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2,090 people killed in sectarian violence since 2008, Senate told

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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.

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Investigating Pakistan's 'mobs for hire'

POSTED ON
May 10

To an outsider, it can often look like mob rule in Pakistan. There are public lynchings and frequent attacks on religious minorities and nobody ever seems to get arrested or go to jail. But running and renting out mobs is also an organised business in the country, where the men organising the mobs insist they are providing a vital public service and anything is available - at the right price.




An old man with fiery red hair, Khwaja, lounges on a rickety rope-woven bed and speaks to a rapt audience. These are all men from the area, many of them wearing prayer caps and sporting beards. He has gathered more than a dozen in just a few minutes, armed only with a cell phone and a little black book full of numbers.

"Gathering a mob - what's so difficult about that?" he says. "One phone call and a hundred people will come, they can throw stones till nothing is left and if that doesn't work, it costs very little to buy 10 litres of petrol and set things on fire."

A few months ago, Khwaja brought together a protest mob that blocked the railway lines till the authorities were forced to accept their demands. What looked like a mass protest against gas shortages was organised by one influential man. In a country where many of the people still don't have access to basic necessities, there is power in numbers, and men like Khwaja claim to wield this power.




Khwaja says he uses his influence and clout to benefit his community.



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Rights activist Khurram Zaki killed in Karachi gun attack

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May 08

A prominent Pakistani journalist and human rights activist, Khurram Zaki, has been shot dead in Karachi.

Mr Zaki was dining in a restaurant in the city's north when suspects opened fire from motorbikes, reports say.

He was an editor of the website Let us Build Pakistan, which condemns sectarianism and is seen as promoting democratic and progressive values.

The spokesman for a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban has said they were behind the shooting.

He said they killed him because of his recent campaign against a cleric of the Red Mosque in Islamabad.

Mr Zaki and other campaigners had filed a court case charging Abdul Aziz with incitement to hatred and violence against the Shia minority.

The case was brought in response to the cleric's refusal to condemn attacks such as that on a school in Peshawar in 2014 in which 152 people, most of them schoolchildren, were killed.

 

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K-P police arrests PTI minority leader over Soran Singh's killing

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May 01

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) police on Monday claimed to have arrested six suspects, including a minority leader of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), over orchestrating the murder of his own party lawmaker Sardar Soran Singh.



Singh, who was also a special adviser to K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak on Minority Affairs, was gunned down on April 22 just outside his house in Buner district.

“We have rounded up six suspects, including a PTI minority leader Baldev Kumar held from Swat, who arranged for the murder of Singh over political rivalry,” DIG Malakand Azad Khan told reporters during press conference on Monday.



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Suicide attack kills at least 69 in Lahore; Army deployed

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March 27

LAHORE: At least 69 people were killed and over 300 others injured in a deadly suicide explosion near the city’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park on Sunday, rescue and security officials said.

The suspected suicide attacker blew himself up in the parking space of the recreational park. A large number of people including women and children were present at the park due to weekly holiday.

Pakistan Army troops have been deployed as the park and surrounding area has been cordoned off by the security forces.

"At least 38 people were killed and more than 100 are injured," Mustansar Feroz, superintedent of police for the area had told Reuters earlier. 

"Most of the dead and injured are women and children."

The blast occurred in the parking area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, just outside the exit gate and a few feet (metres) away from children s swings.

Eyewitnesses said they saw body parts strewn across the parking lot once the dust had settled. The park was particularly busy on Sunday evening due to the Easter holiday weekend.

"When the blast occurred, the flames were so high they reached above the trees and I saw bodies flying in the air," said Hasan Imran, 30, a resident who had come to Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park for a walk.

Salman Rafique, a health adviser for the Punjab provincial government, put the death toll at at least 60 people.

"There are more than 280 injured people," Rafique said. "Many are in operation theatres now being treated and we fear that the death toll may climb considerably."

Police said it was not yet clear whether the blast had been carried out by a suicide bomber or a remote-controlled devise."We cannot rule out that this was a suicide attack but things will be clear soon," Haider Ashraf DIG Operations Lahore said. 

Most of the injured are women and children, Hussain said.

Many of the injured were transported to hospitals on taxis and auto-rickshaws due to a shortage of ambulances. Hundreds of citizens arrived outside hospitals to donate blood.

Local television channels reported that many of the dead bodies were being kept in hospital wards as morgues were overcrowded.

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Province in Muslim Pakistan passes landmark Hindu marriage bill

POSTED ON
February 16

KARACHI, Pakistan Feb 15 (Reuters) - Pakistan's southern province of Sindh on Monday became the country's first region to give its small Hindu minority the right to register their marriages officially.

