Defying the Taliban with love

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Naimat Khan  TFT Issue: 06 Jan 2017

 

A few hundred metres from where the Taliban maintained their courts, communal harmony prevails. Naimat Khan reports from Manghopir.

 

By the end of 2013, Manghopir was the incontrovertible Ground Zero of the Taliban in Karachi. Its major neighbourhood, Sultanabad, built on qabza land (i.e. under the occupation of the land mafia), was home to both the leadership and the rank-and-file of the Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud faction of the Taliban. In the foot of the mountainous ridge forming the border between Sultanabad and Ittehad town, the Taliban had a multipurpose office, built along the lines of their office in Miramshah bazaar in North Waziristan Agency. There, the ‘Ameer sahib’ would summon people to the Taliban’s ‘Shariah’ court. Southward in Sultanabad is the ANP Chowk, and also known as Madina Bakery. In the Taliban era, the Chowk was a symbol of terror in the vicinity. Bodies of around 87 people, including 17 policemen and 10 local Awami National Party (ANP) leaders and activists, were recovered from there. As the Taliban’s hold grew, locals say, the Manghopir Police Station, by the Manghopir River, was also closed down. From Sultanabad and nearby areas, violence and crime in the city was directed: ranging from bank heists to bomb blasts; and from targeted killings to attacks on political workers and minority sects.

But all was not bleak in this Taliban-infested part of Karachi. Less than a mile away from the center of violence, a tightly knit community with a sizeable proportion of four different religious and sectarian affiliations lived in a small colony, resilient in the face of waves of violence and political turbulence in the area. The colony is situated in the city government leprosy hospital and extended to Yaqoob Shah Basti. In the center of the colony are four places of worship of different religious affiliations: a mosque, a temple, a church, and an imambargah, all of which face each other.

Unlike the rest of the city where ethnic and religious identities reign supreme, the residents of this colony play down their differences. Many do not like to being identified by their religion, sect, ethnicity or language. Others speak of their respect for the others’ faith and ethnicity as their strength. That respect, they say, has helped them survive the turbulence common to Manghopir and Karachi.

Residents believe respect for others’ faith and ethnicity has helped them survive the turbulence common to Manghopir and Karachi

“I was admitted to the Leprosy hospital in late 60s. At that time almost all doctors were British. They treated us with immense compassion and would advise us to live in peace and love. I think their frequent emphasis on peaceful coexistence resonated with the community,” said 85-year-old Sohna Faqir hailing from Lasbela, Balochistan. Faqir recovered to full health at the hospital and yet did not leave the area. He was drawn to the care and camaraderie in the community and decided to settle here.

In the 1890s, a group of British doctors, visiting the area, came across patients of leprosy at the Mangophir Mazar bathing in the hot sulphur springs – also called ‘Mangi’ or Garm-aab. Back then it was famous that the springs had healing powers. When the visiting doctors saw the patients in pain, they were moved to do something. “They [the British] went back, collected funds and came back to setup the hospital in 1896,” according to Faqir.

“The Mandir existed before the hospital was established in 1896 but later during the British rule a Masjid and a church was setup for the patients, their attendees and other dwellers of the town,” said the 85 year old. As the population increased, Faqir said, an Imambargah – called the Imambargah Ali Raza – was built.

“Until 1986, the Sunni and Shia Muslims would offer prayers at the KMC Jamia Masjid. Later Imambargah Ali Raza was established,” said Noor Islam, a local journalist and resident of the same neighborhood, and added, “Despite separate places for offering their prayers, there has never been sectarian discord in the colony.”

For many years, Manghopir, a town founded by the 13th century saint Pir Haji Syed Sakhi Sultan, was home to Muhajirs, Sindhis, Punjabis, Kashmiris, Seraikis, Pakhtuns, Balochis, Memons, Bohras, and Ismailis. In 2008, thousands of displaced civilians from Waziristan started moving into the area. Following the Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan, the demography of the area changed rapidly.

“After the operation, the Taliban militants came here in droves, started taking shelter in the neighbourhood, and by 2012-13 they achieved a complete hold over the locality, making it no-go area for political workers and law enforcement agencies,” said Islam.

