PPP leader’s hospital turns into five-star lodging for prisoners

By Naimat Khan

Former President Asif Ali Zardari conferring the award of Nishan-i-Imtiaz on Dr. Asim Hussain, former minister and Zardari’s partner in many projects recently detained by Rangers for massive corruption and part in the city’s crime economy

KARACHI: While both prisons of Karachi present a gloomy picture of tormented prisoners being jailed there, the well-off under trial prisoners and convicts, especially those having political backing, have found in a private hospital in the upper-class Clifton neighborhood a best and luxurious accommodation, sources in the health facility revealed to The Frontier Post.

Three VIP rooms at the third and fourth floor of the hospital, owned by a former PPP minister, were occupied by persons accused of huge corruption. However, the police took two of them, namely Moeen Shaikh and Javed on last Thursday evening, ending their prolonged and comfortable stay.

According to hospital sources Moeen Shaikh was using the room no-2006 at third floor for more than two years while Javed was being accommodated in room no 417 at fourth Floor. Though the exact date of his admission could not be known, a doctor in the facility told on the condition of anonymity that Javed was living there for several months.

The hospital record shows that Moeen Shaikh was advised for hospital observation by his consultant Dr Asif Farooqi, a senior physician in the hospital’s Clifton branch.

When this scribe contacted admission and discharge department of the hospital, the front desk staff on duty informed that daily charges of room no 2006 at third floor were Rs 9000 while the one at fourth floor could be acquired at Rs 10,000 per day. An estimate of his stay suggests that Shaikh might have paid from 8 to 10 million only as room charges to the facility.

Moeen Shaikh, sources said, was produced before the anti corruption court in Karachi on Friday, 27 September but it could not be known whether he was granted bail or sent to Jail on judicial custody. He, however, had not turned back to the hospital till Sunday evening.

Also read: Hospital owned by Zardari’s aide gets Rs500m grant

Adnan Zaman who was arrested for the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) payment of about Rs 60 Crore to fictitious and bogus exporters under the garb of 25 per cent freight subsidy, managed to get room no-2007 at third floor on 18 June 2013, just weeks after his arrest and is enjoying this facility for the last over hundred days despite serious graft charges.

The 54 years old Zaman was referred by his consultant Dr Faisal Memon of the said hospital. According to hospital’s statistics he had either paid to hospital or was liable to pay Rs 936,000 as room charges only till the filling of this report.

When The Frontier Post inquired about the average stay under medical observation an admission department official told that it was two to three days. He further told that there could be serious cases with prolong stay but their major chunk of time is spent in ICU.  The patient, gone in Coma is exception, he said.

Dr. Mirza Tasawar Baig, assistant professor and a spokesman for the Ziauddin Medical University insisted that patient could be retained for years in case of chronic diseases. He, however, showed his ignorance regarding the three cases in question, guessing there might be solid grounds to put the accused under medical observation for long time.

The Frontier Post tried to contact the concerned consultants but the phone number of both Dr Amir Farooqi and Dr Faisal Memon were switched off.

According to rule and procedures the jail authorities writes to home department, requesting for the transfer of under trial prisoner to hospital, informed senior lawyer advocate Gandapur, who further stated that the home department then refers him to one of  the services hospitals, which determines to which hospital he should be sent.

He further said that the concerned hospital is declared as sub-jail, guarded by jail police. When The Frontier Post contacted Sharfuddin Memon, consultant home to Chief Minister Sindh, who also holds the portfolio of home minister, he said he could speak on the subject on working day only and will share the record of under trial prisoners currently availing the facility.

This story was published in The Frontier Post on 30th September 2013 under the heading Influential inmates living comfortably in PPP ex-minister’s hospital. It is being reproduced for the interest of those who follow the Case of Dr Asim Hussain, the owner of this hospital.

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US Presidential candidates fail to see ISIS has outgrown its origins

ISIS flags are replacing Taliban flags in parts of Afghanistan

It’s likely most militants will shift their loyalty to ISIS

Fallout?

Will Mullah Omar’s death worsen the security situation in Afghanistan?

Fallout?



