Last Sunday afternoon, Pakistan’s leading English daily newspaper, Dawn, published headline news of the arrest of a militant tied to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a domestic sectarian militant group: “Former LeJ chief involved in Daniel Pearl murder arrested in Karachi.” The article trumpeted the arrest as “yet another success” of “security forces” in their “ongoing targeted operation against militants and lawbreakers in Karachi.”
The story made its way around the world, landing on CNN within two days. The New York Times declared: “Suspect in Daniel Pearl killing is arrested in Pakistan.”
Most certainly, the news that Pakistan’s elite Rangers force arrested Pakistani militant Abdul Hayee is important. He has a long criminal record, linked to bombings, sectarian assassinations against Shia targets and domestic mayhem. U.S. President Barack Obama, the Justice Department, and the State Department should press for Hayee to be prosecuted.
But as important as Hayee’s prosecution, is understanding the events that precipitated his arrest, and recognizing that amidst the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan we must put a magnifying glass to militancy in Pakistan on the street, village and individual level. The case of Abdul Hayee is illustrative of Pakistan’s failure to adhere to the rule of law in any meaningful, sustainable way.
Hayee was arrested before, in 2003, and presumably released. On May 29, 2003, Dawn, the same Pakistani English daily that trumpeted Hayee’s arrest last week, reported, “Terrorism convict arrested,” chronicling Hayee’s arrest. A few days later, The News, another English daily, reported with the headline, “Pearl kidnapping suspect appears in Pakistan” that Hayee had been charged. A detailed report by the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees chronicled Hayee’s arrest and disappearance from public record.
This cat and mouse game has become business as usual, described by one U.S. official as “catch-and-release, catch-and-release.” For those who have watched the case closely, who have lived with it for years, there are many vexing questions: Did Pakistani forces secretly have Hayee all along? Are they going to prosecute? If so, why now? Why not the first time they picked up him? If they do, will they actually get a conviction? Or is there something even more unsettling going on? Is this an effort to release Omar Sheikh, the mastermind of the scheme to trap Pearl, convicted to death but his case pending appeal?
Intelligence officials in Pakistan say a suspected U.S. drone strike near the Afghan border has killed at least one militant who is believed to be a foreign national.
Authorities say a missile hit the militant Sunday as he was riding a horse in the North Waziristan tribal belt, known as a stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaida militants.
The nationality of the insurgent was not immediately clear.
Local security officials say the drone strike killed two militants.
Members of the Hazara community and relatives of Kirani road suicide blast victims buried all dead bodies amid tears and sorrows in Hazara Town graveyard Quetta.
“All dead bodies have been buried”, Syed Dawood Agha, the President Balochistan Shia Conference said. Emotional movements were witnessed during the burial as the relatives broke into tears while burying their loved ones.
Hazara community staged four days tiresome sit-in in protest over killings in a suicide blast on February 16 in Kirani road area of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. Women and children spent chilly nights in open sky to mourn the killings and force the authorities to launch targeted operation in Quetta.
Thousands of ethnic Hazaras participated in mass funeral marred by violent protest and aerial firing.
Angry mob pelted stones and opened fire at the vehicle of Deputy Commissioner (DC) Quetta, Mansoor Kakar.
“The DC narrowly escaped the firing”, Fayyaz Sumbal, the Deputy Inspector General Police Quetta said.
Frontier Corps and police personnel quickly retaliated and their aerial firing dispersed the enraged protesters.
Meanwhile, most of the sit-ins staged in major cities of the country in solidarity with the victims were called off.
More than 4,000 Shias in Balochistan capital hold sit-in to demand swift government action against armed Sunni groups.
Thousands of Shias in Pakistan have held a sit-in in the city of Quetta, refusing to bury their dead for a second day, demanding that security forces protect them from armed Sunni groups.
More than 4,000 women blocked a road in the southwestern city on Monday, vowing to continue their protest until the authorities take action against those behind the attack that killed 84 members of the Hazara Shia community.
Protesters chanted “stop killing Shias”.
Volunteers armed with automatic rifles and pistols on Monday guarded the streets of Hazara Town, the scene of Saturday’s attack, the AFP news agency reported.
Police said they were in talks to end the protest. However, Qayyum Changezi, a local Shia party leader, said they “will not bury the dead until a targeted operation is launched”.
Amin Shaheedi, the vice president of the Shia Wahdatul Muslemeen party, demanded control of Quetta be handed over to the army.
“Terrorists are roaming freely and we are not given any protection. Our protest will continue until we get protection,” he told reporters.
A BOMB targeting Shiite Muslims in a busy market in Pakistan’s insurgency-hit southwest killed 79 people including women and children and wounded 180 others.
