Why did Sindh vote for PPP?

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The reasons behind the party’s remarkable victory in local elections

Why did Sindh vote for PPP?


Despite a setback in Badin and some lost ground in Lyari, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has seen a major victory in Sindh. The party has won all the district councils in the first two phases of local elections, a majority 21 of the 38 councils in Karachi District Council (KDC), and 17 union committees of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC).

Its former ally, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), will run Hyderabad, the KMC, and four of its districts – the Central, West, Korangi and East districts.

The PPP is in control of the KDC – consisting of the city’s suburbs – and the South and Malir districts. It will also rule over the rest of Sindh.

Coming at a time when the party is being accused of corruption and poor governance in the province, the remarkable victory has raised a lot of questions.

“The PPP hasn’t won the elections because of its performance,” says Jami Chandio, executive director of the Center for Peace and Civil Society (CPCS), a think tank based in Sindh. “There are several other factors that have helped the party retain support among voters.” An emotional bond between the party and the Sindhi masses is not one of them, he says. That bond does not exist any longer.

“People believe that a party in power can better resolve their routine problems, even if it fails to deliver on a larger scale,” says Irshad Khokhar, a Karachi based journalist who covers governance and politics in Sindh.

A key factor is that there is no competition. “The PML-N has never aimed to expand its base in Sindh,” says Chandio. “The PTI could have been an alternative, but it focused solely on Karachi and paid little attention to rural Sindh.” Sindhi ethnic political parties have become irrelevant, he says. “They never came out of the politics of the 1980s. They could have revisited their narratives, but they haven’t done so, probably deliberately.”

Veteran journalist Riaz Sohail says Sindhi ethnic parties practice “issue-based politics”, and that does not translate into electoral success. They are weak in “politics of constituencies”. Jalal Mehmood Shah’s Jeay Sindh group and Ayaz Palijo’s Awami Tehreek are exceptions to some extent, he says, but they focus on specific narrow areas.

‘They backed Hindu candidates to defeat the Arbabs’

The PPP defeated a possible contender, the PML-F, with good strategy. “The People’s Party worked hard, bringing on board anyone who had even ten or twenty votes. No such mobilization was seen on the part of the PML-F,” says Riaz Sohail. When some of the party’s workers were killed in the first phase of the elections, there were no major protests. Riaz says that may have been viewed negatively by the PML-F voters. The party had six district Nazims in 2005. Now, it will have none.

The two major parties – the PPP and the MQM – have been criticized for not challenging each other, focusing on their own separate areas of interest.

“There is a strong misconception that the people of Sindh don’t consider the governance factor. The real question is, what alternatives do they have?” says Jami Chandio. “They feel secure voting for the PPP and the MQM, and the two parties exploit their voters by making them feel insecure.”

There is a strong perception among Sindhis that if they do not vote for the PPP, the power will shift to the MQM. “Whenever the MQM has formed a coalition government with anyone other than the PPP, it has been the primary center of power,” says Chandio.

Wakeelur Rehman, a local journalist, agrees. “The local council elections in Karachi highlighted the same feeling of insecurity among the Urdu speaking people, which helped the MQM win in Urdu speaking localities,” he says.

The only signs of a formidable opposition can be seen in the large number of independent candidates that won this time. “Voters in small cities have shown political maturity and reacted to bad governance,” Riaz Sohail says. “The total votes to parties other than the PPP and independent candidates is higher than the number of votes to the PPP. The anti-PPP vote is divided.”

An interesting phenomenon in these elections is the massive defeat of three major influential political families – the Arbabs of Tharparkar, the Sheerazis of Thattha and the Jatois of Moro and Naushehro Feroz. “The PPP wiped out the Arbabs by fielding Hindu candidates,” according to Chandio. “That strategy worked well for it.” In the past, most of the candidates belonged to the Muslim minority or upper class Hindus, but the provincial ministers Gayan Chand Esrani and Kato Mal, both from scheduled castes, played a major role in awarding tickets to people from the scheduled castes. In all three cases, a mistrust towards former representatives and the fact that the PPP is in power in the province were also critical factors.

