JANUARY 2017

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- Suresh Jaura
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MORE SMOKE & MIRRORS

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PAKISTAN: News Briefs

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No more excesses with Balochistan now, says Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif: Prime Minister (PM) Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on April 25 said that the Balochistan people faced huge excesses in the past but it would not happen now. He termed democracy a self-regulated system of accountability and said the democratic norms were flourishing in the country. The News, April 26, 2014.

37 militants killed in FATA: Thirty-seven militants were killed and more than a dozen were injured in air strikes by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter aircraft in Bara and Tirah Valley areas of Khyber Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Fighter aircrafts bombarded the suspected positions of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Wache Wanay, Sra Vela, Dwatoi and Tordarra in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency. The jets also targeted some hideouts of the TTP in Spera Dam area of Bara tehsil (revenue unit). 10 hideouts of militants were destroyed in the bombardment." The News, April 25, 2014.

Sectarian killings rose by more than a fifth in Pakistan in 2013, says HRCP: Sectarian killings rose by more than a fifth in Pakistan in 2013, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said on April 24, warning of an alarming increase in violence against religious minorities. HRCP said 687 people were killed in more than 200 sectarian attacks in 2013, a rise of 22 per cent on 2012, while 1,319 people were injured, a 46 per cent rise on 2012. The HRCP warned that ongoing peace talks between the Government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) could make minorities even more vulnerable. Tribune, April 25, 2014.

Foreign militants seeking 'safe passage': As the Government team prepares for another meeting with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), many of the foreign militants based in and around North Waziristan Agency (NWA) of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) feel they are facing an uncertain future and are not only seeking assurances from their hosts but are also weighing options for moving out to others places, like Afghanistan and Syria, to continue their 'jihad'. This emerged during a series of interviews conducted by Dawn correspondent mainly around NWA, on getting exclusive access to various groups and to some of the most wanted fugitives in the country. Dawn, April 25, 2014.

Army hands over 13 TTP prisoners to Government for release: The intermediaries of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been told that 13 TTP prisoners who were to be released have been handed over to the Government by the Army for the purpose. "However, they will be freed only after knowing how and when the Taliban would reciprocate," a source quoted the Government side as telling the TTP representatives led by Maulana Samiul Haq, who held a session with Federal Minister of Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on April 23. The four members of the Government committee were also present in the deliberations. The News, April 25, 2014.

Only 15 religious seminaries receive foreign funds, Government informs Senate: The Federal Government informed the Senate on April 23 that only 15 religious seminaries received financial aid from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar. Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Senator Syed Sughra Imam was unhappy over the 'incomplete information' provided to the House by the Federal Ministry of Interior about the number of seminaries that received aid from abroad. The News, April 24, 2014.

50 per cent arms licenses not yet verified, says Federal Ministry of Interior: The Federal Ministry of Interior told the sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that 50 per cent of arms licenses were yet not verified in Pakistan and it is expected the process of verification would be completed by next month. The sub-committee took up audit par as relating to Interior Ministry for fiscal year 2009-10 as the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) revealed that PKR 551.510 million related to arms licences was not reconciled with the Government receipt. The News, April 23, 2014.

USD 1.6 billion will be spent on development projects in Balochistan, promises Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while addressing the Cabinet Meeting in Islamabad on April 18 said that USD 1.6 billion will be spent on different development projects in Balochistan, with Gwadar being developed as a model city. The Prime Minister said that the development in Balochistan was a priority for the Government and development plans to put the most neglected Province on road to progress, "were being implemented expeditiously." Dawn, April 19, 2014.

Government to hold fresh talks with TTP negotiators: The Government is planning a fresh round of talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) negotiators at the weekend, Federal Interior Ministry official said on April 18, despite the militants' refusal to extend a ceasefire called to help peace efforts. Federal Minister of Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said in a statement that he has called a meeting with the TTP's talks committee on April 19 to decide how to proceed. He said only dialogue could overcome reservations and objections, but warned there was little chance of progress without a ceasefire. "If Taliban have certain objections, we also have reservations," he said, adding the government pushed forward the peace process against serious logjams. Dawn, April 19, 2014.