Naimat Khan

The death of Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar is being seen as good news by many around the globe who aspire for peace, but those aware of the political situation in Afghanistan sense troubled times ahead, with infighting among emergent Taliban factions and the strengthening of more ruthless groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

With their charismatic leader no more among them, the Taliban may not be able to continue the “exemplary unity” they had demonstrated so far. “His name was enough,” says Zubair Babakarkhail, a noted Afghan journalist. “Even those who had never seen him would never question his authority.”

But the appointment of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor as his successor has been questioned by many among the Taliban ranks. Mullah Omar’s brother Mullah Abdul Manan declined to pledge allegiance to him until the differences were resolved. According to a report by Jibran Ahmed, the Reuters correspondent in Peshawar, he and Mullah Omar’s son were among the key leaders who walked out in protest when the council of Taliban leaders chose Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. According to veteran Islamabad-based journalist Tahir Khan, senior Taliban leaders have set up their own council.

On the other hand, Jalaluddin Haqqani, the powerful head of the Haqqani network, is supporting the new emir. The influential former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir is also supporting Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, according to a statement released by the Taliban. Taliban’s media men have been very active in the last few days, releasing videos and statements in support of their new chief.

“The fact that a Taliban leader had to stress unity indicates a growing divide,” says Babakarkhail. “Such statements had never been required in the past.”

Many Taliban commanders who resisted the charm of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria because of their loyalty to Mullah Omar – who had the title of Ameerul Momineen, or the leader of the faithful –

may now switch sides, analysts say.

“After the death of Mullah Omar, disputes among the Taliban will intensify,” says Kabul-based journalist Javed Hamim Kakar. “Some of them will join the peace process, others will continue fighting, and a few others will join the IS,” says Kakar, who is a senior editor at Pajhwok, an independent news agency in Afghanistan.

With the Taliban already losing some ground to IS, the insurgency in Afghanistan has entered a critical phase. “If Taliban fighters, especially those in the north, defect to IS and intensify their fighting, that will further undermine Afghanistan’s security,” says Kabul-based analyst Dr Hussain Yasa. The outcome of the internal politics of Jihadi fighters will determine the impact of Mullah Omar’s death on Afghanistan, he says.

“In Ghazni and Zabul, Taliban’s white flags have been replaced by the black flags of IS”

“In Ghazni and Zabul provinces, one hardly sees the Taliban’s white flag. It has already been replaced by the black flags of IS, even before the news of Mullah Omar’s death,” Yasa writes.

Sami Yousafzai – a BBC correspondent who has been reporting militancy for 15 years from the heart of its epicenter – doubts IS will make any significant inroads.

“I don’t see much attraction for IS among the Afghan Taliban,” he says. “Those who have joined the IS in Afghanistan are mainly Pakistani, or from areas in Afghanistan with Wahabi influence.”

Mullah Omar’s death may not have been news for many in the Taliban cadres. Pakistani and Afghan Taliban commanders who have recently pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi knew he was dead, says Faizullah Khan, an ARY reporter who spent almost six months in an Afghan jail for an illegal venture to interview Taliban leaders on the Afghan side of the Durand Line. “Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, and Hafiz Saeed Khan had expressed it during my interaction with them in Afghanistan,” he says. The head of the Uzbekistan Islamic Movement, Usman Ghazi, had also demanded Mullah Omar show himself if he were still alive, says Faizullah.

If Mullah Omar died two years ago, the way the Taliban handled their affairs in his absence may indicate his death would have very little impact on their organization. But it is the formal announcement that may compel many local commanders to change their mind.

“Most likely, some Afghan Taliban will change sides and there is an even greater possibility that a large number of Pakistani Taliban will refuse to follow Mullah Akhtar Mansoor because he is allegedly close to Pakistani intelligence agencies,” Faizullah Khan says.

He believes that will not stall the peace process. “The talks were in fact started by none other than Mullah Akhtar Mansoor,” Khan claims.

Regardless, the new Taliban leader may not renew the negotiations before has consolidated power and wields influence over those commanders who oppose negotiating with the Afghan government. “Mullah Akhtar Masnoor will have to muster strength and influence before he can discuss peace talks,” says Sami Yousafzai. “That will take at least six months.”

Javed Hamim Kakar believes the announcement of Mullah Omar’s death at this time is part of the strategy. “If the Afghan government would reach a deal with the Taliban and there would be no Mullah Omar to endorse it, questions would be asked,” he says.