The writer is a Karachi-based journalist

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

Police investigating Safoora suspects’ link with Islamic State

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Naimat Khan

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Saad Aziz, prime suspect of the Safoora carnage, who has done his master in business administration from the prestigious Institute of Business Administration (IBA)

KARACHI: Law enforcement agencies have found some clues regarding considerable presence of the Islamic State network – also called Daish – on Pakistani soil, sources said.
The government of Pakistan has been downplaying the threat from self-styled Middle Eastern group Islamic State by saying no footprints of the terror group were found in Pakistan.

“The IS puzzle is going to be solved soon” told an investigator who wished not to be named. The law enforcers have got the clues that the network, though still far away from being properly contacted, may pose a big threat to the security of the country.

In Pakistan several Taliban commanders and groups had been pledging allegiance to the terror group but the group was believed to be unsuccessful in forming a proper organizational network.

“But the interrogation of detained terror suspect has provided clues to the law enforcers regarding the IS likely network,” a senior police official told this scribe.

Last year a secret report addressed to the government of Baluchistan had claimed that IS claims to have recruited a massive 10 to 12,000 followers from the Hangu and Kurram Agency tribal areas.

The leader of TTP’s splinter group, led by Omar Khalid Khorasani, the leader of TTP Jammat-ul-Ahrar group had also pledged allegiance to Islamic state last year but the group couldn’t be successful in its mission to join the IS’ campaign for Islamic political system.

“It has been reliably learnt that Daish has offered some elements of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Ahl-e-Sunnat Wai Jamat (ASWJ) to join hands in Pakistan. Daish has also formed a ten-member Strategic Planning Wing,” intelligence report, a copy of which is available with The Frontier Post, stated.

“A youth from Karachi has been posted as Qazi (judge), in one of the Syrian cities where militants of the Islamic State (IS) have imposed their version of Shariah rule” sources said.

Though almost all accused of the Safoora carnage were somehow associated with Al Qaeda, most of them and their acts of terror turned out to be an inspiration from the IS, sources said, adding it pushed investigators to interrogate them from that angle.

“Although it’s still far from being fully established, it’s more than likely that the Safoora suspects had established some contact with IS and taking guidelines from it,” a police officer told.
Earlier, investigators had rejected the “startling revelations” made by Inspector General Sindh Police Ghulam Hyder Jamali regarding the presence of lethal terror outfit Islamic State in southern Pakistani province.
While briefing a meeting of the Standing Committee on Interior in Islamabad IGP Sindh Ghulam Hyder Jamali had claimed that the militants targeted a bus carrying Ismaili community members in Karachi earlier this year belonged to Daesh” Islamic State.

He further divulged that the suspects of Safoora attack had been getting instructions from one Abdul Aziz in Syria.

Two days later a section of media claimed that the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Sindh police had prepared a list of 53 terrorists, who are affiliated Islamic State.

According to reports Abdullah Yousuf alias Abdul Aziz and also Saqib is the Ameer of Daesh – also known Islamic State – while another suspected terrorist has been identified as Shahid Khokhar, who hails from Hyderabad. Reports further said that the third terrorist is Bilal who is affiliated with Daesh and hails from Mirpurkhas.

“Instead, they were inspired of the style of IS” a police officer told while talking to The Frontier Post. He said the persons who carried this savage attack and those planning and implementing the killings of Ismailis had proven association with Al Qaeda Indian Subsequent (AQIS).

Published in The Frontier Post

Pashtuns stand above ethnic biases in LG elections

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An ethnic community opts for Pakistan as ‘Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi cards’ yield results in Karachi

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Naimat Khan

KARACHI: While the Urdu, Punjabi and Sindhi speaking communities succumbed to ethic politics, the Pashtun community of Karachi stood above cultural bias in the recently held local government elections, unofficial results show.

