordered the army to launch an operation against -led Taliban in Swat in June 2009 displacing millions of people from the region. |
Shaukat Yousafzai said the withdrawal would be gradual and army would hand over control to civilians in areas where security situation was completely normal now. "Soft places would first be handed over to the civilian administration." The PTI MPA, who is among the hopefuls for ministries, did not say when the withdrawal would begin. Qaumi Watan Party Chairman Aftab Sherpao Khan had been demanding withdrawal of army from Malakand after the region stabilised with the ousting of Mullah Fazlullah-led Taliban who now appear to have taken refuge across the border in Afghanistan.
Shaukat Yousafzai also brushed aside the impression that the differences between PTI and over the issue of Education Ministry might sink the coalition deeper into crisis. "It has been resolved," he said when asked where the controversy was taking the coalition partners. Due to the differences over the Education Ministry between the two parties the cabinet of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has not yet been able to take oath. "The ministers are likely to take oath either on Monday or Tuesday," Shaukat Yousafzai, who was a career journalist before starting active politics from the PTI platform, said.
|Threat of militancy affecting election campaign in Hangu|
|[Dawn] Prospective candidates of political parties in have so far restricted their election meetings to hujras (private guesthouses), while some of them have been demanding that elections should be held under the supervision of army in this volatile district due to threat of Taliban attacks.|
Local people say that the decision by to take part in the elections has brought a positive change in the political environment, but the threat of terrorism remains as usual.
It may be recalled that in 2008 elections, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain had forcibly taken away ballot boxes full of votes from Kahi, Shana Wari and Zargari areas and attacked a in Ghlo Chenna, while terming the elections un-Islamic.
The outgoing public representatives of the district include Haider Ali Shah (MNA) of Awami National Party, MPA from KP-42 Atiqur Rehman and JUI-F's Mufti Syed Janan, who was MPA from KP-43, Hangu-II.
This time Atiqur Rehman has decided to take part in the elections from JUI-F platform. He was elected in 2008 elections on the ticket of PPP-Sherpao. His father, Ghaniur Rehman -- who remained irrigation minister in Aftab Sherpao's cabinet -- was killed two years back by Taliban.
This year new entrants include Pakistain and Sunni Supreme Council whose candidates are Maulana Khayal Zaman and Farid Khan, respectively. They would contest the elections on both the National and provincial assemblies' seats.
Hazrat Mohammad Jalali of JUI-F, Haider Ali of ANP and Khayal Zaman of PTI are said to be the main contestants in coming election for NA-16, Hangu. From time to time the Hangu district remained dominated by groups, including that of Mullah Toofan, Maulvi Nabbi Hanfi and Zewar Mullah.
Sources said that the were active in the area and nobody was safe from them. Besides, the contestants would be required to take permission for launching open campaign through holding jirgas with groups.
|Don't talk, fight|
|[Dawn] NAWAZ Sharif was recently heard saying that if the Americans can talk to the Taliban in Afghanistan then why can't Pakistain talk to the TTP?|
Political leaders that adopt this line of reasoning betray a limited understanding of how the world works. The American constitution, their civil rights and the American way of life is not being negotiated in 's backchannel talks with the Afghan Taliban. Not long ago the Taliban was the de facto regime in Afghanistan. NATO may see some merits in co-opting them back into the power structure in Kabul.
Let's get one fact straight. The Americans are not in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban. They are not there to occupy or stabilise or rebuild that country. Regardless of the motives that misinformed conspiracy theorists in this country may attribute to them, the Americans are in Afghanistan (together with the military contingents of 40 other countries) to ensure that Al Qaeda and its affiliates are rendered incapable of launching spectacular attacks against the US (and other countries).
Since September 2001, there has not been an attack like the one on USS Cole, or like the ones on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, much less like 9/11 itself. It would seem that the US military is delivering on at least one key objective. This is what Congress has authorised it to do and has agreed to pay for it, over the years, with $700 billion of American taxpayers' money.