“We have been living here for so many decades together. We are one people practicing different faiths, which made us strong when Taliban would freely roam around on the main road,” said Babu Lal, caretaker of the of the centuries’ old Mardeshwar Mahadev Mandir, the oldest of the four worship places in the locality. Facing the hospital, a few steps to the east, is the Imambargah and few steps to the west are the Church and the mosque.

According to Lal, the community regularly observes ritual of shab-e-barat, Diwali, and Holi, in which Muslims and Christians also participate. “From 2012 to 2014, we – as a precaution – would celebrate the events inside our houses. After the Karachi operation in 2015, we resumed our celebrations out in the open.” Even when we moved indoors, our Muslim brothers continued to be a part of our celebrations, Lal added. “Our Muslim friends make it a point to wish us on Christmas and Easter,” said William Gill, 45-year-old councilor of the Pakistan Peoples Party, and added, “Muslims join us at the Baptist Church in our prayers on Christmas.”

Asfandyar Mir, doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago, researching politically motivated violence and the dynamics of Taliban control in Karachi, recently visited the community. Commenting on the uniqueness of the ethnic and religious tolerance in the area, he added: “from a social science perspective, the fact that such islands of harmony exist amidst extreme turmoil is always remarkable. Most analyses on Karachi’s communal relationships start with the observation that in times of violence identities are hardened, and even apolitical religious and ethnic groups are compelled to seek security with their co-ethnics or religious groups. But this diverse community contradicts that trend, having withstood pressures in a very challenging part of the city.”

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PMLN blames PPP, but it has failed to implement orders of its own PM

PMLN blames PPP, but it has failed to implement orders of its own PM

KARACHI: Dawn has published a report today, accusing the previous government of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of not taking required actions under the 2008 United Nations resolution designating Hafiz Saeed’s organisation as a terrorist outfit.

“As a matter of record, the actions taken by the government of Pakistan have been carried out as per obligations vis-à-vis listing of Jamaatud Dawa under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008,” says an unnamed spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior in a statement here on Wednesday which the ministry apparently released in reaction to a statement of India’s Ministry of External Affairs regarding the detention of JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.

However, this report we published in September 2014 shows the PMLN’s own Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had issued directives to monitor the JuD and its activities but these directives were never implemented until the recent developments of house arrest and placing JuD Chief Hafiz Saeed and 37 others on Exit Control List. The move, according to reports, enjoys the support of security establishment. In September 2014 it was lacking.

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File Photo of the JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed File Photo of the JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: The government of Pakistan has asked all four provinces to closely monitor the fund raising activities and media coverage of Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its relief wing Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), highly reliable sources told The Frontier Post here on Friday.

According to details these directives have been issued by Islamabad after the proposal by foreign ministry to have a close eye over and control JUD and its activities was approved by Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif, who wishes friendly relations with India.

Well informed sources said the federal national counter terrorism authority wrote a memo to the chief and home secretaries of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces on 11 September 2014, in which they were being asked to monitor the JuD and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation’s fundraising activities and its coverage on electronic and print…

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PSP pries open MQM strongholds for the taking

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By Naimat Khan

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KARACHI: A group of influential Bihari activists convened at Karachi’s Shah Faisal Chowk in Orangi Town a few days after MQM dissenters Mustafa Kamal and Anis Qaimkhani fired a salvo at Altaf Hussain and announced their dramatic exit from the party in a fiery press conference.

The activists held a ‘Bihari Jirga’ where they pledged to never allow Kamal to enter the area. The jirga’s head, Tariq Noor Malik, better known as Tariq Bihari, had convened two jirgas in recent years following the murder of MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq in London in September 2010.

Yet, a few days after the third and final jirga, Bihari was spotted at the temporary office of the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), formed by Kamal and Qaimkhani, on Khayaban-e-Rahat.

The change of heart on Bihari’s part has paved the way for PSP to enter Orangi, which holds historic significance as the place from where the Mohajir Qaumi Mahaz was launched in the 1980s. The party later came to be known as the Mohajir Qaumi Movement and, finally, as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

“Tariq Bihari left for London where he resides. He comes and plays his part of game,” confided one of his close friends. “Before his meeting with Kamal, Bihari had been collecting printed stuff against former mayor”, his friend claims, adding though he had left the country before the Kamal’s visit, people, though not from his background but under his influence was present to materialize the plan.”

Another insider confirms Bihari negotiated the deal however an active group of former Pasban activists working for stranded Pakistanis of Bangladesh was the real force behind Kamal’s entry into the MQM’s stronghold.