Local government elections were held in six districts of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and one Karachi District Council (KDC) on December 5, in which the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) secured first and second positions, respectively.

Both the parties attracted the ethnic Urdu- and Sindhi-speaking electorates in Karachi, a microcosm of Pakistan where class and cultural divisions increasing by the day.

Similarly, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had focused on neighbourhoods with a majority of Punjabi and Hazara populations, yielding sought-after results.

According to unofficial results so far, the MQM has won 50 of 51 Union Committees (UC) in district Central, and 26 of 37 UCs in district Korangi, 19 of 30 UCs in district East and 21 of 46 seats in district West. It also managed to secure nine of 32 UCs in district South, and four of 13 seats in district Malir.

The results clearly show a divide – the MQM won from areas where a majority of Urdu-speaking populace resides.

Muttahida failed to win even a single seat from KDC, which comprises the Sindhi-speaking population. The PPP grabbed a majority of UCs from here, despite an alliance against it of former party leaders as well as some Baloch tribal leaders.

The PPP, once a federal party with representation in all four provinces of the country, has been reduced to being a ‘Sindhi’ party.

However, results show a mixed trend in Pashtun-dominated localities of the city, as candidates of different parties have won from Landhi and Keamari areas of district West.

The PPP, PML-N, PTI, Jamaat-e-Islami, Awami National Party, Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party (PRHP), Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl as well as independent candidates have secured seats of chairmen, vice chairmen and councilors from these areas.

ANP, which has been using the Pashtun card, could only manage to win one seat from its symbol Laltain from Mominabad, Zia Colony.

Pashtun nationalism vs. Pakistan

“Pashtuns of Karachi have been misled. They have failed to demonstrate the desirable Pashtun nationalism,” says ANP General Secretary Younas Buneri. “Undesirable circumstances for the ANP, which was under direct attack from religious extremists, are a major factor [which has contributed to the Pashtun divide].”

Buneri says his party has so far won five seats for vice-chairmen and 19 UCs, mostly in alliance with other parties and on other symbols.

Niaz Ali Shah, a member of ANP from Landhi was allowed to contest elections as independent candidate due to fears from extremists, he informs, adding, reports of attacks on Rangers and Military Police personnel also prevented Pashtun supporters coming out in large numbers.

The party’s general secretary also sees the campaign by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Amir Sirajul Haq, the sole reason for a split in Pashtun electorates.

“The ANP failed to secure its workers when the Taliban accelerated attacks on them. During this period the leadership went either to Islamabad or abroad, leaving the common worker at the mercy of militants and the law enforcement agencies,” says Wakeelur Rehman, a Karachi-based Psashtun reporter.

Many workers facing threats knocked the door of JI when abandoned by the party, he adds.

“Other communities may allow its leader to lead them from abroad but among Pashtuns, it’s the most disliked thing.”

“If our association with ANP was a crime in the eyes of Taliban, our identity as Pashtun was enough for police to declare us Taliban,” an ANP worker tells this scribe on condition of anonymity.

The JI held a Pashtun jirga of the victims’ families, mostly ANP workers at Idara Noor-e-Haq – party headquarters – where for the first time in history all speeches were delivered in Pashto language.

“Those were the days when abandoned workers of ANP started looking towards other parties, adds Rehman.

The ANP worker – who wished not to be named – informs that at least 350 party workers are behind bars, which need legal assistance; ANP did not provide a lawyer to anyone.

“When the MQM was developing Qatar hospital for its electorates in Orangi town, ANP was selling medicines of Kulsum Bai Valika Hospital in the medical stores of Metroville,” claims the ANP worker.

Political analyst Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan, sees a lack of unity among Pashtuns and the growing religiosity as two of the many causes that failed to monetise the ‘Pashtun card’.

Former UC Nazim from Metroville in SITE Town of the city Abdul Razaq insists Pashtuns, though misled in past in the name of Pashtun nationalism, have always preferred ‘Pakistaniat’ over ethnic nationalism.

