Arrest of Soran’s Killer: Sikh Community wants KPK to ‘do more’

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File Photo of Dr Sardar Soran Singh, adviser to Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on minorities affairs, who was murdered by fellow minority leader of PTI over ticket row. 

KARACHI: Happy with arrest of alleged killer of Dr Sardar Soran Singh, the Sikh Community of Karachi has urged upon the provincial government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to show similar passion to arrest killers of eight other Sikhs being murdered in the Northern Province over the last couple of years.

Sardar Soran Sindh bags the credit of opening a Gurdwara in Peshawar, which was close for more than seventy years, say Ramesh Singh Khalsa, patron in chief of Pakistan Sikh Council.

“He met me at Hasan abadal – a holly place of our community in Pakistani Punjab – some fifteen days before his murder, and he was happy due to the great work he was during for the Sikh Community.”

He actively raised the voice of community in KPK’s provincial assembly, he would happily help orphan Sikh youths, he was a nice man, Khalsa said. Soran was also working on initiating some legislation for the community.

“Sardar Soran Singh was enjoying the portfolio of provincial minister, so his killers are apprehended so quickly, which we appreciate, however, we demand of the provincial government of PTI to arrest the killers of eight other Sikhs who are being killed for different reasons.”

It should be noted that a Sikh Hakeem, Paramjeet Singh, was killed in Shabqadar bazaar by unknown assailants in March 2014. His employee was also gunned down.  Earlier, on January 22, another Sikh Hakeem Baghwan Singh was murder in Charsadda’s Tangi Bazaar. Year 2014 was a bad year for the community as two other Sikhs were kidnapped from DI Khan in the same month.” The events prompted protest of the community.

According to reports quoting late Dr Soran Singh, the adviser to the CM on minorities, who gunned down in Buner few days ago, there are about 25,000 Sikhs in the province,  mostly in Buner, Swat, DI Khan, Bara, Khyber, Kurram and Orakzai agencies.

Zia Ur Rehman – a Karachi based journalist and researcher – says nearly two dozens of Sikhs, mostly associated with the profession of Himat [ doctors of herbal medicines] have migrated to Karachi from different parts of the KPK due to fears of being prosecuted.

Interestingly, the community remained unharmed in Swat and Buner, even during the Taliban rule.

However, the Taliban statement, in which they falsely claimed the responsibility of Soran Sindh’s murder, terrorized the community. Khalsa says that since the Taliban’s Statement has turned out to be false, it will certainly cut down the fear but the community is feeling unsafe due to other acts of target killing as well.

“The provincial government should take action and arrest all killers to rebuild the trust of community,” Khalsa demands. Rehman believes that the trend of migration may not be stopped but will slow down if strict action was taken by KPK government and its law enforcement agencies.

It is pertinent to mention here that while addressing news conference Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Malakand Azad Khan claimed on Monday that a fellow PTI leader Baldev Kumar was behind the murder of Soran Singh as he wanted to avenge political rivalry.

According to Khan, a local leader of PML-N Alam Khan was also involved in the murder, falsely claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Published in The Frontier Post

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Al Qaeda subcontinent branch directed from Afghanistan

By: Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Central Command of the Al Qaeda Indian Sub-Continent is stationed in Baramcha area of Afghanistan, from where it is directing the network, carrying out terrorist activities inside Pakistan and Bangladesh, it emerged on Wednesday.

“Bengali militants of the same AQIS group, which is behind lawlessness in the city of Karachi, have killed Bangladeshi blogger,” sources told.

Nazimuddin Samad, a Bangladeshi blogger, was hacked with machetes and shot by motorcycle-riding assailants on his way back from class at Jagannath University in Dhaka earlier this month.

He was on a hit list of 84 atheist bloggers that group had compiled and sent to Bangladesh’s Interior Ministry, according to media reports.

The police in Karachi, however, say they had obtained evidences of the group’s terrorist activities inside Pakistani only. However, sources said that Baramcha based command was also directing local militants in Bangladesh.

In Karachi, Officer In-charge Counter Terrorism Department Raja Umar Khattab says, the group has carried out 26 terrorist activities from 2013 to 2014 alone and it was behind the recent attacks on police and Rangers check-posts in the city.

Addressing a news conference here at CTD’s civil lines office on Wednesday Khattab said a terrorist nabbed during encounter on Tuesday night has revealed that Zarar aka Naseem Bhai aka Hanif Bhai aka Ayub Bhai – a former terrorist of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Al-alami, Karachi who was released from prison – has formed that special group, which has created situation of lawlessness in the city.

“Most of Karachi terror, including recent attacks on law enforcement agencies, is carried out by local youths led by former The Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Al-alami leader”, he said.

According to Khattab, the arrested terrorist, Muhammad Murtaza aka Benam aka Abu Huraira, has told counter terrorism police that Central Command of Al Qaeda Indian Sub-Continent was stationed in Bramcha area of Afghanistan.