As it withdraws from Afghanistan, the US will leave behind an elaborate intelligence apparatus as well as precision strike capability in the region. This is a long way from 1998 when the US Navy fired (and misfired) Tomahawk cruise missiles -- from warships at sea -- aimed at Al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan (and Sudan).
Today it has a bevy of choices -- among which armed drones, fixed wing aircraft, Navy SEALs and attack helicopters -- with which to ensure that religious forces based in this region do not raise their head again and strike at targets worldwide.
Now the calculus of achieving a complex objective like that may involve negotiating with the Afghan Taliban. What the Taliban may hear from NATO at the negotiating table would be this: 'Back in October 2001, you were asked to hand over Bin Laden. You ruled Kabul then. We not only got Bin Laden but most of the top Al Qaeda leadership as well. You however, no longer rule Kabul.'
From this posture they may go on to offer the Taliban a back door into Kabul. Set a thief to catch a thief goes the old dictum; and so the Afghan Taliban in return would have to hold out an assurance that foreign, jihadi and forces will not use sanctuaries in the Pakhtun areas of Afghanistan to stage spectacular attacks against the United States.
There may be other quid pro quo offered to the Taliban. Last week reported that had sent a message through Norwegian interlocutors to the Taliban in which he offered them the ministry of justice and the position of chief justice. It is conceivable that the Taliban will ask, and Karzai will agree to let the Taliban's moral police operate in the Pakhtun areas of Afghanistan with powers to scrutinise people's lifestyles and appearances and to punish offenders.
To understand what the Taliban want one only has to look at the in Afghanistan where they rule. "Democracy and western ideas of women's rights are against Islam," the regional Afghan tells and "there can be no alternative to Sharia, which is God's law". the footage shows squads of the vice and virtue police at a checkpoint, one turbaned official holding a cane and half a dozen others, armed with assault rifles, hooded and wearing balaclavas, checking cars to make sure they don't have music players and that cellphones do not have cameras and video footage.
Kunar is also the hiding hole of and his Taliban who escaped Operation Rah-e-Raast in Swat in 2009. From Kunar, every now and then they will sneak across into and from there into the mouth of the Swat valley where they force the closure of schools. Last October Mullah Fazlullah's barged into a school bus. They asked for a student who they identified by name to stand up otherwise all of them would be shot. A 14-year-old girl stood up and took the bullet to her head. Her name is Malala Yousufzai.
The refusal to acknowledge the existence of the Punjabi Taliban has created a security bubble in Punjab, and whilst the province may have been "spared" it continues to sit on a sectarian volcano. You cannot endlessly sweep things under the carpet.
Pakistain is home to the world's largest jihadi infrastructure (and there are many more Mumtaz Qadris within the Punjab police). This factory of jihad needs to be systematically dismantled. Such things do not happen without force. The longer we delay, the more protracted and bloodier it will be. It is like delaying an operation for fear of surgical pain. Things get more complicated.
In 2007 an assassinated Punjab's minister for social welfare, Zil-e-Huma in Gujranwala. A little while later there was an attempt on interior minister Aftab Sherpao. The operation against Lal Masjid followed and there were widespread retaliatory attacks across the country. Yet chose to return that year. Elections were held in 2008.
Politicians that are fearful of, or complicit with, the religious forces are Pakistain's Achilles heel. This is the time to stand up and fight. Running away from this war is no longer an option.
A strategy tip to the PPP and allies: sway the women's vote in urban Punjab in your direction and away from right-wing parties.
|Court acquits two in Sherpao attack case|
|[Dawn] An anti-terrorism court has acquitted two suspects charged in a devastating targeting former federal minister Aftab Ahmad Sherpao which had left 53 persons dead and another 137 injured when they were offering Eid prayers in 2007.|
The court presided over by Syed Asghar Ali Shah pronounced that the case was badly investigated and the evidence on record did not connect the two suspects, and Arif Khan, with the commission of the offence.