“Pashtuns have demonstrated political maturity, judging things above ethnic and sectarian lines,” says Razaq, who belongs to JI.

According to economist Kaiser Bengali, Pashtuns by 2045 will be in a majority – 33 per cent of the Karachi population.

Currently, Karachi houses more Pashtuns than Peshawar, Quetta and Kabul, among other cities of the world.

“But whether elected in the name of nationalism or otherwise, our representatives have done nothing for their neighbourhoods, says a Pashtun resident of Keamari. “Pashtun-dominated areas do not look like Karachi – poor infrastructure with a lack of basic facilities.”

 

‘Threats, intimidation and enticement’

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The battle against crime and terror cannot be won without witness protection

‘Threats, intimidation and enticement’



 

By Naimat Khan

On January 13, 2011, a young news reporter was assassinated on his way back from work in the North Nazimabad neighborhood of Karachi. Gunmen shot 28-year-old Wali Khan Babar five times in his face and neck for carrying out his professional duties.

The case was heard by four judges in three courts until there was a conviction. Meanwhile, two policemen, an informer, an investigation officer’s brother, a lawyer and a witness had also been killed. The first lawyer in the case fled to the US and applied for an asylum because of death threats.

“Each time they would kill a person related to our case, we would lose all hope,” said Murtaza Babar, Wali’s older brother. “But soon, our determination to send the killers of our beloved brother to the gallows would help us muster courage again.”

In March 2014, a little more than three years after the murder, a special anti-terrorism court sentenced four men to life in prison, while two absconders were given a death sentence in absentia. One of them, Faisal Mahmud aka Faisal Mota, was later arrested from the MQM headquarters in Karachi during a predawn raid on March 11, the paramilitary Rangers said.

But Murtaza says his family fought the case all alone with no support from the state. This is the second case of a journalist’s murder in Pakistan in which there was a conviction. The first was the killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.

“Now they are going into appeal, and it is hard for the government to find a prosecutor,” he told me.

Policemen and lawyers say there are hundreds of case in which suspects threaten, intimidate or lure witnesses to change their statement.

In one case, a man was reluctant to become a complainant in his son’s murder

“The safety of witnesses is not a new problem, but the Wali Khan Babar case highlights the extent of the issue,” says Raja Umar Khattab, a senior counter-terrorism police official. “In all terrorism and sectarian cases, witnesses need more security.”

In one case, he says, a man was reluctant to become a complainant in his son’s murder. The state had to become a party. “If we want to bring murderers and terrorists to the book, we will have to adopt measures to restore people’s trust in the law, so that they are no longer scared of criminals.”

On September 21, unidentified gunmen killed police sub-inspector Muhammad Ishtiaq Awan, who was a witness in the murder of another sub-inspector Manuj Kumar in 2010. They key suspect was Tahir Hussain Minhas, who according to Raja Umar Khattab, is an Al Qaeda commander detained by the police in the Safoora bus shooting case.

Two weeks before Ishtiaq’s assassination, on September 8, unidentified assailants killed Ghulam Abbas, the driver of Sabeen Mahmud and an eyewitness in her murder.

Last month, on October 20, two special public prosecutors in the Safoora bus shooting case resigned because they feared their lives were in danger.

“Although the debate that began after a series of killings related to the Wali Khan Babar murder case led the PPP government in Sindh to pass a witness protection law, the law has not been implemented in two years,” according to Shams Keerio, a journalist covering the Sindh government and the provincial legislature.

A police officer says all preparations have been made and law is with the home department, which is prolonging its enforcement.

Keerio is concerned that the delay is deliberate.

“Promulgating the law was a good thing, but its sincere implementation and an awareness campaign are equally important,” says Asad Iqbal Butt, the vice chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Other laws passed by the provincial government are also waiting to be enforced, such as the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act of 2013, he adds.