Federal Government decides to 'go slow' on peace process: In response to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan's (TTP) decision to not extend the ceasefire, the Government after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on National Security on April 17 decided to 'slow down' the dialogue process and adopt the 'wait and see' policy. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The committee decided that dialogue with militants would only be held if held peacefully without terror attacks launched by the TTP, otherwise force would be used. This was confirmed by an unnamed high ranking official. Daily Times, April 18, 2014.

160 primary and middle schools remain closed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Department of Education informs Provincial Assembly: The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education informed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on April 17 that at least 160 primary and middle schools had been closed down across the province due to lawlessness, natural disaster, unavailability of teachers and land disputes. The Provincial Government admitted that 13 primary and middle schools for boys and girls had been shut down on the outskirts of Peshawar due to militancy. Dawn, April 18, 2014.

Main Army officer accused in 35 missing persons' case will be court martialed, Federal Government tells Supreme Court: In the case of 35 persons, who went missing from Army's internment centre in Malakand Fort of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Federal Government on April 16 submitted a statement in the Supreme Court suggesting that the main accused, a junior Army officer, identified as Naib Subedar Amanullah Baig, would be court martialed under the Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952. Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Waqas Dar submitted a one-page statement on behalf of the Defence Ministry, informing the court that the main accused was a serving member of the Armed forces and subject to punishment under the PAA. Dawn, April 17, 2014.

Widespread impunity for killers of journalists in Pakistan, says CPJ's 2014 Global Impunity Index: According to Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ's) 2014 Global Impunity Index, Pakistan showed a modest improvement with the conviction of six men for the assassination of Geo News Journalist Wali Khan Babar on January 13, 2011. CPJ while referring to Wali Khan Babar's case, noted that Pakistan has shown improvement with regard to punishing the culprits responsible for slaying journalist and moved to 9th place on Impunity Index Rating, where it had ranked 8th last year. Tribune, April 17, 2014.

US Air Force pilots and not CIA carry out drone strikes in Pakistan, reveals documentary on drones: According to a new documentary, titled Drone, the US Air Force pilots, and not Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives, carry out drone strikes in Pakistan. The documentary reveals that US Air Force pilots at Creech Air Force Base, around 75 kilometres from Las Vegas, are carrying out drone attacks for the CIA. "The CIA might be the customer but the air force has always flown it," Brandon Bryant, one of the pilots who appear in the documentary said. Dawn, April 16, 2014.

30 militants and 21 civilians among 51 persons killed during the week in Balochistan: At least 17 people, including a woman and five children, were killed and 44 others were wounded when a passenger train, Jaffar Express, was bombed at Sibi Railway Station in Sibi District on April 8.

Frontier Corps (FC) on April 7 claimed to have killed more than 30 militants in the Parodh area of Kalat District. Daily Times; Dawn;The News; Tribune;Central Asia; The Nation;The Frontierpost; Pakistan Today;Pakistan Observer , April 8-14, 2014.

40 militants and one civilian among 41 persons killed during the week in FATA: At least 10 militants were killed in the ongoing infighting in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the Shawal tehsil (revenue unit) of Miranshah in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Three Haqqani Network militants were killed and two wounded when a vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the Dattakhel area of NWA on April 11.

Nine more persons were killed on April 9 in fighting between two feuding factions of the TTP in South Waziristan Agency (SWA).

At least 14 TTP militants were killed in clashes between two factions of the militant outfit on April 8 in SWA.

At least four TTP militants, including a local 'commander' of the Hakimullah Mehsud group, identified as Kashed Khan Mehsud, were killed and another was injured in Shaktoi area of SWA on April 7. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune;Central Asia; The Nation;The Frontierpost; Pakistan Today;Pakistan Observer , April 8-14, 2014.

30,000 Hazaras fled Balochistan in last five years, reveals HRCP Vice Chairperson Tahir Hussain Khan: According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Vice Chairperson Tahir Hussain Khan, nearly 30,000 members of the Hazara community have migrated in the last five years from Balochistan to other parts of the country. Khan said that the flow of migration increased as nearly 1,000 members of the Hazara community have been killed in targeted attacks since 2009. Members of the Hazara community leaving Quetta and other parts of the province comprise businessmen, highly educated workers and senior government officials, amongst others, he added. Tribune, April 12, 2014.