Shaukatullah, a close aide of Shafi Ahmed who was chief of his own group of Pasban, and nearly two dozen of the group members were given the task to ensure smooth entry into town where the Bihari Qaumi Movement (BQM) and several others had failed to leave evident marks.

Shafi Ahmed, who started his political journey from Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing, Islami Jamiat Talaba, joined Pasban on the eve of general elections in 1993. However, when the then JI Chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed disowned Pasban, Ahmed came close to Haseeb Hashmi, a former lawmaker and leader of Tehreek-e-Ittehad Pakistan working for stranded Pakistanis.

Ahmed later parted ways with Altaf Shakoor faction of Pasban and formed his own group, which he dissolved before joining PML-N during the General polls of 2013.  Ahmed died in a road accident on October 28, 2015, which his friends believe was ‘murder’ allegedly by people in his new political clique, who thought Ahmed was a political threat to them, a local journalist from the town told this scribe.

PSP in Orangi

With joining of Pasban’s guys, the PSP leader Mustafa Kamal briefly appeared in Orangi on April 8, 2016 to invite locals to attend 24th April rally. Here Mustafa Kamal called on higher authorities to give people of Orangi their ‘identity cards’ – an important issue of majority of the town. The second issue he raised was the water problem.

The proper entry he gave in Orangi was on August 31, 2016. Flanked by supporters and other party leaders, Kamal took his party’s public drive to the town where he urged the dwellers to follow him to “secure their rights”.

“You were told to sell VCRs and buy guns but I say buy books, books and education are our identity,” Kamal was quoted as speaking.

The town that matters

Orangi, the largest slum town in Asia, has housed people of different ethnicities but the Biharis who migrated from East Pakistan are in vast majority.

The demography of the town makes Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) a perfect choice for inhabitants of the area, opines Mazhar Abbas, Karachi based political analyst. Since, PSP is comprised of MQM dissidents there is space available for it.

“Pak Sarzameen Party is a party of MQM’s dissenters and many of them are from Bihari community. Therefore, a real space is available and the PSP will try to use it for increasing its mandate in the city,” says Abbas.

Bihari Qaumi Movement (BQM)

PSP is not the only group which has tried to enter into MQM’s footrest.

“The Town once known for the Biharis die-hard loyalists of Altaf Hussain, witnessed the rise of Bihari Qaumi Movement (BQM) but the movement suffered setback first with the death of its backer Dr Imran Farooq on 16 September 2010,” inform Abu Salam Ahmed, a local journalist, adding over two months later, Aftab Malik the MQM founder, chief and ex-UC Nazim of Orangi Town UC 14, was gunned down in Orangi Town on November 27, 2010.

Initially it was Dr. Imran Farooq, one of the MQM’s founding members and a Bihari who contributed a lot in influencing people from Bihar residing in Orangi Town to join MQM. “He could have made changes for BQM had he been alive.”

Orangi is the town, where the famous Qasba–Aligarh massacre occurred.  It was the flashpoint of ethnic violence in the city in eighties.  “Though we saw Haseeb Hashmi, Afaq Shahid and Shafi Ahmed claiming electoral victories but the locality’s ethnic environ never allowed any real change without ethnic color,” opines Wakeel Ur Rehman, a reporter covering ethnic groups.

“Only time will prove if the PSP, dominantly another Mohajir party, can take over the MQM constituency,” Rehman said.

Claver moves

On the model of enfolding electable for election victory – a model being practiced in Pakistani and elsewhere in Asian political arena – the PSP has adopted to enfold those with some force – right or wrong and legal or illegal – to win the strongholds.

This newspaper reported that Tariq Tareen, an alleged member of the ANP’s militant wing along with several workers of ANP and PSF announced to join the Mustafa Kamal’s Pak Sarzameen Party in its debut public gathering held at Bagh-e-Jinnah, Karachi on April 24, 2016.

Abdul Malik, the ANP spokesperson, told The Frontier Post that when Tareen was president of Pakhtun Student Federation (PSF), the party leadership dissolved PSF just because of Tareen wrongdoings.