On October 8, Keerio had reported that the Sindh Home Department had objected to a request for Rs 100 million for the Witness Protection Unit.

“The Sindh police have done their homework and are waiting for a notification that sets up a Witness Protection Unit,” a police officer said. He asked not to be named because he didn’t want to be seen as criticizing the Home Department. “We have received some of the money we had requested for that purpose,” he said.

The law includes the provision of a new identity for witnesses by NADRA, and the relocation of the witnesses and their families, who the state would provide accommodation and means of livelihood. It also ensures protection for vulnerable judges, prosecutors and police officials investigating criminal cases.

The first provision would be hard in most cases, if not impossible, Raja Umar Khattab says. “Such witness protection programs are more effective in societies where witnesses live in elementary families that can be relocated, and not in a joint family system,” he says.

Pakistan Bar Council vice chairman Azam Nazir Tarar told me there is no special witness protection law at the federal level.

Last month, a high-profile case highlighted a different problem. All the witnesses against influential suspect Mustafa Kanju – who was accused of killing a 16-year-old passerby when he fired his gun during a quarrel with two women in another car – retracted their statements. An anti-terrorism court had to free him.

The additional advocate general told the Supreme Court during a Suo Motu hearing of the case that the witnesses had been bribed.

The writer is a freelance journalist

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

 

Left, right and center

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Naimat Khan

In Karachi, a sectarian group’s popularity has attracted both the liberals and the conservatives 

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The PRHP has won 9 Union Committees, the party, which is considered a political front of ASWJ, claims

In a Pashtun neighborhood in Karachi, the left-liberal People’s Party and the sectarian group Pakistan Rahe Haq Party (PRHP) are campaigning together for the local council elections.

Residents of Muzaffarabad Colony, especially the elderly who had seen the ideology-driven politics of the 1970s, are astonished that the two parties – ideologically poles apart – are canvassing for a ‘joint panel’ in the local council.

And so is Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan, a political analyst and a former chairman of the Mass Communication Department at the Federal Urdu University in Karachi. He is equally surprised that a sectarian group has become so strong that the province’s largest party is compromising on its principles to gain its support.

“We have also seen the Barelvi group Sunni Tehreek and the Shia group Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen becoming active in electoral politics,” he said. “This is not a good sign.”

“The MQM, the PTI and the Jamaat-e-Islami contacted us for seat adjustment, but we have decided to go independent, or to make alliances with other independent candidates,” said Asif Safvi, a spokesman for Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen. The group has fielded three “full panels” of candidates from the Soldier Bazaar, Jaffar Tayyar and Ancholi localities, where people belonging to the Shia school of thought are in majority. “As many as 47 candidates of our party are contesting for local councils in various parts of the city, and we are allying with many independent contesters as well.”

In Muzaffarabad Colony, Maulana Mohuiddin of the PRHP – a Deobandi group founded by a former leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba in 2012 – is running for the chairman of the union council, and Haji Misal Khan, associated with PPP, is his running mate, contesting for vice chairman.

There were reports that their election office was inaugurated by Taj Muhammad Hanafi, a leader of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) – a sectarian political party believed to be an offshoot of Sipah-e-Sahaba. Local leaders of the People’s Party and the ASWJ attended the event, insiders said.

“The dynamics of local politics are different”

The union council falls in the Sindh Assembly constituency in which ASWJ President Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi (then a candidate of Muttahida Deeni Mahaz, an alliance formed by influential Deobandi cleric Maulana Samiul Haq) bagged 23,625 votes for a narrow loss to MQM’s Waqar Hussain Shah, who got 23,827. The People’s Party candidate in the race could only get 482 votes.

“The dynamics of local politics are different from those of national politics,” says People’s Party Senator Saeed Ghani, who had visited the Deobandi seminary Jamia Banoria on November 12 to get the blessings of its principal Mufti Muhammad Naeem – among the city’s most influential religious leaders. “The PPP had given a free hand to its local leaders to make seat adjustments with various political groups and parties,” he said. Ghani said that the party’s Karachi chapter would probe the matter, but added that PPP candidates would only run under its own election symbol – the arrow.