The powerful bomb in a water tanker ripped through a packed bazaar in Hazara town, an area dominated by Shiites on the outskirts of Quetta - capital of oil and gas rich Baluchistan province - at around 6pm local time yesterday.
“We have recovered more dead bodies from the debris of a collapsed building. The death toll has now risen to 79,” senior Quetta police official Wazir Khan Nasir said.
Quetta city police chief Zubair Mehmood said the water tanker, which officials said was packed with some 800 kilograms of explosives, was placed near a pillar of a two-storey building, which collapsed in the blast.
“We fear that several people have been trapped inside. Rescue work is ongoing but I see very little chance of their survival,” Mr Mehmood said.
Mr Nasir said the bombing “was a sectarian attack, the Shiite community was the target”.
A spokesman for the banned Sunni Muslim extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Horrifying to think of what can happen if al-Qaeda gets their hands on the chemical weapon supplies Assad has when Assad falls out of power.
About halfway down a New York Times’ story on Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, the paper reports a disturbing new detail about the Syrian opposition. According to Clinton, rebels in Syria have been receiving ‘messages’ from a part of Pakistan where al-Qaeda’s core leaders are believed to be hiding out:
She added: “Having said all that, [Syrian leader Bashar] Assad is still killing. The opposition is increasingly being represented by Al Qaeda extremist elements.” She also said that the opposition was getting messages from the ungoverned areas in Pakistan where some of the Qaeda leadership was believed to be hiding — a development she called “deeply distressing.”
Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister on Tuesday in connection with an alleged corruption scandal, ratcheting up pressure on a government locked in a showdown with a cleric who has a history of ties to the army.
The combination of the arrest order and a mass street protest in the capital Islamabad led by Muslim cleric Muhammad Tahirul Qadri raised fears among politicians that the military was working with the judiciary to force out a civilian leader.
“There is no doubt that Qadri’s march and the Supreme Court’s verdict were masterminded by the military establishment of Pakistan,” Fawad Chaudhry, an aide to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, told Reuters.
“The military can intervene at this moment as the Supreme Court has opened a way for it.”
“Pakistan is a paradise for journalists. It is a very important area. You can do a lot in that way. … So many problems and so many issues that you can write about,” explained Irfan Ashraf during a question-and-answer session with our Marc Herman last November about girls education advocate Malala Yousafzai. Then Ashraf added, “But security is the major issue. You never know who is hitting you at which time. It would [distract] me to such extent that I would not be able to write.”
Ashraf was a reporter in Pakistan until recently, having worked with domestic outlets like the English-language Dawn News, and foreign ones such as The New York Times. He left his homeland for the University of Southern Illinois to earn a doctorate in mass communications.
The subcontinent of South Asia has inexorably been developing into a cauldron of violence ever since the origins of Islam in Arabia and its steady expansion to the east. Here it clashed with Hinduism a religion that was an antithesis of Islam and over the centuries this unhappy mix has been smoldering and has now reached a point where there is likely to be a furious conflagration. During the course of the history of this subcontinent there have been many watersheds, ever since the advent of Islam into this region. The first serious clashes took place in the hot plains of North India when the Muslim armies clashed with the Hindu Rajput rulers. After some fierce battles, the Hindu peoples settled under the kings of the Muslim Sultanates of the earlier dynasties of the Slave kings, until the Mughals stabilized a Caliphate in North India. The Mughals after Aurangzeb declined and the dynasty petered out.
When the British East India Company was ruling the country, there was a second watershed between Hindu and Muslim cultures. This was the Sepoy Mutiny, when the rigid Wahabi philosophy was brought to India by Muslims who went for the annual Haj pilgrimage. While Hindu and Muslim sepoys were involved in the Mutiny against the British, the Sikhs and the Gurkhas did not side with the mutineers. The revolt was crushed and the British Government then took over the reins of the Government. The medium of administration was Urdu during the reign of the Mughals. After the British Government took over the reins of government after the Sepoy Mutiny, they changed the medium of administration to English. This had a major impact on the domination of the Muslims in administration. It was the Hindus who took to English education and who also took advantage of the hundreds of Catholic Convents and Protestant Mission schools that were set up by the Proselytising Christian missionaries both Protestant and Catholic. In a couple of years, the Muslim community had declined in Government.
The third flashpoint in this story took place when the British had to divide India between a secular India and a Muslim Pakistan.
The women, some of them teachers, were attacked near a children’s community centre. A male colleague died with them. All were Pakistani citizens.
Their vehicle came under gunfire near the centre run by Pakistani charity Ujala, or Light.
Militants targeting a vaccination programme are suspected. No group has said it carried out the attack.
The incident happened in the Swabi district close to a road connecting Peshawar to the eastern city of Lahore.
The centre was part school and part clinic, specialising in maternal health.