ISLAMABAD:The Senate was informed on Wednesday that the government is taking measures to address sectarian violence in the country and legislation is also being tabled in this regard.
Minister of State for Interior Balighur Rehman told the House during question hour that 2,090 people have been killed in sectarian attacks since 2008. He said 173 people have been convicted in these sectarian attacks and killings.
He said 104 people were killed in Punjab in these incidents while 252 in Sindh, 22 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 737 in Balochistan, 867 in FATA, 103 in Gilgit Baltistan and five people were killed in Islamabad.
To a question, the minister said that the government is taking steps to control cybercrime in the country. He said Prevention of Cyber Crime Act has been prepared and submitted to the cabinet for approval. He said that it would be introduced in the House shortly and would address all the issues related to cybercrime.
ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani policeman on Thursday shot and wounded a 70-year-old British man with a history of mental illness in the jail where he is on death row for blasphemy, his lawyers said.
An activist said a Christian pastor accused of the same offence was killed in the attack, but the pastor's sister said on Friday this was not true and that the police had got their facts wrong.
The Briton, Muslim Muhammad Asghar, from Edinburgh, was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to death in January after a tenant presented letters he had written saying he was a prophet .
A constable shot Asghar in jail in Rawalpindi, next to Islamabad, his lawyers said without elaborating.
This year has seen a record number of blasphemy accusations, according to an Islamabad-based think-tank, the Center for Research and Security Studies. Many analysts say the claims are increasingly used to settle scores or grab property.
Blasphemy charges, punishable by death in Muslim-majority Pakistan, are hard to fight because the law does not define what is blasphemous. Presenting the evidence can sometimes itself be considered a fresh infringement.
IT should have been just another Sunday service at the All Saints Church in Peshawar a year ago. As it turned out, it was the prelude to a massacre, the worst attack against the Christian community in Pakistan, when twin suicide bombings at the end of the service claimed around 90 lives and injured over 100 people.
The carnage sparked a wave of revulsion among Pakistanis, and expressions of solidarity with the community were swift in coming. Although attacks on such scale along religious lines have not occurred since then, the war on minorities in this country grinds on relentlessly.
In fact, it could be said that it is expanding, claiming yet more victims and also from communities hitherto left comparatively unscathed by religious extremism.
In Peshawar itself, the small Sikh community has been repeatedly targeted this year. Five Sikhs have been killed in as many months, with two fatalities in the first week of September alone. In a remote corner of Balochistan, armed men attacked a group of Zikris in their place of worship, killing six and injuring several others. Although persecution of the Zikris — a little-known Islamic sect — had surfaced during Gen Zia’s time, when religious extremism was actively harnessed and patronised to further strategic objectives, this was the first direct attack in more than two decades on their lives.
MIRPURKHAS: Gunmen in Mirpurkhas's Mali Colony area shot dead a doctor from the Ahmadi community, police and members of the community said Tuesday, in the latest attack on one of the country's most persecuted groups.
The assailants stormed Mubashar Ahmad Khosa's clinic on Monday evening.
“He was attending to patients at his clinic when two unknown assailants came in and fired at him repeatedly before fleeing on a motorbike,” a statement by a local community group said.
Zafarullah Dharejo, a senior police official, added that a third attacker kept watch outside.
Khosa, who was a well-known in the area, succumbed to his injuries on his way to hospital.
Dharejo said, “The doctor got a text message half an hour before the murder asking him to come out of his clinic.”
Locals of Mali Colony told Dawn that Khosa was a resident of Satellite Town and has been working in their area for a long time.
Also read: Three Ahmadis killed in Gujranwala
Khosa's body was taken to Civil Hospital Mirpurkhas for postmortem. However, no First Information Report (FIR) was registered.
The police officer said that in 2008, another Ahmadi doctor was gunned down in a similar way in the same city.
Earlier in July, at least three female members of the Ahmadi community, including two minors, had been killed in Gujranwala's People's Colony when a mob attacked and burnt five houses, a storage building and several vehicles over alleged blasphemy.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) of the People's Colony Circle had said that the trouble started with an allegedly blasphemous post on Facebook by an Ahmadi youth.
"It is not something that we can control”, was what the SHO of the local police station said to the Ahmadi men, watching the burning down of their fellow community members’ homes in Gujranwala the night of July 27.
Arshad Mahmood, one of the eye witnesses of the arson from the Ahmadi community of Gujranwala had reached the neighborhood where a mob of some 250 men had gathered to intimidate Ahmadi residents.
Attack on Ahmadis
Mahmood told me the mob was pelting stones at Ahmadi homes and beating down doors with batons. When the violent mob – which included some neighbors from the street of Peoples’ Colony where the incident took place – dragged a motor cycle out of one of the houses and set it on fire, the police voiced their helplessness.
Mahmood says the SHO ran from the spot once he saw people getting aggressive; he tried to pacify the mob by offering them an FIR against the Ahmadi boy who had allegedly committed blasphemy. Some from the members of the mob went to the station with him but eventually the size of the mob got bigger in Peoples’ Colony.
The civil war in Syria has quickly spilled over into Iraq, a strategy that has resulted in the country losing control of its borders. While military targets anti-Pakistan militants in Zarb-i-Azb operations, some have started to question whether any success will be undermined once Pakistanis fighting with ISIS return home. While the return of Pakistani jihadis from fighting in foreign wars is certainly a threat, there is another more immediate danger. Just as global jihadi groups hijacked Afghan, Syrian, and Iraqi, they have now set their sights on Kashmir.
Unfortunately, there is more than mere theorising behind such a prediction. My dear readers will recall that is was less that one year prior that Al Qaeda chief Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri has urged fighters to “create a safe haven for Mujahideen in Pakistan” so that it can become a base for “establishing an Islamic system”.
Malik Ishaq’s release in Rawalpindi –the seat of deep events- is a deep event and an event predictably suppressed in the media. However, that Malik Ishaq has been freed does not come as a surprise. The soft corner that some of the stalwarts of the PMLN government have for the terrorists and sectarian killers is well known to all. The fusion of the PMLN with Saudi governing interests is as much political as economic. When the interior minister of the country and the law minister of the largest province openly sympathise with the terrorists then let’s not harbour any hopes for firm prosecution, let alone justice. Unfortunately, this only encourages further violence and is reminiscent of so many past trials where justice was never served to the perpetrators responsible for sectarian violence. So, we are describing a phenomenon that occurred not just once, but consistently, almost predictably. There is a long list of SSP/AWSJ/LeJ killers who were apprehended by the police but set free by the state and then continued their activities, including spewing hatred against the minorities and killing Shias, Barelvis, and Ahmedis.
The Pakistani government’s negligence has created a climate of impunity that encourages further assaults. The government knows well that accountability could serve as a deterrent, and would demonstrate that the government is interested in addressing the issue through application of the rule of law and not just reconciliation sessions with the perpetrators of violence. But this whole episode illustrates what has become all too common in recent Pakistani history, the way in which secret Jihadist policies can take priority over the public interest, even to the point of leading to indiscriminate mass murders or targeted killing of minorities.
RAWALPINDI: A Rawalpindi anti-terrorist court on Thursday acquitted Malik Ishaq, chief of proscribed Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) militant group, in three cases relating to terrorism, DawnNews reported.
Judge Rana Masood Akhtar issued acquittal orders for Ishaq in the cases, saying the evidence against Ishaq was not sufficient for further proceedings.
The had been registered against Ishaq at police stations in Attock, Hazro and Talagang and he was also previously arrested over charges relating hate-speech and inciting violence.