“We have made electoral alliances with Jamaat-e-Islami and JUI-F in the past,” he said, “but we did not compromise on our principles.”

PPP is not the only liberal party to have made an alliance with the PRHP. In the city’s central district, the Awami National Party (ANP) and PRHP have fielded joint candidates for chairman and vice chairman in the Pashtun neighborhood of Pahar Jang.

“We have more than 250 candidates, and are supporting ANP’s panel in at least three union councils,” said Ashraf Memon, the Karachi chief of the PRHP.

In the UC-2 constituency of the Malir district council, the PRHP has allied with the PML-N. In UC-1, their chairman’s candidate has a Jamaat-e-Islami candidate as his running mate. The two parties have also made alliances in North Karachi.

The party has fielded its own candidates for the chairman and vice chairman of 15 union councils, of which five are in the West district of Karachi, three in the East, three in central district and two each in South district and Malir, Ashraf Memon told me. He said the West district and Malir were his party’s strongholds.

Established in 2012 by Hakeem Muhammad Ibrahim Qasimi – reportedly a former provincial leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba – the PRHP gained attention during the by-polls in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly constituency PK-95 in May this year. Its candidate, Qari Ziaul Haq Haideri, received more than 3,000 votes.

Qasmi – who had been elected to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on an MMA ticket – bagged 6,673 votes in the by-election in Peshawar’s NA-1 constituency vacated by Imran Khan. ANP’s Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour had won the by-poll with 34,386 votes.

The party fielded 20 candidates for district councils in Peshawar in the local elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, its information secretary Irshad Muhammad Haideri had told reporters.

In the first phase of local elections in Sindh, the party won two seats of councilors from Khairpur and Sukkur, and one of its candidate was elected unopposed in Tando Allahyar.

The PRHP spokesman said his party was not associated with the ASWJ. The ASWJ also insists the PRHP is separate entity. But the parties have very similar flags, and many ASWJ leaders are close to the PRHP. Some locals say they use both the names when campaigning.  “We are only supporting them,” said Umar Muawiya, the spokesman of ASWJ.

The writer is a Karachi based journalist

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

Published In The Friday Times 

For the revival of the caliphate

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Naimat Khan

KARACHI: As militant groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Al Qaeda are losing their powerbase in Pakistan after the continuing Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the Islamic State is trying to make inroads in the country, allegedly in complicity with the banned Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT).

“We want to replace the current ‘prohibited’ system of western democracy with Islamic Caliphate,” Pakistan head of HuT Naveed Butt, told me during an interview in Karachi, weeks before his ‘alleged disappearance’ in mid of 2012.

Butt, who was also the outfit’s spokesperson in Pakistan said the current system, which has popular mass support will be replaced through a ““change of minds, especially of those who have a say in country affairs.”

We don’t subscribe to the views of the Taliban, he said, adding the organisation was working on the “powerful” of the country.

Founded in 1953 as a Sunni Muslim organisation in Jerusalem by Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, an Islamic scholar and a judge, over the years, HuT has spread to more than 50 countries, particularly the United Kingdom, Arab and Central Asian states, with an estimated one million members.

In Pakistan, the HuT was proscribed by former military dictator General (R) Parvez Musharraf in 2004. It is still among the list of banned outfits.

“HuT identifies itself as a non-violent movement. However, its strategy of influencing and infiltrating into the security institutions for overthrow of western styles of governance implies a violent method,” says Raza Rumi, a US based Pakistani journalist who left the country after attack on him in Lahore.

“Compared to the nihilism of IS and Al Qaeda, HuT seems benign but at the end of the day it builds a wider support for acceptance of a global Caliphate ideal.”

Raja Umar Khattab, in-charge counter terrorism department, concurs with Rumi.

