At least eight people are dead and 20 are injured after a car bombing Monday in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region, security officials told CNN.
KARACHI: The British government has contacted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan with regards to his concerns for the safety of party workers in Karachi, the PTI chairman’s sister Aleema Khan said on Monday.
Aleema arrived in Karachi to attend the soyem of PTI leader Zahra Shahid Hussain, who was killed in the city on the eve of re-polling for NA-250 constituency.
The PTI chairman’s sister told the media that Imran was concerned about the safety of the PTI supporters protesting in Karachi.
“He was concerned because supporters and leaders have been receiving threats,” she explained.
She further added that PTI supporters in Karachi were threatened not to leave their homes.
Regarding the course the party will take for the murder case, Aleema said the Karachi leadership of PTI will decide on who to nominate in Hussain’s murder FIR.
Restoring peace in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will be a major challenge for the incoming provincial government, says Sirajul Haq, the finance minister-designate in the provincial cabinet.
“But it [the provincial government] will have little say on the issue,” adds Haq, who was elected to the K-P Assembly from PK-95 (Lower Dir-II) on a Jamaat-e-Islami ticket.
In an exclusive chat with The Express Tribune, Haq said that resolving the security issue in K-P depends entirely on the will of the military establishment and federal government. “If they desire to end this bloody game, the issue would be settled within hours,” he added.
If Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan could approach the media, then why was it impossible for the military to negotiate with the Taliban and end the bloody conflict, he said.
For peace talks to begin, Haq suggested that some Taliban prisoners could be released as a goodwill gesture. “But this decision can only be taken at the level of the federal government or the military command.”
Haq revealed that before the 2008 elections, the Awami National Party had reached an agreement with the Taliban on the release of some of their prisoners. In exchange, the Taliban agreed not to create any trouble for the party during its election campaign. However, the ANP reneged on its promise due to the military’s reluctance, and as a result it suffered countless attacks at the hands of the Taliban, he said.
Agreement to bar women from polls
Haq offered a different account regarding the agreement inked by political parties to bar women from voting in his constituency. He claimed that the deal was proposed by the Pakistan Peoples Party based on intelligence reports which suggested militants were planning to use female suicide bombers to attack polling stations on May 11.
“All parties reached a consensus in light of the reports,” he added. “I was personally not in favour of disenfranchising local women.”
Education and budget
As a cabinet member, Haq said his first priority would be to reopen the schools destroyed by Taliban insurgents in the province and to launch a microfinance scheme for graduates. “Under the scheme, loans will be provided to graduates according to their skills level,” he said.
The JI leader, who will likely present the provincial budget for the year 2013-14, said the provincial budget could be termed a bureaucratic budget because the new finance minister and provincial government would have little time to introduce significant changes to it.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2013.
Tunisian security forces clashed Sunday with supporters of a hardline Islamist group who were holding a conference despite a government ban.
The body of Khalid Bashir, chief security officer for Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)’s Hafiz Saeed, was found near Sheikhapura canal on Mureed Kay road in Lahore.
The JuD is the charity wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group which India has accused of masterminding the 2008 terrorist attacks in the Indian commercial hub of Mumbai.
According to sources, Bashir received a phone call from an unknown person while having dinner at his residence. Later at night, he went missing and his body, showing signs of torture, was found in the morning.
Bashir, apart from being the head of all the security matters of the organization, was responsible for coordinating all of Hafiz Saeed’s movements. The 42-year-old Bashir had joined JuD as a worker about 25 years ago and had risen in the organisation, ultimately becoming the security head.
Hafiz Saeed told The Express Tribune that Bashir was an old loyalist who had thwarted many attempts on his life. Saeed alleged that Bashior’s role in the JuD had irked certain powers, who wanted him dead.
Security for major JuD leaders was tightened as a result of the killing.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2013.
Britain’s rarest flower will have its own personal security guards when it goes on display at next week’s Chelsea Flower Show.
Tribal elders have claimed that at least 64 people – including women and children – have died of hunger, natural calamities and accidents while 12,000 families have been uprooted from their homes in Kurram Agency following a military operation against militants.