Recently, some media reports claimed former gangsters of Liyari, a town in old city with Baloch ethnic dominance, have joined PSP. Like Sohrab Goth and Gulistan-e-Jauhar, where Tareen had authority and Lyari where the former gangsters-turned PSP workers have influence, in Orangi the group having joined PSP is effective one and will increase the PSP’s ‘strength’, analysts believe.

Published in The Frontier Post

 

“Thanks God she hasn’t gone to any Arab country”

03.jpg“Thanks God she hasn’t gone to any Arab country”, commented a Facebook friend when I posted a story about Afghan refugee-turn Canadian minister – Mariam Monsef – on my timeline.

The comment reminded me of Muhammad Naqeeb, a Palestinian American, whose eatery, the Milano Pizza & Greek Deli in Manteca, California, was my favorite place to dine in.

Before narrating Naqeeb’s story, it would be equally interesting to know about the woman whose success story made me recalled the tall bearded Pizza boy, Muhammad Naqeeb.

According to news reports, Maryam Monsef, the new Canadian MP, was elevated by the newly sworn-in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to his 31-member cabinet on 4th of November.

But who is Ms. Monsef?

She was born in the war-torn Afghanistan and raised in the western city of Herat, near the Iranian border. “I lost my father when I was a toddler and both my sisters were under the age of two. My mother was in her 20s. No one knows for certain what happened to my father”, Monsef told The Huffington Post, adding the most they knew was he was caught in crossfire between the border of Iran and Afghanistan.

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According to reports years before she was born her uncle had been abducted from his dorm room at Kabul University. “A third-year pharmaceutical student, he was politically vocal and had been heard making anti-communist remarks on a bus”, she told the newspaper.

Monsef, whose childhood was spent moving between Afghanistan and Iran, said that even after the Soviet invasion ended the family was still in nightmare due to the Afghan Mujahedeen, forcing her mother to go to Iran. In Iran her family wasn’t welcome either and Monsef and her two sisters would be teased by local kids. “As illegal refugees we were also living under the constant threat of deportation” she said.

“In 1996, my mother chose to leave her support system and her culture behind to come to Canada”, Monsef told the newspaper, informing the family claimed refugee status when they arrived in Canada, ending up in Peterborough, where Monsef’s uncle lived. She was 11 then. Today, she is one of the 33 ministers of the Canada.

Though hasn’t become an American congressmen, Naqeeb has certainly got in the US what he couldn’t achieve in the country of his birth – not even nationality.

Naqeeb, who was born in Saudi Arabia on September 18, 1983 and lived there for over fourteen years before his family opted to move to United States in 1998 for better fortune.  Before tying the knot, his father and mother – though Palestinians – were living in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, respectively.

However, the fourteen years stay, his birth and Arab descent couldn’t earn Naqeeb Saudi nationality especially when he was displaced of his homeland due to the sprawling illegal Israeli settlements.

“Almost within four years we moved to the US, we got the American nationality” Naqeeb told me as his mother Mona Muhammad was cooking delicious meal for the clients. The restaurant is being run by Muhammad Nizar, his son Naqeeb and wife Mona. Two elder siblings of Muhammad Nizar, namely Hasan and Rania are married.

Though Mrs. Moona is still emotionally attached with the holly lands of Saudi Arabia, her kids are happy having moved to America, which has provided them better life as compared to that which they had lived in Saudi Arabia.

“We may encounter with both positive and negative attitudes in every society and so in the US but generally it’s more welcoming than others” Naqeeb said. “We didn’t have to struggle too much here”.

“But you must be legal to have the good of the American society” the Palestinian American youth opines. For a short while after the 9/11 we had to face harassment but that period lasted shortly when the local realized that the deeds of a certain people can’t be attributed to the entire Muslim community”, “We have to follow the rules of society we are living in. You just can’t force the society to follow you, the things which is often done by the immigrants, earning them negative reaction”, optimistic Naqeeb says.

After doing job in a corporate company as project manager Naqeeb setup his own restaurant and since then his business is flourishing day by day. “It happens when you work hard in a highly receptive society, no matter if you’re born there or having come as immigrant”, Naqeeb said.

The U.S. presidential candidate Donald trump should know that it’s not only Naqeeb and Monsef who have good feelings for the American continent but there are hundreds of thousands like his own grandfather Frederick Trump, who after coming to the US and Canada from different parts of the globe, mingled in the society and are contributing to their new countries.