Butt, originally stationed in Lahore and Islamabad, was on a visit to Karachi for a meeting with the potential members from different walks of life, including media.

Weeks later on May 11, 2012, HuT activists held a protest demonstration in Lahore, alleging Butt had been abducted by “intelligence agencies” from the Punjab capital on his way home.

An electrical engineer from University of Illinois at Chicago, Butt, like many high profile members of the HuT, had left the western lifestyle for Pakistan. Though banned, the organisation enjoys the liberty to run a #freenaveedbutt campaign for the release of its leader.

The HuT had a soft corner for Pakistan’s security establishment but turned critical when the military media wing, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), confirmed on August 2, 2012 Brigadier Ali Khan, Major Inayat Aziz, Major Iftikhar, Major Sohail Akbar and Major Jawad Baseer were facing charges for having links with the banned outfit.

Many HuT activists off the record have confessed that Brigadier Khan, among others were products of the ‘change of minds’ narrative.

Though HuT’s activities were never open, it somehow interacted with important circles, which came to an end after the conviction of Brigadier Khan and the disappearance of Butt. Law enforcers apprehended a number of outfit’s activists in the following days.

The proscribed organisation claims several of its activists have been arrested despite the claim that their movement for implementation of Shariah was “never violent”. Recently, police authorities disclosed the arrest of two of its senior members.

On Tuesday October 6, 2015, police told media they had arrested an engineering and business graduate, Ovais Raheel from the city’s Boat Basin area. The suspect, police claimed, was targeting educated youngsters in the Defence and Clifton areas to use them “for illegal activities” with a view to implementing “Caliphate” in the country.

“The suspect has been arrested under Section 11EEEE (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act,” Mazhar Mashwani of the Counter-Terrorism Department told media during a press conference. The suspect’s wife claims her husband is innocent.

Later on Friday, November 27, 2015, CTD claimed to have arrested the HuT’s Karachi chief, Hisam Qamar. The suspect, police said, was working in K-Electric as a deputy general manager.

Fifteen days before the police disclosed his arrest, Hisam family held a news conference at Karachi Press Club, claiming he was ‘abducted’ by LEAs a few days ago.

HuT’s connection with Islamic State

Besides arrests for distributing pamphlets in favour of the militant group, wall chalking related to IS has appeared in Quetta and Lahore. Lahore police claims it was done by Hizb activists.

Army General Raheel Sharif, who reportedly sought British government’s help against the outlawed HuT during UK visit in January this year, has also time and again said “not even a shadow of Daesh” will be tolerated in Pakistan. Similar stance has been conveyed by the country’s Foreign Office.

“HuT came to the UK in 1986 with help of Syrian Omar Bakri Muhammad and it now dominates the British radical scene,” writes Sahar Aman, a UK-based journalist.

Khattab and many experts believe though they might have not put up arms against the state, what they preach helps recruit militants.

“Though no proper connection between the two has been established, workers of HuT remain vulnerable to IS, which has the same goal but through the use of force,” says Muhammad Amir Rana, security analyst, who is also a director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) in Islamabad.

Analysts believe those influenced by Tahrir are potential IS members.

“Hizb-ut-Tahrir, al Qaeda and the Islamic State have the same core ideology. They all reject secularism and secular systems such as democracy and believe in a political, economic and social system as per Shariah,” says Hasan Abdulah, a senior journalist covering militancy in Pakistan. “Both only differ in their methodology.”

Abdullah adds, “HuT claims to be non-violent and justifies its stance by claiming Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) replaced the pre-Islamic system with an Islamic one through a non-violent struggle.”

One could argue HuT is indirectly aiding al Qaeda and IS by indoctrinating Muslims to reject democracy, secularism and pluralism, etc, to embrace the concept of a global caliphate, concludes Hasan.

Published in The Frontier Post 

Home from home

The emotional departure of three Afghan families who have spent 34 long years in Pakistan

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Just leaving memories behind.