TTP holds meeting to discuss ceasefire amid drone flights in FATA: A meeting of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan's (TPP) Shura (council) was held at an undisclosed place in the North Waziristan Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on April 11 to decide about extending or ending the ceasefire as United States (US) drones conducted low altitude flights in parts of the tribal region. At the beginning of peace talks with the Government, the TTP had announced a month-long ceasefire on March 1, 2014. Later, it extended it for 10 days until April 10, 2014, to give peace talks a chance. But no important development has taken place during the 10-day period. Dawn, April 12, 2014.

Anti-peace negotiation group Ansar-ul-Hind planning terrorist attacks in major cities, warn Intelligence Agencies: The proceeding in the November 26, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks case (26/11) has come to a standstill as the special judge of the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), Atiqur Rehman, has expressed his inability to conduct the trial of seven Pakistani suspects in the Adiala Jail of Rawalpindi District of Punjab due to security reasons. Sources close to the proceedings revealed that since March 3, 2014, when terrorists attacked the District Courts in Islamabad, there has been no progress on the trial with the ATC unable to complete the cross examination of even a single witness. Dawn, April 8, 2014.

National Assembly pass Protection of Pakistan Amendment Bill 2014: The National Assembly on April 7 passed Protection of Pakistan Amendment Bill 2014 amid strong protest from the opposition benches. The Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014 also contains provisions from the 2013 Bill. It states that Special Courts will be established for disposing of cases against terrorists while Joint Investigation Teams (JITs) will undertake probe into the terror-related cases. Under the new Bill, a person declared convict by a court could be kept in any prison of the country. The News, April 8, 2014.

Police asks minorities to secure themselves of terror attacks: A directive by the Punjab Government issued on March 31, 2014, to enhance security for minorities' places of worship has resulted in Station House Officers (SHOs) passing the responsibility by issuing a long list of measures to be taken by the administrations of temples and churches. After a recent directive issued by the Home Department for the security of minorities' places of worship, Christian and Hindu worshippers complained that no steps had been taken on ground. Tribune, April 5, 2014.

TTP extends ceasefire until April 10: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on April 4 extended the ceasefire until April 10, the outfit's 'spokesman' Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement, adding that the TTP shura (council) would be meeting after the 10th to decide a future course of action. The extension comes a day after the interior ministry announced that it had released 19 non-combatants TTP as a goodwill gesture for bolstering the peace process with the TTP.

At least 19 non-combatant TTP prisoners have been released by the Government. Dawn, April 5, 2014; Daily Times, April 4, 2014.

26/11 terror attack case trial stalled due to security reasons: The proceeding in the November 26, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks case (26/11) has come to a standstill as the special judge of the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), Atiqur Rehman, has expressed his inability to conduct the trial of seven Pakistani suspects in the Adiala Jail of Rawalpindi District of Punjab due to security reasons. Sources close to the proceedings revealed that since March 3, 2014, when terrorists attacked the District Courts in Islamabad, there has been no progress on the trial with the ATC unable to complete the cross examination of even a single witness. Dawn, April 4, 2014.

PPP calls for action against '150 sleeper cells' of LeJ in Punjab: The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) on April 1 called upon the Punjab Government to take action against '150 sleeper cells' of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in the Province. Fawad Chaudhry, the media adviser of PPP Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the party had taken serious notice of a threatening letter sent by the LeJ to Bilawal Bhutto. Ali Sufian who claimed to be a 'spokesperson' of LeJ threatened in the letter that his group would kill Bilawal for his hostile stance against militants. Dawn, April 2, 2014.

Attacks on journalist and worship places reflect new wave of intolerance, says HRCP: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on March 31 expressed alarm over a number of developments, including the assault on journalist Raza Rumi and attacks on temples in Sindh, and termed the same a new wave of intolerance. According to a press statement issued, "HRCP has grave concerns over a number of recent incidents, including an attack on Raza Rumi in Lahore, a spate of assaults at Hindu temples, the most recent one being in Hyderabad, and the death sentence for Sawan Masih." The News, April 1, 2014.

[Source: SATP]

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