Non-Muslims make up only about three percent of the 190 million population of Pakistan, which was founded as a haven for the sub-continent's Muslims on independence from the British in 1947 with a promise of religious freedom to minorities.

But Hindus have had no legal mechanism to register their marriages. Christians, the other main religious minority, have a British law dating back to 1870 regulating their marriages.

"The objective of this bill is to provide a formal process of registration of marriage for Hindus," said the bill passed by the legislature in Sindh, where most of Pakistan's Hindus live. The law can be applied retroactively to existing marriages.

Without the law, Hindus say their women were easy targets for rape or forced marriage and faced problems in proving the legitimacy of their relationships before the law. Widows have been particularly disadvantaged.

Pakistan's Hindus and other minorities have faced a surge of violence in recent years as militant Islamists attack groups that do not share their strict interpretation of Islam.

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APS mastermind claims Bacha Khan University attack, 21 killed

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January 20

PESHAWAR: Unidentified gunmen entered Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkha’s Charsadda town Wednesday and opened fire on students and faculty members as they gathered at the school for a poetry recital to commemorate the death anniversary of the activist and leader whom the school is named after.

However, a spokesperson from the TTP, Mohammad Khorasani, issued a conflicting statement shortly after Mansoor's claim, in which Khorasani condemned the attack, terming it "against Shariah".

Khorasani also warned that those "using the naming of TTP will be brought to justice".


As the military announced the end of the clearance operation, mass casualties were feared in the attack reminiscent of the deadly December 2014 terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar which left over 140 dead — most of them students.

Sources added that the four attackers were wearing suicide vests but were killed by security forces' before they could detonate their explosives.

Key updates:

  • Police confirm 21 dead

  • Military says 4 attackers killed, gunfire over

  • Armed assailants scaled university walls and opened fire

  • Multiple blasts were heard along with continuous heavy gunfire

  • 3,000 students enrolled at university

University premises secured

Military spokesperson Lt.Gen Asim Bajwa stated that the university premises has been cleared and four attackers have been killed. Security personnel, including Special Services Group (SSG) personnel were tasked with clearing the university premises and and securing the civilians inside.

The terrorists gave stiff resistance to security forces as they engaged in an operation to clear the school over several hours. Intelligence sources said eight to 10 terrorists were inside the university, adding that they were between 18 and 25 years old, were wearing civilian clothes and had their faces covered.

Snipers had taken position around the premises, with monitoring being provided by aerial assets.

Security forces also cordoned off a one-storey house, situated around a kilometre from the university's boundary wall, where three terrorists were believed to be holed up. It was later declared clear by military personnel.

The families of students lined up outside the school. Most of the boys belonged to Dir, Hangu and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.Journalists and all other non-essential personnel were asked to stay back in order to not interfere with the ongoing security operation. Up to 20 ambulances entered the university to rescue the injured.

The families of students lined up outside the school. Most of the boys belonged to Dir, Hangu and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.Journalists and all other non-essential personnel were asked to stay back in order to not interfere with the ongoing security operation. Up to 20 ambulances entered the university to rescue the injured.

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Sheikh Nimr about the reason for execution

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January 05

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Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Saudi Arabia executes top Shia cleric

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January 03

Saudi Arabia has executed the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, the interior ministry said.

He was among 47 people put to death after being convicted of terrorism offences, it said in a statement.

Sheikh Nimr was a vocal supporter of the mass anti-government protests that erupted in Eastern Province in 2011, where a Shia majority have long complained of marginalisation.

Shia-led Iran said Saudi Arabia would pay a "high price" for the execution.

A foreign ministry spokesman said Riyadh "supports terrorists... while executing and suppressing critics inside the country".

Iranian state TV reported that the Saudi charge d'affaires in Iran had been summoned to the foreign ministry.

Iran is the main regional rival of Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia.

At least one protest march was held in Qatif, in Eastern Province, where security has been raised.

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At least 25 killed, 30 injured in Parachinar blast

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December 13

PESHAWAR / ISLAMABAD: A bomb hidden in a bag ripped through a crowded bazaar in a mainly Shia area of northwestern tribal region Sunday, killing at least 23 people and wounding more than 30, officials said.

The death toll was expected to rise after the explosion at the Eidgah used-clothes market in Parachinar, the capital of Kurram Agency on the border with Afghanistan.

“The death toll has reached 23 as many of the critically wounded succumbed to injuries as they were being shifted to helicopters to fly them to Peshawar,” Amjad Ali Khan, the political administrator of Kurram, told AFP.



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