Speaking at a news conference at Parachinar Press Club, elders of Para Chamkani and Masuzai tribes Hayat Khan Chamkani, Hafizullah, Haji Saddin and Yousaf Khan Chamkani claimed that around 12,000 families were displaced by the military operation in the past one week.
On May 7, militants took control of several security check-posts in the Masuzai and Para Chamkani mountainous areas of Central Kurram, Haji Sadeen Khan said. On May 9, a heavy gunfight erupted between security forces and militants in the area, forcing the families to flee for safety. He added that militants from Orakzai and Khyber agencies captured the surrounding areas and infiltrated villages.
As a result, Haji Sadeen said, most of the tribal people moved to lower parts of the agency, including Khar, Khazi Khel and Palash Khel, and have been living without food and health facilities. Apart from the 64 people who have died, a large number of cattle have also perished due to hunger and accidents, while hundreds of children are suffering from various diseases.
Tribal elder Hafizullah demanded the government register the displaced families as internally displaced persons and provide them with food and health facilities. “If the government does not want to register them as IDPs, at least it can help them in providing tents and food,” he added.
Speaking on the elections, Hafizullah, who was also Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s candidate for NA-38 and NA-39, said that the general elections were suspended in NA-38 because tribesmen insisted on contesting them and would not participate in them unless they were repatriated to their homes.
He added that Gondal, Tabay, Malo Pattai, Darya Sarpakh, Goganay, Aroza, Makhranai Godar and other villages were also under the control of militants.
School, dispensary set alight
Also on Tuesday, militants torched a local dispensary and state-run school in Para Chamkani area, reducing the buildings to ashes.
Separately, two people were injured when a mortar shell fired from an undisclosed location struck the houses of tribesmen in the Camel Baza area of Central Kurram.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2013.
Experts have called upon the new government to place energy, revival of economy and establishing peace and security on top of its priorities.
At a talk titled “Development Priorities for New Government” on Tuesday they said that people need relief from prolonged energy crisis and shattered economy. The event was organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), said a press release issued by the institute.
Professor Dr Tariq Banuri from the University of Utah, said that the new government must devise a development strategy - a combination of growth strategy, social sector strategy, energy strategy and innovation strategy coupled with introduction of reforms and good governance measures.
He noted that every new government comes with a sense of optimism to turn things around and wished the new government to bring positive developments inscribed in their manifestos. However, he said that continuity of process and policies is fundamentally important to spur growth and development in the country.
Referring to daunting challenges of revival of economy and energy crisis, he said that economy can automatically be uplifted with radical expansion in energy generation. He said that conventional energy resources are under lot of stress and it is an established fact worldwide that future now lies in renewable energy. He called upon the government to strategically invest in energy sector with emphasis on renewable resources. He appreciated the start of Pak-Iran gas pipeline project but showed his reservation which according to him has higher rates as compared to international market.
He said that Pakistan needs to learn from regional success models such as Malaysia who through education and innovation, have transformed themselves into knowledge economies. He said Pakistani economy needs critical reforms to be able to stand on its feet where the most important contributor can be to have substantial increase in tax to GDP ratio. Dr Banuri also talked of reforms in government bureaucracy with particular emphasis on accountability and coherence of various pillars of state such as judiciary and executive.
The professor from the US said 44 per cent of power is produced from furnace which results in very high tariff for consumers in the country. But this costly electricity is heavily subsidised and consumers are charged nine rupees per unit and in average 2-4 rupees per unit is paid by common consumers. He said producing costly electricity and distributing it at subsidised prices cannot work anywhere in the world. He also lamented lack of accountability regime and management crisis which is contributing in the power crisis.
Pakistan Institute of Development Economics Joint Director Dr Rehana Siddiqui urged the new government to devise policies for youth which she said is a huge demographic dividend but no serious effort has been made to tape this resource.
Earlier, SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, said that Pakistani voters seemed to opt for performance and now the elected government has to deliver on its promises. He added the first challenge is to take the ownership of budget which has already been prepared by bureaucracy and negotiate with IMF for loan otherwise Pakistan is on the verge of default. He urged government to revise energy mix and plug the loopholes to address energy crisis. He said revival of economy could be a laborious task but plugging the loopholes can provide some relief to people in short time.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2013.