 The writer is a freelance journalist and ICFJ fellow 2015.

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

Karachi’s top bomb-maker is dead

Counterterrorism Department deals major blow to Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent 

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By: Naimat Khan

On April 13, the Counter Terrorism Department of Karachi killed two members of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) in a gunfight in the Gadap Town locality, and seized weapons, explosives and equipment from a bomb factory that they unearthed.  Abdul Saboor and Muhammad Mujtaba died during the encounter, while Muhammad Murtaza was arrested.

During interrogation, Murtaza made some startling revelations.

“About 14 years ago, some militants from the Nazimabad neighborhood of Karachi parted ways with their organization Harkatul Mujahideen following a dispute. They renamed themselves Harkatul Mujahideen al Alami (HUMA), and orchestrated attacks on security forces, diplomatic missions and other targets of global importance,” according to Raja Umar Khattab, a senior cop fighting militancy and terrorism for more than 15 years.

In 2004, HUMA militants rented a shop in an apartment building in the city, and parked a van packed with 400 kilograms of explosives outside the premises to target the convoy of then president Gen Pervez Musharraf. The bomb couldn’t go off because of signal jammers, and the convoy passed safely.

It was the first group to use toy bombs

“The failed plan went unnoticed. The same van was later used in an attack on the American consulate in Karachi,” Raja Umar Khattab told me. The same year, the group orchestrated a bomb attack on a concert by the Indian vocalist Sonu Nigam in the port city. Then, they tried to target Americans staying at the airport hotel in a rocket attack, but the rockets went wayward and fell in Shah Faisal Colony.

HUMA was the first group to come up with toy bombs. The first such device was seized after an encounter with the police in the Kalakot area of the city.

By the end of 2008, most of the members of the group had been apprehended, and their plan to break Karachi’s central prison had been thwarted.

But because of weak prosecution and a lack of evidence, many of these militants were freed. Most of them fled to Afghanistan, where the group’s first chief Muhammad Imran, also known as Imran Bhai, was killed in a US drone strike.

Kamran Atif, the chief of the group’s Karachi chapter, was arrested in 2006 and served a life sentence.

In 2014, the militants associated with HUMA joined the AQIS en masse and took over its Pakistan branch. Their first emir is identified as Zarar, and also known by the names Naseem Bhai, Hanif Bhai and Ayub Bhai. He is stationed in Afghanistan, from where he directs the organization’s Pakistani and Bangladeshi chapters. “HUMA is the face of AQIS in Pakistan,” said Raja Umar Khattab.

Recent acts of terrorism in Karachi linked to the group include the murder of Dr Shakeel Auj and Urdu Blogger Aneeqa Naz, police say.

The AQIS Pakistan has three major wings, investigations have revealed.

One group, responsible for preaching, brainwashing and recruitment, consists of young people who have never been arrested and live normal lives at their homes in Karachi. They are hard to catch, police say, but stopping them is vital for eliminating the terrorist organization.

A second wing participates in militant activity. Most of its members are locals of Karachi, and people of Bengali and Burmese descent who have been born in the city.

The third wing consists solely of experts in manufacturing and planting bombs. Among its key members were a man identified as Hashim (nicknamed Babu) and another militant identified as Muhammad Mujtaba (also known as Rehan). The two men had arrived in Karachi as explosives experts for the group. Hashim, who had 14 years of experience in bombs and explosives, especially car bombs, was killed in a gunfight with police in April last year. Mujtaba – who had put together the bomb manufacturing setup in Gadap town and supplied explosive devices to one Abdus Salam Sindhi of the Liaquatabad neighborhood – was killed in the April 13 encounter.

In January 2016, the group resumed its activities using low-intensity bombs, referred to as crackers. Law enforcement agencies began to notice similarities between various blasts, and investigations led them to the two men killed on April 13.

The AQIS is a distinct organization, separate from another Al Qaeda group in Karachi, and the group of young militants in Karachi who are inspired by ISIS, according to Raja Umar Khattab.

An independent Al Qaeda group led by Umar Jalal began its own journey about the time AQIS was formed. A third IS-inspired group of youth, which attacked American professor Debra Lobo, killed human rights activists Sabeen Mahmud, and carried out the Safoora bus shooting, is a separate entity.