“Since the border has been tightened, the group is using USBs and mobile memory cards for conveying messages to terrorists present in Karachi and other parts of the country,” the official said.

“Bengali militants of the same AQIS group, which is behind lawlessness in the city of Karachi, have killed Bangladeshi blogger,”

The CTD conducted a raid at a hideout of the terrorists in Bhambhro Burfat Goth in Gadap Town of the city and as police rounded up the area they started firing. “The better strategy of police left two terrorists, named Abdul Saboor aka Hamad aka Hasan Aka Saad and Muhammad Mujtaba aka Rehan aka Aslam aka Kashif aka Wali aka Abdul Rehman dead whereas Muhammad Murtaza was arrested,” Khattab told.

The terrorists, police said, had setup a bomb manufacturing factory in an empty water tank inside the house.

Police have recovered 80 Kg explosive, circuits, ball bearings, bottle bombs, ball bombs, bomb manufacturing material, laptop, memory cards, USBs, target list, one motorcycle filled with explosive, two Ak47, one 9mm pistol and Jihadi literature from the spot.

The arrested terrorist has made startling revelations that youths, called ‘Dawati Sathi’, associated with Harkatul Muhajideen would run the network in Shadman Town, North Karachi, Surjani, Orangi and Korangi towns of the city. The group would brainwash the youth who would remain associated with any Jihadi group.

To a question Khattab said that three different groups of Al Qaeda, attracting manpower from different classes, were active in the city. “One group from affluent neighborhoods is brainwashing youths, the second group – the one busted on Wednesday – carries out bomb attacks whereas a third group, compromised of Burmese, Bengalis and other locals militants from local class, are carrying out targeted attacks,” he elaborated.

To another Question, senior interrogator said, there was no presence of Daish – also called Islamic State – though there were militants inspired from the Middle Eastern terror group. “May be some militants are inspired but there is no evidence of presence of Daish network anywhere on Pakistani soil,” Khattab said.

Published in The Frontier Post

Rangers’ luncheon for police offers ‘trust building’ in menu 

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KARACHI: Saturday was a good day for the dwellers of seaside metropolis when chiefs of two law enforcement agencies – The Rangers and Police – met at luncheon along with their officials.

The Rangers’ luncheon for police – concluded with permit for police to investigate suspects in Rangers’ custody – would be an ordinary event had the past relationship of both law enforcement agencies not publically known.

From Rangers raid of Mominabad police station and both offices Counter Terrorism Departments in garden and civil lines to their complaints against each others in apex committee meetings and the open expression of mistrust in courts, the Rangers, police relationship could never be termed good.

However, both police officials and independent analysts now believe that granting of permission to police to interrogate suspects in rangers’ custody will produce good results as police have good experience in translating proofs into better prosecution.

“That’s step towards very close coordination,” Feroz Shah, Deputy Inspector General of Police, West Zone, who was one of the invitees, said in his short comment.

However, Kashif Farooqi, a Karachi based crime reporter and analyst, says that SOPs of such investigations, which are still to be decided, will show the productivity of such facility for police.

Farooqi informs that Police are already part of the JITs, formed for almost all suspects who have been given into the 90-days preventative detention of Rangers.

“The luncheon and then accepting police’s request are itself good gestures from the Rangers head, which will certainly evade the mistrust we have witnessed in the last few years”, Farooqi opines.

The luncheon from Director General of Sindh Rangers, Major General Bilal Akber, was attended by Karachi Police Chief, Additional IG Mushtaq Mehar, Deputy Inspector General’s of Karachi police and other senior officials of both law enforcement agencies.

Addressing the officers here at Rangers’ headquarters, DG Rangers said that the sacrifices of police force in operation against terrorists can never be forgotten.

During the meeting Karachi police Chief, Mushtaq Meher, requested Rangers’ DG to give police the permission to interrogate the suspects who are given into the 90-days detention of Rangers by courts. DG Rangers accepted the request by granting permission.

According to reports, chiefs of both law enforcement agencies also agreed on speeding up operation against the criminals. They also agreed to monitors the activities of raw agents more rigorously.

It is pertinent to recall that Amir Khan, an MQM leader arrested in the Nine Zero raid last year, was granted bail because of what a judge called “weak prosecution”. The Rangers had detained him for 90 days, but could find solid evidence against him.

According to reports submitted in the Apex Committee meeting, 80 percent of those challaned in the court by the Rangers had either been freed by the courts or were out on bails.

According to security analysts, the 90-day detentions of suspects by Rangers do not always translate to strong interrogation, investigation or prosecution. “The new development will certainly overcome the lacunas of both the forces,” they believe.

While Rangers are important in dealing with all sort of criminals free of political and other pressures, the police’s expertise of prosecution in combine with Rangers’ efforts will produced good results.