Official sources informed that the order was announced by the presiding officer on October 22, but due to security reasons it has so far not been made public.
The occurrence had taken place on December 21, 2007 on the occasion of Eidul Azha when Aftab Sherpao was offering prayer along with his two sons, Sikander Sherpao and Mustafa Sherpao, and several other people at his native Sherpao village.
Mustafa Sherpao had also received injuries in the blast. FIR of the bombing was registered at Umerzai in Charsadda under several sections of Pakistain Penal Code and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
|A consensus against consensus|
|[Pak Daily Times] Everyone is in search of a consensus in the country before the launch of a military operation in North , particularly after Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head only 12 days ago, which was admitted by the Taliban. |
With choosing to join the camp of those seeking innocuous consensus for a military operation in NWA, there now exists a virtual consensus on the point that there was no need of a consensus at all.
Prior to him, the camp of those seeking a consensus was stuffed with heavyweights, including Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq , PML-N President , Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, PTI Chairman , Difa-e-Pakistain Council. The ruling PPP, which hitherto had been a non-committal political party and found quite often countering the argument of those opposing the use of military might against terrorists, wouldn't mind being now seen with those who actually played the role of a spoiler in building a consensus.
It would be easy to blame the PTI, JI, JUI-F and DPC for implying to a consensus soon after the hue and cry for a military action in North Waziristan was raised by the media with the help of pro-active civil society and the government-ally going all out to purge the society of the menace of terrorism with it.
But only a few dare to question the role played by the top military leadership in this regards, which, except for the first initial statement of the COAS Gen Kayani soon after attack on Malala, urged the need for a consensus in a formation commanders meeting following the Taliban attack on October 9.
prior to the corps commanders moot, the likes of PTI, JUI-F, JI and a number of jihadi leaders invited to TV talk shows in order to strike a balance in content generation had done much of the spade work to dilute the outrage growing fast in favour of a military operation in the NWA. With the ruling PPP joining the chorus of consensus alongside the religio-political and jihadi outfits, the thin line between the cohort forces and their direct target diminished further much to the dismay of those found hoping to rid society of extremism.
PPP Co-chairman and President Asif Ali Zaradri's joining the camp of those seeking consensus has disappointed those who were hoping against the hope that the time has come for a decisive action against those who had admittedly attacked 14-year-old Malala, assassinated in 2007 and above all killed 40,000 innocent citizens, including thousands of army soldiers.
It is hard to believe how the civil society, media and liberal and secular political forces would choose to react if the Taliban repeated their acts like those of October 9, 2012 or October 17, and December 27, 2007.
The ostrich-like behaviour of the ruling PPP in choosing to go with the tide of developing consensus prior to a military offensive in North Waziristan had already been castigated for abdicating its constitutional responsibility in the insurgency-hit . Is what the army doing in Balochistan for over a decade under consensus of all political forces of the country? Isn't the army operation in Balochistan against political consensus since all political forces -- the PML-N, PTI, JI and JUI-F and the ruling PPP and its allies the PML-Q, MQM and ANP -- are asking for a constitutional solution to a political problem? Isn't the military high command acting on its own in Balochistan since the days of Gen (r) Musharraf and killed Nawab Akbar Bugti without taking into confidence his prime minister Shaukat Aziz, interior minister Aftab Sherpao and the provincial government? Isn't it the military that helped the PPP government develop a political consensus and enabled it to pass a resolution from parliament prior to the operation in 2009, and before that was pushing the same political government to accept the unconstitutional demands of imposing their own version of Shariah in the troubled region had been occupying under the nose of the military might?
The PPP leadership seems to be chasing the shadow of an otherwise important democratic transition in the country under its supervision, hence joining the camp of those seeking a consensus in a society more than half of which is already Talibanised. A senior PPP leader said on the condition of anonymity that s on a large scale are being feared in the country when elections are round the corner if an offensive was launched in the NWA at this point.
The PPP leader said the top party leadership had been advised against such an operation at this point in time when the government was already in its last leg.