The AQIS is directed by Al Qaeda’s central leadership from Afghanistan’s Bramcha area, according to police. But heightened security at the border has made it very difficult, if not impossible, for the network in Karachi to communicate with the Bramcha leadership, Raja Umar Khattab said. “They are now using memory cards, USB flash drives, and unsent draft emails for passing on messages to the network in Karachi,” the arrested man told the investigators. Police believes the killing of Mujtaba is a major breakthrough, but analysts say it may not be enough to eliminate the group.

“To counter transitional militants, such as those involved with the AQIS, the government should form a serious counterterrorism strategy,” says Zia Ur Rehman, a Karachi based author and security analyst. “Identifying and distinguishing such militants is a proper intelligence-gathering exercise, which need strong collaboration among all law enforcement and intelligence agencies.”

For decades, groups like Harkatul Mujahideen have been allowed to change their names and reconstitute themselves, without any reprisal from the government, experts say, and that is where the problem lies.

“As they reconstitute, they look for new friends and allies. Al Qaeda and IS are the easiest choices in today’s plethora of militant groups,” says Khalid Muhammad, the director general of Islamabad-based think tank CommandEleven.

He says weak prosecution is another problem. Tahir Mihnas, the prime suspect of the Safoora carnage, and almost all the current leaders of AQIS including its Pakistani chief, were arrested in the past but have come out of jails.

“A report issued by the US State Department a few years ago discussed this exact issue – the release of hardcore terrorists from Pakistani jails,” says Khalid Muhammad. The report stated that Pakistan’s judiciary had released three out of four terrorism suspects that were brought to courts. “The reasons included loss of evidence, intimidation of witnesses, and fear of violence against the judge and his family.”

Zia Ur Rehman says it is hard to predict if military courts will solve these problems. “Only time will tell.”

 Published in The Friday Times 

Poppy Crops Thrive in Daish dominated areas of Afghanistan

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On Friday, May 6, 2016 Daily Times has reported that Brigadier General Charles Cleveand, a senior spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan has expressed fears that Afghan Poppy Crops Could Fuel New Taliban Attacks. I’am sharing my Story, which I did in January 2015 from Jalalabad, Capital of eastern Nagarhar province of Afghanistan.

Naimat Khan

JALALABAD: New crops of poppy have been cultivated in districts of Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan amid growing influence of the Islamic States – locally known as Daish – in the area, locals living in the eastern districts say.

A resident of Haska Mena district of Nangarhar province – who met this scribe in the provincial headquarter Jalalabad – told The Frontier Post on the condition of anonymity that new crops have been massively cultivated in eight districts of the province bordering Pakistan.

“All eight districts are situated on the border area,” source said, adding it was the highest cultivation over the last few years.

These districts, local sources informed, included Haska Mena, Achin, and three districts of Khugirani, Nazian, De Bala, Sherzad, Bachi Raga and Speen Ghar.

Most of the districts are resided by Shinwari tribe of Pashtun, who live on both sides of the border, they say.

Security situation in these districts is all time worst and it is almost impossible for the Afghan security forces to enter into these areas.

Security analysts and experts having close eye over the issues in these eastern districts say the hike in poppy cultivation was seen with the rise of militant of Islamic States, who after occupying the areas have asked the locals to cultivate the poppycrops.

“The hike in poppy cultivation and growing influence of ISIS are interlinked.”

“The ISIS militants, unlike Afghan Taliban, have encouraged the cultivation, which will become a market for the drug sellers in USA,” a security expert told on the condition not to be named due to security threats.

According to previous reports opium production in Afghanistan is growing like a weed — and nothing, not even billions of dollars of U.S. money, has been able to quell it.

Earlier the United Nations had claimed in its reports that the war-torn nation provided 90 percent of the world’s supply of opium poppy, the bright, flowery cropthat transforms into one of the most addictive drugs in existence.

“Afghanistan has roughly 500,000 acres, or about 780 square miles, devoted to growing opium poppy. That’s equivalent to more than 400,000 U.S. football fields — including the end zones,” John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said in a speech in May last year.

However, locals say a large number of youth in Nangarhar province, especially its head office, Jalalabad, has also been addicted to heroin and other deadly drugs.

When this author contacted the spokesperson of provincial governor, he said the reports were exaggerated, however, he didn’t rule out the cultivation of poppy cropsin the restive districts.

Published in The Frontier Post, Peshawar 

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