Published in The Frontier Post

The flower of cricket blooms in war-torn Afghanistan

 Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Shahzad

Youths turn away from suicide bombing as Afghan cricket advances unparalleled

 

Naimat Khan

JALALABAD: The game of cricket had captivated the attention of the Afghan nation much before the world witnessed it national side’s heroics at the 2016 World T20 tournament.

The associate Afghanistan, the side which beat the World Champions West Indies in the T20 event, received a hero’s reception at the Alokozay Kabul International Cricket Stadium upon arrival. They were honored by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani with civil awards.

“You do not only give honor to the Afghan nation, but hope,” the president said, while decorating the heroes with Ghazi Mir Masjidi Khan Excellence Award in a reception held at the presidential palace.

Though Afghanistan only managed to win against Windies, they won the nation’s hearts.

On a chilly winter evening much before the World T20 began, hundreds of youths gathered in Pashunistan Chowk, Jalalabad on December 29, 2015 to watch the second One Day International between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe on big screen.

Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, is considered as one of the most dangerous provinces of Afghanistan, where six districts are under influence of the militant Islamic States (IS) group.

The same province is now emerging as the hotbed for cricket in Afghanistan.

Karim Sadiq is one of the pioneers of cricket in the provincial capital, and was also the part of the squad featured in World T20.

When this scribe contacted Sadiq in late January this year, he seemed confident of his teammates.

“The historic win against Zimbabwe has boosted our morale and we are confident we will compete the full members of ICC,” he told this scribe before leaving for India to participate in the 2016 Asia Cup.

Although it couldn’t record any win in the Asia Cup, the young Afghan team left no stone unturned in World T20 – won all three matches of the qualifying round and beat the Windies – the champions.

“In recent years, Afghanistan have defeated some powerful teams,” said team captain Asghar Stanikzai in post-match presentation, adding, the team will witness more wins in the years to come.

From nothing to heroic

Ibrahim Momand, a Kabul-based sports expert recalls how in the 90s Pashto language daily Wehdat had stories on the Afghan cricket team visiting different districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan.

However, the soccer enthusiast Afghans didn’t even know a national cricket team existed till they won six of seven matches they played with different counties of the United Kingdom.

Afghans became attracted to the game when the national side beat Ireland in the qualifying rounds for the 2009 World T20 tournament.

However, the success wasn’t at all possible without support of the Afghan government, and the cricket board.

Sadiq says government ministers facilitate the Afghanistan Cricket Board.

“The board has funds and provides facilities to the players, attracting new talent,” he says. “Former president Hamid Karzai separated cricket from other games and established the board. Dr Ghani has also supported the team.”

Sadiq adds, “We have two grounds, each in Kabul and Jalalabad. A stadium will also be constructed in Khost. It may take long to host international sides but the grounds will improve domestic cricket.”

Learning from legends

Afghanistan is also thankful to Pakistan for its role in uplifting the game for them.

“We are thankful to Peshawar Cricket Association, which would allow two Afghans each in their club teams,” says Sadiq.

Sadiq says the training given by former Pakistani players such as Kabir Khan and Rashid Latif greatly impacted their game.

“Inzimamul Haq’s coaching helped us defeat Zimbabwe, Sadiq says. “We are appreciative of our Pakistani coach, who has worked hard on improving our batting technique.”

Once soccer, cricket has now become Afghanistan’s popular sport; attracting young, elderly and the women alike.  “Victory in a war-torn country brings happiness and pride,” a cricket enthusiast Sayed Kamal Sadat said.

Peace for cricket and cricket for peace

JalalabadCricket Fans from different districts of Nangarhar Province gathers to watch second ODI between Zimbabwe and Afghanistan on Big screen in Pakhtunistan Chowk of provicial capital Jalalabad: Photo Credit/Bashir Ahmed Gwakh

 Experts say Afghans do not spare revenge, and cricket is an alternative, positive exploit for the Afghan nation.

“A caller once told me he was ready to become a suicide bomber but it was cricket, which changed his mind.”

Cricket spoils brainwashing efforts of the militants, he says.

“A caller once told me he was ready to become a suicide bomber but it was cricket, which changed his mind.”

“If cricket is vital for peace, peace is also vital for cricket in Afghanistan,” says Sadiq. “A better security situation will help us host different teams in Afghanistan, where local crowd would support us”.

Ground ahead

Inzamam, Afghanistan’s batting coach, in a post-match briefing praised his team’s self-belief, and reiterated the call for more opportunities to play against the Full Members.

“All our previous matches have been neck-to-neck,” he said. “There haven’t been one-sided matches, it’s not like a team makes 200 against us and we are all out for 100 or 150. The team has been fighting, and the belief is always there”.

Afghan skipper Asghar Stanikzai adds,”In the next one or two years we will be a serious team and beat these Full Members. We have potential.”

After overpowering the Associates, it seems Afghans will soon achieve the target of joining the Full Members club of the ICC.

Published in The Frontier Post