Amid fears of infighting, derailment of peace talks and the emergence of more lethal groups, analysts believe there is some good news for the Afghans. “Divisions among the insurgents will boost the morale of the Afghan government forces,” according to Yousafzai.

“Even if some Taliban join the peace process, those who continue to fight will become weaker,” says Kakar. “If Pakistan really helps, everything will change.”

The writer is a freelance journalist

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

Originally Published in The Friday Times

The new face of terror

With the Taliban organization dismantled, some local militants are switching loyalties to join ISIS

The new face of terror

By: Naimat Khan

Ten kilograms of explosives were seized from outside a Shia mosque in the Tank district of Dera Ismail Khan on July 17 – the second day of Eid in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the adjacent tribal areas. In a ‘warning note’ left with the bomb, Zulfiqar Khanjri – who calls himself a commander of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – threatened to kill the women who would go shopping unaccompanied by male relatives.

On June 3, a shopping center in Tank catering mainly to women was blown up with explosives. Ten shops were damaged in the blast.

Tank – locally pronounced Tonk – is the capital city of the Tank district, which also serves as the winter headquarters of the South Waziristan Agency, one of the seven federally administered tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

“This is the last warning from the Mujahedeen of ISIS,” said the ‘public notice’. “If we see a woman in a street, a neighborhood, a bazaar, or a shop without a male companion from her family, we will shoot her.” The handbill is written on a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) letterhead.

On June 3, a women’s shopping center in Tank was blown up with explosives

“The Mujahedeen request the people to stop their women from going out of their houses without Pardah. And if it is essential (for them to go out), the presence of a male companion is mandatory.”

The undated letter also threatens local shopkeepers. “We also request cloth traders not to let women enter their shops without a male companion, or their shops will be blown up.” A local told me he had not seen any flag marches by militants in Tank Bazaar, but they are local and live among the people of the city.

The letter signals the emergence of a new face of Jihadi militants who have been taking a battering at the hands of the army in the recent military operations in the tribal areas, security analysts say.

“The Taliban leadership has either been killed or has fled,” said Munawar Burki, a security analyst from the Kaniguram town in South Waziristan. “In their absence, the glamour of the Islamic State is fast attracting local militants, and even their commanders. They have announced allegiance to the global terrorist outfit without any formal offers or requests from them.”

Taliban militants patrol in South Waziristan in this 2007 file photo

But Zia Ur Rehman, a journalist who covers militancy in the region, disagrees. He says there are two factions of Mehsud militants operating in the Tank area, and neither of them have announced their allegiance to ISIS. “Zulfiqar Khanjri is a new name, and no one in the area has heard about him,” he says.

Aqeel Yousafzai, a Peshawar based security analyst who has written several books on Taliban, says more than 300 hardcore commanders, militants and suicide bombers of Taliban from FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have joined ISIS because the Taliban are in a disarray, and because of the international charm and attraction of the Iraq and Syria based terrorist organization. “We have credible information that many militants belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan are considering announcing allegiance to ISIS,” says Yousafzai.

tft-25-p-1-e

After fleeing to Afghanistan, Taliban leaders have lost their grip on their local foot soldiers

The first of the Taliban factions to switch loyalty from Afghan Taliban emir Mullah Omar to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was led by Umar Khalid Khorasani, a former chief of the Mohmand chapter of TTP who opposed negotiations between the Pakistani Taliban and the government in 2014. He named his faction TTP-Jamaatul Ahrar.

In March this year, when the Operation Zarb-e-Azab was in full swing, at least four factions of Taliban militants were strengthening their influence in areas of Dera Ismail Khan, killing Mehsud elders and threatening traders for extortion. There were increasing attacks on police amid reports of abductions for ransom and other criminal activities by various Taliban groups in Luni town and Tank district.

tft-25-p-1-c

According to analysts, the local militants were able to survive and are now switching loyalties after the military operation by Pakistan Army dismantled the organization of the Taliban. The Taliban leadership, which had moved to Afghanistan after the operation Zarb-e-Azb began, has lost its grip on its foot soldiers.

“The ideology and targets of the guerillas remain the same,” says Yousafzai. “When the armed forces eliminate one organization, they reemerge with a new face.”

The writer is a freelance journalist

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

Originally Published in The Friday Times